We decided to venture to Trabzon in an attempt to secure an Iranian visa. We left the bikes and junk in Erzurum and got another bus. The bus company owners fought over our custom each claiming they were giving us “special price”. 300 odd km, 5 hours over a sizeable mountain range, all for 20TL (~£7.60). It was quite entertaining to watch the bus drivers from rival companies race each other along the way. We arrived late in the evening and found somewhere to sleep.
The next morning we were up early and at the consulate soon after it opened. The security guard gave us a quick pat down, and then let us in. We were asked to leave our bags outside. The officer took our passports from us then disappeared for a bit before returning with someone else. The new guy looked down at my passport then at me and asked if I was Irish. ‘No, British’. ‘OK, then you can’t have a visa you need a code, but you *points to Matze* can. Would you still like one?’ Great. Of course, Matze proceeds and I am left looking at the map wondering what the hell to do next…
Why the Trabzon consulate issues visas (to Germans), but the Erzurum one doesn’t is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it has something to do with the history of Trabzon. According to Wikipedia ‘Trabzon, located on the historical Silk Road, became a melting pot of religions, languages and cultures for centuries… Being open towards other cultures and religions plays a significant role in the lifestyle of Trabzonites..’ Erzurum, I am informed, is the most conservative city is Turkey. Who knows?
We have used the previous week particularly unintelligently. There is plenty enough to visit around here. Why I didn’t decide to cycle to Cappadocia then bus it here from there, or something, I do not know. Part of the reason I wanted to cycle was to witness the flora and fauna and the landscape slowly change around me. Busing it soon killed that idea dead. Get on a bus one night, wham! wake up in a bunch of mountains 2000metres higher the next. What happened to all that stuff in between? Plenty o’ time to visit Turkey again in the future I guess.
I emailed Iranianvisa.com in the hope they could hurry things up a bit. We killed some time playing chess and took a dip in the Black Sea. Must have easily been 23C+. Unfortunately fishermen had taken over the harbour front so no opportunity for flips. This tiny rock provided the only opportunity for a dive. *Wıll add photo later, but ıt’s not worth the waıt*
Matze picked up his visa and we had a few beers to celebrate this achievement. We decided to hitchhike back to Erzurum, partly to save money, partly to mix things up a bit. The first people to pick us up (2 guys early thirties) dropped us about 5km down the road. 1 hour or waiting for another lift in the last light but mostly in the dark and we decided to call it a day and find somewhere to kip. We found another building site and climbed to the top floor. Surprisingly I got a really good night’s sleep, the call to prayer at 0400 broadcast across the city over loudspeakers being the only thing that interrupted it.
The next morning after about 30minutes wait we got a lift with a taxi driver. We double checked he wasn’t asking for money (!) and then he drove us about 70 km or so, techno cranking on his stereo. He dropped us off in the perfect spot to get our next lift back to Erzurum. Another half hour later or so we got another lift with a school teacher heading all the 200+km back to Erzurum. Bingo. Traditional Turkish music provided the soundtrack to this part of the journey. He even bought us lunch which we ate on top of a mountain. It was good to see bits of Turkey (the Black Sea coastal road, the mountains) that I hadn’t yet seen and thus fill in some of the gap. I saw loads of cay growing up and down the hills, and near shanty style villages right up on the mountain tops which must be an experience living in in the winter. Patches of snow still remained on the peaks.
I checked my mails in the evening and sat in my inbox was a reply from Iranianvisa.com from Wednesday night… Dear Telan (yes, with an ‘e’),your application for an Iranian visa has been…..successful! Your authorisation code will be with the consulate in 1-3 days. At long bloody last!