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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Friday, August 27, 2010

kebab me to death

We arrived in Sinop and based on the recommendation of the owner of the seaside camping went to a seafood restaurant on the water. This is some cold dish of mixed vegetables and tons of garlic. It was very good.

This is the black sea fish that everyone eats, unfortunately it was not fresh so I had to order another dish...lamb. They gave me two tiny (not worth photographing) pieces of lamb and tons of rice and french fries so I decided to go for some baklava and found it made with chocolate.

Our campsite, being Ramadan there was no one, we had the place to ourselves and just mere meters from the beach.

Luke was trying to describe to me that there was Turkish ice cream (dordurma) but we could never find it but finally here I found a lemon flavor that was similar to my toothpaste. It's like a sorbet.

Next stop BAR. After 2 weeks of hard riding and no alcohol (or often food) in sight we found a bar where they poured a huge whiskey. I had mine and Luke's :)

Along our route we encountered a group of Turkish riders who were a support team for a bicycle tour.

We had 300km along the coast, beautiful twisty roads with hairpin turns and some dirt and gravel where I saw this little critter slowly making his way across so I helped him along.

We stopped in Cide before our destination of Amasra and finally found something other than KEBAB!
It was a stew of potatoes and meat, some young beans in broth, Kofte and excellent Turkish coffee.

Amasra at sunset. 

We found an apt where we all had our own rooms and it was right in town so we walked around a little

Beautiful roads lined with trees and blessedly cool

Next the historic city of Sanfranbolu where Ottoman style homes are everywhere and people still live in them.

Even the sugar is in a tiny replica of the traditional houses.

Notice the rusted satellite dish, some homes are vacant.

Very old Minaret under renovation.

These kids were laughing and giggling and just fun to watch....they started to talk to us and of course it sounded adorable but they were probably saying "hey stupid tourists give us candy..."

The 5 Turkish Lira menu.

The Turkish coffee is presented inside a handcrafted silver canister.

This building was in the center of town and it's where the caravans on the silk route stopped for rest and re-provisioning. I'm at the table below.

Another 500km to Istanbul. Motorway. ARRRRR but again we were lucky and did not get separated and found the hotel that thankfully Volkan booked us. It was perfect!!! Thank you Volkan you have made our trip so much easier by helping translate.

These are for the hookahs which we found everywhere, we are staying in the old city.

It was a bit of an ordeal of moving cars but we got the bikes up on the sidewalk in front of the hotel where they are monitored on camera. My bike is being held up by the wall (I could not get the kickstand down)

Luke leaves today for Sofia. while I will stay on for a couple days and leave at 3am Monday morning. The Italians are here with me. I just had breakfast on a rooftop terrace overlooking the Bosphorous and intend on going back to sleep. The bed was so soft and comfortable it gave me a crook in my neck!

Today spice Bazaar for mom's spices and REAL Turkish delight and tomorrow the palace that I missed last year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

100 shades of green and Sumela

So I waited to post this photo of a Saudi man that we met after leaving Istanbul at the beginning of our trip because he suggested a route that was built by the Russian military invading force around WWI to get into Turkey. He described that it was a road with sheer drops....he didn't mention that it was going to be a really challenging road...this happened to be the one road that I picked and wanted to take. Little did Luke realize I would choose the best route of the whole trip!

Remember the last photo of the wind holding me up? Well this was the valley after that. First it was a slow incline up dirt roads. Barren and dry but you could see a cloud of fog covering the valley we are about to enter. (and there weren't Hurricane winds to stop us either)

One of our first turns in the fog...jagged rock outcroppings.

Decent trail but sheer not here it gets worse.

Below the heaviest fog layer we could start to see the valley. Mert described the Black Sea area as having over a 100 shades of green, I think we found it.


Sheer drops start. 

See that hairpin turn well there were probably 50 of these. Oh and plenty of mud.

Greek influence here, the people look different than the rest of Turkey.

These two girls were just adorable. I was happy to have the hello kitty treats to give them.

It was like the Swiss Alps but in Turkey.

