Our search for accommodation on Saturday night led us only 100m down the road to an astroturf relatively isolated by the side of the road. Fortunately, it was rubbery not sandy, so we pitched up only the outside of our tent and quickly went to bed on the most comfortable camping surface so far! There was a party next door with some energetic Turkish music which seemed to go on until daybreak, interrupted only by pausing for the equally loud call to prayer…
We cycled the 40km left to Rize pausing only for bread and çokokrem and after lounging in the mains square for a while, we met up with Cemil by the main Mosque. Another engineer (seemingly the most common Couchsurfing profession), Cemil joined us for lunch in town and then suggested we go to see the botanical gardens. The hill which we pushed our bikes up to get there was abominable, forcing us to nearly lie flat to keep our 40kg truckers going forwards! The gardens, however, though not botanically extraordinary, had a good view over the city and produced a cracking pot of tea.
We became a bit peckish as we cycled a further 65km and stopped for two large warm flat sesame breads and as much fruit (irrelevant of ripeness) as possible. Our destination was Fındıklı, literally hazelnut town, where we were offered tea at a local restaurant – a good ploy by them which then convinced us to buy dinner!
We met our second couchsurfing host in a day, Sait, an hour later and were taken for some delicious ice cream before loading our bikes in a pick up truck and heading back to his house. Sait is a 25 year old part-time translator (of old Arabic and Persian influenced scripts to modern Turkish) and general life lover. He and his family spend their summers a few kilometres inland where they have a great house on a hill, disturbed only by the river and the birds – and it really is as peaceful as it sounds. Their garden is filled with tea, hazelnuts, pears, berries, citrus fruits, kiwis, olives and other unnamed edible products which are top of the menu all day. A menu which we did not think we would get introduced to at 11pm before going to sleep, but one which was far too good to turn down – we highly recommend Muhlama as long as you don’t look at the ingredients!
A shower and comfortable beds far exceeded our requirements to fall asleep within a matter of minutes.