We left Istanbul to find our new bikes in Bergama and try it on a very windy day, still sporting the belgian flag. We took a train from Balikesir to Erzurum to make up for delay. We spent thirty hours contemplating splendid landscapes adding up which were especially made up of dry plains, crossed by some flocks and their shepherd, surrounded by multicolor mountains and sometimes cut of by rivers which contrast with the surrounding dryness.
This semi-desert link between West and East of Turkey really introduces the beginning of a new trip. We’ve left the “modernity” to join high plateaus where the time seems to pass slowlier. It looks also longer for the people (in fact everybody here, in the East) who wait for the sunset which strikes the end of the Ramadhan fasting. Around 6 P:M, streets become desert, everybody go home to eat and we wander in ghost-towns.
From Erzurum, we get back on the road.
Sun still hits us strongly but the powerfull wind of altitudes, which slow down our advance, keep us cool. Distances are not the same as well, we are now evolving in big spaces and villages are becoming less frequent. In spite of gusts, we keep going on quite fastly, on the long and large road which brushes against mountains and brings us to Iran. We reached two passes at 2290 and 2050m high but it was quite easy. Except some shepherd’s dog’s attacks (but we are now used to), we go on smoothly on plateaus still higher and higher in a grandiose and quiet decor under a luminous, huge, infinite sky, which seems to be the only one, apart from the mountains.
We sleep in very cheap and modest hotels and when we try to put up our tent, the most of the time people invite us to sleep, sometimes in their garage when they have no room, which is better for us when it’s too windy.
I’m often behind Christophe who progress like a camel, I mean he moves forward at the same speed even opposite to the wind or in big ascents. I hang on sometimes (often) to his shoulder, so that I can rest my weak body and that he can let off steam a little bit.
It took us four days to reach Dogubazayit (Doğubayazıt) surrounded by the Mount Ararat (5565m), last turkish city before the Iran border. Everything went wonderfully apart a little incident with some children who threw stones on us, which was quite surprising considering the kindness of all the people we meet everyday.
We’ve spent one more day in this town to make some little shopping (especially a headscarf for me which is compulsory in Iran) and use the speed connexions of the numerous Internet Café.