October 05, 2011 GMT
Turkey 4

Hiya folks ---Well we are up and running again with the Camelbaks after a kind soul read the blog and mailed us to say that we could use ‘ Anything that the Turks use to soak their teeth ‘ ! So great that people read the blog and come up with a solution--- thanks so much.

We left Trabzon on Fri 30 Sept after 2 days of good R and R – little did we realise w hat was in store for us! First off we went to see the Sumela Monastery which is hewn out of the side of the rock. This was up twisty roads and we did not drive up to the second car park (very steep).

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Then on into the jagged, hard mountains – very cold at 10 degrees , to mellow mountains and a long flat plain where Colin got a speeding ticket for doing 104 kph as bikes are restricted to 100 kph.! It’s a land of fantastic contrasts with the plain road winding it front of you for miles. Petrol stations are few and far between and it started to snow!

Go to Erzurum which is a University town high in the mountains – we eventually found a hotel which had the sign for Mecca in the ceiling. Out for a meal—but just could not find a restaurant- had soup in one place and a plate of Donor Kebab in another.Did’nt entirely feel comfortable here for some reason. We were really tired and in bed at 8.30 pm ! –.Woke in the early hours of the morning with the 3 ‘h’s –hot, headache and hungry!

At 1 Oct and on to Elizag – met up with 2 other travellers on a GS at breakfast and talking to them was a real boost – for them as well as us, I think .They had been to Georgia and Armenia an were on their way back to Greece.

Again up into the mountains with a temperature drop to 3 degrees ---- and no road for miles – we were riding on rubble and mud - with 1 in 6 hairpin bends. --lovely. Very cold, bleak, austere and barren. Sow covered mountain tops in front of you. Horse riders, cows in the road, dust kicked up by lorries and cars. At each petrol stop we were given free tea and every stop we are immediately surrounded by men – wanting to know the cost of the bike and how old we are! Military posts abound and in every town it seems, there is a garrison. Later we were stopped a military checkpoint and a couple of times by the police and waved through.

Then the road got even worse with red thick slimy mud ---- we didn’t think that it get worse! ---- Got to the stage of thinking whether we would ever get to our destination! We are travel weary --- a measure of how weary – for 3 days I have been putting Athlete’s Foot cream onto my mosquito bites ----- well they were both in a yellow tube! Colin washed the bike 3 times with the high pressure hose that is supplied at each petrol station.

Sun 2 Oct and on to Kahta- total miles: 4459. 19 degrees on leaving and back on to rubble again for miles interspersed with thick mud (very still on the back!) – Although the sun was shining—we had had 2 good meals and felt better in ourselves!
Diyarbakir has altered beyond recognition – last time we were here you drove straight into the old black basalt walled city ----- now it is a sprawling city with new buildings going up everywhere. We got lost as there were no signposts and a great guy in a car said ‘follow me’ and he took us onto the correct road – people are so helpful.
The traffic lights all have a second countdown from 25 seconds ---- at 3 seconds the cars start to edge forwards and on 1 second someone always beeps behind you!
Across an enormous boulder plain with areas that are fertile ( low mountains in the background ) – it must have been a feat of man to get these fertile areas made – all hewn out by hand. A good road now and 22 degrees- we are edging closer to the Syrian border. People riding horses or donkeys and mules with panniers laden.

We had to cross a lake on a ferry --- arrived to see the 1.30pm ferry leaving and we were in for a 2 hour wait.---- No, in about an hour the ferry returned and the bike was put to one side --- cars, vans and a petrol tanker were allowed to reverse on first. The ferry was a tank landing craft – the last to board was a cow who had to be pushed on board and had her tail pulled. She did not want to get on at all ---- the boat was full and then Colin was motioned to get on. They wanted him to park diagonally across in front of the vehicles – but not enough room for him to turn. He ended up with his front wheel and feet on the boat – (a gap of a foot between the boat and the landing board) and his back wheel on the landing board. He was worried that his back wheel would get stuck in the gap area. You could see the lake in the gap below his feet. I was busy taking photos and we were at least 100 yards out before I realised that we were going == and was also on the landing board!

The cow accepted the situation and busily tried to eat my helmet – her head was about 1 foot away from the bike – we had visions of what would happen if she reared up – best not to think of that!

On arrival the other side the bike was pushed back over the lip of the boat / landing board and several vehicles allowed off first so that Colin had room to drive forwards and turn around. At that point the tanker driver started to reverse (!) and amongst many shouts of ‘whoa’ – the loudest being from me- he stopped just in time. Colin drove off at a great rate of knots and threw both arms in the air and shouted ‘yes’ when he reached dry land !!! - And had a coke in the shade as a celebration. Off in to Kahta which I will cover in the next blog. Temperature now 26 degrees.

The blog wont accept any more photos on ths site -- will post seperately -----

Posted by Dee Masters at October 05, 2011 10:13 AM GMT

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