One of my favorite aspects of traveling to a new place is discovering the local music. Inevitably, I’ll be at a restaurant or shop and a song over the radio will catch my ear. In my experience, there’s very little that will bring the enthusiasm out of a local like a tourist showing an interest in their favorite local classics, so asking about the song will often open up a whole conversation and a slew of other recommendations. With that in mind, here’s a short playlist of Turkish classics from the ’70s and ’80s that folks turned me onto along the way:
From the comforts of the coastal city of Antalya, I took to the surrounding hills for short rides between the abundant days of rain that come with the wet season in this region. Turkey had imposed significant covid restrictions for the first time since I was in the country, including full weekend curfews, so this gave me plenty of time to plan out what kind of route would still be possible when the situation improved. Accepting sudden changes in plans and having some patience has always been important for bike touring and that is especially true these days.
I rolled into the small village of Çamalan. There was a lone shop at the main intersection of town that had a steady flow of locals driving up in their cars. Typically they’d grab bread from the cupboard outside, maybe some Ayran from the fridge, and (most likely) a few packs of cigarettes. These are the Turkish staples.
It was almost dark and I had no clue where I would spend the night. This is a fairly typical situation for me at this point. I’ve grown comfortable with the feeling. That’s not to say it can’t be stressful, but when you’ve felt that uncertainty dozens of times before, it gives you more confidence that you’ll be able to make it work out somehow.
I woke up to the sounds of a struggling motorcycle engine. When I set up my tent the previous night I’d pushed my bike up a tiny double-track offshoot road that steeply climbed to an isolated hilltop. I was perched above the primary road that already gets very little traffic and totally out of sight, but with the sound of that engine, I knew the motorcycle wasn’t simply cruising by on the road below, it was making its way up toward me.
The world works in mysterious ways. Until 2020 hit hard and crashed my plans to return to Nepal (and beyond), I never really had Turkey too high on my radar. Off the top of my head, I could have probably listed at least ten or fifteen countries that I was clamoring to ride in before I’d mention the Mediterranean nation that hugs the border between Europe and Asia. Then a series of events kicked off that resulted in me booking a last-minute flight to the Turkish seaside city of Antalya.