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Old 09-21-2007, 06:58 AM   #46
der_tobe OP
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Day 15

I have breakfast and a refreshing shower in the open air showers, pack my stuff and am ready to hit the road when this guy comes to me and coerces me to have a tea with him and his family. Who am I to deny a friendly offer. The whole family (and friends as I understand) is out there camping and enjoying the summer.


If I have seen the beach yet? No.
But I actually wanted to go on...Well, I let them convince me to join them on the beach. And seriously, I would have missed out on some spectacular landscape:


Can't deny my favourite means of transport...




One of the puys went snorkeling and caught a crab with his harpoon...


I go swimming for a bit and relax watching my newfound friends play backgammon - I would have thought that the russians stereotypically play chess but "Kasparov-ing" is not nearly as popular as backgammon. It really is a shame that I can play neither.

When I finally leave the beach and climb the cliffs back to the campsite and the bike there is this other guy already expecting me - I must have a tea with him and his family. Then he hands me over to the next family and the next cuppa...the Russians are really friendly people. It's just amazing.

It is well after midday when I do hit the road. I only ride some kms to the first touristic sight of the day: Dolmens.
These megalithic structures from prehistoric times were built for whatever reason...Even scientists have diverging theories as to what the stones were used for.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolmens_of_Russia



After a fairly long footwalk back to the bike I press on riding through Tuapse and into the Sochi district.

Just a roadside restaurant:


It is getting rather late when I finally find a semi-official campsite. The bike comes to a halt and the campers surround me...I have to tell them my story: where from, where to, how fast does the bike go, how many cc...It is just so enjoyable to meet so many friendly people. (by the way, telling much of the same story all over again is not bothering me in the least. On the contrary - it improves my very basic Russian language skills every time I tell it.)
All the while I try to pitch my tent on the rocky ground my Russian neighbours take possesion of my bike. They don't ask if they can sit on it, they just do it. Carefully, of course.


When my tent is set up and they are finished snapping posing bike pics I am handed a bowl with steaming hot Borshtsh (cabbage soup with meat and whatever in it) and freshly baked bread. It is delicious.
The next course are cookies followed by a huge cup of stewed fruit. SWEET, JUICY, HEAVENLY.

Saturated with so many FRIENDly impressions and after my good night beer I go to bed.
Extract from the diary for that day: A unique day. Spasibo!

174kms


...
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:25 AM   #47
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Wow, some parallels. I went on a mc trip through Ukraine this summer too. Got food poisoning: vomiting, no diahrea. FYI, the police waved me to the side of the road a few times but I just ignored them. They won't chase you on your GS. Especially in towns, because you can just find a road in bad enough shape that their cars can't follow you. And on the open road they can't go very fast. People warned me the police would want bribes, but if they never stop you, they can't ask.
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:15 AM   #48
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Thanks for the link to to the Russian Dolmens, Tolbe. Very interesting and I'd never heard of these before.
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Old 09-21-2007, 06:38 PM   #49
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Great report! Keep it coming
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Old 09-23-2007, 03:15 PM   #50
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Day 16

Surrounded by all the people of the campsite I get up in the morning, have a nice cuppa and pack my belongings. Then I go for my daily morning swim in the Black Sea. The beach is stony. I really enjoy this type of beach as you don't have any sand sticking to your feet when putting on your socks...





Just a random picture:


Finally I am on the road again. Sochi is on the schedule for the day. I am a little bit afraid of the big city and, thus, try to avoid the outskirts of Greater Sochi for as long as possible. I do this by stopping every now and then and taking pictures (which, by the way, look all pretty much alike )


At one of those stops another car pulls into the parking space and a family gets out and unpacks an enormous picnic. I greet them friendly and want to ride on but there is no way they'll let me leave without having eaten...
"you are riding a bike - that's exhausting enough. sit and eat! you are much too thin anyways! and besides, this is all homemade - no crap from the supermarket...you just have to try..."

So I have a lunch of boiled eggs, delicious meatballs, bread, tomatoes, cucumber...Again, the friendlyness is unbelievable.
We chat for a while and I learn that the younger one of the boys even learns German at school - he's too shy to talk, though.


Russian truck: (There are loads of them on the streets - this one was moving by itself though... )


Entering Sochi is just as hard as I thought it would be - traffic jams everywhere. I wait myself into the city center. When I finally arrive in downtown Sochi I have a fairly short walk around the posh boulevards and find that Sochi will not enter my personal "Hall of the Geatest Cities I've ever been to".




