When did I write the last time? Well, I did remember. Jimmy, we were talking with him. I will tell you why I stopped writing for a while in the upcoming sections.
In the morning I returned to the spot where Jimmy’s journey to Africa had begun. He had had said this point next to the window. I took a deep breath. In such cases the very first moment of pedaling comes out to be the most exciting. First you place your feet on the pedals. You stay at the right point where you give your full power which totally flows towards the pedal. At that moment so many thoughts would flow in your mind… Let’s go Gurkan. Go to Africa carrying Jimmy’s dreams with you.
– Gurkan my cousin’s home is on your route. You can stay there one night.
– Thank you Ramazan, I would like to.
I like it very much to come into people’s live and learn from them during my journey. What they say, tell and how they live. No matter whether right or wrong. I try to understand their point of view to the happenings in their country and I comment in my way. I listened to Ibrahim abi (elderly brother) and Mine abla (elderly sister), Kazak Turks, telling about their lives, the difficulties and eases they were faced with.
The same way, Hamit a Tatar Turk told me the bad and good parts of living in this country. He mentioned about how far he lost his identity and to what he hold on to. With every person I meet, I learn many new things about the country they live, human relations and how Turkey is regarded (interpreted, looks like) abroad. Sometimes I forget to take a notice. I witness so many thinks that I mix up what happened where and how. Therefore, the small red notebook is really crucial for me. Even a single word I write down lets me remember the whole. As I was about to leave Hamit’s house:
– Gürkan how nice that you came… Thanks a lot my dear friend.
Actually this simple sentence was bearing so many things! I won one more friend. I don’t know whether or when I will meet them all again, but they become persons that I will always remember with this journey.
The main road from Sweden to Norway is quite narrow. Even though the cars don’t rush me drivers show their anger blowing their horns. They are doing some hand moves to me and I respond back. But dude, there are no bicycle roads, what shall I do? Just before the border pass there is a little town called Arjang. I would advise to stay at Karl XII hostel if you happen to pass there. The owner really behaves as the king but without crown. Bed and breakfast costs 40$ (don’t say that, “whoa how expensive”. I mentioned before that the hostels in Sweden are expensive).
The next day I was on the road again towards the border. All of a sudden the altitude started to increase. Woww, there is a real climb at the end. Let’s see
Buster! Why are you blowing your horn? I’m not occupying your road. Anyway, I climbed to the top. Aha, the car stopped and people stepped out waiting for me on the road. Let’s see what they are going to say.
– Abi selamun aleykum.
Honestly, that was not the sentence I expected to hear. Hahaha!
– ve aleykum selam.
– Our friend had watched you on the Swedish television. So, we decided to stop to meet you. Can we have photo with you?
– Okay, why not.
They were moving to Oslo getting through their life in Sweden. They had watched me at television and now run into me at this border.
At the border crosses of this country there are neither any security nor control. How far is it possible to move without having a visa? Let’s see when my visa would be controlled.
As soon as you cross the border towards Norway, after 10 m, not any longer, the bicycle road starts. Aha, now I’m in a different country. Here, a bicycle road is just attached to the main road. That is a good feeling to pedal on a nice asphalt bicycle road. Buddy, I mean really good quality. Was it just asphalted because of me? Look dude, what came in my mind: The best asphalt roads in Turkmenistan were the ones where the president had passed. The town Bayramali was kilometers far from Ashkabad. I got surprised as I entered the town; the roads were in such a good condition, asphalted. I asked a man I met there:”How come is such high quality asphalt used for the road in this town?” As I pedaled through the country, it was almost impossible to encounter asphalted roads even for short distances. His answer was “because the president visited this town last week the roads were asphalted”. Then, this bicycle road was asphalted because of me visiting Norway, hehehe. There is a signboard showing all possible directions. “Aha, that is the Oslo bicycle road, just keep on pedaling, dude!”
Wow, it warmed up a little. Aha, this is the weather I like most to pedal, neither cold nor hot. When you idly pedal your body won’t heat up, that feels great.
When you enter Oslo from the Swedish side you reach the part of the capital lying 500 m above the sea level. Oslo is the third capital of Scandinavian countries I have had visited. The city and its center catch attention with the two storied houses and low buildings. After pedaling for months under snow, the sun decided to show up at the end. I won’t forget the magnificent weather and the beautiful view while arriving to Oslo.
Nilufer the sister of my friend Gul from Ankara and her husband Aage will host me in Oslo. We had never met with Nilufer before but, she heard of my Japan tour from her sister and supported me with her comments on my articles. The day I announced that I start my would tour she immediately made a comment: “When you come to Norway, I will host you”. On top of it, their new house lies just across the harbor where the Denmark ferry takes off. After the first sight we felt as if we were friends for ages. She is working at the web design department of a private company and Aage is an insurance agent. Meanwhile, the time I arrived to Oslo coincided with their one week holiday period.
