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Old 04-26-2011, 12:25 AM   #1
undingen OP
Joined: Oct 2010
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What's next? - Two motorcycles on tour (Austria to Turkey, Iraq, Georgia,...)

One thing first:
All the photos we have uploaded so far can be seen here.

Whats comming:

Please be forgiving this is our first ride report and forgive us our bad english.

We are now about 1 month on the road (so the first entries are written afterwards) and are currently staying in Hakkari (Turkey).

Until now our traveled route looks like this:

After much planning and many changes, we finnaly start our motorcycle engines at the end of March 2011.
Initially it was planned to drive from Austria to Iran (and back) with our two one cylinder motorcycles.
Unfortunately the departure was delayed by various causes, making our travel preperations also fall into the starting riots in the Arab countries. Due to the bad timing we couln't get the Iranian visa. :-(
This disappointed us though but we did not give up (the Iranian travel guide and the maps we have bought will find use another time...) and planned instead to drive to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. To get a head of the the ride report again: the journey will not go to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan but instead to Kurdistan, Georgia and Ukraine. (at least if we can cross all boarders from now on).

About us:
We are from Tyrol in Austria and are friends from school.

Marius (20) - KTM 640 Adventure 2002
Lukas (21) - Yamaha XT500L 1993

We plan to do mostly wild camping to stay in our budget.

From Austria (Tirol) to Italy (Venice)
Finally on the road!
The ride from the Tyrol to Venice started in glorious sunshine - for our boots actually too hot.
But on the first day only 130km into the trip a stupid mistake happened: Lukas bumps into my bike and we both go down. Consequences for the XT: broken clutch cable (and the cause of the incident?), bent foot brake pedal, fork and case. For the KTM: Bent case (not wathertight anymore).
Fortunately we could fix the motorcycles quickly thanks to the tools and spare parts we have with us. But the cluth cable on the XT should not brake any more because each one has only one spare...
Luke told me that he had read a ride report from motorcycle travelers who were on the road for 16 years but had a engine failure on the first day. This probably means we came of very well.

By ferry from Italy (Venice) to Greece (Igoumenitsa)
I also made a stupid mistake:
While pushing my bike into the parking lot it falls onto a Mercedes which parks next to it. :-( After a long negotiation with the Georgian owner he was fortunately satisfied with 10 and we are then best friends (negotiation started with 150 ).
Let me tell you that we went with Anek Lines and we had to park our bikes several times to different places because they suddenly changed there mind. And we had to use to our own harnesses to secure our bikes.

From Greece (Igoumenitsa) to Turkey
In Igoumenitsa we slept on the same spot on the beach where I have camped at last years ride to Greece. Not much has changed only fewer people and more garbage lying around.

Unfortunately the weather changed suddenly on the way to Turkey. It started to rain and storm. What we don't know yet: This weather will stay with us through Turkey. :-(

Once at the Turkish border, we buy the necessary visa and go to the next counter: the point at my green card and let me go back. Shocked I see that the paper is invalid: The nice man / woman from the insurance company wrote into the validity field: 05 March 2011 to 04 March 2011 (should be 2012!). I try it again, get to the the same person but this time the guy was nice and put the necessary stamp (despite the invalid card) in my passport. :-)
Yeah. We are now in Turkey which means our real journey begins :-).
Unfortunately a few kilometers after the border the XT does not drive foreward anymore. We suspect something very bad happened (my KTM had a similar problem before the trip - clutch) but after looking at the bike we saw that only the chain fell off the sprocket. (Who did not check the chain tension?) We were lucky and were able to remount the chain without tools and continue our journey. :-)

Later it was time to find a campground. We chose a (muddy) place near the road. In the morning we discovered that we have set the tent up next to a cemetery and a tree nursery.

undingen screwed with this post 04-30-2011 at 02:38 AM Reason: new photo
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Old 04-26-2011, 02:45 AM   #2
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welcome to this fine forum
thank you so much for this wonderful ride report
your english is very good
and the pictures are terrific

can't wait to read and see more
thanks for sharing
'11 R1200 GS Adventure with a DMC M72DX Sidecar
'14 R1200 GS & '14 R nineT (march, 2014)
Live life like you mean it... but take your family and friends (and DOGS) along for the "ride"
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Old 04-28-2011, 02:57 AM   #3
undingen OP
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Troy and Izmir

We decided to visit the famous city of Troy because it was only few kilometers away. But Troy was not very spectacular.

