Azulo’s Celebration tour of England!

This post is mainly a trip down memory lane for me so I apologise if you don’t find it relevant or interesting (Just warning you!)

I’m home now in Melbourne. It’s great to be home with family and friends after nearly six months away

Merry and I had a terrific trip to Russia (Moscow – St Petersburg on the “Volga Dream” river cruise) and afterwards by car through the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania….. I must say the Hotels were somewhat more luxurious than my accommodation throughout Central Asia!

Merry flew back home and I returned to England to show off Azulo to some relatives and friends!!!!

England 2 – 12 October

I was met off the “Eurostar” from Paris by my friend Vic and we returned to his and Gill’s home in Crockham Hill, Kent.

Vic had “dobbed” me in to do a Presentation on my trip in the “Crockham Hill Village Hall” This was in support of Cystic Fibrosis. Azulo was to be the Guest of Honour!

Azulo however decided to “throw a wobbly” (English polite version) or as the Aussies say “Crack the shits”….He FLATLY refused to start!

This bike  has “attitude”!!!!….. I had visions of going  on my “Celebration Tour of England” by CAR!

We called Chris Roffey the mechanic who immediately came around and carted Azulo off in a truck…..

Imagine…I have ridden Azulo through deserts and mountains, rain, snow and wind over some 50,000 k basically without a problem and now it wont start in England of all places!….If Azulo WAS human you could understand it….IE he had simply had enough and said NO MORE and is comfortable in the warm garage!

Chris Roffey, the mechanic  worked his magic and Azulo reluctantly came back to life to attend the Presentation and then kindly agreed to cart me around England!

The Presentation at the Village Hall was a rousing success….

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Crockham Hill Village Hall

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Geoff rousing the crowd!

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I was thrilled that two old College friends, Chris Hobbs and Tony Rushbrook went out of their way to attend. Chris and I were both sponsored through College by British Oxygen and we spent nearly five years together travelling through England and Wales to British Oxygen Plants and Offices and of course at College doing our Business degree.. We got up to all sorts of mischief as you can imagine……

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Azulo in Crockham Hill Village Hall

I hadn’t seen or heard from Tony for some 50 years..He literally “found me” through the blog  only a few weeks ago (actually he was really trying to find Vic)  He and his wife Marion came down from London especially for the evening. I was thrilled to see them

The evening started with a brief introduction by Tim Wotton who is a young man of 40 with Cystic Fibrosis.

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Tim Wotton and Carol Ann Hunt (from Cystic Fibrosis Association)

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It is quite amazing how he has learned to live with this horrible disease. He has written a book “How have I cheated death”  which is inspirational. I  feel very humble..  I must admit I knew next to nothing about Cystic Fibrosis which is a genetic disease of the lung. I think I will add links to my blog for my next trip as I feel it is a cause very deserving of support

The next day…..The tour begins!

Sunday 5th – St Albans, Hertfordshire

Firstly I rode to St Albans to see my old friends Alan and Wendy Bellinger and their daughter Karen Rains, her husband Phil and sons Tom and Alex. Karen made a beautiful Gammon Roast and a pudding that was sensational (forgotten the name...(Karen if you read this please add a comment!) After lunch Tom and I had a game of that fine old English game… “Conkers”

Alan an I have been friends for years and he has visited us many time in Australia, as did Karen and Phil on their Honeymoon!

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Geoff with old friend Alan Bellinger

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Karen Rains and me

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Tom Rains riding Azulo

 

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The Rains Family. Phil,Tom.Karen and Alex

Monday 6th – Pershore, Worcestershire

The next day I rode to Pershore near Worcester to see my Cousin Juliet and her husband John……Before leaving the Bellingers, Alan suggested we have lunch in the Cotswolds which is on route to Pershore, so they drove ahead of me in the good old English rain. Actually it bucketed down!

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At Lower Slaughter or was it Upper Slaughter, (which are perfect little English Villages) we had  fish and chips (or at least I did) in a delightful English Pub

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Lunch with Alan and Wendy Bellinger in Upper or Lower Slaughter in the Cotswolds

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Now onto Cousin Juliet’s lovely Country Home in Pershore Worcestershire

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John and Juliet Tollit (Juliet is my first Cousin)

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Cousin Juliet and me!

