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Old 30 Dec 2010
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Turkey By Moto 2010

Never let it be said that I rush into things. Twenty eight years ago I had a plan to ride my motorcycle to Turkey; for one reason or another I didn’t. One year I set off in good faith, but after six days of continuous heavy rain and erratic fuel supplies in Yugoslavia I turned tail and tracked the sun and warm weather down to the south of France.

Fast forward to 2006, I am now in a position of having less free time and finances to undertake the trip, but there some things you feel you just have to complete prior to the journey with the Grim Reaper. Unfortunately a succession of events due to health issues meant the journey was stalled before it had begun.

This year I was determined I would get to Turkey. Thanks to HUBB I was able to pair up with Cooking Fat (Geoff) of this parish who wished to complete a similar trip, the moral support and company would be appreciated. A pre trip meeting with Geoff and his good lady Alison, confirmed that everything bode well for the trip

Wednesday 26 May 2010 SalisburyPortsmouth 42 miles

Prior to leaving work a call from the ferry operator, LD Lines, informs me that due to industrial action we will be landing at Dieppe rather than Le Havre. Therefore at home a slight tweak to the route reveals that this change may be to our advantage.

I meet up with Geoff at the quayside in Portsmouth, Geoff was on his Triumph Tiger 955i (“a gentlemen’s motorcycle”) and me on a BMW F650GS twin, where there were only three motorcycles awaiting the ferry. However by the time we began the embarkation procedure the numbers had increased significantly. The great British tradition of queuing, then moving to another queue began; co-ordinated by an over zealous port employee who ensured motorcyclists donned their helmets for the tortuous journey around the corner to the next queue.

Once on board, the accommodation and facilities were all that one would require coupled with the fact that LD Lines offer better value for money pricing than the competition on the western Channel routes (Cheap ferries France England LD Lines : Channel crossing ferry to France). Discussions on board centred around Geoff’s riding style, with him describing it as sedate “like a vicar on valium” and didn’t want to hold me up, it would appear Geoff had the wrong impression of yours truly

Thursday 27 May 2010 Dieppe - Seurre 360 miles

Dieppe is much easier to get out of than Le Havre due to the lower traffic density. We follow the D915, down to Chateau Thierry, then D9373 to Troyes. The French D roads offering fairly rapid progress and a more relaxed ride than the autoroutes. The first busy city we have to contend with is Dijon, but this does not delay us to any great degree, reaching the small town of Seurreby early evening. The princely sum of €6.30 was paid to stay on the municipal camping site. Food was a little more problematic for me, Geoff had come better prepared with a seemingly endless supply of tinned fish, meat and what he termed Energy Suppositories (for the faint hearted these are home made energy/bran bars that ingested in the usual manner).

Friday 28 May 2010 – ?

Away in the cool overcast weather down to Louhans where a stop was made for breakfast. Luck was smiling on us as whilst feeding ourselves we missed a rain shower. Then onwards, in increasingly warm weather, to the Alps.

Sadly, when crossing the mountains the weather deteriorated, with mist and cold temperatures detracting from the ride.

Once in Italy we had to find the Autostrada. This was a little confusing as I followed the destination signs according to their colour rather than reading them correctly. In the UK, motorway signs are blue with main roads being green, foolishly I assumed the Italian system would the same. Not so, the colours highlight the opposite to the UK system; ! Once on the Autostrada it was somewhat irritating to be stopped at Toll Booths every few kilometres and asked to find a €1-1.5 toll. Once clear of Torino a ticket was dispensed that would not be required until our arrival at Ancona.

The Autostrada was the preferred option as we wanted to maximise the time travelling in Turkey. Whether it was due to it being a Friday, or we were just unlucky, but the standard of driving on these roads was appalling (apologies to any Italians reading this). It was not just chaotic but in many instances being extremely dangerous. Not a pleasant experience.
A decision was taken to complete the run to Ancona without an overnight stop and change our ferry booking to the Saturday crossing.

Saturday 29 May 2010 Ancona 594 miles

We arrived at the ferry check–in building around 0230hrs and under the floodlighting I became aware that the engine of my machine was covered in oil. Due to fatigue we put the benches outside the building to full use by flaking out on them for some much needed sleep.

When I awoke at dawn, I began to investigate as to where the oil was leaking from. This entailed taking various panels off and eventually the consensus of opinion was that the rocker cover gasket had failed.

Contact was made with BMW in the UK whose international operations would not open until 0900hrs Italian time. Being only 0600hrs there was a considerable wait to endure. At about this time the armed guard arrived to open up the building who took grave offence at the sight of a partially stripped down motorcycle being under the canopy of the building. I could appreciate his point, with acres of car park and one vehicle in it with two people, space was at a premium.

BMW called who stated there was a dealer in Ancona but were unsure if they would have the time available to rectify the fault before the start of the new working week. At last the call came through to get around to the BMW dealer, Top Motors (Home- Top Motors Ancona) as soon as possible. I am indebted to the Top Motors’ management and mechanic who ensured the repair was completed before they closed for business at lunchtime. It transpired that the gasket failed as it was the old one re-fitted by my BMW dealer after taking the rocker cover off during a service. I could enthuse about the benefits of the BMW breakdown service but I would much preferred not to have to have called upon it for an issue that could so easily have been avoided.

