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Old 10-21-2012, 03:49 AM   #16
mdw403 OP
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Thank you very much Glenn, KHVol, Auldublinr, im enjoying doing it so im glad you are enjoying reading it.
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:33 AM   #17
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Day 7 Varna to Istanbul, Turkey.

Up early this again this morning, it was the big push to Istanbul. We were going to get a hotel and have our first shower and bed of the trip. We had not booked as we thought it would be easy to find a hotel in the city. I had asked for some recommendations on UKGser site but not really had much response so we had decided to wing it, I mean how hard could it be.

We spent a few hours on the motorway to eat up some of the miles for the day but around 11 o clock stopped for fuel in a town called Zagora. It was attended service and a nice young lady came over to fill my bike up for me. She spoke no English but we did the normal hand gestures and laying out of maps to show her where we were going. She then spent about 15 minutes trying to explain directions to us and a road we should avoid. We had absolutely no idea what she was going on about but just smiled and nodded until she was happy.

I had a new favourite road, as soon as we left Zagora the road turned into a bikers dream flip flopping bends, we were both enjoying it immensely. We then came across a police car that was blocking the road and pointing into a field.


The Police director

Al said I think he wants us to go that way. Surely not I thought but we went for it anyway and it was a diversion around some workers on the road. They were diverting cars and busses alike around this field and I thought there is no way this would happen in the UK.



The Bulgarian Diversion

After another few miles the road disappeared completely to be replaced by a gravel road under construction. I had road tyres on but I was feeling confident, ABS off lets have some fun. We were riding along at a fair old lick waving at all the road workers in their massive machines when immediately in front of me was a ramp!



Fuck it go for it I thought and accelerated. I took off and sailed gracefully through the air and landed about 10 feet in front of the take off point. Later talking to Al he says in reality I nearly got my back wheel off the ground, nearly:(

Turkish customs was fairly easy, we bought insurance in the duty free shop, paid our 15 euros for a visa, had our passport checked and then imported the bike through customs. All completed within an hour. Just the small matter of 200 miles to go to Istanbul now.




I had heard Istanbul was crazy but OMG! It was a culture shock even for me. I have been to many major cities but nothing could have prepared me for this. I can only describe it as mad, chaotic and beautiful all at the same time. When we came to the toll road the traffic just stopped and stayed stopped. There was no chance of filtering as Taxis were fighting with vans for every inch of space. There were millions of scooters buzzing around like angry wasps around a picnic. There were people walking in-between the traffic selling all types of tat, at least there was no chance of them being run over.




As I said we had decided not to pre book a hotel as we did not know what day we would arrive. I punched hotel into the Sat Nav and we were off to the Radisson. On arrival they took one look at the state of us and said "I'm sorry sir but we have no vacancies". Ok we thought lets go down market, just a little bit. How about the Holiday Inn. Same result, The Hotel Grand, Same result. We tried another 20 hotels and had been looking for about 3 hours and nobody had any room at all.

Things were getting desperate. We talked about another plan and decided to push through Istanbul and try to get to Izmit tonight. A guy walked over and said "If you are looking for a hotel try the Sultanahmet area". One last try we thought. We followed the guys' directions, parked up and went into the nearest hotel. Still no room. There were hundreds of hotels so I was dispatched to try and get a room. I must have tried another 10 hotels all with the same negative answer.

Then an angel in the form of Mahmud appeared in front of me. "Hotel", "Yes, please". The conversation then went along the lines of me asking a question and him saying "No problem"
We had a room for 2 nights, parking for the bikes and breakfast all for 200 euros.


Mahmud sitting down

The bikes were squeezed into a tiny spot right outside the hotel, padlocks were put in place and a security guard was designated to watch them.




We had a quick shower and headed out into the night to get smashed and grab some kebabs. The location of the hotel could not have been better, we were right in the middle of things, the Blue Mosque was practically next door, pubs, café's and shops abound. This was going to be a good 2 days. We had a good few hours out, stopped in a restaurant to be relieved of over 100 euros, had a couple of beers but we were so knackered there was no way we could stay out all night so by 10 o clock we were both in bed. So much for getting smashed.


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Old 10-22-2012, 02:05 PM   #18
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Fantastic!

Istanbul's great, ain't it... I so want to go back!
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Old 10-28-2012, 12:03 PM   #19
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Day 8 Istanbul, Turkey

Al had some issues to sort out with the KTM so he was up early to go and find someone to plug the oil leak from his rocker cover;



I on the other hand was enjoying a lay in followed by breakfast in the hotel followed by copious amounts of Turkish tea. I went down to talk with Mahmud at the desk as Al came walking back in saying he had found out where a KTM garage was. It was only a couple of miles so we decided to walk over and see what they could do for him.

Istanbul really is an amazing place and I will go back to spend some more time exploring the back streets, the photos do not do it justice and as we walked over the Galata bridge the views were spectacular.



I have to admit at this point, like an idiot, I thought I was walking from Europe to Asia and this was the bridge over the Bosporus. It is a typical port type area, several ferries trying to dock at the same time. People running all over the place trying not to be late. Add to this a busy shopping area with locals selling their wares and hundreds of tourists taking pictures of everything and you will have some idea what it is like.

