Day 416-418 – 20.-22. June 2014

Day 416: After leaving Kars it was not a steep but steady climb from 1750m to 2250m.

At noon I met a cyclist from Sweden going to Iran an Thailand. He is with three other Swedish friends and after a few minutes 2 of them joined us.

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They where going to Doḡubayazi to wait for their Iran Visa. The last of them where cycling together with a german some hours behind them.

After the pass I met them and we talked for almost one hour. They tried my bike and where amazed about the riding characteristics.

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After we separated I went on for another two hours. After a short rain shower the weather was good again and I found a place to camp at a field close to the road.

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I had a fantastic sunset and the owner came and asked if I needed some kind of help.

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Day 417: At 9am I was on the road again and first I had to climb 200m. But that was just a taste of the big climb later that day.

Before reaching Georgia I had one last mountain to overcome. 500m climb, most of it between 7-10% steep.

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It took me three hours to reach the top of 2550m.

The decent of 1100m was amazing.

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From the town of Posof it was another 15km to the border. I finally reached the Turkish-Georgian border and I had no problem entering Georgia.

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You only get a stamp and you can stay 360 days in Georgia. That is probably the most liberal entry procedure I know. Unfortunately in September the Government will change it to harmonize it to European Union procedures.

Just behind the border I stopped at a filling station to get something to drink.

I only went another two km and found a spot to camp.

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After my tent was set up and I was ready to cook dinner, two military or policeman came and told me the place is not safe, because there are bears and wolfs in this area. They asked me to go back to the filling station for the night. I packed everything in 30min and cycled back to the fuel station. It was only 2 km but its was a steep climb it it was already dark. When I arrived I was very exhausted.

One of the road construction workers spoke english and I explained the situation to him. He said they also have a problem with snakes in this area and when I came up the hill a snake crossed the street.

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Anybody knows if this is a poisonous snake?

The personal from the station told me I cold put my tent right in from of the shop.

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So I did. The road workers had a brake and everybody watched me setting up my camp. Someone gave me a big glass of vodka and afterwords everything was easy.

Day 418: I did not sleep very good, because the road construction went on till after 2am and early in the morning cars and trucks passed close by.

The area was very beautiful and I was glad that it was mostly downhill. Only the wind was strong and exactly from the front. I was very tired and had to take a long brake. But it did not help. When I saw a sign for a guesthouse I decided to stop.

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It was a very nice guesthouse. The room was big and clean and I had a enormous and tasty dinner with self made wine and bread.

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The family operating the house was very nice and encroached me to eat the cherries and other fruits of their garden. Later that evening they made their own bread in a traditional oven.

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It was so nice to relax and walk around the garden and the village.

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If you ever come in this area I can really recommend this guesthouse.

 

Day 416: 87,77 km  all: 12.853 km

Day 417: 74,27 km  all: 12.928 km

Day 418: 39,56 km  all:12.967 km

Day 412-415 – 16.-19. June 2014

Day 412: Besides the two German couples I met a few days ago I have not met any other traveler for many weeks.

Just after I left Doḡubayazi and was taking some pictures from mount Ararat a motorbike stopped.

It was a French guy on his way to Mongolia, Vladivostok and Korea and maybe to America. We talked for a few minutes and another motorbike stopped. Lucija and Klemen from Slowenia are traveling around Turkey.

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After a few minutes and some pictures we went on.

Only 20 minutes later a group of German motorbikes passed me and stopped for a quick chat. They were also on the way to Georgia.

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I had to climb only about 200m and then there was a big descent to the town of Iḡdir. I bought something to drink and stopped for a soup. The terrain was flat now and the wind from behind.

Just outside the town a truck driver stopped and invited me for dinner. He told me to go on about 20 km and meet him at a restaurant.

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After only 90 minutes I met him at the place. I was not very hungry, but he insisted of buying me some kind of chicken-wings with rice and a salad. He could speak a little bit German, so we could communicate.

After dinner and three tea he had to drive on. So did I.

After 100km I found some empty houses and pitched my tent in on of them. I took a „shower“ and had time to read a little bit till I went to bed.

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Day 413: In the morning I had to climb a steep hill. Just before the climb I met 3 German who travel in Turkey by car and canoe. We talked for about 30 minutes and them I started the climb.