Once the paper work had been completed it was straight back to the ferry company check-in, Superfast Ferries (Superfast Ferries) who changed the booking without charge for that day’s 1330hrs sailing. The return fare was, in relation to the Channel crossing, remarkably cheap (there are specific offers for motorcyclists). That said we did not book any accommodation on board as that appeared far too extravagant (read expensive) for us.

Sunday 30 May 2010 Igoumenitsa – North Vrasna, Greece 356 miles
A first for me, spending a night, literally, on the deck of a ferry and the little corner we found afforded a surprisingly good night’s sleep.

On arrival the initial part of the route across Greece had us following a short northern loop of the E90 that took us through some picturesque scenery. There was still snow on the mountains and the road surface had obviously been damaged over recent months. One part had a section that had been washed away, impassable to cars but the two “travellers” (on Geoff’s insistence and I have to agree, “ahem”, that we deemed ourselves to be travellers not tourists!) managed to overcome the obstacle.

Stranger things were afoot; at the top of one of the mountain roads we were both perplexed as to the reasoning behind the decision to install electric street lighting. There was no junction, dwellings or anything else that would appear to justify them being put in place.
We continued to follow the scenic route and joined the Egnatia-Odos near to Siatista. This motorway is more scenic than most and as a toll road less costly, simply because the only toll booth we passed through that was manned charged the princely sum of €1.
It was slightly bizarre that no fuel was available on the motorway, signs directed you off the highway giving the distance to the nearest filling station. We were to learn on our return not all the signs could be believed.

One facility that did cheer us up was a couple of entrepreneurs (Geoff would like it to be known that apparently the French do not have a word for entrepreneur) who had set up vans just the other side of the fence indicating the motorway boundary to sell food and drink to the hungry and thirsty traveller. They were doing a roaring trade.

We called it a day and pulled off the motorway to find accommodation in North Vrasna, a seaside resort. The beach had too many ticks and flies for my liking to set up the tents therefore hard accommodation was found.

The big fly in the Vrasna ointment was the odious individual who owned the establishment we happened upon to have a meal, who took great delight in ripping us off.

Monday 31 May North Vrasna – Gelibolu 224 miles

Wrestling with BMW panniers was how I started the day. The rubber bungs on the bottom of the panniers appear to be designed to ensure they fall out whenever they touch a hard surface and are difficult to get back into place, particularly when liberally coated with super glue and you’re holding it with a tissue, and your finger becomes bonded to the rubber bung, and the tissue glues itself to your hand, and you attempt to wipe the sweat from your brow…you get the picture, the day did not start well.

It soon improved; the first part of the journey was to view a marble statue of a lion that is said to have been created 400BC. The statue had been unearthed in pieces and then reconstructed and placed at a junction of two minor roads.

We rejoined the Egnatia-Odos and three hours later sees us arriving at the last filling station in Greece. Some time was taken to cool down, the temperature having risen considerably during the day. We were joined by a couple on a pair of BMWs and we all watched a group of Harley (and Harley wannabees) making use of the final fuel stop before reaching Turkey. It was then onward with the final push to the border.

The arrival was an anticlimax as the Greek officials were enjoying their lunch break. We waited in line, purchasing chilled drinks in an attempt to stay cool. Once the border was open we were whisked through and into no man’s land. The first Turkish checkpoint wanted to see the motorcycles Registration Document (V5C for those in the UK), no problem, after it had been checked I pulled forward and waited in the shade for Geoff. And waited, and waited, eventually he pulled alongside and informed me he had not brought the document with him. By this time the Turkish official was embroiled in checking other vehicles therefore I suggested as Geoff was past this checkpoint we should just continue.

The next check was for our passports and we then had to park up and go and purchase a visa (£10 note). With the visa issued we were feeling buoyed up at this point and pulled forward to the next checkpoint. This it the moment at which it all went pear shaped; a second request to see the insurance and vehicle registration documents. Geoff’s progress hit the buffers, he was going no further. What irked was not that the official was applying the law of his country, but his manner. It was established a fax copy of the document would be acceptable, officialdom informing us to go back to a post office in Greece and then return. As it was a Sunday the post office idea was non starter, however, there were shops at the border and enquiries revealed a shop with a fax the owner of which was more than happy to have the document sent to her machine.

The hot sunny hours whistled by as Geoff racked up a significant mobile ‘phone bill calling the UK and arranging with Alison to have the paperwork faxed to Turkey. The people in the UK were adamant the fax had been sent but nothing had been received, so further calls were made to re-send. It then transpired the receiving fax machine was out of order! Another was found and the document received and at last we were in Turkey! Note: take your vehicle documents with you when you travel to Turkey to avoid disappointment!!

The border delay had cost over three hours and we were eager to complete a few miles within Turkey that day. At the first town, Keşan, we turned off the main highway and headed south east to Gelibolu. Eventually we got a room in the town at the Oya Hotel (15TL ea incl breakfast).

The hotel had seen better days, but was central and we were, if the truth be told, rather too hot and uncomfortable to care. We were unable to fathom out how to operate the AC in the room, suspecting it was due to there being no remote control and when we enquired at reception if we could have one were told they were not available. C’est la vie.