– Gurkan, be aware that the whole city will be empty for the whole week.
Anyway, I’m used to it. There are no people in Finland, Sweden and also in Norway. The population of these three countries would barely make up 20 million. Their total surface area is 2-3 fold of Turkey but their population is equal to that of Istanbul.
Since Nilufer and Aage had off for one week, they took me out for sightseeing. Even, Nilufer gave a party to her close friends one night introducing me. I met with nice people having various interesting stories to tell. It is possible to run into Turkish restaurants at many spots in Europe. However, they are not so frequent in Scandinavian countries. The weather is pretty cold. Since there not so many restaurants it is almost impossible to find a place producing, even knowing how to produce, baklava (finely layered pastry filled with nuts and steeped in syrup). At that night one of the guests brought baklava taken from a newly opened restaurant. We had dinner together with all the quests and afterwards I held a presentation about my story on the road. Well, since the stories are interesting and I managed so many happening the expectations also increase. One of the guessed at the end asked: “Well, I got everything you told but how come you could carry the baklava all the way through from Turkey to Norway in your bag?” That was the break up point. With the laughs the main theme got lost. Once I was asked how I cross from one continent to the other over the ocean. As I told that “A water manufacturing company sponsored me special barrels which I fasten to each side of the bicycle. By this way my bicycle floats and does not turn over in the wavy ocean”. Guess what was the answer I received? “We are proud of you. Keep on going. Great company.” After receiving such answers I started to believe that people take me as maniac. Bloody brilliant, that guy will do it… Hahaha! When I replied as “Are you crazy, I would take a ferry to cross the ocean of course” he got disappointed…
This is the front of the Parliament House 🙂
Royal House. You might go to the door and ring the bell.
First day Nilgun showed me Oslo walking around downtown. The other days Aage and me, afterwards all together with Nilgun visited various nice spots of Oslo. I’m sure that there is plenty of information about every single spot of Oslo in internet. I just want to mention some minor issues which caught my attention.
Well, now since I pedaled during the coldest period through the coldest region you might claim that I like winter and the cold temperatures. You are right. The weather should be cold if possible. No matter sun shines, but cold. Since I entered Norway the weather is sunny but cold, on top of it everywhere is still covered white. I was laughing loudly:
“That’s it. I did it, dude. I was on top of the north hemisphere on the coldest period of winter. I did it. I did it……”
While I’m saying these I laugh loudly at the same time…. I knew I would succeed since there were prior examples. There were foreigners (crossing the deserts and coldest places on the earth with their bicycles) what had done I wanted to do. I read their stories and met with them. They did it, so I would also do for sure! That’s what counts… Persons who inspired others. Me and bicycle met four years ago and since then I’m traveling uninterrupted. There are Turks traveling with bicycle for years. You might find their names surfing in internet. Before I departed I talked with and send messages to each of them. That is, someone must be an example, a pioneer, to the others. Well, why is this important?
We went to Holmenkollen in Oslo with Nilufer and Aage. This region is famous for skiing since 1800. It lies to the left of the city covered with forests and lakes. Just go to the highest point of the city, you will see the Ski Jumping Center, well it is there. I saw this center while passing by car. Whoa! What the hell is this! What an impressive architectural work this is. I got really excited arriving to the top of this place. I looked towards the city. For as long as I’ve known myself I was scared from this sport type.
You go down on your skis with a speed of 40 or 50 km per hour (even in excess), then touch the void flying like birds and finally land on the ground. The take-off ramp is so positioned that you feel forced to jump even you are scared. From this point the view the city looks marvelous. While I got so excited kids were like jack in the box. Just as I was about to ask what else to do, Aage said that there is a museum. This here was not only a sports complex also a museum was established for winter sports within this center.
We left the take-off ramp and went down to the museum. The ski equipments from ancient time to present day were magnificently presented. The kids are examining the ski gear for their size. They watch videos reflected on walls how children of their age learn ski jumping. I moved to another room and saw a visual presentation presenting how sledge progressed in due course.
Then I took a look to another side. There was a strange sledge about which I was astonished. A disabled boy with crutches came and examined this sledge gear. We watched the video about this sledge together. That’s it. This disabled boy would be able to slide like the sportsman on the video with this sledge. He called his father “Daddy, look, look!!” “I would also do it!!” (You don’t need to know the language to understand this!)
