It's Friday the 13th...... A pigeon poohed on me while packing the motorbike.........must be a good sign.We left Burgas and went on a very nice stretch which was cooling compared with most of the roads in Bulgaria. Clearing the border crossing to Erdine was not much of a fuss. We were very HAPPY to back in Turkey once again. This time we had to use the highway in order to be in Istanbul in time to deal with our cargo (Motorbike) and to get a custom made box for it. Along the way, we meet 2 British guys on a 4 wheel drive on a charity mission to Mongolia. Cool and Respect!
On Sunday we had left Europe riding over the impressive Bosporus-Bridge to Asia. The view was just breathtaking. We have meet some really nice people...........whether while taking a break or riding. They go out of the way to make one feel at home. So far in Turkey, the stretches that we have done are beautiful and one can rely on the roads. We are staying in Eregli tonight (the 15th) and tomorrow we will head towards Sinop. It will be a long ride for us. Just click on Reiseverlauf, one can see the journey we are doing.
On the 16.07.2012 we intended to leave towards Inebolu along the coastline of the Black Sea, however all the hotels there were fully booked, what forced us to change our route. So we went through the mountainous hinterlands to Sinop. The stretch of 449 km took us about 9 h. That was due to the very curvy road as well as some long stretches of gravel track because of massive road construction projects. Shortly before we reached Sinop we stopped at a filling-station and used the high preassure cleaner to take of a thick layer of dirt that was on us and the motorbike. For dinner we went to a seafood restaurant recommended by the receptionist of our hotel. We had tasty fish out of the Black Sea with special service as the waiter was a good friend of the receptionist. Today we have another lazy day to keep up with laundry and some other stuff. Tomorrow we will be heading towards Ordu.
After having breakfast on the roof-terasse we left Sinop with a cloudy sky and bearable 26°C to Ordu. Again it was a very scenic stretch leading through the hills and along the coastline of the Black Sea. Shortly before reaching Ordu I decided to take a diverent route around a promontory, just to prevent the dark rainclouds in the mountains. One doesn't have to get wet... At a filling station the attendant recommended a good restaurant to us and even told us what is the best to order. Following that recommendation a beautiful restaurant at the cliff with seaview and a delicious pide awaited us.
Lets hope that the clouds which came in the late evening will have disappeared tomorrow morning.
According to Murphy's Law the clouds had not moved away and the first brash of rain hit us shortly after our depature. However there were only perceived 1000 drops of rain and one is only really wet after being hit with 1001 ;-) When the way was leading from the coast into the hinterlands the weather got very nice. We passed tree-covered hills and as we got higher we got to see a rutted but awesome scenery with mountains and boulders.
Here are just 2 pictures we took to give you a rough impression of the bizarre beauty of this landscape.
As we went on, we crossed a mountain-pass 2.409 m high, where we had a fantastic view over the region. Once again, we had a warm welcome at a petrol station, got some tea offered and were couriously asked about our travel-itenary and the motorbike. Today we took the chance for a early dinner, as of tomorrow the fasting month of Ramadan starts and we will get our dinner only after 20:30 h. As for dessert we had a variaty of baaklavas, which the region of Erzurum is famous for. You have to watch out for not having to much, as the thing might sit heavily on ones stomach.
Today (20.07.2012) we rode from Erzurum to Dugobayazit. The road led solely throug the mountains and we travelled on heights between 1.600 m and 2.363 m above sea level, resulting in comfortable temperatures between 23°C - 30°C. The beauty of the landscape even exceeded the one of yesterday by far. The road was ok besides a stretch of about 30 km which was just being tared and uncountable tiny tarstones took a free ride on us and our motorbike. At a petrol station with a highpressure cleaner we had ourselves and the bike cleaned of of these unwanted items. Again we were warmly welcomed and experinced the hospitality of the Turkish Kurds. As they did not bother about Ramadan to much they joined us for a cup of tea. Then we went on towards Dugobayazit below the 5.165 m high Mount Ararat. It was very impressive how the mountain appeared out of a hugh cloud as we were approaching Dogubayazit.
Early morning we caught a glance on the impressive mountain, before it dissapeared in thick clouds. Therefore we also had no reason to stay any longer and started our way towards Tatvan. Shortly after our departure the GPS showed already a hight of 2.619 m which decended to about 1.700 m when we reached Tatvan. Along the way we passed a plateau which l0oked like as someone spilled a sack full of lava stones in the landscape. After having reached the lake Van, we decided to take the northern route around it, as it is sayed to be the more scenic one. It took us about 3 h to do the stretch along Lake Van which is approximately 7 times bigger than Lake Constance. When reaching the hotel, we realised that we had left something in the previous hotel. Therefor the bike was freed of all the ballast and I was doing a fastrun back and forth. As it was already dark on the way back I came to appreciate the advantages of the extra fitted Xenon-lights by MTEC. Using the high-beam the road was as bright as day illuminated and one was also recognized by other far better. About midnight I was back in Tatvan and fell asleep in no time.
