Cycling East part 12 – The Black Sea coast in central Turkey

The view along Turkey’s Black Sea coast to Amasra was simply fantastic, the sun setting silhouetted the rugged coastline and the blocks of flats.

We weren’t the first to admire the view, with picnic shelters built next to some food and souvenir stalls. There were also quite a few potential gypsies randomly wandering the road looking for something. Amazing scenery was something we would be seeing a lot of along this stretch of coast!

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The descent down the other side away from Amasra was also breathtaking, we had ridden well over 100km and were shattered when we spotted the large limestone escarpments and tall mountains rising behind the forested coastline, all illuminated by the orange rays of dusk. It was a pretty magical sight for tired cyclists!

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We had avoided Amasra town partly due to the huge hill down and back up, but also after being tipped off about a campsite in a nice bay 5km north. The village of Cakraz turned out to be nothing special with lots of cheap apartment blocks and hotels for the few Turkish holiday makers. Yet again, we were the only foreigners in town or so it seemed and we attracted a fair bit of staring. The campsite itself was busy but just disgusting, the entrance was flanked by five feet piles of rubbish, the owner promised hot showers, in reality they had no water at all. I showered outside under a last trickle of water while talking about football teams to a Turkish guy. The toilets absolutely stank as you might expect with no water, it makes you massively regret not just wild camping on the beach.. On a positive note we camped next to two friendly old men busy drinking tea and playing backgammon at the speed of light!
Marion had a chat to them about tea and the amazing Turkish tea stoves, while I used the WIFI, yes they had fast internet but no water!
The water was back on at 9pm and I had a delightful shower that involved using a hose pipe in the squat toilet cubicle, it did bizarrely enough have hot water though, which is why we parted with our money!

That night a big storm broke with thunder and heavy rain. In the morning the sea had been whipped up like swirling meringues with huge waves crashing the shore.

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Sadly despite the storm the sweltering humidity was still epicly high and unpleasant. We road about 10km up a huge hill then down to another far nicer campsite with a private bay called Akkonakk.

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It had friendly owners and a great grassy garden overlooking the jagged cliffs and raging sea. We slept and relaxed for the day, being offered cups of tea and snacks, it was the first time off since Istanbul. In the evening a Turkish couple from Ankara turned up, he was on a mountain bike with lots of kit, she had a motor bike! Marion started getting ideas about this way of travelling! The spoke enough English to have an interesting chat. They told us about a couple of amazing tourist sites we should visit next time, one was Capppadocia, an old Christian city carved down into the rock to be hidden, it reminded me of Utah and sure enough like Utah he said the rock made for some outstanding mountain biking down canyons and under man made arches and tunnels!

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The next day I awoke with a sore throat and cold, as is often the way after you relax, this is why I don’t like not riding my bike!
Despite this sluggish start we were now on the most scenic section of Turkey yet, the road climbed up steeply from our camp spot at sea level to join the old main road, we decided to follow this given the height gained and how quiet it was.
We then reached a road block of huge piles of dirt, the GPS didn’t help as the new road was not updated on it so we turned up a little road headed inland that would surely cross the new road, but it didn’t cross the new road, we were totally confused. Then a cow herder passed by with his cows who kindly pointed out a new tunnel burrowing underneath us! He also very luckily signed to us that the blocked off old road now ended in a cliff and no exit, he laughed and carried on into the woods!! We just had to retrace our steps a fair way back which was rubbish!

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The detour back meant our paths crossed with two unusual cycle tourers, the first two long distance tourers we had met nf the trip. We had met two Romanian’s and the Turkish guy on holiday but no one else, which probably demonstrated how random our route had been across Europe!
These guys had been riding around Europe very slowly for three years! They had been trying to do it sustainably eating cheap local food and making things to sell. They had a garden in there baskets and a huge dog with its own trailer too!

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After stopping to chat for over an hour we were in the sun to climb yet another hill. The headlands rise about 100m here and were pretty frequent. We had been inspired to forage more and what a day to do it. The fruit in the hedgerows had become like a supermarket sweep of organic ripe fruit. Figs were the most frequent, so ripe and juicy the tasted like honey. Talking about honey we found an abandoned beehive in a layby, complete with honey comb and too many bees to let me risk it!

