Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’


Since our dash to Tbilisi against the wind, we have completed a relaxing week with our great new Tbilisi friends Pieter, Floor and Mathias. Repairs, collecting mail, catching up on the blog and buying odd bits and pieces, was combined with mountain walks, city walks, a visit to castles and cave cities and a stimulating Green Pedals visit to the QSI school in Tbilisi. Thank you very much Pieter and Floor for the great hospitality and the amazing time!!

And I had time to put together a video of the next part of my trip. 🙂

Cave city at Vardzia

Cave city at Vardzia


Over the border to Georgia, and across into another world. This place feels so familiar and so exotic at the same time. Eucalyptus trees like in the Australian countryside. Prominent churches and signs of Christianity at every turn. A crazy mix of buildings from the run-down to the sleek. A city layer of casinos and ‘love hotels’. And the food…. Yuuuum.

Batumi

Batumi

Today was always going to be a relaxing, slow day. Cruising along the last Turkey kilometres with an unfamiliar tailwind, we passed waterfalls, sheep, and the standard bottles of urine discarded on the side of the road by truck drivers on a tight schedule.

Waterfall

Waterfall

Sheep

Sheep

Left-overs from truck drivers

Left-overs from truck drivers

Then hello Georgia with its cute script, exotic currency, and modern architecture.

Just made it in Georgia

Just made it in Georgia

Georgian money

Georgian money

Georgian architecture

Georgian architecture

Georgia

Georgia

And then into the city of Batumi. James and I went on a photo-taking bonanza. It was so exciting wandering randomly through the streets.

The hostel in Batumi

The hostel in Batumi

Batumi Georgia

Batumi Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Batumi, Georgia

Oh. And I got my third flat tyre of the trip. I still need to fix it tomorrow morning. The ride into Batumi was done with repeated tyre inflations.

Day 96. 95km. Rize – Hopa

Posted: May 12, 2015 in Cycling, Turkey
Tags: , , ,

The road to Batumi in Georgia was bathed in sun, but Georgia was not our destiny today. The headwind and flat tyre saw to that. And our little side trips off the freeway to listen to the birds (rather than the trucks) meant that we were still able to experience the Turkey-wide power failure this evening.

Mosque

Mosque

We saw mosques, fish restaurants

Fish restaurant

Fish restaurant

boulevards with snowy peaks in the distance

Snowy mountains

Snowy mountains

and women phoning.

Woman phoning

Woman phoning

I had flat tyre number 2

Flat tyre number 2

Flat tyre number 2

before we pushed on into the headwind with the setting sun at our back to our final destination of Hopa.


Today the skies were grey and the rain was penetrating. The çorba women were laughing ‘çok guzel, I love you’, and the dog was friendly. The truck drivers were giving knowing winks – going to Batumi? The Georgian seaport has quite a reputation – all along the Black Sea coast. We are going there tomorrow.

Me on the way to Rize

Me on the way to Rize

Our breakfast was wonderful with our two super-friendly cooks. We were all laughing at each other’s foreign language skills. They were imitating our ‘çok guzel’, and giving us cause for amusement with repetitions of ‘I love you!’.

Çok guzel, I love you

Çok guzel, I love you

‘You are going to Batumi?’ Grin (after the photo was taken).

One of our 'warm up with tea' stops

One of our ‘warm up with tea’ stops

The mind remains blank cycling through the cold rain. The kilometres pass like the trucks. I was woken out of my cocoon of thoughts by my new best friend – Fido the dog.

The bones thaw and the mind returns. Black Sea fish, and a warm sub-table heater.

Legs thawing

Legs thawing


We’ve done it again, but more extreme today. Its 15:00, 80km to go, and a 30km/h dash isn’t happening with a fierce headwind. I stop on the side of the road, trucks whizzing by. I feel weak, hot and frustrated. ‘We can make it,’ says James. I look at him with big sorry dog eyes. Down with a chocolate bar, pump up the music (for the first time on this trip), and the world changes. On, into the evening and night on another adrenaline rush. We’re not doing this tomorrow.

