Hi there folks-- well Wrinklies are off again - this time through France, Switzerland, Ialy,Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosova,Serbia, Bulgaria, all round Turkey ( ?to georgia) and back through to Izmir in Turkey, Greece and ten follow the sun home ! Probably away about 8 weeks and obviously on Herman , the BMW gs 1150.
We left UK on Monday 5 Sept 2011 and through the tunnel , stopping off in Arras
Hi there folks- well, Wrinklies are off again - this time through France, Switzerland, Italy,Slovenia, Croatia,Montinego, Kosova, Serbia, Bulgaria and all round Turkey ( maybe io Georgia). Exit Turkey at Izmir to Greece and follow the sun home! We reckon to be away about 8 weeks and are, of course , on Herman the 115 GS.
Had a lovely send off by Brendon and Tasha, who came to wave bye bye !
We left UK on Monday 5 Septmber 2011 through the tunnel -- getting a day return ( but we forgot to go back !)Stopped off in Arras
Hi there folks - well Wrinklies are off again through and around Turkey. Hope to be away 8 weeks. We left UK on Monday 5 September 2011 on Herman --- our 1150 gs.
Had a great send off by Brendon and tasha who had come to wave bye bye !
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Through the tunnel and stopped off in Arras
The ride to Roye was very windy but we made it about 6 pm.(192 miles)
Tues 6 Sept and on to Raimeront ((293 miles) - had a 20 mile round trip to find a garage that would take card payment !!-- It continued to be very windy across the central plain and I was tucked down behind Colin !Arrived Epinoll where we thought we were booked into the Etap - but guess who had booked the same hotel for the same night !!!-- Last night's was booked but not tonight--- Epinall had no rooms , so we went onto Rairermont - another long day.
Wed 7 and on to Pontarlier, Switzerland in mixed wind and rain - lovely ! 200miles. Still rain and wind - through the Ballon d'Alsace where i saw a marmot and that made my day ! Also saw 2 red squirrels.The weather clamped down at the top of the Pass and vibility was about 20 yards - thick clou, driving rain and cold at 8 degrees C.Then onto cross the border into Switzerland ----- swept round the corner to find a barrier across the road ! -- well, we wont be going through there then !
Had to backtrack onto a different road to get through -- by then we were at the giggling stage and thinking that we would never get out of France !
Thurs 8 Sept on to Chur through numerous Passes - including Juan
,Sustan and Oberall. 257 miles oif stnnung scenery and hairpin bends. Switzerand is very expensive -- McDonalds for 2 was £21 .38!!!
Through St Moritz and I can see why people rave over it - it's so pretty with the mountains going into a backdrop of a lake.
Friday and we were through to Italy and the De Stelvio Pass - absolutely stunning but cold at 8 degrees. The ride was magnificent and loads of bikes at the top with hair pins at a complete right angle.The pass is 9000 feet but on the Italian side the temperature was 30 degrees!
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Sat 10 and we we in italy having stayed at Bolzano. Through more passes and into the Dolomites --- well it was like Picadilly Circus on a bad day !!!!!! Bikes, cars and peddle bikes all vying fr theroad ---- not enjoyable at all. The ride down was better though. Saw the glaciers---
Stayed at the Hotel Willy near Udine.--- well that had to be done, did'nt it?
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Sunday and we were into Croatia overnighting at Karlobag
The coast road along to Dubrovnik is stunning, It takes you along ----- gently meandering right by the sea and then up into the hills with the sea view still there.
Nealy all speak English and travelling is a joy ------ apart from thr heat at 35 degrees in the aftenoon. I am now in jeans for travelling ! Yesterday ( Tuesday) we nearly ran out of petrol----- talk abut so called seaoned travellers !!-- there was'nt a petrol staion for miles on the coast road. When we ventually did fill up there was absolutely nothing sloshing in the tank. Colin had knocked it out of gear on the downhill parts and reckons we were travelling on air.
Overnighted in Podora on Monday night - in an apartment and arrived in Dubrovnik on Tuesday. Got a lovely apartment for 3 nights --- 50 euro per night . It's hot and we are about to have a swim!--- more to come!Total miles :nearly 2000
Just a few photos for you. We are of to Montenegro tomorrow (- Fri 16 Sept)
One of the highlights for Colin yesterday was the lady from the apartment jumping on the back of the bike and riding 3 storeys up to her garage !!!
img alt="colin dubrovnik 020.JPG" src="http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/masters/images/colin dubrovnik 020.JPG" width="640" height="480" border="0" />
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Hope you enjoyed these --- more later- depending on the IT of course. We are going into unknown territory from here !!
