Day 91-93 - Turkey Turkey Turkey!

Day 91:
Enough with all these kids and angry parents! Enough with Batumi! Let's get out of here! Georgia was great, but we feel we've had it all. Turkey lies just around the corner and we can't wait to get there!

We leave the dense city behind us and reach the border after only a short ride along the Black Sea coast line. It's an easy crossing and everything is done after only an hour. 

Welcome to Turkey! 

The road is perfect and swings along with steep mountains to the left and the Black Sea to the right.
We stop for our first proper Turkish dürüm kebab for lunch. It tastes great and immediately we notice how friendly everybody seems to be. 

We find a place for the night in Trabzon and park our bikes in front of the hotel entrance. The owner assures us they are safe - "It's Turkey", he says "nobody would steal them!"
Our room is on the third floor, that and the fact that the hotel lies on a slope, just uphill across the alley from the mosque, results in our window being right at the same height as the speakers on the minarets about 30 meters away. 
That evening we have grilled fish for dinner and a beer on the town square and are impressed by how lively and full with people it is. 

Day 92:
The next morning starts at short after 5 a.m. as the morning prayers from the mosque blast straight from the minaret into our room and rips us out of our dream land. Oh lovely charm of Muslim culture! I'm serious, it's kind of cool - if it doesn't happen every day!

The breakfast at the roof top restaurant with Nutella and sea view is amazing. The weather forecast not so much! We want to cross the mountains towards south and into the heart of Turkey. We'll just have to take it as it comes. 
Soon out of Trabzon we ride into a beautiful nature park, with steep curvy roads and Sumela monastery, which is breathtakingly built into the rock on the side of a mountain cliff. Kim tries to be brave as he limbs over the steps and wet stones to the monastery entrance. But then decides to wait outside for us. "Take some pictures for me inside. That will do!"

The rain starts and we ride over a few mountain passes over 2000 meters high. It's freezing cold - the temperature goes as low as 3 degree. Not nice at all in the rain on a motorbike!

We take a break for coffee and cake. And to put our rain gear on while being observed by the other guests, mainly older Turkish guys playing a game that looks like rummy. That must think "crazy westerners" as we head out back into the cold rain and up a road leading to yet another mountain pass. That road turns into a dirt road soon and we decide to turn around, take the longer and saver way around the that mountain. There's too many things wrong: Kim's ankle still hurts, Matthias' rear hub makes strange "squeak knorz knorz" sounds and my (Chris) swing arm bearing seems to be broken. 
So today we chose the save route and end the day way short in a little town called Gümüshane. 

We rode 220 km in about 6 hours, but when we look at the map we're only 60 km away from Trabzon (as the crow flies!) 
What a day! And it ends with three tired and wet dudes in a small smelly hotel room. 

Day 93:
After breakfast we are happy there's no rain and we unpack our tool rolls on the side walk in middle of downtown Gümüshane. 

Matthias rear hub has big cracks. The gnarzing sounds come and go. but nothing to be done now. We discover that one of my rear bearings is close to be gone and we exchange both of them right there on the side walk. This time with a smaller hammer and more feeling. Nobody wants to break another hub on this trip. The swing arm of my bike is having a bit of play, but also here, nothing to be done now and it doesn't seem to be a bigger problem. 

While we are at work, dismounting, extracting bearings, reinstalling and putting our bikes back together some people stop for a minute and look what we are doing. But it's very different here then it was earlier on this trip. Nobody "stares" or asks useless questions. All we here is "Everything ok? Do you need any help?" "Welcome to my city!" "Would you like some tea? Please have some tea!", while standing already with a tray loaded with there cups of tea next to us. I like Turkey!

We have a late start at about 1 p.m. just in time for the rain to begin. And he accompanies us for the rest of the day. Two minutes of sunshine through a hole in the clouds is all we get on this day. After hours on the road all I can think of is "cold, cold, cold!"

At a gas station we use the dry spot under the roof to take out Matthias rear wheel again and check if we can do anything to stabilize the hub. And as so many times before the guys from the gas station invite us to tea. I never was a big fan of tea but right there cold and wet from the rain it was the best somebody could have given me. 

The afternoon gets late and we decide to tackle one last mountain pass. This one is tough, of course cold, of course rain and wind, but this time there's also fog and at times we only have a visibility of 10 meters. But we cross it and are happy when the road leads us downhill again. 

We really need a warm place now, a bed and food, and fuel. We couldn't have found any better place, the "Shellotel" as we called it. A microcosm of Shell gas station, rest stop, hotel, restaurant and also long distance bus stop - in the middle of nowhere. With waiters wearing black aprons and white tidy shirts, handing out free tea from giant trays. 
While our bikes stand behind the building in stormy rain, we stuff buffet food in us until we are exploding. Happy and warm we end the day..

Teshekül ederem! - Thank You Shellotel!

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