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First 300m in a short distance and then a steady climb.

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To German bikers on their way to Gerorgia stopped for a few minutes.

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And another young German motorbiker. We had a very nice conversation about many different things.

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I knew I would not make it to Kars, so after a small village I stopped. Besides the road I found a place to camp. After pitching up my tent and relaxing for a while I made spaghetti for dinner. Exactly when I was finished with cooking the rain set in. I crawled into my tent and enjoyed my meal.

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Day 414:  I had scrambled eggs for breakfast and started at 11am to climb the next 500m. I still had to go 40km to Kars.

I met my first touring cyclist for a long time. Frank from Belgium is on the way to Iran and in the end to China.

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We talk for a long time about visa, countries and experiences we made so far on our trips. It was very nice to talk to someone who is doing the same thing as me.

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After a long climb to 2280m, I only had to descent 12km into the city of Kars.

I looked for a hotel and finally found one for only 25TRL(9€) a night. So I decided to stay two nights and used the time to arrange my stay in Georgia and to organize a way to receive a package with spare parts.

Day 415: I only went out for a walk around the city and the citadel. It was a nice day, but in the afternoon it started raining and so I just took a nap and relaxed.

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Day 412: 102,10 km  all: 12.674 km

Day 413: 47,63 km  all: 12.722 km

Day 414: 43,61 km  all: 12.765 km

Day 408-411 – 12.-15. June 2014

Day 408: After the relaxing day in Tatvan I was fit to go on. I kew the next 150 km would be along the lake and so I expected no big climbing.

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When I left Tatvan some showers where forming around me. I was always on the run and managed to stay dry till the afternoon.

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At some point a shower caught up to me, but I found a empty restaurant where I stayed during the rain.

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The rest of the day was dry and the weather was improving during the evening.

I meet an older German couple on the way. They had traveled in Georgia and Armenia and are now on their way back to Germany.

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I was heading to a site I found thanks to Google maps and satellite view. Under a big tree I set up my camp and had a calm and undisturbed night.

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Day 409: While is was packing some people came for harvesting a field. They were very friendly and interested and watched the whole time I was packing. We said good buy and I was on the road again.

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The terrain was still easy so I was fast and at 2pm I decided to stop. I was almost at the end of the lake and I wanted to go at least once swim in the Van Lake.

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Earlier that day one spoke broke and I needed time to fix it.

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I found some kind of recreation place. The gate was open and I looked around. Some old buildings and a colony of crows but nobody was there.

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After  30 min a guard came and I asked if I could camp in the area. He said it is ok, but he will lock the gate at 6pm and open it the next morning.

I was fine with that, because I felt very safe that night.

The place I picked for my camp was beautiful. A freshly mowed grassland directly at the beach.

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After pitching up my tent, relaxing a while, I fixed the broken spoke and went swimming.

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The water felt like there was a lot of soap in it. Later I learned that it contains a lot of sodium carbonate and it is strongly alkaline (pH 9.7–9.8). (Wiki Lake Van)

Before the guard left he invited me for a tea and some cookies.

While I was fixing dinner the full moon came out for a phantastic view.

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Day 410: After only 5 km at this day I meet another German couple on the road. They are from Kaiserslautern and invited me for a German beer and we had a nice conversation about Turkey. They are now on their way home.

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Somehow looking at the map I thought I only had to climb about 200m to a pass. My impression was totally wrong.

For about 40km it was a steady, not very steep climb to 2000m. At a town I had a soup for lunch and continued for 10km on a plateau. Here some boys, who were guarding their sheeps, came running to the street and trowing stones after me. I was going very fast, so they did not reach me but some big guard dogs came very close.

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After that the terrain was rising again but this time its was getting steep. I was thinking about staying the night somewhere, but I had not enough water and there was no shop or filling station on the way.

Finally after a few difficult hours I reached the top of the pass. 2600m ! The highest point I have been so far on my trip.

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It was already 7pm and the sun was going down but I still had 30km to the next town. The descent was very steep and fast so I made the 30km in only 90min.

During the sunset I had a gorgeous view at Mount Ararat.

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In the town of Doḡubayazi I found a cheap hotel and after 114km and 11hours on the road I thought I earned a nice hot shower, dinner and a good bed.

