Good Bye, Istanbul….. See You Again Soon!
We are running out of time, it is early October but we have to cross the Alps to get back to Germany. We are aware that we could get snow in the Alps. So even though we did not see everything there is to see in Istanbul, we planned to leave and just ride into Greece. It can be done in just a few hours. From Istanbul to just across the Greek border is a good ride and we are off, after having said good bye to the nice people at the Sultan Hostel. The bikes are OK, all packed but we have to find our way out of this chaos of streets and traffic. Again, I have a general idea of which way we have to ride but when I say traffic, I mean lots and lots of traffic with poor signage to find Greece. We took off through the old part of town, finding some tight roads and narrow alleys. Double parking, carts being pulled, taxis honking, people walking in the street, buses, trolley tracks, you name it, Istanbul has it. I know there is order somewhere but it is hard to find. Our GPS is not made for Turkey; it just gives us the basic, main roads. There is lots of road construction going on and I can only guess which way to go. I get a little lost but somehow we end up on a highway that runs along the edge of the Marmara Sea.
There is something written on the pavement and it looks like it is for ‘special’ traffic only. I cannot read it, of course, it’s written in Turkish. Carol and I talk about it over the intercom and we decide ‘what the heck, we’ll keep on going’. Lucky us…..we had a good stretch inside busy Istanbul on this road that moved us ‘fast’ out of the heart of the tourist section and yes, we were on the right track to make Greece today. I still have no clue if we were allowed to be on the ‘Kennedy Boulevard’ or not, but we rode it to get out of Istanbul. While it took us 3 hours to get into Istanbul, it only took us 1 hour to get out; much faster than I anticipated. The border crossing into Greece was easy. Carol had a good chat with the Border Guard who told her ‘I love you’ because he was amazed to see a woman riding a bike. Well, maybe it was the woman’s age that got to him (harrumph); he could see Carol’s birth date on her passport.
As is my habit, once we were in Greece we did not ride that far. I had made no Hotel Reservations, because I learned to not anticipate where or when we will arrive in the new country. Finding a hotel was easy enough. We asked a local man in the next bigger town of Alexandropoulos (Αλεξανδρούπολη) and he told us where we could stay for the night. The city is relatively new; it developed from a fishing village to a modern Greek Port. The hotel was new, the lifestyle was Greek, and we are now into the Greek way of life; quite different from the Turkish way of living. Already I like Greece, it would even be better if I could read the writing; Yuk, another alphabet.
It truly is all Greek to me! είναι πραγματικά όλα τα ελληνικά σε μένα!