Black Sea Travels – Day 9, Artvin to …anywhere PLEASE!

Up early after a difficult night of concern as Mark seemed to have contracted a bad fever. In the morning it seemed to have disappeared though, much to our relief. Headed to breakfast (after moving our still wet washing to the sunlit window sill) which was in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant balcony terrace was filled with sun, so we sat out there, despite the fact that none of the tablecloths were clean…

Back to room, packed, prayed for a good day and bought water before heading off towards Ardanuç with the damp washing laid out on the parcel shelf! Going east from Artvin, the road was far more windy and steep, as though the construction guys had given up on tunnels and decided to go around and over the mountains instead. We were amazed at the speed that some of the Turkish drivers used on this road, although after being overtaken by one van, we later passed it pulled up on the verge with one passenger outside, bent over after being ill… Oh dear. The high roads also gave us a full view of the new dam project this side of Artvin, and a sudden understanding of what a ‘scarred landscape’ really looks like. Everywhere lines in the hillsides and electric wires zigged zagged infront of us, and it actually felt quite devastatingly shocking after passing through so much untouched countryside before.

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Black Sea Travels – Day 8, Ayder to Artvin

Woke up to the sound of cow bells and mooing after a restless night due to our neighbour’s mobile phone alarm going off continuously (ironically until Mark banged our wall and they woke up…). We had heard rumours that at the top of the hills we were on was another yayla town with a better view of the mountains. At breakfast we spoke with the owners and they called a local service minibus for us to take us to the top (we didn’t fancy trying it in our car!). As soon as we had loaded our car with our stuff, the minibus had arrived and we hopped in with some other people making the journey (some hoping to hike over Mt Kaçkar in the following days).

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Black Sea Travels – Day 6, Trabzon to Ayder (via Rize)

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The journey towards Rize began with bright, if cloudy, skies and we decided, after slight rainfall, not to stop along the way at Of (yes, there really is a place called ‘Of’!). However, when we came to Rize, we could see the storms ahead, and so knew our planned stop there would be more than necessary. Mark skilfully found an on-street parking spot and then we headed off to find tourist info. The guides there were pretty friendly and we had two good maps in no time. Then we went back to the Deragh pastanesi around the corner for elmalı poğaça (apple pastry) and hot chocolate. The poğaça was dusted with as much icing sugar as the Kaçkar mountains are with snow – Deeeelicious.

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