Week 14 to Erzurum
A challenging day’s journey through some mountains and gravel roads. Hopefully, the last week in the hot part of Turkey. Searching for food in a village in the afternoon. I sat down quietly with some people who were interested in chatting, of course. But there were also two people in green uniforms who were even more interested. They told me it wasn’t safe here and that they would arrange an escort in a nearby city. They wanted to keep track of my WhatsApp location, and we would stay in touch. But since my legs were tired, I couldn’t cycle the last 30 km to the city, so I pitched my tent somewhere in the mountains.
The next day, I headed to Genc, which apparently translates to “youth” because the military man directed me to Genc merkezi, which translates to “youth center.” But he actually meant the city center. After an early start, I cycled to the city and messaged the military man, who then directed me to another city. I thought my escort to Erzurum was off the table. I was actually looking forward to an escort to the cooler region. It didn’t go against my “no public transportation” rule, and it was free and somewhat forced, so why not?
Maybe he just wanted to keep an eye on where I was going or something. Upon entering the city, there was a checkpoint with some soldiers. After some texting, I gave up on the escort and cycled to Bingol instead. I preferred to cycle the route myself. After Bingol, I got a flat tire and realized that the glue from my repair kit was leaking. But on the third attempt, I found a bike shop. It was Sunday, after all. Around 4 o’clock, I could go to the spot I had chosen for my sleeping place, one of the many open camping spots in Turkey for everyone. I was stopped by the police, who gave me a yellow vest. I was able to set up my tent in a park where some German Turks were barbecuing and offered me some food.
I slept peacefully in a park where I had to turn off the lights in Ilicalar and headed towards Karliova. It was a day of steep climbing and sweating. I had some food at a local place and eventually pitched my tent next to the road after about 70 kilometers, next to some trees and a small stream.
Day 4 Erzurum!
Apparently, I wasn’t as alone as I thought, and someone had opened a bag I had accidentally left outside with some food. I added one last sticker at an elevation of 2390 meters before Erzurum. Then, around noon, I reached Cat, and after some more climbing and descending, I arrived in Erzurum. Around 4 o’clock, Erzurum was there, a city at a high altitude with a ski slope and a refreshing cool breeze in the evening. I heard about a WhatsApp group that recommended a good hotel in the city. After eating some local kebap, I slept peacefully because the next day, I had to pick up my visa!
Day 5 Visa for Iran!
After waking up peacefully, I looked for a printer for a document that the consulate needed, and I was on my way. There were two consulates on the map, and after some searching, I found out that one had been closed for a while. I heard the same from some men having tea. So I headed to the other consulate, which was a bit further into the city. Fortunately, it wasn’t crowded. I went inside, had to wait for a while, and handed over the document and passport to the man, who was immediately concerned about the damage to my passport and asked, “You going to Iran with this passport??!” Of course, I said yes. Later, I thought, “What do you expect me to do, fly back for a new one?” But after some more waiting, it was fine, and I had to go to the bank to transfer more money. That took another hour, but luckily, I could leave my belongings at the hotel. After transferring 2250 Turkish lira, I could return with the receipt. It wasn’t long before I had the document in my hand without too much hassle. This would give me at least another 3 months of cycling! I was ready to pick up my belongings at 3 o’clock, had some food, and cycled out of the city to set up my tent somewhere in a field.
It was a delightful ride since the sun wasn’t as intense, and it had cooled down considerably since the south of Turkey. This made cycling much more pleasant. I headed towards Pasinler on a flat country road, and I could enjoy some nice easy kilometers. It felt like I was back in the Netherlands when I got into the groove and hit 30 km/h. After Pasinler came Koprokoy, and I could head south. There was some climbing to do, and around 3 o’clock, I had some tea with a beekeeper at the top. Beautiful mountains and plenty to see made the peaceful climb enjoyable. By 4 o’clock, I had passed it, and there was a small town to get some food. Of course, it was Kebab. Then I found a nice spot by a lake, and I noticed that it was the weekend, so some people were barbecuing. Eventually, they left, and I could sleep peacefully.
I descended through some rural villages and encountered a lot of roadwork. There was plenty to see in the form of beautiful mountains, and the weather was still pleasantly cool. In the morning, I even had to wear a jacket because I left early. The last time that happened was in Slovakia. When I came out of the valley, I reached the town of Tutak. There was more climbing with some hills, and at Patnos, it was time for a full rest day! I found a hotel for a very affordable price, 200 lira. There was no air conditioning, but fortunately, it wasn’t needed.