Where The Streets Have No Hotels: Bergama to Izmir - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

February 17, 2014

Where The Streets Have No Hotels: Bergama to Izmir

The hotel is the usual good standard for seventy Liras. I sat down once I'd a shower and changed into fresh clothes to write up a page for this journal; starting at eight o'clock, it should take two hours, but it drags with the time passing quicker than I'm able to rewrite my hastily written notes according to grammatical rules and in a way that makes sense and is enjoyable to reread. By eleven o'clock I'm reading it for the fifth time and still find mistakes which irk me like how did a capital letter get in the middle of a sentence. Its near midnight when I finally close the computer and pick up my book to read.

The remaining hundred kilometres to Izmir is like yesterday's road to begin with. Then with forty-five kilometres left, just before reaching the first big town, the nice smooth road hits older divided highway where the shoulder is reduced to a bike width, if that; where, the surface deteriorates to lumpy, rough and crumbling. The truck traffic noticeably increases as I pass a container port and in interludes between almost continuous towns, the coastal plain is despoiled with sprawling industry. There are rows of huge grey cylindrical tanks of an oil refinery across the hillside of a coastal peninsula. There's a power station's four giant turbines with chimneys on top, with a dense forest of electricity pylons and power-lines running off from it.

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The urban landscape goes on and on and I recall images of the day riding into Istanbul. Though it being warm and sunny makes life a lot easier, albeit sticky, and the bus-drivers don't seem as aggressive here. Like riding into Istanbul, there are no signs I can understand which point me in the way of the centre. All I see on gantry-signs are: AYDIN ANKARA ISTANBUL, as I negotiate an awful lot of motorway interchanges. Also signs for Feribot, one of the few words which look like English. I follow this sign which leads to a waterfront with a green and palm trees and promenade and see off to the right a ferry terminal.

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I find a man outside the terminal building who speaks English. He says the ferry crosses the bay to the city-centre and I can also ride around to the centre, as he points off to where the hills close around the inner bay.

I follow a cycle-path along the promenade in the direction the man pointed. Once this run out, I follow behind another cyclist on a bumpy path on the inside of a crash-barrier alongside a highway. I begin to doubt where I'm going as the way around goes on and on, and I've lost sight of the waterfront on the right. It seem I'll never find my way to the city-centre. The path then become extremely rough with crater-like trenches at regular intervals that the bike has to be lifted over, before coming to an end. So, I've to haul the bike across the crash barrier and ride upon an extremely narrow shoulder; which, become a skinny space barely the width of the bike between the white-line and barrier, as the road goes up an incline and continues elevated up on concrete stilts. But ahead, I see to the right the bay and port, with rows of shipping containers. Feeling this must be near, I freewheel down the next exit slip-road and turn along a narrow short street with the waterfront visible the other end.

Upon this street I pass an Ibis hotel, the first hotel I've seen. Then around the corner, I turn into a bustling pedestrian street with all the usual shops and people strolling along and sitting outside cafes. Being famish I spend half an hour at one over a kebab lunch. Then ride further in search of a hotel. I spend a lot of time looking down side streets hoping to see that familiar HOTEL sign, but see none until reaching the quay along the bay, where there are quite a few four star hotels, a good bit above my budget. By chance I come upon the tourist information office. They are about to close for the day, but the man who is leaving gives me a city-plan, upon which he marks the train station, saying all the cheap hotels are there.

In the narrow cobble-stone streets near the station, almost every door is a cheap hotel. Some though are a little rundown. One I enter wanted fifteen Liras a night, but the walls in reception are grimy and smell of cigarette smoke. I then pass a few others looking equally unappealing from the outside. Then stop at one looking bright and airy. The old guy on reception who speaks a little English quota me twenty Liras, so I decide to stay. The room, albeit basic with the main light not working, but with a large lobby area with comfy sofas just outside my door, is good value, as its the euro equivalent of six seventy-five.

With the hotel so cheap, I decide to remain here in Izmir two days. The city-centre is quite a nice place to spend days off the bike with lots of cheap eateries.

This afternoon, my second day here I bumped into Suzy and Dino. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/NZBbB Tomorrow morning we plan to meet up and ride out of town together.

Today's ride: 107 km (66 miles)
Total: 10,919 km (6,781 miles)

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