Marmara coast to Gelibolu Peninsula


Şarkőy, pronounced Sharkure, gave us a cool night with breeze, only minor visitation by mosquitoes and distant drums of Ramadan heard by Ian and not by me. Our motel proprietor was expecting a big upturn in business after Ramadan ends in a couple of days.

After breakfast – bread, tomatoes, cucumber, boiled egg, feta, olives and tea – we had a swim in the Marmara Sea, then set off for Gelibolu. A market in the streets near our digs gave us another chance to admire the fantastic range and quantity of produce – fruit, vegetables, olives, cheese, dried and fresh herbs, grains, rice, oil, preserves, honey…

Our quiet unpaved road out of town took us past much tourist accommodation that is spreading along the coast. We passed fields of sunflowers, now brown with heads down, ready for reaping. Flocks of goats with bells clanking were nearby with goatherds keeping them moving. We passed a couple of villages where men sat in the shade and dogs slept. Also huge piles of sunflower seeds are deposited in main square and swept – not sure exactly what is the purpose of this activity but it must be important. We found what appeared to be an old stone, waist-high mortar for pounding grain. There are wind turbines on hill tops around here and a number of houses with solar water heaters on the roof.

Stone mortar in village square

The road swings across the peninsula, past a large milititary base (artillery firing, sentries snapping to attention as high-ranking officers are driven past) to the western side where we joined a major road with much traffic and, fortunately for us, a wide shoulder. Not pleasant cycling though, and on reaching Gelibolu we had climbed several decent-sized hills and were ready for a rest.

Tourist development on the Aegean coast

The delights of cycling in the Turkish countryside are tempered by the presence of roadside litter in plentiful quantity, occasional alarming driving and close encounters with rubbish dumps. Gelibolu is an interesting and lively town that has a main street that winds downhill with a large pedestrian section. We found a shady cafe and drank lots of tea.

The final 40km to Eceabat were more pleasant as the road follows the coast and is less hilly. We watched ships going up and down the straits and could see the high Anatolian hills on the other side. There are lots of roadside produce stalls and we stopped at one to buy figs. The family in attendance gave us chairs to sit on, refused payment for the figs, gave us a sweet pear each and water to wash our hands. So kind.

Cycle route:
Şarkőy – Eceabat

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