Thursday 13 September 2012

Crossing Turkey

Turkey has been very good to me. I have met more locals and tourists here than anywhere else on my journey. Not a single day goes by in which I don't drink çay (tea) with Turks or Kurds on the side of the road, whether it be outside a cafe, in a dominoes room (the equivalent of bingo in Turkey) or someone's home.

The majority of these photos are from Samsun onwards. In Samsun my friend from England, Rob, joined the expedition for three weeks, to Tehran. We rode along the Black Sea for four days before turning south and crossing multiple mountain ranges. The first day of climbing saw us pedal for five and a half hours from 120m to 2640m. The next day the map showed that we had to do two 2,300m passes, nothing compared to the day before. As it turned out, just when we thought we'd done our final pass and could roll downhill, a third mountain pass popped up which required conquering.

This meant we didn't stop cycling until hours after sunset. We found a quarry with dozens of trucks in and asked if we could sleep there. No one spoke English but the workers invited us in for dinner. After thirty or so minutes of stuffing our faces and having our photos taken someone gestured to say they'd found us a bed. We slept in a 6-bed dorm with the quarry workers who woke up at various times in the night to get working.

Below are 60 photos from Istanbul to Erzurum, and one video of climbing the big mountain pass. As you can tell, I am rushing, we are trying to get to Iran in three days and there's a nasty headwind outside!

The first night away from Istanbul and missing people already

Climbing over a 900m pass while the motorway stayed low, using tunnels 

Four days to Samsun 

This photo took me all day to get, the lake is created by a dam 3km to the south

Found Rob sitting on a bench in Samsun - Unpacking

My Rubik's cube, brought from England by Rob - expertly wrapped by my dad

Camping on Samsun beach with Agustin

Rob's 1st day - The rear rack detached at the top, causing all his luggage to fall onto the road

The view from my tent the next morning

Route planning in a petrol station with free çay

6000km done since England!
 We camped in a block of flats that was being built, the locals came to investigate with their lovely dog - in the end they came back with some freshly caught sardines and mullet
Rob tucking in

The garage we slept in - our food stuff is out as we'd already eaten pasta when they brought as fish!

 Our only hill for four days, 200m above sea level
Having breakfast ( a pan of muesli) in our own block of flats with a nice morning view

 The dominoes room where we played chess in the rain - and the proud man who owned it

Having dinner in a çay warehouse
Preparing the bike and solar panel
Not the best weather to wake up to when you have to ascend over 2,500m

In the valley leading up to Ovit Dagi pass, tea leaves being grown everywhere

Rob and corn

We started climbing from 120m at 7:30

Soon we were in heavy rain

Once we cycled into the cloud the visibility was really poor

The best view we had all the way up to 2640m

 Cycling on a really bad road = hard work

 soaked through

Near the top I started filming - unfortunately the battery didn't make it all the way

At the top, the temperature was around 3 degrees Celsius 

After we'd wrapped up warm

 The next day we were expecting to do two mountain passes - no problem when you have such nice views

The mountain range on the right, which we climbed over the day before, was holding back all the bad weather 

A small part of the road we climbed up

Really steep roads

Lovely cycling without a shirt - not so good when we stopped and the winds kicked in

Cropped for better viewing of facial expression while munching on bread

Rob resting and eating after the first pass of the day

Looking down from the top of the first pass 

 Nomads living in the valleys below

As soon as we were low enough to join the stream (1900m) the landscape changed

More Nomads

The seconds pass of the day at around 5pm

The pass that we didn't know existed at around 7pm

 Aubergine with mince meat sauce - to start with they just gave us one, then they brought out three more each (plus macaroni and sour cream)
Most of the workers in the quarry were Kurds 

A huge plateau at 1,900m

Not impressed with the strong headwind

If you've enjoyed this blog, please consider donating to St. Margaret's Hospice, the charity I am doing this journey to raise money for - Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. When did you turn into Wolverine? Steff xxxx