Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summary

I feel great! And still could continue cycling, there are many destinations I could think about (more time in Russia and Ukraine, stay longer in Turkey, go to Georgia, Turkemistan ...) - but I also have other plans and 10 months are a limited time, that's why I decided to go home and change the bike for the backpack and fly to India.
 
If somebody is asking about the amount of kilometers I did, I have to answer I don't know, and I also don't know the average distance a day. But I am sure, people who are interested in such topics can calculate this by themselves.

Let's start with the practical issues, how to prepare for such a trip what to take with, cause afterwards we are all smarter than before:

Preparation:
  • get a bike, a trailer and maybe other stuff mentioned below
  • don't be frightened and always believe in the good of the people
  • just do it - but don't buy Nike products ;-)

What to take with:
  • Bicycle (26 inch) with tires
  • Good trailer, so far I know there are only two good brands at the market (bob and Weber)
  • Good tires (Continental or Schwalbe)
  • One multi tool, 4-5 spokes, oil, tool to remove ring gear, zip ties, Swiss army knife, pump and tubes
  • An easy and light self inflating matres
  • An easy and light sleeping bag
  • An easy and light 2 man, 3 season tent
  • An omnifuel stove
  • One pot
  • Some convenient food
  • 2 ordinary bike bottles
  • Only 1 cycle short and jersey
  • 4 pair of underwear
  • 2 pair of socks
  • 1 wind jacket
  • 1 rain trouser
  • 1 rain jacket
  • something to read 
  • 1 lamp
  • batteries
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • swimming clothes
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 1 Pullover
  • 1 Softshell Jacket
  • 1 Towel
  • sanitary products (but no shaving gel - soap is also good)
  • 1 Cheap Garmin with Open Street Maps
  • Flip Flops
  • Cycling Shoes you could also wear to hike
  • mp3 player
  • 1 backpack
  • if you want a sub notebook - after the NSA spy affair I could only recommend to take one with Linux
Don't do the mistake, I did to take a climbing rope and way too many clothes with you - you will appreciate it during your ride! If you want to climb just take shoes, a harness, 2 carabiners, 1 ATC and a sling with you - NOT More!

For all outdoor stuff I personally recommend Quechua or Vaude most, other brands are by far too expensive, and if you don't want to climb a peak of 7000m you don't need Mammut or Marmot clothes - but I heard, some people just buy it to be trendy, but I don't want to believe that!

But now some words about general issues:
  • I would not book anything in advance. No hotel, no flight no nothing - otherwise you are less flexible. 
  • I did not take any cash with me - I got money with my Visa - there are some banks who offer Visa cards you can use to get worldwide cash without paying any charges.
  • Drink Kwas in Ukraine and Russia (some malt beer - you get it everywhere)
  • Drink Kevir for the proteins (you get it everywhere)
  • Eat Sesame Bars (sesame with honey - 100% energy, and you get it everywhere)
I don't want to say I liked one country of the 10 countries I met most. I only say, even in Germany people are amazingly friendly to you when they see you travelling with the bike. But yes, I also enjoyed it to travel in countries which were new for me - and I didn't know anything about their languages.

Most impressed me from the scenery:
  • The first kms from the Danube before Sigmaringen close to Beuron
  • The Iron wall
  • The Danube Delta
  • Kherson
  • Sudak
The cities impressed me most were:
  • Belgrade
  • Budapest, but by far not like Belgrade 
"Drive Home" from Steven Wilson


"Ashes of the wake" from Lamb of God



=> I will create a new blog and also update you with information about my further trips, but not so frequent like I did during this trip - cause now I am able to enjoy to be with myself ;-)

Sotchi => Trabzon

After only one day in Sotchi I had to leave Russia, due me expiring Visa. I decided to take the ferry called Emre to head towards Trabzon.