My cousin Juliet had asked her daughters Penny and Moffa to dinner. Moffa’s husband Paul and daughter Hannah (Bransbury-Hare) were also there. I hadn’t met Moffa, Paul or Hannah before so that was terrific. We had much too much to drink (or at least I did)

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Paul & Moffa Bransbury-Harris, Penny Dowley (Moffa & Penny are Juliet’s daughters) and Hannah Bransbury-Hare (Moffa’s daughter)…Good to see the Bransbury name carries on. Cousin Juliet & John Tollit sitting

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Hannah Bransbury-Hare with Nellie

That night I slept like a log in the comfiest bed I’ve slept in for years in Juliet and John’s beautiful country property.

Tuesday 7th – Bath Somerset, Corsham Wiltshire

This will amaze you!

A few weeks ago I received the following comment on this blog:

“Geoff, I can’t believe you are doing this!! I haven’t seen you for over 60 years and you were such a quiet inoffensive boy!! Hey hey – good for you. Please get in touch so we can catch up on respective families/lives etc. I was Gill Wells from 70 Gayton Road ……

I read and re-read this comment…Gillian Wells…I hadn’t seen her since I was 8 years old. We used to call her Gillywigs!

We lived two doors away at 66 Gayton Road…..We used to live in Harrow, Middlesex and we had a gang of us kids in the street.

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The Gayton Road Gang (about 1952)
Back left – Geoff (me!) ,Hil and Ros Thomas, Val Bransbury,  front at back- Gill Wells, Raymond East and in front with poles Don’t know.

 

 

..Gilliwigs is the little blond girl on the left…The blond boy behind her is me!

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We used to have such fun creating havoc in the local County School grounds that bordered our houses or playing backyard Cricket etc. Those days are  a wonderful memory…We used to call Gill, “Gilliwigs”

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Me at 66 Gayton Road

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Dad showing me how to do a forward defensive shot with a straight bat!

Notice how damaged the house is…Many houses in this area were  hit by German V1 Doodlebugs. They caused lots of damage.

Gill’s parents had a TV ( this was 1952) whereas we didn’t so we used to watch Tex Ritter and other Westerns at Gilliwig’s house!..

Another memory, which still haunts me, is when I almost killed my sister Val….see the photo…

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Me and Raymond East

Val took the picture of me and Raymond East (I still remember his name) about to fire arrows…As soon as the photo was taken I released the arrow by mistake…Luckily it missed her….. How do we ever live to become adults?

Gill now lives in Wales with her husband John but she was visiting her daughter near Malvern which is just 20 minutes from Pershore!  Unbelievable coincidence!

So, naturally, I dropped in to see my old friend “Gilliwigs” for a good old natter about times long gone. Poor John went for a walk!

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Re-united after 60 years!
Geoff and Gill Wells (now Gil Chalk)

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John and Gill Chalk

After leaving “Gilliwigs” I went to Bath where I used to go to school and visited Locksbrook Cemetery where both my parents are buried.

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Visiting Parents grave in Locksbrook Cemetery, Bath

I then rode on to my old home town of Corsham.

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Corsham Court, Corsham Wiltshire

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Corsham Wiltshire

I checked out my old home and the lovely little Village of Corsham

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Hudswell House, Near Corsham. Our Army Home from 1955-1959

Also nearby Lacock (both in Wiltshire, 15 k from Bath). Lacock is wholly owned by the National Trust and is picture perfect. They make period TV shows and movies here often

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Wonderful 14th Century Coaching Inn at Lacock Wiltshire “The Sign of the Angel”

Whenever I’m in England if I can I always try and stay in the Angel. Sadly it was closed this time so i had to “rough it’ in the Hotel in the photo below! Sorry, I’ve forgotten the name but it’s in Corsham!

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 Wednesday 8th Alton Hampshire

This day I rode to Alton in Hampshire to visit my Cousin Ian and Amy and their daughter Salette and her husband Cliff. Ian and Amy had driven from Bristol for the occasion!

On the way to Alton I saw a sign to the Village of Thruxton. I remember my mother used to tell us about how she and my father used to live in Thruxton in “Veronica Cottage” in the 1930’s She loved that house.

I had never been there so detoured to see if I could find Veronica Cottage.