A hidden beach

A hidden beach

Today was a good day. We woke in our hazelnut orchard farmhouse looking down over Giresun in the bright sunlight.

Giresun from our hazelnut orchard farm

Giresun from our hazelnut orchard farm

A lovely breakfast with our host’s family, and then a royal escort by the Giresun cycle gang, being showed all the secret insider cycling tips along the road to Trabzon.

The hidden beach

The hidden beach

The mountains are getting bigger

The mountains are getting bigger

James passed 8000km on this trip, and I passed 7000km – both just a few hundred metres from our lunch stop – the last insider tip of the day.

7000km

7000km

7000km

7000km

An tea factory tour, followed by a buffet lunch. It was an amazing spread, and James and I (and the whole crew) were ravenous.

Tea before the mains

Tea before the mains

Plates 1 and 2 for James and me

Plates 1 and 2 for James and me

Plates 3 for James and me

Plates 3 for James and me

Plate 4 - James and me shared

Plate 4 – James and me shared

Thanks to the whole Giresun team for a great day cycling in the warm sun!!

The Giresun team

The Giresun team

And, arriving in the dark in Akçaabat, we were swept up by another great, warm welcoming committee. Yeşim we had met in Karabük when we stayed with Kaan – her boyfriend. This time she had a whole crew, lead by the english speaking Ahmet, to take us to eat famous Akçaabat köfte. Thanks!!!!!

The Akçaabat welcoming committee

The Akçaabat welcoming committee


Slow in the hills. Sprint on the flats. Off the freeway into tranquil, peaceful and hilly Black Sea Turkey. But time marches on. We make the distance sprinting towards Giresun on the freeway with the spectacular mosque and orange-pink panoramic sunset at our back.

The sunset near Giresun

The sunset near Giresun

Yesterday the freeway was noisy, plied by fast travelling and impatient trucks, hurtling along the Silk Road towards the east. The new tunnel (not on the map) yesterday was dangerous. I felt vulnerable on the bike, just waiting to be swept up by a truck being passed by two others with no roadside to escape to. James and I decided to avoid the long tunnel between Fatsa and Ordu and take the coast road that circuits around the mountainous peninsula.

It was like someone had turned on the colour switch. I was taken from the speed trance of the freeway, and started experiencing again. The birds were tweeting, the people were working on the side of the road, and the villages were alive with people.

Jason's church

Jason’s church

Black Sea coast

Black Sea coast

But it was hilly, more strenuous than on the freeway, and very slow going. I had a bike maintenance date at the bike shop in Ordu (great guys!) to replace the handlebar stem on my bike. And then another 50km to our warm showers host in Giresun.

Ordu bike shop

Ordu bike shop

So, we ate, took the freeway, and then went like the clappers.

Ayran and salad

Ayran and salad

We were met 30km out of Giresun by Kadir – our wonderful warm showers host who cycled back with us back to his home. At our backs a sky of fire was unfolding. It was a special time, cycling along the straight, flat freeway in the warm evening, constantly turning to see the spectacle behind us.

Mosque

Mosque

Sunset near Giresun

Sunset near Giresun

Kadir has a hazelnut farm perched high on a hill overlooking Giresun. We sat on the balcony before bed looking at the Giresun lights twinkling below us, with the Black Sea extending out on the horizon.

Me, Kadir and James

Me, Kadir and James


The road is straight. The road is wide. There are lots of trucks. The surface is good. The noise is great. Distance is the goal, and we fly like the wind.

Bike on the Black Sea

Bike on the Black Sea

We left our friends in Samsun with new matching cycling shirts, and arrived 6 hours later at our new friends in Fatsa. A lovely dinner and hospitality. The language barrier meant that we couldn’t share much more than smiles.