At a nearby cafe we have briefly halted to retight the chain from the XT and to drink tea.

The next day we went to Izmir. So far we were very pleasantly surprised by the traffic in Turkey which was not as bad as thought. But Izmir showed us a different side driving in the city was a disaster. The quietest stratch (because we were the only ones wıth petrol engines) was when we followed the GPS and drove through the main pedestrian zone...

The next day we decided to buy a new chain for the XT.
We found one in a Kawasaki shop and they installed it for us.
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Old 04-28-2011, 03:35 AM   #4
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Thanks for the report and pics! Welcome to ADV

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Old 04-28-2011, 07:30 AM   #5
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I'm subscribed !!

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Old 04-29-2011, 08:56 AM   #6
undingen OP
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Ephesus (Efes) and Pamukkale

Ephesus (Efes) and Pamukkale

With the new chain installed we drove through the heavy city traffic to Ephesus.
To our surprise two Australian BMW F800GS motorcycles were parking at the entrance of Ephesus. (But we did not meet the drivers :-()

We liked the ruins of Ephesus very much. Unfortunately we underestimated the size of this city, so we left our motorcycle clothes on, after a little bit of walking around (on the first sunny day in Turkey) we felt that this was a mistake.

On the next day we went to Pamukkale which we did only see from the outside. Because Luke said that the twisting street was more difficult than usual do drive on the XT, we looked at the motorcycle in more detail and saw that the rear wheel was mounted tilted by the shop in Izmir.
We fixed the issue in a nearby workshop and the owner even offered us some free cola :-).

Few kilometers later we found in the forest a very moody campsite.
There was heavy raining in the night, like nearly every night on our trip.

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Old 04-30-2011, 12:28 AM   #7
undingen OP
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Konya and Dervishes

Konya and Dervishes
On the way to Cappadocia the the road led us through an interesting landscape and we stopped in Konya.

In the city we went to a good restaurant and then we read the KTM manual again to be sure how one adjusts the chain tension properly because it was suddenly very relaxed.

But 40km outside of the city in search of a place to sleep it broke. While we evaluated the damage a police car had already stopped.
They tried to get us quickly of the roadside and then requested that we follow the police car on the 2nd Motorcycle. They took us to a small workshop at a gas station and there they let the chain shorten and connected it again. Unfortunately no one spoke English and therefore we could not tell them that this does not help us further. We were glad when they left us drive back alone. We towed the KTM a few hundred meters through a field so we could sleep out of sight.

The next day we woke up in bright sunshine in the middle of of a herd of sheep.

We drove into town to look for a workshop and by chance we ended up in the workshop area. Unfortunately of the approximately 100 workshops not one was for motorcycles. But we found nearby a motorcycle shop whose owner guided us at a rapid pace on an old Jawa motorcycle through the city to a workshop. There they said they have no suitable sprocket but they can turn one until tomorrow. We noticed that an aluminum sprocket was installed which should explain the suddenly fast wear.

We looked for a hotel and visited on the next day the Mevlevi Order (Whirling Dervishes).

Then we went to the shop where the motorcycle was waiting ready to leave.
We bought also a replacement chain because we realized that our chains wore extremely fast on this trip.

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:25 AM   #8
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Wonderful report! Thanks for sharing and welcome to advrider! I sure hope all your bad luck is behind you so you can enjoy the rest of the journey. I'm really looking forward to more.
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Old 04-30-2011, 11:58 PM   #9
undingen OP
Joined: Oct 2010
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Thanks for the nice replys :-).

