This post is the first in a series which will explore the expeditionary ride along Evliya Çelebi Way in 2009 plus linking you to some other writing about Evliya Çelebi Way. As more stories are published I will add the links across the related pages. You can also search for the 2009 stories by clicking the 2009 Expeditionary Ride tag in the tag list.
The EÇW is one of the best experiences I’ve had anywhere in the world
Candace Rose Rardon, The Great Affair (Dec 2013)
Recalling the 2009 Expeditionary Ride
Contributed by Gerald Maclean
Reading Tracey’s wonderful job of editing the materials I sent her about the Evliya Çelebi Way Project, I realised that starting the story in October 2013 – when UNESCO formally opened the Evliya Çelebi Way (EÇW) as a European Cultural Route – meant there was still lots to tell that might be of interest to readers about the initial expeditionary ride of 2009 and how we first found the Way…
The other thing that has happened since starting to work with Tracey is that I learned that we already have an ideal fan, Candace Rardon, who walked the EÇW last autumn and published a compelling account of her adventures on her travel-blog, ‘The Great Affair.’ Candace is a very professional travel-blogger and can truly claim to be the first to have walked the EÇW as described in the Guidebook in its entirety! And we are obviously delighted that she has only wonderful things to say about the countryside, the hospitality of the people, and the sense of excitement and achievement that completing the trek – with hotel stops along the way – brought her. This is entirely unsolicited testimony and, after the Guidebook itself, the best guide for anyone who needs persuading to set out on the EÇW.
I was especially delighted that Candace not only enjoyed the journey but found, in addition to plentiful clean water and gifts of fruit, adequate supplies along the way from village shops (bakkals), and that she enjoyed finding herself staying most nights as a personally invited guest in villagers’ houses. As Caroline notes in the Guidebook, among our aims in establishing the EÇW is the hope that the home-stay system common along older-established trekking routes might develop, whereby ‘villagers offer rooms and meals in their houses.’
An invitation to share a meal or to stay overnight with a village family will always be genuine. At this stage in its development, when as Candace noticed, many villagers are still unaware of the EÇW, travellers are guests and are still subject to the traditional codes of hospitality and there are no expectations of payment. We have found that in lieu of other gifts small cash gifts presented for the youngest children of the household are unlikely to cause offence.
In 2009 one of our sponsors, Kütahya Porselen, provided us with 2,000 commemorative coffee-mugs that village children were delighted to receive wherever we went. While riding, we often carry pens and small toys to distribute.
Unlike the organized pilgrim trails of Spain and Japan, the EÇW remains a truly personal journey, as you will discover from reading Candace’s The Great Affair’s Guide to: Trekking the Evliya Celebi Way.