Orient Express Expedition finishes in Istanbul
Yesterday we rolled into Istanbul, the final destination of our 4000km cycling tour. It was a beautiful stage, only 65 km but very hilly. The route led us through several small villages and on the crest of each hill you would catch a glimpse of the sea or the city in the distance. It was an exciting road to ride as it twisted and climbed and then descended to our gathering point in Sariyer, a suburb on the Bosphorus. From this point we rode in convoy the last 20 km into the capital. Coming into the city along the water offered spectacular scenery; castles, fisherman, yachts and the city sprawling through the hills on the far shore. In comparison to the other European cities we’ve visited I was amazed by how green Istanbul is. We finished our ride at the Ortakoy Princess Hotel where we had some celebratory bevies before we unpacked the support trucks for the final time and got checked in. The hotel is in a great location. It was just a short walk down to the waterfront where we hosted our banquet dinner. We were on a rooftop patio with great views of the boats, fireworks and crowds of people enjoying the evening. We shared stories, toasted our successes and then headed out to visit other local establishments.
Although this tour has many sectional riders who only ride a part of the route, there is a core group who have been together from Paris to Istanbul. Watching the dynamics change over the course of two months is always intriguing, as people learn so much about each other, build incredible bonds with complete strangers and then head off in their own directions. Its not always the destination but the journey which creates the experience of an expedition of this extent. Even the greatest experience is meaningless unless you have someone to share it with. Only our fellow cyclists from the Orient Express 2007 will ever be able to relate to our stories and memories of this incredible trek. I hope our paths will cross again. Until then, keep the rubber side down!
Sunshine and Tailwinds!