90% of the people on board were from Turkey and a lot of them were working in Sotchi, to make sure the construction for Olympics in 2014 get ready. Almost all people were pissed about Russia, cause they worked hard and did not get any or only a small amount of the money they expected. So you can assume these people were so happy when they arrived in Trabzon - one guy said, that even the air is better in Turkey ;-)

The trip on the ferry itself was cool, I was sitting with Mert together who is from Bordum, but lived for one year in Sotchi working as an architect. We had an amazing view to the dawn and could watch a lot of dolphins swimming close to the ferry.

By the way, Turkish people do not need a Visa for Russia, why do people from EU need? We annoy Russians in terms of Visa, that's why they annoy us.

I think, it's always better to approach somebody before you are demanding things and blaming the opposite.  
Maybe Merkel and her colleagues should really consider again who are our friends Russia or United States? From my side obviously both, but I think politics and media in Europe try always to blame Russia cause of human rights, freedom of press, etc. - which is good, that's the job of the media, but they should try to be objective and compare these facts with the behaviour of the United States as well.


Arrived in Trabzon I went to the airport and checked the conditions for taking a bicycle including trailer in the flight - and was surprised, that it would only cost 30 € => so there is a reason why Turkish Airlines is the best Airline in Europe!

On the way to the airport I met the by far most crazy guy so far on the bike. Will from London. He is cycling in a Superman dress around the world => here you can check out his website: supercyclingman.com

The first day I just walked around in Trabzon, had a look at the bazaar and was surprised, that you could walk through in a very relaxed way - not even one person tried to sell something to me. So I enjoyed it really to be there much more than the bazaars in Istanbul or Antalya. In the evening of that day I went to the shore, and didn't believe it, that there were around 6-7 dolphins only 10m away from the shore. I jumped in and tried to swim with them, but obviously they disappeared - at least I could listen to their singing under water.

In the evening I went to the beach, Trabzon itself does not have a beach, if you want to swim you have to take an dolmush (mini taxi) to bring you to the beach, which takes approx 15 minutes, where I was sitting and chatting with Murat one Russian teacher from Ankara.

Yesterday I took again a dolmush to the very famous Sülema monastery. The scenery around was amazing:

  • very high mountains
  • waterfalls
  • nice old trees
and also the monastery was impressing - even I did not enter it. It was far too crowded from my point of view.








On the way back from Sülema I met Selman, Mert and Cleo from Istanbul on the dolmush. In Trabzon we tried to find a place to have a beer, which was quite a challenge ;-) So even Trabzon has more than 300.000 habitats it is not Istanbul - and I assume there are maybe max 3 cozy places in town where you can have a beer.


Again two songs in one from Porcupine Tree: "Occam's Razzor" and "The Blind House"


Monday, August 5, 2013

Anapa => Novorossiysk => Sotchi => Update

The night at the beach of Anapa was not too relaxing, cause some guys from the tested the stereo system with approx. 5 billion Watts from 11pm - 1am and later on a tractor was leveling the beach - so that I only slept about 3 hours that night. Anyhow it was a great feeling to wake up at the beach.

I started around 9am in the morning cycling towards Novorossiysk. It were only around 30km but the roads were very steep and in the afternoon it started to rain. That's why I decided to be lacy and take the ferry instead of cycling the last 200km to Sotchi. And I think it was a good decision, cause my Visa is only valid for 3 more days and it again began to rain in Sotchi...

But let's get back to the pictures:

Novorossiysk is a very big harbour city, with a huge Navy museum in the harbor.  The city had nothing special, but I liked it, cause people were friendly.


Today I arrived in Sotchi. Make sure you have enough money with you, when you are going to this place ;-) But I will come back to this point later on...

In the following picture you can see Sotchis harbour building, which looks really nice. Right now there are almost everywhere construction works going on, so many roads are closed - which leads in heavy traffic jams. Anyhow the city has a great flair, very nice parks, cool spots and bars to hang out and seems to be very trendy.


The promenade right next to the beach.


My hotel was right located in the Olypmic Village, where hotels, etc. are still under construction. And my prejudice was approved, that hoteliers are stinking dirtbacks! In my case I had to pay 100 € per night for a room even without hot water... => it would have been 115 € butt hey were so kind to lower the price afterwards I complained. OK it is still cheaper than to pay almost 200 € in a four star hotel.

