Taking on the hills


The hills are relentless, up down, up down, down up, up up and so on. The roads crisscross the landscape as if it were flat, the steep undulations create a roller coaster ride through the small villages and cities along the Black Sea coast. The land is covered in hazelnut trees and sporadic dashings of grapes, cherries, strawberries. Docile cows, each with a bell around its' neck, wander the streets aimlessly. At each village we are greeted by enthusiastic offerings of tea and coffee. The children materialise from every angle and rush towards us with a loud "Hello, Hello!". Sometimes we are joined by a cyclist keen to show his prowess by racing us down the nearest hill. As I pant up the last portion of a long hill I see Olof sitting happily, tea in hand, with some local men sipping tea. A friendly gesture which quickly becomes routine in our days cycling. Feeling much like yoyos the mountain road meets the coast, offering short lived relief from the mountains. Our happiness about being able to travel more than 15 km/h lasts only until the road fills with truck after truck which pass dangerously close to us on the narrow main road. The broken glass which lines most big roads causes three punctures for Olof a nd one for me. Fortunately this road finishes quickly as we enter the city for the night.