After a splendid week in Cappadocia, we arrived in Kayseri in the dark after a day of cycling against heavy headwinds. We couldn’t sense yet that Kayseri would become such an important base for us! Well, we couldn’t sense that we would meet such amazingly helpful and great people there.
Hale, a young Turkish student we contacted through Couchsurfing, couldn’t host us herself, but “transferred” us to her friends Esma and Meryem. Those two sweet souls and their super sweet cat “Mutlu” became close friends till now and their place our home in Kayseri!
Still, we were in the city to find a solution regarding the Iranian visa. After Ankara failed and we were not sure how easy the visa could be obtained in Erzurum, we decided to play it safe and head to Trabzon at the Black Sea Coast, where the “safest” Iranian consulate in Turkey is located. As the distance was huge, time pressing and the mountains in between majestic, we decided to leave our bikes in Kayseri and go back to what we always loved: packing the backpacks and raise the thumb! And oh how great it was! We never waited much more than 5 minutes for a ride and the track through the eastern Black sea mountains was just amazing! We hitchhiked tractors, trucks, got invited for food and tea and in one day we made it all the way to Trabzon.
We enjoyed the pleasantly mild temperatures at the Black Sea and Trabzon’s lively energy. But – like almost always – what made this journey not good but great, were the people we met. From the drivers that took us, over the Couchsurfers hosting us, to those great, adventurous travelers we met at the Iranian Consulate! We hope to see as many as possible again somewhere in Iran!
After we successfully finished the visa business and each of us had 30 days of Iran stamped into the passport, we took a detour to Erzurum back on our way to Kayseri, when a friendly Iranian couple (Mohamad + Nasrin) invited us over through Couchsurfing. As warm as the stay with them was, as cold the days ouside got. The sun sets at around four and night temperatures are reaching down to -10°C already in eastern Turkey. As if that wasn’t enough, hitchhiking towards Kayseri, everything was white of snow in the mountains between Erzurum, Erzincan and Sivas!
One things was definite now: No more cycling eastwards in Turkey! As we we afraid to encounter similarly difficult conditions in north and central Iran the longer we wait, we decided to speed our arrival up and go for what might be Ben’s favorite train connection: The Trans-Asia-Express. The 5th of November 2014 will be our departure date. It has been assured, that our bikes fit into the luggage car and for not even 40€ per person we will enjoy an amazing train ride all the way to Tehran, where we should arrive on Friday evening.
As tough it is to say “Hosca Kal” to Turkey after all those amazing days in this awesome country, we are immensely looking forward to say: “Salam Iran!”