Week 27 Update

P1120630

Week 27 – Update (Bukhara – Samarkand – Tajikistan)

We are here in Dushanbe, the city of Monday!! One of the places we’ve always imagined when planning the trip and can’t quite believe we are finally here!

After a couple of days rest in Bukhara we left for Samarkand. A difficult stretch. On the second day we stopped at 5.30pm and sat down to eat at a restaurant. Not only was it the best lagman we had had so far but it cost less than $3 for two salads, a non bread and a bowl of lagman each. We looked at each other across the table, there was no way we could go any further that evening and asked the boy who worked there if we could sleep in one of their rooms. Unsure what was happening he returned in 10 minutes and ushered us into a room. Heartened by the sight of a bed made up in a secluded room on top of their tea tables we fell asleep before 8!

We finally made it to Samarkand and recoupourated. We explored the medrassas and mosques and even sneaked into the Registan through an unmanned gate.

In order to make up some time we had to hitch to the Tajik border. It took a bit longer than expected but ended up in the company of a convoy of three lorry’s heading towards the last Uzbek town Denov. We were dropped off 25km from the town in the dark. We asked a lady and her son if we could sleep in their courtyard.

Beth had said earlier that all she wanted was some Plov, a toilet and a bed. She got her wish… A death-trap toilet, sloppy Plov and we got to share a bed with a crazy old lady (she was completely bonkers).

Anyway we cycled the remainder of the way to the border and spent our first night with a restaurant owner, his wife and two Tajik Policeman who in uniform drank their way through 7 pints each before driving home – glad to see the law enforcers leading by example!

Week 23 & 24 Update – Uzbek Border to just after Khiva

P1120340

Week 23 & 24 – Uzbek Border to just after Khiva

It’s been a big challenge, we are on a very tight deadline to get through Uzbekistan so we can climb over a mountain range and get into China before the 5th of October. After 5 days in the Uzbek desert we arrived in Qongirat, a quick day off visiting the Aral Sea bed in Moynaq and met up with Cliff & Richard. Now out of the desert we were passing cotton field after cotton field. It is harvest time so everyone is out in the fields picking and it’s been fun holding on to the back of the three wheeled tractors pulling the trailers full of cotton!

Week 25 was spent cycling towards the next desert stretch. We took a detour to visit Khiva, an ancient silk road city. Only one day off though before we were racing towards the edge of the desert and on to Bukhara. We made a mistake and took the long way around, suffering head winds and poor roads. But if we hadn’t we never would have experienced the warmth and kindness of two Uzbek families. Two nights in a row we ate and slept, played with the kids and learnt about their customs and traditions whilst joining in the Kurban Hayit (Eid al-Adha) celebrations. We witnessed the slaughter of a cow, stuffed our faces and gave the children rides on our bikes before we finally managed to leave for the edge of the Kyzyl-Kum desert.

Week 21 – Update

11145170_918422924891404_3337063206115230776_o

Week 21 – Baku to Shetpe

After a week waiting for the boat in Baku we made it to Kazakhstan! We spent a day in Aktau recovering from the journey. Beth had another bout of the dreaded bowel dysfunction, this time likely a result of the Georgian Dja Dja and Polish Vodka we had as we celebrated with our boat friends.

The desert starts now! Camels have replaced cows (literally – they even drink their milk), 4×4’s have replaced the Ladas, people eat horses, you can see for miles across the steppe landscape, the tallest mountain in Mangistau is 532m everything else is flat…they have signs for 4% inclines. Just to give you an idea of how big and barren Kazakhstan is it takes 12hrs on a train to get to the next city!

