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Scenic side trips....

....and Turkish delight

semi-overcast 14 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

Geared up for the rain again today………..and whilst it threatened it was not an issue. A 450K day today to Safranbolu. At the ride day debrief it was going to be mainly express way until Alpha, Kilo, Oscar, Zulu and I decided on a detour. We left the group at the town of Duzce and made our way over the mountains and along the Black Sea coast via the towns of Eregli and Zonguldak. A truly great ride with patches of scenery that rivalled the GOR (Great Ocean Road). After a quick Turkish coffee by the coast we headed inland to our destination of Safranbolu. This section of road was nothing short of spectacular as we scaled mountains and powered through endless constant radius corners cutting a path through endless ravines and canyons….some days it is just about the ride but it was doubling astounding to arrive at the destination. The village of Safranbolu was world heritage listed by UNESCO in 1994 and I can see why. The architecture and village has not changed much since being established in the early 1600’s by marauding Persians. Our accommodation was 265 years old, beautiful maintained and to finish the day we dined in the garden to a home cooked 3 x course meal. The village is also renowned for some of the best Turkish delight in the country......I didn't know it could taste so good! After dinner a stroll into and around the village centre led us to the discovery the local Turkish bath…………Turkey’s oldest baths and established in 1642!

Posted by ScottyJ 12:03 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Turkish Delight

.....sauna, sweat, soap & lost skin :-)

12 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

Roomie was a little unsure of what we may find inside but putting his faith in my confidence to try this out we wandered inside. We were given a wrap and shown to a private change room where we stripped off, “wrapped up and ventured inside. Now this is the original men’s club! All shapes and sizes, lots of hair, sweat and loud conversation. Into the sauna we went to work up a sweat and put Roomies nerves at ease. I had opted for the full treatment, for both of us, body scrub which barely left your nipples in place, soap down and massage all washed off with fairly chilled water. This is all performed by a large, loud, beared and rotund Turkish bath attendant who constantly spoke to you as if Turkish was your first language! Images of “Midnight Express” flashed briefly into my consciousness and subsequently moved on………another short burst in the sauna, a shower and a change of wrap found us out in the lounge area where the attentive attendant wrapped a towel around the body and another around your head……Lawrence of Arabia had nothing on us! Now this is where you chill and chew the fat or should I say chat with your fellow ‘bathees’ on all things masculine whilst sipping rose tea. All very civilised really and with the young attendant speaking a little English we managed a few laughs and good conversation. When you walk out your skin feels remarkable and we could sense that we would sleep very well that night. All this for the princely sum of $20 in Turkey’s oldest bath house. I for one will be having another bath before we leave Turkey and Roomie is also up for it 
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Posted by ScottyJ 12:43 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Glorious Goreme

an oxy moron in phallus city......


View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

Left Safranbolu at 0845 this morning for the 465km ride to Goreme in central Turkey. This area is a national park and has some of the most incredible scenery and architecture due largely to the composition of the rock in the area. The ride today moves away from the coast and rugged mountains and the countryside opens up into rolling hills and plains dotted with small rural villages. The altitude varies greatly and at one point riding through a semi alpine plain the temperature got down to 14deg with a sharp biting wind. As we rode deeper into central Turkey the topography turned semi-arid with intense dry land farming which gave us the first glimpse of the various methods of irrigation used in this area. As we skirted the capital Ankara and continued onto our destination the temperature slowly rose to a very warm 28deg. Here for 2 days and I’m living in a cave. It has a certain appeal to it! Like most of the buildings here the hotel is carved out of the rock and it is really quite spectacular. Turkish pizza and beer by the pool as the sun set for the day.
We have a rest day here and today everyone is doing a multitude of different things from tours, guided and self-guided to just chilling. Rommie, Robin, armed with camera and I headed into the village for coffee, Turkish of course and an hour or so of conversation before heading off on one the walking trails to Pigeon Valley. Without any geological detail the rock composition here has a hard crust covering a softer type of sandstone that allowed the locals to burrow into the rock and live. Due to centuries of erosion by the various elements the rock has formed into giant phalluses. This is not an understatement, this is phallus city! Goreme attracts tourists from all around the world and due to the national park status is displayed very well; the area is steeped in history. Our walk was around 6km return and gave us a chance to have a close up view of the many rock formations and habitable structures. The path wound up fairly high and at the top we came upon a lean to selling chai. Hasan’s tea house……..I won’t forget it. A gentleman and shameless self-promoter, we enjoyed our chai with three Chinese tourists and with the charisma of Hasan it was one of those unforgettable interludes that just happen when you travel and roll with the moment. Lovely walk that finished back in the village with lunch on our mind and searching for the best pottered kebab. A quick thunderstorm during lunch cooled off the rest of the afternoon which destroyed my plans of some serious pool time but it was nice to catch up on all the other things and finally find an internet connection that would allow me to send………guess I’m going to have to get use to that.

