Wednesday 29 August 2012

Even more photos from the black sea coast, and Safranbolu, Rain, more Rain and a Broken Bearing

We stayed two nights in Inebolu. I can't remember why, but it was a pretty nice spot so paying for a second night wasn't too much of an issue. Maybe because it's been 14 months now and any day spent packing, moving house and then unpacking is good.

The rocky beach towards the centrum (centre of town!)

Lined up along the beach.
After the two days we set back out along the coast road.

Just west of Inebolu

Another small town with beach.

More coastline. But now I can't spot where this was along the coast on the maps.


Kurucaşile (I think)
 We stopped in Çakrazova for the night where I had read there was a camp site next to the beach. And it was there, but very crowded and for $10 a person a bit expensive. There were two parts to it where cars parked next to tents, and then another smaller part at the back that was for tents only but both areas looked packed, not sure where we would have fit in there. We wandered around looking for other places and next door to the first camp site was another open yard that was also a camp site. We stayed there instead at the far end of a large open space pretty much to ourselves. There was a lot of discussion with the lady running the place about "güneş" where we were setting up the tents. We assumed it was all ok but she just kept saying güneş (said like 'ganesh') and pointing to different parts of the field. She left us alone after a while but later we found out from an English speaking turk that it means sun!

Drew got to talking to these two (whose names I forget) and they invited us over for dinner. They lived in Bartin and just came down for the afternoon to picnic at the beach. She is an English teacher at a private school, and he is a nurse after trying many other different professions! He couldn't speak English but she was translating for everyone. And once I find their names I should edit it in here. They both started with H though.

Old lady making the pasty cheese thing that I don't know the name off. It's probably right there on that sign.

While setting up the tents we thought we'd done the smart thing and found a spot on the opposite side of the field from the other camp site away from the noise (and güneş for the morning). However, in the night we found out that we'd moved very close to where a Turkish wedding was going on. And it was loud, and involved songs that went on FOREVER and had very loud fireworks (which are quite surprising after you've been reading about the PKK and just see bright white flashes and loud bangs from inside the tent). Eventually the wedding died down at some time around 1am, I think.

After a very interrupted sleep we headed inland to Safranbolu.

Amasra. There seems to be a giant gap in the guide books and internet sites for tourist information between Istanbul and here. Makes it difficult to plan a route. We didn't bother going into the town though.
Safranbolu is a world heritage area because of the well preserved ottoman era houses. We found a hotel not far from the old city area which was in a 260 year old mansion. It was a bit of a maze to find it but it was very quiet during the night and pretty cool to sleep in an old mansion like this, so we stayed two nights!

The only other guests there were a German family who was travelling up to the black sea coast for a summer holiday. We all went out for dinner and shared tips on where to go along the black sea coast and in Istanbul. They have invited us to stay on their farm and feed the cows on their farm near Stuttgart, so we will see them again!

A wooden minaret. I have video of it blasting out the sunset prayer...

An old house.

More houses.

A new stone mosque.

A burnt out house.

Grape vines over the market district.

The view from the market district.

The view from the hill near the new city. The yellow looking building on the opposite hill is the city history museum (now).

Baby wanting to fall out the window. Which reminds me of my new favourite joke...

Creepy doll inside one of the museums showing you how people lived. Like creepy zombie dolls it seems.

Inside the big old hotel in the middle of the old city. There was a wedding on there the previous night.

Another view over the old city.

The central square at night.
After Safranbolu it was time to head off. This time we were going to head off in a random direction back to the coast. The road out of Safranbolu was one of the best so far, winding through the valley through lots of tunnels. I would have stopped and taken photos but I was enjoying the ride too much.

We emerged on the coast at Zonguldak, a big industrial town, with a burger king!
We followed the coast some more to Tezel camping which I had discovered the website for before we arrived. As the forecast for the next day was storms and rain we asked about room prices which were quite high, but after a lot of discussion over the price we eventually found out there were no rooms available (that would have helped beforehand). Not really wanting to ride anywhere else we set up our expensive camp ($10 each, breakfast not included) on one of the areas overlooking the restaurant and the water and waited to see what the weather would do.

While there a Swiss guy and then an Italian couple turned up on motorbikes also. Seems to be quite the popular area.