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We stopped for snacks in a small store in one of the coves, each bay had at least one mini market selling the standard ice creams and other essentials. The old guy here took pity on us and went next door to his nut room and produced a big bag of hazelnuts for us. There had been nuts everywhere, drying on roofs, driveways and in the fields, up until now we hadn’t been offered any which was most unturkish!

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At lunch we ate bread with a can of beans in sauce. We discovered these cans in the shops, various beans and aubergine dishes were a bit pricey but ideal for sandwiches. We ate in an interesting town behind a large harbour war, it was alive with traditional wooden ship builders busy crafting these sculptures. As always we got a few funny looks sitting on a pile of planks eating figs, nuts and bean sandwiches.

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That afternoon we continued going up and down progressively bigger hills. The sun was beating down in temperatures of around 37°, the road was being resurfaced in places but the old surface was so hot it was melting in large stretches, further slowing us down to a crawl. The scenery was fantastic though: coastal vistas and forested mountains, actually making the effort seem well worth it!

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We rolled into Cide on the hope of a shower and campsite. It’s a nice enough town with a dramatic mountain backdrop, but no campsite.

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The few locals all pointed us to the glamorous stretch of beach outside the petrol station

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A white cubicle even promised showers but inside the reality was far worse. Using the petrol station facilities we had a surprisingly enjoyable night. For safety we camped between two other tents.

Our friendly neighbours came over with tea and offered us their tent to sleep in, as they had a van too! We kindly declined, the other neighbours were a friendly family too, a Arabic teacher and his kids and parents. They then disappeared into town and two guys came over, they offered us their tent as ours was apparently far too small!

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We soon learnt that almost any beach is a safe camping spot in Turkey making our lives easier and resulting in many idyllic evening swims before dinner.

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From Cide the road remarkably managed to get even hotter and hillier. The hills were now up to 300m and became as frequent as every 6km. On one headland 15km from Cide we spotted the most idyllic beach flanked by a huge rock arch and sea stacks but mostly hidden below the forested cliffs. A dirt track headed down and down, to the stunning and totally deserted beach, so we took the detour.

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Marion jumped in for a swim, but I had a huge open gouge in my shin from my chain ring so I sat and relaxed in this rare empty non littered black sea paradise, instead of risking Black sea infections!

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We pushed the bikes back up but we would have loved to camp there if it was later in the day and we had some food. In another one of the now generic but quaint little villages we stopped for our lunch of more white bread with boiled eggs and tomatoes. The process of boiling eggs on our MSR stove kept three boys enthralled, they also admired my Kinesis Tripster bike! The highlight for them was when they discovered they could climb the wall that the bikes leant on and jump over them, after about five times the novelty wore off. We headed off up yet another hill with a good view:

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We saw our first wild tortoise of the trip that afternoon too, it was slowly crossing the road so I picked it up and helped save its live, it seemed pretty pissed off that I helped though to be honest.
We struggled to find a pleasant beach to camp on along this section so found a random B&B above a tea room by a small harbour and beach in Iiyasbey. That maybe makes it sound idyllic which it wasn’t.  It was 40tl and the building was only recently built by drunks, the doors were too low for Marion and the walls plus stairs, were at a variety of angles. It did look over the sea beautifully and had a bucket based shower next to a hideously dirty and unpleasant squat toilet! The other guests or residents were middle aged men who stared a lot. We passed 4000km too according to Marion’s records!
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In the morning we picked up a delicious white loaf straight from the bakers oven and smeared it in fake Nutella for breakfast before riding to Doganyurt.
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The dog and yoghurt as we called it, was a smaller place than expected and far less interesting, the highlight being a chat in English with the public toilet attendant, we heard all about his travels. The lowlight was being told I could only eat Baclava at one particular table inside a cafe, so I left bemused and Baclava-less. The Dog&Yoghurt would be a good pub name we decided, though not a great menu item.
This coast line just keeps working us while offering unparalleled scenery, our daily mileage has dropped to about 60km for the past few days, but so glad we persevered with this stretch.
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We stopped for lamb Kofte and ice cream in the village of Ozluce. My cold was still stinking so I sat in the shade while Marion swam, a fat Turkish man wandered over and welcomed me, which is the standard occurrence here. This chap was the captain of container shops so spoke good English, he seemed annoyed to be working on ships just the black sea now though after various exotic routes!

