Diary of a crazy week in Turkey - An article by Catherine Biau
After a week's family hike in Greece with Marie and Nil last September, I had only one desire: to come back to walk with them. I loved this feeling of freedom, without constraint, living in the rhythm of the sun, looking for wood in the evening to make a fire, being satisfied with what we had found on the road for food, getting back to simple things. We realize that a lot of things are superfluous in our daily life and that we could very well do without them.
And then, as one of the oldest participants in this adventure, I thought that I may never have the opportunity to have such an experience again.
During this week in Greece, we did not have the opportunity to eat and sleep with the locals and I hoped to fill this gap.
Arrival in Edirne at the end of the afternoon. The weather forecast for the coming week is changing drastically. Night temperatures are forecast up to -21°C. So we’re going to the bazaar to buy me a "gorgeous" green down jacket and a pair of warm gloves. Visit of the city and dinner in a nice little restaurant, then delicious pastries in a tea room. Overnight at the hotel before the start of the great adventure.
26 km including 3 in a police car. The people in the cars we came across today gave us a friendly wave, but we will learn later that 15 people called the police about us, taking us for migrants. It must be said that the border with Bulgaria is very close. A first the policemen checked us, then the gendarmes and then another police car in which we had to get to the village of Kofçaz. Unable to find accommodation in this village. The policeman tells us that we can sleep in the woods, the "jungle" as they say, provided that no one sees us. Camp at an altitude of 625m above the village around a good fire, freeze-dried meal and cheese borek. Magnificent sunset.
20km to reach a village where we ask for the "Muhtar", the village mayor. His name is Ibrahim. He's the one who runs the grocery store and the cafe. As rain and a strong wind are announced for the night, we ask him where we could take shelter. He invites us to sleep in his cafe where a huge stove heats the room. He serves us a tea, then a coffee with milk, then another tea, then another coffee with milk, in all I will have drunk 7 teas and 2 coffees in 5 hours 🤪. The men of the village come to drink tea and play cards. The cafe closes at 10 p.m. but seeing Marie falling asleep, the boss puts his customers outside at 9:45 p.m. then he prepares us a dinner: spicy sausage cooked with fried eggs, yogurt, halva, all this washed down with red wine and pepsi. I opt for wine but the owner fills his glass with half wine and half pepsi and puts it on the stove. It doesn't seem very tempting! After the meal, long talks begin because the Muhtar wants Marie and Nil to sleep in the cafe and me at his house just above. Woops! I may have missed an opportunity to become the mayor's wife but I have a husband waiting for me in Paris After an hour of talk, he accepts that the 3 of us sleep downstairs. What an evening!
We arrive at 2:30 p.m. in the village of Çukurpınar. It's raining. The mayor suggests that we sleep in the village cafe. At first we accept then we fear that the scenario of the day before will happen again and at the same time, as it is early, we will lose an afternoon. We decide to continue to the cave of Dupnisa Magarasi. The snow begins to fall. The place is deserted when we arrive. We find a wooden hut to spend the night. We leave our bags there and go to see if the cave is open. Miracle! The entrance to the cave is not closed and we enter with our headlamps. It’s much warmer in the cave than outside. Bat colonies are hung on the walls. It's magic!
Around 9 a.m., the cave guards arrive. Marie goes to meet them to explain that we slept in the cabin. They offer us a hot tea and offer us to visit the cave. The part we visited the day before is closed to the public in winter because the bats hibernate. We do not boast of our escapade the day before and accept the visit of the cave. They turn on the spotlights and the spectacle is magnificent.
Then begins the most rock 'n' roll hiking day of the week. It snowed in the night and the landscapes are gorgeous. We have 2 options: follow a path for 29 km or cut through the wood for 19 km. Of course, we opt for the 2nd option. We have to make our way through the snow-covered shrubs with a steep slope 🤪 and then cross torrents of icy water. Our socks and shoes are soaked. Those of Marie even make bubbles. One night at the hotel in Demirköy will allow us to dry our things.
In principle, a "small day" of 21 km. There are very few marked trails so Marie and Nil have planned an itinerary based on the few people who have shared their experience on social networks. Except that hiking in summer and hiking in winter is not the same thing at all. The edge of the river that we are supposed to follow is not passable in winter and Nil is forced to cut a path with a machete through the branches and brambles. It reminds me of something (for those who missed it, see the video on our family hike in Greece). Before night falls, we pitch the tent on a promontory overlooking the river.
Upon awakening, surprise! The tent is covered with snow. Nil must once again use his machete to make our way between the brambles and the branches. The landscape is beautiful but we walk in the snow all day. In the late afternoon, we arrive at Igneada Beach, a seaside resort on the Black Sea. But as the sea rises, we have to cross an arm of the sea with water higher than the navel. FYI, it's between 0 and -2°C with a Siberian wind. Fortunately, at the end of the beach, our spa hotel awaits us, which will allow us to warm up and recover from this busy day.
As is customary in the adventure 2PVA, we shoot a small video on my impressions of this Turkish week. One last stroll in the city and it's time to say goodbye to my favorite hikers and take the bus to Istanbul.
This week of hiking with Marie and Nil was rich both physically and emotionally. I loved living with them these moments of meeting and sharing in the villages. With gestures, looks and a few words of Turkish, we can understand each other. Their journey is coming to an end. Too bad, I would have re-signed for a third week.