Monthly Archives: December 2013

ISTANBUL : KADIKOY, THE ASIAN SIDE

I’ve always wanted to visit Istanbul, the opportunity to live here was something I couldn’t pass up. It’s not at all what I expected. It’s is a very sophisticated economy with a good public transportation network of: buses, trams, gondolas, taksi’s and ferries. It took me a couple of tries but I think I’ve got it figured out now.
I decide to visit the PRINCE ISLANDS , I chose the Hush Hostel, in Kadikoy, because they rented bikes. I wanted to ride along the coast to

20131215-182216.jpgTHE PRINCE ISLANDS AND GO BIKING ON THE CAR-FREE ISLAND OF BUYUKADA

20131215-185143.jpgI LEARNED THAT THE ELEPHANT WITH THE BRUSH IS THE PAINT COMPANIES LOGO THAT PAINTED THE BIKE PATH

20131215-185411.jpg THIS IS PROBABLY THE SAFEST AND MOST ACCESSIBLE BIKING IN ISTANBUL
So I get to the ferry, buy a ticket and ask an employee if this is “the ferry to the islands”, “Yes” I board and before I know ir, I”m back in Kadikoy, where I started the bike ride. Even a seasoned traveller like myself can make mistakes. So next day I decide to take the ferry from Kadikoy directly to the Prince Islands. I’m at the right dock, on time, board the boat and now I’m going in the opposite direction from the islands. Holy Crap, twice? I ask at the dock where the Prince Island ferry is? Down 2km. I take a bus, the wrong bus, now I’m heading towards Taksim. I grab a taksi back to the other dock, to hopefully board the right ferry. Yes, I’m going to the Prince Islands, but not before we stop in Kadikoy. I have to stop at 3 islands before I reach BUYUKADA, the one most developed for tourist like me. The minute I get off the ferry

20131215-190914.jpgI REWARD MY SELF WITH THIS 5 FLAVORED ICE-CREAM FOR FINALLY GETTING HERE
There’s probably 15 bike rental shops in a 2 block area. I do some shopping, then rent a bike. I was told to ride to the church, OK.

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I BIKE TO THE TRAIL HEAD (no bikes were allowed any further). THE HIKE IS STRAIGHT UP 300 METERS, BUT THE VIEWS WERE WORTH IT
After hiking I make some small talk with the horse carriage guys. He wants to ride my bike, sure.

20131215-192349.jpgYOU RIDE MY BIKE, I WANT A PICTURE ON THE HORSE CARRIAGE, DONE
I’m finally back home, to the hostel. This is one of the more interesting groups of people here, than anywhere else I’ve stayed.

20131215-194015.jpg ANDRE’ TAKES THIS PHOTO OF ME CUTTING DRIED FRUIT AND PUTTING NUTS INSIDE
I feel lucky to have this free time to share with other people who are all so interesting.

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THIS COUPLE FROM AMERICA LANDED AT THE HOSTEL, WE ALL WENT TOGETHER TO ANDRE’S ART EXHIBIT.
Both Natasa and I agreed the inlaid chairs, table, mirror and Koran holder would look good in “our” home.

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SO WE PACKED IT UP FOR THE PLANE RIDE TO SLOVENIA
I “discovered” this great turkish restaurant, called Tonton efendi, a few blocks from the hostel. I was telling Ron (from Australia) about it while sitting around the Hostel. It told me he too found a great little restaurant too. We each described our finds, they sounded familiar. Except the owner had a daughter and he told Ron he didn’t have kids. Ron was Lebanese and the owner was Lebanese, they spoke Lebanese together. The owner told me he was Jordanian. We each described a similar place but our stories didn’t match up? So I go for lunch only to find

20131230-142703.jpg RON HAVING LUNCH THERE, MYSTERY SOLVED, SAME RESTAURANT
We had been taking different routes to the same restuarant, so when we described how to get there that didn’t match up either. We questioned Selahattin about the different stories he was telling us? Of course his dry sense of humor wouldn’t divulge the truth.

