|06-08-2008, 10:01 AM||#31|
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Madison, Wisconsin and/or Panama, Panama
Too bad you didn't see the lunatics who jump off the bridge in Mostar.
I am jealous. This looks like a fantastic ride.
|06-08-2008, 10:40 AM||#32|
Joined: Apr 2006
My room was light and spacious (if untidy!)
After a pleasant night in Asprovalta it's time for a good breakfast....and I end up with the richest cheese burek you can imagine...so much so I could not finish it!
As I approached the Turkish border I stopped for fuel and a tea. (Turkey has the most expensive fuel around, at Euro 1.75 when i was there, so good to fill in Greece - it ws only when I got to the border -full- that I saw there was a duty-free gas station!)
This amazing guy turned up. He had ridden from Holland to Turkey on this bicycle.
When I asked what he had brought he told me he had also brought his mountain climbing gear. He was thinking of heading for Iran. Respect!!
Seemed only fair that he tried my bike.
And then it was time to enter the vastness of Turkey, where I expected to be for some time as I made my way over to Syria.
On the way down to Gallipoli I met 2 Polish riders who planned to go to Syria and back in 2 weeks - tough assignment so I let them get on with it, after they took my picture (and me, theirs). They had ridden 1300kms the previous day so i realised they were on a much different trip from me.
It was getting hot by now.
simondippenhall screwed with this post 06-08-2008 at 11:23 AM
|06-08-2008, 11:52 AM||#35|
Joined: Apr 2006
To Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Straits
As I entered Turkey there were a couple of Dutch bikers, who expected to be in Aqaba by end May (I was aiming for mid-May). Our paths did not re-cross and I left them munching vegetables in the transit zone between Greece and Turkey - definitely the best way to approach border crossings is to be unhurried, and they had it down to a 'T'.
My aim was to get down to Gelibolu (Gallipoli in Turkish) and see the war museum there, then on to Eceabat as a base to visit the war graves from WW1. I felt my timing was propitious as ANZAC day was 1 week earlier and I should have missed the crowds.
2 survivors meet in the War Museum:
The harbour at Gelibolu is scenic. Another ice-cream stop!
Eceabat is a good place to stop. Thsi man is locating me a hotel, while Kemal Ataturkk looks on.
The limits of GPS: I rode most of the way to Eceabat over water!
Then followed the most moving moment of my 9,000 mile trip, visiting the war graves.
This boy was 17 when he fell, a schoolboy by today's norms:
This is why I ride....I made my way through the various sites on a warm and quiet spring evening. I saw no-one. Birds sang and I smelt the scent of the lavender growing across the hill-side. It was a place of great calm and peace, in contrast to how it must have been 90+ years ago.
The graves speak for themselves...these young men died nearly 100 years ago, and relatives continue to visit altho they will never have known personally the people concerned.
The beauty of Anzac cove
I stayed at a pleasant traveller hotel called TJ's where I could see the ferry boats shuttling over to Asian Turkey. It had a buzz despite the absence of other guests.
It was clear that across the water there would be more interesting people to meet, as this family group shows:
|06-08-2008, 01:59 PM||#37|
Joined: Apr 2006
Into Asia (Minor)
One last cemetery (there are many, with evocative names like Plugge's plateau)
The beauty of the graves did not put me off my dinner - hotel recommended me the Gul Gul which was an excellent and cheap quay-side diner. My request for a beer was declined as I was now in Turkey but the meal was good (although Efes beer was usually available later, so long I was not too close to a mosque).
In the morning I could see from the terrace the to and fro of ferries as I ate breakfast of boiled eggs, tomato, cheese, cucumber etc - the Turkish standard I discover- and decided to go for the 0900 departure. (When you are solo it's easy to make these decisions and quick to implement!)
The ferry was crowded but not hassly,
passengers got caught up on important conversations.
Goodbye to Europe and
Hello to Asia:
|06-08-2008, 02:36 PM||#39|
Joined: Apr 2006
The journey across Turkey
Once I ride off the ferry (and I am, fortunate me, one of the first) I am on a land mass that extends all the way to China. [But that is definitely for another trip!].
My next stop will be Troy, although my expectations are low
and indeed it is a little bit contrived
Having paid my 10 YTL, I only spend a short time there and then move on.
