Feb 19, 2015

İstanbul, here I come!

When I left Çorlu Wednesday morning, my weather app said the temperature was -2, but the 50 km/h wind made it feel like -11. This amused me, since one of Çorlu's "sister cities" is Alert, Nunavut.

I've decided that walking with a crosswind ‎is more demanding than walking into a headwind. While there is more direct resistance (and exposed flesh) with a headwind, all a walker (or cyclist, for that matter) has to do is press forward. With a strong crosswind (and yes, 50 km/h is STRONG), there is a constant struggle to walk a straight line.

The good news is, my windbreaker and nylon shell trousers worked very well, and my thin inner layers were enough to keep me warm. For most of the day Wednesday, the wind was coming at me from about 7:30. (If my left side is 9:00 and my rear is 6:00. I don't know how else to explain it succinctly.) That meant that by tilting my head somewhat, the floppy brim of my Tilley hat was able to keep the wind off my face. (Because it was flattened against it, but never mind.)

Right around lunchtime, I noticed a small industrial compound at the side of the road. There were no cars, but one of the gates had been left open.‎ I approached warily, but the dog house beside the gate was as empty as the food dish beside it. I looked around for a place to shelter from the wind, and saw a guardhouse. Windows on all sides, the door was unlocked, and there were three chairs behind a table. On the table, there were a few Turkish newspapers spread out.  The most recent one was from February 2. It was an ideal shelter on a sunny but very windy day!

It was 4:05 pm when I topped a hill and finally saw the Aegean Sea spreading out before me. The road had changed direction slightly a few hours earlier, bearing more east than south. That meant I was getting pushed by the wind at 90° to my direction of travel. When I spotted a hotel, I was very happy.

I decided that I would splurge this one night and stay at the massive 5 star hotel, resort, and conference centre. It was worth every penny and I didn't even make use of the spa or sauna! Dinner was marvelous, and the breakfast buffet Thursday morning made me very happy. :)

The wind was still quite strong when I left my refuge but it was considerably warmer on Thursday‎, and after an hour or so, I reached the coast and started walking directly east. Looking at my GPS the evening before, I assumed that meant I'd be struggling with the wind again all day, but the area along the coast is built up enough that the buildings served as very effective windbreaks -- most of the time.

I had picked a destination for the day somewhat arbitrarily, based simply on the distance and the likelihood of accommodations being located along the coast near a major crossroad. As I arrived in Selimpaşa, I stopped at a service station and asked about a hotel. I was told to keep straight on for about a kilometre, and I'd find an economical one beside the next gas station.

I found it easily enough, but the guys there said it was closed, and that it wasn't nice anyway. Just keep going, they said. Another five kilometres, and there's a good hotel. At this point, I put my headlamp on and adjusted the reflective strips I'd scavenged from a discarded safety vest in Bulgaria. After half an hour, I spotted a hotel on the other side of the road. I knew I hadn't walked far enough for this to be the one that had been recommended, but I crossed over‎ and went on in. The room was pretty nice, and I'm sure the view of the ocean is lovely by day, but (strike one) the WiFi signal was very weak in the room, (strike two) breakfast was not included in the rather steep price, and (strike three) the gentleman at reception told me it was cash only when I could plainly see the credit card reader on the desk behind him. I thanked them, picked up my things, and walked on.

By this time I'd been on the road for ten hours, so the next time someone greeted me in English, I took the opportunity to ask about a hotel. (I've learned the phrase in Turkish.) Unfortunately, the greeting was the extent of my guide's ‎English, but "petrol station" is easy enough to understand, and he communicated his directions very effectively. I found the hotel, but it was full. Again, I got directions in Turkish. This section of Turkey along the Aegean coast seems to be a resort area, because there were plenty of swanky properties which backed on to the coast. I settled on one, and was very pleasantly surprised when the desk clerk quoted me a price that was more than 20% less than the rates posted on the wall behind him. It's warm, it's clean, and breakfast is included in the price of the room. And he didn't blink when I handed him my credit card.

(A note about my long days: I've found that once dusk settles in, my stride lengthens and any feelings of exhaustion I may have had simply vanish. I'd written about my "night moves" while I was still in Italy, and the pleasure I derive from walking at night hasn't diminished at all. [As long as it's not raining.])

I was watching for the 100 km and 50 km signposts for İstanbul  but I was in an urban are for each one and either I didn't see them or they simply aren't posted in cities. A few minutes before finding the hotel I'm currently booked into, I spotted a sign that said İstanbul 34.‎ That's one good day's walk, but the distances on these signs are to the city limits. İstanbul is an enormous city, and it will take me a second day to reach the area where I hope to spend a few days. It's 5220 km square, and unlike some of the large "cities" in America, it has a population density of greater than one person per square kilometre. (Sitka, I'm looking at you!)

So, I may not write an update until I'm settled in İstanbul, hopefully by Saturday evening. I'd really like to get to church this Sunday, both for Liturgy and for the evening service which marks the beginning of Great Lent. God willing!

1 comment:

  1. Hooray! This feels like a milestone! Congratulations!