Long cycle treks always throw up a plethora of statistics, and my memories of past trips, going back over 30 years, are a mixture of routes, places, average daily distances, people….and much, much more. I remember back in 1982, I took 5 senior pupils on the UK Land’s End to John O’Groats route, a distance of over 1000 miles/1600 kms, and we calculated how many Mars Bars and pints of milk we had consumed on the journey. We even worked out some equivalent mpg for cyclists, based on Mars Bars. It was a silly memory marker, but it has stayed with me all those years.
On my solo treks these days, as much as I am enthralled by the landscapes, cities and the multiple distractions of travelling across a country or continent, to put it in crude GPS language, the most memorable ‘waypoints’ tend to be the people I meet. Every encounter is serendipitous, and each one enriches my life in some small way (at least).
Like this morning, when I arrived at the ancient excavated ruins of the legendary city of Troy, in the information centre I heard the dulcet tones of Spanish being spoken by a small group of people (the first time for me in this trip). I greeted them in Spanish, and they stood frozen on the spot. They immediately thought I was from Spain, but when they discovered the truth, they got very excited about having their photo taken with an English cyclist who spoke their language
Although they really didn’t mean it, I was given effusive invitations to visit them in their home country of Venezuela.
Then I bumped into this delightful couple as I walked through the ruins
…he from Croatia, and she from Romania….and their common language was English. But interestingly, when I spoke a few words to Simona in Spanish, she understood me perfectly. Romanian, you see, is a romance language, so shares a lot in common with other romance languages.
Then Arthur crossed my path
…another lone traveller, who was returning home to his native Taiwan (though he was born in the US) overland by public transport. Unfortunately, his bank account had run low, so he’s going to work a few months on an MSC cruise ship to finance the rest of his journey.
And I haven’t yet got round to saying anything about the ruins of Troy
…but I have to say that when I arrived and saw this mock-up of the legendary Trojan horse
I thought this was going to be a Disney theme park experience, especially when I saw people hanging out of the window openings having their photos taken. Well if you really want to know what view the ancient Greeks had as they emerged to storm Troy, this is it
…they saw a cafe with colourful parasols, and the true story is, instead of sacking the town, they simply climbed out and ordered a couple of expressos……
Outside the complex, I had the good fortune of meeting the principal site guide, and author of the most authoritative books on Troy
…and he gave me a clearer understanding of several aspects of Turkish history, especially concerning the varied Eurasian ethnic roots of many people in Turkey…..the result of the centuries-old blending of Turkics from the far east with Slavs from the west. All fascinating stuff.
And to round off, I insert this for my dear wife Jenny, inveterate lover of poppies……these were growing amongst the palace ruins of Troy.
And, on your next supermarket trip, if you really want to know where the best offerings are displayed, take note of what these goats are doing
….yes, the tastiest and most nutritious food will be on the top shelf! Goats know, you know……