My next stage is a ride along the coast, and then a wonderful mountain road to Pergamon. The road has many freshwater springs, and is set amid green trees.
Soon I enter Pergamon, which itself has intriguing carpet shops.
(That's not my bike hiding under the carpets.
I conclude these are too big to bring one home on the bike!
Towering above the town is the Acropolis, swathed in magnificant spring flowers. It is reached up a steep and twisting road.
I really enjoy the visit to Pergamon as the ruins are extensive and the flowers so colourful.
Then it is time to head for Izmir, the once powerful town of Smyrna but razed by the Turks early last century and now a big leisure and industrial town.
Passing thru there in intense heat and traffic is very unpleasant. I have difficulty finding the way out to the East that I seek (for I am taking the inland route now across Turkey).
Eventually I chat to a van driver who offers to lead me to the right road. My salvation!
The road out is steep and hot, full of heavy diesel trucks labouing up the road. After my experiences in Morocco a few years ago I keep an eye out for any oil spills they may be leaving, but all is OK.
However the roads are incredibly slick and oil-impregnated and I am glad it is sunny with no threat of rain.
As the road levels out, the sense of space increases.
There are lots of sheep
And travel can be primitive...I pass many trailers pulled by tractors, full of women returning from work in the fields
Eventually I stop to check the map and work out where I might plan to stop for the night. I am invited to take cay (tea) by a group of guys at a roadside cafe. They turn out to be lorry drivers who are full of good advice, and tell me I can probably make it to Afyon before dark.
We also have the now-familiar discussion about
-are you alone?
-how fast does your bike go?
-are you married?
-why are you doing this?
It's interesting that the questions about the cost of the bike really don't crop up until Syria, although there is general agreement that it is good I am on a BMW for such an insane mission!
I am given a second cup of tea and offered a cigarette. (One of them has 3 packs stacked in front of him, and is working his way through them. He drives a petrol tanker). They will not accept payment.
Like almost everyone I met in two cross-navigations of Turkey they are friendly and generous.
Now it is time to get riding again, and I keep on going until I get to Usak, a large commercial town that does not get a mention in my big guide book. By asking I find a city centre hotel which does the job, and a nearby ATM to get some Turkish money.
I set off in pursuit of dinner. A friendly shopkeeper recommends a lokantasi nearby, which is full of locals but not English-speakers. They dig up a student who does speak English and he helps me order.
It turns out that, altho it's only 8pm, they have run out of food. They are most apologetic and we agree they will rustle up what they can.
This turns out to be savoury rice, a very tasty soup and a dish of delicious chickpeas..just what I needed, and for all of 1.75 Euro equivalent. Because I don't eat lunch, the evening meal becomes an important part of my nutrition, so after dinner I go to a baklava shop and eat a superb selection of these sweet cakes with a cup of cay.
A great end to a busy day!
|06-08-2008, 02:49 PM||#40|
Joined: Apr 2006
Never got over to see the HD factory in Milwaukee, though.
|06-08-2008, 05:38 PM||#41|
Joined: Nov 2007
nice report- made me reminisce of the time i did some riding throughout croatia myself.
it wouldnt have hurt to read up a bit about culture and countries before the trip. but then again perhaps it wouldnt have been as interesting.
Heavy is good, heavy is reliable...
A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.. H Thompson
|06-09-2008, 02:32 AM||#42|
Joined: Sep 2003
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Glad to hear you made it back in one piece, Simon. It was nice seing you in Istanbul. Hope to see you in England next year.
Go Stanford, Beat Cal !!!!
|06-09-2008, 03:01 AM||#43|
Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Southern S.I. New Zealand
Great photos and ride report. i look forward to more. Cheers.
Does the Vstrom pine when I leave it in the garage alone all day?
|06-09-2008, 08:55 AM||#44|
Joined: Apr 2006
A brief interlude
I realise I have not said much about the bike upon which all of this trip relies.
2003 BMW GS1150
Mileage at departure 25,150 (+ 12,000 kms on previous odometer in Germany)
Tyres: Michelin Anakees (all I could get in Spain for my Pyrenees trip) with about 500 mls wear
All original but with
-HID lights from BTBR on UKGSer
-Zumo 550 GPS with CityNavigator Europe v 8 and Wander East 1.60
-hand-muffs (which along with the Zumo GPSwere the major talking point wherever I went!)
