The Dedegol Mountains, Isparta, Turkey. This year’s challenge?

15th to 21st February 2008
10th Cycling Week Yenierenköy to Salamis

The far eastern tip of Cyprus

Day 79 Friday 15th February Yenierenköy to Dipkarpaz

We awoke to the pleasant sound of waves breaking on the shore. The modern hotel is situated in a small bay with a sandy beach and a harbour at the easterly end. We were in no hurry today and had time to explore. It could be a good place to come in the summer with all the usual beach activities just outside the door.

We continued east along the quiet coast road, eventually turning inland. We had a short but steep climb up to the village of Dipkarpaz. This is the furthest east village in Cyprus and we made for the one place which has accommodation.

It is our intention to reach the far eastern point of Cyprus. The Lonely Planet, to misquote Richard Adams, is wrong in almost every significant fact with regard to this area. It was probably written about ten years ago and has not been properly updated in the 2006 edition. Because of this we were reluctant to go further when the availability and location of accommodation was unclear.

The eastern end of the peninsular has been very basic and isolated, and until fairly recently generators were frequently used. There is now mains electricity to the end and telephone wires. Because of the bad weather recently the telephones did not work so we could not get information this way.

The Arch Houses where we found a very nice room are at the very highest point on the ridge on the eastern peninsular. It is a pleasantly done conversion of a traditional farmhouse. There was an arched entrance to the farm with the living quarters above and on either side of the arch. It is unusual both here and in Turkey to see this type of development. They usually seem to prefer new jerry buildings, leaving the old houses to decay away.

We were disappointed to find that although advertised as self catering there were no cookers. This would not have been the end of the world if we had not almost run out of methylated spirit. That is the stuff the trangia works on and even at 45% proof raki will not cook things properly.

Having arrived at lunchtime we were able to spend the afternoon sitting in the sun and relaxing, not something the management finds easy. He did however cope on this occasion, aware that hurrying could easily get us to Limassol too soon.

It is a very nice place to relax. We are in the middle of what in the UK would be described as smallholdings. Spread amongst the green fields are low houses, each with a plot of land. Some have a cow and some sheep and others a few trees. There are few vehicles, mainly rather old looking tractors.

Day 80 Saturday 16th February Dipkarpaz to Zafer Burnu and return

Janet the team weather forecaster was not cheerful about today’s weather prospects. It did however dawn a nice day and weather here is often not as extreme as at home.

We decided to try for the far eastern point of the island. We packed some food but did not forget waterproofs and tools. In our experience tools and waterproofs are less likely to be needed if you have them along.

First we went down to the village which consists of half a dozen shops and cafés, a petrol station, a mosque and a church. The inhabitants, or at least those hanging around, seem, to put it politely, agricultural. It is the same in the UK. You can always tell the deprived areas by the laughing and ignorance when they see the tandem. Here and in the parts of Turkey we have been to it is a great shame that this ignorance is enhanced by many children apparently not going to school.

According to the information we have there remains a small population of Greek Cypriots here, hence the church. The village was squatted by poor Turks from the mainland after the events of 1974. These people now live here in very poor circumstances mainly from farming.

After passing the village centre we then passed through over a km of smallholdings. The area was full of people and the occasional one was actually working. We then had a quick descent to the coast.

By this time the road had reduced in width and become fairly bumpy. Presumably even the more speculative property developers had realised that this is just too far from anywhere to make a quick pound from the foolish Brits. Traffic today is about one vehicle every twenty minutes.

We followed the coastline for a few kms. It was extremely pleasant with sunshine, a light breeze and blue sea. Soon the road turned inland and wound its way along through green pasture land parallel to the coast.

Once back on the coast we continued past a monastery to the very end or beginning of Cyprus. The last 5km was on dirt road though for some reason the electricity posts continued to the end. It is a pleasant place with a high rock sporting both the Turkish and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus national flags. These were big enough, and it would possibly be a better use of material, to make spinnakers out of them. Very few people made it this far and we were able to enjoy it in peace and quiet.

According to the Lonely Planet it is possible to return via a dirt road suitable only for four wheel drive vehicles. Even a two leg drive bicycle is better equipped than many of these off road. The management felt that a four leg drive cycle would meet the requirements.

The stoker did not agree. She cited the previous inaccuracy of the Lonely Planet and the lack of proper maps. She mentioned the weather forecast and that we had not visited the monastery. The management was reluctantly and unusually overcome by logic and we retraced.

The Monastery of Apostolos Andreas is a Greek Orthodox place of pilgrimage. Superstitious people believe it to be a kind of miniature Lourdes. Each to his own. It is a tumbledown kind of place, even more so than is common in Turkey. The monastery looks as if it should be condemned. The many accommodation buildings around it would benefit from having windows and doors.

Surprisingly there is a large number of market stalls here selling the same kind of junk we have seen at other pilgrimage sites. The amazing thing about this one is that there were fewer than a dozen visitors. Mind you the margins must be high. The sale of one tin tray could keep them in raki for a week.

Picnic lunch enjoyed we continued our way back. We had planned a chi stop but kept going instead. The clouds were thickening and a strongish headwind had set in.

This morning the stoker had done some washing and hung it out to dry so did not want it rained on. She was spurred on to efforts that can only be compared with those expended when there is a train to catch.

We were soon up the last hill and home and dry. We had had a lovely day out and succeeded in our raid on Zafer Burnu (Cape Apostolos Andreas). It was now time to sit and relax and enjoy our dinner.

