We teamed up again and pedaled to the Turkish border at Ipsala. After four passport checks we finally entered Turkey. One of the border guards held one bicycle after the other as we were taking pictures. In his other hand he held his gun.
Becky and I split up again the next day. She wanted to go south to Antalya and I east to Istanbul. This time I was sure that I wouldn't see her again since her plan was to cycle across central Asia to South Korea and I planned to go into Iran and to the Arabian Peninsula next.
It was a rather monotonous ride to Istanbul and it still wasn't flat land as people in Greece assured me. The straight roads were hilly but not steep. There were no cycling lanes so I cycled on the motorway's side strip. It was a strange feeling to do so and I was nervous that the police would pull me over. However, after numerous police cars passed and some of the policemen even waved at me I was sure that I'd be fine. It was very comfortable to cycle on the side strips since they're three meters wide and as a cyclist you've the whole space for yourself. Every now and then I had to share it with tractors, moped drivers or pedestrians. However, the heavy traffic noise was stressful over time and strong head winds coming from the Black Sea blew into my face until I arrived Istanbul.
I camped on the beaches of the Marmara Sea. It was very comfortable since there were parks on which it was okay to pitch my tent. There were even free shower cabins. The few Turkish campers around me made barbeque and smoked shisha.
I met Nikolas, another German cyclist, outside of Istanbul. We teamed up and maneuvered through Istanbul's crazy traffic. When there were three lanes, car drivers made it five. And when there were five lanes, they made it seven. The road markings seemed to be just a suggestion. I never experienced such heavy traffic before. Any gap to make it through was ours. Riding through this madness was stressful but also exciting. I felt the adrenaline kicking in as we rolled into the city.
A few days later I rolled into Ankara. I passed president Erdogan's palace and was lucky to end up in a boy's student accommodation. The majority of students were gone due to semester holidays. The few guys who stayed welcomed me with open arms. They couldn't believe that someone would cycle all the way from Germany to Turkey. Fahrt, a Turkish-German guy, laughingly said: "The others usually make fun of me because I often travel by car between Turkey and Germany instead of taking flights. I'm sure this will stop now since they know you now."
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