Another little leg of the journey done and I’m glad to of found out that my fitness hasn’t seemed to have suffered too much despite my 6 week break back in England. I rode just over 400km in four days through fairly tough terrain climbing two passes over 1100m. Not bad at all!
I spent last week in northern Iraq and when I booked the flights six months ago I arranged for a one day layover in Istanbul to get a feel for the place, little did I know that it would end up being a major highlight of this trip. About 2 weeks before my arrival massive protests broke out across Turkey due to anti-government sentiment, in particular a disdain for the current Prime Minister Erdogen, which was all sparked by a plan to redevelop Istanbuls central square (Taksim) and a park (Gezi) into a new complex.
I initially vowed to steer clear of those protests as getting caught up in something like this in a foreign country is not really advisable, however, it appeared that the harsh police intervention against these protests was consistently only occurring at night when the crowds were at their lowest numbers. I reckoned that heading there in the afternoon would be reasonably safe and that I would leave immediately at any sign of trouble. When I noticed there was a direct tram straight from my hostel that really sealed the deal.