After a wander around town we were tempted to sample the food on offer at a restaurant next to the ferry terminal. We had ideally situated seats, watching the hive of activity, where every arriving ferry appeared as though it was going to join us at our table. After dinner a slow walk back to the hotel was taken via a tea stop and an ice cream stall. On our return at the hotel the receptionist greeted us with an AC remote control, informing us management had classified us a “good men”, surely some mistake!

Last edited by EMBEE; 10 Jan 2014 at 15:34.
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Old 30 Dec 2010
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Tuesday 1 June 2010 Gelibolu – Balikesir 168 miles

A post breakfast walk around the town enabled us to acclimatise ourselves to the hot conditions. A bustling market was in full swing with the main mode of transport for produce and goods being mules.

It was decided that in preference to the ferry from Gelibolu we would ride down the peninsular and visit several war grave sites. Of the Anzac graves we saw what struck us was the age of those killed. In the main they were somewhat older than casualties buried in northern Europe from the same conflict. Looking from the hills overlooking the coast line I could not comprehend the bravery displayed by those men landing on the beaches as the defending Turkish army had excellent vantage points from which it appeared it was impossible to hide.

On the way down to Eceabat I avoided, what I thought, was a 1.5m strip of metal in the road. How wrong, when I got close to it the bit of “metal” began to move swiftly to the road edge. Although on a motorcycle I was perturbed to be in such close proximity to a snake of that size.

The crossing to Canakkale was a leisurely twenty minutes costing only 8TL.

At last, the travellers were in Asia Minor. Long sections of the roads we followed were having major repairs or re-alignment work carried out, in some cases several miles of compacted earth or gravel. Nothing to cause any concern in seasoned travellers, but these two travellers were definitely “unseasoned”, when it came to off road conditions. In my journal I described one tortuous section as being a “real bum clincher”. However, it made for good conversation at the end of the day and a greater degree of satisfaction having got to the end of the day without any mishap.

Having reached Balikesir just before 6:00pm we decided to look for accommodation, unfortunately it took over an hour to find a suitable place. For unsuitable read expensive; we were obviously giving the wrong impression! After being taken to a succession of hotels by a car park manager we found the Hotel Grand Yilmaz (Hotel Grand Y�lmaz HOTEL GRAND YILMAZ Hotel Grand Yilmaz BALIKES�R HOTEL balikesir hotel balikesirotel BALIKES�R OTEL) at 30TL each. Parking was on the street, the ‘bikes being directly outside a hotel on the opposite side of the main road (that we had earlier rejected due to the expense) although the staff informed us they would keep a watchful eye on the machines.

Wednesday 2 June 2010 Balikesir – Akşehir 267 miles

The morning was a shock to the system; leaden sky and torrential rain. We managed to get out of the city on the correct road through the kindness of various pedestrians and one car driver who on witnessing our animated discussions led us out of town. What surprised me most was once out of the city, the driver turned his car around and headed back into town. I doubt a foreign visitor to my home town of Salisbury would have been afforded such kindness.

Once again the road conditions were testing us, not due to repair works but where the surface dressing had been worn away leaving a very shiny and extremely dangerous surface in the wet conditions (I knew I should have packed more underwear!). Beyond Simav both the road and weather conditions improved and we made it to Akşehir where we found somewhere to stay quite easily, the main reason for this being that there was little choice. The town was home to Nasreddin Hoca who lived there in the 13 century. Apparently famous for enjoying exposing the absurdity of life, with a multitude of pictures and statues of him doing just that by showing him sitting on his donkey facing backwards.

Thursday 3 June 2010 Akşehir - Gőreme 229 miles

The first destination of the day was Konya and a visit to the shrine of Jalaluddin Rumi at the Maulana Museum (Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey). Konya was first large Turkish city we had driven into and was an uncomfortable ride due to the temperature and the absence of a cooling breeze as we were trapped in among the traffic. Forgive me for being smug but we did find our way to the site without any detours.

Geoff had mentioned that the Gentlemen’s Motorcycle had been (unsurprisingly) running a little hot, with some coolant having leaked out. He topped up the header tank but was concerned the fluid was not finding its way into the radiator and cooling system. Therefore he wished to check the coolant level in the radiator but due to the Triumph’s ingenious design this entailed removing fairing panels, the battery, the battery box and fuel tank before gaining access to the radiator. Adding water to the radiator proved to be a practical and psychological achievement. Hot and filthy we set off to find our way out of the city, fortunately when we stopped to buy petrol there were facilities where we could clean ourselves and the staff were kind enough to ply us with çay.

By the end of the afternoon we had managed to reach Gőreme where we settled upon the Canyon View Hotel for what we believed to have been told was 25TL B&B per person.
Just outside the hotel we met Roget (?) a young American who was a motorcyclist and frequent visitor to the BMW GS site (::. UKGSer.com .:: - Powered by vBulletin). He very kindly massaged our egos by stating how impressed he was with our trip and we modestly had to agree with him!

Friday 4 June 2010 Gőreme 0 miles

A day off the ‘bikes.

After being fortified by a hearty breakfast we undertook the arduous trek that was the kilometre to the Open Air Museum (Goreme Open Air Museum, Goreme, Cappadocia). This proved to be far more interesting and informative than I had anticipated and would recommend a visit to anyone in the area. It can be somewhat overwhelmed by coach parties but these seem to arrive and depart in waves, being an independent visitor you can take advantage of the less crowded periods between strictly timed packaged visits.

