When we arrived in Erzincan, we were a bit puzzled. The city has countless hotels, all of them in the main street. None of them has parking space. So… who uses them? Locals? If you know “The Secret of Erzincan”, please drop us a line. Anyway, after a while we found this gem of a budget hotel in the outskirts. It looks a bit more glamorous than it is, but has everything you need. You meaning we, in this case.
The next morning we hit the road again. We had called for sun and Turkey delivered. 10 degrees, clear skies and no wind – perfect riding weather. Erzincan is surrounded with white 3000 meter peaks. We left them eastwards and quickly found ourselves in a brown, Mars-like landscape. Impressive. The day before our minds were constantly switching between "This is great!" and "What on earth are we doing here?!", because it was so cold. This day it was excitement only. We wanted to stop for a photo after almost every bend.
The green and red and brown were there again and the road was perfect. Turkey must have put a lot of money in all these streets. Sometimes they feel weirdly oversized: four-lane highways that could easily fit seven lanes, but hardly any traffic.
We stopped in Erzurum for lunch. If you should ever get there and happen to be hungry, Hatay Uslür is the place. Chef Haydar is not only a nice guy and a good cook, but also interested in motorcycles.
We quickly continued our journey. The rock formations along the way were impressive. Some people even saw Darth Vader along the way. Some still don’t.
After Göle the landscape changed. The road led up to a green plateau about with blue rivers. Snow topped mountains made a beautiful background.
Getting back to about 2000 meters over sea level meant the temperatures dropped significantly again. This time to zero degrees at one point. But the absence of heavy wind made it bearable.
We stopped for the night in a town called Ardahan. We'd been there a year ago and had found it dark, ugly and aggressive. People were fighting on the streets and it did not seem like a place to stay. While it did not become much prettier in a year’s time, the atmosphere had changed. People gave us directions without our asking. And when the traffic police stopped they did not control us but started to negotiate for us with hotel owners.
The next day we invested the Turkish Lira we had left in fuel and snacks and headed for the border.
The scenery was otherworldly once again. The temperature gave us a new all-time riding low at minus 1, but by now we were used to it. We even had some tiny snowflakes coming our way. Beautiful.
Deeply impressed by eastern Turkey’s majestic landscapes we passed Kenarbel and arrived at the border to Georgia. But that’s a different story.