Ottoman 13: Plodiv to Edirne
Friday, July 29, 2011
In many respects today was our best day of riding on the trip so far. Cherie, Katharine, Nels, and Jürgen all set personal mileage records. Four of us made it over 100 miles and into Turkey on the bikes, and Nels and I made it all the way. There was varied scenery and conditions, but we all rode well together (until Nels pealed out to beat us all to the border!)
And of course, we made it to what remains of the Ottoman Empire – Turkey. Turkey is much, much bigger than any of the other 5 countries we’ve been in. Maybe 6 times the land mass and 10 times the population. It’s a huge regional and international force, and a psychological gateway between Muslim and Western countries. It’s really different too….
The first 18 miles were on Bulgarian Route 8, a busy two lane road heading east out of Plodiv. We rode as a unit and covered it quickly and as safely as possible. Here’s Cherie leading the way into the morning sun, followed by Jürgen and Nels.
After those 18 miles we agreed to detour off the original route and go through Chirpan and Dimitorvgrad, rejoining route 8 maybe 45 miles later. We rode through some great little villages. Here’s Jurgen heading through one of them, followed by a church tower with the biggest birds nest on it yet.
We had an ice cream break at Chirpan and then headed through town. Some photos:
Cherie looking strong in her aerobars.
Katharine taking a picture of me taking a picture of her.
Two local ladies waling along the side of the road.
A pretty, shaded stretch of road along this section.
Then we came to a town called Celina. I don’t know that there’s any direct connection, but Celina Plaza is our marketing manager at ecoAmerica, so I took a picture of the sign, the store, the main road and the community well.
Jurgen got a flat coming into town. Nels helped him while Cherie, Katharine and I rode slowly up a few miles to wait for them at an intersection. Here’s a view of Celina from the other side of town where we waited
We stopped in the pedestrian plaza in Dimitorvgrad for our lunch. Five of us went this first 56 miles or so unsupported because Lisa and Annie were gracious enough to wait in Plodiv until the bike shop opened to get us some tubes. They bought 10, joined us for lunch, and we distributed half of the tubes before we headed out across then along the river east.
We’ve all commented on how run down much of rural Bulgaria is. The shift to and through communism, combined with declining and aging population, doesn’t make for dynamic growth. We rode by many abandoned shops and buildings.
At about 88 miles, maybe 15 miles before the Bulgaria/Turkey border, we stopped for a significant break. Here’s the whole team at this point.
For reference, that’s Lisa, Annie, Cherie and Katharine sitting, and Bob, Jürgen and Nels behind. We took off and headed for the border in the hot sun. I pulled ahead at the 100 mile point to take action shots of Katharine, then Nels, then Jurgen – you can see that they are riding with a bit less rigor at this point.
A bit later, Turkey was close!
The border crossing was a study in contrasts. Passport controls both out of Bulgaria and into Turkey. But the Turkey facility was huge, new, clean while Bulgaria seemed dated. Photos of the crossing
The big flags at the crossing.
Katharine, Nels and Babar leaving Bulgaria.
Nels headed into Turkey.
Bob headed to the giant, empty Turkey immigration/customs facility.
Nels, Katharine and Bob waiting for service at said facility.
We were down to just Nels and me for the last 15 miles or so heading into Erdine. We drafted a tractor pulling a trailer of irrigation supplies for a bit, and made it. Lisa and Annie had stopped in Erdine on the drive from Istanbul to Vienna and found a very interesting hotel for us.
The Hotel Kervansaray in Erdine is probably the oldest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Two inner courtyards, a ring of shops around the outside. Photos from this place.
The hotel entrance.
The team checking in.
the bikes resting in a courtyard
The other courtyard set up for a LOUD wedding.
One of the halls to the rooms.
We washed up, and walked over to check out the big, magnificent mosque on the top of the hill.
You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when you hear the call to prayers from the loudspeakers on the minarets. After a brief look we walked, yes, to the pediestrian mall and found a restaurant for a late (starting at maybe 9pm) dinner. Last photo is Jurgne and Nels chowing down.
Tomorrow is the first big day of riding in Turkey. Below is the Garmin map of the day showing the route, time, speed, elevations, etc.
Bob 8/3/11 2:36p est Over Baffin Bay