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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 03 May 2016

Location: Geribolu, Turkey

MapAfter three days lounging around Istanbul, we leave for a three-week circumnavigation of the western half of Turkey. We have nine motorcycles in the group, with Anne and I in the bus bringing up the rear. With us are driver Yussuf, guide Baris and a motorbike mechanic. Whatís so wonderful about this is that both Baris and Yussuf were on our 2009 tour, and they both played such an integral part in the traumatic events that unfolded back then. Greeting them both in the hotel carpark on todayís first morning was a special moment, and sharing the bus with them over the next three weeks will be a special part of this journey.

Driving out of Istanbul from a 9am start takes a couple of hours. Itís such a large city, the outskirts and suburbs seem to go on forever. We pass several large commercial centres, with immense shopping centres that drape a Turkish flag wherever they can. Eventually we reach the countryside after lunch, and itís green, with rolling hills of pasture and agriculture such as vineyards and orchards. To our left is the Marmara Sea which narrows into the Dardanelles as we make our way onto the Gallipoli Peninsula. At one point we also have the Aegean Sea to our right. The houses all have a gabled roof made of terracotta, and are nestled into little bays on the coast.

Our destination for tonight is the seaport of Geribolu, and appropriately we dine that evening at a seafood restaurant on calamari and sea bass. Anne and I, Mike, Jim Baba and Baris finish with a nightcap of Raki, the traditional Turkish spirit with an aniseed flavour. Yes, we have returned to Turkey, surrounded by important people from our past and profoundly friendly locals, and tomorrow we visit a sacred site for Australians from a hundred years ago.