20 – 22 August, Greece and amazing Meteora!

I’m now in Italy near Parma on my dash to England. 

Yesterday I had the Ferry ride from hell! Just scroll down to have a bit of a laugh!

Now, back to Turkey and Greece!

I had a relaxing dinner on the shore of the Dardanelles after my visit to Anzac Cove and a nice cold beer which was most welcome!

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The next morning I rode the 480 K to Thessaloniki, Greece.

When I was 18 I rode around Europe on my Matchless 250 cc bike. I visited Thessaloniki on that trip. So this journey has crossed paths with my first big bike ride.

It’s hard to believe that was 51 years ago! oh dear!

I noticed Azulo had a near flat front tyre so I pumped it up. I checked my rear tyre and noticed a six inch x 1 inch patch of rubber had completely split from the tyre and I was riding close to the inner tube!….This could have caused a nasty blow out!

 

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I have regularly checked the tyres so this must be recent. I was lucky to have noticed it and lucky I found it where there are tyre repair places!

I had a second surprise when the front wheel was removed.( I changed both tyres)

It seems my speedo cable is NOT broken but the housing that the cable sits in that attaches to the wheel had disintegrated and had damaged the wheel itself near the bearing

That sounds awful but actually its only a problem if I want a speedometer! To get the speedo working, I would need a new wheel and housing!…… I think I can live without a speedo as I have the GPS which shows both speed and distance.

Thessaloniki is a nice town and I did the touristy stuff  and also went on the Hop on Hop off Bus. Basically though I took it easy!

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Thessaloniki

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The White Tower. #1 Tourist attraction

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I noticed there are a lot of shops boarded up which is a sign of the economic issues facing Greece. There is also an awful lot of graffiti which is a shame.

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Azulo on the streets of Thessaloniki

 On 21 August I rode to Meteora which is in Central Greece half way to Corfu, about 200k from Thessaloniki

Meteora is a simply amazing place. It is the site of six Monasteries sited on top of the most impressive limestone mountains. It is one of the most amazing places I’ve seen on this trip ….which says something!

I stayed in a fabulous little Guest House, appropriately named “Monastery Guesthouse” at the foot of the mountains with wonderful views. The little town at the baser of Meteora is called Kalambaka

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View from my Guest House

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View from my Guest House

There is a road that climbs the mountains and enables you to see. the Monasteries which date from the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries. To visit the  Monasteries is a bit of a climb and I’m sorry to say I whimped out. I’ve seen more than enough Churches Mosques and Monasteries lately…… which I know  is a weak excuse…but..

Take a look at these photos…You must put this place on your “bucket list”

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In the evening I had a fabulous Moussaka at a little restaurant…very nice. .

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View from the restaurant

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I left my little Guest House around 2.00 pm and headed for Igoumenitsa where i caught the overnight Ferry to Ancona Italy

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.I left my lovely Guest house and headed for Igoumenitsa where I was to catch the Ferry at 10 pm to ANCONA

It is a magnificent road through literally dozens of tunnels and through attractive mountainous country

I checked into the Ferry and asked if i could upgrade to a cabin. I THINK I had reserved a seat but wasn’t sure. Anyway, I was out of luck as the Ferry was full. It seems it is the last day of the Italian holiday period and they are all heading home.

The Ferry eventually arrived but was 1.5 hours late. Still ant 11.30 pm we set sail

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I had met several Italian Bikers waiting for the Ferry….There was Claudia and Darrian and Eshan and Anna who were my main friends. Please note Merry…..The wives are all accompanying their husbands on the bike…..

Eshan and Anna knew the ropes so I attached myself to them. They are a terrific couple from Bologna and about 30. They said to grab a table in the Restaurant which we did. I bought a bottle of Vino Rosso which was finished before the boat sailed….Needless to say…Yours truly drank most of it!

We sat in the Restaurant till about 1.00 then Eshan and Anna said they were going to find a spot to sleep….I said “Whats all this about “a spot”….aren’t there at least reclining seats?”

They said there were a few seats but they didn’t recline much and were not comfortable….better to sleep on the floor!

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Eshan and Anna…They looked after me!

