TravellingStrom

Riding to the end of the world, and beyond!

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The Journey to the Start – Turkey

Posted by TravellingStrom on April 27, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

Frankfurt, Germany to Maribor, Slovenia 24th April

It was a cold and wet day when I left Frankfurt, and I had nearly empty luggage bags cos I was wearing everything just to stay warm and dry, and this is one of the reasons to be starting my journey in Turkey, because it is a lot warmer down there. Mind you, I have to get there first, thanks to Ib and Liz for hosting me while here, very much appreciated πŸ™‚

Just FYI, I am wearing layer 1 -Merino thermal underdaks,Woolie Boolie long Merino socks, layer 2 -tshirt, layer 3 – Gerbings heated pants, heated jacket, heated gloves, head cover, layer 4 – Armour bike jacket, armour pants, layer 5 – waterproof overpants, waterproof jacket and of course helmet(Shark Evoline II) and new boots (Aphinestar Scout). And all that makes it a tad difficult to move!!! Anyway I headed off around 9am or so with the basic plan of getting as far as possible south as I can today. I had no idea if I could get to Istanbul in 2 or 3 days or longer, IB seems to think 3 or longer. It was pretty easy to find the route and did I mention it was cold and wet, but I was toasty and warm with the Gerbings gear?

Basically I just slabbed it south and around 4pm I entered Austria, there are no signs to let me know, but apparently I need to buy something called a vignette, or toll pass for the roads from here on in.

I only wanted a day pass, no go, so I went to the next servo just up the road and tried again, I can only buy a 10 day pass which runs down once it is clipped(they punch a hole in the start date), I bought one but she forgot to punch the hole, so I can use that again I think.(NB: I never even got asked for it). Anyway, now I started to hit lots and lots of tunnels, and some of them were around 10km long!! Now I recall a comment from IB about the stink inside, lots of exhaust fumes, lucky my helmet was done up tight!! But in between each tunnel system, some nice mountain views occasionally, snow capped mountains, but too cold to be up there just yet, on my return we shall meet again πŸ™‚

It was quite a longish day and as the evening wore on I decided(bloody wisely if you ask me) to find a motel instead of trying to camp! I will unpack that stuff in warmer climes!! I had by now entered Slovenia and it was around 7pm and still light. I had just entered the outskirts of a town called Maribor when I spotted a sign for a hotel and headed straight there. I talked to the chap(Dino) and he gave me a discount because I was a biker and so was he, and it included breakfast πŸ™‚ But of course, first things first, beer beckons πŸ˜‰ Um, the restaurant was closed, so lucky I had my last packet of chicken crimpys πŸ™‚ I had to try both beers, just in case one was better than the other πŸ˜‰

——————————-

Maribor, Slovenia to Bela Palankar, Serbia 25th April
Anzac Day – Lest We Forget

Having Wifi in the room was a bonus, so I could check emails and the weather etc. It looked fine outside but still cool, so I rugged up with everything except the waterproof over gear and headed off around 10 or so. I had used the extra time to totally rearrange my luggage. Everything was in the wrong place because of packing for flights etc. Anyway, now it should all be in the place it needs to be, but I will find out in the first week or so what needs tweaking. Of course yet another toll booth, because I am using the main highway system, it is to be expected and of course on my return I can take it slower. The speeds are unlimited in parts of Germany and Austria, but 120-130kmh here.

It was an hour to the border into Croatia, very easy crossing, hand over passport, get a stamp, then ride on πŸ™‚ One thing that had been on my mind was my lack of chain oil, I could not fly the bike with my reservoir full and I was also unsure whether the actual unit was working. IB had given me a can of chain lube that was nearly empty, and this was OK for the moment, but when I pulled into a servo in Croatia I found the can was now empty. The next servo I stopped and asked but they had none, but lucky for me Tony and his mates were there(they drive tow trucks) and they organised for a friend to go to a shop(he was a taxi driver) and buy me a can and bring it to me. I was on the toll highway system and it was a convoluted way to go to get off, then find a shop then get back on. So, he turned up with a can and I was good to go again πŸ™‚ Thanks m8, I will let you know if I get back in time for the bike rally you invited me to.

Off I go again and after an hour or so I left Croatia and entered Serbia, same as before, get a stamp out of the country, get a stamp into the next, nobody gave a rats about the bike.

I then had to traverse the center of the next major town, a bit different but eventually I got to to the other side and back on the main highway. It was after 5pm by this stage but I felt I had another few hours left in me and I still had over 1000km to go, I really wanted to get that down a bit. I am by this stage beginning to think IB was correct LOL πŸ™‚ The roads were quite good, and although it was still cool, it had been quite dry for a while, which was a good thing πŸ™‚

As the sun lowered I started to look for a hotel, I missed one near the town of NIS, it was a crappy big town anyway, but I kept my eyes open for signs. I asked at a small shop and they said the next town, about 40km, so I thought bugger it, that’ll do, so I headed off and what a great ending to the day, the winding road through this valley was a pleasure and I even stopped and reset my camera to do the ride, you can check it out here if you have not already seen it on facebook.