Next up Inebolu was a very typical feeling Turkish town, the busy streets were filled with shoe shiners, fruit stands, kebap and pide shops, pastries or pasta salons as the Turkish call it with selections of baclava dripping in honey displayed in the windows, shops selling sweets like Turkish delight alongside dried nuts and fruit and the ever ever present mini market.

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There was the butchers with dead animals hanging in the window, the bakers with a selection of different shaped white bread, a fish shop selling a few sad looking small fish, the Black sea being long since passed its fishing prime, an occasional cafe sells coffee : Nescafe or Turkish along with ice cream and the shortcake like biscuits of various sizes, shapes and toppings. There is also the ever present tea shops where the old men sit siping tea, playing cards, backgammon or reading the tabloids. We always cause much interest as we pass by, let alone when we stop in for a glass of tea.

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In the centre was a standard white mosque with its minaret not especially high. While Marion picked some fruit I chatted to a Turkish chap who had moved to Germany, like many others. He told us to camp 30km away at Abana, so we left the town and headed for the beach at Abana.

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After Inebolu the road hugged the shoreline and as a result it had fewer massive hills, which was a massive relief! When we arrived in Abana we couldn’t find a camp spot so Marion asked the local police. As a result we were given a police escort behind a van with flashing lights 3km up the road, given how crazy the roads are you’d think they had better things to do. It was a really pleasant campsite just east of town with hot showers, tea on tap and five small puppies!

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After a good sleep we had a ridiculously late start, its tough when we both have head colds to get up early, but the heat is so intense from 11am to 3.30pm.
We tried to make the best of a late start and make progress to Sinop. We climbed three or four big headlands before detouring inland for a 20km section of road. The GPS showed a smallee road hugged the coast a bit more but it had some epic climbs and we suspect it turned to gravel. There were less hills as we followed a valley, lots of interesting villages and a good view of the bigger mountains. Then on the final descent towards the sea a spoke snapped in my front wheel for the first time in my life! No idea why but I limped to the coast with a wobbly wheel. The coastal town was OK but we weren’t feeling the camping spots. So we turned to the police again, this time the policeman found his girlfriend who google translated on her phone that we could camp 1km back west on the small coastal road, like all Turkish directions 1km was more like 4km and on gravel, but we found a restaurant that let us camp in the garden once the guests had left. This was where we swam:
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He is me fixing the front wheel with the broken spoke:
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We took a leisurely swim then I repaired my wheel with a new spoke and trued it up. The chap asked for whatever we wanted to pay him so I gave 20tl. The next day the hills got smaller again and we finally reached Sinop.

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Not much happened as the road again went inland, we passed a few small villages, stopping for water and snacks in the staring old men tea rooms. Lunch was a fabulous white bread and fake Nutella sandwich from a petrol station!
In Sinop we explored the old defensive stone walls and a few of the sandy beaches. It had some great food shops, we ate fantastic Borek with grape and walnut filling. We also prepared a huge amount of salad with brown rice and yoghurt along with some flat breads and more nutella!
In Sinop there was two campsites we saw, Marti’s is 6km east and looks idyllic with a private sandy beach, we camped just outside the centre on the west side in a less idyllic but more practical location!
We did meet two more cycle tourers who had been doing roughly my route but in reverse so that was interesting. They took 3 months, I plan to take six weeks and go an extra 1000kms!!! Here was Sinop at night from the campsite.
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This was looking up unto the campsite:
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At Sinop we had seen the last of what had been a remarkable few days of cycle touring. The road winding along such dramatic coastline with beaches, cliffs, arches and sea stacks alongside laid back, traditional and non-touristy villages, it really had been an unexpected Turkish Delight!

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