October 30, 2011 GMT
Erdine, Turkey to home, UK
Hiya folks – here we are again for the final instalment of the 7 week journey .Last blog we were at Erdine, Turkey and had been forced to change the route home due to the Greek situation. ---- Well, we knew that it wasn’t the ideal way to get home at this time of year ---- Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, France and home. ---- But we had to go for it – little realising just how hard it would be. Here’s a synopsis of the trip -----
Driving into a hotel courtyard
And the parade they put on for us -- in the howling wind
Sun 16 Oct and we left Erdine, Turkey for Sofia in Bulgaria ( 210 miles)in 9 degrees and the forecast of snow – plus just having only bread and jam for breakfast – not good. We were 13 K from the border and got through quickly – nothing was said about the speeding fine – so we didn’t say anything either.
I, very carefully, got rid of all the coin liras before crossing to Bulgaria and went to the exchange to get some Bulgarian Lev -- didn’t check it till the first stop where we had coffee and she had given me 5 Euro of coins in Turkish lira ! ---- Needless to say I wasn’t too happy about that – luckily we just about had enough Euros to pay for the coffee! (After digging deep into my handbag) ----- Anyone going to Turkey and want some change?
Up into the mountains and it went down to 2 degrees but stayed dry, thank goodness. Of course – on all the temperatures I state you have to add on the’ wind chill’ factor.
We managed to get to Sofia at 2.30 pm – and by then Colin, especially, was very cold – I wasn’t as bad as I have heated jacket and gloves but still felt cold. Not wanting to move your head or else you get a draft down your neck- no photos taken, of course and barely seeing the scenery. My eyes seem to be glued to the tarmac and every mile is one nearer home.
Colin passed 2 airports and I was willing him to pull in and freight the bike back home – or contact James Cargo for a lift! Not a good day. We are very ‘down’- I wrote in the journal –‘ I could have cried today, cold, fed up and want to be home NOW ‘. Colin maintained that there was a certain beauty to seeing snow topped mountains shrouded in thick fog - hmm, I think not!
The motel was lovely and warm; the girl spoke good English and said that this was unusually cold for this time of year ---- a sign of what was to come for the next 9 days.
Bitterly cold at 6.30 pm and Colin went into the weather for Switzerland – and its warmer there than here! Apparently the weather is meant to be getting better – but do we trust the forecast? — I think not! It started to snow at 7 pm—so what is tomorrow going to bring?
Mon 17 Oct and on to Markovac in Serbia - 210 miles. 2 degrees on leaving and up in the mountains went down to minus 7 ---- and I barely felt the heated jacket. We were not impressed at all but thanked our lucky stars that it wasn’t snowing. We were 70 K from the border and passed through quickly. When the young lad checked the passport- he looked at Colin and said: ‘you are an old man to be doing this’ ---- didn’t do Colin’s moral a whole lot of good!
We gained an hour here. It started to warm up a bit and when it got to 9 degrees we cheered. – Colin was extremely cold and has ended up wearing one of my thick jumpers for warmth – that’s made it a bit better but still not good. We stopped at Nis for a warm meal break and he got off the bike and was literally shaking and his fingers were blue – and that was with the heated grips on.
This situation is not good at all – but we have to keep going to avoid the snow that is forecast for each day. Yesterday, after we left Sofia they had 1 foot of snow in a very short space of time. We did more miles today than Colin had reckoned and we hope to be in Croatia tomorrow.
This is not a trip to be experienced again and one that we’re not likely to forget --- let’s just hope that we get a few days of sun. The motel tonight is barely warm and no heat at all in the bathroom ---- no shower tonight – we’ll stink instead!
Tues 18 Oct and on to Zagreb in Croatia (326 miles) left in minus 2 degrees and when Colin had to top up the oil ---- it wouldn’t pour out. He had to cut the top off and it eventually came out ‘glug’ glug’. The engine was very slow to start but did after a few goes. Fog everywhere as well, so that didn’t help!
The border crossing to Croatia was a 20 minute wait in the cold due to a long queue. Later it warmed up nicely 8 – 11 degrees. 4 lots of petrol today - it was a long day but ever onwards and upwards. 3 countries in 3 days. I’ve now got to the stage of really having to think what country I am in! But we are all out to get home and beat this weather system that threatens snow each night.
Had an argument with one of the guys at the toll – we had one 10 euro note left but it was ripped and he didn’t want to take it ---- Colin did the classic shrug of his shoulders and said ‘ it’s either that or nothing’ --- he took it !
