We left Cappadocia’s fairytale land and turned north. Rolling on the highwaylike Turkish main roads would have been easy, but the strong headwind often made cycling more difficult. Nothing special happened until we got to the next city, Sivas. There we had a good time after the hard and boring days. We ate out, had some tea with a kind local man and relaxed in a clean and well-equipped park.
Then we started to go higher and conquered new mountains almost every day. First we cycled up to 2010 m. We are getting better at climbs so I can say we enjoyed the uphill and felt proud when we got up to the top. Of course rolling down the smooth road between the beautiful green slopes was fun too.
The next day our food supplies were running low so we made a little detour to the mountain town, Susheri. It’s an extremely steep town, I think no cyclist have ever had a reason to go up there before us so the locals were really curious about us. We had tea and long Google translate assisted conversations with them after the planned grocery shopping. To eat lunch we stopped at a roadside fruit stand and sat down next to 2 policemen who were just chilling there. So again we had locals to talk with and free tea.
We continued on a road that was surrounded by mountains but wasn’t a steep uphill. It was great to enjoy the mountain sights without difficult climbs. That day we noticed how much the Turkish people love to settle in the mountains – there were villages everywhere along winding roads in the mountains. In the afternoon we had to put up our tent quickly when the rain started to fall. We just finished at the last moment and listened to the first rain in weeks after another hot day.
The way was still pleasantly hilly, the only nuisance for me was my ankle that was so full of mosquito bites that it got a little swollen and was itching all the time. But not for long because soon we reached higher areas again. This time the mountain pass was at 2000 m. Pine forests next to us all the way. On the top we celebrated with flat bread filled with chocolate cream, a suitable replacement for the pancakes that Adam misses so much.
Unfortunately it wasn’t possible to stay at this elevation, we had to roll down and go up again to pass the next hills. They were getting steeper and more brutal every time, and the scenery also changed a lot. This time it was more rocky and so gigantic, it’s impossible to put it in words or show the same thing on photos. We could see that most of the drivers didn’t believe their eyes when they spotted the two crazy foreigners cycling or pushing their bikes up on that road. One of them stopped next to us. The old man was very impressed, he insisted that we stay at his home for the night in the next village. This would have been a good opportunity, but when he said goodbye he hugged me and grabbed my boob so we rather declined meeting him again. Instead we found the perfect place for our tent overlooking endless mountains and a waterfall.
At this gorgeous place I had the worst night of the trip so far. Both my back and stomach was in pain. I could still feel it in the morning, but after a while it stopped, looks like suffering on mountain roads can be a good painkiller. This day we reached 3000 km total distance and headed to the highest and steepest mountain dirt roads in the Krom valley. Adam liked it a lot, for me it was already a bit too much to enjoy, but I managed to get to 2497 m. This is the highest we’ve ever been. Literally higher than the clouds. Now I know it isn’t romantic at all to touch the clouds. No, it’s cold and wet and it’s impossible to see further than 20 meters. I have no idea if the scenery was nice up there, because I couldn’t see anything. Because of the clouds and rain the way down sucked too. We had to stop at an eatery completely over our budget to get some warmth and food. When we got to Sümela monastery the rain stopped and the tarmac road started, so at least the final part was fun.
Our next destination was Trabzon and the Iranian embassy. We applied for the Iranian visa online when we were in Istanbul. Adam’s request was already approved, mine wasn’t despite the 5 work day deadline. I wonder if I was ‘forgotten’ because I am a woman. Anyway, Adam went in alone, asked about mine too and the guy promised the two visas to be ready in two days.
Until we waited for the visas we stayed at the Adalante hostel, Trabzon’s only and best hostel. We had a great time just staying inside for a whole day. Adam could finally edit a video while I relaxed and read Siddharta. On Wednesday we went back to the embassy to pick up the visas. We’re glad we chose to apply online. Everything went smooth, no questions asked, no extra paperwork, we didn’t need an invitation letter or registration code – just pay 50 euros each and pick up the visas. Easy!
It was time to leave Trabzon the place with the worst traffic in Turkey. Or maybe one last siesta in the park where we got some grilled chicken from a family that was barbequing next to us.
While we were in the mountains I sometimes encouraged myself by imagining how nice it will be when we cycle on the coast of the Black Sea. Well, it wasn’t. There’s a road, almost like a motorway right next to the sea. So we couldn’t even swim, just cycled another 2 days on the smooth road with a lot of Erdogan posters and well-lit, but still scary tunnels until we got to the border. This was the end of our fantastic 34 days and 1928 km long journey in Turkey.