Thruxton is another picture perfect English Village with lots of thatched Cottages and a lovely old thatched Pub!…. I saw a Post Van and asked if the Postman if he knew Veronica Cottage. He showed me the house….I assume this is where Mum and Dad lived in about 1935. It’s bang next door to the Pub….. which is appropriate for a Bransbury!

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Veronica Cottage Thruxton. My Parents lived here in 1935

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Veronica Cottage

Veronica Cottage in 1935…It IS the same place!

I stopped for lunch in another “Lovely Pub” then on to Alton.

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I stayed at Cliff and Salette’s home in Alton. Ian and Amy came down from Bristol

The evening with them was great fun with much laughter and was enjoyed by all. Salette despite full time work somehow managed to produce a simply amazing and superb dinner of Venison.  Again I drank much too much wine. We naturally solved all the major problems of the world as well.

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Cliff and Salette Dieppe, Ian and Amy Mackenzie. Ian is my first Cousin, Salette his daughter

It was great seeing them all again

Thursday 9th – London

I left Alton and rode to Guildfrod, Surrey where I spent my teenage years. I visited my old home, “The Hatch” 98 Wodeland Avenue

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My teenage home in Guildford Surrey…”The Hatch” 98 Wodeland Avenue

and took a photo of the seat near the bus stop that Mum had presented to the City in remembrance of Dad. He used to wait for the bus at this spot on his way to work in London in all sorts of weather, sun,snow,rain

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Mum gave this seat to the City in memory of Dad…Beside a cold bus stop where he used to wait in all weather going to work

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I then headed for London. I had a lunch date with my Niece, Cecile Algie who is currently living in London (from Melbourne)

Before meeting Cecile i visited the Tower of London to see the World War 1 Memorial of poppies in the moat of the Tower. One poppy for every British soldier killed in WW1

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Poppies in the Moat of the Tower of London. A very emotional Memorial to the soldiers killed in World War 1

I had all sorts of trouble parking Azulo but eventually I met Cecile in Soho at Yauatcha Restaurant.. Cecile works for the Restaurant group called Hakkasan.

It was great to see her and we had a terrific lunch which the Restaurant had kindly provided. They must think a lot of Cecile. She is obviously very happy and is enjoying life in London. Oh to be young again!

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Cecile Algie, my niece and me at Yauatcha in Soho (Excellent food!)

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Cecile Algie

Lastly I went up to Hampstead to stay with my old Boss and close friend John Kirkham and Hilary.

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John and Hilary Kirkham

I’ve known John since 1977 and Hilary nearly as long. At that time John was running the UK operation for an American Company, Advanced Systems and I was running the Australian Distributor. We met at the International Conference in Chicago. Later, I worked with John in London.

John and I have enjoyed many good times together….Cricket matches together between England and Australia, countless curries and much more. John and Hil are very special friends

Just for “Old times sake” the three of us went out for a Curry! It was such a fun evening.

Friday 10th  Harrow Middlesex, Crockham Hill, Kent

My “tour’ was almost over. After leaving the Kirkhams I dropped in to see Tony Rushbrook and his wife Marion in Highgate. As mentioned earlier, Tony is an old mate from College days.Tony found me on this blog only a few weeks ago…I hadn’t seen him for nearly 50 years!

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Tony Rushbrook

One last stop! I rode to Gayton Road Harrow to take a photo of my old Home at 66 Gayton Road, I was born in this house!

Sometimes its best not to return…Gayton Road is totally different now …It used to be a sleepy side road….Now it’s virtually a through road. The houses have been ruined. All the neat hedges cut down for parking etc. Very sad.

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66 Gayton Road, Harrow. I was born in this house, as was my sister Val

The County School playing fields behind the houses, where “Gillywigs” and the “Gayton Road gang” used to play, is now all built over.

I revved up Azulo and headed back to Kent!

Saturday 11th  Crockham Hill Kent

One LAST reunion took place at the Royal Oak, Crockham Hill

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We had a reunion with three of my old College mates….Vic Roberts, Chris Hobbs, Andrew Cochrane and me….We’ve lost contact with our other close mates from those days…in particular Cliff Lichfield,William Johnsen and Paul Penna. Maybe somehow they will see this blog as did Tony and Gillywigs!

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My College mates!
Vic Roberts, Andrew Cochrane, Me and Chris Hobbs

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Dawn, the Publican at the Royal Oak

Chris has always loved his old cars…Today he has many…His pride is the wonderful Lagonda 1932, 2 litre Low Chassis Tourer.

