Go with the flow
I will combine Lesvos and Turkey here. Both were amazing.
The Greek island of Lesvos formed the stage of a extraordinairy cycling trip. A trip about what can go right instead of wrong, about hope and a positive signal to refugees and the residents of an island that has gone through a lot. A gorgious island that is depending on tourism and needs foreigners to visit. .
- 2 refugees from the middle east, 1 volunteer, the founder of a refugee foundation and a world cyclist
- 3 days
- Local cyclists
- A supercool island
- Route: Mytilini – Plomari – Molivos – Mytilini
- Goal: Connecting and developing a cycling trip that might generate income for the NGO and local residents
Refugee or redbearded cheeshead, in this trip there were no nationalities, stereotypes or borders. Five people, locals from the island and the strength of cycling together, traveling together and exploring together.
Great guy and founder of Movement on the Ground (MOTG). MOTG is a Dutch and Lesvos based foundation aiming to help refugees. Adil is the force behind this growing NGO and cycled his ass off in the Greek heat.
A volunteer and a self empowered woman. Like Adil and myself also from the Netherlands. She was tough and cycled like one of the guys.
Refugee from Iraq and the fastest cyclist we had in the group. Great sense of humor despite the fact he has been in the ‘process’ for four years. A man who has had a lot to handle, a man who was positive all the way.
Refugee from Syrië. Quiet and the girls liked him because he was so sweet. Could be right because that’s also the way he cycles, like he’s dreaming. He did well cycling, especially if you consider he had never cycled before..
The wizard and local guide. He knew everything, did everything, new the best spots for foodies and took care of all our gear. Great man and a good representantive for people on the island. An island that is awesome by the way. The scenery, food and people. .
The Netherlands and Turkey were in political conflict. Probably orchestrated to win votes since both countries were heading for elections. Aside from that the Turks were bombing the Curds in the eastern part of the country. I stopped following the news, are they still doing that?
People were telling me I should skip Turkey and cycle around it. It would be too dangerous for me. But my instincts told me that Turkey would be amazing. I trust my instincts.
As I cycled my first day on Turkish soil 170 km of 40 degrees heat into Izmir there was a family waiting for me. It was late but they had waited and had prepared a huge family dinner. They told me they would help me cycle through Turkey. I decided to let it all happen. Letting go was one of my main goals before starting this journey. Hence, I let it go.
As I left this beautiful family after some days, a family who took care of me and showed me their country, they threw water at me. “Be like water on this journey.” A beautiful message.
Before I left they had created a WhatsApp group (“Help Mark through Turkey”). This group got bigger and bigger by the day – I had over a hundred messages at the end of a cycling day. I started receiving more and more invitations from the Turkish people. In every village, every town there were people waiting to receive me. They had the best of food and warmest of hospitality to give. It was overwhelming. I didn’t sleep a single night in my tent and realised I was living a small fairytale.
It also got the attention from media and local mayors. I got invited, got surprised with an incredible balloon flight over Cappadocia, an all inclusive four star hotel and over a dozen of news items from media. Articles and videos about the Dutch guy cycling through Turkey. Had I turned into a mediatool to serve a political agenda?
As I got invited at two mayors, one started asking about the political situation between our countries. I was clear about it. That it’s not about politics. It’s not about power. I’m cycling to connect and to discover the real people, the people that determine the soul of a country. It’s about the people I meet along the way. The people of Turkey that treat me so well. He apologized. I accepted, received his gift and shook his hand while we were in pose for a newspaper article. Would my last remark be in there? I don’t know.
From all the attention, the gifts, the fancy hotels, the restaurants, that what stays in my mind are the Turkish smiles and their hospitality. That and their food and fresh fruits as I was welcomed in their house after a hot day of cycling. I promised I’ll be back some day to show my gratitude. That and to have another taste of their hospitality).
Gökhan (first stop after Izmir)
- 3 guys
- Good bed
- Lot of laughs
- The whatsapp group is growing
Gulay from Usak
- She and her aunt were too sweet
- Too much food, good food
- Talks with the family
- King size bed
Abdallah & Ibrahim from Afyon
- Afyon is a really nice place
- Two young guys taking care of a cyclist
- The Hamam guy almost killed me
- Whatsapp group keeps on growing.
Ali from Aksehir
- In Aksehir
- Intelligent man, an old politician
- Hotel 3-star
- Owned a restaurant :)
- A meeting with the local mayor
- Lots of media
Ali from Konya
- Konya is a religous and historical city
- Stayed an extra day
- Fresh food, too much food, great food
- Culture visit ‘Rumi’
- Rumi knows
Kerime & Bayram
- In Aksaray
- They got back from their holiday one day earlier to see me
- Sweet family
- Ate lots of meat (I’m a vegetarian)
- Huge bed
- Slept early, was tired
Ramazin, Faruk (in Cappadocia)
- 4-star hotel
- Including buffet food
- Spent 3 days
- Local mayor (cool guy) wanted to meet me and gave me a balloon flight
- Also cycling with the local cycling heroes
- Awesome it was
Kasim in Kayseri
On my way to Malatja, Kasim wanted to meet me and take me to a local restaurant. It was just a stop for me because I was in a hurry but he helped me, fed me and we talked. Thanks buddy.
- He ownes a bike shop
- Sleeping in a 4 star hotel again
- Local food, again lots
- Cycled with a group of 32 cyclists
- Lots of media again
Grateful seems to be good for you. That’s cool because grateful I am and I already know that I will be more gratefull as time passes by and I have absorbed everything that has happened. I know from experience so much happens that it is difficult to take it all in. The video below is amature stuff bit it will remind me all the good things that happened.