06.06.2017 - 06.06.2017
Day 13 Tuesday June 6 2017
Safranbolu to Sinop / 349 km
- Predictably we are awoken by the Mullah at 4 a.m. calling us to prayer. Nothing is further from our thoughts. We suspect that it is a recording that is carefully reset everyday to coincide with the sun's movements. SG feels that if the whole town must be woken to prayer at dawn, then at least it should be done by a Mullah who is also making an effort.
- AG managed to fix the fridge. New fuse or something like that. So we are back in business and have restocked the picnic supplies.
- Today's route has been a subject of dispute for a while. Back in 2014 we barely arrived at the Black Sea Coast when we had to change plans, rush to Ankara and hospitalise AG for 5 days. The section from Amasra to Sinop is meant to be very picturesque. AG is not that keen. The compromise reached is to drive from Safranbolu via Kastemonou to Inebolu and then along the coast to Sinop, tonight's destination.
- It is overcast and a cool 18C. This is unexpected in Turkey in June but it makes for comfortable travelling.
- So we leave Safranbolu and Gulevi Otel for the second time. It has been a relaxing stay and we would recommend to anyone passing through this part of Turkey. Don't be put off by new Safranbolu which is modern and really quite grim. Old Safranbolu nestles down in the next valley well out of sight. Choose only to stay there. Several former Ottoman Mansions have been converted into Butik Otels. And as yesterday's photographs reveal, there are many more historical houses awaiting renovation.
- At Gulevi we are delighted to meet with Hassan again. He was the very kind Manager who helped us beyond the call of duty when we lasted visited in 2014. Hassan takes a photo of our truck whilst we are parked up and sends an Instagram to his friends around Turkey. One of his contacts replies to say he had already spotted us the previous day in Luleburgaz. He had been struck by the size of our truck, that it was UK registered and that it had left hand drive.
- We were indeed in Lukeburgaz the previous day having just left the Vineyard Hotel. It's a small world and social media makes it even smaller.
- Kastemonou is a university town with old Ottoman houses in back streets but also grand administrative buildings of the Ataturk era. A short distance NW of the town is a little farming village called Kasaba where there is a mosque dating from 1366. It is renowned as a fine example of a wooden mosque. And indeed it is. The village is obviously preparing itself to become a tourist destination - new road, public toilets, ticket office & souvenir stalls. But for now it isn't and we are alone.
- The woodwork within the mosque has been fitted without a single nail. And it's lasted all these centuries.
- Then onward to Inebolu and the beginning of the Black Sea section of our trip. It is thought that the Black Sea name was a euphemism replacing an earlier reference which translated as "Inhospitable Sea". Before Greek colonisation and the knowledge they brought with them, the sea was difficult to navigate and its shores inhabited by hostile tribes.
- 6 countries share the Black Sea - Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Russia & Ukraine. On our London to Sydney trip we stayed overnight in the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Sozopol and also a brief night in quaint little Amasra, several 100 kms west of Sinop. It is obvious that coastal scenery varies immensely. The section we are now driving is definitely not (yet) a holiday destination. The coastline is rugged, forested, the road narrow and windy and the small communities dotted along are neither pretty nor wealthy. We search out a place to pull over and eat our picnic lunch. At this point the sea is a gorgeous turquoise colour and certainly not black.
- But after lunch things go downhill. The clouds descend obliterating the coastline in the distance and the road becomes a construction site for miles at a stretch. Infrastructure is being financed on a large scale but it makes for very slow progress on what is already a long driving day. Cockpit chat is minimal. All this compounds SG's discomfort - remember AG never wanted to drive this route in the first place.
- SG had wanted to detour a further 20 km to Ince Burun, the most northerly point of Turkey where there is a lighthouse, and perhaps, good views. But with poor visibility and a very tired driver there seems no point.
- Our arrival in Sinop is no less disappointing. A coastal town of average architectural style, in grey damp weather & out of season. Our hotel is on the seafront, thankfully in a quiet part of town. It really is the best around. Nearby buildings are either half constructed or half demolished. It is difficult to judge.
- At supper in the hotel's glass fronted restaurant overlooking the sea, the Ramadan ritual repeats itself. A large group of friends, business associates and/or relatives assemble about 30 minutes or so before the Mullah gives the signal to eat. So there is half an hour of chatting and communal restraint to the culinary temptations that are being laid on the table before them. A large TV screen prominently positioned in the restaurant announces the end of today's fast. Everyone stops talking and starts to eat. At this time of year fasting Muslims will have gone 14 hours without food or water.
- On the positive side, we are however allocated a room with sea view. We hope the hotel is well out of earshot of the nearest mosque. We may be able to sleep with the windows open and to the sound of waves. Now that would be nice!