He also has a 1933 MG K1, a 1989 Porsche Carrera 911 plus Kate his wife has a MG TC and 1980 MGB Roadster!

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Chris with two of the “loves of his life”…Kate and the Lagonda

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Chris in his 1989 Porsche 911

At College Chris had a 1952 Morgan Plus 4 in which we rattled around England together! He also had a 1929 Austin 12/4.”Doctors Car”

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Chris’ Austin 12/4 was like this…from memory it was yellow too?

Chris and I shared “Digs” in Woolwich together in 1964/5 in the home of a family with the unlikely name of “Scroggins”…..Chris used to park his 12/4 on a hill as the starter didn’t work. My job was to push it down the hill every morning!

Andrew, who I haven’t seen for 30 years owns a Yacht which is moored in Menton,

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Andrews Yacht at Menton France

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France….. He came up with the brilliant idea that we all go to France for a few days sailing on the Med between Nice and Monte Carlo!

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Menton, France

Sounds great to me and we’re doing just that in June 2015!!!!! 

Sunday 12th Flight to Melbourne Australia. HOME…Hooray!

My trip is really over and I’m heading home. I say goodbye to my dear friends Vic and Gill who have put up with me and continue to put up with Azulo till my return next June.2015.

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Vic and Gill Roberts

We went for a walk on the last day. Vic and Gills house is very near “Chartwell”, Winston Churchill’s home…I didn’t have my glasses but the Volunteer Guide at the entrance lent me hers! ….Some might say she was lucky to get them back!!!!

As we left Chartwell….there was a beautiful rainbow which somehow was a very appropriate way to end my trip

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Vic drove me to Heathrow and we said farewell for now!

Next year’s plan –

England (France) – Canada – USA

I return to England on 2 June 2015 and “the boys” fly to Menton France to sail in Andrew’s boat for a few days

Azulo should be shipped to Halifax Nova Scotia arriving around 15th. I arrive Halifax on 18th June

During my stay in England, I hope to catch up with some friends and relatives again. I obviously couldn’t see everyone this time so hopefully I’ll catch up next time

Merry meets me in Los Angeles and we have booked an Alaskan Cruise and intend afterwards driving through the Canadian and American Rockies through Yellowstone to Denver and also catch up with some American friends.

So where will Azulo and I go in 2015?… Currently I’m not sure…I’ll ride through Nova Scotia to Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto..After that….Not 100% sure yet. Maybe I’ll ride through the Appalachians and down to New Orleans to Texas, then West through Phoenix to see my ex Business partner Jim Josephson and Susan..Maybe if I have time I’ll go North to Salt lake City and then San Francisco where I hope to see some friends we met on the Volga Dream, Susan and Dennis…. then down to LA to meet Merry I’ll ship Azulo home from LA or San Francisco.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know! 

I hope you will travel with me on my next adventure!

email me on gbransbury@gmail.com if you have any suggestions!!!!

Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

 

31 August – Journeys end…London then back to Paris to meet Merry!

It’s now 31 August and I’m in the “Relais De St Honore” in Paris waiting for Merry  

I’m excited about seeing her again and just a little nervous. I have the Champagne on ice and a restaurant booked for tonight!

I can’t believe the trip is over. Azulo is now resting happily in Kent!

Here’s whats happened since my last post:

I sped through Italy and headed for the Mont BlancTunnel which turned out to be closed so I had to re-route myself….I wasn’t exactly sure which way to go so I asked a very CHIC Swiss woman who was filling her car at a petrol station….She advised me to go via the San Bernard Tunnel and through Switzerland. She said “follow me”…..so I did….Boy she was some lady driver! Poor Azulo was put to the test and could hardly keep up with her!

So I sped through Switzerland to France. I encountered a MONSTER traffic jam near Lausanne on the Freeway….it must have gone for 10 kilometers…I dodged most of it by going down the Emergency lane!

I spent the night in a little French town and the next day headed for Auxerre where I intended to meet “MooN” and Madame MooN (Stephanie) and their twin daughters Anna and Nina.