The afternoon was spent relaxing, utilising the neighbouring hotel’s swimming pool in the mistaken belief it belonged to our hotel, doing deals with local young entrepreneurs, before visiting the town for dinner.

It was here we found the Turkish delight of cold rice pudding as a dessert, plagiarising another product’s strap line, naughty but nice.

Saturday 5 June 2010 Gőreme - Pozanti 120 miles

The first surprise of the day was finding that the room had been charged as Euros, which soured the stay for us as we were certain the currency stated had been Turkish Lira. Being gentlemen we accepted this and grumbled our way from the hotel. The journey began by looping north to travel down the Devrent Valley to see the strange rock formations and on to Űrgűp.

On through Mustafapaşa and cutting across to Derinkuyu where I visited the Underground City (Derinkuyu Underground City, Cappadocia Turkey). Geoff gave this a miss due to his stature he (correctly) thought it would be uncomfortable for him to do so, whereas I am of the more compact, underground city visitor build. Another, truly remarkable site. Although the rock is described as “soft” it felt quite hard when it made contact with your head. The work that had been required to excavate the city, over several different levels, was difficult to comprehend. Apparently there are other lower levels still to be excavated as and when funding is found to subsidise the work.

It was at this stop we had noticed a heavily modified, British registered Moto Guzzi Spada.
We made a point of introducing ourselves to the owners, Kev and Karen, who were at the start of a round the world trip.

The trip had been planned and finances gathered over a period of many years. Kev’s obvious engineering skills had built a machine that would enable them to both cope with any conditions they may experience on the journey and in the event of a problem, be relatively easier to repair than more modern machines. Kev was bemoaning that the seat was slightly uncomfortable in the hot weather which led to Geoff, in a gentlemanly gesture, to donate his sheepskin seat cover (aka roadkill) to Kev. Kev and Karen’s progress can be seen on their website Guzzi Overland.

Leaving Derinkuyu we travelled south then cut north, then south east on the road down through Çanardi. This section of the journey was through an area akin to Alpine scenery; bordered with mountains and lush meadows and orchards in the valley. Taking this route had the additional advantage of the road being virtually devoid of traffic. The accommodation found for the night was at a truck stop just to the north of Pozanti. The person in charge was a big bear of a man with a heart of gold who ensured we ate well and were supplied with a seemingly endless supply of çay. We whiled away the evening by watching a man whose job it was to wash the trucks when the drivers were away having their meal, with both a high temperature and humidity he was dressed in industrial waterproofs, working virtually non stop,

Sunday 6 June 2010 Pozanti - Silifke 139 miles

After a good breakfast we set off south at a relaxed pace taking the D750 which ran parallel to the busier E90 toll road. An even more minor road was taken towards Çamliyayla. This took us past a lake that was been enjoyed by a number of families having picnics on the shore and then climbed up significantly where we stopped at a çay stop overlooking the valley.

It became obvious that the lake we had seen was man made with a considerable amount of civil engineering work being carried out in the valley to construct an even larger reservoir.

We then looped back south where the road descended to sea level at Tarsus. Here we joined the D400 which proved to be a rather unpleasant ride along a busy dual carriageway with a multitude of traffic lights as far as Erdemli. Conditions improved thereafter, as the dual carriageway ended, the volume of traffic decreased and riding became less frenetic.

We pulled into Silifke to find somewhere to stay for the night. Although not a particularly large town it took a disproportionate amount of time to find a bed for the night, eventually finding one at the Otel Arisan for 22.50TL.

We were invited to park the ‘bikes in a garage next to the hotel that was used to wash cars. A heart stopping moment occurred when a heavily laden motorcycle traversed a wet and highly polished floor.

Taking an evening stroll it was interesting to see in amongst the modern development were classical ruins, consisting of several quite tall columns that had been put to good use by the local storks setting up home on the top and raising a family.

Monday 7 June 2010 Silifke - Gazipaşa 138 miles

Before leaving the town we rode up to the castle, again we are indebted to the kindness of a local resident who lead us up to the correct road. Once there we were hijacked, in a very pleasant manner, by an elderly gentleman who gave us a tour around the site. The views were impressive from the castle which, if I had thought about it, should not have been a surprise!

Our journey westwards continued along the D400, a sinuous route with a variety of road works creating additional “off road” hazards. Breakfast was missed which meant that when we eventually stopped for lunch it was enjoyed even more. A wonderful meal, endless çai and a pudding, the basis of which appeared to be wheat soaked in honey (you could almost feel your teeth dissolving as you ate it; marvellous!) all for 9TL, plus we were entertained by the owner’s delightful young daughter.

After lunch a further break was taken at Mamure Kalesi (Mamure Kalesi) an impressive ruin that would have caused UK Health and Safety practitioners heart rate to rise. Do not let that put you off, it is certainly worth a visit.

From there large sections of land near the road have been destroyed in readiness for it to be made into a dual carriageway, but then it is not there for the sole purpose of allowing motorcyclists to enjoy the route.

Travel for the day came to an end at Gazipaşa, which possessed a huge, sandy beach which had very little development on, or around it, which begs the question for how much longer will that be the case?

