Today was a scheduled off-bike day, after we clocked up 700km yesterday in our ride from Goreme to Samsun via Ankara. Karen was lauding the number of big rides we do, but I pointed out that based on a current sample of eight days we were only going to ride on four of the days, with a maximum distance of 700km in a single day and an average of 400km on a riding day. From the first moment that the 1200cc engine on the BM fires up and I click it into gear it just wants to keep on moving.
We had a small sleep-in today as we were both tired from yesterday’s long day, and had a pleasant Turkish village breakfast before heading out into Samsun, searching for the Archeological and Ethnographic Museum. I couldn’t find that museum but instead we stumbled across the Gazi Muzesi – Samsun’s museum in honour of Atuturk. Atuturk landed at Samsun in 1919 at the outset of the War of Independence, and the museum featured a lot of local memorabilia from his visits to the area.
After soaking up the history in the museum we wandered through the busy streets – they were absolutely jam-packed with people bustling around. Today is the last day of Ramazan I believe, and a festive spirit seemed to fill the air.
In addition to the shops that had laid out goods on trestle tables in front of their stores, a lot of the back-alleys had been converted into temporary markets, and we strolled down a number of these, taking in the sights and sounds. Some stalls sold chocolates by weight out of huge wicker baskets, and Karen bought a small assortment of these for us to nibble on, but Cadbury’s they weren’t.
Lunch was a tasty chicken, pasta and salad plate in a small bistro. Unable to read the menu as it was only written in Turkish, I did a bit of improv as we ordered – mimicking a cow and a chicken to help us help the waiter in figuring out what was what.
We stumbled across a shabby-looking cinema and enquired inside, but Terminator was only screening in Turkish, without any subtitles, so we passed on that idea.
During the heat of the afternoon we caught up on some emails and a bit of research, looking into accommodation in Iran which is usually organised by telephone as few places have websites or email, and then as the day started to cool we had another pleasant exploration of the street-side shopping district nearby, before finding an upstairs doner restaurant from which we could look over our balcony and see the chaotic mayhem in the street below.
During our walk we stopped at one of the many Islamic clothing stores where Karen had spotted a Mantou she liked….the sales girl came to assist and although none of them could speak English they were happy to help. When we explained we were going to Iran they became quite excited and very concerned with Karen’s hair …she managed to explain she already had a Hijab. They soon had Karen in a change room trying on sizes. When she emerged she did a bit of a mime act of “smiley face – thumbs up” or “sad face – crossed hands” ….they all gave her the “smiley face – thumbs up”…..I liked it too….so we parted with 80TL deal done. We thanked them for their help and Karen asked if she could take a photo….this made them all very excited and the girl who actually served us was hugging Karen. She will have to wear the Hijab and Mantou whilst we are travelling in Iran and Pakistan…we still have to figure out the quick change act from her helmet to Hijab as its too hot and not practical to wear under her helmet.
We’ve got a short ride tomorrow – only 300km – and that will take us to Trabzon, further east and also situated on the coast. Saturday and Sunday will be rest days – though with that said we’ll slip out to the Sumela Monastery 70km south of Trabzon on one of those days, and then on Monday morning we’ll have a new rear tyre fitted and then start making our way towards the border crossing between Turkey and Iran. Yesterday we clocked up 17,000km on our trip so far – so that’s three rear tyres we’ve gone through already.