IRAN        TURKEY         EUROPE

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Map of Turkey

Sometimes the juxtaposition off two things that otherwise might be each very memorable in its own way can often colour an attitude in favour of one to the detriment of the other and perhaps that has been the case with Iran and Turkey for from the outset we both fell for the charms of the latter. The constraints of time as i've said before do not do justice to the countries we have visited and i'm fully aware that Iran has so much to offer the traveler but our experience of having to rush through it at the height of summer weather coupled with the difficulty of food made Turkey all the `more wondered at` though it would have stood the test in isolation also. Straight away on crossing the border we found a restaurant that suited our tastes and as we ate there under the looming mass of Mount Arrarat, rising from the grassy plains we felt back in a more familiar world. Up at this height the temperature was now also in the 30s so biking was all the more enjoyable. It was not all perfect however. Outside Erzurum I was pulled for speeding and had to hand over 40 dollars but when I insisted on a receipt he handed it back thus preserving our clean sheet to date of not having to give money to the police.

Beyond Erzurum we reasoned that heading north to travel along the Black Sea seemed the logical choice and so it proved for we were treated to some of the most enjoyable biking of the trip. The road north to the Black sea cuts through Alpine like passes and valleys and the 30 degree sunny weather made it perfect. At one stage going thru a tunnel in the mountain top above Trabzon the gauge dropped to 20 and we were frozen which considering that it was a difference of 36.5 from a few days previous is not surprising. On reaching the coast at Trabzon we spent the next few days traversing its length back almost to Istanbul. It truly is a beautiful coastline that has it all in places it is like the Massif Central above Clermont while in others you would think you were down near the Riviera and in other spots it had a character all of its own as you wound along the cliff face in and out of coves against a backdrop of deciduous forests that carpeted the mountains as they piled onto the coast. The later half of the route beyond Sipon was admittedly a little tedious as the road was poor in much the way the Karakorum was with parts fallen into the sea etc. but like Pakistan's great highway this too was worth it. We have now crossed the Bosphorus back into Europe. Istanbul is both a huge city and a fascinating one with its heritage stretching back so far and still so much in evidence. We adopted our usual tactic of getting a taxi to take us to an hotel and in this case we have been particularly fortunate as we are right in the heart of everything and are quite literally within three or four minutes of all the important places here viz. the Blue Mosque the Hagia Sophia, the Topakai Palace etc. Straddling the Bosphorus and two continents it is a dramatic setting for a city and one full of life. We have much to occupy us here for days and then we will make our way back home. Theoretically we are within four days of home and though we will hardly do what is the greatest continent of all to bike through that injustice nonetheless as we have both traveled extensively here and as funds are now low we will more than likely be back now sooner than later.

IRAN        TURKEY         EUROPE

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