Another day we went to the Kon Tiki museum with Aage. Some of you might have seen the movie posters or the movie itself. It is a true story. What is Kon Tiki? It is the name of a wooden raft used by the legendary Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl. It is the name of the raft showing what can be achieved when believed, proving the presence of people with the same believe centuries ago. He believed that people from South America had settled in Polynesian islands in pre-Columbian times. Although the scientists at that time claimed that the people of Polynesia migrated from Asia and that it was impossible to cross the ocean with the technology and material at the time (Hoopp the journey to Japan, hooop journey around the world), he constructed a raft with native material in indigenous style and gave the name of the Inca sun god, Kon Tiki.
The raft in the museum is original. It is placed in a two stories room so that one can observe the effect of salt on the bottom. The raft was made of balsa tree trunks lashed with hemp ropes without any metal. Bamboo, banana leafs and pine splashboards were also used for its construction. Heyerdahl took off on April 28, 1947 from Lima, Peru with five companions. According to the calculations made by Heyerdahl the time to reach to the Polynesian island was about 100 days. They encountered hard days due to the destructive effects of salt on the raft. Finally, after 101 days they were able to realize their project. A documentary movie was produced in 1951 with the filmstrip notes shot from the raft and won Academy Award. This raft is now presented in Oslo in the Kon Tiki museum together with the gear used during that expedition. Also, the other projects conducted by Heyerdahl are presented in this museum. Children were in abundance among the visitors. Search and read the further adventures of this extraordinary man! (Also thanks to Nilufer for this information)
There is another museum just across the street exhibiting the first Fram vessel constructed for North Pole explorations. We could only leave the museum just before closure time. I tried to read and understand every single story and details. It was an unbelievable feeling to be able to walk on the vessel. I wasn’t able to observe the northern lights although I pedaled to the Arctic Circle. But they are so advanced in museology, suddenly northern lights appeared on top of the vessel.
Just next, there are equipments and films telling about the memories and the tragic end of Captain Scott and his crew who went to the South Pole. I read their diaries which had been found next to their corpses. I couldn’t even take a look to the last pages of their last days. My eyes went in to tears.
I spent hours in that area reading how they sacrificed themselves for humanity, touching every equipment they had used, meeting these explorers and realizing what they could succeed under the circumstances of that time. I didn’t want to leave. Well, now it is to time to answer the question to myself. I asked that bloody, nonsense, blank question that everybody kept asking me or to each other mentioning my name “Gurkan, what the hell are you trying to do?” Just only one second passed between the question and the answer. A big smile went through my face. The answer was already given by the primary, secondary and high school students both in my country and also abroad.
Well, I wouldn’t be counted among of the explorers changing the world and thereby sacrificing their lives, but I can make a child hugging me for a long time and saying “Thank you to make me believe that my dreams might come true and being an example to me!”. Apparently it seems 115.000 km in 84 countries through 7 continents for 7 years. It makes me happy that there are some people realizing the idea that really huge realities are underlining my world tour or Turkey-Japan tour. What I’m undertaking is not impossible in the twenty first century. Many people are doing that. The mainspring is to get the idea lying behind. The ones that realize should tell the others. Just a minute, you got me wrong. I didn’t mean that you should tell about me!! Tell about your dreams that you want to realize, that you can succeed in achieving good things!!! Just as that kid hugging me…
Well, since I’m in a Scandinavian country, let’s visit a Viking museum. If you would ask people from Sweden, Norway or Denmark all would say that the true Vikings are they. They used to be proud of being called Viking, but as time passed that word was used addressing bandit in English unfortunately. Vikings coming from the North went down to Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea, even explored the continent America.
Since Vikings used a lot wood for construction of their ships and equipments, unfortunately not many were left up to day. There is only one castle left which is in Denmark. We will go there to visit
I did snowboard for many years but never have been doing such north. Even, I thought to take my snowboard equipments with a trailer attached behind my bicycle. I said to myself that “I would slide down as soon as a hill/slope comes into my sight.” But, then I remembered that how a troublesome attachment it was during international tours. It is wiser to rent a snowboard and slide down the hills. Finally, I convinced myself that snowboarding would be troublesome for me since I pedaled through the winter season being too much exposed to the cold weather and that I have no opportunity to stay at a hotel afterwards. I pay attention not to get ill. Eventually, I couldn’t snowboard. But, even it was already April there were snow everywhere and people were cross country skiing in the forests in Norway.
Sirin, the friend of Nilufer and her boyfriend asked me whether I would like to ski. I had never did it before, but said why not. We found ourselves in the Frogner Park at the weekend. This was a big farm, owned formerly by three women. A marvelous house surrounded with cultivated fields and forests. Even, there were sculptures of these women in the garden. They looked pretty neat.
