Istanbul Bike Store: Bisiklet Gezgini

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Jay and I both loved Istanbul. We loved the people, the laid back attitudes, the crowds of the European side and the relative solitude found on the Asia side.  We loved the ever busy Bosphorus with the boat traffic chaos and the simplicity of transportation.  We spent our week in Istanbul exploring neighborhoods, finding our own special places –  places the tour books missed.  For example- we identified, after much sampling, our favorite kabap house and experienced a fantastic Turkish cooking school.

We usually identify a few bike shops when we get into big cities.  Bike shops are a great place to meet with like-minded folks, get some directions, or find out the local bike events.  Some bike shopd are merely bike stores- you get your bike needs met, but that is all.

While touring in Bulgaria, we began to plan our  route to Istanbul and knew once we arrived that we were going to need some bike parts. Both of our chains were worn and possibly Jay needed a new wheel – Jay had a hard time keeping his rear wheel true. It was a brand new rim, one of four identical, but it could not handle all the rough roads.  Jay spent hours truing his wheel several times, just ask Lia and her family in Cuvin, Romania. He spent an afternoon with his bike in pieces – truing it and immediately having to do it again as the spokes pinged as soon as he put it back together.

Once we secured our lodging through Warm Showers in Uskudar (Istanbul), we searched the Intertubes for nearby bike stores that look like they might have what we need. A quick google search of bike touring stores in Istanbul  returns a link to the Bisiklet Gezgini – the first touring-focused bicycle shop in Turkey. And they were on the Asia side of the Bosphorus – just 12 km from our apartment!  Perfect.

On a light post just across the border from Bulgaria

On a light post just across the border from Bulgaria

Our first sign that this bike shop was going to be what we needed came just after crossing into Turkey from Bulgaria, on the road to Kirklareli – where we saw one of the stores stickers on a light pole! A nice welcome into the country.  Our  ride into Kirklareli  was an eventful introduction to Turkey, a country we both will visit again. We enjoyed our ride from Kirklareli to Istanbul- meeting some great folks along the way.

Once settled in our apartment for the week, we headed for the bike shop – albeit we did not follow their simple directions…stay on the water front until the marina. We picked our way through the very busy and traffic laden streets, going down one ways and hopping sidewalks.  Jay’s tire began to leak and became unrideable about ¾ of the way there – slowing us to walk until we found a small bike store that allowed us to pump up his tire (we forgot to bring a bike pump).  A few minutes more of riding (so much quicker to ride!) and we found ourselves at the Bisiklet Gezgini.

As we entered the very well maintained store, we passed by a cycle tourist boxing up his bike and gear in preparation for a flight to Iran to embark on a tour of a lifetime.  The folks at Bisiklet Gezgini were helping him package his gear in the courtyard of the store. We brought our Surlys into the back and asked them if they could do a quick tune-up, change out the chains and take a look at Jay’s rear wheel.  Başak, Seçil and Alexios were all very helpful and gladly took the bikes off our hands. We were to pick them up again two days later (they would have them done sooner but we weren’t going to be available to pick them up for a few days).

Two days later our bikes were ready to go. We ended up walking back to the store from Uskudar- it took a couple of hours to get there, as we still didn’t have the best route down. When we are not on the bike we like to walk as much as possible. That way we can still sample the food and keep the weight from piling on!

Some of the team at Bisiklet Gezgini

Some of the team at Bisiklet Gezgini

bike store3We had new chains and a replacement rim on Jay’s rear wheel. The old one seems to have been defective, and the mechanic at Bisiklet Gezgini could not keep it in true, either.  When we picked up the bikes, the owners and staff were getting ready to put on a bike touring show and play some traditional Turkish music that evening.   What a cool event – making this bike shop even more unique.

We had the pleasure of returning to the Bisiklet Gezgini bike shop one more time as we forgot the extra chain they had set aside for us.  This time we rode over fully loaded as we were heading to our two night home near the airport prior to our flight to Bangkok.  This time we followed their directions – ride along the water until the marina and then head north a few blocks.  It was dead easy, mostly along a designated bike path and all along the waterfront.  It is mostly bike path all the way from the ferry terminal in Uskudar!  We had a fantastic morning ride out and back.