Hi there again folks - hope you enjoyed the last blog - here's the latest update. It'll be a bit long as we have been without any IT support for days !
First of all -- on the last posting it should have read : ' Colin's day was made by the lady at the Dubrovnic apartment hopping on the bike and riding sidesaddle up 3 floors to the garage ' !!!!! - I left the most important bit out !
Ok - the night before we left Dubrovnik ( Thursday 15 Sept ) Colin just happened to check on the border crossing from Montenegro to Kosova. Just as well he did as it said that the border would be closed on 16 ( which was the day we intended to cross) and troops put in place.
On the news next day we saw troops, helicopters, road dug up and barriers across the border. By then we had altered our route, of course ----- going the long way round through Serbia and into Bulgaria.Put about a day and a half on the trip - but was safe.
So -- 16 th we left Dub ---- after Colin had pumped up the front tyre after someone had nicked the valve caps over night!-- and that was in a 'secure' garage ! Along the coast road and entered Montenegro about 11 am. Drove past lines of lorries waiting to cross the border- these lorry drivers must have the patience of a saint !Showed passports --- and were through - no customs control at all.Had to buy insurance for 10 Euro as we had no Green Card for Montenegro.
It was hot - 35 degrees and we are back to the wet head and T shirt syndrome. The coast road was as stunning as Croatia but covered with a thick heat haze.The heat was really sapping to our energy.
At Budva we swung inland to a National Park area through deep gorges and softer mountains.It was a slow ride and Colin did'nt get out of 4 th gear the whole way due to the traffic and roads.
The whole length of this road, - 160 miles at least there was advertising on rocks and bolders for an auto recovery firm with the telephone number ! These were at least every mile , if not more ----- how about that for advertising !
Got through to the Serbian border about 4. 30pm and were stopped at what we thought was the border queue. ----- No, it turned out that it was road works and here they just close the road for a period of time and everyone waits ----- ( in the sun ! )-- we gathered that it was due to reopen at 5. 30 pm and it did.
Through the border to Serbia - once again passport checks only and no isurance asked for.
Met up with a Polish couple who had been to Albania on their Goldwing. He said that ' there are no roads in albania and not good for the bike !'
It was nearing dusk and we pulled into the nearest motel- 17 euro per night.Thought that was good but a litle further up the road they were 10 Euro.
Next day and we were through the mountains and quiet traffic till we came to another road block and this time the wait was 2 hours ! -- The guys let us through the barriers as there was a restaurant 200 metres up the road and it would be cool there.And so we waited = but at least we were in the cool. At 1 pm the road was open and on a brand new road what should be the first thing along it --- well a horse and cart, of course!
Serbian towns were heaving--- police are everwhere and at each road junction are directing the traffic with a baton. Some parts are really run down, elderly cars , peasants with pony and traps and selling their wares on the side of the road. Then there there are areas that are ultra modern and swish brand new cars and petrol stations. Everyone is friendly and helpful. Some speak a smattering of English although it's not taught in the schools.
Signposts are in Cyrillic with English underneath. Petrol is about the same as UK but food and hotels are cheap.Road surfaces are good.
I got stung by a ???? through my jeans - boy did I jump !---- Colin wondered what on earth had happened .
Marlborough cigarettes are 1 Euro for 20 and smoking is allowed everywhere. There are many large lorry parks on the side of the road through Europe and flatbed lorries towing the same length as the lead truck.
We overnighted in Pojate in an ultra modern motel for £55 per night inc breakfast, meal and drinks.Security was tight here with a security lock on all entrances to the motel.
Sun 18 and we went on to the peage for a change and through to the Bulgarian border.Showed passports only and we were through.
We transitted Bulgaria bypassing Sofia and stopping for the night at a motel about 90 miles from the Turkish border. Bulgaria is very Russian with Cyrillic signposts and out in the country appears to be poor. People were , on the whole, helpful and would take Euro. The roads were reasonable and petrol about the same as UK. This part of Bulgaria is flat.
The babushkas sit outside the loos and collect your 50 cents.
