As we were planning to go to Oslo for Christmas to take the direct flight from Istanbul, we needed to get from Lesvos to Istanbul. In view of the poor weather in northern Turkey we decided to park our bikes in Lesvos and get to Istanbul by boat & bus.
2014/12/15-23: Bikeless in Istanbul
We took a small apartment on the edge of the tourist area. This had the advantage that we could choose to cook simple meals, eat in local small eateries, or in tourist restaurants. Istanbul was surprisingly cold and the heating in our apartment was not always adequate; this provided a reminder that we had made the right decision not to ride to Istanbul. We spent a quiet week touristing in Istanbul. The highlight was the least touristy thing: we took a ferry across to the Asia side and had tea and cake with a local warm showers contact, Kerem. We learnt it is possible to safely ride through Istanbul, and of new route in Turkey for walking, riding a horse, or mountain biking: http://cultureroutesinturkey.com/c/evliya-celebi-way/ . After a week of being repeatedly approached by carpet salesmen, the trip to see Kerem was a breath of fresh air.