I enjoyed the walk and eventually we found ATA motors and tried to explain what it was we needed. We had many blank looks but then Ahmet turned up who was the owner of the garage and he spoke reasonable English so we booked the KTM in for that afternoon and went sight seeing.




As I said we did enjoy the tourist stuff occasionally and the blue mosque was top of my list of things to see. Al wanted to see the flooded underwater tunnels so off we went. We managed to have a walk around the mosque and then thought it prudent to take the KTM to the garage so in shorts, t shirt and flip flops we rode the couple of miles back to see Ahmet.





The little problem Al thought he had was actually quite a large problem which would involve hours of work to fix and Ahmet did not even know if he could fix it, but said that we should let him get it stripped and he would see what he could do.

The ride back from the garage to the hotel with Al on the back is not an experience I want to have again; it was like I was riding a different bike with his fat ass on the back.



With the bike sorted we made the decision to go and find a Kebab shop and as Al had chosen the most expensive restaurant in town last night I wanted to find a street vendor. We found a little place and it was awesome. A nice mixed meat kebab with hot chilli sauce and salad:)


The best Kebab in Istanbul


Ahmet rang Al and said the bike could be fixed but would not be ready til late tomorrow afternoon. This fitted in with our plans nicely so a little bit of sight seeing followed by a civilized dinner was in order.

Then the famous phrase was muttered "fancy a beer?"



3 o clock the next morning we left the pub to walk back to the hotel. Now Al will be the first to tell you he can not drink but when he has had a few he does not know when to stop. I practically had to drag him out of the pub even when the lights were on and the barman was telling us no more beer. I think we are both going to suffer in the morning.
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Old 10-28-2012, 02:07 PM   #20
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:22 AM   #21
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Thanks Bigboy.

David me and Al will no doubt go back in the near future to get to lake van, your more than welcome to accompany us
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:40 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by mdw403 View Post
Thanks Bigboy.

David me and Al will no doubt go back in the near future to get to lake van, your more than welcome to accompany us
when you are saying near future what exactly do you mean?
great report, please don't stop.
btw, as one of my friends said about the oil leakage in LC4 Adventure: if you see the leakage - that means you've got oil in engine
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:45 AM   #23
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You are right about the Oil Bigboy, Al seems to have these oil problems whatever bike he rides.

We have not decided where is next but i think we will both get some time off in April next year.
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Old 10-29-2012, 11:01 AM   #24
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Day 9 Istanbul to Izmit, Turkey

My prediction came right this morning. I woke up at 11 o clock with a head like thunder. Al was asleep across the room in his bed. We were meant to be checking out by now. I went down stairs to see if they would mind us staying in the room an extra hour or so and predictably Mahmud said "no problem". Just another example of the amazing Turkish hospitality that we had found in Istanbul.


Al lost in an alcohol cloud

Once we were up I thought it only prudent to go grab our fourth kebab in 24 hours and a few teas to settle the uncontrollable shakes I was experiencing.



We got over to Ahmets' at around 2 o clock to find the bike still in bits. This was not a problem as we planned a short day today just to get out of the city and find a camp spot. I sat talking to Ahmet for a while and asked about the rally direction roll that had been put up around the walls and it turns out he rode the 2008 Paris Dakar that never was. The Rally was deemed to dangerous in the form it was previous to 2008, so there was a rally called the Central Europe Rally held in Hungary and Romania and he had ridden in it. He sticks to mechanics now and has been on several as a professional tinkerer of KTM's.




We found the whole experience of Istanbul to be a pleasant one, there were no hawkers overly harassing you to buy their tat, there were no waiters continuously trying to drag you into their overpriced tourist restaurants, everyone had a smile for you and were more than happy to chat with no thought as to how they were going to get a few quid out of your wallet. I have a new favourite country already and we have not seen a fraction of it yet.

We left Istanbul at around 3:30 with the plan of riding for an hour before finding somewhere to camp. Yet again I had forgotten about the traffic around this area. It took us an hour just to get to the real Europe/Asia bridge crossing. Just before the bridge we did come across a GSer on the side of the road broken down. I pulled over to see if he needed help, but he said his mate was close behind and would be ok. He did not seem in a mood to chat so we left him to it. I hope he got back ok:)

As usual I am snapping away with the camera around my neck, when it suddenly dawns on me how far we had ridden and how far we planned still to ride. I think it is an incredible thing that we all do, or aspire to do. It is amazing what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.

After about 3 hours in the saddle we were just a few miles down the road from Istanbul, in a place called Izmit. Al signalled me to pull off and find a camp for the night. It turned out to be my favourite camp of the trip. I rode up a small track and came across a field off to the right. It was actually more like a grassy hill than a field but feeling confident in my ability and my GS I blasted up the hill. It must have been about 300m long and even with the road tyres on I still made it up quite easily.


Looking down the hill we had to come up


Getting off at the top was a different matter though, there was a wood at the top of the hill and as I reached it I realized this was still real steep. It was getting dark and I saw a nice flexible bendy sapling so aimed the nose at it. I braked right next to it and the BM came to a stop and nestled gently against it, job done. No need for the stand tonight.




