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Old 05-03-2009, 06:28 AM   #1
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Germany to Iran and back

Hi All,

This report is about a trip on a Tenere from Germany to just South of Shiraz, Iran. I went to Iran in March for a snowboarding trip and liked what I saw and decided to return on a bike.

I'm new to posting here and I apologize in advance if I mess things up. I have read and learned on Advrider.com for a while now and just like to say thanks to all of you for sharing. I'd like to return the favor by posting this trip report. It might take me a while to keep up but the latest version should always be on my web page OnTheRoad.Adventure-Antarctica.de. I just have a much faster workflow posting there but I will keep this report coming. Promise!

I was set on a motorbike trip during my time off this year and just wasn't quite sure where to. I took a bunch of books with inspirational trip reports (thanks Striking Viking, among others) to the South Pole with me and they kept me and others entertained during the long winter there. Hopefully some more Polies got inspired and will set out soon.

Here are a few teaser photos to whet you appetite (I'll add more as I go along):


Dalyan, Turkey



Lycian rock tombs, Myra, Turkey



Mamure Castle, Anamur, Turkey



Tough choice in Kizkalesi, Turkey



Nemrut Dagi, Turkey



Altinsac, Turkey



Akdemar Kilisesi, Turkey



Near Turkish/Iranian border



Takht-e-Soleyman, Iran


Imam Mosque, Esfahan, Iran



Reunion at the Imam Mosque, Esfahan, Iran



Esfahan Woman, Iran



Esfahan, Iran



Mountain Road, Iran



Persepolis, Iran



Kids in Yazd, Iran



Iranian Workout



Iranian Election



Haman in Kashan, Iran



Motorcycle police in Van, Turkey



Nemrut Dagi crater lake, Turkey



Near Kars, Turkey



Ani, Turkey



Kemaliyeliler Tasyolu, the "Rock Road", Turkey



Cappadocia, Turkey



Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey



Aya Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey






Monument of Communism, Bulgaria



Transfăgărăşan, Romania



Peles Castle, Romania



Wooden Church, Ieud, Romania


Krakow, Poland



OK, enough said. here we go:


Today was the day. The K&N air filter finally arrived yesterday and I could make no more excuses.




As expected the weather turned to custard as soon as I left home and I was riding through rain all the way to Munich. I ended up paying a heavy McCafe toll, hitting quite a few of them along the way for apple pie and coffee. In one of them the very nice old cleaning lady mopped up the wet trail I left across the store and kept mopping up the water puddle around a very apologetic me.



Just South of Munich the sky cleared for the first time and I could see the Alps.







My destination for today was a buddyís place near Garmisch. The picture below is the view from his living room window.





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Old 05-03-2009, 06:30 AM   #2
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Fun in Bavaria

We had a very nice dinner the night of my arrival and later went out to the Irish Pub in Garmisch for some drinks with some folks I had met while snowboarding in Austria in March.

The next day I had a good look around the lovely village of Eschenlohe.



Later that day we went to Munich for a party with some folks I went snowboarding with a few years ago. Only my first stop and I already got ďstuckĒ for an extra day
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:31 AM   #3
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Did Jesus fall off?

I saw this guy just outside Germering, on the outskirts of Munich. Looked like he had fallen off the cross and we debated for a while whether we should offer him some help to get back on.

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Old 05-03-2009, 06:34 AM   #4
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Down to Venice



My buddy in Eschenlohe convinced me to spend an extra day in the Dolomites instead of pressing on directly to Venice. A look at the map sold me on the plan: lots of twisty mountain roads and plenty of campgrounds. I quickly made a ferry reservation from Venice to Igoumentisa for two days later before I left his place.
I set out in beautiful sunshine, which lasted until I crossed the border to Italy.








Luckily, I had dry roads again when I reached the higher altitudes in the Dolomites.











