A little update

I just wanted to let you all know that I am on the mend. After a pretty awful weekend, I seemed to turn a corner and have been able to get out of bed and go for walks. My mouth is still pretty painful and my diet of yoghurt, mashed banana, tuna mayonnaise, soup and scrambled egg (which the hotel staff here very kindly let John cook for me in their kitchen!) will be continuing for a while yet. But I am very grateful to be feeling up to some gentle sightseeing and hoping for continued improvement as the week goes on. Unfortunately, it is  looking unlikely that I will feel up to cycling the tandem the last 40k so John has organised a van to pick it up.

John has also been doing a stellar job of not only caring for me but organising the shipping of the tandem before we leave Istanbul. It should be picked up from our hotel on Thursday all being well, along with a box of camping equipment.

I am still extraordinarily disappointed not to have been able to end our journey on the high that we had talked about, planned and dreamed of for so long. But I have been trying to reassure myself that it doesn’t diminish the overall achievement. One of the things we often discussed as we were cycling along were the mind boggling statistics involved in our trip…

Km travelled – 4091
Number of times wheels turned – 1,168,857
Hours in the saddle – 217 (I thought this sounded rather pathetically small!)
Number of borders crossed – 10
Fastest speed of the trip – 75kph

And as we look back, some of our favourite bits:

Favourite campsite – Camping Simuni on Pag. Good job too as we were stranded there for three days by the bura! 
Best meal – John’s was at a restaurant we can’t remember the name of in Sibenik! Mine was the fresh fish in Thessaloniki.
Best view – looking down on the turquoise sea crashing into rocky coves on the Croatian coast
Best up – the first serious hills in the Ardennes. We just flew up them.
Best down – coming down from the Katara pass on a perfectly clear day with no other vehicles on the road. I felt like I was on top of the world.
Best hotel – The Hilton Imperial in Dubrovnik
Best rest day – our day in Metsovo after escaping from the campsite that was rapidly becoming one with the lake. Beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery, a comfortable hotel and a well deserved rest after cycling over 1000m of up the previous day.

One of the best things about the trip has also been this blog. Checking for new comments was one of our favourite things to do! So thank you very much to all of you who’ve been reading and to those of you who have shared your thoughts with us. It’s meant a lot.

We’ll be in touch again to let you know how the remainder of our time in Istanbul goes and also how the train journey home is. We’re both getting quite excited about that now -3 days and 3 nights to travel the same distance it took us 3 months to cover! We’ll mostly be going through countries we didn’t cross on the bike which is even better. Istanbul-Sofia; Sofia-Vienna; Vienna-Munich; Munich-Paris; Paris-London; London-Sheringham. It will be very strange to see the scenery whizz past so quickly! But a lovely way to adjust back to the idea of being home – and being cold!  

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21 Responses to A little update

  1. Martyn Breeze says:

    Pleased to hear you are well on the road to recovery. It is a pity about the last 40km but you can certainly tick the box – you definitely covered the distance (due to all those navigation errors by John) and after all what is 40km in that distance! Enjoy Istanbul, don’t hurry back it is bloody freezing (-20 here this morning).

  2. Dad says:

    A lovely post Rachel – its so expressive of the old adage that life is about the journey not the destination ……… xx Dad and Mum

  3. Trish Carn says:

    So pleased to her that you are improving. Commisserations on not cycling the last bit but Well Done on what you have accomplished. Do dress warmly for the arrival back in the UK – it is below freezing here and there is still much snow – but not in London.

  4. Mike says:

    Delighted to see a post from you Rachel! I hope you manage to see some of Istanbul, good time to see it – should be few tourists and mild weather.
    Lots of love Mike

  5. Gemma says:

    Glad to hear you are on the mend Rachel- I am missing cycling to work, but yesterday i heard that Uni of Bath is the highest above sea level in the UK….bloomin typical!

  6. Jean Parton says:

    Rachel, you really mustn’t beat up yourself about not finishing!! You have had an amazing journey and done some amazing things – and what’s 40km in the grand scheme of things! I know though you must be somewhat disappointed. Perhaps you’ll have to do it again sometime!
    Just hope you continue to improve so you can enjoy the wonderful sites of Istanbul.

    Lots of love to you both,


  7. sampablokuper says:

    Having been laid low recently for a gum infection myself, you have my very sincere sympathy!

    Glad you’re recovering, & wish you both a lovely time exploring Istanbul 🙂

    May I recommend the Basilica Cistern?

  8. Margaret says:

    Get totally well, have a restful and joyful journey home. What’s next?

    • rachelfitzgerald says:

      Margaret, next is a long narrow boating trip round the UK. We’ll post more about it once we’re home.

  9. Sarah says:

    Well done both 🙂 40 km for you to enjoy on another occasion, and now you have a fabulous train trip to look forward to! Thank you for the blog, and for the highlights. Sarah (QCD)

  10. Mary says:

    Good to hear from you Rachel, and glad you’re on the mend. It’s freezing here! And apparently there is an outdoor ice rink in Armagh so we should all go skating. Looking forward to seeing you soon xx

  11. Nik Dadson says:

    So sorry that you’re still not good, but sounds like you are making the most of things. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to hearing about the journey back. Did you read much on your travels – cycling/travel books?

    How did you work out the number of wheel turns? That sounds like a job for someone who isn’t able to get out much.

    Lerrus know about Istanbul – some pics would be nice if you can manage it.

    Look after yersens,


    • rachelfitzgerald says:

      We just counted the number of books we’ve read – 58 between us! John got a Kindle for his birthday in August and I have a Kindle app on my phone that has meant there
      has been no limit to the number of books we have been able to carry. Brilliant!

      As for mathematical calculations, it wouldn’t have mattered if I’d spent a lifetime in bed, I still wouldn’t have known how to work that out. John just told me the formula (wheel circumference divided by number of km travelled) and I punched the numbers into my phone…

  12. Andy & Sallyann says:

    Well done well done you two. Stopped by a gum. Never mind. When can I proofread your book about the travels? I can see it now: “Narrow cycle to Istanbul”.

    Don’t spend too long in Sherringham. Your “We shut the gate” comment is still there, as if waiting for closure by a visit in person.

    Well done again,

    Andy & Sallyann

    • rachelfitzgerald says:

      Ha ha, I love the book title! Don’t we need a whippet to travel in our panniers to be totally authentic? 🙂

      Don’t worry, we’re planning a trip to 3 Mills asap. And we promise to shut the gate on the way in, just like we did on the way out!

  13. Nancy Irving says:

    Yes, I can agree about the blog although I haven’t commented until now. I hope you enjoy Istanbul which is a city I had fun exploring back in 2000-2001 on several visits. If you go to Topkapi, it is worth the money to hire a guide — I found that true also for Haga Sofia. The bazaar is amazing — hope you find the spices. And don’t forget the adventure of a Turkish bath and get a scrub. Enjoy! Nancy

  14. salty says:

    Well done!…..have loved reading the blog , best wishes…Salty and Tanya xx

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