Sunday, 19 August 2012

Erzurum, Uzungöl, and Sümela Monastery

Erzurum

Erzurum was quite a shock. A very clean city with somewhat behaved traffic with shops and other facilities. It even had a McDonalds somewhere (we checked, but went to Burger King instead!). Hadn't seen a city like this for a long time, and I'm not sure if I'm counting Dubai. There was a Shell petrol station too which is something I don't remember seeing after Singapore (I'm sure they have other brands represented elsewhere).

We stayed two nights and saw a couple of the sights, and to get things washed and charged after a couple of nights camping. But then we stayed an extra night because it was the first time we had proper internet for a long time and everything wanted hundreds of updates and I could finally upload my photos.


Canonballs in a room of the Erzurum Citidel.

The tower in the Erzurum Citidel.

Steep stairs up the tower.

The view over Erzurum

This is a big winter ski resort town, that's one of the resorts in the distance there.

The large mosque in the background, a small one in front. The "two minaret mosque" was being restored, it's the famous one but I didn't get any photos of it covered in scaffolding. 

A Mongol school built in the 13th century. Both minarets had collapsed and they only rebuilt one. The chairs and tables were set up for a concerts for Ramadan/Ramazan.

Inside the Mongol school. Each room showed items from the period. All the doors were very low and we asked the attendant why, and it's so you have to bow when entering the room. Should have realised that, thought it was just inconvenience. 

Uzungöl

After Erzurum we set off towards Uzungöl. The photos of the place made it look European, but we're still in Asia. So it was worth a look!

Vespa making it up a large hill.

We followed the road from 4 lanes to 2, then down to single lane through this village, then it turned to dirt...  I assumed we were still going the right way.

A cloud... It was very windy here and hard to keep the bike in a straight line. This was at about 1800m and Uzungöl was on the other side of those mountains.

Found a fork in the road! The GPS wanted to take the 45km route  but there was another shorter 28km road, lets try that!

Vespa made it up here too.
Riding in the cloud wasn't too bad at first. We were over 2000 meters but it wasn't wet for a while, just windy and cold. Once we crossed over 2400m and onto the other side of the range it got a lot wetter and colder. The road was wet and it was clay in parts so very slippery.

We just dipped out of the clouds here after going through a very slippery patch of mud (glad I have these tyres now). Also we're about 1km from Uzungöl but it was about 10km to get there as the road kept winding back and forth down the side. The road isn't in the GPS so we could only see distance to the town. I just wanted the road to stop!

The lake at night. The clouds moved in...

One part of Uzungöl. We stayed down that end in a hotel. Not the best camping weather.

As close as you can get to Turkish coffee without your eye getting wet.

mela Monastery

After Uzungöl we headed out of the mountains through some awesome valleys all the way to the coast. I went to put the GoPro on my helmet but it wasn't charged. I didn't stop much for photos because I was enjoying the ride too much too! 



The black sea coast! Finally at sea level again! We've had many many weeks above 900m! And it's finally a decent temperature at this elevation rather than the 40-47 degrees on the Persian Gulf.
The road along the coast is a large 4 lane highway with a lot of tunnels going through hills instead of around them. Very easy to cover distance but very boring and not many places to stop or get down to the water. Once we got to Trabzon we headed back up into the hills again to get to Sümela Monastery. Our Intention was to camp to save some money, but once we got up there we found they had bungalows right near the Monastery. We asked about the price but it was 140 lira, slightly too high at ~$35 each for the night. We were planning to go down the hills a little further to find somewhere cheaper but then it started raining.

While we were wondering what to do during the rain we got to talking to a Turkish truck driver who had met another Australian motorcyclist who was travelling round the world. The thing about this other motorcyclist though was that he was deaf and mute. That would make things more difficult!

While talking to this guy we decided to stay a little dry and elected to stay in the bungalows for the expensive rate. As we were leaving the truck driver he wanted to come over and help us get the room and said he knew the owner. With his help we got the room for 100lira, $25 each. That's better! We tried talking more with the truck driver through hand gestures and someone who could translate who occasionally showed up.

The monastery way up there on the cliff.

Some forest next to the bungalows.
The next morning after the rain had stopped we did the walk up to the Monastary. It didn't look that far, really...

Half way up...
Many many many steps later we got to the top!

Inside the complex. Student and guard rooms on the right. The bakery and cave where the virgin mary image appeared on the left.

Looking down from the monastery. That group of buildings there at the bottom is  where we started the walk from...


Inside one of the guard rooms.

Some of the frescoes on the outside.

Showing you how to play a song on the guitar.

The roof of the cave.

More graffitied frescoes and a door

The door to the monastery.
After the Monastary we packed up and headed down to the coast. The road along the coast was more fun this time, going through many more tunnels, some up to 2km long. Along the way we stopped to get some lunch at a shop along the highway, but because it was still the last day or Ramadan they weren't making food. We looked around the shop for things we could buy to make a sandwich but not knowing the language is difficult. The girl running the shop showed us some of the cheese, and then started gathering things like bread and tomato and some luncheon meat. We had it all together to pay for and leave, then she heads off out the back with it all and comes back with two sandwiches! Success! I like Turkey! We paid for our sandwiches and then headed off down the road to eat them to hide away from those fasting (still not sure of how Ramadan works in Turkey, don't want to be insulting anyway).

We followed the road as far as Tirebolu where we found a camp ground right on the rocky beach. They also stocked beer! We were set for the night! Of course no photos, because I was concentrating too hard on the beer.

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