January 12th to 23rd 283km
We left Santorini on the late afternoon ferry which gave us a last glimpse of Thira and Oia in the sun as we sailed out of the caldera to the north. Two hours later we were rolling off the boat in the beautiful port at Naxos. Clare had scoped out a beach around the corner from the harbour, where we pitched the tent just as night fell. Behind our tent on a small rise were the remains of the Temple of Apollo, lit up at night. The following morning we went for a wander around it before setting off on the bikes.
December 21st to January 11th 122km
Happy New Year! We’re back, after a long break for Christmas, we’re on the move again. We spent ten very relaxing days in Afantou, Rhodes with Clare’s family. She’d really been looking forward to them coming out to meet us and we had a great time together. As is always the way, we shifted into a parallel world, where the location was irrelevant and we were just back into normal family life. The villa they had rented was perfect, right next to the beach with a beautiful terrace and garden. We made the most of it, eating outside whenever we could, barbequeing a couple of times and going for the odd morning swim. The owners of the place were excellent hosts, popping by occasionally to check everything was ok, always bringing something with them, a bottle of wine, cookies or even, on Chritmas Day, a whole rack of lamb!
As always, it is hard to summarise a country from a relatively short time spent there. I’m sure we don’t fully understand a lot about Turkey, and with it being such a large country there is so much more to see. What I do know is that we absolutely loved our time there. Turkey offered us so many amazing things. It is a very beautiful country and we are leaving wanting more. I think that is always a great sign. We’d heard many wonderful things from other touring cyclists but I still had my reservations. I was worried by the horrible stories I’d read about savage dogs, the cold weather coming, and of course by all the violence that has happened in the last year (more that others were worried than us). But as always with most of my worries (not Andy’s) I really shouldn’t have fretted. It was such a brilliant part of the trip that overall I think it may be my favourite country we have cycled in (excluding Japan because that was home)!