Bicycle Luke Travels to Istanbul, Turkey

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Bicycle Luke Travels to Istanbul, Turkey

This is an email and photos that I received from my old friend, Bicycle Luke - who became a character of the travelogue. I met Luke on the road in Hungary as I was traveling from Bratislava to Gyor, Hungry. He appeared in front of me out of nowhere and we stopped and talked at the next village. We then decided to bicycle together for the day and I later met up with him in Budapest.

Travelogue entries about Bicycle Luke:
Bicycle Luke in Istanbul Turkey
Friends on the Road, Bratislava ...
Hennessey Hammocks
Travel Notes Hungary
Hammock Tent as Travel Shelter

Letter from Bicycle Luke:

Hello all of my people.

Once again the chance to sit down and tap out a nice big email has seen almost two months roll on by. I am now in London getting ready for my flight to Thailand tomorrow. Ok , back to Bulgaria...

Rila National Park was to be the place I would spend most of my time as i had heard about the much famed Rila Monastery. These mountains are the highest in the Balkans and are home to glacial lakes and every year people of the 'white robe cult' climb to the lakes to dance and sing. Basically just hippies, nothing to serious as it has become more of a tourist attraction than anything else. I think i will let the photographs tell the rest of the story. The not so great part was drinking the water that comes up through fountains in the monastary. Everybody was drinking it so i joined in. Ended up sick as a dog for about 3 days and waited it out camped out by a river.

Photo of Luke's Hennessey Hammocks, Hammock Tent as Travel Shelter Photo by Bicycle Luke.

Now that I had decided to do some touring in the UK before heading to Asia, the timer was ticking again. I would rather have 2 weeks to explore Istanbul than plod along the highway and have only a couple of days in this much famed City. I peddaled towards Istanbul until I found a city large enough to have international trains. On the way I passed the ski resort town of Bansko where I was invited to stay with a friendly chap by the name of Todor. Todor showed me all around the town and I learnt alot about the country and its people. A really fantastic couple of days.

I arrived in Istanbul on a Sunday morning and was totally surprised to find the centre of the city totally quiet. I had been told stories of the killer traffic and pushy sales people in the streets, but definatly not today. As the sun started to set, everyone emerged from what ever they were doing and Istanbul was alive! I was soon informed that it was Ramadan at the moment so people are fasting during the day and feasting during the night. The crowd down by the Blue Mosque of an evening is incredible and there is a true festive spirit in the air. Most evenings I would cook up my own meal at the hotel and then head out into the mayhem to find as many delicious deserts as i could get my hands on. Most evenings end in bloated tummy and regret... but turkish deserts are the best in the world!

Photo by Bicycle Luke.

At first I was a little set back by the way everyone talks to you. 'Hey mister, where are you from' a total stranger will yell from across the street. Walk past a hairdresser and they will inform you that you need a haircut. I began to try and avoid being targeted as I thought it was all just a sales pitch, but I soon came to realise that everyone in Istanbul is friendly and interested in you even if they are not selling anything. If you pull out your map in public you can count down from 5 and there will be someone by your side offering help. I began to get the swing of life here and spent the days exploring the many Bazzare's and street stalls. As well as the bustle of markets there is a rich history of different cultures to explore in the many ruins, buildings and museums.

Market in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Bicycle Luke.

Some quick flashback memories of the crazyness that is Istanbul...

- Store owners sing to you... 'big man, handsome man, beard and moustache man!'
- I am reaching up for a pair of rubber thongs in a stall and the stall owner comes up behind me and jabs me in the ribs in a friendly kind of way with a great big grin.
- Men walk arm in arm and often stroke each other while talking. Super touchy feely society.
- Sitting looking at my photographs two security guards approach and ask to look too.

 Market in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Bicycle Luke.

Off to the UK! I am really looking forward to some cooler weather as it's been a scourcher in Turkey.

I think its pretty easy to see where the photos change to the next country, so i wont do a commentary of them. Hope everyone is doing great and enjoying whatever your getting up to. Should have some crazy asian adventures to tell of soon!

Luke Sorensen

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Bicycle Luke Travels to Istanbul, Turkey
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