Trip Start Jul 04, 2013
Trip End Aug 29, 2013

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Flag of Turkey  , Istanbul Province,
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I have to admit, I'm not motivated to blog and in fact, would probably make a lousy travel writer. At least when it comes to the Big City. This is because I am a simpleton. I prefer to just walk the city or sit and people-watch versus traipsing through museums and churches. I like street food. I like witnessing the city come alive while on an early morning run. And I like listening and watching the feel of the city change after the sun goes down.
And Istanbul is a fabulous city to do all these things. It reminds me very much of New York with it's thousands of restaurants, street vendors and controlled chaos. I'm told the population is 17 million. The people are very diverse, especially the women. Female fashion ranges from full body and face black burqas (with only eye slits) to skinny jeans, high heels and tank tops (most women are somewhere in between but generally much more covered up than American women despite the sometimes oppressive heat). The call to prayer 5 times a day (emanating from a powerful speaker system from the closest Mosque) has been a familiar sound since entering Turkey five days ago.
This evening we retraced my run this morning through a very progressive part of town (Ortakay) where we found a local grocery store very much resembling Whole Foods, a dock filled with sleek power boats being inundated with workers from catering and entertainment companies and young people everywhere dressed to party with no burkas in sight.
Earlier in the day, and yesterday, we walked the Old Town, visiting the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Chora Museum (Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays), the Cistern and of course, The Grand Bazaar. We've eaten kebap, baklava, Turkish delight, Turkish coffee, chai tea, mussels, squid, salad and ice cream till we can eat no more. I missed out on a Turkish bath but vicariously enjoyed the experience through detailed and animated narratives from some fellow cyclists.
And so I'm going to close out this blog after nearly two months of writing much more than I ever expected. It's been a good way for me to record my thoughts throughout the journey and hopefully share some insight into how an adventure like this "works". For me, life is about enjoying the PROCESS vs. the PRODUCT. I seem to enjoy GETTING there rather than BEING there. Which is why the bicycle is my magic carpet....
I am grateful to Tour D'Afrique and Shanny for being up front that this was not a genteel, fully- supported tour for the faint of heart or high-maintenance rider. That being said, Shanny and his staff were always pleasant, professional, safety-minded and really made the last couple of weeks even better than I'd expected. I'm also really grateful to all the riders who put others first, always more concerned about the group than themselves. The spirit of compassion and encouragement was pervasive throughout the trip and made me look forward to every morning on the bike and every evening at camp.
I am especially grateful to Brian, the Garminator, without whom I could never have ever done this trip. A true friend, confident of my navigator, timely humorist and perpetual optimist, he very much deserved the "Disney Find-Your-Inner-Child" award the other riders bestowed on him.
And so tomorrow.....I'm home.
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steve on

Nicely done

Alan F on

Just a swift observation: if you are a simpleton, the rest of us really have a problem.

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