Day 411: I stayed an extra day in the hotel to relax and wrote this blog.

The border to Iran is only 30km away but I have no visa yet and I also want to go to Georgia and Armenia.

 

Day 408-410: 12.-14. Jun 2014

Day 408: 108,32 km  all: 12.413 km

Day 409: 45,56 km   all: 12.458 km

Day 410: 114,00 km  all: 12.572 km

Day 404-407 – 8.-11. June 2014

Day 404: After a small breakfast I left Vedat and Diyarbakir. I had a few nice days and met some lovely people.

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From the map the terrain did not look very difficult but as it turned out, I saw no level road this day. There was always an up and down and at the end of the day I climbed and descended more than 1300m.

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The area was mainly endless  fields of wheat an the first harvest was in progress.

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I passed the town of Silvan and manny people waved and invited me for a tea. But some jung boys threw stones after me and they only speak two words in english: „Hello“ and „money-money“. When I stopped people always touching my bike and my equipment and especially the boys between 5-10 years are very annoying and always want „money-money“.

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I was glad I took off the turkish flag, because the people understand themself as Kurdish and most of them do not like Turkey.

A few km behind Silvan I was ready to find a place for the night. Close to the road was a destroyed building and about 30m behind the building I set up my tent. It was a nice place overlooking the valley.

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The road was close and in the night some car came by and played loud music. I still managed to sleep until at about 2am I was waken by 5 pistol gunshot. It was very close but I could not do anything about it. I kept calm and after a while the car left the place.

Day 405: The first half of the day was as the one before. Up and down, hot weather and wheat fields.

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After a good lunch the climb into the mountain started. I managed to climb from 600m to 900m. After 80km I stopped to fill up my beverages and shower water and found a nice secluded place for my camp. After a shower and a small dinner I went to bed early because I knew the next day was going to be hard.

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Day 406: The climb from 900m to 1800m took me the whole day. It was very hard and in the evening I was very tired.

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In the town of Bitlis I was not allowed to take a tunnel so I had to go through the city. It was like in a circus an I was the main attraction. The city was very busy and hundreds of people were sitting along the street drinking tea. Because of the raising terrain I was very slow and I was glad when I left the town.

Finally I reached the top of the plateau and the last 10km to Tatvan was easy. Also the weather changed. The whole day it was very hot, up to 37°C, but on the plateau I had to take out my jacket.

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I was so done and decided to find a hotel for the night. For only 30lira (10€) I had a room with a hot shower.

Day 407: My muscles were so sore that I decided to stay another night in the hotel and relax.

I went through the not very appealing city and the nice big Lake. I think the van lake is the biggest lake of turkey.

 

Day: 404: 92,11 km  all: 12.158 km

Day 405: 84,19 km  all: 12.243 km

Day 406: 61,60 km  all: 12.304 km

Day 400-403 – 4.-7. June 2014

Day 400: I packed my things and Orhan took me back to his workplace and organized a turkish breakfast.

Then he took me to some other people and I had to drink several tea. He also wanted me to met a friend from the police and again it was Tea-time.

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I really did not what to meet any other person, because it was already 11am and I had to go almost 100km to Diyarbakir.

Finally I said good buy to Orhan and left the city.

After only a few km I noticed my trailer was broken. I tried to hold it in place with some rope and cable and hoped I could get to Diyarbakir.

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I was surprised that I had to climb to 1200m. It took me longer than expected, but then it was a constant decent.

Today I also reach my 12.00km mark and arranged a picture.

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I entered Diyarbakir past 6pm an went to a cafe where my host Vedat (a friend of Kübra) was waiting.

Vedat and some friends had a meeting after a bike tour. I joined them for a dink and afterwards we went to his apartment. Another friend, Kadir was in his apartment and he made chicken kebab for dinner.

Day 401: After a long sleep we had breakfast an relaxed till the evening. Kadir took my trailer to get it fixed.

It does not look nice but it is stronger than before.

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Kadir invited us to his family for dinner. I met his family and we had a traditional tasty dinner called tirşik.

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Day 402: In the morning Vedat and Kadir showed me around the city and we had a wine in an old caravanserai.

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Every friday evening the bike club makes a tour through the city. So we took the bikes and had a nice two hour ride with a tea in a cafe in the end.