At the end of that I entered a small village and saw the sign for rooms. These were quite cheap and were open 24 hours,(they say 00-24) and they served food and beer, so I sampled both πŸ™‚ I asked for the Serbian specialty on the menu and when I asked what it was he said BBQ, that sounded good, but when it turned up it was a mound of sausages!!! That was OK, I saved some for tomorrows lunch πŸ™‚ This was a very quaint little place and had a horsey theme.

So, I crashed out around 11 after a nice hot shower, next day I hoped to reach Turkey, but still had some borders to get through, Bulgaria and Turkey of course.
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Bela Palankar, Serbia to Istanbul, Turkey 26th April

I was up early and sorted for breakfast, a traditional one with eggs olives and cheese. I put the cheese in with my sausages wrapped in alfoil and stuck them in the engine, to warm them for later πŸ˜‰ It was a nice place here, a bit cool and foggy in the morning, and this is when I ran into a snag. Not a sausage, but an issue, they don’t take plastic and I had no cash. In the end, they took me to the local bank in a car, so I would not get lost and paid up.

It was a pleasant ride to the next border into Bulgaria, this is the only place so far that I have been asked for my bike paperwork, but it was still easy and only 11am, I still had a fair way to go, but with the late evenings, should not be a big issue.

That was until I hit the town of Sophia, my GPS route took me right through the guts of the city at midday, freaking peak hour and I was boiling in all the gear I was wearing!! I did see a sign that said Istanbul Transit, but I could not get over into the correct lane and was not sure what it actually meant. I found out later that it is a bypass route, bummer!

I stopped on the other side of town for a leak and ate my snags. If I do this again I shall make sure there is more alfoil, I had melted cheese all over the engine!! LOL The roads were quite bumpy now with lots of potholes in the small towns being repaired, but a very rural place, and eventually after a few hours I found the Turkey border, it was now 3.30pm, I had lost an hour because of timezone change.

This was a major border and here I had to do the run around. First off, I need to get a visa, so leave the bike, find the visa booth, and he wont take plastic. Where is the bank, over there, fine, go to ATM, get cash, go back and wait, get visa, only $15 but done πŸ™‚ Then go back to the first booth, get my passport stamped. Then head to the next booth for the bike processing. Do you have green card, yes but not for Turkey. Where can I get one, go back down the snake to square one, or basically go back, find the Duty Free building and buy some insurance. The green card is finally bought, but it is not green, it is in fact white!!!! Ok, go back to booth one, pass on through( he remembers me, how could he forget) then stop again at to booth 2, here they look at my paperwork and tell me that DO NOT care about my carnet. All they want is the bike rego papers and the green card and my passport. They stamp my bike into the country on the passport, very similar to South America. After that, I have to wait for a customs inspection, he came over took one look and smiled and said, no problemo, you go πŸ™‚ I went and got my first taste of the east right here πŸ™‚

Because of all the mucking around and the loss of an hour it was now 5.40pm, and I still had 270km to go to get to Istanbul, but that should be doable, off I go. The highways are smooth and fast, I had to pay a toll of course and if I wanted to I could put the speed on, but I kept it to 110kmh just so I would not have to stop for fuel so often. I did stop and buy some biscuits and a mars bar as it would be late when I arrived. I had been in contact with Mehmet, one of the guys that run the Istanbul Motorcycle Club, I had the club address and GPS location. They had a bed and workshop space, so that was great and he said if I am late it is not a problem. I did consider during the latter part of the ride of just finding a motel as I hit massive traffic jams and car crashes, plus afternoon rush(tortoise pace) hour traffic. No photos, because the traffic was horrendous and mad, I had no chance to take my hands off the bars, not even to start the vid cam. I decided to not stop but keep on going, mainly because they were waiting for me.

I eventually got close but I kept getting around in circles, and could not make any sense of the street names. The GPS location was also in a different format, so I was stuffed and tired and late. So, I asked a local chap to call Mehmet and he sent Adil to come and pick me up, which he did on a little step through, my vehicle of choice riding through this city of 20 million people!! I took a video of the night ride back to the club, I was 8km away, but it is too dark, but take it from em it was a tad scary!!! But, I got the bike safely stored away, they bought me some tucker and a few beers and we chatted until a lot later. This was when I found out that the bed I expected was actually an apartment all to myself πŸ™‚ Thanks guys, nice to meet you πŸ™‚

Cheers
TravellingStrom

2 Responses to “The Journey to the Start – Turkey”

  1. 2wheels said

    Always great to see that Aussie flag flying in other countries.
    Hmmm; drink lots of beer and lose weight.
    Not what my doc told me but I’ll give it a go!

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