Drank camels milk: 1 time and never again
Flat tyres: 1 total now is 3
Distance covered: 7190km
Total countries: 15 (this week: 1 – Kazakhstan)
Weather: 34oC
Total snickers Bars: 122
Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix– Ch. 18

Week 19 – Update (Sheki to Baku)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Week 19 – Sheki to Baku

We’ve made it to Baku! It has been an eventful week; dictated mostly by Beth’s volcanic bowels thanks to a combination of heat exhaustion, egg-smelling water and some suspicious ice cream. We spent a couple of days in Sheki and visited the ancient city; famous for its part in the silk road trading, a slow cooked clay pot lamb dish called Piti and a sweet called Sheki Halva.

Back on the road again, Beth still ill, we had a couple of unfortunate nights that did not consist of much sleep: a man and his rifle and a mosquito attack. Over these days our progress was slow as Beth’s energy levels were low and her stomach was blown up like a balloon. On the 5th day after Beth became sick, as we climbed a hefty climb, she yelled “I fancy a big juicy kebab” – yay, she’s back!

In the last 150km to Baku we found ourselves on the set of Star Wars, amongst rocky, hilly desert plains. We blitzed out the final 110km with a great day of riding and a feeling that we were in an old Western.

Azerbaijani people have been so friendly and helpful, often offering us food, water and a place to sleep. It’s been a pleasure to enjoy çay, homemade jams, bread and watermelon with families. Unfortunately we have had a couple of encounters with disrespectful men, but it was nothing we couldn’t fend off.

Distance covered: 7030km
Total countries: 14 (this week: 1 – Azerbaycan)
Weather: 34oC, very dry with head wind, cooler towards the end of the week
Total snickers Bars: 116
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– Ch. 37

Week 18 Update

With Hamu and Naju at Katax River

Week 18 Update. Lagodekhi, Georgia to Sheki, Azerbaijan.

Azerbaycan, what can we say? 2 days in and we feel almost at home!

Azerbaijan and Turkey have many similarities both culturally and linguistically. As we picked up many Turkish words, it is much easier to communicate than in Georgia. The food is also similar and tasty and everyone drinks çay (of course). Another perk of Azerbaijan is their garden restaurants, which have private pods surrounded by trees, flat grassy areas and fairy lights… a.k.a perfect, safe camping spots. So far, we’ve been treated with kindness, respect and generosity and made many new friends!

We are now meandering slowly down towards Baku with a daily average of around 30km!

Distance covered: 6780km
Total countries: 14 (this week: 1 – Azerbaycan)
Weather: 36 degrees, no rain
Total snickers Bars: 116
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– Ch. 31

Week 16 Update

Goderzi Pass, Georgia,

Week 16 – Batumi to Tbilisi.

Week highlights:
A 2000m mountain pass – JaJa at 8:30am (the local moonshine) – Losing Virgilios – sleeping with beekeepers – a very urgent tent evacuation after an excessive amount of cheese – the most terrible downhill imaginable (road was just rocks and gravel) – being taken in by a horse training family and a women with 11 children – sleeping in an apple orchard – Blisteringly hot heat – all our food getting eaten by the cows – breaking the record for the shortest distance covered on a cycling day = 6km! – And Virgilio’s tyre exploding
Distance covered: 6450km – Julia’s odometer broke so guestimation
Total countries: 13 (this week: 1 – Georgia)
Weather: The hottest we’ve experinced, even the wind is hot
Total snickers Bars: 112
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– Ch. 27 (haven’t had a lot of time recently!

Week 15 Stats

The Bicycle Village makes it to Georgia

Week 15 Update. Samsun to Batumi.

The Cycling Village makes it to Georgia!

This week was a nice easy flat stretch along the coastal highway to Georgia with a break in the middle where we stayed with our Friend Sakir’s family in Giresun.

It was so nice to make so many new cycling friends going in both directions. Joe the Baker from the UK cycling around the world in a year. Soykan, almost home to Istanbul after cycling from Singapore. Izzet from Ankara, Turkey, who cycled with us for two days. And the lovely couple Dan and Kiri, from The States, cycling around the world on their honeymoon. Fantastic to meet you all, safe travels.

