Welcome: Alexandroupolis to Near Kesan (Turkey) - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

January 25, 2014

Welcome: Alexandroupolis to Near Kesan (Turkey)

THE WIND GETS UP in the early hours as rain continues to batter the tent all night but the morning dawns fair and blustery wind persists; leaving the tent dry and nice to pack away. The clouds have lifted. The sea is visible beyond the saddle between two hills ahead while riding down the forest track to rejoin the road. Then it's another ten kilometres, mainly downhill to Alexandroupolis where I find a good café in the town-centre as I want to charge my computer.

It's a busy Saturday morning with well turned out trendy people taking nearly every seat in this stylish coffeehouse, with soft music and hissing espresso machines as background ambiance. I look around for a seat near a power-point and a man who looks to be the manager sits me down at the counter where there's a plug-in-point underneath. The coffee in Greece I'll say it again is such a treat, a mug full with a saucer of cake and cookies complimentary; almost a second breakfast. And a glass of water which the girl comes along and refills from a jug every time I drink it empty.

Outside the sun has broken through and the street and road ahead has dried out. It's about forty kilometres to the border with light traffic in a southerly crosswind and more rain on the horizon. I turn off at a town shortly after noon, where a lot of the women are robbed and head scarfed in Islamic dress, making it look like Turkey already even though I have yet to cross the border. Here I find a small supermarket where I buy bread and homemade cookies and the usual big bottle of coke; then lunch outside sitting on a step finishing off the last of the sheep's cheese; during which, a man returning from next-door's builder-supplies to a white Citroen Berlingo van, shouts out "Hey torista. What country?" I reply Ireland. He sucks in and says "On bicycle, oh-la.."

The last six kilometres of Greece is on the shoulder of the motorway; and then the guard flicks through my passport, hands it back and waves me on. I ride across a long bridge and see large red Turkish flags fluttering in the wind on the other side. And on arriving there, pass two welcoming Saddam Hussen lookalike soldiers standing to attention complete with mostashes and black berets.

There is a queue of cars waiting to be processed, so I go to a building on the left where I find an ATM and take out four-hundred Turkish Liras. Later when I get to the window, the guard shows me across to a booth where I pay fifteen Euro for a visa. A postage stamp which the woman therein sticks in my passport.

I had been expecting a deteriorating road; but no, the road onwards is good divided highway with a lane wide shoulder where I ride. The traffic at this point is light and more than half are trucks. The countryside looks bleak and treeless. In places there are shepherds herding sheep on the embankment. But for the most part its industrial praire farming with large grain silos and machine-depots of ploughs, cultivators, seed-drills, tractors and combine-harvesters, beyond which are rolling green expanses of sprouting wheat, crossed by power-lines looped between stark pylons.

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There's an ocational relief from this stark man-made landscape in steep hollows down to polluted streams. A possible stealth camping spot in the bushes along the bank. Then further on, approaching the town of Kesan, there is a large grove of deciduous trees; into which, I push the bike and ride along car-tracks a good few hundred metre from the road. The trees are well spaced apart and there's lots of level grass ideal for camping.

I stop by a tree and get the tent out. Then see underneath the bows of the trees, sheep being shepherded in along the way I came; so, hastily put everything taken off, back on the bike and push the bike yet further away from the road. This time I find a more secluded spot with thorn bushes on three side. I put the tent up and wait, but the sheep come no further and in any case it's dusk. The town of Kesan can be seen: a jewel necklace of lights across the darkening slope on the other side of the wheat field on this side of the grove. It'll be soon too dark for anyone to see me.

Looking pretty bleak.
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Today's ride: 87 km (54 miles)
Total: 10,083 km (6,262 miles)

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