One of Sochi's many Sanatoriums:








It is really nice for the Sochi area that they got the Winter Olympics in 2014...


Of course, the Infrastructure needs to be developed much further for such an event - but even now it's not too bad to begin with

(yes, it is exacty what you think it is !)

Next on my schedule is a walk to the port of sochi. I have to find out when the next ferry to Trabzon/Turkey is leaving. It's a little disappointing to hear that not even the officials in the information office have any information as to when the next ship is leaving. I am told to give them a call the next day, maybe they'll know more by then...

Sochi sea port building:


Explanations:
1.) Originally I had planned to go all the way around the black sea on the bike but I had to learn that the Russian/Georgian border is closed due to the Abkhasia Conflict. That's why I had to "circumnavigate" Georgia completely.

2.) You might wonder how in the world can a subtropic city by the sea apply for the winter Olympics thad need fairly cold temperatures and, naturally, Mountains.
Well I wanted to find that out, too. Not liking big cities too much I decided to leave Sochi for a trip to the Caucasus mountains. And indeed - about 30 kms away from the Sea the Landscape gets quite suitable for wintersports.


During the Summer you can even go Heli skiing...


Dont mind the cables!


I make camp close to the (rather famous, I am told) winter sports resort of Krasnaja Poljana.




The tent pitched and the road dirt washed away in the river I get to know this fellow:


I crawl his ears, give him a can of fish I mistakenly bought and we are the best of friends. It is really strange but he too wants to know the entire story of my travels.
I christen my new friend "Sergej" - don't ask me why. Having a dog at my side reminds me sadly of my trusty friend "Socke" who died in May. Call me nuts but I am really happy that Sergej is there to listen to my beer induced babbling. Before I retire I tell him that he can stick around my tent for the night keeping watch. He looks at me understandingly and this is how I find him the next morning:

(the green thing in the foreground is my tent)


155km



There's more to come.
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Old 09-24-2007, 03:27 AM   #51
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We want more.........and fast...........
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Old 09-24-2007, 06:12 AM   #52
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Old 09-24-2007, 02:45 PM   #53
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Day 17

First of all I want to thank you all for your kind replies to this thread thus far- it's really nice to read some feedback.



Leaving Russia.

This is going to be one slow day, I think to myself when I get up. I have a really nice extensive breakfast with Sergej and make plans for the day. Either I'll stick around for another day in the mountains or I'll leave Russia by ferry - it all depends on a phone call.
I enter the public world in search of a phone box. Well, there's none to be found - I ask a mountaineer if he knows whether there is a public phone somewhere close. He looks at me as if I am from another planet and hands me his mobile. Just so. And he won't take money.
The friendliness of the people is just unbelievable.

Have you ever tried to make a phone call in a foreign language ? Even in English that is difficult for me - not to speak of Russian...

I find out, though, that there is a ferry to Trabzon that day at 5 p.m. Still plenty of time.
I want to stay for another couple of hours just not to leave Sergej for a while. But the clever dog that he obviously is has already found someone else who pets/feeds him.
I am relieved to see that he gets by and pack my stuff.

The touristic infrastructure is quite well developed (apart from public phones, of course )


Camp before leaving:



Back in Sochi I withdraw some money, get a ticket for the ferry, buy some souvenirs (Russian Vodka and a Matrjoshka (puppetinapuppetinapuppetinyougetthepicture)), get to know Aleksander from Poland and go swimming.


Aleksander is basically doing the same trip. Once around the Black Sea. "Well", I think "if I can accomplish such an adventure others may just as well" Only he is doing the same distance on a bicycle!!
Talk about a humbling experience - all I do all day is rely on engineering. He is really doing the trip out of his own power. Positively Impressive!!
For those of you who can read Polish - here is his page with the trip diary:
www.boloperez.republika.pl

The ship is registered in Phnom Phenh for whatever reasons. I don't really know if that's a good or a bad sign. All I understand is that, until a couple of years ago, there used to be three ferries on that specific route, now there are only two








Once on the ship I meet this bunch of people:


We spend the Evening talking and it turns out that they are form Iran. No terroristic intentions whatsoever.
They are simply a little frustrated because they had to spend the last two days on the ship - the Russian officials just wouldn't let them leave the vessel and enter the country... All they wanted to do is explore the world's deepest natural cave somewhere in the mountains (I forgot where).
It really seems that objectivity and humanity is not the strongest point of the Russian customs officers. I on the other hand, having a German passport, did not once have major problems when entering or leaving a country. Not even unshaven as I was

The ferry doesn't leave before it's dark so there is plenty of time to take some pictures.


