During our cycle tour from Spain to Istanbul via a long and winding route we made regular use of the website warmshowers.org. Members offer to put you up for a night or two in a similar way to popular hospitality website couch surfing but with a solely cycling based membership.
While travelling we tried to stay with local people at least once in every country we passed through and using Warmshowers gave us a great way to meet locals and learn more about each country. Now that we are settled in Istanbul for the winter we’re happy to fill the role of hosts ourselves, although we weren’t expecting many guests as the weather got colder.
Before we had received any hospitality requests we had a website contact from a fellow New Zealand cyclist who was trying to sort out his Indian visa and had a few days to spare in Istanbul. We arranged to meet up one afternoon for what turned out to be a quick chat, as Ashley had surprisingly received his visa early and was heading out of the city to catch another cyclist heading East.
Our first host request came from Mike Quinlan, a sixty five year old cyclist on his way to India from Budapest. This was Mike’s first tour after a break of ten years from cycling but on previous trips he has visited some great destinations like the Himalayas, the USA and the British Isles. We were impressed by Mike’s restored 1983 Specialized Expedition touring bike and ability to find the closest pub to our house after failing to locate our flat.
After we spent a weekend in Gallipoli we returned to a number of new requests, not all of which we could accept due to other commitments. One email was from a Korean cyclist called Hando who had been having a tough time with the wet weather in Greece. After our own experiences of snow and rain we knew how he felt and offered him a roof with us in Istanbul. Hando has cycled from the unusual starting point of Ibiza and is on his way through Syria and into Egypt. This is his first every cycling tour and he is already considering South America as his next destination. We swapped stories from time spent in London and he cooked us a very tasty Korean dinner.