The folks at the Bisiklet Gezgini are genuine, they know about bike touring and are always willing and ready to help out.  They are experienced bike tourists themselves and are willing to swap bike touring stories over a glass or two of tea.

If you find yourself in Istanbul and need some bike touring advice, mechanical help or supplies, Bisiklet Gezgini is a fantastic place to stop.  Even if you just want to stop in and say hi, they will offer you tea and give you free stickers !

Here is their contact info:

Bisiklet Gezgini İstanbul
Bozkır Sokak No:23A 34726 Çiftehavuzlar Kadıköy İstanbul-Türkiye
Tel.: 00-90-216 386 82 85
Web: http://www.bisikletgezgini.com
E-mail: info@bisikletgezgini.com
Skype: bisikletgezgini

Posted in Bike Shops, Bike touring, Turkey | Tagged | Leave a comment

Kürtőskalács

Coated with Nutella on the inside.

Coated with Nutella on the inside.

Kürtőskalács are a yummy Hungarian sweet bread originating from medieval times.  They were typically made only for special occasions but are now on every street corner in some of the touristy areas of Prague.  Jay and I discovered them in Prague and then again in BudaPest, Hungary.  They are a delicious yeast raised sweet dough, dipped in sugar and cooked on a large cylinder, traditionally over an open fire.  They are also called Trdelnik in the Czech Republic and Chimney Cakes (not a romantic name) in the English world.

Final product from Prague

Final product from Prague

Cooking in Prague

Cooking in Prague

As I don’t have a spit and open fire set up I thought I would try to McGyver a system to make this yummy treat.  I tried two different techniques: the first was an empty bean can with two tomato paste cans on either end all wrapped in foil.  This contraption is then rested on a standard size bread tin and you can rotate every 5 minutes or so.

The second is simply an empty bean can covered with foil, sprayed with sunflower oil. This then stands on end in the oven.  Turning to switch ends half way through.

McGyvered Baking system.

McGyvered Baking system.

Recipe:

 Dough
1 cup of AP flour
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
Two teaspoons of AD yeast
100 g of milk (or Almond milk)- warmed
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 Tablespoons of butter
 
Toppings
Sugar, cinnamon
Ground walnuts (optional)
Nutella (optional)

Directions

In a small bowl mix the milk, sugar and yeast. Set aside. Combine all the other ingredients in a larger bowl.  After the yeast has bloomed, mix with other ingredients in the larger bowl and combine to form a nice dough ball.  Kneed gently for a few minutes, place in a warm, draft free space and let rise until doubled in size.

Empty two standard cans (I made chili tonight so used the bean cans)- take both ends off (so you have a hollow tube) and cover with aluminum foil. Spray the cans with oil.  Split the dough into two halves and set one aside.

Rolling out the dough

Rolling out the dough

Gently begin rolling the dough into a long snake like structure (that’s my technical term).  Wrap the dough around the can leaving a small gap between layers.  Roll in the sugar/cinnamon mixture- press a bit hard to embed the sugar into the dough. Repeat with the second half of the dough.  Set aside for 10 minutes to rest.

Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Turn them every five minutes. Once out of the oven, let them cool for a few minutes and then roll them in nuts or any other toppings you like (chocolate sprinkles are yummy).

Or you can spread Nutella on the inside!

Eat and enjoy!

First home baked. Tasted better than they look.

First home baked. Tasted better than they look.

Both contraptions worked well enough.  The dough on the can standing on end held together better- so I would skip the fancy contraption and simply use an empty can!  These two first attempts lasted approximately 3 minutes once they came out of the oven. Yum!

Posted in Budapest, Cooking, Czech Republic, Food | Tagged | 4 Comments

Pups and Seizures

Warning, this post might make you sad.

The beautiful girl

The beautiful girl

Mom will tell you that she is glad to have us home.  And in some ways I am glad to be home, too.  However, I would much rather be pedaling around SE Asia and have Jazzy be happy and healthy than home and watching her demise.

Jazzy is an incredible dog.  She is intelligent in a border collie way and warm and cuddly in a lab way.  She is the best of both breeds. Sometimes the need to herd is in conflict with the desire to fetch but the love for her humans is unwavering.

