We tried to sit out the rain before heading out of Istanbul, but after two days of downpour we couldn’t control ourselves and raced down the wet cobblestones towards the east. After 45 km of concrete jungle cruising through the heavy rain, the first trees started sprouting around us again. Despite being completely soaked, the morale was peaking because for the first time in months we were complete and enjoying the road, slippery as it was. We stopped for a çay as soon as darkness fell, and dried our wet gloves in a mountain lodge restaurant. The spry old lady that owned this rustic place offered us a place to sleep by the stove, for which we thanked our lucky stars after a cold but satisfying day.
The next morning the sun greeted us through the lodge's windows, and after an energyboosting coffee we started the day with passably dry clothing. We marveled at the carless autumn landscape and even let it seduce us into climbing some trees on our way. After a total of 60 kilometres of up and downhilling we arrived in the cosy town of Ağva Merkez for our lunchbreak. We took the time to apply for our Iranian visum before we set out again and soon found ourselves on a dirtroad full of loose clay that clogged our spetleps but made for a more adventurous turn of events. With faces full of dirt freckles we arrived at a small port in Bağirganli, where the rugged old sailors introduced us to the game of Tavla (more commonly known as Backgammon). We played with the Tavla veterans until midnight before resting our heads near another glowing Turkish stove.