More rave up action this morning in my field. This time its Top Buzz at Fantazia. The easy start to the morning is to get back on the motorway where I came off and get on with it, but you know me. I've seen a road running parellel with the motorway since Harmanli and I reckon it might be a tad more interetsing than Mr M. So I follow the dirt track under the bridge in the hope of ending up on said road. All goes swimmingly and I jump on the road without any fuss at all. Trouble is the road is fast going in opposite directions to Mr M and a quick peep at the map reveals why. It also says this road it eventually a dead end. I go in search of a local to seek the truth. A man says problem. No problem I say. He points to the bottom of his field and the motorway and then to his gate. I get th picture and bump off down the field chasing after the lorries like a sick dog. Sick as in well sick, yeah. The gate is locked. I spy a shepherd and am just starting over towards him when I see the loveliest of sites: an open gate. Up I pop and before you can say Michael Jackson I'm on the M. By lunchtime I cruise into Svelingrad but it's still 10k to the border crossing to Turkey, the point is called Kapitan Andreevo. Then a small chink in the armour reveals itself to me. The sign to Svelingrad peels off the M, Istanbul is straight on. No problem there. However the road to Svelingrad is also the road to Greece, it's only 8km away and a plan hatches. I stop at a shop that takes credit cards and find the beer I've been searching for for the last 3 days. I saw it in Plovdiv and haven't seen it since. It's by Kamenitza, one of the big breweries and it's an unfiltered beer. Right up my street. I have this on the table outside with last night's extra pasta I made. And crazy luck, they have wifi too. I decide to have lunch and a bit of a rest then go to Greece for the afternoon, which is not on the route and head back across the Turkish border at Edirne which is the first Town Stevens stopped at in Turkey. Well why not, it's not everyday you can cycle to Greece at the drop of a hat. It turns out not to be today you can either, some people outside of the supermarket give me lots of advice, most of which I'm nbot sure I understand. They keep pointing to their watches. I take this as a bad sign with time against me and decide that this little holiday will have to happen another time. I head back on the highway to Edirne and Turkey. Kapatan Andreevo soon comes around and it certainly feels like a border town with petrol stations, cafes and change offices lining the street on both sides.
Arriving on a bicycle seems to tickle the border guards as they ask the usual questions. At the Turkish side I have to present my passport which has no visa and then go to another office on the other side of the compound to buy one. Why they dont make the visa office at the start of the compound I will never know. I have three ways to pay. £10, E15 or $20 dollars. I knew this in advance and changed up some Bulgarian Lev into Pounds for just such an occasion. Without so much as a look through my handlebar bag I'm through customs and into Turkey. 4000 or so km since leaving Liverpool and I'm in bloody Turkey. Well I'll be. I'll be honest with you I really had no idea if I could do it, but I stuck to my mantra which I think can enable anyone to do it which is: Stop when you're worn out, eat when you're hungry, sleep when you're tired.
Things do change when you enter Turkey. A big mosque greets you for a start. The roads are a bit dustier but cleaner. The car horns have a different tone to them and are heard more often, normally as a sign of overtaking. As I'm on the hard shoulder this happens lot to me. Lots of waving from pedestrians to acknowledge my travels. They somehow know I've travelled from further afield than Bulgaria. Edirne is the first city Stevens visited, and so it will be for me too. I don't make it. About 2km out of town I run out of steam, wobbly legs all that business. I roll down a dirt track to some shady trees, put the bike down and fall asleep. About an hour later I wake up to find I'm in somebodies driveway about 50 metres from their front door. No one is around. I get up and head on to Edirne. It's about 5pm when I reach here and first thing on my mind is food. I have a kebap in the main pedestrian area and devour it. When I look up the staff of the kebab place are laughing at me, gesturing that I must have been really hungry. I was. A few days ago I had told Maddy that the trip had been the perfect length and that I thought it would be perfect timing to come home soon. But as I'm sure a lot of travellers find, when you reach a new Country as different as Turkey with the cultural, religious, food, music fashions and what not. It's hard not to get swept along on the crest of an adventurous wave and the feelings of why you departed on your trip in the first place all come flooding back. The wanderlust. The sights sounds and smells of Edirne are an instant pick me up. I buy some figs from a fruit barrow, darker here than in Serbia. Delicious. I buy some more. Some Yoghurt from the milk, cheese and yoghurt shop and an Efes, Turkeys only beer as far as I know. By the time I negotiate the difficult task of finding a toilet it's dark. I just head out of town on the main road and keep the eyes squinted looking for a break in the houses somehwere. The houses turn to fields but they are fenced off until a fortunate/unfortunate car crash has steamrollered the fence and in I go. This field is right next to the road but there are more further into the distance, a small ditch seperates me from it. I reach the end of the field and thankfully a little path takes me over the ditch and into the further field. Away from the traffic and the eyes I whip the tent and everything up super-quick in the moonlight without the need for a torch. And I enjoy my Efes, Figs and some Turkish sweets I bought from a confectioner. Marhaba Turkey.