Backpackin' girl

Backpackin’ girl

Jazzy is the best backpacking dog, ever.  She loves to be out in the back country, keeping an eye on the backpacking class students (she only missed one or two backpacking classes in nine years) and swimming in streams, rivers and high mountain lakes every opportunity she can.  She always carried her own food and kept the chipmunks, squirrels, birds and deer away from our camp.

She loves to play with her canine companions Meesha, Bear and the unrelenting puppy, Levi. Even as an older dog, she can still outrun the puppies.  Jazzy is always the one to say enough is enough and heads off to find a quiet corner to chill and keep an eye on everyone.

Each and every time Jazzy goes to the vet she is given the perfect stamp. Literally, the vet said she was “perfect”.  She stands stoically when she is prodded and poked (even when they insert the thermometer you know where) and always gives a thank you nuzzle to the vet and the technicians.  She is incredibly healthy and always has been.  Old age brought on a touch of arthritis (doesn’t it always) and now a touch of epilepsy or a brain tumor.  Who knows?

We are familiar with canine epilepsy, as our beautiful chocolate lab, Bear was plagued with it for a lifetime.  On Tuesday,  Jazzy had her first seizure in the morning. It lasted two minutes (although it felt like longer) and was all encompassing.  The vet found no underlying metabolic cause – so, we are now calling it either late onset epilepsy or a brain tumor. Swell.

She now has had four seizures about five hours apart, the second and fourth were fairly short. The third was a bit longer.  We are establishing a pattern complete with an aura and post ictal stage. She starts by smacking her lips and then begins salivating with a thick sputum frothing from her mouth. We kneel down beside her and gently place our arms around her to protect her from getting hurt as she moves into the active seizure phase. Sometimes she loses bowel and bladder, sometimes she doesn’t.  The scariest part is that she stops breathing, as if  being strangled, during her seizures.

The seizures stop dramatically, faster than they start.  She pants for a few minutes and then suddenly gets up, albeit a bit unsteadily and then paces in circles around the house. While she paces, she checks in briefly with all of us. Pacing from person to person to dog to person, touching you gently with her nose then moving on to the next.  At first she is a bit unsteady on her feet, with time she gains composure and coordination.  She finds her way to water and takes a long drink.

After a while she finally settles down into a deep slumber and then returns to her ever vigilant self.  Waking up to the normal household and neighborhood sounds.  She seems normal, even younger and spry-er until the next seizure hits.

The vet has suggested a course of phenobarbital to control the seizures.  Lets see where that takes us.  This right turn sucks.

Welcome home.

Jazzy is loved – she is lovely.  I love her.

 

Update: It has been 15 hours since Jazzy’s last seizure and 13 hours since her first dose of phenobarbitol. Through the day, she was as lively and interactive as ever. Let’s hope this continues!

Jazz and mom on the top of Old Snowy in the Goat Rocks.

Jazz and mom on the top of Old Snowy in the Goat Rocks.

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The Best Laid Plans…

The rumor is that the Peterbergers are coming home.  Is it true?

No matter the best laid plans, sometimes right turns take you down alternative paths.  And here we are – a right turn that has now changed the course of our trip.

Perhaps it is age, perhaps it is a testament to our lifetime commitment to sports and physical activity, but Jay’s shoulder needs a break from the bike.  We contemplated staying in SE Asia for our break.  Yes, living in SE Asia can be cheap – but not as cheap as being home for rehab.

Plus, there’s the advantage of family, dogs, friends, fresh Oregon air and familiarity with the language and medical system (for better or worse).

What we do know is that cycling in New Zealand will be intense with it’s off road tracks taking us high into the hills where we will camp and frolic in the mountain meadows.  This will require four good shoulders.

So we are on a holiday from our holiday and will be returning tomorrow.  We will rehab, work and live frugally so we can pick up our trip where we left of in a few months.

Portland folks – look out – the Peterbergers are coming home!

