Days 441-449: Istanbul.
One of the worlds mega cities, the biggest I've ever been to and one which is full of life, culture and history. Add to that it's been a stopover for travellers for centuries, if not millenniums. The Bosporus straight brings Asia within bridging distance of Europe and it's just part of life here to cross continents to see a friend for çay.
I only planned to spend a week here, but the people I've met have kept me here a few days longer. There's been a few times I've felt the craziness of such a congested city become too much, though that's a sacrifice I could handle as it was refreshing to connect with people from around the world. In just ten days here I've met people from of course Turkey, but also Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkmenistan, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Columbia, USA, Canada, Russia, France, Italy, Germany, Croatia, Romania and Spain. Proving it's a melting point for travellers from around the world, adding and sharing with me parts of their lives and cultures.
In Istanbul you're never short on ideas for something to do. The first few days of my time here I was quite the tourist, visiting mosques, bazaars, walking by the Bosporus, exploring some of the more interesting neighbourhoods.
My bicycle has now pushed over 10,000 miles since I first got it 18 months ago and I needed a few upgrades @bisiklet_gezgini
was the perfect bicycle store to go to. Friendly, professional service, a meeting point for cycle tourers, a chance to plan routes and share stories for hours over çay.
Then when Istanbul really was getting to hectic I took an overnight trip to the nearby Princes islands. Just over an hour away, yet you would never know the metropolis of Istanbul was anywhere nearby (as long as you're not looking north). I've met and Italian German couple I'm going to cycle with for a while and we took to exploring paths less trodden in the south of the main island, scrambling down to this small patch of beach, west facing perfect for sunset, all to ourselves for nearly 24 hours from arrival to departure.
Istanbul and new friends it's been memorable, but the road is waiting for me...