Well….EVERYBODY was sleeping on the floor….thousands of them ! Some had even put up their tent! It reminded me of the Indian Train Ride from Calcutta to Delhi!

Anyway we found a SPOT but of course I didn’t have anything to sleep on….Eshan was incredibly sweet as he gave me his mat to sleep on. How nice Is that!

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So I spent the night on the floor ! The last time I have done that was on the Isle of Wight Ferry when it broke down. I would have been about 7 and it was SO exciting. Poor Mum and Dad I can still remember their horror at having to sleep on the Ferry. Sister Val and I had a wonderful time

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That was then and this is NOW and believe me it wasn’t the least bit fun!

I survived the night but then the Ferry was nearly 2 hours late and I still had to ride about 320 k to Parma where I had booked a Hotel.

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Worse still….when the Ferry arrived several thousand Greeks and Italians rushed to the Car deck all at once! Chaos as the door to the deck was closed till the Ferry docked. We all stood there like hot sardines waiting for the doors to open in the stuffy bowels of the ship!

When we were eventually let into the car deck we had to wait another hour whilst they unloaded the cars.

At 3.30 I eventually emerged. It was BUCKETING DOWN with rain! Eram and Anna suggested i pick up a Hotel in Bologna but being stubborn as a mule and half Scottish (I had paid for the Hotel in Parma) I decided to struggle on. The Autostrada was packed with all the Holidaymakers returning home…..This is one time when it’s great to be on a bike as I simply rode (illegally) down the emergency lane….dodging back into the correct lane when i saw a Police car!

I got to Parma at sunset about 8.00 pm but then I had to find my Hotel. I had booked a nice little place outside Parma in a little village. Needless to say I got totally lost.

Eventually I rang the Hotel and they sent someone out to rescue me!

So that was my day….Not the best I have to say but I’m safe and in Italy having a lovely breakfast with Parma Ham!

I’m heading for France today then Auxerre where I hope to meet MooN  (a biker who kindly offered to give Azulo a home whilst I’m in Russia with Merry)  

 

 

19th August – Anzac Cove

This will be a brief post specifically showing the Anzac Cove memorials. I feel these pictures shouldn’t be mixed up with Travel photos 

I left Istanbul at 6.00 am both to beat the traffic and to get to Eceabat on the Gallipoli Peninsula where I had booked a tour of Anzac Cove at 12.00. I don’t want to be late and I have to ride 315 k

As always in Turkey it was an easy ride on excellent roads and I arrived in plenty of time to check into my hotel.

The tour lasted five hours and covered the battlefield and Memorials. I felt I really needed to return again as it was hard to get perspective of the battlefield. The guide was very knowledgeable but as often the case I had trouble understanding his English.

Perhaps if I were to do it again I would have a private tour

Anyway, it was very interesting and so very sad. What a terrible waste of life war is.

I will just show you my photos and not try and comment.

One thing however struck me.

We always see pictures of the Gallipoli Campaign in black and white. In reality, of course, it was colour and the area is really beautiful.The sea is so blue.

I thought of those poor soldiers in their trenches and when they were able to see out they would have seen the blue Ocean. Also, it would also have been hot (at least in the summer part of the Campaign) It must have been awful

The whole Gallipoli Peninsula is very fertile and green which was another thing that surprised me!…… Naturally the battlefield wouldn’t have been green but the area all around would have.

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Turkish Memorial

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Turkish Graves. They have no idea how many died as they have no records

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Lone Pine Memorial

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New Zealand Memoriasl

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New Zealand Memorial

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Attaturk Memorial

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Lone Pine from the New Zealand Memorial

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Eceabat

I left Anzac Cove with the same feelings as when visiting the Somme. What brave young men they were and what a terrible waste.

Tomorrow I leave Turkey and enter Greece

 

 

14 – 18 August, Istanbul

I leave Istanbul tomorrow and head for Gallipoli where i have a tour arranged to visit Anzac Cove. 

Stuart leaves here later today.

It’s been a terrific holiday with him and it’s sad to see him go.

I’m back to the “smelly biker” again till 27th when i hope to reach England and my great friends Vic and Gill’s lovely place in Kent where Azulo will have a well earned rest!