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Cooking School Thai Style

Happy Chefs

Happy Chefs

In true Peterberger fashion, we signed up for a Thai food cooking school in Bangkok as soon as we arrived.  We researched cooking schools in Bangkok on the interwebs as well as asking some friends about different options.  We decided on the Silom Cooking School because it had good reviews, was relatively inexpensive, had a menu we both liked and was within walking distance (10k) of our lodging.

As seems to be common to most cooking schools we have experienced, we were first taken to a local food market.  I love this because the markets that the cooking schools use are usually well off the beaten tourist track. Sure enough, the only folks shopping at the street market this morning were locals.  Here we were each given a basket into which all the ingredients for the course were placed as we went from stall to stall.

Our chef, Aot, spoke English well. He was very knowledgeable about food, food science and Thai culture.  He also had a good sense of humor – which always goes a long way. There were eight of us in this class representing, the US, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Philippines and Germany.  Although there were four classes going on at the same time, the school ran the whole affair very efficiently with a good attention to detail and individual student learning.

Our class with our "graduation" hats on.

Our class with our “graduation” hats on.

The classroom and kitchen are located in a lime green four story building down the end of a long alley.  There is a dining/sitting area where we first gathered to get the lay of the land.  Then we were directed to the classroom to do all the food prep.  We all sat on the floor in a traditional Thai style.  We were given some cushions to sit on – but all the prep work was done on the floor.

Aot walked us through the preparation of the spices, meat, “fillers” and main “key” ingredients one dish at time.   Fillers are usually vegetables which, according to Aot, do not contribute to the taste of the dish, so you can add them in or leave them out. Typical fillers used in many Thai dishes include mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, aubergine (egg plant), baby corn, cabbage, bok choy, etc.  So leave them out or add them, the choice is yours.

There are several ingredients that form the essence of Thai cooking:  lime, kaffir lime leaves (this is the ingredient Jay and I have been missing in our laab), lemon grass,  Thai garlic (with the skin on), tamarind, galangal ginger just to name a few.  The key ingredients depend on the dish you are cooking. For example, if you are looking for a Tom Yum taste, then you need kaffir lime, lemon grass and galangal ginger.  Then you have Tom Yum. If you leave out any one of these ingredients, “then you’re not making Tom Yum, your making something else, something you made up”.

After we finished preparing the ingredients we went to the patio where the stoves are lined up against the wall. We were instructed to turn the flame on full, “knob to nine o’clock” and added the ingredients in the order suggested by Aot.  For the Tom Yum soup we used water in the wok, for the two curries and Pad Thai we used soy bean oil.  Thai’s do no use olive oil in their cooking because it burns at too low a temperature and they like to cook on a full flame.

Most dishes took about five minutes to cook.  This explains how and why there are so many street food vendors- all they need to do is a bit of prep work, have a hot stove ready, turn the heat to high and your meal is ready in five minutes. Yum.

Once our food was cooked and the sauce adequately reduced, we served ourselves (“presentation, don’t forget to give a nice presentation”) and sat together to eat each course in the dining/seating area.

The Silom Cooking school is worth the cost (right around $30.00) – for this price you get cooking instruction, a five course meal that you prepare, a market tour and recipe and reference book.  Not bad, right?   The school is well organized, they have lots of sous chefs helping with prep and clean up.  The facilities are very clean, tidy and well kept.  Magic drinking water is provided (and encouraged).

Our menu for this Thursday morning class:

  1. Tom Yum Goong (Hot and sour soup with shrimp)
  2. Pad Thai (Rice noodles and peanuts with shrimp)
  3. Phanaeng Curry (Red curry with chicken and beans)
  4. Kang khaio wan gai (Green curry with chicken)
  5. Mango Sticky Rice.

The portions sizes we made were reasonable. However, it was still way too much food for one person. Even though rice was only served with the green curry, the red curry was treated as more of an appetizer.  We had a fantastic experience learning some of the basics of Thai cooking and meeting new friends. We are looking forward to experimenting with Thai food when we get back into a kitchen!

We highly recommend the Silom Cooking School for anyone who is in Bangkok, wants to take a half day cooking class but doesn’t want to spend a boat load of cash. You won’t be disappointed!

 

Silom Cooking School in Bangkok.

Silom Cooking School in Bangkok.

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