At 5pm we stopped at a roadside motel for the night --- it turned out that they took Euro but there was no restauant ---- 'down in the village'. By this time she had our money , so we were committed to staying. It offered romms for a rest at £11 and condoms were for sale at reception ! We had to pay up front and it was 3o euro for the night, We hiked 1 kilometre for a mealto be told that they would'nt take euro. When she saw the look of horror on our faces , she relented and said 'da'. We resorted to the picture bookand had a meal of ??????? -- don't know but it filled a hole.
Coaches were calling in through the night at the motel as a loo stop.
Mon 19 Sept and we were at the border to Turkey at noon. This I will cover with the next blog. Hope this makes sense as I have had to move several times due to various reasons ! We are currently in the Ibis at Istanbul --- more to come.
Below are some photos of Bulgaria for you ----
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More to come !!!!!
Hi there again folks --- well we continue to journey and entered Turkey on Mon 19th Sept .The last part of Bulgaria was really flat and a boring ride, really, with one stop for coffee from a machine at 2 Euro each !!!!! -- boy did she us coming and then I was charged 50 cents to use the squat loo !
Arrived at the border around noon and still around 30 degrees. Showed passports and then had to buy visasa ---- he was away having lunch, so we sat on the side of the lane waiting patiently. Not too long a wait and the 2 visas were 70 lire (£26.92 ). Then on to another building to buy insurance -- Colin did this whilst I stayed with the bke in the shade. We were partially blocking the lane exit --- but the official had told us to leave it there -- so we did ! Insurance cost 120 YTL (£46.15) for 6 months. Customs contro; checked bike papers only and we were through after an hour----- good going . We thought we would be longer than that.
Went straight into Erdine and got a Caravanerie hotel which was built in the 1400's-------it has been moderised since then !!! It was very tranquil in the courtyard -- the place outside heaving with people and noise -- but inside the hotel you can't hear any of that. 180 YTL for the night (£69). The place was full of atmosphere , traditional and obviously very old with thick walls and inner courtyards. There is a particular smell to these old places -- slightly sewery and musty --- but you soon get used to it !!!
The town was heaving with people , shops open till 9 pm with some staying open longer than that.All little shops that seem to sell everything --- Colin actually got a spare panner key cut and I got a new phone charger . Both were 5 YTL ((£1.92!)
The mosques here are stunning inside - they say they are as good as The Blue Mosque in Istanbul.Huge domes inside that are painted and gold leafed. i had to cover my shoulders and wear a headscarf- and we both had to take shoes off. We were visiting the second mosque when the call to prayer came out --- so we left.
There are numerous stray cats and dogs everywhere - they look thin but not under nourished. Petrol is dear -- more than UK. Food is cheap.
Got back to the hotel and asked for 'water'- guy didn’t understand that and when I got the laptop out -- he rushed over and said ' Google translate ' ------ It's 'soda' --- so now you know! We had to laugh --- Google translate came in useful the next day too --- but you've got o wait for that!!!
That evening I had a dose of the squitts and took 2 Imodium ---- we were then down to 4 tablets, so next day I was sent off to get some more. --------Well you try to mime diarrhoea to 2 girls who don't speak English!!!! We were in fits of laughter -- then the guys came in to see what all the fun was about --- so I was playing to a crowd !---- No embarrassment though - it was all taken in good part. First of all they gave me Dulcolax (a laxative) ---- ‘No, no, the other way’!!!! Then I spotted a computer and said' Google Translate' which they did and eventually I got 2 lots of tablets for 14 YTL (£5.38).
And so we were away to Istanbul on the motorway – had to buy a KGS card for the use of the motorway. The guy asked where we were going after Istanbul and said that we needed one for all the m/w’s in Turkey -- - £19.23 .You just swipe the card at the entrance and exit .Initially the m/w was really quiet ---
The fields are harvested and the stubble being burnt off. Fields and fields of ' gone over’ sunflowers. The weather is getting cooler –now 25 degrees. We got into Istanbul at 1 pm ---- the traffic was manic to say the least. Car and, lorries cutting you up on either side. People driving down the hard shoulder, horns beeping and at the toll—cars or lorries backing up to change lanes!!------ Colin pulled into the side to let things sort out a bit and then we went for it!!!! Had to get through to the third lane --- this is not for the feint hearted and I kept VERY quiet on the back!
