Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Two faces staying places

It ended with a pair of jeans. When one of our fellow volunteers on the farm (actually a total kick-ass American cycle tourist!) offered up a pair of dark skinny jeans, and Sarah happily traded for them with more than half of her wardrobe, including her helmet, we could no longer deny it: the bike tour was over.

Are you there, bread? It's me, Sarah.
This may have been obvious from our tone over the last few months,but we were really starting to burn out. Rather than grind our passion for cyle-tourism down to nothing as we painfully drag our asses across every single inch of the globe, we're calling it a break to be resumed at some later point in our lives. Ten months is a hell of a long time to live on a bike, not knowing where you're sleeping and being entirely dependent on nature, the kindness of strangers, and ten kilos of aluminum fit up with racks, electronics, and bogged down with bags. We loved cycle-touring, but have both agreed that for us, at least, shorter trips (3-4 months) may be more realistic in the future.

Short trippin'!
The decision was made all the easier as our non-refundable flights to Malaysia were delayed by 4 hours, and thus became fully refundable. We cancelled the tickets and booked one-ways to JFK in December, leaving us with three more months to explore Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia. Yes, we technically made it to Asia, ok?

Brian on the Asian side of Istanbul
Anyway, now we're in Istanbul, frantically preparing for the final leg of our voyage, sans bike. This is our third time in this spectacular city, and for various reasons, we will be back here another three times before we leave. This means that we spent one entire day taking public transportation to Decathlon and back, something the average tourist would never get to (or want to!) experience. We bought backpacks and spent another day making the switch, unloading our gear from our bikes and into the new bags. Our amazing host, Kerem, offered to hold on to our stuff until December, and took us in despite currently hosting four other cycle tourists. In case he couldn't be any more awesome, he also makes the best homemade borek in the world!

Cycle tourist picnic rendezvous at Caddeboston
For Kerem, who says I always wear sunglasses on the blog...
Find the non-cyclist!
Swiss, Turkish, Polish and American...we all love eatin' and drinkin'!

Kerem lives on the Asian side of Istanbul, so we got the pleasure of exploring new, super hip, super posh, tourist-free neighborhoods that we had never seen on our last trips. Istanbul is f-ing huge, by the way. One of Kerem's friends we hung out with complained of a 30 km commute home, and told us that some people have double that!

Happy chicken kebab boy

Happy but guarded fish kebab boy (thar be seagulls a prowlin')
Headscarves to the wind
Plus-sized mannequins! Why do we not have these in the U.S.?
Amazing jewelry by the kilo!
Our plan right now is to take a train across Turkey to the east, from where we will bus and hitch our way up to Georgia, where we will explore mountains (oh, beautiful, gorgeous hiking paths that we couldn't explore with our bikes), sample all of the 8+ varieties of khachapuri, as well as khinkali, and beer, and check out Armenia if we have the time.

In late October, we will have another dog-sitting gig in Cappadoccia, actually a gig we already had two years ago, and we enjoyed it so much that we can't wait to get back to our cozy cave house nestled into the most magical gorges and valleys we have ever seen. The illustrious Shelly Joseph (Sarah's mom) will join us for this leg of the journey, and then we will all head back to Istanbul.

The balloon rides cost 150 Euros. Waking up at 6am to watch...free!
Cappadoccia, 2009
Phallic Valley
Every day, another valley to explore!
Ortahisar, our village
Ortahisar, 2009
From there we will spend our final month in South East Turkey, where some of the best food (due to its proximity to Syria) can be found. We will gorge ourselves on pistachio baklava, spicy kebabs and other meze-esque Middle Eastern delights before catching a flight back to the U.S. to try something totally new: making a home together in one place (TBD). Hey, anything can be an adventure, right?

Gazing westward


Jessica Gilpatrick said...

So excited for you guys! What will you do after December??

Our house is still on the market and we are waiting and waiting to embark on our own journey, so it is exciting to read about what you guys are up to so we can live vicariously through your adventures in the meantime! That farm in Turkey sounds AMAZING and that is something we want to do -- any tips on how to go there would be much appreciated!

Doc Rich said...

Please plan to stay with me in New York City for a couple of days in December - I have the best couch surfing couch imaginable :)!!

Congratulations on a truly amazing journey!! Enjoy the last few months, and please keep posting!

Ken said...

This must have been a very emotional chapter to write.
All good things must come to an end, temporarily at least - but it sounds like you still have a bit more of the journey to complete before the hiatus begins.
Looking forward to pictures from inside the cave-house and to having you stateside.