Anyhow You have to accept this, when you are visiting a place like this.


Some new buildings in the Olympic Village.


Nice church next to the Olympic Village.




As mentioned I will only stay one night in Sotchi, before I take the ferry to Tabzon in Turkey, where I will stay 4 more days before I take the flight home. It is sad, cause I really would like to stay longer in this region of the Caucasus.

My urgent recommendation would be, that Mr Angelo Merkel and Mr Vladimir Putin should negotiate a more convenient and flexible General Agreement on Tariffs, Trade and Visa issues for both, Russian and EU citizens, instead of doing this with USA!

Before my ferry starts towards Trabzon I had the possibility to go swimming again and walk a bit around.

It was the first time I saw that you could use fish to clean your feet...


Here you can have a look at the beach - it was not too crowded and the atmosphere was chilly. The obviously player music there, but it was Jazz music, and therefore not too stressful.


The art museum of Sotchi is located in a very nice park.


In this park there are a lot of metallic sculptures.


Sotchi is a great place to live. The very high mountains are just behind - the atmosphere of the city is charming and the cultural offerings are also outstanding.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sudak => Kerch => Anapa

The streets eastern from Sudak were very hilly and therefore quite a challenge to ride - for people who like road cycling these roads are perfect:
  • little traffic
  • good pavement
  • amazing landscape
  • very hilly
People who know me, know how euphoric I am when I see landscapes with nice rock formations. So the first 30 km eastern from Sudak was such a area which made me happy. This area offers huge potential for amazing alpine climbing.






After Feyodosia the landscape changed. It was flat and mainly characterised by agriculture. In some areas there were huge amounts of falcons on the sky. But many falcons means a potential for crashes with cars - here is one of these amazing birds who did not survive...
 

Yesterday evening I reached Kerch, from where I took the ferry to Russia. The first kms on Russian ground were very interesting - I was cycling on a narrow peninsular between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. E.g. were there huge dunes. And so far I am thinking that God is Russian, cause today was the first day in two months I had wind from the back!


In Anapa I will put my tent on the beach as soon we have dawn...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Alushta => Sudak / update

The road leading out from Alushta towards Sudak were really hard to cycle cause it was going up and downhill all the time. The landscapes it was leading through were and are still amazing and I am very sorry, that I couldn't share any more pictures with you - cause after diving my camera broke ;-( Even I used it in the specs... => So time to buy a new one.

But back to the roads: I was able to meet a lot of people from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia on these roads who were cycling as well. One day I was cycling with 3 students - and it was obvious it had to came up to a competition - going downhills one of these guys didn't get the turn and had a not to nicely looking crash. After having a closer look at his bike I knew why: My bike is also not the best, I am just riding Alvio - but what kind of brakes they had on their Mountain bikes was really shocking ;-) They were almost not working at all. I fixed the brakes as god it was possible and afterwards the patient was bandaged we could continue.

One night I slept at a very small place, which did not even have a name. That night I was invited by Sergej his wife and his sister with husband having dinner. It was great: we had shashlik, were sitting at the beach, talking, drinking vodka... Sergej was a very smart person, we was doctor like his wife and working for the WHO in Moscow. We were talking about so many things and I was and I am still impressed by the Russian hospitality and the way how Russian parents are taking care about their children and great children - and I personally think, that's the point why couples in Russia have earlier and more children, than couples e.g. in Germany - cause the grand parents are taking much more care about their children and grand children than in western countries - if you read Tolstoi's war and peace, you will understand.


Two days ago I reached Sudak and yes it is really by far the best I visited so far on the trip.
The city is located between great rock and mountain formations, on the top of one of these mountains you can find an ancient fortress - it is an amazing place. It looks a bit than the Great Wall in China, but is located more beautiful and less crowded, from my point it is far better than all forts I visited in Europe, maybe only Masada fortress in Israel had a similar impression to me.

The following picture is from evpatori.ru, where you can find additional information about the place.


The nightlife seems to be extraordinary to me - even I did not check it out.