Back to the adventure!

I left Fethiye at 5.00 am as the “Call for Prayers” was bellowing out of the speakers!

It was an 800 k ride to Istanbul and Azulo did it with ease. The roads are SUPERB and there wasn’t much traffic.

All was going fine and I was on a DUEL CARRIAGEWAY with NO TRAFFIC going DOWNHILL and suddenly i was pulled over for speeding! The Police are just as miserable here as in Australia; collecting revenue by placing speed traps in perfectly safe places! I was going just 4 k over the speed limit….. so I wasn’t happy!

One big difference from home though is that the net cost of the fine after a 40% discount if you pay within 5 days is $60.00 compared with some $250+ at home less some points!

I reached the outskirts of Istanbul by 3.00 pm but it took three hours to find the Hotel! The GPS took me to a Ferry instead of the bridge and I became totally lost!

Merry wanted me to take a photo of my bike trousers which were ripped when I fell off in Mongolia….Here it is Merry! This photo was taken as i arrived at the Hotel….I really look awful don’t I …and its sad to see how little hair i have left….Maybe the bike helmet has worn it down???

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The Smelly Biker arrives…torn trousers and all!

That night all I wanted to eat was stodge so we had a Pizza….Stu keyed things into his mobile and found the #1 Pizza place in Istanbul according to Trip Adviser.

It was TERRIFIC and maybe the BEST Pizza/Pasta I’ve ever had…(Not as good as the Kelly’s home made Pizza of course) .For your information the place was called Pizzeria Pera and it’s in the Beyoglu area in the New European Side (actually the NEW side is still over 1500 years old!) Worth a visit should you ever want a great Pizza in Istanbul!!!

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Our Hotel, Neorion (also #1 in Trip Adviser by references) is right in the Centre of the Old Town so the next day we decided to take it easy

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View from our Hotel, NEORION

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First we did a Bosphorus Cruise for two hours (all for the cost of $6.00)

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Then later we went to the somewhat more expensive Turkish Baths of the Sultans called AYASOFYA, Hurrum Sultan Hammam

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The Turkish Baths were a great experience. Half the enjoyment is the place itself which is all white marble. We were scrubbed with what felt like sandpaper….I thought they would rub off my sun tan! We then were sloshed with hot and cold water and washed and then given two massages. It was all rather terrific!

That evening we went to a fancy Turkish Restaurant called Matbah Otterman Palace.         It was excellent and we had a bottle of Turkish wine called Angora which was a Cab Merlot and superb!

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This is ALL SO DIFFERENT to the rest of my trip!

The next day we hired a guide to show us the sights. The guide I thought was expensive at 150 euro but worth EVERY PENNY! Apart from the knowledge etc the most important reason to have a guide is to avoid the horrendous queues. The guide can get tickets immediately and totally avoid the queue…That is apart from the Blue Mosque which is free so you can’t avoid the queue

We visited most of the major sights….The Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya. (This is a HUGE Church built by Emperor Justinian in 537 AD and converted to a Mosque in 1453) The Topkapi Palace…..This was the main Sultans administrative Centre from 1465-1830

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Blue Mosque

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Aya Sofya

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Topkapi Palace

The Topkapi Palace has a wonderful collection of jewels etc from the Otterman days. The queue to see the jewels was ridiculous but our Guide told us to go through another door and there is an adjoining door to the area that everybody was queuing to see.

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We did as the guide suggested and totally avoided the queue and saved ourselves about 2 hours. All the poor people queuing could have avoided the queue too if they had known.

I felt sorry for them all standing patiently in the heat and sun so I selected a nice couple and whispered in their ear how to avoid the queue and off they went!

We visited the amazing Basilica Cistern which is an underground reservoir with hundreds of very fat fish in it! It was built in 532 AD and has over 336 Columns, some of them recycled as you can see in the photo

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Basilica System

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Lastly we visited the Bazaar which dates from 1461.and finally to the Spice Bazaar where Stu stocked up on some fabulous spices to take home.(Vacuum packed so hopefully he gets them through customs OK)

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Our last meal was simply superb! Stu had selected a Modern Turkish Restaurant called Mikla in Beyoglu. We had walked over 32 kilometers in two days so we took a taxi!

