Trabzon and the Eastern Black Sea Coast

From Samsun, we would be riding along the flat coastal D010 highway for the rest of our ride through Turkey. We were very relieved to not be climbing for a while but in exchange for the easy riding we were treated to some pretty terrible scenery. The D010 is a busy multilane highway that has basically ruined the Black Sea coastline for all but a few towns where the highway deviates away from the coast. For the most part, the shoulder is wide and the cycling is easy. Crossing some of the larger towns the shoulder disappeared which was a little bit scary, but we just moved through them as quickly as possible and had no problems. Our super cool safety vests seem to be doing the trick!  Emilie along the D010 highway

Where we did not feel safe at all, were the multiple tunnels along the highway between Samsun and Trabzon. The tunnels have no shoulder, are often dark, and are lined with storm drains that are parallel to the road. This meant that every few dozen metres we'd have to swing out into the traffic to avoid getting a tire stuck in the storm drain. The traffic did not slow down at all, in fact it seemed like everyone sped up. Every tunnel was a huge stress. So when we read that there was a 4km long tunnel along the route we decided to avoid it by taking the longer and hillier coastal road. We rode an extra 20km and climbed a few extra hundred metres but the coastal road was scenic and virtually traffic-free. We even stumbled upon a local tourist attraction, the Jason Church, a 150 year-old Greek Orthodox Church that sits isolated on the edge of the Black Sea at Cape Jason.
Following the coast between Bolaman and Perşembe
 Jason Church

Unlike our route through inland Turkey, we had not trouble finding accommodation. We stayed in budget hotels or pansiyons every night. Our unpacking and packing routine is now pretty much perfected and Yann has gotten used to lugging our bikes up and down flights of stairs. Our nicest accommodation was in the small town of Tirebolu , not for the quality of the facilities (pretty sure there was dead mouse stinking up the kitchen) but for its location directly across from a great beach. From the top of a cable car ride in Ordu

The towns where we stayed for the night (Ünye, Ordu and Tirebolu) were fairly unremarkable, but Ordu was bustling and friendly and had a nice new cable car that we rode to get views of the city. Tirebolu was a pleasant stop because the highway follows a 2km tunnel through the mountain right before the town, leaving its beach and downtown relatively unspoiled (as an added bonus we got to avoid another long tunnel). Early morning departure from the luxurious Ordu Palace hotel

Our arrival into Trabzon was a little bit hectic and we got lost navigating back streets, trying to avoid the heavy highway traffic that runs through the busy city. I was pretty anxious, and I was mad (unjustifiably) at Yann for taking us through steep, cobblestone side streets right after Friday afternoon prayers when the streets were packed with pedestrians. We arrived at Atatürk Square (the centre of Trabzon), frazzled and grumpy but were greeted by Mike and Heather, a pair of Australian cyclists who led us directly to the hotel from where they had just checked out. With no work at all we had a great, cheap room and a place to store our bicycles! We opted for 3 whole rest days in Trabzon (our longest rest yet), not because we were particularly tired, but because we thought we could slow down a little bit. Trabzon's star attraction is the 4th century Sumela Monastery, 45km away and 1200m up from the city (no we did not cycle there despite Yann's wishes). We visited on a Saturday, which was kind of silly seeing as we were in Trabzon for three days. It was extremely busy, but that didn't detract too much from it's impressiveness.
Entering Sumela Monastery

Frescoes inside the Rock Chapel of Sumela Monastery

Other than the monastery, Trabzon has it's own Aya Sofya church, which we visited in about an hour, and not much else. So we don't feel too bad about hanging around relaxing and not doing much but enjoy our last few days of Turkish food before heading into Georgia.
Trabzon's Aya Sofya

Stats for Samsun to Trabzon

Days of cycling: 4
Days of rest: 1
Kilometres cycled: 354
Metres climbed: 1492
Cycle-tourists crossed on the road: 2

Partially sponsored by Mountain Equipment Coop  Expedition Support


Marie said...

I like the frescoes and the tulip ice cream and the anxious Emilie the most in this post

Marie said...

also you're getting too skinny for your ring.