About 1am the wind picked up and thunder could be heard off in the distance. Then the wind got very strong and the lightning and thunder quite close and loud. The temperature dropped very quickly and I had to retrieve my woolen layers to stop shivering. It felt like a drop from the mid 20s to 10 degrees almost instantly. Then I watched from the inside of my tent as it tried to blow away into the distance. Occasionally I poked my head out of the tent to make sure I wan't under any heavy branches that might fall off in the wind (it was very strong). Then the rain started, and didn't stop for a long time. I only managed to get a small amount of sleep through the night. In the morning I found everything still there, but small branches and leaves scattered around the place. It was still raining lightly but the swiss guy and french couple managed to pack up somehow. We waited a little longer for the rain to ease more before packing up our wet everything.

Bored and awake in the tent, I took a photo of the inside of my living quarters. I have a loft!
The nice wet camp ground in the morning.

We headed south in the afternoon, but still hit more rain. We took it slow, stopping for all the heavy rain but it took over five hours to get to Sakayra, 90km in total for the day.

Because of the rain we just headed to the nearest hotel in the GPS, The Lima Park hotel. Quite expensive but I don't think we were interested in shopping around when soaking wet and still tied from lack of sleep.

In the morning while getting ready to pack and head into Istanbul, I went down to oil the chain on my bike and check tyre pressures etc and try to find the noise I've been hearing lately. But then I noticed that the sprocket on the rear had a wobble to it that the wheel didn't. I had seen this before in Dubai when they changed the tyres but the mechanic there said it was all OK while I was off paying and didn't see him put it back on again before he pushed the bike out the shop. I decided to take the wheel off and have a look because of the strange noises over the past few days. Once I took the wheel bits of bearing fell out (Number 21 from here). So that was the noise then...  It's been like that for six weeks too, lucky it didn't fail more spectacularly elsewhere. Replacing bearings was one of the things on my list of things to get done in Istanbul to.

I gathered all the bits of hub and bearing together and assumed this would be a very long day running around looking for a bearing shop and trying to translate what I need done. But luckily the taxi driver that turned up at the hotel spoke very good English. He went to a mechanic friend of his who directed us to a nearby shop, and I had a new bearing in my hand in minutes, then it was down the road to get the old casing removed and the new bearing put in. After about half an hour and $25 later I had sprocket back on my bike and it was all good to go! And after he asked, if you need a german/english speaking taxi driver in Sakayra, call Mehmet Kuş on 0 536 592 87 76!

Welding something on to the old bearing casing to help knock it out of the hub.

Mehmet, the helpful taxi driver! Badly framed photo thanks to the hotel staff...

So now tomorrow is navigating Istanbul day...

Thursday 23 August 2012

More photos from the Black Sea Coast

In the morning after camping at Tirebolu (I think the campground was here) we packed up the tents then noticed some rain on the horizon. We headed west again and it didn't take long before we hit some light rain. Not too bad and everything was dry again after riding through the clearer weather for a while. 

Along this coast road there are a lot of foreign motorbikes and cars. I've seen a lot from the Netherlands, Germany, and France. Some Turkish riders and also one from Russia. There was a big group of Italian riders leaving Sumela Monastery too (but they had a support van following them so they don't count). We're no longer an odd sight on the road (well, Drew is...).

The highway along the coast is all about tunnels. They seem to put them everywhere they can. At one point the road turns away from the coast for a while and cuts through some hills. No really, right through them. The longest tunnel in that section was 3.8km, but then there were a few other tunnels immediately after it of 800 meters or so. Very strange for what seems like a minimal amount of traffic. Once the road turned back the coast the rain started again, but a lot heavier this time. 

We took shelter in a petrol station and I put on my wet weather gear, Drew sadly lacking any for now. We waited out the rain for a while and once it looked lighter we left, but it wasn't actually that light at all. I've since learnt that the waterproof layer for my gear has a tear in the crotch which left a nice trail of cold rain running from the groin area into my boots. And also that my waterproof tank bag is no longer that waterproof, and that my waterproof gloves are able to hold a lot of water inside. All this gear worked perfectly back in Australia which was the last time I really needed it.