I started to realize that it might actually be a bit early for the camping season. The ski lifts that were still running were a clue. I left my all season sleeping bag as well as my winter gloves at home in a last minute weight saving effort. I asked my trusty Zumo how long it would take all the way to Venice and it told me that I could make it in daylight. It then send me on some very twisty mountain roads, including a 2300m pass. Traffic so far had been very light, but until I hit the highway again closer to the coast I only saw a handful of cars going in the other direction and no one going my way. The drivers of the cars I saw looked at me in disbelief. The roads were dry and and with my heated grips I wasn’t cold at all. So, no worries and I had all those turns to myself.





With all that sow around I kept thinking of ways to bring a snowboard on a motorbike. I was really tempted to rent some gear and put in some turns.





After a bit of highway and more country roads I reached Punto Sabbioni, across the lagune from Venice, just around sunset.






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Old 05-03-2009, 06:35 AM   #5
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Venice



This was my first time in Venice and I wasnít sure what to expect, except of hordes of other tourists. Yes, the place is not for people who donít like crowds but it was well worth coming here. Just a bit away from St Marcís square you can have the place practically to yourself and Venice invites you to just head down a narrow alley and explore. It is fascinating in all its beauty and ugliness at the same time and a perfect place for people watching. I had a blast for two days and it didnít even blow the budget.



























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Old 05-03-2009, 06:37 AM   #6
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Ferry from Venice to Igoumenitsa




I took the ferry from Venice to Igoumentisa in Greece to save some time on my way down. We ended up having four bikes on the ferry, two V-Stroms, one GS, and my Ten. We were told to park between the loading ramps at the very back of the ferry. No tie down points at all and the bikes were really close to each other, practically touching. When I asked I was told that theyíll be fine. With mixed feelings about this I went upstairs to my cabin.


I spent the evening in the company of German and Dutch retirees, who made the crossing with their camper vans, and Greek truck drivers. I had a chance to play bingo but decided against it. My only bingo experience is of the South Pole extreme, full impact bingo kind and I didnít want to get into trouble. I opted to watch a bloody action flick in one of the lounges instead. After a good nightís sleep I watched a Rambo movie in the morning before it was time to disembark. Somehow Greek ferry companies donít have the same qualms when it comes to movie selection and some of the kids enjoyed the bloodfest.


The bikes were fine and I drove off as soon as the doors opened.



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Old 05-03-2009, 06:39 AM   #7
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Igoumenitsa to Kastraki


I let the Zumo pick a secondary road through the mountains north of Igoumentisa. It was a fantastic drive. No cars on the road, just the odd cow, sheep, or dog. When I passed through a small village with a couple of restaurants I decided to stop for a late lunch. My question for a menu was answered with a grand tour of the kitchen. It then turned out that Mama spoke German and all was well after a nice meal and a Cafe Frappe.
Just at the start of the road I saw a guy on a smallish, probably 125cc bike with a ton of luggage and a small puppy peeking over the handlebar. This guy was obviously on a longer trip and I would have loved to talk to him. We exchanged greetings but unfortunately he didnít stop. In fact, he looked pretty miserable. I would soon find out why. As I headed up the pass I soon find myself in thick fog. There was plenty of snow at side of the road too and the temps were way down. Time to crank up the heated grips again.
I rolled into Kastraki at the foot of the Meteora monastaries just before sunset. After setting up my tent and taking off the luggage I went for a great sunset ride around the monastaries.
No cars on the road, just cows

Nice curvy road

Lake near Ioannina

At the begınnıng of the Katara pass road

At the beginning of the road heading up to the Katara pass.

Katara Pass. Pretty nasty but I made it through

The little church on the side of the road was a great spot for a break
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:42 AM   #8
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Meteora

I have been fascinated by the Meteora monasteries since I saw them as a child in the 1970s, much under appreciated, cinematic masterpiece ďJupiterís ThighĒ. One of the main characters is hauled up to one of the monasteries in a basket. The place just looked very interesting to me as a kid. When I found out that Meteora is near my route I had to visit.
All of the monasteries are now linked by roads and can be accessed via steps that have been added in the last century. So, it is just a matter of finding a parking spot between the coaches hauling in the geriatric crowd and climbing up the stairs. Some of the monasteries are really small and some of them are quite big. The main point of interest is usually the basilica with ancient frescoes depicting martyrs being killed in all kinds of gory ways in great detail.
During the day I met a Swiss guy on a KTM Adventure 950. We had a quick chat and he told me that he got soaked the day before and he needed to dry out his stuff. How lucky was I to stay dry! I had a great time exploring the area.
Looking toward Kastraki

