Day 16 & 17: A gentle tone of kindness

I don’t have the mojo to write up two posts for what were, in the main, pretty dull slogs through a 1000 miles of Turkey and that ended in dreadful events… 

Landmark on Day 16 was crossing the Bosphorus bridge, over the river Bospherus, into the Asian side of Istanbul. I looked wistfully it it last year when we took a ferry ride underneath it, now I did it properly, on a bike, heading East. 

  
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Truly Disappointed 

Thursday 7th May: Can’t believe I’m writing this, but it looks like the trip might be over. I was involved in an accident last night whilst looking for my hotel in Kars (far eastern Turkey). 

Firstly, I’m ok. Nothing broken, just battered and bruised. 
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Days 14: You’re the one for me, Fatih

The trip reached a big milestone today, leaving Europe behind and entering Asia, although if you believe the good people of Istanbul, the border between the two continents is the river Bospherous – that crossing will have to wait a day or two. 

I didn’t stop (except for petrol and the border) between here and Alexandropolis so few photos of the route. The only real thing to note was a massive rain storm about an hour out of Istanbul. I sheltered under a motorway bridge for half an hour as the rain bounced off the road. 

   
   
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Day 13: Share some Greece tea with me

A fairly leisurely day, solely in Greece, moving towards the Turkish border, where the adventure starts…

I’d stayed overnight in a lovely hotel that is just in the wrong location. If it was in a major tourist area it would be full all the time, as it is, it’s in a tiny village, a few miles of the motorway, and I was the only guest. It was also Labour Day so the owner had given the staff the day off… Which meant I was met by the owner, shown my room and then escorted to the only restaurant in town where she ordered for me (once she understood what being vegetarian meant!) and then chatted with me while I ate. It was all lovely, as it turns out it was the third night in a row where I’d been the only guest in the hotels I’d stayed in, I hadn’t had a conversation with anyone for 3 days other than ones that involve pointing at things and nodding. Anyway, if you find yourself in the greater Thessalonika area and need accommodation, I’d recommend Polys Hotel in Katachas http://www.booking.com/hotel/gr/polys-guest-house.html 
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Day 12: Sweden, Sweeeedeeeerrrn!

I was aiming for Meteora today – which is an area of funny geological hills / mountains where monks and nuns had built monasteries and convents – when planning the day in the morning I read that there was a St Stephen’s Monestary. The sad Moz Apostle in me thought, shame it’s spelt wrong, and then I thought of my blog title for the day… I had a line in my head from a Morrissey song where a backing singer sings ‘Steven, Steeeeveeerrrrn!’ At the end of a line, but I couldn’t place the song. Ouija Board, Ouija Board made sense… But no. I could hum the ditty… Was it November Sawned a Monster? No. Interesting Drug? possibly, but no. 

Still, I set off for the day, trying to think. About 50 miles in I got it! Not Morissey, but Billy Bragg. Not ‘Steven’ but ‘Sweden’ in ‘Sexuality’. Still! At least it was a Morrissey backing singer – Kirsty Maccoll. Phew, I can get on with my day now…
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Day 11: Boy racers

The Foreign Office warn about travelling to Albania – get your jabs done, don’t drink the water and most importantly, watch out for traffic. They aren’t wrong about the traffic. It’s not that drivers in Albania are aggressive or fast, just, well, clueless. 

You can see all sorts on the road: knackered mopeds, bangers, there’s loads of VW type 25 camper vans, donkeys… there’s also brand new pimped up Range Rovers with blacked out windows (don’t want to think about who’s driving those). Drivers seem polite, but just decide to do random stuff like stoping and getting out in the middle of the road, joining and leaving roundabouts feels like pot luck. As for lane discipline…. Forget it. This is meant to be three lanes – but I counted 7 rows of cars battling for space. Not much room for motorbikes to filter. 
  
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Day 10: Heifer Whines 

Time to leave Sarajevo and head for the coast of Montenegro, via the Tara canyon on the border between the two countries. I wasn’t sure where I would end up, and I had half an eye on trying to get to Turkey for Friday to collect my Iranian visa. 

The road to the border was, erm, interesting. Lovely scenery, but rubbish Tarmac, and at the start of the Tara canyon there were road crews everywhere making repairs. There were opportunities (not taken) to ride off road, and I came across something I didn’t think I’d see on the road until I got to India – cows!

  
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Day 9: Throwing My Arms Around…. Sarajevo

I dont really know why, but I thought it would be good to stop and spend some time in Sarajevo – not sure why this town and none of the others, but it just felt right. It’s an interesting city – there’s a museum in the city that makes the claim that Sarajevo marked both the start and the end of the 20th Century – book ending a century that saw horrific wars in Europe. But there’s so much more to the city than assassinations and wars… it is a real melting pot where East meets West. But a bit like Berlin, it’s hard to avoid the obvious. Anyway, enough cod philosophy, some photos. I did the usual tourist stuff for the city like wandering around the market of the old city, but to be honest, the same tut is on sale in markets and souks all over the developing world, it’s hard to find genuine local products, but easy to find off-the-shelf ethnicity, a bit disappointing really.
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Day 8: Life’s Adventurer…?

Day 8, Monday, started out fairly straight forward, quick trip down the coast to Split. It’s fair to say the alternate road to Split isn’t as attractive as the alternate route to Zadar, and with progress slow I took the A1 to the city. The toll roads in Croatia are bizarre – unbelievably cheap and unbelievably empty (and on today’s experience, unbelievably windy – that’s weather windy, not twisty roads). In theory there is a 80mph speed limit, but with the wind it didn’t feel safe to ride about 70. Still, the scenery is lovely.

  
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