After suffering through the rain for we were passing through a nice town called Ünye (from what we could see through the rain), and after riding through a lot of water pooling in the streets we started looking for a place to stay. There are a couple of places with bungalows right on the beach but they were charging 140-170Lira a night ($70-85AU) and a big hotel on the beach that was apparently $100US/night. We were informed outside of the big hotel that there was a smaller red hotel just further up the road that charged half that, excellent. We went up there and got a room for 100Lira! Seems to be the going rate here in Turkey for an average room (well above the standards of some countries though). The room was small but it OK for a night, and then a second night to let things dry properly.

Ünye seems like a small town but there were a lot of people about. Not much English is spoken however. We found a small place next to the main square that looked quite popular, we pointed at what other people were getting and made some gestures to get one too. It was just a round flat bread with tomato/olive paste on it cooked like a pizza in a wooden oven, then they put a small amount of salad on it and some lemon juice, wrapped it up and then it was handed to us. No idea what it was called but they were selling a lot of them. People seemed to order two or three wrapped together but we only managed to get a single one rolled up. And all for 50cents. An older man sitting outside the place kept trying to talk to us, but no one had a common language. Later on there was a turkish guy who had been living in New York for a while, he helped translate at an ice cream shop for us! Also the taxi drivers in this town are insane. I thought I had feared for my life in Indian tuk tuks.

Ünye at night

A bit more of Ünye
After everything was dry it was time to head off again. We passed through Samsun which is the largest city on the coast. There we found a motorbike shop and Drew managed to get waterproof pants, and I found that the reason my indicator wasn't working was because the connections have been corroded. The bulb was perfectly fine and I didn't need to buy another. We also found a McDonalds in Samsun!

We followed the coast road all the way to Sinop where we stayed at the Marti Campground about 6km out of the town and near the airport. The sign said there was a restaurant, but through some sort of English amd hand gestures we found out that the cook had not arrived or had missed the bus and they didn't know where he was. So we set back out to find a shop and get some food for the night. You should note however that red capsicum paste is not an acceptable substitute for tomatoes for use as a sauce on pasta. The campground did have beer though!

The road north of Samsun.

Some stars from the campground.

Sinop in the distance.

Camping spot.
The next day we set off along the coast road again. The intention was to find a place to camp off the road for free, however my insides were possibly going bad and I elected for a hotel in Inebolu instead. And a decent one right on the beach (a rocky beach) too. Only $24 each with breakfast!

Some potential rain in the distance.

A small beach.

The town of Gülzelkent

The road towards Türkeli

Over the edge of the road closer to Inebolu

More of the road towards Inebolu
We'll keep following the coast for a few more days and camping where possible. Then I guess we have to make a day of navigating in to Istanbul. 

Monday 20 August 2012

The numbers so far

Thanks to Google Fusion Tables, this is where I've been:

Once you zoom in the dots turn into paths with stupid amounts of detail.

If it was easier and cheaper I could have joined South East Asia through China to Nepal, and then join India to Iran via Pakistan. Now it just looks like large gaps...

And for other numbers:

432 days travelling through 12 countries, but completed 17 border crossings. 184 days on the bike, and I have travelled 28842km so far.

$28,733 in total, but my actual costs higher because of exchange rate losses and interest. And I don't think that number has the first shipment or travel insurance in it.

But it's still pretty close to $1 = 1km.

I've used 1834.72L of fuel at a cost of $2,250. The cheapest and most expensive fuel was next to the Iran/Turkey border at 38c/L to $2.40/L on either side of it.

I've spent $6,584 on accommodation. Some of that number includes food and laundry because they don't like to separate out the costs the further west you go.

I've spent $6,034 on food and drink.

With both the food and accommodation numbers you could do a lot better than I have. I don't think I've really been roughing it at all during this trip. However the Eurozone is approaching and I think I'll need to try stealth camping for a while to save money, there's not a huge amount left!

I'm spending only slightly over what it would cost for me to live in Melbourne. I could have stayed there and been unemployed all this time! Or bought a car to replace the written off one instead of a motorbike. Or maybe put a deposit on a house, but I don't think I have enough for that. I think I picked a better way to throw away money!

Sunday 19 August 2012

Erzurum, Uzungöl, and Sümela Monastery


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. 


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.