We found a levelish bit of ground inside the wood and it was tents up as normal.



We then sat in the dark and looked down over the port of Izmit. As normal we did not talk very much to each other but the tension from earlier on in the trip had completely gone. The break in Istanbul had come at a perfect time for us. It let us relax and mellow into the ride and of course, this is what it is all about, silence, a spectacular view, the knowledge that the trip was only really just beginning and we still had numerous places and people to visit and see.


The view from the camp

How could life be any better?
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Old 10-30-2012, 12:56 AM   #25
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loving it

well done shads for going through with the report, It is making for a great read. It seems like you might even beat my effort and finish it before are next trip.

keep it coming and now I am home, I will be badgering you.
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:01 AM   #26
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Yes, yes...



Keep it coming, I wonder to see your Cappadocia pictures and stories :)
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:52 AM   #27
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well done shads for going through with the report, It is making for a great read. It seems like you might even beat my effort and finish it before are next trip.

keep it coming and now I am home, I will be badgering you.
Welcome home Al, This here report writing is harder than it looks
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:53 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by redbaron@ View Post
Yes, yes...



Keep it coming, I wonder to see your Cappadocia pictures and stories :)
Thanks Red, love your country mate
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:20 AM   #29
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Day 10 Izmit to Cide, Turkey

The trip really slowed its pace today, speeds dropped from 80mph on mainly motorways to 50 - 60 mph on the 010 which is the Black sea coast road. I was really starting to enjoy the trip, the beautiful scenery, seeing the locals drying their fields of olives or tending the countless number of bee hives. To a man they waved at us if they saw us coming.

We had just come off a single track road and onto a nice fast sweeping dual carriage way, still only sitting at 50 - 60 mph enjoying life.






The road was amazing. We had been on long motorways for almost a week and the predictable sweeping roads from Kaynarca to Akcakoca on the Black sea coast of Turkey were a fantastic change of pace. It was a dual carriageway but really nice radius bends with a good surface. We switched from one bend to the other seamlessly. Al was out front about 200 metres ahead, he disappeared over a crest of a hill in a quick left hander and I saw no brake lights so I took it as my queue to accelerate. I crested the brow of the hill to be met with about 2 football pitches worth of shiny, black, hot liquid tar. I screamed inside my helmet, this was going to hurt!
I just caught sight of Al, legs stuck out to the side skidding left and right ahead of me. I stood the bike up as much as I could and can remember thinking "don’t panic, keep off the brakes, don’t turn and stop screaming". I was heading towards the central reservation at pace; there was no way I was getting away with this one.



I had completely come off the throttle but I felt like I was not slowing at all. There was a shallow ditch running inbetween the 2 carriageways so I decided to leave the road and try and turn into the ditch. I must have slowed more than I thought as I hit the ditch, either that or the suspension on the F8 is much better than I think because it hopped nicely into the ditch and did not throw me off in the process. I had about 50 metres of dirt to negotiate before I popped out of the bottom of the tar slick. So after bringing the bike to a stop I nervously turned the ABS off and slowly rode out of the ditch.



Al had not even stopped, he is usually of the opinion if you have a near miss just slow it down a bit but keep going so as not to dwell on it. I had to stop for a few seconds just to draw breath and look to the sky to thank whoever was looking after me that day.

I can tell how much it shook me up as I did not take one photo of the tar, and I take photos of everything usually.

We continued along the 010 and as we passed through Eregli we noticed a tyre shop so we stopped to see if we could get Al's tyres done. Of course they said they could change them and before we knew it the tyres were off. I had a wander off to try and find us some food.




As I stood in a bakers/coffee shop a bloke came over, tapped me on the shoulder and said "its OK", whilst pointing to a big bag of buns. "You come with me". Being very British in my ways I was a little bit suspicious but got in his car as everyone in here knows we are always looking for interaction with the local population.



I then realised it was one of the mechanics from the garage and that he had bought lunch for me and Al as well as the rest of the guys in the garage. We sat for half an hour eating bread and drinking Turkish tea and although we speak no Turkish and they spoke no English we had a great chat about the trip and their town. I absolutely love this country.

We thanked them for their hospitality and left to continue riding NE. We did not get into 5th gear all afternoon. We took our time absorbing the scenery and enjoying being on a bike in an incredible country.



We did come across what looked like a refugee camp, no idea what it was all about but it was not the type of place I wanted to be hanging about.



During one of the fuel stops we came across an amazing fruit stall, I have never seen a stall with quite as much colour going on as this one.





All trip we had been looking forward to camping on a beach on the black sea coast but that was proving quite difficult to achieve. Nowhere seemed quite right so in the end we drove 20 minutes into the hills around Cide and found a quarry that seemed quite promising. The track up was really steep but my confidence was high and I just blasted up it with no problems at all. There was a nice flat piece of ground up at the top of the quarry.





Another successful end to an enjoyable day.
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Old 10-30-2012, 04:32 AM   #30
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looks like you enjoyed day 10 quite a lot :)
and once again - awesome trip!
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