I am being attacked, by water. Drops are pelleting me, drenching me to the very core. But, for the first time today it’s good, warm water instead of the relentless rain that chased us through central and eastern Turkey today.
We left Istanbul and the west two days ago, making our way across Turkey. I underestimated the vastness of this country, it is huge and where we travel somewhat mountainous. The towns seem poorer as we head further east, the villages sometimes decent and at other times leaning towards what we would consider slums. A new experience for me.
Last night we ended up in Tosya, a small town in the foothills of the mountains. The hotel was simple, not clean but not dirty either, dinner was also simple, but then, our needs were simple a place to sleep and a bite to eat.
We left our hotel under the threat of rain, overcast skies, the streets already wet from showers earlier this morning. It didn’t take long for us to be very happy with the rainwear we’d put on. In my head Turkey is a sunny and dry place, but hour after hour the rain kept on coming. I don’t know what the outside temperatures were, but after a while of riding in these conditions we got chilled to the bone, even if the rain had not yet penetrated our outer layers. We took stops at petrol stations, drinking tea, where available, stuffing ourselves with sweet cakes and chocolate where not. We warm up a bit, and head out again and again, resisting the rain, trying it’s best to make us miserable.
Around four in the afternoon we give up, we’ve made it as far as Ordu, 200km short of Trabzon, where we were hoping to get. We huddle up near a heater at a local café order coffee and hot chocolate and start looking for a hotel. We’ve become good at this, we use booking.com to see what is around, filter by rating and then just show up, ask to see the rooms and try to haggle about the price a bit. Our hotel today really is very good; modern, clean and it comes with luxury bathroom, with rain shower. Which is where I’m sitting now, on the floor, being warmed by a million warm droplets of water, slowly forgetting about the cold of the day and thinking about what I’ll write about when I’ll finally come out.
What I came up with is this:
In Istanbul, you’ll be fine with just English, but after leaving the Bosporus behind us, it seems we’ve also left all our common languages behind us. We communicate using Google translate, pointing and a lot of smiles. People want to know where we are from and we respond by whispering ‘Holland’’ and looking around frightfully, poking fun at the ridiculous political situation between our countries and the fear being spread by the media, every time we all laugh at this. We received an update from the Dutch Ministry of foreign affairs, warning us about the current situation and to avoid crowded places, stating that Dutch citizens might nog be welcome and could be targets. As far as our experiences go this is complete nonsense. Everybody we meet is friendly, respectful and welcoming. “We love you!” an older gentleman said to us this morning. “We love Holland!”
We love Turkey too.