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Afterwards some of the participants went to a restaurant and I had brain for the first time. It was not my favorite meat but it was not bad and eatable.

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Day 401: Because we came back after midnight I decided to stay an extra day to repair some of my equipment and prepare for the next days.

Again we had visitors.

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Day 400: 89,41 km  all: 12.066 km

Day 397-399 – 1.-3. June 2014

Day 397: The night was short, because Kübra and some friends invited me for a little bike tour. In order to use the cool morning they picked me up at 6am. I slept pretty good, only at 3:15am I was woken by the call for prayer from the mosque only 10m away.

Still in the city we had breakfast at the side of the road.

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We cycled to Göbekli Tepe an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge 20km from Şanlıurfa.

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On the way we came across a huge locust:

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After we visited the archaeological site we turned back to Şanlıurfa and had a tea in the park adjacent to the fish pound.

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I went back to the room to get some rest and take a shower. In my room I met someone who was part of the writers union of Turkey and after I told him my story one of his friends from a local newspaper made an interview with me.

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Close by was a facility with toilets and showers and for 5 lira I had my first „asian“ shower. Only with a bucket and a cup and no actual shower head. But the water was warn and it worked amazingly well.

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In the evening Kübra and her friends piked me up and we went to a café. Gulden, a english teacher and friend joined us and it was now easy to communicate again.

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Day 398: The next morning at 9am Kübra and Bünyamin where there again. We went to the old marked, had a small breakfast and cycled to Bünyamin´s school, where I met some teachers and also some reporters from a local newspaper.

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Finally at 1pm I was on the road again.

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Five hours and 65km later I found a nice place for the night, took a shower with my water-bag and had a nice and calm evening.

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Day 399: With only 35km to go to Siverek I was not in a hurry to start the day. It took me only two and a half hours to cycle to the town.

I met with Orhan, one of the cyclist who went to Göbekli Tepe with us. He lives in Siverek and invited me.

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We went to his workplace, a advertising agency, had lunch and a few tea. Then he showed me the town and we went to a few people he knows to introduce me. After some more handshakes and tea we got back to workplace and I relaxed a litte bit till he was finished and went to his home.

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I was just finished with unpacking when Orhan and his father took me to another sightseeing walk around the city.

I was glad finally to be back an in bed.

Day 398: 65,45 km  all: 11.942 km

Day 399: 34,81 km  all: 11.977 km

Day 391-396 – 26.-31. May 2014

Day 391-396: Four days in Garzinatep at Emily and Beyhans place was very nice and relaxing.

I met some of their friends and co-workers, we had a barbecue in front of Beyhans shop and Emily showed me the old town and the marked.

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Day 395: I left Gaziantep to continue to the east. My next destination was Şanliurfa, about 140 km. I decided to make it a two day trip.

The first 50km was easy, because the terrain was flat and the wind was in my favor. After a few climbs it was getting late, so I bought something to drink, filled up my shower water and looked for a place to spend the night.

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Day 396: I only had to go about 45km to Şanliurfa where Nuzhet had called someone to take care of me.

The terrain was not to hilly but I was very exhausted. Maybe because of the temperature of almost 40°C. After a last big decent into the city I send a message to Kübra and after 30min we met at a shopping mall.

I followed Kübra and Bünyamin to a very famous and important place for Moslems. The „fish pond“. The story says :

According to tradition, Nimrod had Abraham immolated on a funeral pyre, but God turned the fire into water and the burning coals into fish. The pool of sacred fish remains to this day.

We put my stuff in a room overlooking the fish pond and that was also my sleeping place for the next  two nights.

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We cycled through the city to a bike shop and later to a nice restaurant. Two other friends joined us for dinner. Nobody could really speak english, so it was sometimes very difficult to communicate. But somehow we managed to „talk“. We had a very nice dinner and afterwords went back to the fish pond and had a drink overlooking the town.

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Another friend joined and he could speak english and so he translated for the rest.

I was very tired and when we got back to the complex where my „room“ was, the door was closed and we had to make some calls and finally someone opened the door and I could go to sleep.

 

Day 395: 86,09 km  all: 11.810 km

Day 396: 66,54 km  all: 11.877 km