And these pictures just don't do this ride justice. Stopped in a little town to eat some fruit and see the women unload full trucks of hay while the men watched.

Now I did love this ride but after 3 hours of narrow, dirt and rock hairpin turns with sheer drops I was so happy to see pavement I kissed it. 

The locals probably thought, oh how sweet, she's praying...but she's not facing mecca.

Our first glimpse of the Black Sea 

Next Sumela Monastary

Beautiful fresco's
View from one window.

And guess what??? Big Red Bulgaria found a date!
Another F650, 97 just like mine....we met the Italian couple riding it on the way up but later regretted not getting their number or trying to stay in touch or ride...

Got back to town and met this nice man at a restaurant where we ate grilled meat (AGAIN)

He invited us to stay at his house for the night and we decided to accept.
He let me cook my emergency macaroni and cheese in the kitchen...4 days of stomach cramps now but Kraft cured them.

After dinner we followed him to his home; at night, down an unlit dirt road, beyond the city...we were both freaked out. Not to worry, it all turned out OK. 

Well that is after he showed us his rifles and handguns (see it in the corner?, that's the room I slept in.)

Then we set off the next morning and due to a lost item snafu met up with the Italians from the day before at a gas station! What luck!

So we rode 500KM together and finally made it to Sinop where we found a camp ground right on the beach and finally took a swim in the Black Sea.

Turkish Baywatch. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kackar Mountains

Stayed the night in a dumpy hotel that had one saving grace....a washing machine! I have discovered that they are very hard to find. Everyone washes by hand here...makes you wonder how clean the sheets are in hotels. Like I said, I would rather sleep in a tent in my own sleeping bag.

We left the next morning and rode by this very cool wavy rock formation.

We ride along rivers a lot, there is an abundance of water here and the Turks use these cable "cars" to move things and people over the river since there are no bridges.

Stopped in a town to eat lunch. Ramadan means they only serve bread and water during the day and what they call pizza. (It was disgusting)

Our destination was the Kackar Mountains. Tourism is not a big thing for this country but this is one of the few places that even Turks will visit. Twisty narrow roads with blind turns.

Then disaster struck. My shift broke. (Paul, you didn't think of that part) 

Thank god that the man who owned the Pension where we stayed the night had the equipment to weld it back on.

45 Turkish Lira for this AWESOME room and....

This awesome clean bathroom with lots of hot water...ahhhhh!

These were the cabins we stayed in.

Now we have been eating an insane amount of tomatoes. They should have a tomato on the Turkish flag instead of the moon. They are always very red, very sweet and extremely juicy.

This menu was scary...Fleshy Foods (???)

This was the typical river crossing to get to the homes.

Don't even think of doing anything. 

But it didn't say I couldn't do a little "watering", so I did. 

To bad this turned out so dark but a beautiful stream on the way to this Armenian Monastery in excellent preserved condition.

All through the Kackar mountains are these villages going up on the valley walls.

Old wagon turned into a dining area.

Oh and if my cowboy hat looks mangled well it is. Everything shape shifts on a bike.

Cute little village, used the timer for this photo (as usual Luke is way ahead) so I didn't really get a good shot of it but hell great photo anyway.

So here is the village I tried to get in the above photo.

These lovely flowers are everywhere.

See the little pink head in front of the girl? This is a very old woman carrying a huge amount of brush and grass on her back. What was somewhat insulting however is when I wanted to photograph her, the two younger women who weren't carrying anything but letting the old woman do it said no. 

An overloaded truck of hay is a common sight.

This is a famous spot for the Turkish motorcycle riders, they often post photos of themselves on their bikes then add a woman in a bikini standing under the waterfall with them.

Stopped for some ice cream and skipped the disgusting pizza.

This kind man sitting next to Luke offered us a place to sleep and eat for the night free, we realized later when we could not make it through the pass that we should have accepted his kind offer.

The wind was so strong it is holding me UP!!!

We rode 200 KM of dirt, gravel and rock today. White roads on the map are a crap shoot.

Tomorrow the Sumela Monastary.