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Old 06-15-2013, 06:36 AM   #79
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: London
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Greece & Turkey part 1

We arrived in Greece late afternoon and immediately set about looking for a camp spot. Until this point we'd been avoiding camping either because of the risk of land mines in Bosnia and Croatia or bears in Albania and Macedonia. I'm sure the threat of bears was minimal but we slept easier each night knowing we were in a camp ground or a hotel, plus we felt safer from other humans which is more of a risk than any bear attack. It was our first wild camp since Adam had left us and Patty felt safety in numbers.

As we trolled the hills looking for a spot we ruled out one area which seemed to be a stray dogs hangout in an old army training ground.

We eventually found a spot amongst some farms and as were about to setup the farmer appeared and said to us "no no my friend no camp here....bears, camp by the main road". We weren't expecting bears in north Greece but heeded his warning anyway.

We had no intention of spending a great deal of time in Greece as we would come back one day and island hop, but as we cruised the main roads we spotted a sign that said "post Byzantine tower" so veered off for a look. We didn't find the tower, but found a gravel road and just kept on going to see where it would take us.

Still no tower but found an old foot bridge instead.

With our historic landmark box ticked for the day we moved on

It's all fun and games

We must have looked a state because this lady waved us over to her bakery and gave us a mixed bag of doughnuts and other assorted yummies.

The highway between Thessaloniki and the Turkish border is loooong and boring but eventually we got there. The border process is pretty straightforward but we coughed up 45 euro for the visa when it should have only been 15. I remembered it wasn't that much but couldn't remember the price so when the guy said it was 45 we just paid it. He pulled a swift one on us which we deserved for not writing stuff down.

Once through we could see another bloody storm brewing over the coast so we immediately set about looking for a hotel, only to be once again dumped on but this guy waved us into his shop to shelter from the rain.

We checked into a hotel in Kesan and once we were back on the grid we received some heads up from friends and family about the riots across Turkey. The Foreign Office suggested reconsidering travel and Patty had her concerns but it was an easy decision - if we can't go through Turkey our trip east ends here.

From Kesan we made a beeline for Istanbul to apply for the Uzbek visa as the website said it could go take up to 10 days without any mention of an express service. As I had an exam scheduled in Georgia on 17 June, if it took the full 10 days it would make it very tight so we headed straight for Istanbul. After a quick run to the bank to pay USD120 each for express service we had the visa in the passport same afternoon. Quickest visa process ever!

While we waited the security guard fed us from a nearby fruit tree.

With that out of the way we could kill the rest of the afternoon and soak up some over due rays. Europe on the right, Asia on the left.

No sign of riots as yet, a few people walking around carrying flags but everything is calm - this was mid-afternoon around 4:00.

As we trolled the streets looking for a hotel in some stupid busy traffic on a steep uphill the bike stalled unexpectedly and wouldn't start again - but I knew immediately what had happened. This is the second time it's done it, the first time was after a day of pretty heavy clutch use in some pretty gnarly mud but after 10 or so minutes of letting it cool down it fired back up. It happens right at the end of this vid

I still haven't figured out what is causing the problem but it seems to be happening when the bike is hot and the clutch is getting a bit of use. A thread on the problem can be found here post #1920.

Finding a cheap hotel with secure parking in a big city is a shitty frustrating exercise so after a couple of painful hours we stopped off at an internet cafe to book one in. With job done and GPS coordinates locked in we pointed the bike in the direction of the hotel, just wanting to get out of the traffic and stop the bike so it doesn't overheat (?) again.

As we're riding along I was thinking to myself - 'hmm traffic seems to have really died down, not many people about, bit hazy ahead, wait a sec...why are my eyes hurting?? why are there police standing over there with shields??? FUCK FUCK FUCK this is TEAR GAS!!! The next 10 minutes became some sort of chaotic scene from a movie as we tried to find a way out. The tear gas confused the mind - we were crying but for unnatural reasons. Cars seemed to be ok, but in an open face helmet the sensation was uncomfortable. Each side street we took ended in a dead end or was barricaded by the protestors.

The protestors didn't seem to have any ill intentions towards us so we stopped our frantic pacing and calmed down to get our bearings. Not at any stage did we feel threatened it was just a very confusing couple of moments and once we had got away from the immediate area life was completely normal, as if there was no disturbance. In Sultanahmet where we were staying tourists and life went about their usual routine so when people would later ask "is it safe to go to Turkey?" our immediate answer was / is YES.