The best thing about today was finding a Chinese restaurant for dinner – first good meal for ages. A good days run and I feel better in myself today – mentally as well as physically.
Wed 19 Oct 2011 and on to Salzburg in Austria - 278 miles. Left at 9 am and no frost today – so that’s a good sign after yesterday. Onto the motorway and through to Slovenia which we were transiting. We thought motorbikes were exempt from the vignette --- do not assume – we got a fine of 150 Euro that had to be paid there and then.
Flashed passports at the Slovenian border and we were through to Austria—another country done! Weather was better today – 10 degrees. We got held up for 1 hour due to tunnel repairs so had a quick picnic from the top box. All motorways today and the tarmac just flashes before your eyes.
Thurs 20 Oct and on to Ulm in Germany – 198 miles. Cold again at 3 degrees, raining, heavy mist and cloud covering the snow capped mountains – great. Big discussion whether we should leave or not --- decision’ yes, go for it’. Europe is expensive – 3.60 Euro for a cappuccino and 70 cents to use the loo at the motorway services. Autumn colours starting to appear.
The days are a complete haze now, the tarmac is the same but every mile is 1 nearer home. We have got to the stage of: ‘its Tuesday- must be Serbia, its Thursday, must be Germany’! Still, each day, snow is forecast for the next day – let’s hope that we can out- run it still. We are tired and counting the days to home now.
Fri 21 Oct and on to Metz in France– 236 miles. Left in freezing fog and temperature dropped to minus 5 with visibility of 50 yards – miserable drive till noon. Colin had icing problem with his visor and we were pleased to see the hotel at 3pm.
Sat 22 Oct and on to St Omer in France (293 miles) – and then a hop under the channel and we’ll be home!
A long day in fog – just travelling now to cover the miles. Arrived at 4 pm and at 5 pm we were in the bar and who should walk in but friends of ours, Harold and Sue on their 850 roadster. What a fantastic surprise- we had no idea of what they had planned. Harold said:’ we’ve come to take you home’ and it was music to our ears.
It was such a great boost to our morale and next day we did indeed follow his tail light all the way home to Calne. Got stung for the tunnel fare (half term and just turned up) –‘that’ll be 114 euro, Sir’. Positively balmy when we got to England – 18 degrees in the afternoon – bliss and our watches back one hour.
The 2 cats were present and correct when we got back --- they have no idea how much they spurred us on! – Sad isn’t it?
Total miles; 7845
So, what with borders closed in Kosovo and Turkey, strikes in Greece, an earthquake in Turkey (50 K from where we were) and early snow, I don’t think that any country will allow us back!
Don’t think there will be any more long adventurous trips for us---- Europe and Gibraltar, perhaps Canada, yes. – But the next big trip will be like a snail ---- in a camper van with our home on our back in the warmth and comfort of Australia. Colin has had enough of worrying over hotels that, this time, seemed to be harder to find in certain countries.
Colin has had 11 days of driving and covered 2833 miles without a break – he was very tired when we got home but is getting better now. All thanks to him for a safe drive under extreme circumstances – it was him that got us home safely.
The bike was faultless and is need of a big service and deep clean! The back tyre that Colin thought he would have to change in Europe actually saw us home and all credit to Dunlop – the tyres have been brilliant under very difficult terrains.
( PS. He started the service on the bike yesterday – after a power wash and there was a wasp’s nest starting under the instrument panel!)
So there you have it folks – warts and all. Thanks so much for all your support and concern --- safe and happy driving to all and ------ keep those tyres on the tarmac.
Cheers for now, Colin and Dee
The motel in Bulgaria where it was minus 2 next morning
This is what a bored pussycat does in 'her' workshop!- Tears up a roll of kitchen paper !!
Posted by Dee Masters at 12:12 PM
October 27, 2011 GMT
Alanya to Erdine, Turkey
Hiya folks, yet again ---- well it’s all been changed – but you will have to wait and see why!!
Last blog was from Alanya where we stayed for 5 days in the end. – Weather forecast was for thunder and lightning ---- and we got them from the safety of the hotel! We did manage a few touristy things including a boat trip where 2 young lads leapt into the sea and climbed up rocks (with a rope to help them), they then sped through the tunnels in the mountain to be collected the other side ---- and jumped from this cave into the sea and swam to the boat----
And went up to the castle to see the 10 kms of walled city
We left on Wed 12 Oct more refreshed than when we arrived but virtually straight into torrential rain in the mountains and we had to shelter in a garage for 1 ½ hours! Whilst we were there a disabled guy on a Mondial 150 with sidecar pulled in with his underarm crutches over the tarpaulin of the sidecar. He had done all the mods himself and made a hand operated rear brake which he pulled on. Makes you realise that you don’t have any problems at all really.