On the 22.07.2012 we planned to go from Tatvan to Diybakir. After a few kilometers and declining hight the scenery changed from high mountains to a landscape dominated by agriculture. This also lead to a drastic increase of the temperature: it rose from 27°C in Tatvan up to 44°C in Diyabakir. We had chosen a short distance route of 236 km (4 h) for the day, not knowinghow much this would drain our strenght. After our arrival and some cooling down we went for a stroll around the hotel where we discovered a barber-shop and I decided to go for a shave. While I had my shave, Sheila was treated with Köfte, veggies, bread and ayran by the owner of the shop. Again a good experience of the hospitality of the Turkish people.
Two insights of the day: 1. When it is to hot, the tar on the road gets soft and even with a slightly leaning into the curve will make the rear tire skid and 2. the thermometer of the board-computer can at least show 44°C.
There is nothing much to tell about today, the route led through a nearly endless hilly landscape of already harvested crop fields. Along the whole stretch the thermometer showed above 40°C, once it went up to 45,5°C. Let's just hope it will be a bit cooler tomorrow. One good thing about the hotel: The aircondition works perfectly.
Today on the 24.07.2012 we rode from Kahramanmaras to Göreme in Cappadocia. It was, as we wished for, cooler than yesterday and the way led through a mountainous region. It is in the meantime the 4th time for me to come to Cappadocia and once again I am very impressed with the formation of the landscape.
We have chosen a cave hotel and will stay here the next 3 days to recharge our batteries. The rooms of the hotel are carved in tuff stone and they are, even without aircon, very cooling. Furthermore they are pretty well soundisolating that we do not get to hear the speakers of the mosque at 04:40 h in the morning as on the other days. Finally we can sleep in!
Today we slept in and relaxed. In the evening we went bit through the town and looked for a nice restaurant to enjoy the local food.
On the 26.07.2012 we were due for another early morning. At 04:00 h rang the alarm-clock and at at 04:45 we were picked up in front of our hotel and drove to the office of ÜrgüP Balloon Tours. There we had a small breakfast before we left for the startingpoint of our balloon-adventure. As we goot of the bus we had our ballon assigned and it was just set up. When the basket of the balloon stood on the ground we (6 persons of the group) were asked to climb in. Ahortly after the briefing there was a mighty hissing of the flame and the balloon took slowly off the ground. Of course, our ballon was not the only one, there were about another 30 balloons starting at te same time. After about 5 min we saw the sun rising from behind a small mountain-range. It was a spectacular sight. It was as impressive as the whole ballon-ride that was going up to a hight of 1.500 m above sea-level. The view onto the landscape of Cappadocia is very unique. The ride lasted for an hour and then we came down again on the ground. When we got off the basket we were greeted with Champagne and were given a certificate for our balloon ride.
Setting up the balloon
The magnificent sunrise and the fairy chimneys from the birds-eye view
A few other balloons and some mor impressions of the landscape
Unfortunately we had to leave Cappadocia on the 27.07.2012. We spent 2 beautiful and relaxing days in that place! For today we have planned a short distance: from Göreme to Egirdir. Already at the booking the location of the our pension looked promising and we found it in the middle of a small peninsular in the lake Egirdir. We were very warmly welcomed and were guided to our rooms. However they were without the aircon promised at the booking, therefor a cool night-breeze from the like was blown through our room by a fan. For dinner we had the catch of the day with salad and potatoes. It was simply delicious.
After having a traditional turkish breakfast with home-made strawberry jam on the next day, we were going for another short distance to Pamukkale. The pension over there we already knew from our last time in Turkey and after arriving there we first enjoyed the aircon of the rooms and then went to the small pool of the pension. For dinner we will also have good home-cooked turkisch food.
On the 29.07.2012 we rode from Pamukkale to Bodrum. It seemed to take an eternity for the navigation system to find its way through all the oneway-lanes. Finallay, we have reached the hotel and enjoyed the refreshing pool. Bodrum is something like the Turkish San Tropez, just a bit nicer. However, the internet connection in the hotel was that lousy, that we only can update our homepage today. The two days in Bodrum we relaxed and took the opportunity to take a ride around the peninsular of Bodrum, where we took the following pictures:
Such a nice beach can be inviting for a swim. We were also spoilt for choise with the vast variety of restaurants along the Bodrum Marina.
