We’ve spent three weeks since leaving Istanbul following the Black Sea coastline. Yesterday we completed the very hilly northern stretch, arriving in the peninsular town of Sinop. It’s a charming place with some of the friendliest people we’ve met in Turkey so far. Already we’ve been fed lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch again, taken clubbing, given baklava to take away with us, and lent a fishing boat to sleep on. To round things off, today’s weather has been gorgeously sunny and even warm enough to spend the day exploring in only a T-shirt.
I also indulged in a new pair of trousers to replace the ones I bought in Liege, Belgium, when I thought I was headed for hot sandy places. They haven’t been washed since Istanbul either (as have any of my clothes), so it’s high time I replaced them for something more suited to the climate.
Speaking of the climate, we’ve endured some very wintry and unstable weather conditions in recent weeks. I woke up one morning in a bus shelter to find myself surrounded by a not-very-warm blanket of white, fluffy snow. My boots were also full of the stuff, as I’d foolishly left them too close to the edge of the bus shelter. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep I’ve ever had, but it definitely wasn’t the worst.
We’ve also had some very sunny but very cold days. On these occasions it’s been difficult to manage body heat and sweat effectively. I’m looking forward to finding some more appropriate clothing in Trabzon, which we’re aiming to reach in two or three weeks’ time.
And no Black Sea coast ride in December would be complete without bags of rain. One day we cycled through driving torrents for about an hour, and spent the remainder of the day trying to dry all our kit by a soba (stove) in a small village tea shop. The next time it belted it down with such unending ferocity, we decided not to bother cycling at all, and instead sat around under the awning of a disused seaside snack-bar, keeping a fire burning and generally being fairly bored and frustrated.
An 80-year-old man we met on the harbour earlier today expressed his thoughts – in very good English – about the changing weather trends in this part of the country. Twenty-five years ago, he said, there would be snow every winter – snow on the hills, on the coast, and out to sea. Today, however, it doesn’t really snow in the winter in Sinop, except occasionally on the higher ground. Things have shifted – the climate has got warmer in recent years. He also commented – and I’m inclined to agree – that the weather forecast on TV will be right half the time, but if you really want to know what’s going on with the weather, ask a fisherman!