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THE SELECTION CHANGED EVERYDAY, BUT WAS ALWAYS AWESOME
My plan was to live in different parts of Istanbul so it was time to move to Taksim. I left 2 days in my back pocket to spend where I felt there was more to see and do.

20131230-144942.jpgA FINAL PICTURE WITH ANDRE’ & KARIM (the future is bright with this kids participating)

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WE TAKE THE FERRY TO TAKSIM (my new home) WE MEET LATER AT ANDRE’S EXHIBIT
Thanks for reading I’ve missed writing this, you?
Ride On
JEFF
NEXT?: TAKSIM: HOME OF THE PROTEST AND SHOPPING

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SIGNS AND QUOTES

I took pictures of interesting signs, t-shirts, bicycle images, protests and famous quotes from the likes of Albert Einstein, Jon Stewart and the Pope. Some had passed through my Facebook page some were sent directly to me.
I liked it when bicycles were used in advertising and art.

20131207-222252.jpgBIKES USED IN ADVERTISING

20131207-222358.jpgGREAT T-SHIRT DESIGNS

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THIS FLAG REALLY REPRESENTS THE CURRENT STATE OF AMERICA: FLAILING IN THE WIND, WORN, TORN AND DIRECTIONLESS (upside down)

20131207-223212.jpgTHIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING IN AMERICA, HOW MUCH LONGER WILL PEOPLE WAIT? CHOPS?
SIGNS AND QUOTES PHOTOS ARE HERE
YEP, this is how I see it, for what it’s worth, enjoy and share.
Ride on
Jeff
NEXT? WHICH COUNTRY WAS YOUR FAVORITE? (everyone asks)

STORY & PHOTOS OF POLICEMEN & POLICEWOMEN!

I was in Portugal and spotted this Policeman who looked like the “terminator” cop. I wanted to get a photo. I asked if I could, then his friend said yes, I just wanted terminator, but OK, I took this photo

20131203-091859.jpgPORTUGUESE POLICE PHOTO WITH THE TERMINATOR COP AND HIS FRIEND
I take the ferry to Spain, there were 2 policeman who were giving me directions to the phone store , I showed them the Portuguese photo then they offered to have their photo taken.. I said “Heck Ya.” This was the start of collecting policeman photos in every country I visited.

20131203-092332.jpgTHE SPANISH POLICE WERE SUPER FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL
A friend (?) from France wrote and told me to look out for Spanish cops. I sent him this photo and asked, “these guys?”
I’m biking around France, shopped at a farmers market and spotted 2 policeman. I asked him for photo? No. I show him the Spanish photo, he walks away. He joins his partner across the street, then he waves me over.

20131203-102226.jpgTOOK SOME CONVINCING BUT I FINALLY GOT THE PICTURE OF FRENCH POLICEMAN.
My first day in Venice, Italy at the ATM I spotted 2 policeman and they eagerly agreed to the photo.

20131203-150825.jpgTHESE ITALIAN POLICEMAN NEEDED NO CONVINCING TO HAVE THEIR PICTURE TAKEN.
Slovenia was a real task, I had to compromise some with this one. First, there are hardly any police around! I had always tried to get 2 policeman together, that wasn’t going to happen here.

20131203-151409.jpgTHIS IS THE SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENTARY BUILDING “POLICE” GUARD. THAT’S THE BEST I COULD DO. There are really no police to be found and not 2 together for sure.
The Croatian policeman shot was just about as difficult as the Slovenian. I hardly ever saw the police here either. But when we were dropping off bike boxes at the ferry dock, I spotted several armed “dock” police.

20131203-152142.jpgTHIS IS THE CROATIAN MARITIME POLICE, AGAIN IT’S THE BEST I COULD DO.
The Montenegro police photo was totally by “accident.” I was only going to be in Montenegro for 24 hours, so my chances were pretty slime. The bus I was riding in got in an accident, so the police arrived to take a report.

20131203-152736.jpgTHE MONTENEGRO POLICE DELIVERED THIS PHOTO BY WAY OF AN ACCIDENT.
Albania was fairly easy, the first night in town I walked into town with a local. He convinced them it would be OK, somehow?