Meteora monastaries



My Ten posing in front of one of the monastaries

Modern day cargo delivery

Basilica inside a monastery

Frescoes adorn the walls inside the basilica


Very spooky

Iím glad I donít have kitchen duty here

Beautiful spot along a dirt road

At the end of a dirt road, after getting past some aggressive sheep dogs, I found yet another monastery
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:45 AM   #9
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Kastraki to Alexandroupoli


Today I had to cover quite a few kilometers. I left Kastraki in sunny weather, heading in a northeasterly direction towards the Turkish boarder. I took advantage of some sections of the newly built ďOlympicĒ highway, which didnít get done until after the Olympics and some sections are still under constructions. The highway is so new that they didnít even have time to finish the toll system. I drove through a brand new toll plaza near a heavily tunneled section that will sure cost serious Euros in the future. Only once, near Thessaloniki did I have to pay the outrageous amount of one Euro. At some point dark clouds moved in and it looked like a serious downpour was about to happen. I got off the highway asap and took an extended lunch break/nap in a simple taverna in a small village near a lake. After I got back on the road I did get a few drops but my clothes were dried out by the time I reached Alexandroupoli just before the Turkish boarder. They also forgot to build any gas station on the highway and one has to get off to get gas. The gas stations can be pretty far off the highway and the exits are pretty far apart or still under construction. That seems to be a very strange system.
Little gorge along the way

Many of these shrines are along the roads

I waited out a thunderstorm

Greek Rittersport imitation. ďQuadratisch, praktisch, gutĒ is catching on in the rest of the world.

The sun is shining again

The Communists still seem to go strong in Greece, calling everyone to the mayday parade.

Quaint little fishing town along the way
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:47 AM   #10
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Alexandroupoli - Gallipoli - Troy


A short ride from my campground in Alexandroupoli brought me to the Turkish border. I had heard much about the Turkish bureaucracy and drawn out customs procedure and thus was very pleasantly surprised that it took only 15 minutes. The customs official thought I wasnít the brightest though. I have a little New Zealand sticker on my bike (I live there) and he pointed out that I am a day late for ANZAC day and the big bike convention on Gallipoli. He didnít believe me when I told him that I didnít want to go to either one of these. I also kept trying to push my carnet de passage on him. I had heard that otherwise one has to pay a fee for some other piece of paper. Since I have a carnet for Iran anyway I thought I should use it. Turns out none of this is required. He just entered the details in a computer and put an extra stamp in my passport. No fee at all. Iíll see how it goes when I try to leave.
Countryside near the Turkish border

Another short ride brought me to Gallipoli, where I paid my respect at the NZ monument at the Hill 60 battle site and at ANZAC cove. Workers were busy removing the grandstands from the dawn ceremony the day before. Today the whole area was practically deserted.
Hill 60 New Zealand Monument

ANZAC Cove

Monument with view of ANZAC cove

I took the ferry to Canakkale and continued on to the ancient city of Troja.

I got a room in the village next to Troja, unloaded my bags and went for beautiful sunset ride on the dirt roads in the area.

Countryside near Troja

Later we had dinner at a small restaurant with the owner of the pension and another guest. The owner was a great host and gave a great introduction to Turkish culture and hospitality
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:49 AM   #11
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Troy

I got up early for a pre breakfast visit to Troy. It was only a short stroll from my Pansiyon in Tevfikiye to the gate. The site is rather small and quite confusing because so many cities have been built on top of each other over the centuries. Itís quite hard to make out what belongs to which period. Certainly nothing like the Troy depicted in the movies. However, there is enough there to tickle your imagination and it was certainly nice to sit there and have it to myself before the buses rolled in.

