Unye - Trabzon ... 16/08 -21/08
We have not cycled for 3 weeks, but fortunately the road alternates uphills and downhills. We plan to sleep in Ordu but we stop after 20 km. Tired? A flat tyre? None of this ... We meet Suleiman and his family. He lives in St Nazaire with his wife, Hülya, and his 4 boys and is here on holiday with them and his parents and younger sister Özlem. They divide their time between Fatsa and the mountains where their cousins live.
An invitation to drink coffee turns into invitation to spend the day with them and leave the next day! We are worried about the tunnels since Benoît´s accident in one of them. Suleiman suggests to drive us to and back from Ordu by the two roads. We go with the whole family. There are actually 4 tunnels with a 4km-one but all have lights. We then climbs on top of the mountain where we have a magnificent view of Ordu. We then go back to Fatsa by the coast. The road is beautiful, lined with small ports with fishing colored boats. But, as Benoît said, it´s a roller coaster. We are really happy to do it by car. Thank you, Suleiman! En route, we stop to enjoy the köfte of the Black Sea. Here, we don´t pay at the piece, but the kg! We order 2 kg and leave with a small package because, even at 8 people, we didn´t finish. We then go to the mountains to visit the families of Hülya and Suleiman. There are so many uncles, aunts and cousins, they have colonized a whole hill! People come here in summer, looking for cool air and go back to the coast for winter. Turkey is a major producer of hazelnuts and it´s now harvest time. Hazelnuts are put to dry everywhere on the road, in the fields ... One of the uncles of Suleiman tells Ben: "I can give you 2 kg, this is not much, you have a trailer." Ben turns white at the idea of this additional burden, especially since he doesn´t really like hazelnuts! We go back to the coast and visit Fatsa by night. The cities of the coast are very pleasant with long promenades on the seafront. That evening, we see an eclipse of moon.
We say goodbye to Suleiman and his family the next morning. It was really a good surprise, the first French people who stopped for us ... thank you! Yesterday, we had not noticed but the road climbs up. We pass the first 3 tunnels without difficulty, a few hundred metres each. The 4th is much longer, 4km! We ride on the sidewalk but it is very narrow, whenever there is an emergency box, we have to get off and push. But our guardian angel keeps an eye on us: a service car stops and suggests we and the bikes get in the car, great! We do in 15min what would have taken an hour.
After Ordu, the coast is a succession of towns and villages. The towns are aligned along the seafront and stretch over kilometers. The mountains are very close to the coast which limits the living area. We are a little disappointed, we thought that the landscape would be more beautiful and spectacular. But after all, we travel to discover the country, not necessarily fairy tales sceneries! In the evening we stop in Giresun where, it seems, there is a campsite. Indeed ... but it doesn´t look great! Tents are lined up in the sand, a lot of garbage, no light in the shower, no sink ... Cold water, of course, but only Ben still hopes for hot water and is disappointed. But it´s not so bad... We are setting up the tent when I stop hearing the hammer, I turn, Ben stands with a plate of fried mussels in the hand and a man is leaving. A camping regulars went to buy us dinner at the truck that sells seafood. For sure, it would never happen in any of these wonderful campsites in Switzerland and Germany. The next morning, another guy invites us for breakfast. We get gently told off when we put nutella and coffee on the table: "I have everything, I invite you." And Ben was offered a bottle of juice while buying 2 bottles of water this morning. we should learn the lesson, we, Europeans! This man lives here all year, in a big tent, he built the concrete floor, insulated the roof to reduce heat and even planted tomatoes ... he films us a few minutes while we chat. We're very proud of our few words of Turkish and mime the rest, it works.
We continue our journey along the seaside. A 4-lane road goes along the sea and avoids the city, it changes from the French nationales who cross the city center. The only drawback is, entrances and exits are quite dangerous. The Turks cut the way just in front of us without remorse, their big game is getting out at the last moment. They usually horn a little to warn us. At a service station, we meet an Australian and his Turkish wife. They live in Samsun where they are professors at the university. When they learn we pass through Australia, he gives us the address of his sister in Brisbane ... More people to visit in Australia! In Tirebolu, the camp ground is under pines trees along the beach. But we have to use the showers at the beach, shower in bathing suit, pfff ...
Last leg on the Black sea, we should sleep tonight in Trabzon ... Never plan the journey! 20 km before, we meet an english teacher as we have a break in a Petrol Ofisi. He arranges so that we can sleep in an unused room on the floor and then takes us to visit one of his friends. His friend is an industrialist, owner of a some factories which distributes gas in Turkey. The next day we visit the Sumela monastery, perched in the mountains. We are seized by the cold once at the top, and the humidity... it is raining and the mountains are in the mist. We are disappointed, we won´t see the spectacular picture of the monastery clinging to the mountain. But we are rewarded with a phantasmagorical vision once in the monastery. The stone houses seem to float in the haze, the atmosphere is really special. We imagine the monks praying and living here ...
In the evening, we are looking forward to rest a bit evening before taking the bus the next day to Erzurum. We had some difficulties in finding a bus ticket "Bisikletas yok ... Bicycles, no!". Finally, the 3rd bus company agrees with a smile.
Toc, toc ... What surprise, it´s Aydin, the industrialist who comes to take us for dinner! We do the shopping with him: raw köfte and charcoal at the butcher, fruits and vegetables at the night market. Then we climb, we climb behind Akcaabat, fortunately Aydin has a 4x4. We try to imagine with the bicycles... no! We arrive in paradise, or almost, a tiny restaurant built overlooking the illuminated coast. His friend, the English teacher, is here and also the man who takes care of the place. Everyone brings ist own food and he cooks it. It's delicious! We spend a very pleasant evening. Aydin is charming and speaks a little English. His friend translates the rest.
Back at the patrol station, we drink tea with the bosses wives... they are 3 brothers living on the station, we wonder how they sustain their families.