I hope I don't speak to soon. But the bad luck from the beginning had ended some time ago. Only the weather could be better.

We are currently in Georgia (Tbilis) and the border from Turkey by Posof was very easy to cross. (leafing on the turkish side took much longer than entering Georgia but was also fast. thanks god the don't have a x-ray like on the border to iraq...).
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Old 05-06-2011, 02:33 AM   #10
undingen OP
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When we arrived in Cappadocia, we first went to the Ihlara Valley.

We needed an entire day to visit the 10km long valley and the countless caves. We regretted that we had no rope and no bright flashlight.

Unfortunately before departure we were surprised by the restaurant owner where we had set up our tent in the garden with extremely overpriced breakfast prices. In the hurry we even paid the price without thinking about it.

On the way to Goreme we stopped at an underground city and played there a trick on the German tourists...

Next we visited Goreme where we visited not so many buildings as we were still exhausted from the day before.

On the next morning we visited the Goreme Open Air Museum which unfortunatly was not worth the entrance fee. Since you see almost the same outside only with fewer people and without protective grating.

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Old 05-06-2011, 03:34 AM   #11
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nice pictures, nice report !
Looking forward to the rest of your report
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Old 05-06-2011, 05:49 AM   #12
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:02 PM   #13
undingen OP
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Kilis and problems at the Syrian border

Kilis and problems at the Syrian border
Next we went over the mountains to Kilis, where we spent a night in the tent at 1700m at -1 C with rain and storm.

Once in Kilis we drove directly to the Syrian border. At the border the Syrian border official sait "no" when he saw that we had no visa. Naturally we informed ourselves on the internet in advance and read that a visa at the border is possible, but sometimes people get rejected.
The officials gave us the entry forms to fill out and then we waited about two hours for a response. The answer was unfortunately "no visa" and we were escorted to the Turkish side.
At the Turkish side my green card was unfortunately a problem and I had to buy local insurance. Which should not be that hard. Only the insurance counter was in Turkey and I could not enter the country with the bike... But at the border we saw a piece of paper with a phone number on it which one should call for insurance. Which then someone called for us and to make it short: a guy came on a moped and after half an hour I had my insurance valid for over 3-months and it cost only 10 euro :-).

The next day we drove into town to go to an internet cafe and read about other border crossings to Syria. We found several cafes but unfortunately on that day the city had no power.

As we walked back to our bikes we found an English note on it. Something like: "We like to meet you. Waiting in restaurant ...". We had just eaten, but we met for tea and exchanged e-mail addresses - this was very nice.

After that we went to Yayladagi (near Antakya) because we had in mind that other passengers got also rejected recently, but made it through this border crossing.
The road to the other border took us over a steep single-track winding road. But unfortunately with the strong wind this was no fun.

This border seemed much better because we were greeted friendly and they had not acted as if it was a problem that we did not have a Syrian visa. Before the counter was a large illuminated sign, on which was written that passengers get visas if there is no embassy in their home country.
The officials asked us for our route and everything seemed pretty positive. One of the officer said that it may be that we only get a three-day visa. But this would have been at least enough to make it to Jordan. After about 1.5 hours of waiting we were unfortunately again told that we got rejected. :-(
We were again escorted to Turkish side and the man said that he is very sorry and we are welcome in Syria, but his manager has said no unfortunately. And we should try it again, but this time apply before for a visa at the consulate in Gaziantep.
We were very disappointed by this news because the officials at the border at Kilis, had said we have to drive to Ankara and had not mentioned the consulate in Gaziantep, although the city was very close. So we had to go back to Kilis. Such detours hurt when petrol costs about 2 Euro per liter.

Once in Gaziantep we found a hotel (with the help of a friendly parking attendant who was very nice and wrote on a sheet of paper in Turkish words: We are looking for a cheap hotel... So we could show it around to get help.)