The next day we became tourists and visited the Grand Bazaar

Pondered whether it should be called Burger King or Halal King.

Drank chay - the first of many, many teas

Ate where the locals ate

Pide and some type of sour yoghurt the locals loved but I could never get into it

Visited the Spice Bazaar

Sampled a turkish delight or two

Took photos of guys cashing in on the current patriotism

Smoked a little shisha

and some more

As if we didn't already have a buzz we added some arabic coffee

Wandered by the Blue Mosque. Patty had to come back the next day because she wasn't covered properly

And were attacked by cats

It was good to be off the bike for a bit knowing it was secure and just chill out and be a normal tourist for once.

I had to take the bike in to get the stalling issue and gurgling noise checked out so got in contact with the Triumph Motorcycles Club Turkey on facebook to see where they got their bikes serviced and they pointed me to Mototriple (Tayfur Sok. No:1, İdealtepe, Maltepe, Istanbul). Good bunch of guys and one of them can speak quite good english.

While the throttle bodies were getting adjusted the mechanic dropped the idle too much and it stalled, and as he went to restart it the dash went haywire and then nothing. Judging by the concerned look on their faces I was starting to shit myself and think of all sorts of ways to continue the trip. We checked the obvious fuses and all was ok and did the magic ECU reset by disconnecting the battery, waiting 15 minutes then reconnect but still nothing. Eventually found the culprit, a corroded solenoid fuse (sorry no pics other than that as Patty had the camera sightseeing - what kind of ride report is it without photo's of the bike?!).

The solenoid is under the battery in a shitty location where water can pool. The relocation process is described here:

Still no idea why the bike is stalling but the gurgling noise hasn't happened since I gave the radiator a good clean and changed the fluid.

While I serviced the bike Patty went sightseeing and made some new friends from Oz.

kebab. I was hoping it was too much food for one person but nup


The host in the apartment we were staying was a friendly chap

We had to do some back tracking to the Gallipoli Peninsula to pay our respects to the soldiers who fell at ANZAC Cove in WW1, which some would say is a pretty defining moment in Australian and New Zealand history.

Because a lot of the area is a memorial you're not allowed to camp in many places, but found a spot in a picnic area which was allowed. As soon as we rocked up a guy walked up to me and handed me a cold beer and said he knows what it's like to be on a bike.

We spent the afternoon with Jim and James talking shit and drinking the vodka he gave us as the sun set over the Peninsula

Jim was a British paratrooper and had some good stories for us. He told us one about about some sort of evil presence when he went camping one time and since then I've become a little more jumpy

This is the life. NAFS - Not Another Fucking Sunset photo

A brew with a view while I catch up on study

Jim and James

We spent the next few hours cruising around the various memorials

Nothing but thick scrub, tough conditions to launch an assault. Every year we celebrate ANZAC Day - a very boozy day but it's great to finally see it first hand and gives a real appreciation for what the soldiers went through.

Lone Pine Cemetery - the Australian memorial

And the Lone Pine, planted from a seed that was sent to Oz from a digger (an aussie solder) during the year then brought back to Gallipoli and replanted.

We visited the Turkish memorial and bought this guy a tea as bit of a gesture for all the hospitality we've received from Turkish people so far, who then gave me an english bullet as a gift.

The kiwi memorial alongside the another Turkish one

We were swamped by school kids wanting to get photos of us - who am I kidding it was Patty they wanted

We then got a ferry from Eceabat to Cannakale to follow the road along the other side of the Dardanelles. Troy is only 20k's down the road but I've been there before and it's pretty lame as far as ruins go so we skipped it. This horse from the Troy movie in Cannakale is pretty cool though

We found this little spot to camp in the hills, quite a long way from the main road but close enough to a gravel road where local traffic would see us. Patty felt more comfortable staying in places where she could ask the farmer if its ok we stay if they happen to pass by, which was the case this particular afternoon. Some guys on a scooter rode past and said it was ok as long as we didn't start a fire.


Late in the night Patty woke me and said there was someone outside and in my sleepy haze recognised a car was shining it's lights in our tent. It was a cool night so I was buried deep in my sleeping bag so as I quickly untangled myself from it and started to get dressed the car turned it's lights off. I was thinking it's the farmer who had a change of heart and now wanted us off his land and other scary thoughts but then he turned them back on and left. It rattled us a little bit so we didn't sleep that well that night.
Triumph Tiger 800 xc
Walkabout in Russia and Central Asia
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