Tuesday 8 June 2010 Gazipaşa - Antalya 154 miles

A hearty breakfast and away back on the D400 again but not before realising that the headlight bulb had blow on my machine. On reaching the urban area near Alanya the road, once again, became a busy four lane highway and this would be the case all day. Going around Alanya the road was festooned with traffic lights making progress rather slow, with every stop light being the opportunity to see how many lanes of traffic can fit into a road designed for two! The interrupted flow did allow me to see a garage where I was able to purchase and fit a new headlight bulb (what an exciting life I lead).

The journey today was broken by a visit to Aspendos, a magnificent site and thankfully not too busy (Aspendos Theatre History) . Looking at the size of the coach park it has the potential to be incredibly crowded at certain times of the holiday season. Once again I could only marvel at the design and craftsmanship of the building and the lack of restrictions placed on visitors as to where they could go within the structure.

Once back on the D400 the next obstacle was to get across Antalya and locate Termesos. The sky was becoming more overcast and by the time we were leaving the northern edge of Antalya it had begun to drizzle which made the winding road a little more “interesting”. A stop to fuel up and calm the jangled nerves with tea we pressed on and arrived at Termesos late afternoon (Explore Turkey :: Antalya* :: Termessos). . This had the advantage that there were very few other visitors at the site unfortunately, our time there would be somewhat limited.

There was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature soared as we parked the ‘bikes and began the trek up hill, partially clad in motorcycling gear, to see the ruins. The various parts of city are quite spread out and certain sections were missed, but the effort was worth it for the theatre alone that has as it’s backdrop mountain scenery. Once again I found myself in awe of our predecessors

After the visit we found a hut to stay in for the night, a very good hut with beds and a bathroom on a campsite back on the road towards Antalya.

Last edited by EMBEE; 10 Jan 2014 at 15:58.
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Wednesday 9 June 2010 Antalya-Gőcek 206 miles

The day began with us having to pass through Antalya again. On the way back towards the city there was a vantage point where, if the weather conditions had not been overcast and misty, would have afforded views across the city to the sea. It proved relatively easy to get across the city and back on to the D400. The more distance we put between ourselves and Antalya the traffic density decreased and the terrain changed to hills and forests making it a pleasant ride. A breakfast stop was taken at a roadside çay vendor where we joined a crew from a refuse lorry and the owner’s family, the former taking an interest in our plans and proved pleasant company.

Passing through Kamluca I allowed my mind to wander and going round a roundabout made the mistake of placing myself in the path of a rapidly approaching BMW 7 Series; thankfully the driver acted quicker than I did and proved the car’s ABS system worked. The next town was Finnikie where we stopped for lunch, choosing a restaurant near the river and were served by two delightful young ladies.

The road had become picturesque as it hugged the coast for a lot of the way and had become a series of twists and turns. Through Kas, Kalkan and on towards Fethiye.

With the occasional traffic jam

Just before passing that city there was an enforced stop due to a torrential downpour, which meant that more çay had to be consumed. The rest of the day’s journey was through wet conditions and by 1800hrs we had reached Gőcek finding the excellent Dim Hotel (G�cek Dim Hotel - G�cek`te r�ya gibi bir tatil) at 30TL for the room.. Once I got myself cleaned up the hotel’s pool was put to good use followed by pre-prandial stroll around the village. The place has become the home to the yachting and boating community sporting a huge marina with many of the shops in town being chandlers and others offering services to the boating community that was reflected in their prices. We managed to locate a small and reasonably priced place to eat prior to returning to the hotel.

Thursday 10 June 2010 Gőcek - Bergama 324 miles

An excellent breakfast on the terrace set us up for the new day. Once again we re-joined the D400 heading towards Mugla, foregoing the toll tunnel instead going over the top of the hill. We turned off on to the D330 and then off onto a minor road through the mountains. This was the first section of our trip where we lost touch. I was waiting for Geoff, and with the benefit of hindsight realise, a little too far away from a junction and saw him in my mirror travel continue along the wrong road. After getting turned around, (turning a motorcycle around in anything less than a football stadium is somewhat problematic for me!) Geoff had managed to get quite away ahead. When I got close to him I then found out how poor the standard horn on the machine was for attracting other road user’s attention. Back on track, travelling along the less used roads through quiet villages was very enjoyable, stopping at Gőlçuk close the junction where we would rejoin the D330.
The çay stop was opposite the village school, the other (all male) clientele were engrossed in their game, similar to draughts, and the school children enjoying themselves in the playground.
We rejoined the D330 and this continued to take us through the mountains and into Denizli, which surprised us both as we were not aware it was such a large city. Once through and passing Sarakőy we then split off on to the D320 with the sky turning from blue to grey and then a very ominous black. Within a few minutes the heavens opened and we were engulfed by a torrential downpour, such was the intensity of the rain it was extremely dangerous to continue. Thankfully a filling station emerged from the gloom and we pulled over and took shelter.

Here we were fed and entertained for over an hour watching several tractors pull in to make use of the shelter to enable their loads of hay to be covered by plastic sheets. The men drove the tractors, dismounted and got themselves a çay leaving their women folk to struggle with the tarpaulins and ropes to protect their loads from the rain.

After an hour or so the rain had died down and we prepared to move on but not before the owner insisted that he cleaned my visor and handed over the pack of baby wipes to enable me to keep it clean in the future.

