Istanbul (July 4th – 6th)

Of all the things I have seen thus far on this trip, I would have to say that visiting Istanbul has been the most eye-opening. Fitting not only the definition of a megacity, but also the superlative “alpha world city“, Istanbul really seems to epitomise humanity’s attempt at pushing mother nature to breaking point. Perhaps my opinion is skewed by the fact I cycled straight to the heart of it, as opposed to flying here. With a burgeoning 13+ million people, Istanbul is something of  a spectacle. The fact it is steeped in so much history and as a kind of East meets West, it is easy to see why so many people fall in love  with this city…

René Heils ©

We hostelled it for 3 nights in a laidback place called Neverland. Activist posters such as ‘Smash the [insert tyrannical globalist organisation here]’ and ‘My Mother wears combat boots’ adourned the walls. It was right close to the old town so the perfect springboard from which to visit all the cultural shit.

I checked out Hagia Sophia, the Orthodox basillica come mosque come museum. The audio tour was something of a let down. Shoulda paid extra to tag onto a real guide in retrospect. I was supremely impressed by the Sultan Ahmed or Blue Mosque.

The interior was something of a fractacular blitzkrieg; a befitting shrine to Hyperspace & the Ultimate True Nature of Almighty Reality a.k.a. Allah. I would have to say though that if it came down to it then St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City probably has the edge in terms of wow factor compared to this place. I wonder how the number-1 Masjid al-Haram mega mosque in Saudi measures up… Could probably do with a roof I reckon.

One night we decided to take the ferry across to the Asian side with our bikes. The plan was to go there, eat dinner and cycle back across the bridge. This would be my first time in all my 25 and counting years of existence that I had been outside Europe. Well up for it. It was 2230 when the ferry departed…

We were chatting to some Turkish teenagers when the ferry docked. We were just saying our goodbyes when before we knew it the ferry pulled away from the port and started making its merry way out to some islands miles away from anywhere… Nooooo!!! And so our plans changed on the spot. Poor René had to get a flight the following morning so he was in the brown stuff. Me n Matze decided that we would chill on the island for the night and get the first ferry home in the morning. We had already paid for a hostel that night so we weren’t prepared to pay to stay somewhere again. Either we found someone, or somewhere… The ferry was heading back to the mainland but somewhere far far away from the hostel. René had to go back out of necissity and so it was that we said goodbye and farewell. This self timer beauty with the Turkish kids would be our last photo together.

Ciao René, danke, und viel spass noch auf deine Reise =]

We never found someone whose place we could crash at, but we didn’t really try. We ended up sleeping on some kind of docked trawler which was undergoing maintenance. Matze found a towel which I used to keep my legs warm. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep and for the next 12hours or so I still felt like I was on the boat. Still, the sunrise was a winner.

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We decided that busing it to East Turkey was the only way we would be able to complete this voyage before the snow falls. Bit of a pisstake I know. Yeah mate, yeah yeah…gonna cycle to India…yeah all way..on the bus! To be honest the very first day I “cheated” so any hope of doing the full distance by pedal power soon went out the window. Ultimately it’s all a time thing. Anyone could cycle around the World if they had enough time. And so Matze went to the bus station to try to find out what was going on…

‘Sorry no buses to Erzurm until next Thursday (9days time)’, was the answer he got from everybody. No buses for 9 days? Apparently they were all full. As he had just about given up hope somebody said to him ‘Ahhh you are German?’ ‘Yes I am German’. ‘OK I have bus for you leaving tomorrow morning. Be here at 10am’. ‘Schoen’. What the hell kind of bullshit system is this? Either there are buses available or there aren’t. Clearly this isn’t how it works in Istanbul where the availability of buses depends on your nationality and the whims of an overworked bus driver. I bet if we had come back the following Thursday we would have been fed a similar spiel. Either way, Matze’s Germaness afforded us access to the bus club inner circle of privilege and so it was that we would be travelling the following morning to Erzurum 1200km to the East…

In more Bitcoin news for anyone who is interested, here is a proof of concept by an American who goes by the name of the The Real Plato. Basically he travelled across the States on a motorbike paying for everything using nothing but Bitcoins! What a trailblaizer. I notice a number of organisations out there who are now accepting Bitcoin donations too. Where will this all go?

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