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On the return journey Stuart again made me feel a really old fart but ordering a Taxi on UBER. If you haven’t heard of it or used it you would feel like I felt….Stuart ordered it via some APP on his phone. We could see on the screen where the Taxi was and when it got close we went outside. The Taxi was a big black Mercedes and we were driven back to our Hotel. Payment was automatic onto Stuarts Credit card. The UBER Taxi cost was 50 cents more than the Yellow Cab and 1000 times more  comfortable!

So, as-said earlier, Stu is off today and I have to think for myself again

It’s been a terrific few days and now I look forward to meeting Merry on 31 August in Paris!

 

 

7 – 13 August – Father and Son “do” Turkey!

We are now back at the Yacht Classic Hotel. Fethiye after zipping around Western Turkey in our NEW “A Class” Mercedes. We’ve covered about 1200k .It’s been an easy drive on excellent roads.

It’s been a fabulous week for me with Stu….a week I will always treasure.

We’ve done the lot! We’ve seen wonderful ruins, sunbathed,  gone Paragliding, climbed mountains, swum in Hot Pools, gone boating and more!

Tomorrow I ride 800k ride to Istanbul where I meet up with Stu again for two action packed days in Istanbul.

I will probably try and get about 100K before Istanbul tomorrow and get to our Hotel in time for a late breakfast the next day….at least that’s the plan!

Here’s a brief rundown on our little holiday!

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Our first day was a 300k drive to Selcuk to see the magnificent ruins of Ephesus..

We had a private tour which was excellent. A very large mini bus capable of seating at least 24 arrived just for us!

We were taken first to the Chapel of the Virgin Mary….Apparently Mary lived here for the last few years of her life. There is a Chapel over the alleged location of her house that was built by St John…..Our Guide told us that there were more references to Mary in the Koran than the Bible?????

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Next stop was Ephesus which is very impressive. The highlight is the Library of Celsus

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The Theater is also impressive and of course Elton John has done a concert here !

Only a small fraction of the ruins of Ephesus have been excavated. There were once 400,000 inhabitants before an earthquake altered the course of the river and then malaria set in and eventually the town was abandoned.

We were then taken to Lunch at a “Come in spinner” place that make carpets. We had a superb lunch to soften us (me) up and then we were given the big sales pitch. The carpets are of course absolutely stunning as is the price….He started at $14,000 and became desperate at $150.00. I always have the excuse that I cant fit a carpet on a bike and in any case I would have an unhappy Merry if i lashed out on a carpet anyway!

Stuart has done a sensational job with planning this trip. The Hotel was a delightful little boutique place with just four rooms. The owner Junet/Jjuju spoke perfect English and has an Aussie wife!

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There is a most impressive castle at Selcuk. You can almost feel history looking at the walls. It’s just been restored.

Next day we drove about 200k to Bergama to see the ruins of Pergamum. aGreco- Roman City that dates from about 300BC.The main attraction there is the Acropolis which again has impressive ruins and a huge theatre

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After doing our cultural bit we drove to the coastal town of Ayvalik where we stayed in an absolutely fabulous little place right on the seafront.It was called Beyaz Yuli and the manager was called Murat! He spoke no English but was very helpful. I loved that place. I will try and take Merry there one day!

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There was a restaurant next door where we had a fine dinner….and some nice Turkish wine!

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Next day was a  drive of about 400k to Pamukkale.

Pamukkale is a bizarre place and I’ve never seen anything quite like it!

The name “Pamukkale” means “Cotton Castle” and that is very appropriate. There is this big white cliff that dominates the town and contains Hot Springs and “Travertine Terraces”. You walk up to the top of the cliff without shoes over running water from the natural spring at the top. Surprisingly it inst slippery.

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The Travertine Terraces are caused by water flowing from a hot spring and depositing Calcium Carbonate on the limestone surface to form Hot Springs. It really does look like cotton wool

We stayed till sunset which was special and also a place where newly married couples take wedding photos!

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There is a huge Greco-Roman and Byzantine City called Hierapolis at the top of the cliff. The highlight for me was the Theatre which is the most intact of all the three theatres we’ve seen.