We continued up to towards Salihili and north on the D555 to Akhisar through changeable weather conditions. From there on to the D240 that took us through Soma and then on to Bergama by early evening. A little wandering around proved fruitless in our search for suitable accommodation, but a recommendation for the Odyssey Guesthouse was followed up and proved to be a valuable find (Welcome) at 27.50TL per person for B&B.

As it was getting rather late we did not venture too far, that said, the square we walked around was assumed to be the town centre. After a meal we found to our horror that there was no rice pudding available, therefore we scouted around until we found a restaurant that could satisfy our addiction.

Friday 11 June 2010Bergama 0 miles

The morning we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the breakfast on offer; for example the preserves having been made from fresh fruit by the owner and his wife. The meal was enjoyed on the roof top terrace from where we could see both the Acropolis and Basilica that we were to visit.

We took the ‘bikes up to the Acropolis (Acropolis of Pergamum (Pergamon), Bergama, Turkey) and were able to park, although space was at a premium. There were several traders clustered around the entrance and one, very kindly, offered to look after our jackets and helmets. Also at the entrance was the final station of a cable car system under construction which will remove the need for traffic, particularly the tourist coaches, having to make their way to the top of the hill. As to whether you feel the visual intrusion is an acceptable trade off is open to debate.

The site itself has a commanding view of the area and the ruins that remain are many and in the main spectacular. As it is quite a large site it does not feel crowded or overwhelmed by the number of visitors.

While walking around the site we very nearly stepped on this little fella:

Once we had retrieved our kit from the stall holder, enjoying a glass of çay with him and listening to his hopes of motorcycle touring in the future we returned to the guest house. Leaving the ‘bikes we then walked to visit Red Basilica, which although is an imposing edifice, was unfortunately showing signs of neglect. We literally had to tread carefully as there was a risk of disappearing into large holes which appeared to give access to space underneath the building, some of which had a fair depth of standing water in them.

After the visit Geoff decided upon a little retail therapy. To get into the swing of things the first item purchased was a watermelon, buoyed by this success he went on to get himself an extremely small Turkish carpet as a replacement for his “roadkill” sheepskin seat cover he donated to the round the world duo of Kev and Karen.

A welcome short rest was taken at the guest house where we made inroads into a watermelon which was far too large for two people. The intrepid pair then struck out back into town and walked slightly further than the previous evening, finding that we had only seen a fraction of the place. There was a music and dance festival in full swing in the main square and we spent a some time watching the proceedings. The town was heaving with people; not only there for the dance festival but also for the sizeable market the town hosts. The evening ended back at the guest house with Geoff baiting a Canadian lady for comic effect (in a very light hearted and good natured way I hasten to add and I can assure you no Canadians were harmed in the process).

Saturday 12 June 2010Bergama - Gelibolu 171 miles

Another good breakfast prepared us for the day ahead. We struck out on the road less travelled through the hills towards Kozak, this had the advantage of affording less traffic and better scenery. Eventually this brought us to the main road running along the coast and by that time the temperature was extremely hot. Passing through Edremit we headed off on a loop to the coast on a very minor road re-joining the main road beyond Ezine. The main road was followed up to and through Çanakkale deciding to get the ferry at Lapeski back across to Gelibolu.
It was surprising to learn when we disembarked that the time was nearly six o’clock therefore our thoughts turned to finding accommodation. Initially the idea was to find an alternative to the Oya Hotel, this was to prove to be a flawed decision. Two fruitless hours of searching for an alternative later, we checked in to the Oya. The other hotels we tried were closed, full or ridiculously expensive.

Thinking we would learn from this mistake we decided to eat at the same restaurant we had used twelve days ago. Although the man who welcomed us the first time was not there all was going well until we were presented with the bill. I appreciate such establishments are there as a business to return a profit but I find it objectionable when people target you to be ripped off. Although an English gentlemen Geoff was not bound by the stereotypical behaviour of the English (i.e. a stiff upper lip) and, quite correctly, voiced his displeasure.
Enjoying an ice cream by the quayside enabled us to calm down prior to returning to the hotel.

Sunday 13 June 2010 Gelibolu - Grevena 396 miles

Although an early start we do not make particularly good time as we are attempting to conserve fuel to avoid paying the high Turkish prices. When we get to the border we are confronted with a huge queue of lorries. Thankfully we are able to ride to the front and after three separate check points we left Turkey. Once in Greece the first stop was at the nearest filling station where the financial pain to fill up the ‘bikes was easier to bear. Once fuelled up it was on to the E90 which was viewed as a tedious chore.

The first problem of the day was locating fuel. As we had found when first using the Egnatia-Odos no fuel is available on the motorway, signs direct you off showing the distance to travel to the nearest filling station. This became a costly (in terms of time) detour as we travelled for mile after mile with no filling station to be found. We retraced our steps and made our way to the nearest town, keeping an eye on fuel gauges that were now showing us running on hope rather than petrol! A sigh of relief as an open filling station appeared where we were glad to fill the tanks. A minor problem then presented itself as the man operating the site could not accept credit card payment, therefore we duly paid by cash, only to be told he did not have any change. As the amount required was relatively small we received our change in biscuits and soft drinks.