Sudak has very nice cliffs to climb, I met two guy from Moscow, Slava and Aleksandr, with whom I had great hours yesterday and with whom I will climb this afternoon as well. The rock is excellent limestone and bolted very well. The grades are between 4 for beginners up to 7b, incl. multi pitch routes, more information could be found here: link.

The sea close to the place where you can climb is really wonderful. Not crowded at all, very clean and perfect to snorkel and dive.

The place I am staying is great, it is called Hotel Forum link. They have changed their price policy - and therefore you get better rooms you could expect for 35 € a night incl. breakfast, great service and great rooms.

I only could stay here until tomorrow, before I have to continue my trip - even I would stay longer... But as the Visa for Russia might end - I have to go - otherwise I might skip Sotchi.

But this day was worth it...

I took advantage and went again climbing with Aleks and Slava, and we did a multi pitch tour of 4 pitches in the grades around 5c and 6a. It got quite late and we were still climbing around 10pm - so 2 hours after dawn. But it was great fun and when we reached the top of the mountain and Slavas girlfriend was waiting with a torch, we also could walk down ;-)




Aleks, Slava and his girlfriend.


Aleks



The song I want to share with you, is called "remember me lover" from Porcupine Tree.

 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Alushta

Alushta was the right decision for me to choose for a longer rest at the sea, even I did not really use all possibilities Alushta offered to me:

  • You can go clubbing
  • Mountain biking in the mountains
  • Swimming ;-)
  • Diving
  • Climbing
  • Kayaking
  • ...
Or just sit at the sea and watch the small ladies, when they are playing their roles as adults.

Gunnar from the hostel KRM arranges every Fr/Sa/Su some concerts at the roof of the hostel. Which os pretty cool, as it offers a good alternative to the mainstream sound, which is played in the clubs of the town.

On Friday there played a nice Hip-Hop combo from Kiev, in the video you can see Gunnar.

video


On Saturday afternoon there were quite heavy rains, but some brave people were not interested too much in the rain, they still enjoyed to stay at the beach.


video

On Saturday, there was a Rockabilly band playing, which was also fun!


Micha, Natalia and some other guys



video

Oleg dancing like hell...

video

Sunday I decided to meet Olekg and Micha from the diving center cdp.in.ua, which was definitely a good decision - even I didn't dive for more than 10 years.





By the way, did you know that seasonal workers here in Crimea are earning around 1,5 € an hour?

Friday, July 26, 2013

alp d'huez => aehm from Simferopol to Alushta

Simferopol is a bigger town located in southern Crimea, which has a charming flair. It is build very spacious, like most of the Ukrainian towns I met so far. When you are in this town, you can feel that it is a Tartarian city, cause there are many mosques not only churches.



Ukraine seems to be a good area for elder movie and music stars... not only David Hasselhoff found here new jobs as Baywatch hero, also my favorite artist Thomas Anders is still appreciated here - Great, isn't it?


Cycling from Simferopol to Alushta means to climb he mountains of the Crimea. hey were really nice looking. I was lucky to cycle in this direction, cause the climb was quite easy and took me only 1.5 hours - so nothing special.


I mentioned already in another post the beautiful women of the Ukraine. Yes they are sexy! And not only they are sexy, also the products they make advertising for are getting sexy - doesn't matter if it are cars or sausages.


Here we go Alushta - it was the first time for me swimming in the sea (in this trip) - and not too bad ;-) The water is very clear, the beaches are stone beaches, so luckily no sand, which gets stuck in all slots...






In the evening I was hanging around on the roof of the hostel I stayed. From there you are having an amazing view over Alutscha. Nice people from Russia I met there, like Evgeniy and his girlfriend from Moskow.



Even the people are great, and the view from the roof of the hostel is perfect, I have to complain about something in the hostel. I am sharing my room with two ladies and are forced to take showers with them...  but as I am also willed to save the nature I accepted it.

The place is called KRM hostel and located in the city centre of Alushta - the staff is anazingly friendly and the prices are great! => You can book via hostelworld or booking.


This song is dedicated for all the people who are suffering under their fellow human beings...