20131203-153123.jpgTHIS ALBANIAN POLICEMAN PHOTO WAS TAKEN MY FIRST 5 MINUTES OF WALKING THE STREETS

The Greek policeman photo should have been of at least 2 policeman. Of the four policeman, only this one agreed to a picture.

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THE GREEK POLICEMAN ALL COMPLAINED ABOUT GERMAN CHANCELLOR MERKEL’S AUSTERITY DEMANDS
This next photo of the Turkish police is the Gold Standard from which all policeman photos should be judged.

20131203-161812.jpgHOT TURKISH POLICEWOMEN WITH MACHINE GUN–YEP HOLY SHOT
It was fairly easy to get all the 10 countries I visited policeman photos, but one Morocco. When I asked maybe 10 different policeman the answer was always the same “IT IS FORBIDDEN.” So I pretended to be adjusting my music while taking a few pictures:

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THANKS FOR READING, TALK SOON
RIDE ON, JEFF

ISTANBUL, THE DAYS BEFORE AND AFTER NATASA

I arrive by bus, as recommended to do by other cyclist. I check the map, 13 km to my hotel. I negotiate a $20 van to haul me and all my stuff to Marmara Guesthouse. that ended up being a good decision. The traffic was insane and I didn’t see one biker on the streets. When we finally arrived I paid him the full fare, it was worth it. The Marmara Guesthouse was the top rated place in the Lonely Planet guide book. All the Hotels and Hostels include a free breakfast.

20131201-113130.jpgTHE STAFF WAS AWESOME AND THE BREAKFAST MATCHED. FRESH HOMEMADE FIG JAM (my favorite)
My plan was to rent an apartment for the month I’m staying here. I looked at one and thought I can stay at the Hostel for 1/2 price, a get free breakfast and talk with fellow travelers. So I do some homework before Natasa arrives,, figure out the bus, get the phone working,

20131201-113954.jpgHERE’S ERDIOS, GOKSEL AND MEHMET MAKING THE HARD SELL FOR A PHONE COVER.
I soon discover my SIM card needs $100 worth of taxes and fees to make it work, for longer than a week. MEHMET got me hooked up and running on the I-Pad, within a week it was shut down too, taxes & fees need to be paid. There’s so much free WiFi you can save paying all the fees.
I walk the neighborhood searching out that special hotel for Natasa & I. I visit 5 or 6 Hotels and decide on the ALMINA HOTEL. (read A Pinch of Love, Joy, Happiness in Istanbul).

20131201-122033.jpgREMINDS ME OF THE HARD WORK I USE TO DO IN AMERICA.

20131201-122237.jpgTHIS IS A PHOTO FROM THE TOP OF THE GALATA TOWER
We rode the elevator down alone, how many movies have the couple messing around in the elevator? I couldn’t resist the opportunity to exploit the situation. I followed Natasa out of the elevator adjusting my belt and tucking in my shirt. I wish I had a helmet cam on, it was way too funny. The first 5 or 6 people were at first stunned then started all laughing , it was great..
I take Natasa to the airport and move from the European side of Istanbul and move to the Asian side. The European side is a lot of work, constantly being asked to look at carpets ,eat in their restaurant, shoes shinned, go on a tour. I hear the Asian side isn’t as aggressively selling?
I take ferry over to KADIKOY and head directly to the HUSH LOUNGE HOSTEL, this place is a score. Just what I needed, affordable accommodation, clean and most of all a SUPER STAFF!.
They got me up to speed on what to see and do here: Antique street, huge bazaar and vegetable market and of course a TURKISH BATH.
I decided to visit the Bazar Market first, since it’s only twice a week, Friday and Tuesday.

20131202-112759.jpgI BOUGHT SOME GREAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS HERE, THERE WERE SOME INTERESTING ANTIQUES, CLOTHES AND FOOD.

20131202-113211.jpgTURKISH QUESADILLAS, SHE HAND ROLLS OUT EACH ONE. I WENT TO THE KEBEB SHOP NEXT DOOR AND BOUGHT SOME CHICKEN AND HAD IT PUT INTO MINE.(maybe that will be on the menu next time?)

