16 November 2022
Antalya, a sprawling Mediterranean metropolis, with an incredible mountainous backdrop. The peaks of the Beydaglar Mountains are all visible in the clear blue sky as they arc around the city of over a million people.
Today we dock at the busy QTerminals multi-purpose shipping port, some 9 miles west of the city. Faced with the option of a 30 minute shuttle in to town or a bike ride in to the valley of the Bey Mountains, my choice is an easy one...
As I exit the noisy industrial hub of the port area and cross a busy highway, the smooth tarmac roads beneath me quickly give way to patchy areas of loose gravel and potholes. I've taken one of the mountain bikes, which takes it all within it's stride, so I push on in to the shadow of Mt Kizlar Sisisi.
Following the large, dry riverbed I am flanked on either side by lemon farms and pomegranate orchards. I've been cycling for over 5km, I must have seen only two cars and about as many people. The serenity is bliss.
Thirty minutes into the adventure, as the bumpy old road crosses a small bridge over the dry riverbed, I see my first signs of human inhabitation. Four rusty old Chevrolet pickups trucks proudly line the road just outside of a small farm. I hear the chickens' cluck, an unlikely collector.
A dog snoozes in the road, basking in the midday heat. It seems to care about my presence as much as it does the thought of any cars driving by.
This is a good turning point for me to start my journey back to the ship. I wave to my new canine friend, take a sip of water, and head back down the track.
The views are no less impressive on the way back, thanks to the continuous arc of imposing, mountainous peaks separating Antalya from the Central Anatolian Plateau.
By the time I reach the ship I am not at all sad to be going back to work. This goes in the book as one of the best bike rides of my life...