Yuri and Oli guided their new racing machines and old friends through the chaos that is Istanbuls traffic to the hostel they were staying at. Anton and Stef were introduced to the hostel’s regulars and before long all four of us were running around in our brand new onesies: the Tigger, the Chicken, the Cookie monster and the Lemur. The first day we brought the two old bikes to the shop to prepare them for the Silk Road, shopped for some finishing touches to our wintergear and sent all the remaining summer stuff back home.
While buying new bicycle gear we met Can, a Turkish cycler who invited us to a game of bicycle polo in the park’s basketball field. HELL YEAH! Can and his friends explained the rules and it didn’t take long to bring all four of us on the field. We even managed to win one game, at the price of an injured foot when Anton sacrificed himself to score the winning goal by jumping off his bicycle in the most heroic way possible. It’s better to drink a beer after the game and not before, remember this when you give it a try.
Mo explained he would be cooking for a French culture group, and we made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: we’d help him whenever he called for us, and we’d do the dishes, in exchange for a free bite when his guests were finished. He knew we couldn’t resist free leftovers from a Michelin star chef… The next night we had a karaoke night in the hostel (we will spare you the details).
Since Yuri’s birthday in July was such a succes, we were eager to have a repeat, so we repeated. We spread the the word, and the hostel crew soon started buying groceries to bake him a birthday cake with 25 candles.
At the end of his 'unbirthday', Yuri made a sacrifice of shameful redemption: he bet a pepperoni with Anton that he could manage a full day without his eyesight. As soon as the bet was accepted, Yuri was not allowed to open his eyes for 24 hours, and was obliged to participate in outdoor activities with the group. Oli took the cripple and the blind man on an excursion to Istanbuls Modern Arts museum, where they explained the graphics to Yuri who tried to make an image of the art he was sniffing at blindly.
Meanwhile, Stef sneaked away to get to the Istanbul airport to pick up Nicole, the American lady from way back when, setting up a surprise visit for Anton. She jumped right off the gazebo roof when Anton arrived back from the museum, and so the hostel family headcount settled on eight.
The hostel family later adopted Jessica, another American lady who wants to be the first women to genuinly visit every country in the world. She was number 9 in our family and the couch in the common room was starting to become really crowded, so we decided to leave the building for some traditional Turkish bathing. Men and women got seperated for two hours as they were handwashed, scrubbed and mummified in towels by the local senior master bathers.