Distance covered: 6050km
Total countries: 12 (this week: 1 – Turkey)
Weather: Very hot still ~ 36°C
Total snickers Bars: 110″
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– Ch. 27 (haven’t had a lot of time recently!)

Week 14

Three bikes in a Peugeot from the 80s!

Week 14 – Update

It was a week of hard hills, puppy rescuing, boating, some crappy nights (pun intended), scary nighttime noises and Cay dreaming.

We admit to a little hitchhiking 100km over a very up and down section of the coastline from Cide to Inebolu. We spent half a day trying to figure out how we were going to get 3 bikes into a minibus or a coach, tried hitchhiking on the roadside but to no avail. Then we started talking to Mehmet, a retired janitor – who was very adamant that he could drive us with our bikes and bags to Inebolu in his car 25yr old Renault. We were laughing at the thought but true to his word he drove us 100km down the road.

Rejuvenated after a few days rest, we cycled the rest to Sinop and hit the highway. Finally flat all the way to Georgia! It was great, we were able to get over 20km/hr for longer than a few minutes, the km’s seemed to roll by. This novelty however soon wore off as the road was noisy and not particularly interesting. But this did not mean that we were did not experience less of the great hospitality. It was great to find ourselves in Turkey during Bayram, the end of Ramazan, as the food just kept coming!

Distance covered: 4550km
Total countries: 12 (this week: 1 – Turkey)
Weather: Very hot still ~ 36°C
Total snickers Bars: 106
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– Ch. 27

Week 13

Topping up our water and swapping headdresses!

Kandira to Kurucasile

Distance covered: 4150km
Total countries: 12 (this week: 1 – Turkey)
Weather: Very hot ~ 36°C Max 45!
Total snickers Bars: 106
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Ch. 27

Until a week ago we hadn’t quite used Ramazan to our full advantage, the sun was setting and we thought we had better find somewhere to sleep. Suddenly all around us the Adhan (call to prayer) could be heard, with only farm land for miles we decided to knock on the door of a farm house and ask to camp in their garden. Before we knew it we found ourselves being led down the road to the neighbours and into a huge room with a large Turkish family eating Ifta. We had just had a big meal 20km back but how could we refuse!? The week has been filled with amazing hospitality, lots of delicious food and great company.

The weeks highlights include:
Enjoying an impromptu (but much needed rest) at Leila and Ali’s, gathering lots of recipes, playing Okey (Turkish rummikub game), sleeping on a boat, Julia gave a Beth a haircut which was then brushed by an old lady carrying a machete, hitchhiking up hills and cycling down them, had a big storm and used it as an excuse to take the day off! Those that have been along the Black Sea know that we are dreading the next 150km from Kurucasile to Inebolü, bring on the pain!

 

Week 12 Stats

Dream team

After almost 4 weeks off the bike, we spent the beginning of the week sorting out our things, packing, airing our tent – which then got urinated on by the dogs of Istanbul…whoops! We are taking the Black Sea route. So far have had some very challenging roads but the scenery is “Cok Guzel” (Beautiful) and the people are amazing. Temperatures are reaching 42°C so we are waking up at 5am, leaving by 6 and stopping between 11am and 4pm to avoid the midday sun. We are enjoying having Virgile with us and excited about the next 4 weeks of cycling in Turkey.
Distance covered: 4150km
Total countries: 12 (this week: 1 – Turkey)
Weather: Very hot ~ 36°C
Total snickers Bars: 102
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire– Ch. 15
Week Snippets:
Left Europe – Learnt a traditional Turkish dance – slept under the stars – had breakfast in a Marble Quarry – Sweated buckets – Swam in the Black Sea for the first time – Discovered that our tent had been urinated on by a dog and then slept in it (it stank) – Gate crashed a Pide (“turkish pizza”) making session at the side of the road – And became big sister, middle sister and big brother in a Turkish Family, all in all a great start.