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Next day we drove to the Coastal town of Kaz, a distance of about 250 k.

Kaz and the whole coast here is spectacular with lots of little islands etc. It is a boating paradise.

Stuart had organised another terrific Hotel on the Peninsula a short distance from Kaz. It’s called the Olea Nova and definitely has my approval.

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We lazed around by the pool for the rest of the day and the following day we took a boat trip.

This was fantastic value. The trip lasted 9 hours including transit from the Hotel. We were taken to various spots where we could swim and look at sunken Roman buildings and Pirate caves. We were given an excellent lunch that rates withing the top 20 meals of my trip and given tea etc. All this for $35.00 each!

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That night we caught a Taxi to Kaz and had an excellent dinner….The BEST of my trip so far. The restaurant was called Calamari.

If coming to Turkey, Kaz is somewhere you should try and visit.

Our last day by the Coast,  The 13th, we returned to the Yacht Classic Hotel Fethiye.

On the way we stopped at Oludeniz to do a Paragliding

Stu had a taste of GPS frustration when we found ourselves on a dirt road over the mountain. We found out that our Mercedes definitely isnt meant for dirt roads! Luckinly it only went for 20K

The Paragliding was sensational. We were taken up to 2000 Metres by mini van and then in tandem in front of a “pilot” we spent about 40 minutes soaring over the sea and coastline.

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So, sadly the Coastal part of our holiday is almost over. Stuart has done a terrific job with the itinerary and everywhere we’ve stayed has been excellent value.

Tonight Stu i will treat ourselves to another Pepper Steak and tomorrow AZULO and i head off at 6.00 am for Istanbul. Stu flies there and I meet him at the hotel for our next adventure!

 

 

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1st – 6th August Just a soft tourist now…

I’m at the Yacht Classic Hotel in Fethiye on the Mediterranean Coast now,. I’m sitting by the pool with a cocktail in hand…Just another soft tourist!

I’m awaiting the arrival of my son Stuart. He is flying in from Toronto. We have till 17th together and will go touring together. Wonderful!

Azulo is at rest till 14th when I ride to Istanbul. 

Already it seems like my ride from Vladivostok was ages ago!  Gone are the bad roads, the excessive heat and cold and the terrible food! Things are much easier now. I feel like the “expedition” is over and I’m now just another tourist along with the other millions! Mind you….that’s not at all bad!

Since leaving Cappadocia I have had a very easy time!

I rode the 250k to Konya and spent most of the day touring the Mevlana Museum. This is the former Lodge of the Whirling Dervishes. The Whirling Dervishes only perform on Saturdays and so I missed that. There are shows elsewhere albeit not in the “original location” so maybe I’ll pick that up later.

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I had a lovely Boutique Hotel in Konya, right by the Museum and  main square. It was called the Hitch Hotel. Excellent. Stay there if ever you visit!

There was ONE problem….Konya seems to be a DRY CITY…NO beer again. I couldn’t believe it. I was back to Water and Fanta

The next day I had another easy ride to Antalya where i booked into a lovely Boutique Hotel called Minyon Hotel in the Old City of Antalya called Kaleici. It was excellent and another good tip!

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Kaleici is lovely and dates from Roman times. It is not too crowded here either which surprises me as it is August but perhaps the crowds go to the Beach Resorts

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I spent most of the time here by the pool which was very relaxing

The Port of Kaleici was a major Port in Roman times. Looking at the Port one can almost imagine the Roman Galleys coming in

I’m glad to say I was able to have some beer and wine here so all is well

On 5th I rode the 200k from Antalya to Fethiye I spend three nights here at the very nice, Yacht Classic Hotel and then Stuart and I go touring. Actually he’s just phoned to say he’s been upgraded to a New Mercedes! Very posh.

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Stu arrived around 3.00. It’s great to see him. I’ve really been looking forward to this part of the trip

We had a really nice dinner in the Hotel restaurant…We both had Pepper Steaks which were excellent

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Stuart at the Yacht Classic Hotel Fethiye

I’m a biker no more for the next week and I will be travelling in style in my chauffeur driven Mercedes!