We got as far as the tea stop on the motorway verge we had utilised when travelling towards Turkey when the first drops of rain began to fall. Once refreshed the road surface had become damp and the drizzle was almost continuous, ominously we could see very dark clouds on the horizon. The weather continued to deteriorate the further west we travelled, high winds, torrential rain and hail the size of golf balls that stung the fingers if they hit you. Progress was further hindered by, quite bizarrely, traffic driving the wrong way down the outside lane of the motorway. As we proceeded at a slower pace the traffic was at a complete standstill and we assumed, quite understandably, that there had been an accident. After edging towards the front of the queue, which ended underneath a bridge, we established the holdup was caused by drivers sheltering their vehicles from the hail stones under the bridge. We continued a little further and on reaching a tunnel found that this too had been turned into a temporary car park and thought, if you cant beat them, join them, we took shelter there for a few minutes. Weather conditions improved in that there was no hail, leaving just torrential rain, but it was thought by the massed drivers this was insufficient excuse to remain cowering in a motorway tunnel and therefore everything began to move. By this time, the road had more in common with a river than a motorway and discretion being the better part of valour we pulled off into a rest area and took shelter under a canopy in front of the toilet block.

After about an hour, the rain had subsided sufficiently whereby we thought it was safe to continue. Riding conditions were far from ideal, rain water run off running across the carriageway, heavy rain and high winds made us decide to look for accommodation. Pulling off the motorway at Grevena we found the Hotel Achillion sitting above the town and although more than we were used to paying (€65 B&B), decided to stay as we were both cold and tired of the rain. As motorcyclists the world over learn, irrespective as to what accommodation you stay in, even if the place is virtually devoid of any other guests, if it is on more than one level you will always be given a room on the top floor. Eventually after cleaning ourselves up, setting all the gear out to dry we had something to eat and had an early night.

Monday 14 June 2010 Grevena - Igoumentisa 113 miles

There was no urgency to today’s ride; we only had to travel to Igoumentisa. As the weather had improved we enjoyed the views from our hotel perched on the hillside (our view being further enhanced by our top floor room) across the hills and mountains. The improvement in the weather was such that we were able to eat breakfast on the terrace. All in all a leisurely morning preparing for our departure, which included Geoff having to once again partially strip down his Gentlemen’s Motorbicycle to add water to the coolant system.

Once loaded up, kitted up and mounted up we were ready for the off. Unfortunately, when Geoff pressed the starter there was a deafening silence from his machine. No matter how many times he tried the result was exactly the same.

Therefore it was de-mount, remove some kit as it was getting very warm and take the triumph to pieces looking for any obvious problem. None could be found and due to the design (or lack of it) of the machine had to be virtually re-assembled before any further attempt could be made to start the engine; alas to no avail. There followed repeated strip downs and re-builds all with the same disappointing result.

After making ‘phone calls to the workshop in England, Geoff had to resort to contacting a recovery service in the UK to arrange the collection and repair of the Triumph. This resulted in a lot of waiting around with little or no activity. Two individuals arrived in a car, claiming to be a recovery service, who attached a battery booster pack which achieved nothing, took photographs of the motorcycle and then departed. Geoff was informed a company would need to collect the ‘bike and take it to a dealer back in Thessaloniki for repair. Another long period of inactivity ensued with the temperature continuing to increase. After doing nothing for so long it was decided to strip the machine down again. After doing so, an electronic block connector, was seen to have a very thin line of clean white plastic showing near the joint which had not been noticed previously and, in our defence, it had never been taken apart. It was pressed together, more in desperation rather than anticipating any change in the situation, and all the bits replaced yet again. Key turned, starter pressed and……..the engine fired into life. Bugger; hours wasted because a connector had come adrift by approximately half a millimetre. No time to lose, a quick wash of the hands, dress up and we get under way at 1500hrs. The E90 from Greneva to Igoumentisa was a scenic route and was enjoyable in parts but was marred from a motorcyclists point of view by the volume of heavy traffic using the route which slowed down progress significantly at certain points.

We got to Igoumentisa by 1800hrs and managed to change our tickets for that evening’s sailing without any problem or additional charge. Now, having two hours to kill we thought we would get something to eat, unfortunately the cafés and bars in the town were charging far too much for very ordinary fare which led us to purchase food and drink from a supermarket that we would consume on board.

The ferry set sail on time and we staked a place to rest our weary heads for the crossing. Not surprisingly the main topic of conversation was the problem experienced with the Triumph tempered with relief that it did not require it to be taken to a dealer for repair that would have added at least another day to the journey.

Tuesday 15 June 2010Ancona – Villar Perosa 356 miles

I found the bench seats we had used for beds to have been far more uncomfortable than the deck floor on the outbound crossing, having very little sleep. The vessel berthed in Ancona at 1130hrs and we fuelled up then followed a congested road out of the city to get on to the E90 to Torino. This is a long, tedious journey (purely due to the constraint of time we had to use the motorway) with it beginning to rain as we neared the city. The intensity of the rain increases and our route around Torino coincides with the end of the working day therefore there is a lot of traffic to contend with whilst trying to follow the route. We leave the motorway and begin to head off along the S23 toward the Alps. By 1900hrs we have had enough, the rain is now torrential and the Hotel Bianconero is found in Villar Perosa (€30 ea B&B). I feel a little guilty dripping rain water on the nice clean floor all the way from the reception desk to the room, not once, but over three journeys.

