Northeast Turkey: Photos

June 15th, 2014 by Lindsey

After our last ‘driver’ dropped us off in Erzurum, we met up with Cilem (who had waited patiently for over 6 hours since her bus arrived) and started biking towards the coast. There was a lot of up and down, notably climbing up the pass on Ovit Dagi and reaching our highest elevation yet – 2640m! It was cold up there, but beautiful, and we were rewarded with a descent all the way to sea level. On the way up, we noticed many beekeepers – the region is famous for its honey – and the way down was through a river valley with steep slopes covered in tea plantations (now we’ve seen where the endless Turkish tea comes from!), with small villages impossibly high up – we can’t figure out how people get to and from their houses. We saw tons of construction – they are widening the road and blasting tunnels through the mountains. Cyclists riding this route next year may have the choice of a 14km tunnel instead of going over the pass (choose the climb!). We also saw many run-of-the-river hydroelectric stations (HES). When we reached the Black Sea, we met one of our first cycle tourists – from Kazakhstan! – and we also saw a lot of propaganda in preparation for an upcoming visit from the prime minister, Erdogan. One of the highlights of this part of the trip was our campsites. We stayed at the top of one of the first passes, with fantastic views; the next night, we came across a small hut by the river; as we were scoping it as a potential campsite, the owner drove by – thanks to Cilem, we were able to understand that it was his place and that we were welcome to pitch our tents outside for the night. Later that night, his friends stopped by – after they overcame their surprise at our presence, we shared some snacks and conversation. We also spent one night in a tea warehouse when a local shopkeeper warned that a storm was coming in, and on our last night in Turkey we camped right next to the Black Sea on a gorgeous, cloudless night.

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