TURKEY July 2008
Next stop is Trabzon, Turkey on the Black Sea coast to order our Iranian visa at $50US each, as there is a Consulate there, which can process the application in 2 weeks. They issue a completion number and we can pick up the visa from any Iranian Consulate in the world. There is a unique and picturesque Byzantine monastery carved into the side of a sheer cliff and hidden away in solitary location.
Posted by Patrick Peck at July 29, 2008 08:44 AM GMT
Unexpectedly, we bump into Baha the HU member for Istanbul on his TDM 900 who offers his services as a tour guide and companion for the next week.
Weather is clear so we set off for a wonderful ride on the Black Sea road which hugs the coast nearly all the way to Istanbul.
Baha lead us on a merry chase along 1000kms of nonstop surpentine roads which clung to an undulating and cliffy terrain with constant views of this beautiful Blue Sea. Why did they name this the Black Sea? Three glorious days took us to postcard town of Amasra, a popular holiday spot for the Turks as the fortified town is built on a peninsula sandwiched between two beaches and twin harbours and surrounded by high cliffs.
Two days would have got us there, if we hadnt taken another one of Belindas shortcuts and expose Baha and his newish TDM to rough trails which appeared as good roads on the GPS. Luckily Baha spoke Turkish and could ask the local farmers which general direction we should drive. We remained relatively cool with our airflow clothing, but Baha was basting in his own juices as his clothes were designed for much cooler temps and higher speeds.
Our biggest danger to date are the aggressive and careless northern Turkish drivers. They constantly pull out to pass and expect us to pull off the road to avoid them. We saw Baha have two very close calls. The Lebanese drivers have nothing on these guys. Baha had to drive between two oncoming trucks coming around a blind corner in the mountains. Our constant practice on these roads is "avoidance driving".
Baha resides in a quiet and trendy suburb close to the Sea of Marmara and it is here that we rest up for a few days to Bahas generous hospitality visiting nice restaurants, strolling the Esplanade and refreshing our MP3 with new songs.
In order to miss the traffic in a city of 16 million people, we ferry it across the Sea of Marmaras to the coast near Bursa. Here we find more idyllic biking roads with little traffic next to the coastline reminicent of those along the Black Sea coast and followed these to the Gallipoli ferry crossing at Lapseki.
It was a freeway cruise to the Greek Med city of Alexandroupoli and our first fabulous Greek meal in what seemed like months. Fuel now was only 1.30 euro or 2.17 aus per liter.
Browsing the map the next morning for a plan of attack, we spotted the nearby island of Thassos which had a coastal ring road that would be great for exploring the whole island.
During the short ferry ride over, a British couple on a Honda 250 started a chat and soon we found ourselves having lunch at their newly built house for their retirement overlooking the Med.
For three days our hosts voluntered their favourite restaurants, beaches and hideaways as well as escorting Pat to the Medical clinic for a shot of quartizone to counter the allergic reaction of a bee sting on his chest, inflicted while riding.
The 45 minute ferry ride to the mainland cost us 11 euros total and we set off for Sofia, Bulgaria enroute to Oradea, Romania to visit Csilla and Oli Schul, our good friends and the HU members there.
We lodged just outside of Sofia as we have learned that the hotels near the center of capital cities are double the price, usually have no secure parking, and are a hassle to find in congested traffic.
The next day is our biggest day of this trip, with 2 border crossings and just under 600kms as the satelite shows an enormous storm heading in our direction. Our average day is a mear 150kms and we boast the slowest RTWorld trip.
A week of partying and eating with Csilla and Oli and 3 month old Dominik, servicing the bike and replacing the rear tyre with another Metzeler Tourance as we got 28000kms from the old one.
Now we are off to Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Northern Greece to meet up with Orestis and travel around Northern Greece for 3 weeks.