Typically the temperature in the afternoon was 22 degrees and for a change, was a good roads surface. A lovely coast road with inlets and sandy beaches. Bananas are growing in plenty and the hands are covered in polythene.
In Turkey the petrol tank is always filled for you and 20 feet away from the pumps people are openly smoking – often walking over to the pump with a lighted cigarette in one hand a cup of tea in the other! Invariably I get off the bike and some bloke will point to the loo!!
Tea is served in a small glass cups and in the towns young lads will go up and down the street with a metal holder which has about 6 insertions for the glasses. There’s a chain from the tray which he hooks over his finger and the tea is delivered unsplit!
Got into Kas which is a pretty seaside town and we actually saw English papers for sale but we didn’t see any English people. This is a fertile area of tomatoes which are planted under plastic on the edge of the beach.
How to suport your country = on the back of many lorries
Thursday 13 and we were off to Selcuk (Ephesus) – 260 miles – total miles: 5492. A bright clear day and kittens were playing around the bike as Colin packed up.
Still lovely road which meandered along a stunning and unspoilt coast line dotted with islands. We were pushing to get on and have delayed the ‘bum break’ stops as much as possible! At one stop there was a bride and groom having a meal in the restaurant—I went in and asked if she would give a twirl!
Garden ornaments for sale.
Omo for sale !
Found a hotel called ‘Jimmy’s Place’ at Selcuk and this is an absolute gem for travellers of all types. They are so helpful with any queries and definitely a place to be recommended. We had intended to visit Ephesus – but we are so tired we are going to give it a miss and get on. We really feel that we need to get home and plan to island hop. Cesme, Turkey to Chios which is 1 ½ hour trip. Then catch a Greek ferry to Athens, drive across Greece to Patros and get a ferry to Ankona in Italy. This will keep us in the sun, hopefully! It’s a tight schedule as there is only 2 hours between the arrival and departure.
At that point we asked the travel guy in the hotel to check on the ferries for us – we weren’t going to book it over the internet as we have had one card stopped already. We had booked a hotel on the card over the internet and it was that night that the fraud squad phoned and asked if we had made an airline booking for £1100!! - No, was the reply! ---- Nice to know that these things are picked up – but it makes you very wary.
Anyway – there we were trying to get the ferries and the guy said ‘no, Greece is closed’. So we looked closer into it and the upshot was that Customs and the border crossings were closed for 10 days (only open for perishable goods and entry / exit for humanitarian reasons only; Banks were closed and as ATM’s ran out of money they wouldn’t be restocked; ferries weren’t working --- and so it goes on. ------ We were dumbstruck, as you can imagine. -----Back to the drawing board for a different route back home ---- after pouring over the maps plan Z was formed------ up through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany and France. Not the way we would have elected to go at this time of year but we are strapped.
Initially I was very ‘ down’ – well, I think we both were really – we had got into the frame of mind for 2 days relaxing on the boats and Colin not having to drive those miles --- but, there’s nothing we can do about , so had better get on with it !
Friday 14 Oct and on to Eceabat- 261 miles. Total miles: 5753. Yesterday and today at breakfast we had our first conversations at length with other people --- Australians who were touring—it as great to talk in your own language freely.
Up into the mountains and it started to rain and get cold--- we made good time but it was a miserable drive. At one petrol stop we had a first ---- the windscreen and headlight were washed by the bloke. ----- I was so gobsmacked that I even failed to get the camera out!
Next coffee stop there were loads of flies about – I was sitting at a table with a red cloth and 2 flies were busy copulating! I was determined to take a photo of this and happily sat there clicking away. Colin came up and said’ what on earth are you doing? ----- My God, I definitely think it’s time for me to get you home’. This is boredom at its height! We went in to peals of laughter with tears streaming down my face --- what the physiologists would think of that episode, I dread to think!
We followed a mile long military convoy at one stage ----? Off to the Greek border.
We got to Cannukale and the ferry across the Dardanelles to Europe. We were cold, wet and miserable as can be seen in the photos – but slightly better than the last ferry crossing we did! - No odd cows about at all. That evening it was blowing an absolute hooligan (could hardly stand up against it) ---- hope that it’s better tomorrow!