20131202-115758.jpgI KNOW WHY THERE ARE NOT MANY FISH LEFT IN THE OCEAN, THIER HERE.

20131202-120310.jpgTHERE WAS LITERALLY MOUNTAINS OF FRESH PRODUCE.
I walk to the “shopping” district of Kadikoy. Walking has a few advantages over cycling, like stumbling into this custom bicycle.

20131202-121010.jpgI DISCOVER THE OWNER OF THE BIKE IN THE SKATE BOARD SHOP (go figure) DC CUSTOM BIKES of Istanbul, Turkey. MORE PHOTOS

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SOME INTERESTING BIKE ART (by walking)
Staying at the hostel has been awesome, I’ve really connected with great young people from all over; Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, France. This is so much better than an apartment, what was I thinking?
I met Andre from São Paulo, Brazil, street artist who is I guess on tour? He is having a gallery opening on Saturday night, I ask if I can join him? Yes, great! He goes by the name DECOLIFE. I have no idea what I’m going to see, we’ve only talked about his art.- We show up at the gallery, he’s a rock star! It’s totally his show.

20131202-135143.jpgTHIS IS A SMALL SAMPLE OF THE SHOW. MORE PHOTOS
Andre tells me the story about his fellow street artist in Sao Paulo, who climb to some “unique” location to paint something.
2 of his friends were shot while scaling a building, a neighbor thought they were burglars, they both died.
At the show Andre is asked to paint something:

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20131202-140819.jpgFINISHED(15 minutes)
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

FULL GALLERY VIDEO

20131202-142203.jpgTHIS WHAT THE SIDEWALKS LOOK LIKE WHEN YOU HAVE 15 MILLION PEOPLE
I visit the antique street, I came to just look and boy did I find something:

20131202-145600.jpg3 INLAID CHAIRS AND

20131202-145715.jpgTHIS INLAID MIRROR.
These pieces are really special, the amount of work and energy that went to create these are amazing. I’m going back to the shop and check out shipping, what? There were pieces I saw at museums that were of this quality, behind glass with no photos allowed (I maybe took a few pictures?)
So it’s time for my Turkish bath, I heard it’s quite the massage, I’m pretty excited, actually. I get a small room to change in , the key to my door and in I go. It’s all whitish marble and steamy. I pour water over my head with a bowl then take a sauna, he calls me in:

20131202-150842.jpgFIRST YOUR SCRUBBED TOWN WITH THIS SCRATCHY CLOTH, THEN YOU LAY ON THE HEATED MARBLE SLAB, HE SOAPS YOU UP AND USES THE SOAP AS A TYPE OF MASSAGE OIL, I SCREAMED IN PAIN A COUPLE TIMES.
I got a hair cut, super short, that will teach me to learn the language of the country I’m in, I said half. Oh Well!
I walk home and have a fish sandwich, their only $2.50
Thanks for reading and commenting (yes I care what you think, a little)
MORE PHOTOS
RIDE ON
JEFF
NEXT: I RENT A BIKE TO VISIT THE CAR-FREE ISLAND.

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LETTERS FROM VINCENT

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I WROTE VINCENT THE FOLLOWING LETTER:
vincent,
I just told my roommates the “are you seeing someone else?” joke, they loved it. Had a great time with Natasa, she’s a special person.
The hostels are so cheap and they ALL come with breakfast. I’m moving to different neighborhoods, a week at each. I actually like my breakfast more than theirs. but theirs is included. Its about 11 Euro per night. I’m moving to the Asian side tomorrow. It` ‘s pretty cheap here it’s the off season, there’s some good deals.
I’ll be here till Dec. 20
I had a great time hanging out with you. Thanks for getting us accommodation at Yannis’s.
Is that your flag in the photo?
Ride On
Jeff

HIS REPLY:

Hey Jeff !!!

It was more than a good time riding with you Jeff… I was shown a good way to travel with you.. So thanks a lot “professional bike walker” master..

