We’ve met loads of cyclists going in both directions along the Black Sea coast and a lot of fun sharing stories of our travels. A lot of the time we will meet people who met the people we met a few days ago or a few weeks ago – it almost becomes one big cycling community rolling along swapping ideas, stories, news and tips.
After enjoying 7 weeks in Turkey, our time is nearing to an end and we are sad to say goodbye. We’ve picked up the language and become accustomed to national traditions, like drinking tea (çay), the prayer call and Turkish dance. As if to celebrate our final days in Turkey our route had an instrumental role in a considerable increase of our çay consumption… in fact we did a lot more than just drink çay… We inhaled it, we cycled through it, we even soaked it in through our pores.
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!)
At times when I’m in a large town or city centre at 8pm at night debating sleeping spots, I do wonder ‘when will we ever learn?’ We know, even you know, that finding a place to camp in a city is 100% going to be a nightmare. And this time as we repeated the same fruitless search for a garden, free land or someone’s house, we were pleasantly surprised at the outcome!
A man in the local tea garden overheard our conversation with a local English teacher who was trying to give us advice. Our biggest issue here was that the beach had a no camping rule (something we tried to persuade them to be lax on but no luck). The man that joined our conversation was able to offer us his roof, which the English teacher described as a concrete slab. True to the description, concrete slab it was! We lugged our bikes up the stone steps and locked them outside his flat. Although very central, it was tucked back and sheltered from glaring street lights. There was only one flat but it looked as if it had once been a block of flats. Behind the flat was a wet cliff face with another row of flat blocks stretching up and to either side and slightly in front of the flat were another 3 blocks of flats, much taller than the one we were on. We shared our sleeping pad with a half there motorcycle and a paddling pool full of fish – no idea!
Luckily the weather was behaving and as our tent is not free standing we took out the outer to use as protection on the ground and used our mats and bivi bags. We found a nice little spots on a grassy part of the cliff (a short hop off the roof) to become our toilet and settled down to watch the bats flit around until we drifted off. The sleep itself was interrupted but hey we just love being woken up to a 4am prayer call and a squawking chorus of seagulls!
We were just before Trabzon, one of the biggest cities along the Turkish Black Sea coast and home to the beautiful Sumela Monastry, and we were going through the usual evening paces of ‘where the hell are we going to sleep?!’
We met an English baker cycling around the world in a year!
As you can imagine, Joe is moving twice as fast as us – he made us feel like tootling old grannies! Joe left the UK about 6 weeks ago and shot through Europe doing around 150km/day, not bad! We wish Joe the best of luck and success with his travels 🙂
As he was a baker we couldn’t help but slip in a little interview and interrogate him about all those doughnuts. His family run bakery back home is called Krusty Loaf!
Beth decided to make a little hobby of semi-losing items for the Istanbul – Tbilisi leg of the journey. I say ‘semi’ because the 2 times this happened, she timed it well enough for it to be in a place where we had made friends and exchanged contacts. Our new friends were kindly able to locate the items (one being a bag of memory cards and the other a mobile phone) and to send them on the the main post office in another town.
Lost item no. 1: mobile phone
Actually she lost this item second but retrieved it first, so let’s set the scene with a complicated success story.
Location of loss: Cide, Kaptan Pensiyon. Under a pillow.
Saviour: Mehmet. Our hitchhikee that took us from Cide to Inebolu and luckily lived in Cide.
Realisation point: in the car to Inebolu.
Solution: Mehmet went to the pensiyon, located the phone and posted it on via PTT to Giresun ‘main’ post office.
Final outcome: our arrival in Giresun was slightly tainted by the fact that Beth was suffering from a sickness. This meant our sole agenda was sleep. And unfortunately the PTT mobile phone problem was forgotten until the morning we were due to leave. Had we known the extent of the palava that would ensue we may have just left it to PTT’s unclaimed post pile but we didn’t so 4 hours and a tour of Giresun’s PTTs followed. Finally, after being told to go to another location for a third time, we found ourselves in the correct PTT with Beth spelling out her name to the official. After searching the system with numerous variations of Beth’s name and only ‘Mehmet’ as details of sender. Things were beginning to look hopeless. We had Mehmet and his sons phone numbers so after trying Mehmet and recalling that he would be partying in Batumi now. We tried his son who provided us with Mehmet’s surname. This was the break we needed as 5 minutes later Beth was exiting the PTT with her small trophy. Our hosts found it very amusing to discover all the effort was invested to recover an ancient phone Alcatel phone.
Lost item no. 2: bag of memory cards
Location of loss: Ali and Leila’s house
Saviour: Ali and Leila found the memory cards on the chair in the bedroom we slept in.
Realisation point: upon receipt of a Facebook message from Ali (suspicions had been brewing)
Solution: Ali posted the memory cards to Trabzon PTT ‘main’ post office.
Final outcome: we located the PTT with much less difficulty than the previous incident. Another added ease to the equation was that we had the postage reference number. However we had a new hurdle to overcome: the parcel had not yet arrived. First Beth was told to return in 5 days. Next she was told to return tomorrow. And finally after much discussion and rummaging and phone calls, they gave their final offer: 1 hour. Unfortunately even the offer of retrieving the parcel in 1 hour was not good enough as we were time pressured by the heat and the target of 100+km that day and the following 2 days. So sadly we said goodbye to the last PTT that we would encounter and the memory cards and went and demolished a loaf of bread and nutella.
So Beth, have you learnt your lesson? Somehow we all know that the answer to that question is ‘no’.
There are a few things that we keep close to hand at all times and one of these is our Titaner Pocket Knife. Whilst riding it is attached to our map cases via the strong sliding clip and whilst off the bike it is on our belts or pockets.
The design of the knife is sleek and simple; cleverly addressing the need for lightweight without compromising on safety or efficacy. The handle is made of two layers of titanium held together at 4 points. Using a hinge mechanism the ceramic blade slots between the two layers of the handle. And the blade is eased out if the handle by 2 bolts at its base. Once completely out of handle and fully released, a small catch close to the blade base clicks into the space occupying the gap between the two layers. This prevents the blade from shifting. To close the knife, one hand pulls the catch out of the gap whilst the other eases the blade back into place. With practice, maybe it will only need one hand to open and close – but we haven’t tried that yet!
We use our knives mostly for preparing food. Often for lunch we have tomatoes, cheese and bread or for dinner for vegetables with pasta. The blade is strong, steady and accurate, whilst the handle shape allows for a confident grip. They also come in handy for odd jobs such as cutting string, cable ties (a cycle touring must-have) and once we used it to shift a small stone that had become wedged inthe screws of Beth’s cleats.
Length – 155mm
Width – 20mm
Thickness – 7mm
Folded Size – 90mm
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
1 cup milk
1 cup sunflower oil
3 1/2 cup sugar
4 cups water
2 cups blended walnuts
2 cups semolina
2 cups flour
1tsp Baking powder
1tsp vanilla extract
First mix 3 cups sugar with 4 cups water and boil for 15 mins, stirring continually. Once boiled, leave to cool for at least 30mins.
Beat 1/2 cup sugar and 3 eggs. Whilst continuously beating the mix, add in the milk and oil, followed by the semolina, flour, walnuts, baking powder and vanilla extract.
Pour the mix into a 32 cm tray and cook in a 180°C oven for 30-40 minutes.
Once cake is cooked and cooled, pour the preprepared sugar and water mix over the top.