Here is the tale of a beautiful birthday...The day before this very special day we rode more than 20kms uphill, and set up camp just before a long downhill. We slept in until 6am (we usually set the alarm for 5am) when we were awoken by yells and the lowing of cattle. A large number of cows were on the move. Verdant grassland sweeping down the side of the hill where we were camped was getting steadily munched. A couple of men and young boys were energetıcally running and herding. Perhaps they did not use dogs because they did not want to get fat: We have noticed the lack of dog use in herding animals in these parts. Fair enough for geese herding, but dogs appear to be quiter useful for sheep/goat/cow herding. Another reason for operating without dogs is that it may take dogs away from their main duty: to attack passing cyclists.
Getting out of the tent I bemoaned the lack of privacy - I wanted to go to the toilet. Angel advised me to go behind a cow. I decided that the cow might move and marched up to the top of the hill instead. Peeing on top of the world. We were about 2500m up and it was lush and green. The hill dropped away steeply into a ravine and there were purple flowers everywhere. The beauty set the scene for the rest of the daty. Pine forests by the side of the road, soaring walls of rock, no wind, the constant burble of a river.
About midmorning we cycled into another cowjam as they were moved along the road. The cowherds greeted us as we rang our bells and wobbled our way around bovine curiosity. Then we found ourselves in a little town called Göle. We stocked up on beer and chocolate and started riding out of town. And there it was: a cake shop. The first I had seen on the whole trip...and on my birthday! İn we went and had some slices of cake. Angel balanced a candle precariously on the edge of the plate (the creamy cake looked liable to implode given the ınsertion of any foreign objects), and I managed to blow it out without setting fire to anything. This little snack was supplemented by a later invitation to drink chai. Our hosts - a truckdriver and his family - plied us with crusty bread and tasty, fluffy cheese called something that sounded suspiciously like 'penis'.
Around midafternoon we found a beautiful campsite and swiftly put the beers into the everpresent river to chill. There was no one around - it was a rare pleasure. One of the best days yet and on my birthday!! This region of Turkey/old Georgia is really amazing...difficult due to its mountainous nature, but worth the effort.