Turkish Delights by Bike, by Exodus' Anna Faulder
Having never been on an Exodus cycling holiday before, I was a little apprehensive - have I brought the right gear? Will I be fit enough? What will my roommate be like? Of course, I needn't have been concerned.
As I arrived at Dalaman Airport I was greeted by a friendly guy wearing an Exodus t-shirt which immediately put me at ease, then led to a mini-bus where I met the rest of my group - all varying ages with different levels of fitness and some less confident on bikes than others. A short transfer by mini-bus and we arrived at Fethiye, a picturesque portside town. Everyone's initial reactions to the location and hotel were positive and we were all brimming with excitement about the seven days of cycling adventures ahead.
The next morning we arose to quite windy weather; we were not perturbed, it was our first day cycling and we were itching to get onto our bikes. Throughout the holiday the landscape was varied, starting with undulating mountains, then moving onto more lush pastures with cotton and chili fields around every corner, passing by stunning lakes and coastal scenes as we went. The fantastic thing about being on two wheels is that you can stop, enjoy the wildlife, taking snaps as you go - all with the knowledge that you won't get left behind or lost, with two very helpful guides and a fabulous support vehicle driver ready to point you in the right direction at every turn.
First meal time arrived and I was interested to know what Turkish cuisine would be like, it did not disappoint - first meal stop was a fantastic fish farm where we were served a whole fresh trout. The rest of the food on the trip was up to the same standard - from traditional Turkish kebabs to the more unusual stinging nettle pancakes.
An unexpected highlight for the whole group was Pamukkale, a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of a natural calcium formation about 520 ft (160m) high. The site contains hot springs, which you can bathe in as you make your way to the top. The ancient city of Hieropolis awaits at the top, which holds stunning Roman ruins and an amphitheatre. Also here is some very well maintained thermal baths, an extra payment is required to enter these, but apparently Cleopatra bathed here so we had to give it a go - the perfect way to relax after a hard days riding.
Another major attraction in this part of the world is Ephesus, a spectacular site, famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We had a very informative guide here to talk to us through the history of this magical site in detail.
Something that must be mentioned is the unrivalled hospitality of the Turkish people that we met along the way - one instance in particular that stuck in my mind was when we arrived in a small village after a heavy downpour; dripping wet we were invited in to a local family's house, given a roasted pumpkin and use of their fire to dry our wet socks!
On the final day we arrived in Dalyan and were offered the chance to experience a traditional Turkish Bath, something that I have always wanted to do and a great way to ease aching muscles after a week's cycling. Definitely an experience I won't forget!
With this particular trip being graded as ‘Moderate’, we were told to expect some large inclines - there were two that were noticeably challenging, but overall none of the group struggled much and we all managed to make it to the end of the week comfortably. I look back with satisfaction and a sense of achievement and look forward to my next Exodus trip!
by Anna Faulder, Exodus’ Marketing Executive, who recently traveled on the Aegean Coast & Lakes Ride.