Our host Ahmet

Our host Ahmet

Today there was no beating about the bush. We can cycle like this for a few days to make some distance. A small road would be nice from time to time.


Cycle 10km like the wind. Reboot a server using the iPhone. Cycle 10km like the wind. Write a new website script and deploy. Making a buck on the road James Lambie style.

Black Sea road

Black Sea road

The road was flat, the sun was shining, and James Lambie was earning his living with his home office job. We had some kilometres to cover today, and our strategy was to divide it into 10km speed chunks. James is faster than me, so, he would power away into the distance, to be seen again at the next 10km stop.

I arrive bedraggled, having slogged through the sizable headwind.
‘Sugar level OK,’ (James is a diabetic), ‘Client website deployed.’ (James is a software engineer working from home office.) ‘Ice-cream eaten.’ (We usually stopped at service stations.)

Black Sea coast road

Black Sea coast road

I actually arrived before James at one 10km stop. I left before him.
‘There was a major emergency. The client’s server was down. I had to write a new script to process the online form, write some new tests, and deploy. I hope you haven’t been waiting long.’
I had been waiting for 2 minutes.

The last 20km into Samsun was turbo-powered. The wind died down, and we scooted along the main, flat, straight road into the 600,000 strong metropolis.

The Turkish cycling community is amazing, and so welcoming. We hadn’t planned anywhere to stay in Samsun, and our warm showers host from Iznik, Soner, wrote.
‘Where are you now? I have a friend in Samsun that would love to host you.’
We were honoured to meet some more amazing people. The president of the Samsun cycling organization – Yacin and his wife. They got married on a bicycle – it looked like an awesome wedding ceremony. His landlord and friend is an Australian Turk who lives in both Australia and Turkey. They all welcomed us with open arms. It was great to meet them!

Our lovely hosts in Samsun

Our lovely hosts in Samsun

Day 90. 0km. Gerze

Posted: April 24, 2015 in Cycling, Turkey
Tags: , ,

Make hay while the sun shines. Correction, rest day while the sun shines. Watching the waves lap on the shore on the Black Sea, unfortunate haircut in Sinop, and nice drink with a warm shower friend.

Resting on the Black Sea

Resting on the Black Sea

James was writing cute Chinese characters in the sun on our day off – part of a lovely birthday surprise tomorrow. 🙂

Chinese

Chinese

The highlight of the day was walking down the main street of Sinop with hair like this. I kept on reminding myself that I don’t know anyone here (except for James, and he won’t tell anyone).

Tomorrow back on the bike again – hopefully to Samsun.


Sitting in front of the class aided by the English teacher, James and I talked to the kids of the Boyabat school – and then had lots of selfies taken. A monster climb over the pass into the fog and snow before descending to the – BLACK SEA. Yay! No more mountains for a while! ☺

Selfie

Selfie

‘What do you need to get into University in Australia or New Zealand?’
‘What is the best way to learn English?’
James and I answered the teachers’ questions in front of the students before the big rush to take selfies and like James on Instagram (I should set up an Instagram account, I think..) ☺
On a more serious note, the teacher said the students have little chance to hear and speak to English native speakers. I hope our visit motivated them to explore the world out there, and to learn the language I am lucky enough to have as my mother tongue.

In front of the class

In front of the class

Then the monster climb from 300m to 1300m and over the other side to the Black Sea. The big headwind made it a slow affair. We stopped every 3km to eat, and had a lovely Çanakkale tea stop (Wow! An Australian and a New Zealanders – ANZAC – Çanakkale – very good – like – I have an ANZAC jumper) at the top of the pass.

Anzac jumper

Anzac jumper

They were lovely people working for the road network just before the new tunnel at the top of the pass. We were given copious quantities of tea and Turkish delight.

We popped out of the tunnel on the Black Sea side of the mountain and into dense fog, which remained with us almost until we hit the Black Sea many kilometres below.

Tunnel exit

Tunnel exit

Black Sea

Black Sea