A service by Neil Harrison of gsshop
A day of off-roading to see if anything would break
Battery charged on my trickle-charger, and tyre pressures checked.
Spares & tools carried:
A litre of 10/40 oil
BMW standard toolset
extra tyre puncture repair kit
swiss army knife (small)
lots of cable ties
When you read the rest of this account you will see whether this was an adequate approach for a 9,000 mile trip!
Apart from the Zumo I brought a laptop and a variety of guide books and maps:
Map of W Balkan countries
Map of Greece
Map of Turkey
Map of Syria
Map of Jordan
Guidebooks to Balkans, Turkey and Syria.
These maps were of variable quality, and in particular the Syria map led me into some minor difficulties because the road system was not as described.
On the return trip I bought maps as I went along; they tended to be cheap and cheerful.
In practice I ended up triangulating between what the road-signs and locals said, what the map said, and what the GPS offered. And eventually I got ehere I wanted to, or else to somewhere more interesting!
And here is my starting packing list:
|06-09-2008, 03:02 PM||#45|
Joined: Apr 2006
A brush with the law
From Usak I set off South East. I have decided that, rather than head for Afyon (the City of Opium of which more later) I will visit the Turkish lake district around Lake Egirdir and Beysehir, which come highly recommended.
After one wrong road I am on the right track, heading for Civril .
I stop for a tea to decide the best combination of minor roads that will get me there, and conclude for a short while I need to take a main road for a short period.
Then it happens! BOUM!
I see a parked police car and wave. Over the next hill I am flagged down and told that I have been riding on this majestic highway at 97 kmh (about 61 mph). They also tell me that the limit for motorcycles (which is not posted anywhere) is 77 kmh and I owe the princely sum of 230YTL (about 115 Euro).
I am pissed off but there is little I can do. All my documents are perused and salient details noted. I tell them I don't have such cash with me and they give me the speeding ticket and tell me how to pay. I don't know whether they will check for this at the border.
Turkey being Turkey, a kind gentleman comes out bringing me a cup of tea while the cops write me up.
After tea, and with a stinging sense of injustice, I set off around the lakes. Inevitably my enjoyment of my surroundings is hampered by the need to keep an eye out for more radar traps.
The surroundings are impressive.
Although I do not know what some of the signs mean - this one as I approach Lake Egurdir.
I stop to refuel. These people buy me tea and, after we chat about the route and my trip, offer me lunch. When I explain that I don't eat then, they give me packets of complimentary tissues.
Eventually I get to the city of Konya and seek out the Mevlana museum and adjacent mosque. This is home to the dervishes (of whirling dervish fame) and a very important centre of Sufism, and there are many entranced worshipers in the mosque. (This is the outside).
The font door, protected from the sun by a carpet
Parking is difficult, because the site is so famous in Turkey, but close to the Mevlana I find the Hotel Tur whose very friendly manager clears a space for me under an awning in his car park, and gives me a spartan but clean room for about 30YTL.
Even the police get a smart building in Konya!
The ride to Cappadocia from Konya starts to hint at the scale and magnificence of Turkey. You can see large snow-tipped mountains faintly in the background.
I meet this shepherd, Halit Getinmez of Giftlik Nigde (or maybe the other way around, whenh he wrote his name and address it was not clear to me which was which).
This area (Cappadocia) is so well known that I will let the photos speak for themselves. The lanscape is made up of 'tuff', a volcanic rock which is shaped by wind (and humans).
I decide to keep moving, after an afternoon spent riding around Goreme and adjacent villages and towns, although my friend Orhan from Istanbul has told me I should spend 3 days (and I am sure he is right!).
I have mapped out an interesting set of roads East of Goreme and Kayseri which take me over a 200m pass to Develi and on to Goksun. The road has some very steep sections marked.
I work this out at the same time I realise the afternoon is getting on, and there is snow in them thar hills!
Is this wise, to start an unknown mountain crossing in late afternoon? The roads have been almost empty and I hail a parked police car (despite my recently-found antipathy for Turkish traffic police). They advise me to ensure I have lots of petrol, and I begin to worry a little.
The highest I get to is 1937m and there is no snow there.
To be continued........
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