Then we found ourselves in the airport and at the arrivals!!!!!!! ---- At this point I said to Colin –: ‘we have got to get a taxi and follow that to the Ibis. We are rapidly getting into a Delhi situation here’. (I.e. hot and bothered and under a great deal of pressure) The taxi fare was worth every penny. It was 10 k away and we would never have found it under our own steam. The Ibis found us a room overlooking the Sea of Mamara and we are chilling nicely, thank you!!
We are having 2 days off here to see the sights and have been on a cruise of the Bospherous today ( Wed 21 Sept ) The funniest thing about that was the taxi running out of gas and we had to walk the last 1000 metres back to the hotel! ----- See, Colin’s not the only one to run low on gas --- and he did'nt rn out completely!!! Total 2956miles :
Thurs 22 and we went off to see the sights --- Sofia Museum,Cisterne Bacillicus, Topkapi and the Blue Mosque. Tomorrow we are go on to Safronbolu ---- but first we have to get out of Istanbul - which Colin is not looking forward to. ---- More to come later. Here's some photos of the sights.
Hi ya folks --- Before I start the blog Colin didn’t think a lot of the photo that I posted of the Cisterne Bacillicus (the underground water storage area) – so here goes for some better ones – and of the huge carp that are resident!
Well, we got out of Istanbul (Fri 23 Sept) – very carefully but safely – thanks to Collin! We had a great send off from the hotel – a group of about 20 Turks watched Colin pack up and then all wanted their photos taken with us! The manager came out also and there was waving and shouts of goodbye as we left!
We had waited for the rush hour to abate and hired a taxi to get us on to the right road – which the driver did the second time! First of all he took us to the Erdine turning which was where we had come from a few days earlier! Turning round was a game – but on the whole, the exit was much better than the arrival. Colin says that he will never, ever drive in Istanbul again. Even a Turkish girl said to us that it was mad to drive there! Istanbul is rather like Delhi – you need a haven to hole up in!
We drove over th Bosphurus Bridge and were offcally in Asia.
Once you got out of Istanbul the motorway was reasonably quiet –we climbed up into the mountains and it started to rain – to be more precise – it teemed down and got cold at 8 degrees!! – What a change from 35 degrees. We were soaking wet despite all the gear. We called in at a motorway stop and it was a huge Outlet village – complete with the guy washing cars outside with a broom! Next stop we were given free tea – I think the guy thought we were mad to be on the road.
We arrived at Safranbulu which is a World Heritage site and of the Ottoman period. All the houses are wood framed Ottoman style 16 and 17 century .The roads are stone block and very uneven and the hotel was also up a steep hill!! --- I baled out at the bottom and let Colin drive up. He really does pick and chose his places to stay that could be easier.
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The whole place is wonderful with markets and bazaars that are heaving with people. Everything much cheaper here, of course. Turkish Delight to die for- as are the macaroons. I think I’ll come back home as fat as a little pig! Stray cats are invariably in restaurants and then get shooed away – only to reappear in a couple of minutes. Smoking allowed everywhere.
img alt="Safranbulu colin 008.JPG" src="http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/tstories/masters/images/Safranbulu colin 008.JPG" width="640" height="480" border="0" />
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Hope you enjoy the piccies --- we've got a good IT connection where we are today Wed 28 and we are in Trabzon. I'll try and get the blog up to date later today or tomorrow. Cheers, Dee and Colin----- more to come !
Hiya folks – well we left Safranbolu on Sun 25 Sept. A rather late start as a German guy on a Yamaha came screaming up the road to see us when he noticed our bike. It was great to talk to another long distance traveller. He was off to Iran and Saudi for the winter! There was a Van cat in residence at this hotel--- they are famous for their one yellow and one blue eyes – quite rare and quite expensive !
Colin drove down the steep hill and I stood and saw him out and waited for a gap in the traffic!
Roads were really quiet out of town and the temperature is dropping now to about 22 degrees.—colder, of course through the mountains (but good hairpin bends!) Rurally you have to be aware of cows, sheep, hens, dogs, cats or buffalo on the side of the roads – we have even seen them on the dual carriageways! The animals are tended by a bloke or girl who always stays with them.
People are selling their wares with a small stall set up on the side of the road. The hay is drying in stoops.
