Many exhausting days are behind us, I just did not find time to write a blog! Even that can happen on our trip.
The trip from Niksar to Erzurum is scenicly diversified and just beautiful. Plateaus change with Canyons and valleys, mountains and passes, divers rockformations and colours. Even the tips of snowmountains are there. Moreover we see blue sky some clouds, a very intensive green and many spring flowers. We have the feeling to experience already the 5th spring in row this year. Very impressive over and over again is the width of the scenary. Only the artificial water channels, the new gas pipeline and the very wide streets (although very comfortable for us) are disturbing these beautiful sites. It feels as if we would be in the cinema the whole day enjoying movie after movie.
The impressions are so versatile that it is difficult for us to digest, all is new and unknown. Fortunately we can take plenty of pics that will help us to remember most of it.
The town Resadiye is known for its thermals. We got this information only when we checked in at the “thermal Hotel”. As we arrived early in the season the pools were still empty, but at least we got a bed and breakfast.
Suseri was another village where we stayed over night. It did not have any charme, our hotel was on the top of the hill and the road to get there was that steep that we had to push our bikes. As we have had en exhausting day we decided to have dinner at the hotel. In the restaurant we felt a bit strange, it was not obvious for us if the meal that was served was for the employees only or also for guests, everybody was looking at us. The menu was vegetarian! Filled aubergines and zuchetti served with a pasta dish with yoghurt. Markus squinched up his face, it was defintily not his favourite.
In Refaiye we stayed at the hotel just next to the gasstation. As we went to the restaurant for a cay we met Bumin Han. He works as English translator for the gaspipline project. We had a very interesting conversation with him, this time without any language problems, that allowed us more profound discussion than usual.
The next day we had the first real climb to a pass over 2000masL. And we made it! What a good feeling that was! On the way up we met a young Spanish couple, Julia and Ben, also travelling with their bicycle. This time we could take the summit picture without self timer. We agreed to meet them again in Erzurum.
It was quite cold up there. Therfore we put on our rain gear to keep us warm for the descent. The run down, 1000m height over 30km to Erzincan, was fantastic!
In Erzincan we took our ususal break after 7 days of biking. When we arrived at our hotel, someone started taking to us in swiss german, what a surprise. Hidir from Thun spent his vacation close to his home village. He offered to show us around the next day, an offer we didn’t want to refuse. We visited the mineral sources, the waterfall and then we drovee up to 2500m all on gravel roads. Marie-Claire was a bit scared, but the view from up there was definitely compensating for it.
Up on the mountains the kurds spend the summer living in tents. They take their sheep along an make a lot of cheese.It is like in the Swiss Alps.
On the way back we stopped at his parent house where we got a good Cay from his brother. We enjoyed the dinner at the Hotel, for once with some wine. As night cap Hidir and Markus had two raki. That was a bit too much for one evening… Markus was more unconscious than sleeping during the night. Thanks Hidir for the nice day!
The next two days to get to Erzurum were tough. The first day we had to ride 100km with overnight stay in Tercan. The hotel was not at all exclusive but at least very cheap (15CHF) and clean. The only bad thing was this big cockroache in the bath…I have to get used to that again. For breakfast we had soup and bread, not my favorit, but there was only one locanta open. Because of the Ramadan, no restaurant selection was possible.
After breakfast we started towards Erzurum, we had 93km and 1100 meter of height in front of us. That would have been bearable, but we had heavy head wind and the Erzurum is 1900masl (no descent). We were quite exhausted at the end of the day. Normally we spend Whit Sunday in the mountains with the motor bike. This year it was a bit different, we used our bicycles instead.
Erzerum is known as ski resort, as it is located in the middle of themountains. There are some skilifts and cable cars. Hockey and Curling are popular here.
The next morning we met Ben and Julia for breakfast. We had and extended meal and a lot of information to exchange. They are going to Iran in the next days. Markus and I are ahead of our time plan. So we decided to go for some extra rounds in Turkey. There are many cultural things to see in the northeastern part of Turkey.
We use the time in Erzurum to get ready for Iran. We need to get cash as credit cards are useless for foreigners.
Tit was not easy at all to get cash in Euro or Dollars. There are plenty of banks, but getting money on the counter was not possible. We were always directed to the ATM’s. We found one where we could get Euro directly, but with 6% commission! We figured it out when we had obtained the first amount. Then we checked for a currency exchange office where we got a good rate - Turkish Lira against Euro. So we retrieved TL from the ATM and then went back to the exchange office. Fortunately we had different cards so we could finish the deal on the same day. Life is not always that easy…
To go into Iran I have as well to adjust the dressing. I have already bought 2 blouses, covering my hips and going down to the knees, one for biking and one for general use. Even 2 headscarfs are meanwhile in my possession, I am ready.
We also got ready for camping. Our extra tour leads us to more remote areas where we need to camp. We are curious about our first tent night…the last one is twenty years back.