Amphitheatre in Troja

The cheesy Trojan Horse gets more attention than the ruins from some of the tourists.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:50 AM   #12
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Troy to Bergama

The coastal roads from Troy, dotted with some more ruins, looked promising on my map and I decided to take the scenic route.

I first drove to the ruins of Alexandria Troas.

The bath of Alexandria Troas are not fenced in and I could ride right up to it and walk around as I liked. I felt like a little kid on a big adventure playground.

Following the coast brought me to Babakale, which has an old fort and scenic harbor. Somehow I forgot to take a picture.

Poppies everywhere

A short time later I passed a scenic mountain village on the road to Assos

Assos, of ďAristotle lived thereĒ fame, looks very impressive from a distance.

The cobblestone streets leading up to the ruins are lined with small restaurant and shops. An ideal place for a tea.

I explored the ruins for about an hour

before heading down the hill again, where I came across one of the old East German MZs still in use in Turkey. I used to have one myself.

An old bridge could be seen from its modern counterpart as I was leaving town.

The ride was nice until I entered the main highway again.

From then on I could witness the Turkish version of the now past real estate boom, with largely empty cookie cutter houses lining the highway in all its concrete ugliness. My goal was to reach Bergama and I had to hurry to make it before sunset.
When I reached Bergama I decided to have a look around the ruins in the dawn light. I had a scary moment coming around a turn, when I saw line strung across the road. A kidís kite had blown over the fence of the Pergamum site and he was tying to retrieve it, blissfully unaware that his kite line almost decapitated me. Luckily I wasnít going very fast and left only skid marks on the road.
I settled into the nice Boeblingen Pensiyon in a quiet part of town.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:52 AM   #13
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Pergamum

The current day city of Bergama is next to the famous, ancient, hill side city of Pergamum or Pergamon. The Altar of Zeus was excavated by Germans a long time ago and they built the Pergamon museum in Berlin for it. Ever since I was a little kid I have been fascinated by this museum and I donít think I have ever been to Berlin without going into the Pergamon museum. Thus I was especially looking forward to see the actual site and I had planned a full day for the visit. I wasnít disappointed.
The reconstructed Temple of Trajan is certainly impressive.

This is all that is left on site of the famous Altar of Zeus. The original is in Berlinís Pergamon museum.

With 10,000 seats the amphitheater is massive

A relief fragment

The Middle City is huge and can be explored without any barriers

Floor mosaic in a roman period house

A beautiful tree on a hill overlooking the Temple of Trajan.

Modern Bergama is a pleasant city. I found this old bridge in the city

The ever present carpet dealer

The Red Basilica. It was originally a temple to Egyptian goods and later had a basilica built inside. St John has singled this one out as the throne of the devil. All seemed quiet though.

One of many donkeys on the side of the road. Considering the record fuel prices here it makes sense.
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:56 AM   #14
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Bergama to Selcuk

A leisurely ride on twisty country roads took me from Bergama to Selcuk.



Itís a nice little town with a pleasant park and a pedestrian area and a castle towering over it

Selcuk has a sizable stork population right in the city center that can be heard and seen.


A horse was grasing in the middle of the city park
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Old 05-03-2009, 06:57 AM   #15
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Ephesus

Ephesus, said to be the best-preserved classical site in the Mediterranean, didnít disappoint. I arrived early enough in Selcuk to catch a ride to the upper gate of the site. The most impressive sight for me was the re-erected facade of the Library of Celsus, which can be seen as you come down Curetes Way.

Statue representing one of the virtues, Sophia (wisdom)

The large amphitheater is also impressive

The Roman communal bathroom is very popular and everyone wants their picture taken. Seems like it used to be a nice chance for a chat. Just hope that nobody double scoops from the cleaning water channel in front of the seats.

Sarcophagi can be found around the site

The terraced houses allow a glimpse at Roman luxury living. The fancy Roman plumbing always amazes me.

Roman floor mosaics




The restoration is ongoing. If you like big puzzles this might be the job for you.

Duct tape is an approved restoration tool in Turkey
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