(Moon (who I have never met) offered to keep Azulo at his place whilst Merry and I go to Russia….I had decided now to go straight through to England but wanted to meet MooN to thank him for his kind offer)

I reached Vermenton near Auxerre where MooN works on the River managing a fleet of Tourist barges. I reached the River and there was MooN holding out a cup of coffee….He said he knew where i was as he was looking at my “Live Map” and could see i was just around the corner so he put the kettle on!

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MooN (Chris) hard at work in Vermenton

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After a good chat with MooN I headed for Auxerre. I had treated myself to a nice Hotel by the River. I figure I’ve only got one more night in France so why not!

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Auxerre

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That night MooN and family picked me up and we had a simply delicious Pizza….I intended to pay but MooN had already picked up the tab when i wasn’t looking!

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Chris (MooN) and Stephanie..Very kindly treated me to dinner

On 26th August i headed for Paris where I had arranged to meet a French lady, Nicole, who I had met on the trip to the Aral Sea. We had shared a simply AWFUL PLOV together by the shore of the Sea!

It was of course essential to take some silly photos of me and Azulo outside some of the famous places…Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.

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Me with Nicole

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Nicole had booked a place for lunch. I assumed we would grab a sandwich but something much better awaited me!

Nicole took me to a lovely Restaurant near the Arc de Triomphe called AKRAME. It is a Michelin Guide Two Hat Restaurant which means it’s very very good! It was pouring with rain when we entered. Can you imagine….Nicole was followed into the restaurant with this filthy smelly biker dripping water all over the floor!

We had a simply superb meal of four courses

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Nicole

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DSC00185Nicole doesn’t drink but I ordered a glass of wine. The waiter suggested what to have and unsuspecting i happily agreed….

Nicole insisted on paying the NOT small bill…..She commented that the glass of wine was a little expensive….I asked how much and she said 32 Euro!!!! ONE GLASS!

I felt slightly embarrassed to say the least. I’ve never paid anything like 32 Euro for one glass of wine! 

It was a lovely lunch and so different to our last meal together by the muddy banks of the Aral Sea!

My destination that night was Arras. I wanted to get within a short distance of the Channel Tunnel which I had booked for the 27th.

I picked up a Formula 1 Hotel which cost the princely sum of 33 Euro…One Euro more than my glass of wine!

On 27th took the Channel Tunnel Train to England and arrived in England at about 11.00.

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Inside the Channel Tunnel Train

I headed for London to take some more silly photos of Azulo and me at Journeys end

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I wasn’t invited in for Tea and Cucumber sandwiches!

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I met a group of Aussies outside Parliament who insisted on taking lots of photos of us!

I then headed to Crockham Hill, Kent to my friends Vic and Gill Roberts lovely home in the beautiful English Countryside near Westerham

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Vic and Gill Roberts in Westerham

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Vic, Gill and Azulo in the garden of Vic and Gills home

Vic is a friend from my College days and he and Gill did everything to make me welcome! Gill’s first question was what did i want to eat….I assured her I didn’t want Plov or Kebabs!

Over the next couple of days i had some good old English Favourites…….Bangers and Mash, Bacon and Eggs, Gammon, Apple and Blackberry Crumble and of course a Roast! We also went out to have a Devonshire Tea with Cornish Clotted Cream!

I drank much too much of course!

It was a fabulous two days with Vic and Gill and an enormous sense of relief for me and also Merry to know I’ve finally finished the ride!

I took Azulo in for a thorough service and am glad to report all is well with Azulo

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Azulo getting serviced at Chris Roffey’s Motors, Biggin Hill

Azulo was tucked up in Vic’s garage where he will stay for the next nine months!

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Azulo’s Holiday home with his caretaker

On 30th I took the Euro Star to Paris. I checked into our nice Hotel on the Rue St Honore near the Louvre. Merry arrives tomorrow…I hope!..

DSC00254.1.15 pm 31 August, I’m waiting in reception and Merry arrives! She has come from Caen where she has been watching the World Equestrian Games

It’s wonderful to see her. We have a hug and within minutes a fine bottle of Champagne is demolished

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Together at last!

Our holiday begins! 

Well, this is the end of the blog.

I hope you have enjoyed travelling with us! Thank you very much for just looking but especially thanks to those who sent me comments. I have really enjoyed those comments and it kept me from being too lonely!

Next year, Azulo and I continue our travels in USA and Canada so I hope you will join us again then….

