How do you spell Azerbaijan?
Stage 2 of our adventure complete!
We left Istanbul after a couple of days rest and navigated the world’s busiest road out of the city (slight exaggeration, but it was horrific) and headed east. We were torn between heading in to the heart of Turkey or taking the northern coastal route along the Black Sea. A compromise saw us head up in to the lush green mountains of Turkeys interior before cutting directly north to the coast where we found, well, more mountains.
On the dramatic coastline of snaking coves we were rewarded with our best riding yet – testing hills, superb scenic downhills and the promise of wild camping on deserted beaches. The incredible Turkish hospitality, paired with beautiful riding and cyclists food heaven made Turkey our favourite country to cycle so far.
We soon found ourselves at the border with Georgia and were sad to be leaving a country we had fallen for and spent quite some time in. We soon got over our ex and Georgia was a great rebound fling. We rode up and over our highest pass yet at 2027 meters and endured a very bumpy long downhill where the bikes were tested and took the beatings without complaint. More beautiful countryside ushered us all the way to Azerbaijan. Before planning the trip I couldn't confidently tell you exactly where Azerbaijan was on the map and as we crossed the border we congratulated ourselves on cycling somewhere that sounded so exotic. So exotic, that Hannah still can't say it properly.
The scenery dramatically changed to dusty dry landscapes and then to green hills and beautiful forests as we took the long direct road towards the capital, Baku. Stage 2 of our adventure was complete, yet there was no time for celebrations as being unable to cycle round the Caspian Sea north due to Russian visa issues, or South due to not being able to cycle Iran unsupported, we had to take a freight ferry across the Caspian, and with sporadic departures, well-known long delays and a boat about to leave, we boarded. Feeling chuffed with ourselves for making it this far, in the background we knew that in stage 3 things were about to get hard. Desert hard. And more concerningly, more countries that Hannah can't pronounce.