Two of the houses found in that area.
Three single women, a huge farm and a good modus Vivendi. The “sex and the city” women used to be like this at that time, probably. Anyway, after these three women died this farm was taken over by the government and reopened for folk. While the outdoor area and the frozen lake is used ski center the indoor spaces are turned into a museum. Pay attention that you do not need to look for a museum in this country. Every old space or house is already turned into a museum.
I took the ski set and went down on to the lake. Hmmm, seems quite pleasant. Let’s go. We skied around the lake for almost two hours. After a couple of falls I got used to it. It was really joyful. I liked it very much. Meanwhile, I looked behind and saw two elderly women were coming. I was thinking not to bother them and started to ski faster. I again looked behind, and saw to my surprise that they had come closer to me. Wooww, they were faster than me. They came next to me. Dude, I was skiing pretty fast. Just as they passed me I fell down due to airstream caused by them. If you fell down as you snowboarding or skiing in Norway, everyone gets understand that you are a foreigner. There is not such a Norwegian idiom “Think like Ataturk” as it is believed in Turkey, and also not any in Swedish. But, I have learned an idiom which I personally witnessed “Every Norwegian is born with ski”.
That day as we were just finished with our skiing tour a little girl came to ski with her family. I helped them. The whole family started to ski. There some main cultural happening specific to every country. For example, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany are countries where bicycle is a tradition. The lifestyle of Japanese is an unique culture. Our hospitability is world known. And there, Norwegian are well known for their sports culture. The activities undertaken throughout the country, how the folk is taking advantage of the opportunities of Oslo. One ought to go and see. One ought to visit the museums. The folk is encouraged to explore sports and be a part of an active life. That is, you have to do sports as you eat and drink.
One needs to get Schengen visa to travel in Europe. There some variations of this visa. For touristic visit you will get C class visa. If you have diplomatic, gray (hizmet pasaportu), green and normal according to Schengen rules you can spent at most 90 days in a year as a tourist in those countries. It is up to you how you fill these 90 days in a year. After fulfilling 90 days you can extent for another 90 days only after a waiting period of 90 days. No way to extent right away. That is the rules of the guys, if you traveled 90 day than don’t come back for the next 90 days. Well, I fulfilled these 90 days in Finland, Sweden and Norway. So, what will happen now? How will I be able to travel through the Schengen countries Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain and Portugal having your starting point from Denmark.
Before Schengen visa each European country had its own national visa which actually was not repealed. National visas are only rarely used meantime. But for me it is time to switch to national visas. Why should a country give national visa instead of a Schengen visa to a foreigner? First of all I must mention that to get a national visa is much more difficult than to get a Schengen one. On top of it, it is impossible to fulfill all the documents required for an ordinary tourist. It is not possible since that country requires a note from his/her Foreign Affairs Ministry. This means that your government has to support your journey. Afterwards, that country requires collateral from the sponsor of the project on money issues. In case of consecutive travels bank statement of your expenses in every countryJ. Furthermore, if you attempted similar project previously you have to document them (for instance my previous Turkey-Japan bicycle tour).
Even though you fulfill all these requirements you might not receive the visa (till now I couldn’t get visa only from one country) and moreover not the embassies of that country but the Foreign Affairs Ministries decide whether you get your visa or not. Because the file of your documents and necessary information are sent to the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the country you want to enter. Well, what is left behind? You ought to drink tea with the permanent undersecretary of that country. You will tell about your road memories to the vice-ambassador and help in some other issues. The ability to express yourself is the key point.
The first visa I had to get was that of Denmark a precedent. J The result was drinking a glass of tea with the vice-ambassador, a nice conversation and full support for my project. Have nice pedaling days. By the way, until now I have never ever paid for a visa. I travel the world with my ordinary passport without paying for visa. Well, what I have mentioned up to now is actually the proof that the whole project was planned with a huge work on every single detail. If there is a success it is not only due to that I’m pedaling or telling my story. It is the success of the institutions sharing my dream, my team mates available whenever I need them and you my dear readers.
How I would go from Oslo to Copenhagen: by ferry. There are kiddies still sending me messages while I’m passing from country to country by ferry: “But you are not traveling with bike, you are using other vehicles”. That’s my fault I should had put a detailed map of the route of my journey on the web site. Anyway, I made some work to correct.
🙂 Together with the bicycle the ticket for the ferry costs 1150 Kron that is 180 $. Actually Norway was a nice country to pedal but I didn’t want to go up to the North Pole once again after coming from north to south. Well, have various rotations in my mind, I may chop and change. I might say hello to Norway and travel through the north of the country in the upcoming months.
Let’s see how the bicycle country Denmark is?….