'How far is Trabzon?' The cafe owner smiles back at me and raises three fingers, .. 'tallata, tallata'. His gold toothed friend shakes his head in disagreement, .... 'ithnane, ithnane', he makes the sound of a motorcycle indicating that we'll be faster than his old Renault 12 car and that we'll actually make it in two. Everybody in the Cafe has an opinion but the general consensus seems to be 3 hours for us to ride to the port of Trabzon in order catch our ferry to Sochi in Russia. Our European map finishes here in Amasra and the Russian map only covers the north side of the Black Sea heading east, .... but we know where we need to go.
Through necessity we've had two nights of rough camping without tents and using only our bivi bags for protection. We experienced the most amazing thunder and lightening storm to date and spent a sleepless night watching the town of Zonguldak disappear in an amazing flood as we sheltered beneath the makeshift shelter of a cafes awning, .... it wasn't comfortable but it's certainly something to remember. At 3am, once the rain had finished, the Cafe owner appeared with cups of hot coffee for us, ... that's Turkey for you.
For the past two days we've been heading east as quickly as possible along roads that aren't designed for fast riding. The coastline here is almost as beautiful as the Adriatic Coast in Croatia but the roads are to say the very best, 'variable'. Our lack of language skills has eventually returned to haunt us as the '3 hours' indicated at the cafe for our journey from Amasra to Trabzon, ... was actually '3 days'.
At around 8am this morning just east of Samsun and with already 100 miles under our belts, we were waved to the side of the road by a group of rather irate looking traffic officers. Their radar had recorded our speed in excess of 120kph in a 70kph limit. We removed our helmets and hunted for original documents while the police officers tapped nervously on their gun belts and indicated on a small piece of paper that the fines would be in the region of 400YTL (200 Euro Each). They spoke no English and apart form 'Hello', we spoke no Turkish, .... perfect. Within minutes, we'd handed them a copy of 'The Riders Digest' magazine (which we signed for them of course), posed for pictures with the officers in front of their car and handed out three shiny new Poor Circulation badges. At some point it may have been suggested that we were journalists working for the BBC, by the police officers not us, ..... but who were we to disagree. We eventually left them with a wave and a promise to slow down the riding and to return again next year, ..... fantastic.
Alan is suffering from some sort of stomach bug and we've stopped short of Trabzon and taken refuge in a small backpackers hotel for the night. I've managed to find some free wireless Internet and I'm making the most of it. Tomorrow all being well we'll sail from Trabzon to Sochi in Russia, around 12 hours, ....... but that assumes that Trabzon is actually located where we now think it is.