Stunning, beautiful, amazing – my vocabulary is running out of adjectives to describe what we have seen on this trip so far. Perhaps we are so excited that everything seems to be too good to be true. But maybe this is similar to what happens when you watch a movie that had poor reviews and it surprises you in a good way. Romania and Turkey have not got the same reputation as, for example, The Maldives. Yet they have blown us away with their sheer beauty and raw landscapes.
Our story continues along the Black Sea coast in Turkey, in the company of Team YeYo-148.
Let’s go to the beach
By now we have been on the road for about 11 days and despite having a slow start we have made good progress and have now completed nearly 1/4 of the rally. One of the good things about not having a tight schedule is that we can make up our route as we go along. And that is precisely what we have done in Turkey.
Picture this, a Belgian fire truck and a British ambulance, cruising along an narrow coastal road full of twists and turns. Awesome. That, together with a few ”what the hell?” is what the locals probably thought. And by the way, did you ever wonder how a fire truck engine looks like?
By midday the heat was so intense and the water so close that it would have been rude not to stop by and have a swim in the sea. A narrow pebble beach was the ideal spot for a quick lunch and at that point Smokey and Lola had now become very good friends. And for the first time in the trip, we got to try out our wonderful shower. This is the Mongolia Charity Rally, in style.
While the four of us were contemplating the sea, it was agreed that if we were to reach Mongolia before Christmas we should leave behind the coast and cut inland in search for better roads. More importantly, it was decided that a barbecue was the perfect way to close the day. It was mission impossible to find ice cubes but we did manage to find cold beer, some diced chicken and turkish kofta. And so, the usual search for a place to park and spend the night started. We took a side road, which lead us uphill on a dirt track full of rocks on what was Lola’s first off road experience. A few hundred metres later we got to the summit of a hill that overlooked the entire valley on what seemed to be the entrance of an abandoned little village.
It only took three hours to get the barbecue going but all good things require hard and the meat was delicious. The night fell in and with thousands of stars in the sky and the abandoned village getting creepier by the hour we went to bed after yet another wonderful day in Turkey.
We woke up to a rather chilli morning but soon the temperature rose to nearly 30C. As we were finishing breakfast, a 15 years old Opel Vectra reached our improvised camping area. There is something to be said about the cars we have seen in Turkey. For example, there are loads of really old Renault which have been modified with tinted windows, lower suspension and alloy rims and now look like old fashion rally cars. Renault models 11, 5, 21 and 14 – they have them all!
As a man stepped out of the car we thought we were going to be kicked out. How wrong we were. For the second day in a row, we were offered freshly made bread and this time it came with tea. The man spoke no English and we spoke no Turkish but that did not stop us sharing breakfast, learning a bit about each other. Proud of his Vectra, he showed us around the abandoned village. It turned out to be a resort complete with hotel, mosque and stable that was built a few years ago, but somehow did not or could not be completed. It is not clear to us whether the man was the keeper or the owner of the place, but there was a sad feeling in the atmosphere that is hard to explain: the beautiful buildings were standing there, half finished, surrounding by vegetation that had grown wild with the time. After a couple of hours he offered us lunch but, at the risk of being rude, we denied as we thought we had already abused his generosity and had to make progress towards Georgia.
We shook hands, hugged and said goodbye to this lovely man who has shown us what hospitality really means. Emotions were high.
On the way to Samsun and Trabzon
And the Turkish hospitality continues. This time, it was the owner of a semi-deserted gas station who offered us his office so that we could enjoy the air-con room while we used his wifi. Apparently that was not enough, and this good man decided to bring us coffee as well. Language barrier? What language barrier?
After 3 days of trying to get to Samsun, we finally made it and such was the feeling of achievement that we had to take a group selfie. No selfie-stick was used in the making of this picture. Promise. The sun was on its way to bed and after stocking up on some supplies for dinner, we found a great spot by the sea side. Another room with a view and our vehicles could not be happier.
The coastal road from Samsun to Trabzon improved significantly and the twists and turns from the last two days gave way to a two lane highway. As mentioned before, highways make for a rather boring drive but at least allow you to make some good progress and consume less fuel, which for once it was quite nice.
A beautiful monastery hidden away in the mountains but more importantly, we step into the next chapter of the rally. Cumbersome border crossings, big culture differences, what are we waiting for? Stay tuned for more updates in the next few days!