Posted by ScottyJ 21:03 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

AA&T

...Amasya, Akcaabat & Terrific riding :-)

semi-overcast 18 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

We woke to a humid morning for the 450k+ ride to Amasya back in the mountainous northern region not far from the Black Sea coast. Not sure whether to leave the wet weather liners in or out I decided to risk half which wasn’t a bad decision as it was quite cool underway. One thing that has astounded me is the amount of agriculture underway in Turkey. Every spare bit of land seems to be cultivated and the crops etc. vary depending upon the region. There is not much they don’t grow; fruit and veg are abundant and available everywhere. The ride was mainly highway across a vast open landscape until we hit the mountains. We wound up and up passing countless villages on the climb back into the densely wooded mountains. It was a ride day, stunning scenery and whilst a bit bumpy the riding was fun. Late morning a group of four of us broke off to do both our own thing and pick up the pace. As we neared Amasya we had one last mountain to descend when it decided to rain as well……..Now we had been warned the Turkish roads can get slippery and today we found out! Without a doubt the slipperiest roads I have ever ridden on…..losing the rear, then the front, always scary we were finally glad to arrive. Well wow this place just keeps on impressing. Amasya is a university town of about 100.00 people and it was graduation day when we arrived. The streets were filled with smiling and jubilant graduates celebrating their achievements. Steeped in history form the Byzantine era, through the Ottomans to modern day, it’s still all there. Feel free to google up these places, the history is fascinating. Our accommodation was in the old Ottoman area of the city and the view to the mountain behind and the crypts of the kings of Pontus from 300 BC leaves you to ponder the generations and events that have played out before us. Just as we were about to explore the rain came down, steadily and did not stop so it was off to find dinner. A lot of locals were in what could be described as a Turkish outdoor food court, covered so in we went….great meal of lamb kebob with grilled eggplant and as is becoming more common you can have tea or water with that……..the further east we go the harder it is to get a beer or anything for that matter with dinner!!

The biggest disappointments in Turkey have been the breakfasts. So often places try to cater for western tastes and it usually doesn’t work well. I’m yet to find out what a traditional Turkish breakfast would entail but I am guessing it would be a combination of the things on the brekkie table? We took off at 8.30am for Akcaabat in Trabzon province on the Black Sea coast. A great morning’s ride through mountains that was so richly green and dense that it reminded me of the mountains in Bali. Cresting the range you could get an understanding of how vast the Black Sea is and what an important waterway it is for those countries that border it. We’ve been putting in some long days, another 450k today and after lunch at a Pide restaurant we sauntered along the densely populated coastal fringe to our destination of Akcaabat near the port town of Trabzon to arrive around 6pm. Nearly taken out by a truck today which decided to change lanes at 110km/hr…..the ABS was working hard!! Not a lot to see here other than enjoying the coastal scenery. Dinner was at a Turkish grill restaurant situated right on the water an excellent venue for watching the sunset. Once seated and advised that there was no beer a number of the boys thought we should go elsewhere and started to get up to leave, not wanting to lose custom we were re-seated at an end table and the beer discretely appeared  everyone was happy!

Posted by ScottyJ 20:30 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Cathartic Kars

.....some roads are not meant to end

semi-overcast 22 °C
View Road of Bones 2014 on ScottyJ's travel map.

Cathartic Kars
510km today, doesn’t look that far on the map??.... at 6 this morning I was soaking up the blazing morning sun on the balcony and it felt good!! Heading to Kars today in the NE and our last night in Turkey. We made our way along the coast to Bize where we said good bye to the Black Sea and the last bit of sea until Magadan. This is all new route from here as is the entry to Georgia so it’ll be take it as it comes today. Well I hope this one goes in their journal for future trips. I don’t say this lightly however the ride to Kars via Erzurum was nothing short of one of the best rides I have ever done! The sheer variety of landscapes was astounding! The ride began through a ravine that wound deeper and deeper into the mountains before ascending through the forested foothills to alpine vistas, still capped with snow and well above the tree line. We stopped on the pass at 2640m and only 50km from the coast. With the exception of road works the ride continued up & down over & around in fact we crossed three mountain passes today with the lowest being at 2200m. With the mountains behind us we turned left at Erzurum onto a long straight road that elevated up to vast sweeping plains, richly green from snow melt for as far as the eye can see. Comparison comments from the group ranged from Ireland, Andorra, Vietnam, the Alps; it was truly spectacular and the type of panoramas that you could never hope to catch with a camera. Arrived in Kars to our hotel after the long day to be advised that the hotel was full and there was no rooms……..everyone was happy when they realised their error and found our booking!! Dinner consisted of chasing down the local specialty of goose, again succeeded but an acquired taste is probably my only comment however complimented by the superb merlot from Izmir……….and that is another story! Kars is a very different part of Turkey. Once the capital of an ancient Armenian kingdom around 900AD it has more recently been involved in battles and skirmishes between Armenia, Russia and the Ottomans in the 18th century and now is firmly part of Turkey. However you can tell ethnically the people are different with a strong Armenian influence……………..there is also a lot less scarves around here!
Staying at the hotel was a retired Kiwi couple from Hamilton NZ who had just spent a month in Iran, flashpacking and had only positive things to say about their experience. Escaping winter they are doing 3 months visiting Armenia, Azerbaijan & Turkey.........great to see!

Posted by ScottyJ 02:32 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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