- ODO 3148km
- Location Just outside Havsa
- Weather 25-40 Hotter down in the lowlands
I got a nice early night at Matts camping spot – avoiding the mosquitoes by getting in my bivi early. At 4am the next day I was woken by a cockerels call. Until then I’d never realise what a perfect
Torture device a cockerel is. It’s call comes at total random just at the point where your eyelids droop. Leaving you on terror expectation of the next cry.
Needless to say I had a bad nights sleep and somehow it took over two hours to leave camp. I wanted to cover more ground today so that on the last day – into Istanbul – there was as little distance to do as possible. That said we were blessed by a gradual winding downhill road all the way to the Bulgaria-Greece border. We were crossing into Turkey via Greece because the main Bulgaria-Turkey crossing was a 3 lane motorway. Into the land of sunflowers, white and aqua flags signalled a slight tailwind as we followed the border on a tarmac and gravel track. Passing the odd do not enter sign and military base.
Towards lunchtime the temperature shot quickly up to 40 degrees with our water bottles empty. We planned to stop at the next town and get a nice Greek salad before entering Turkey. Turning down to the river Augar our road crossing turned out to be a fast flowing ford. Between us and the other bank – over 400m of flowing and slippery concrete – was a paradise of cafe and sandy beach for swimming – complete with volleyball nests. Umbrellas set out with couples and families paddling in the water, sipping wine and dipping bread into olive oil.
We had a plan. A bridge was a 5km detour away but we can take a shortcut through the fields. Following the tracks past row upon row of neat beehives we quickened our pace with lunch in our heads. As we approached the foot of the bridge our hearts sunk. The path we were on passed clean underneath the ramp for the bridge. A painful lesson on the fact that there are no shortcuts.
We made it to the other side of the river and were rewarded by a full meal, nap and a swim. Perfect preparation for crossing the boarder into Turkey.
I’ve been filming more and more to share the realities of life on the road with friends and family. At each border I turn my camera to the signs and flags of the new land I’m entering. This time though there where signs up and down the road saying “restricted area” and “no photographs”. The border buildings were very dramatic. Well maintained and painted white and red flags and a welcome to Turkey sign were built into an ornate arch over the road. I reached for my camera stopping just as a couple of young men came into view in full combat fatigues both holding the largest automatic weapons I’ve ever seen.
Despite the appearances the border crossing went as quick as any other. The smiling guard scanned our entry visas into his Dell PC with the MAC address stuck on the back as a sticky note and waved us through.
With the swim and the border crossings we had only done 60 or 70km as we crossed the river into Eidene. On all surrounding hills the large red crescent and star stood out straight to attention. The flags a couple of meters across each. The towers of mosques rose at all angles. The sun setting behind. The heat still warming out backs. The sound of the call to prayer welcomed us into this new and different world. My first pedals out of Europe and I felt it. Every brand and shop, car and bus, building and person failed to follow my pattern for life and city. Yes at the same time the sound of prayer and the shock of change raised up a wave of emotion towards exploring this new world. I started to get to know my home for the coming months.