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Bicycle Tours Since 1972

Experience Plus - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Bicycling Turkey – A Bridge to the Ancient World

by ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, July 27, 2010 travel-stories

Bicycling Turkey – A Bridge to the Ancient World

No other tour offered by ExperiencePlus! provides the wealth of classical history that this tour does. Add excellent food gathered among ingredients from throughout the Middle East and the world, bicycling along one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines, and the exotic architectural traditions of Ottoman Turkey and the Islamic world and you have a tour unmatched anywhere.

We often think of Turkey as bridging Europe and Asia, and it certainly does that. But modern Turkey also offers us a wonderful bridge to Ancient Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, and so much more. No other tour offered by ExperiencePlus! provides the wealth of classical history that this tour does. Add excellent food gathered among ingredients from throughout the Middle East and the world, bicycling along one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines, and the exotic architectural traditions of Ottoman Turkey and the Islamic world and you have a tour unmatched anywhere.

I participated in our inaugural tour of Turkey in May. I can’t begin to describe all the delicacies I ate, including the yoghurt dishes with garlic, purslane, cucumbers and more. We ate skewered lamb, Turkish köfte (similar to the Greek keftethakia. . . see last month’s recipe), and stuffed peppers and tomatoes to our heart’s content. Seafood along the coast was fresh and delicious. And the cycling? Well, let’s say there was plenty of that . . . enough to build an adequate appetite every day!

Our tour begins in Antalya and follows the coast west as far as the tourist resort of Marmaris. This is the heartland of ancient Lycia, a loose confederation of independent non-Greek city states dating to the second millennium BC. Over time the Lycians were dominated by the Greeks and Persians, by Alexander the Great, and by the Romans until the Ottoman Empire made it a permanent part of what was to become modern Turkey.

The concentration of classical cities on this tour and in this part of the world far outnumbers the ruins anywhere else we operate. We visited, passed through or rode by at least eleven ancient cities: Phaesilis, Olympos, Limyra, Myra , Antiphellus, Patara, Xanthos, Tlos, Fethiye, and Kaunos and Mamaris.

These ancient places are not minor sites by any means. Alexander the Great over-wintered and sheltered his fleet in the three harbors of Phaesilis during the winter of 334 BC on his way to conquer the Persian Empire. In the vast natural bay of Marmaris, Suleiman the Magnificent gathered his army and navy of 200,000 men in 1522 before defeating the Knights of St. John in Rhodes, sending them off to take refuge in Malta. And in this same bay in 1798 the British admiral Nelson gathered his naval fleet before engaging Napoleon’s naval fleet in Egypt.

I’ve attached photos to illustrate our ride, some of the mountains, a meal or two and just a few fun pics.

Our second Cycling the Turquoise Coast of Turkey tour will run in October. Find out more about tour details and read the full itinerary here.

Headed to the ancient site of Olympos, we walked our bikes about 800 meters on the beach and stopped at the ruins in Olympos before beginning our ride.

Our Turkey group enjoying lunch on the road at a trout farm restaurant

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Into the mountains outside of Antalya, Turkey on Day 1 of our Turquoise Coast Ride

Rug weaving at a marketing cooperative near the Saklikent Gorge in Turkey

The Roman Era theater in Patara, dating to the 1st and 2nd centuries AD


Rick Price of ExperiencePlus! Rick Price, Ph.D in Cultural Geography, and his wife, Paola Malpezzi-Price, Ph.D in Romance Languages, are the owners and founders of ExperiencePlus! Specialty Tours, Inc. Since 1969 they have walked and bicycled throughout Europe, exploring local cultures and collecting stories. Many of the essays, book reviews, and recipes in the ExperiencePlus! Reading Room derive from their travel experiences over the years. If you would like to contact Rick or Paola you can e-mail them at Rick@ExperiencePlus.com.