When The Seagull Ate The Sparrow: the road to Turkey

France, Italy, Turkey

I have left the Rainbow Gathering in Spain and I am in Barcelona, listening to Turkish music with my friend, Julien. I turn to him and say, “I miss Turkey. Let’s hitchhike to Turkey together!” A few days later, a spontaneous Julien has packed a (heavy) rucksack and said goodbye to his life in Toulouse.

We hitch through the French Alps and spend the night in a disused military base in Briançon.

Hitching with Super Hitchhiker, Julien, in the French Alps

Hitching with Super Hitchhiker, Julien, in the French Alps

We sleep in this World Heritage Site fort in the Alps

We sleep in this World Heritage Site fort in the Alps

Down we go to our sleeping place in the fort....

Down we go to our sleeping place in the fort….

We travel onwards through Italy, which is renowned for being really difficult to hitchhike through. But travelling with Julien, who turns out to be SUPER HITCHHIKER, we never wait more than five minutes for lifts. We head to Venice, where a journey on the vaparetto (Venice’s water equivalent of the Tube) costs a massive seven euros for a one-way journey. Luckily, there are no ticket inspectors. We are standing in San Marco square, contemplating whether the cathedral is beautiful or not. I admit to Julien that “actually, I would rather be in the nature than looking at these buildings. I am more fascinated by the birds in the square than the cathedral…” At that exact moment, a seagull divebombs into our heads, lands on the ground beside us and a sparrow falls out of its mouth. The frightened sparrow tries to get up, but before I can save the little bird, the seagull grabs the sparrow in its beak and swallows the petrified creature in one gulp. I am left traumatised.

Lovely weather in Italy...

Lovely weather in Italy…

Our trip through the Balkans proves more difficult than in France and Italy, and our attempts at hitchhiking are met with looks of contempt and fear by the locals. One woman even locks herself in her car as Julien approaches her. But I have a genius idea: we are in Croatia – still four countries away from Turkey – but there are Turkish trucks everywhere on this route. I change my sign, which says ZAGREB, to one which says TÜRKIYE. The first Turkish truck immediately stops. Turks are so so proud of being Turkish! Julien is introduced to Turkish culture long before we get to the country. He is given free tea, free bread, free water…he is told by a driver, “I have travelled in every country, but I LOVE YOU, TURKEY!”

Hitching in Croatia...this sign is swiftly changed to one saying TURKEY, which is far more effective!

Hitching in Croatia…this sign is swiftly changed to one saying TURKEY, which is far more effective!

As we cross the border to Turkey, it feels good to be back. One week in Istanbul is more than enough, so we head down to my favourite part of the country, the south-west coast. I first visited this coastline last May, and walked the Lycian Way hiking trail. The Lycian Way changed my life completely, made me connect with nature for the first time and realise that a city environment is completely unnatural for humans. From then on, I disliked being in cities. I am eager to show Julien the more beautiful parts of the route. We hike for four days, meeting generous local people (and it helps that my Turkish has vastly improved since my last visit here). And as I hike, I remember all of the lovely friends I made on this hike last year and I reminisce. The weather then turns shit and we take refuge in my friend Katie’s home (thank you, Katie!)…but in a few days we will continue to hike up Mount Olympos to witness the end of the world on the 21st…

We visit Kayaköy, a ghost town. This was a Greek town in Ottoman times, but Greeks were forced out of Atatürk's Turkey in the early 1920s.

We visit Kayaköy, a ghost town. This was a Greek town in Ottoman times, but Greeks were forced out of Atatürk’s Turkey in the early 1920s.

We are hosted in the ghost town by Kemal, the most kind-hearted man in the world and someone who I will not forget.

We are hosted in the ghost town by Kemal, the most kind-hearted man in the world and someone who I will not forget.

A view of Ölu Deniz from the Lycian Way

A view of Ölu Deniz from the Lycian Way

Beautiful south west Turkey

Beautiful south west Turkey

Julien meeting the locals!

Julien meeting the locals!

Bee-keeping on the Lycian Way

Bee-keeping on the Lycian Way

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Goats are everywhere on the Lycian Way

Goats are everywhere on the Lycian Way

We drink tea with this lovely family in Alınca

We drink tea with this lovely family in Alınca

Julien posing for an action film

Julien posing for an action film

On the slopes of Baba Dağ (Father Mountain)

On the slopes of Baba Dağ (Father Mountain)

Children in the village of Kirme

Children in the village of Kirme

For the first time since starting this blog, my travels are starting to feel like the blog title: Aimless. I am unsure about my next move, only sure that I will stay in Turkey over Christmas, but then what? Stay in Turkey and learn Turkish? Head to Armenia and visit my friend Jo? Move back to England and work and do activism? Do farming somewhere? Move to Scandinavia to work? Who knows….

2 thoughts on “When The Seagull Ate The Sparrow: the road to Turkey

  1. Great to hear you are back in Turkey! It is so funny, I have a friend who reminds me of you, her incredible love for traveling and hitch-hiking I’ve never met in another girl as passionately than you 🙂 She literally hitches everywhere! She phoned me the other day and asked me if I would hitch-hike to turkey with her! I nearly said yes! And I told her about you and I think you’d both get on. Maybe I will come back to turkey sometime soon. Who knows?? But I will let you know if I do 🙂

    Lots of love to you, and Happy Solstice and Seb I Arus 🙂 Mike xxx

    Like

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