Home 9 stories 9 cycling 9 Audrey and Eloy Hensels

Written by Audrey Hensels

December 7, 2022

We are Audrey and Eloy! Together for more than 13 years, sometimes nearby, sometimes far from each other. Both of us got to learn some other cultures, but most of the time we experienced it separately. Eloy ate Boboti and did a 6-month internship in South Africa, Audrey meanwhile attempted to learn Spanish in Guatemala and then did a 4-month internship in Chile. Eloy lived in Nijmegen (The Netherlands), while Audrey spent her time in Leuven (Belgium).

The Sufitrail: an unforgettable
part of our journey

It’s a sweltering day and we’re going up and down the mountain. In Osmaneli, a man literally sees us trudging up the mountain. He offers us çay and without hesitation opens the gate of a textile factory. His colleagues join us, refill our water and we are the talk of the town. Admittedly with the help of Google Translate, because most people don’t speak English. We can’t leave until they take pictures and give us another kilo of peaches. Two houses further on we are again picked off the street to drink tea… That same day we stop in a small village, Vezirhan, to look for food and a place to sleep. The only hotel in the village does not seem to have survived the Corona crisis. We look around a bit and look for the house of the village chief (Muhtar).

Goodbye, Europe,

hello Asia!



The days in Istanbul fly by, and it’s nice to see each other back here. Before we know it, Mom and Ashley are already on the plane back home and a whole new continent with new experiences is waiting for us on the other side of the Bosphorus. Istanbul feels like a first milestone to us. From here we cycle further inland, and we are very curious about the rest of Turkey.


Then a farmer gives us self-picked mulberries and cherries. Although they are very tasty, and we can use them well, it is also difficult to transport.

In Turkey, the Muhtar often knows where to go. Within seconds people are approaching us. The first tries to communicate in Turkish and immediately calls the village chief. The second man is called Serkan and speaks a little English as his wife is an English teacher.

He immediately asks if we are hungry and if we are going to his house for dinner. Staying asleep isn’t a problem either. It turns out to be a village where everyone knows each other. Serkan is on holiday with his parents with his wife and son. As soon as we open the gate, we are expected to sit down and one dish after another is brought to the table. We are completely stuffed with, which Serkan wants to indicate that they like to welcome others. “We are all God’s children,” he says.

There is still a house in the yard, where the family used to live, and we can sleep tonight. But first we go with the whole family to the vegetable garden of the parents to water it in the traditional way by digging canals. Back in the yard, we take a shower and çay is made in the traditional way, where Serkan likes to tell about Turkish history.

Written by Audrey Hensels

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The next morning after breakfast we have our picture taken and continue our way uphill. We get support from every driver who honks to motivate us. There are many sand and stone quarries here, so it is a dusty trip. After almost 10 kilometres uphill, we crawl into the shade at a gas station! Eloy’s seat leaves a mark on the wooden bench, sweat is creeping everywhere. We get tea and more tea, and the gas station attendant proudly tells his customers about his Dutch guests.

Then a farmer gives us self-picked mulberries and cherries. Although they are very tasty, and we can use them well, it is also difficult to transport. Bumping on the bike usually turns fruit in large quantities into a mashed mess! Yet we usually don’t get this explained to people, and we get an extra bag. In the neighbouring hamlet, half the village joins us with çay and biscuits. After some Google Translate, an English-speaking professor joins us and the conversation goes in all directions.

We hear new things: Dutch people who would eat squirrels (at least 100 years ago), heroin would be legal in the Netherlands, etc. On the other hand, we only hear news about Erdoğan, and fortunately we now know what Turkey has to offer. The questions we get in this order in almost every conversation are: ‘Çay?’, ‘Where are you from?’, ‘Job?’, ‘Married?’, ‘Turkey good?’, ‘Yemek?!’. The latter means ‘Eat?’. This is where we learn what true hospitality means.

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