Well. it must be the way to do Istanbul, one neighborhood every week. I’ll do that another trip.
I got back yesterday in Thessaloniki from a 10 days ride around the Halkidiki peninsula (I was in it last time I emailed you).. It was not just awesome… but wonderful.. I did so fuckin good Jeff !!! You would be proud of me ! 😉 But well, maybe the greek flag helped 😉
I’m gonna make an email to the people I met during these 10 days. I’ll put you in copy mail..

See ya man

Ride on ride on

THIS HIS HIS TRIP LETTER WITH PHOTOS

Hi everybody !!!

I just got back yesterday in Thessaloniki from my 10 days ride in Halkidiki. And it was not just awesome, because you, people, made it wonderful…

So to thank you for your precious contribution to the best ride of all my trip, I’m sending you this email, so that you’ll all have the whole story.. and also the pictures (some of them). I put also several people in copy mail, to let them know, in case they would want it 😉

Day 1 : to get to heaven, you first have to go through a nightmare : gettin out of Thessaloniki (goddamned, that was dangerous !). Fortunately, fisherman hosted me on “their” beach (picture 1) in Michaniona… they were fishing with strange things (picture 2). Thanks for the coffee and the great conversations about the crisis and the women.

Day 2 : deciding to wild camp next to the most beautiful chapel in Halkidiki (picture 4), with incredible view over Olympus and its first snow, and enjoy its facilities (shower is good after a late november swim in the Med’), that farmer and this fisherman invited me for a good meal… Language is not a barrier after a liter of Tchipouro !!!!

Day 3 : pictures with kids in Nea Moudania (5) – goddamn teenagers, it took me a lot of energy to get that picture – before getting in Psakoudia, its beach, its showers, and the best of all : Yannis !!! (7)…. Thanks for everything Yannis, the food, the drinks, your kindness, the great conversations we had… and also for the negotiation with the police (6) 😉

Day 4 : I just wanted some tobacco guys !!! (8) But thanks !! And before getting to Agios Ioannis beach, I found a couple of crazy guys in a gas station who wanted to do a bike tour I think 😉 (9 and 10).. That night, I got into such a big mediterranean windstorm.. In the tent, it was like trying to sleep hung to a kite.. But, I was saved by a UK ambulance in this “out there”. Thanks mathew !

Day 5 : I could make it to Neas Marmaras, just before it started to rain cats and dogs, and found a cheap and good hotel there (on the seaside, of course…)

Day 6 : the 25 km ride to Toroni, following the coastal road was amazing… and I was just alone in paradise (I saw one car during this 25 km ride !!).. Before getting to a beach in Toroni where I found some lost french people like me (12).. Merci pour les saucisses et les champignons aux petits oignons.. C’etait super bon !!!

Day 7 : Had to climb and to find a shelter for the night (I knew it was going to be heavy rain that night).. I did pretty good 🙂 (13). Thank you (well, whoever you are) for the site, the water supply and the electricity

Day 8 :gorgious ride and wild camp on the east side of Sithonia (from 14 to 18), around Sarti… Ouah !!!!

Day 9 : awesome ride once again but I wanted to find a spot with electricity and take shower.. It wasn’t difficult in Vourvourou (19)

Day 10 : I’m gonna go back to thessaloniki today… Or maybe not… In the end of little peninsula in Vourvourou, Christos and Harris, spontaneously, wanted me to enjoy one more day in one of the best site in Sithonia.. So, they just offered (yes, offered) me a room for the entire day (and night) in their hotel Thalassokipos (20 to 22).. That was “la cerise sur le gateau” !!!

So, thank you so very much !!! That ride was better than anything I could have imagined, and a great conclusion for an amazing month-long trip in northern Greece.

Tomorrow, I’m going to Kriti. You almost all told me it was going to be better. Well, I really wonder how it’s possible !
We’ll see..
To be continued…
βινσεντ τουσαρ

I HOPE THESE LETTERS ENCOURAGE YOU TO TAKE A CAR-FREE VACATION, IT CAN BE AWESOME. THIS IS VINCENT’S FIRST BIKE TOUR ADVENTURE, HE ACTUALLY BOUGHT THE BIKE FOR THE TRIP. HE DIDIN’T BIKE BEFORE THIS TRIP.
TAKE CARE
JEFF
(working on a blog post) stay tuned