It’s been 2 hard days of travel but we have done a lot of miles and are that much nearer home.
Sat 15 Oct and on to Erdine ----- still blowing hard but thought we must get on and perhaps the wind was coastal and would improve when we got into the mountains .If we keep stopping for the weather we’ll never get anywhere .It did get better in the mountains but it also got cold – 9 degrees. We managed to get Colin an extra sweater in Erdine.
He looked up the weather for Bulgaria tomorrow and snow is forecast --- great! – We are really fed up with everything, really – the emails keep us going and the thought that there are 2 pussycats waiting for us at home!--- I really don’t know how lone travellers get on – If I’m having a ‘down’ day Colin will perk me up and t’other way round. It must be very difficult by yourself. The conversation goes from route home, weather, how long it’ll take and the cost! – It’s been far more expensive than we had thought.
So--- all for this time ---tune in again for the next thrilling instalment of an absolutely horrendous drive home ----- more to come.
Colin reckons I look like a StarTrek Trooper !
In the hillside on the Europe side
What else do you expect to see on a zebra crossing---- well a pony and cart of course.
Did'nt quite them 'at it'! -- More to come
Posted by Dee Masters at 11:01 AM
October 10, 2011 GMT
Here we are again folks --- last time we had climbed Nemrut Dagi and I felt that we needed a T shirt saying we had done so! – The guy in the hotel offered to write it on a white T shirt, if I had one!
We were (and are) feeling very lonely – only spoken briefly to some Germans and Americans at breakfast one morning. At the hotel in Kahta there were 2 coach loads of English – great, we thought – some conversation at last. ----- Not on your Nelly: they cut us dead - it was as if we didn’t exist. So snooty it wasn’t true. As you can see they really climbed up my nose! Any contact from you is greatly appreciated !
We left Kahta on Tues 4 Oct and had a good run though to Gaziantep on a ‘B’ road that had been suggested by the driver at the hotel. What a star, he said that it would be a good road surface and, for once Colin was able to get out of third and fourth gear. It also cut out 60k from the trip. We were stopped by a Military checkpoint with a Sarasen Armoured Personnel Carrier---- all the guys were armed – but we were waved through after stopping.
Gaziantep is a large city and once again we got a taxi to follow to get to the hotel. Had a day off there and on Thurs 6 Oct onwards to Kizkalesi with the temperature rising again to 30 degrees. This was a good day’s travel on auto route with good road surface. This is a very fertile area and we passed fields and fields of cotton, bananas and pomegranates. The first view of the Mediteranan sea was invigorating, to say the least! Kizkalesi is famous for its 2 castles – one on the shore and t’other in the middle of the sea. It’s dark by 6.15 pm.
We now on the tourist strip and Colin is hoping that finding hotels is going to be easier from now on!
Fri 7 Oct and onwards to Alanya – on the south east Turkish coastline and very much a tourist area for Turks and Germans. This was again an horrendous drive through roads that were unmade, rubble and potholes. The coast road winds from being 20 feet from the sea, then up into the mountains where, more often than not, you are riding off road. No hotels or petrol stations and hard going. Colin had had enough--- we are tired and then we saw the weather forecast for the next few days ---- heavy rain and wind! ---- We are booked into the hotel here till Wed 11th and will see if the weather has improved by then. It’s an opportunity for Colin to rest as well.
We have reached the stage in the trip when it’s time to go home although we are in line with Cyprus here and St Petersburg or Sevastopol in the Crimea. So it won’t be a quick return. Colin reckons 6 more days in Turkey and then we hope to island hop from Cesme in Turkey to Chios which is a Greek Isle. Ferry from Chios to Athens. Ride across Greece to Patras and catch another ferry to Italy (either Bari or Brindisi) ------- then we are staying on the auto route to home!!!!! More to come ---
Total miles : 5012
Posted by Dee Masters at 03:06 PM
October 05, 2011 GMT
Turkey 5 - Nemrut Dagi
Here's the photos of Nemrut Dagi -- a height of 7100 feet and we had to climb the last 150 metres - nearly killed us !
Sorry about the 3 entries so quickly -- but we have a faily good IT connection here --- we are at Gaziantep - 60 k from the Syrian border. Onwards tomorrow (Thurs 6 oct ). Cheers, Dee and Colin
This is the teapot and kettle !
That's all folks till next time ------
Posted by Dee Masters at 03:08 PM
photos from blog 4 Turkey
note the cow in the awning!
Posted by Dee Masters at 10:38 AM