The next day we went to the consulate, which was close-by. There we got informed that it is possible to apply for a visa. But the need a note from the Syrian embassy in Austria that the find it okay that we apply for a visa in Turkey. He showed us a fax from Polish travellers so that we know how this should look like and the text was not longer than two sentences.
Then we called the Syrian embassy in Vienna but they did not listen carefully and repeated several times that we should come to Vienna and that they know nothing of the consulate in Gaziantep and we have to travel to Ankara.
We started some experiments (Among other things we asked in Gaziantep, whether it might be possible that he quickly calls in Austria and clarify the situation - no, not possible) but they all remained unsuccessful.

We considered then to go by boat from Turkey to Lebanon, but we had rejected the idea in the end.
Instead we have decided to drive once again to Kilis and meet the boys again from which we got the movie-like invitation.

In Kilis we began to search and to abbreviate it: We found them and had an appointment for tea and met again on the next day.
We spent the next day with a group of nearly 20 people and had much fun. From their hospitality we can still learn a lot.

Thanks again for everything.

We also decided to go next to the Kurdish part of Iraq, on to Georgia and then by ship to the Ukraine and then
home. We hoped that from now on we have no more problems at borders.
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Old 05-11-2011, 12:18 PM   #14
undingen OP
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On the way to the Iraqi border

On the way to the Iraqi border

On the road to the Iraqi border Luke got a flat rear tire because of a 8cm long nail.

But 200m away was a tire shop, where a nice truck driver helped us out of the trouble. In the end we were even invited to tea and biscuits (we often obtained such invatations (sometimes several times a day) in Turkey ) and in the end he refused to accept money.

We went on and near the city of Mardin, we decided to set up our camp. We drove to a nearby field and saw a fence with a tower. We thought at the beginning, it was perhaps an airport and drove a few meters away. Shortly after that we saw that the fence is very long and this must be the Syrian border fence. Shortly after that we were cut off from both sides of the road with civilian vehicles and we had to drive in convoy to the nearest military base. At first they thought we wanted to cross the minefield to Syria but after a while they believed us that we were here only to set up our tent.
But they sill accompanied us to thel the main road.
We then looked for a hotel.
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Old 05-14-2011, 01:11 PM   #15
undingen OP
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Kurdish part of Iraq

Kurdish part of Iraq

The entry into Iraq was very easy and fast only on the Turkish side we had to X-ray one motorcycle which took several hours.

At first we went to Dohuk and slept there in a hotel.
We were surprised that there were almost only modern expensive SUVs on the roads.
On the border a bank employee told us that we can pay everywhere with with Euro, but this turned out to be false.
The exchange of Euro gave us problems because we were looking for a bank, but did not know that banks will not change Euro (the change only dollar) and instead one has to go to a currency exchange office who were at the other end of town.

The next day we had very good weather, only the sand in the air was annoying.
To circumscribe Mosul we took a road in the mountains and on the way we had to tighten my chain.
What proved to be difficult because a bunch of people was trying to help and randomly tightened and untighted screws.
Then we reached Erbil (the capital of Kurdish Iraq).

We liked Erbil very much, especially the big market in the city center. We eat many falafelbreads (~ 0.3 Euro), ice (~ 0.3 Euro) and delicious fresh fruit juices (~ 0.5 Euro) (we did the same in the other cities we visited in Iraq).

The next destination was a famous valley (near Rawanduz), which is located near the border with Iran.

While we took photos of the impressive landscape, a accident occurred in the valley where a truck and a building came on fire and filled the valley with black smoke.

After a night in Rawanduz we wanted to go to Sulaymaniyah but at a tea with soldiers from a checkpoint they said, today would not be a good day to go there because something happened there. We decided that it's better to go back to Dohuk.

We liked the Kurdish part of Iraq's very much and will certainly visit it again. With the exception of the check points on the road everything is normal. The check points are mastered quickly and the most time take the photo shooting for Facebook.
Additional advantage is the very cheap food and drinks and the cheap fuel.
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