Once changed into dry clothing we head into the village and find a pleasant pizzeria for a welcome meal. The only down side to the restaurant was that it was at the bottom of a steep hill which we had to walk up, in the rain, to get back to the hotel. The trails and tribulations that beset travelling gents! One interesting fact we learnt about the hotel was it is utilised by the Juventus football team as a base when training in the area.

Wednesday 16 June 2010 Villar Perosa - Moulins 290 miles

We were awoken by the pitter-patter of continuous rainfall which, quite literally, put a damper on the start of the day. Had the weather conditions been more favourable the route chosen across the Alps would have afforded us with marvellous scenery, as it was the journey through Sestriere and over the border on to Brançon was wet, cold and miserable, the temperature dropping to six degrees centigrade. Bear in mind I was dressed for somewhat warmer temperatures and struggled within the confines of a filling station toilet cubicle to add layers of clothing to warm up.

We enjoy a little respite from the rain travelling up between Grenoble and Lyon using the quieter D class roads. Once in Lyon we had to use a short section of toll road to get us around and out of, what seemed to be an urban black hole, in that once entered into it was virtually impossible to leave. North west of Lyon we join the N7 which is choked with trucks impeding our progress and to make matters worse it started to rain yet again. With this being the return trip the “journey” has, in my mind, already ended and what we are doing now is a laborious task and the sooner it is over the better. I really should try to change my outlook on life.

In the end we have had our fill of riding in the rain and the search for accommodation begins. After a couple of attempts we decide upon the soulless, utilitarian but dry room in a B&B hotel on the edge of Moulins. Our room being on the top floor this three storey hotel afford us with wonderful views over the park; car park that is.

Thursday 17 June 2010 Moulins - Salisbury 359 miles

Good news, it’s not raining although there is a fair amount of mist keeping both visibility and the temperature down. We treat ourselves to breakfast in the hotel. One item on the menu, scrambled egg, I fear the “eggs” were a product of a laboratory rather than a hen, not pleasant at all.

Navigation is initially very simple as we follow the N70 all the way through to Orleans where after re-fuelling opt for the quieter and more pleasant the D955 that takes us to Châteaudin, Brou and then on to the D15. From there travelling via the D941 and D25 to Sennonches then up to Verneiul and Conches en Couche. This combination proves to be a enjoyable and reasonably quick. Coming to the end of a trip is always tinged with regret, mainly due to the realisation I shall be back at work within a couple of days, and the fact the sun appears and the temperature rises seems to compound my misery.

A slight detour is taken to purchase provisions for the ferry at Hornfleur and then across the stunning Pont de Normandie. Information for those that have never crossed this bridge there is no charge for motorcycles and usually you can trundle through the separate bicycle lane but this was blocked and therefore we had to go through the toll barrier. I got through and pulled over and waited for Geoff and then waited some more, and a little longer until eventually he pulled up alongside. So impressed was Geoff with the bridge that he wanted a souvenir of his crossing and had attempted to take the toll booth barrier with him. Apparently, Geoff had tried to get through behind me when the barrier was raised, but it came down rather rapidly and he managed to redesign it with his chest, much to the annoyance of the individual in the toll booth.

Having reached the ferry terminal we requested a change to our booking time and were relieved of £10 each by LD Lines, the good news was that we were able to get on to the fast ferry.

Although departing later than the normal ferry we arrived in Portsmouth at an earlier time.

For me a swift ride of just under an hour saw me home whereas Geoff set off on what he thought would be a journey of around five hours to get home. I found out a couple of days later that he had endured a very long and tortuous journey home due to delays as a result of different sections of road works.

Dad's home:

Last edited by EMBEE; 10 Jan 2014 at 16:16.
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Old 3 Jan 2011
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: UK and Australia
Posts: 93

Thanks for a great ride report. My wife and I intend to do much the same ride so I have taken heaps of notes and will be looking at your route on the map. You have saved us a lot of work and kept me entertained for a couple of hours on a wet afternoon. Much appreciated.

Last edited by Deolali; 3 Jan 2011 at 07:19. Reason: can't spell!
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Old 3 Jan 2011
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Location: Mantova, Italy
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Wow! What a nice trip report!
I have been motorcycling Turkey 4 times and I still have not enough of reading bike journey reports about that wonderful Country.

Thanks for sharing and for taking the time to write this for the HUBBers!
Nick and his 2010 Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré
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Old 3 Jan 2011
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Deolali, where are you both travelling from (by 'bike) to get to Turkey? A great country to travel in, just keep an eye out for the occasional speed traps!

Knight, thank you for your kind words. I would like to return to Turkey this yeat but not sure whether I can summon the courage to do it alone. The fear of doing so is entirely irrational.
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Old 10 Jan 2014
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Deolali, Did you and your wife take a trip to Turkey?
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Old 12 Jan 2014
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Fuel is expensive around 1.70 Euro/litre. Food and lodgings away from the main tourist areas are inexpensive, however, like any other tourist development you will pay a premium for eating and staying in these areas (e.g. Alanaya, Antalya, Fethiye, etc) where many prices are shown in Euros. Where major tourism has not affected the local economy you can eat well for around 10TL and acceptable accommodation can be had for far less than the rest of Europe. The Turks are a friendly, welcoming people and you will enjoy your time there.
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