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Turkish Tango: A Day of Constant Change

It was that kind of muddy off-road where it had rained day and night in the mountains. Navigating the mud with a 300kg bike was quite a challenge but at the same time... it was spectacular, as you can imagine...

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Welcome back, my friends! It’s the 10th day of our adventure as we ride into the heart of this amazing country, Turkey.

Today was a day of constant change. Motorcycle travel often brings the unexpected, but some days redefine the very concept of change. This was one of those days—a whirlwind of shifting plans, unpredictable weather, and unforeseen encounters. What was supposed to be a calm day quickly morphed into a series of adventures and challenges. From the moment I woke up to the sight of a Turkish downpour, it was clear that this day had a mind of its own. Yet, it was precisely these constant changes that made the journey unforgettable.

Ever heard of the Turkish Tango? Me neither. But that’s exactly what today was—a dance of unexpected twists and turns. Ready to join me as we dive into the rhythm of the day? Let’s dive in!

Unexpected Beginnings

Since we had covered a few more kilometers yesterday, today was supposed to be a calm day. However, as soon as I woke up and saw the weather conditions, I thought, “Well, this hotel is not bad at all, I’ll stay another night…” But that wasn’t happening.

Not even a Turkish downpour would change my plans… let alone a little rain. I got everything ready, loaded the bike, and by 9 am, I was already on the road. I had set some goals for today:

  • Trabzon
  • The Byzantine monastery of Sumela.
  • Uzungol.

Trabzon

First things first, I set my sights on Trabzon, the ancient Trebizonda, renowned as the largest city on Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

Without many special attractions to hold tourists, it holds, at least, two very interesting testimonials of Turkey’s history. It was already a known port in 745 BC when the Greeks called it Trapezus, and it remained so for another 2000 years. Trabzon is what it is, a port city with much to see, but coming from Istanbul, I really wanted to get back to the mountains and skip the urban visits.

In big cities, it is not that simple to go straight to what you want to visit without losing time with the normal life dynamics that keep on moving despite you. So, without much ado in the city, I headed to my first significant stop.

Uzungol

Uzungol – what a wonder! Uzungol is a beautiful village located about 65 kilometers from Trabzon, lending its name to Lake Uzungol (the Long Lake), a natural dam formed by a landslide that changed the Haldizen River’s course. Both the village and the lake are nestled in a seemingly inaccessible valley between the mountains, surrounded by lush, green forests, adding to the beauty of the scenery.

Words fail me to describe Turkey, but it is indeed a captivating country.

The Byzantine Monastery of Sumela

From Uzungol, I went to the Sumela Monastery, where I would spend some time visiting. The weather wasn’t the best to enjoy everything that this monastery has to offer, but I could grasp the magnitude of the energy and the architectural work present there.

The monastery was founded in the year 386 AD during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I (375-395). Legend has it that two priests pledged to found a monastery on the site after discovering a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain. During its long history, the monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various Byzantine emperors. During the 6th century, it was restored and expanded by the general Belisarius on the orders of Justinian.

To Dark Canyon?

After the visit to the monastery, around 3:30 pm, it was too early to stop and too late to reach another milestone for the next day – Dark Canyon! But to get there, it’s a 3-hour and 30-minute journey on rough roads, or good (depending on the perspective), but not at this time of day. I decided to keep going and stop whenever I could… The problem was, I never seemed to reach anywhere, and suddenly I was at 2000 meters, Tersun Dagi Geçidi… There was nothing here, neither backward nor forward…

As you can imagine, the only way was forward.

Mud and Misadventures

After a few more kilometers that I lost count of, I ended up in a village. I took the opportunity to check on Google Maps if there was anywhere to stay around, and a house appeared relatively close by. Let’s go!

I rode about 7 km – 2 km on the road and 5 km off-road. It was that kind of muddy off-road where it had rained day and night in the mountains. Navigating the mud with a 300kg bike was quite a challenge but at the same time… it was spectacular, as you can imagine… I managed to get through, and before I knew it, I was inside someone’s house, but it wasn’t the accommodation I was looking for. Well, I apologized in some language, that they didn’t understand anyway, so the language wasn’t the most important thing.

I left and thought I found nearby what I was looking for, but, of course, it was closed. Spectacular…

A Responsible Decision

I went back to the village since all I could see ahead were mountains and snow. With the temperature at 3°C and it already being 6 pm, I decided not to risk getting lost in the mountains. After all, I can be responsible when needed! And this was definitely one of those times. I found signs for a hotel and followed them until I came across a small building with a closed door. I decided to stop the bike and wait for someone to show up. Magnificent bold planning, right? But as they say, fortune favors the bold.

Fortune and the Bold

Just as I was about to leave, a lady arrived and tried to persuade me to stay. I didn’t quite understand at first due to the language barrier, but she called someone. I found myself in a situation where the outcome would either solve my problem or lead to something I didn’t want to consider.

Remember how fortune and boldness go hand in hand? They really do.

Out of nowhere, a gentleman arrived and promptly offered me an apartment for 25€, complete with a kitchen to make my pasta for dinner! All this while he spoke Turkish and I responded in Portuguese! It was a spectacle to be appreciated from a distance. Up close, not so much, because all I could do was laugh, and I didn’t want to offend the gentleman who was saving me from freezing in the cold.

Night’s Rest and Mysteries

Well, now it’s time to rest because tomorrow is another day full of new possibilities and adventures waiting to unfold. But before I can fully relax, there’s a mystery to solve. I need to figure out why I’m left without all the USB and lighter sockets available on the bike. It’s a puzzle that needs solving before I can fully unwind and prepare for the journey ahead.

Until then, my friends, thank you for joining me on this day of constant change. Until we meet again on the road, ride safe, and may your travels be filled with excitement and discovery. Farewell for now!

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