Wednesday, May 9, 80 k

I'm up, packed, I've confirmed directions ("Go 2 kilometers, then left at the factory") and finished breakfast by 7:05 am. I'm rolling. Scenery is nice. At a small bus stop a man points his cell phone at me-I'm amused to have the tables turned. Signage at 9:15 am says "Eskisehir: 50 k". Sweet! My wife's got a childhood friend who actually lives in Eskisehir, and now that I know that I'm actually going to be in the city, I look forward to calling Anna and her husband.

Signage at 11:14 am - "Eskisehir: 30 k." I'm kicking butt, especially since it's rolling hills!

I pop-out on the autobahn for the last 24 k and make solid time. The day's hot. Entering the built-up area, I come to a traffic circle and some big turnoffs. I'm nervous about overshooting my destination (backtracking sounds hideous to me!) and pull off at a gas station. I pound-down a few 12 oz sodas, then show the phone number to the attendant behind the counter, and pantomine if he can show me where a phone is. He pulls out his cell, and dials the number, then hands the phone to me. Totally cool! Unfortunately, there's no answer.

I decide to continue on and try to find a hotel listed in LP that sounds like a pretty good value, the Has Hotel Termal,"in the thermal baths area, not the dusty bus stop area"). I ask the young man in the gas station. He seems to indicate (did I mention that I don't speak any Turkish!) that I take a right in 2 k. It's midday and it's surprisingly hot in the sun, but I own the clock, so the life's OK. I get back on this big busy road and go straight (Jeez - sign says "Ankara"). I ignore a big turnoff or two, and then see a small sign saying "Sehir Merkezi". I remember that phrase from the guidebook, and sure enough, in small print below that, I see smaller text, "Centrum." I take it.

In a few minutes I'm at a one-way street with a flashy tram on it. I pull over, pull out my guidebook, look lost, and almost immediately someone calls out and comes over. I point out the name of the neighborhood I'm looking for, "Hamamyolu Caddesi" and he sketches a few streets on the blank sheet of paper I'm holding. He seems to be indicating "Go 600 m, take a right, then 200 m". This is a really nice level of detail! I thank him and follow directions. Soon enough I'm in the busy pedestrian thoroughfare. Another inquiry or two, and I find the hotel. It's about 1:30 pm. The room I'm shown is fine, has a massive tub (for the healing waters), 24-hour hot water (we'll see) and is 50 Turkish Lira. I jump on it. I ask the front desk to dial Anna. They do - there is no answer.

OK, the remaining important issue - LAUNDRY. I ask at the front desk and I'm told that there is a place just down the bend and around the corner. I head down with two pair of socks, the white shirt, the bicycling bottom and top and one underwear and learn that laundry can be ready at 4:00 pm. Perfect! I ask the price and I'm told 20 Turkish Lira. Wow - That's $15 for one armful! I balk, they make a motion indicating ironing, I say "No", and the price is now 12 ½ Turkish Lira, or perhaps $9. This is not a steal, but I need dry laundry, so the sink is not an option. I take the deal, find a grocery store a block away, buy some juice and some junk snacks and wander about. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by this bustling downtown and I don't really have a great time.

Back at the hotel again, I ask the front desk to try the mobile number again, and it's answered. Anna and I chat for a few minutes and agree to meet tomorrow for lunch. She offers me accommodation at her place, and I thank her for the offer, but mention that I'm at the Has Hotel. She asks how many I'm traveling with, and seems surprised that I'm traveling alone. After the call, I ask the front desk for directions to an internet café, then head out. I check email, give Terry the phone number to my hotel, and scan the news. After an hour online, I wander back to the grocery store to buy a few more snacks, then head back to the hotel. As I walk in the door I'm almost assaulted by this gregarious American. He is all over me: "Hi, I'm Mark. I tried to find you at the Internet café, blah-blah-blah…" It takes me a moment to figure out what's up. This is Anna's husband. Apparently he came down to the hotel to say hi, and even tried to find me at the internet café that the hotel directed me to. He suggests that we go out for a tea, and we head next door. He orders in what seems to be fluent Turkish. He's a Californian, and hi-energy, and exactly what I need. Relaxing with him, I realize that I was feeling pretty low. No reason for the funk, but I almost remember that a similar low might have been surfaced a few days into my other two tours. Interesting. We talk for almost an hour, then we head back to the hotel. He gets on his bicycle; apparently he lives only ten minutes away. My mood's up again and I'll see them both tomorrow for lunch.

Nice scenery just outside of Bilecik.
Traffic was light
The hills are not a problem.
  Next: Eskisehir  
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