Sunday, October 20, 2013

Back to Turkey and feeling blessed

While waiting with two backpacks in Istanbul otogar (main bus station) alone, as Adley was running between different bus companies to check bus tickets time and price towards the Black Sea coast,  I was suddenly approached by two teenage girls walking passed after their friends. They gave me a friendly smile and suddenly hugged me with kisses on both of my cheeks, one by one, and walked away!!! It was sweet but left me rather confused. 

After an overnight bus ride from Istanbul towards Bartin, an early connecting bus took us to Amasra, we walked a little bit around the small seaside town and managed a rather long lift to Sinop, where we stayed for a night. 

In Sinop, we found a pansion in a convenience location. Price was fair but we still tried to bargain. The owner stood firm on the rate but offered us home cuisine and Turkish tea all the time.  We tried freshly made Barack, fig jam, paprika dip, tomato nut dip and got so many cooking tips. Her kitchen cum reception cum living room is always fragranced with food.

We are at the right time of Bayram in Turkey, and witnessed the animal butchering ceremony in Sinop the next day. Sheep and cows are contributed by the wealthy ones. Butchers then killed and cut in public with the raw meat given out to poor people. It's a rather unusual event to watch, though not for the faint hearted and probably vegetarians. There was a lot of blood, some struggle but not much heart breaking cries. We heard that usually after Bayram, there will always be a day of rain. Seems that God has his way to clean the land.

Later at night, we watched news about runaway cows and injured helpers during the ceremony all around Turkey.  Our friend laughed that this always happened every year. Such great escape is almost an entertainment.

Getting lucky with hitchhiking on the first day, we confirmed our impression of how easy it is to hitchhike in Turkey. Hence, we insisted to try our luck again.

Two lift with not too long waiting took us 110km from Sinop to Samsun.

When we were hitchhiking today, from Sinop to Gerze, something bizarre happened. Two girls stopped their car in front of us, but instead of taking us a lift, she passed me a mobile phone. It was her curious friend in Trabzon, saying hi to me and probably trying her English. 

We waited a little while more and met a beautiful couple Dilek and Adem, who only got married two months ago and having a little excursion from Sinop directly to Samsun. We exchanged emails and we were invited to their place if we were in Sinop again! They handed us to our CS host in Samsun and left. 

The unlimited hospitality we received here made us feel so blessed and well taken care of!

So we are absolutely fine.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Enjoyable ride along the Turkish Black Sea coast 1

After an overnight bus trip from Istanbul, we arrived Bartin. It was the cheapest bus ticket we could buy to somewhere near the Black Sea coast. It was near an important religious celebration and everyone was crazy leaving Istanbul to go to their home. Many buses were full. Bartin was still not on the coast but 30km uphill. We arrived in the misty morning, not impressed by the boring town center and the scattered village house; we left right away to the coastal town Amasra. There we started our Black Sea journey.

Amasra is a small town. After some sight seeing we started hitchhiking along the coast. With our good memory of hitchhiking with the nice and helpful Turkish drivers in May, we hope we could go as long as we could along the coast to the east, before around 4pm. There we find a hostel or a cheap pension to stay, as we need a good hot shower.

"Maria power" worked again. A delivery vehicle took us for around 30km to Kurucasile. This distance took one hour because the road went zigzag along the hillside next to the sea,     some on the cliff. Yosef had a four year old boy, with some English and was happy to show us the boy's pictures. We have the good view along the road between mountain and sea. It is autumn and the leaves are changing color.

Our second hike was even more exciting. It went all the way to Sinop. The driver Murad took his passenger, who is a middle-aged woman, with his tough toyota truck, to a village first. It is our first time seeing the natural scenery behind the mountains. It is a world by itself, another natural reserve between two ranges of mountain. He dropped his passenger in the village and move back to the coast. We passed Cide, a town with 8km beach, then we went inland again because Murad said the  280 coastal road afterwards was to zigzagly and rough that speed can be just 30-50km/h and it will take very long to go. It is very scenic too but Murad was in hurry going home. We should follow his way. 

Although we did not go coastal, the inward route to Kastamonu passed the colorful forest and beautiful canyon. We saw so many colors in the forest: red, orange, yellow and green all around. It was so magnificent.

The way back to coast was another 180km of the 360km on the highway which we could run 120km/h. So it only took 4 hours for this 360km instead of that 280km which could not run more than 40km/h most of the time.

We are very happy with this drive and thank Murad for that. He even bought us sweet. It was kind of new year, people visit each other and serve candies. We arrive Sinop at around 5pm to see the animal market. It is a scenic fishing town where Istanbulis have holiday break.

We have other scenic Black Sea route waiting for us.