Down onto the coast road by the Black Sea – and this was an experience! You could be bowling along quite happily on beautiful road surface ------ and then onto rubble, gravel and pot holes for miles. This is where they are making the new coast road – I sat very still on the back! Everywhere, it seems, are new roads going in --- courtesy of the Turkish Gov and European Union. The coast line is stunning--- totally unspoilt although you can see that lots of towns are trying to open up to the tourist trade ----- proms being built and new properties going in all over.
Great to see in one town Children’s play area on grass---complete with sheep grazing to keep the grass at bay! The road ambles right by the sea and then you are taken up into the mountains with a wonderful view of the many bays. These must be deep water as there as big ships are moored within.
All the kids wear a school uniform – usually plaid skirt for the girls and same plaid for the boy’s jumpers. Secondary school boys wear a shirt, tie and blazer. Traffic police are everywhere. The Turkish flag is flying over many businesses, Gov buildings, of course and many houses. Everyone is very polite – rose water sprinkled on to your hands when leaving shops or restaurants and they do not like handbags on the floor. --- A table or chair would always be dragged over to put it on.
Men sit in the cafes drinking tea and greet each other with a handshake and a kiss on either cheek. Every community seems to have at least one mosque. Everyone is very helpful even if they don’t speak English. Security in the towns is very tight with guards everywhere – often you have to walk- through an airport style security screens. Internet connections are very hit and miss –sometimes good and other times- just good enough to read mail but not send.
In the petrol stations the tank is filled for you and the registration number taken. Tea is free in most petrol places or a juice. We had one stop where a young lad of about 10 couldn’t stop staring at us – in the end his dad told him off, in no uncertain terms and we were left in peace! Many petrol stations have a small ‘zoo’ with hens, turkeys, grouse and rabbits- along with a play area for the kids.
Stayed that night near Sinop in a delightful seaside town---- including plastic palm trees! Went to sleep listening to the sound of the waves! Invariably the lifts have no safety door and you watch the floors go past. Taxis are always yellow and slightly cheaper than UK.
Mon 23 Sept--- 3 weeks from home and 3676 miles and on to Ordu .Rubble and hardcore again for miles and a great dust cloud behind us. Colin reckons that the hotels disappear at 4 pm (the time he starts looking for hotel) ----- 3.30 pm you pass at least 7. Come 4pm they all disappear. This is how I came to sitting on the back reading the Lonely Planet’s for about 60 k --- that’s a first too! Finally found a hotel where they wanted Colin to park on the pavement – with a 10 inch lip! – Needless to say to bike stayed on the road!
A stroll along the Black Sea – the sand is very dark and reasonably fine. Large boulders form the rocks and the mountains reach right to the sea edge in places. We had a cable car ride here at dusk – and that was great.
Tues 27 and we were off to Trabzon and 2 days R and R – felt that we needed it. Hotel is just by the sea and temperature in the afternoon – a balmy 25 degrees. That night Trabzon football team were playing France in an international match and the French team were staying at the hotel so security was extra tight with armed militia and out riders! – They must have known we were coming!
Colin had a contretemps with the hotel manager about parking the bike –no secure car park in a ‘good’ hotel. Needless to say Colin won the day and the bike is covered and parked just outside the main door!! This had to be agreed with the Head of Security, of course.
We need this time to catch up on housekeeping – Colin had the bike washed and said he wished he had taken the camera with him as it was just like a meringue and covered with foam. He is, at present, cleaning the panniers in the shower!!! --- As you do.
Yesterday we checked the Camelbaks --- and they were growing a black mould inside. – Not too healthy I hear you say. We traipsed round a 3 storey shopping Mall trying to find Milton – but no success. (This Mall was complete with Noddy Train – reckon we should suggest that to Swindon Outlet!) So we have them steeping in a strong saline solution at the moment and Colin has managed to find a bit of string and pulled that through the pipes --- honesty, the things that you do ! – Still dubious whether we use them again – need new bladders, I think.
Well, this has been an epic blog and do hope that I haven’t bored you all to tears. We feel more rested and are off again tomorrow – Friday 30 Sept. We have decided that now we will turn south and follow the sun- cut out Georgia and Armenia completely. This will give us more opportunity to see sights in the south – and stay warm for a while.
Losses up to date! ---- a pair of knickers in Chur, a washing line in Croatia and 200 cigarette that Colin forgot to pack in Erdine ------ everyone who knows me would know that I wasn’t too happy about that one!!!
More to come, cheers, Dee and Colin ----
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