Across Continents

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Different world

Six hundred and eighty pounds. The cost of an hour’s telephone call to Afghanistan, the contents of the mini-bar, and laundering my clothes. I was staying in a better class of hotel in the Turkish Black Sea city of Trabzon, awaiting the arrival of my father later in the day. A very different world from the one I’d become accustomed to. I’d stayed in these sorts of places before, as a business traveller, so knew they’d be a re-assuring familiarity, a sameness, about the place. And there was.

I’d arrived late the previous evening, a twelve hour journey by coach from Sinop. A chance, I told myself, to take a look at the coast road before I returned once more to Sinop to ride along it. For the most part it looked grim, busy dual carriageway much of the way. But I’d ridden on far worse roads, albeit not for hundreds of kilometres. Sometimes it’s best not to know what’s ahead.

You suspected I’d be a guest the hotel staff would remember for a while. Bright yellow jacket, black leggings. I promised the receptionist I had more conventional clothes to wear. With sandals. Emma had also come with me and she’d be sharing a room with my father and I. Cleaned her especially. Ready, should there be a problem, to point out pets were allowed in the rooms so a bike would be just fine, but in the end nothing was said. I carried her to the room, the porter following with the panniers.

The next morning the buffet breakfast was as I suspected. The familiar Turkish choices – boiled eggs, bread, cheeses, tomatoes and cucumber – or the more Western options – muesli, scrambled eggs, no bacon of course. I plumped for the latter selection, barely a hesitation. And why not I thought? A welcome change, a chance to give my cholesterol a break. Stuck with warm Turkish tea mind.

I was intrigued by my fellow breakfasting guests. Small groups of business men, the senior holding court, the underlings smiling and nodding in all the right places. The odd business woman, alone, feisty. Probably getting more done than their male counterparts. A few families. One seemed to make endless demands on the staff, extracting every last ounce out of their stay. I returned to my room. There were socks to wash and only a hairdryer, no hot radiator.

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