 Help from a local to turn the bike over to mend a puncture

Days 81 and 82 Sunday and Monday 17th and 18th February at Dipkarpaz

We had planned to visit the northern part of the peninsular today. However the weather, as forecast, came in last night and it was still stormy when we awoke. The rain had battered on our room and been driven under the door. Shutters had rattled and banged and the electricity had gone off. We decided to stay in bed until the last possible time for breakfast and then stay here for the day.

It was a good decision. The weather continued in much the same way until dusk when the cold front went through. We had thunder and lightning and several power cuts. We thought that asking whether they had wifi might add insult to injury. We did not even have a long enough dry spell to go for a walk.

Monday morning started grey but at least the rain had stopped. We lingered over breakfast and chatted with the hotel owner. Apparently Southern Cyprus is having elections. An anti integration politician has been eliminated which pleased him. He was however inconsistent on other matters. He says many of his customers are German walkers but he is in favour of the bungalow and villa developments. He does not seem to understand that these will spoil the environment that the walkers come for.

We sat around for a couple of hours and finally the rain seemed to have stopped and we planned a short ride to the north of the peninsular. It is a lovely quiet place to be enjoyed in the sunshine. There are also the remains of a 12th century church, a Roman harbour and a couple of sites with ancient ruins.

We got down to sea level and were about as cold as we have been anywhere on this trip. We explored the rather romantic ruins of one of the churches. It was not long however before we warmed ourselves up by cycling back up the hill to the hotel.

The remains of the wet day were spent planning and preparing for the rest of the tour. The stoker could not make up her mind whether she preferred to stay in five star resort hotels or self catering. This is not a joke. After being away so long having one’s own space and self catering is much more appealing than the average hotel. But the beach hotels can be very pleasant.

Day 83 Tuesday 19th February Dipkarpaz to Bogaz

We took breakfast at a proper time and did not linger. The barometer was steadily rising and tbe sun was bright but it was still blowing hard. The management was apprehensive. We were attempting a longish ride for us, mainly against the wind. If he were not such a restless soul we could have spent another day here and moved on more easily tomorrow.

Once we had descended down to sea level there was no turning back but it was not as difficult as we expected. As we went on we became more relaxed and enjoyed the seascape. There were big waves, a transparent turquoise crashing onto the rocky shore. Out to sea there were white tops as far as the eye could see.

Even though it was so beautiful it was not without some relief that we climbed away from the coast up to Yenierenköy. Here we needed methylated spirit and lunch supplies. The latter was not a problem but the meths for the trangia stove was more difficult.

The stoker, armed with the empty meths bottle and the trangia, went to the chemist shop. Despite lots of effort, however unlikely it may seem, they did not stock it. We then passed a vet’s. The management has previously had dealings with vets for his ailments and reckoned correctly that they might be better equipped than the human quacks. They gave us the last of their supply for free which is typical of the kindness we have experienced throughout Turkey.

Having climbed to the low spine of the peninsular we then had a longish traverse against the wind before descending to the southern coast. We found this part hard and not just because of the cold headwind. We could not find anywhere to have lunch inside and it was too cold for a pleasant picnic.

We did the descent, reconciled to eating chocolate and bananas at brief stops. It was still windy enough to make even our superbly stable tandem skittish in the gusts. We came around a wide bend and were amazed to come across a huge roadside café.

It felt rather silly sitting in the sun eating a splendid lunch. Shielded from the wind it was almost too hot at our table. All too soon we had to leave. The management was as usual optimistic. We should arrive in a couple of hours at most. The wind would moderate and with luck be from behind but at worst from the side.

Optimism is a useful attribute but on this occasion was not called for. Once off the low mountains we were on an undulating plain. The wind blew against us with vigour. We pressed on without even considering a stop. We could not stay warm unless we were pedalling.

Ten kms to go and we began to look forward to a warm hotel. The tandem did not feel quite right - the stoker’s tyre was puddingy. She rightly refused to take responsibility but something had to be done about it. Foolishly we pumped up the tyre. The right thing to do of course was to change the tube. We have remonstrated many times with companions who have wasted time pumping up punctured tyres.

We managed about 4km on the first pump up and 2km the second time. As the tyre went down the third time we came to a new petrol station not yet opened. Out of the wind and in the evening sun we changed the tube with the help of the security guard.

Normally help from locals when we have technical problems is a nuisance. On this occasion the reverse was the case. The security guard helped us remove the luggage and turn the bike over. He did what the management asked and best of all he pumped up the tyre. Not just up but to the 100psi plus at which it runs best.

We pressed on to the hotel and were soon established in a warm room with a bath. Even the brownish water was hot. Like Hobbits even though we had had a nice lunch we managed another meal in the evening. It seemed strange to us though, the hotel catered for beach holiday makers with holiday home owners coming in to eat. It could have been a million miles away from last night on the farm.

Our very last cup of real Turkish chi

Days 84 and 85 Wednesday and Thursday 20th and 21st February Bogaz to Salamis

It was a very short ride to Salamis and felt very easy now that the headwind had reduced to a light breeze from the side. We planned to visit the local ancient sites and also to reduce the next cycling leg to Larnaka to an easy day’s ride. The Lonely Planet promised a variety of accommodation, most of which did not seem to exist. Or at least not in the place they said it was.

In the interests of the management’s sanity and the stoker’s peace of mind we wanted to self cater. Keeping him away from beach resorts avoids short tempers and possible unpleasantness. The first place we found, though luxurious, had not yet plugged in their cookers. Perhaps the money laundered from Brinksmat and drug trafficking did not run to this. We found a more modest place with everything working, but returned to the 5* to use their wifi.

On Thursday we visited the local ancient site of Salamis. It is extensive and even for us who have now seen so many sites was impressive. It was a city kingdom of Cyprus dating back to more than 700 years BC which even issued its own money. The site is very large and not as easy to understand as some but well worth our visit.

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