Yes, I do have a tripod...safely attached to the bike in the belly of the ship




At around midnight the sonorous drone of the engines gets the better of me and I go to bed, erm no, to chair. I booked the cheapest passage and now I'll have to live with the consequences a Pullman-chair has for my health.

GOOD BYE RUSSIA - I WILL BE BACK SOME DAY.


72km

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Old 09-24-2007, 03:43 PM   #54
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Great story! I'm glad the dog found a new friend. I pictured you trying to ride the countryside with a dog on a GS.
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Old 09-25-2007, 06:40 AM   #55
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Great trip, and who said Germans dont have a sense of humor! Your certainly proving them wrong.
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Old 09-28-2007, 04:36 AM   #56
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Day 18

ASIA ahoi!



Well I don't really know on which continent I was for the last couple of days but what I see in front of the ship after I got up is definitely Asia proper. Well, "Asia Minor" but what the heck...


The ship arrives in Trabzon/Turkey at around 9:30 a.m. This is going to be my first time in a non-christian country and I have absolutely no idea what is going to expect me.




The border formalities take fairly long (around two hours) - I wouldn't have thought that...Insurance check, bike import stamp, customs, finding the way out of the port...

I try to find Aleksander but he, having only a bicycle, was faster with the formalities and has disappeared somewhere in the big city of Trabzon.

The first thing I do in a "new" country is find a money machine and get some local money. ATMs and "plastic money" are such a fantastic invention for travellers.
Then I leave Trabzon straight south in order to go to the mountains and see an the ancient monastery of Sumela. The landscape is fantastic, the architecture breathtaking.






I don't know - it probably is plasphemy - but I had to take this picture. It reminded me of the greeting of the infamous Kaneman.
Just made me lol.


As I said, some beautyful landscape:




Only ca. 100kms away from the coast the mountains are as high as 3000m.


Originally, I wanted to ride a little further east. Up to Mt.Ararat. It is the highest in Turkey and its supposed to be the place where Noahs Arch stranded...
That plan was cancelled as soon as I bought a road map of Turkey - it would have been another 1000kms one way. Well, maybe next time (when I visit my Iranian friends from the ferry it would be right en route...)
So, having Ararat out of the way I decide to turn right into this nice valley and head back to the Black Sea or Kara Deniz as the say here.


On the way I get stopped twice by the traffic police (with machine guns, mind you). I ask what's wrong and they say mystically "Terrrrorrrrrism". The are smiling though and wave me by. whow, I had never seen a real machine gun before - scary.

From now on the main direction will be West. Home. Well, it's another couple of thousand kms, though.
First, I need fuel. My Russian reserves are used up so I pull into a petrol station in a rather remote mountain village...Well, their gas tank is empty, too.
No problem, I was thinking safe and have a bit of petrol left. Some thirty kms down the road I finally find a station that hasn't run out of petrol...
Why did I think the adventure would stop in Turkey? Hey, I'm really enjoying the hell out of it after only one day.

Back at the Sea I want to go shopping in a small town and obviously look a little lost. (my Turkish language skills are not AROUND zero, they ARE zero - it is a shame even now I can't say "Thank you" in Turkish - and this word is sooo important, especially when traveling.)
Suddenly a man jumps at me and asks in perfect German if he can help me. We go shopping and in the supermarket I only tell him what I need and he gets it for me. So friendly!
Te?ekkürler! (I just looked that up on the internet )

A couple of kms back on the road I make camp on the beach. The thousand star hotel will be just good enough fo me tonight.




Quote from the diary: "A very friendly first day in Asia."

235kms

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Old 09-28-2007, 07:10 AM   #57
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Keep rollin Tobey!!! My brother and his wife were in Turkey in June, they said it was very expen$ive but they enjoyed it.

I am assuming your "problem" cleared up with the antibiotics by then?
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Old 09-28-2007, 07:35 AM   #58
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Excellent report, keep it coming!
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Old 09-28-2007, 08:23 AM   #59
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Great ride report toby. Nice pictures and great commentary. Looking forward to the trip west. Thanks for posting.

Doug
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Old 09-28-2007, 09:28 AM   #60
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Fantastische Reise!! Danke für die Aufmunterung an diesem total veregneten Herbsttag! Der nächste Sommer inkl. Tour kommt bestimmt!

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