Today, on the 31.07.2012 we went along curvy but splendidly constructed side roads on to Izmir, the third largest city of Turkey. As we like the hotel here a lot, we intend to stay here another day, if there is a room available.
We were lucky and our room ist still available for another night. Last night we could watch the beautiful sunset from our restaurant on the Konak Pier. The Pier was buildt in 1877 by Gustave Eiffel and renovated in 2003. It now houses a few upscale shops and some nice restautants and cafes along the sea side.
Here you can see the historical Konak Yali Mosque and the historical Clocktower of Izmir.
On the 04.08.2012 we reached the city of Istanbul just in time for rush hour. It was a real chaos through which our navi had to find the way to the hotel. Without the Navi we would have been lost. We actually planned to visit many sights of Istanbul, however until today the 06.08.2012 we had had no chance to do so. At least we managed to find the motorbike club of Istanbul, where we had a warm and friendly welcome. We also got some good hints regarding the shipment of the motorbike to India. Lots of thanks to Mehmet of the Istanbul Motorbike club.
Today we got our first encounter with the Turkish Post PTT. I was expecting a urgent parcel from Germany, which seemed to have been lost without a trace for 2 weeks now. As the parcel was not directly addressed to me, we got a letter of authorization from the addressee, however this was not accepted by the post-officer, as it was not written in front of a notary. Therefore we had to call on the friendly service advicer of BMW Istanbul, who was so kind to give his address for us and had to ask him to come to the post-office. That was passed on in half English half Turkish. While waiting, a PTT-officer who commanded good English was found. He informed us, that we have to pay import duty in case the value of the parcel is above 75.- €. When Dogan of BMW arrived, we started to do the custom formalities. Somehow a value of 500,- € was written on the box which was then corrected to 65,- €. So we did not have to pay the import duty of 20% and we have a bit more money in our holiday savings. Dogan, Thanks a lot!!!
Now we have a few days of rest, before we and the bike go up in the air on the way to India. But after doing about 8.000 km in one month, I think we have deserved that. The next few days will be spent with an inspection of the motorbike, preparing the transportation-papers, packing the motorbike, re-pack our clothings and a bit of sight-seeing and I think the days will go by very fast.
In deed, the last days passed in no time. On the 07.08.2012 the bike was in the workshop the whole day and on the 08.08.2012 we brought the bike to the Istanbul motorbike club to be prepared for the transportation to India. It took some time, until the right box was found, however everything was perfect in the end.
The first time it looked strange... but somehow the bike has to fit in the box!
Finally with a bigger box everything went on smoothly (without taking out the front wheel). It took a few days until the box was ready for transport and finally on the 13.08.2012 the box was transported to the Cargo-Terminal of Istanbul Airport.
The other advantage of the bigger box was, that nearly all our luggage could be packed in the box as well.
It is of big help if you have someone, that is familiar with all the paper-work, the custom-formalities and the whole procedure. Finally the bike was pushed through the X-ray machine before disappearing in the custom storage. I could have sworn I heard out of the crate: I am living in a box, I am living in a cardboard box.....
Today on the 14.08.2012 we had done a small sight-seeing tour und will bid our fare-well to the people of the motorbike club of Istanbul. Tomorrow we will be on the way to New Delhi, looking forward what is expecting us in India.
First visiting the Grand Bazar and then seeing the Spice Market of Istanbul.
One of the many mosques of Istanbul. This one is in front of our hotelroom, but thanks to good sound-proof windows we only see it and do not hear it ;- )
On the 15.08.2012 at 16:00 h we left our hotel, but not before having a good time in the hamam (Turkish steam-bath) towards the airport. After passing the security check we went to the lounge to spent the time until the depature as convinient as possible. At 20:00 h the plane took finally off and landed at 04:30 h in Delhi.
When we arrived at the Shanti Home Hotel at about 06:00 h we were both very tired and needed some rest. The online-check for the status of our motorbike showed that the bike will only arrive on the 17.08.. Therefore was no need for us to hurry for any custom formalities. After having dinner, we met the owner of the hotel, himself a biker, who told us, that he will support us with the customs clearance. He called a friend, owning a travel-agency, right away and made an appointment for the next morning. Well lets see what the indian bureaucracy will be like.
On the 17.08.2012 a driver of the hotel took us to the travel-agency where we had a warm welcome. We handed over our papers and were able to go back to our hotel to wait for a phone-call to know what will happen next. At 15:45 h I got a call, went to the travel-agency and then on to the Indian custom administration. As it was closing at 17:30 h, I did not see many chances to get the paper-work done by today. It was probably the skin-colour and the good worker of the travel-agency that made the people work that fast, that all formalities were cleared and that we will be able to take our bike out of custody by tomorrow. Otherwise we have to wait until Tuesday as Monday is the end of Ramadan.