Merry and I have two days in Paris then fly to Moscow.where we board a boat on the Volga to St Petersburg

Originally I was planning to go to Moscow by bike via Ukraine then the trouble started so I went South instead. The trouble is we had already booked a boat on the Volga from Moscow to St Petersburg….

After that we head for the Baltic Countries where we tour for a couple of weeks.

Merry then heads home and I go back to England and Azulo and I will do a “Celebration Tour”

Vic has dobbed me into doing a Presentation in the Crockham Village Hall on 4th October….Why not come along! (HaHa!)

Bye from Geoff and Azulo!

 

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!

25th – 30th July – Bye Bye Iran, Hello Turkey

Well, I’m in Turkey now at Goreme, Cappadocia…

Before leaving Iran, I had a scare with my Turkey Visa and could have been stuck in Iran for a few days!

I noticed when checking my papers the night before leaving Iran that my Visa for Turkey was incorrect….The Passport number was wrong!…..Oh dear !!!!

How did I manage to stuff it up?…

I had been patting myself on the back thinking how clever I had been navigating through the Visa maze without a hitch then I almost fell at the last and EASIEST hurdle!

Somehow, when applying for my Turkey visa over the internet from Australia, I had transposed my Passport number….Instead of 2675 I had put in 7526…My dyslexia again!

I thought I might be able to wriggle my way through the Border but you never know how the Customs Officer is feeling…

Then Stuart to the rescue! What would i do without him?….This is the SECOND
time he has come to the rescue! (The first time was when he recreated my GPS Maps)

It turned out that Stuart had just applied for his Turkey Visa. He said it took him just 15 minutes to get the Visa….I’m sure it took me about 3 days!….. Anyway, he simply applied for a NEW Visa for me and emailed it to me…I went to an Internet cafe and printed it off…Bingo!

Now, back to the adventure!

My last day in Iran I visited a mountain Village called Kandovan Village. It is a mini Cappadocia and is quite amazing. Have a look at these pictures and later those of Turkey’s Cappadocia

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There are wall paintings of the Leaders everywhere

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Them again!

The Border was the usual drag. This time three hours

The ride in Turkey started off with a beautiful view of Mt Athos (Noah’s Ark fame) I’m sorry the photo is a bit hazy!

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I was REALLY looking forward to my first drink in nearly three weeks but shock horror, I found Eastern Turkey was as dry as Iran! NO ALCOHOL anywhere! I’m still on Chateau Fanta and Chateau L’Eau 2014

I’ll have to wait till I get to the “tourist belt’ which begins at Cappadocia (Central Turkey)

I meet Stuart in Fethiye on the Mediterranean Coast on 6th so I have a bit of time so I decided to go up to the Black Sea to Tranzon.

It was a lovely ride through the mountains….a bit like Switzerland with Mosques!

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The Mosques are different here with narrow Minarets

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Tranzon and this part of the Black Sea is very disappointing. Tranzon itself is a seedy Port The beaches are all rocks and not attractive.

I’ve heard that the Black Sea Coast is great….Just not here!

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The redeeming feature is 45K away in the Mountains…The Sumela Monastery

Unfortunately  I got there on the Ramazan Bayrami Holiday (Celebrating the end of Ramadan) and it was closed till the afternoon. I couldn’t wait. A pity, but the view of the building is amazing. How did they build it way up there in the mountains

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The Monastery is over 1500 years old and was built during the Byzantine era. It clings to the face of a cliff. Amazing

I treated myself to a 4 Star Hotel in Sivas…The Hotel cost about $65. (still no beer or wine available!)

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By the way…A TRAVEL TIP…DON’T VISIT IRAN OR TURKEY (certainly not East Turkey) in Ramadan!……Most Cafe’s and Restaurants are closed during the day and you can’t usually eat till sunset around 9.00 pm. I was unable even to get a cup of tea on the road!

Cappadocia, Turkey

I have to say Cappadocia one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever visited. The only way to describe it is through photos.

I feel reaching Cappadocia is a double landmark….Firstly, I’m now in the “tourist belt” and secondly….I SHOULD be able to have a drink here and some decent food! …………Correct on BOTH counts!

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“Selfie” First Beer. Felt quite tipsy after!

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I’ve also tried Cappadocia Wine….which is quite reasonable

I booked myself into a nice Hotel called “The Elysee Cave Hotel” for three nights! Luxury!

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Elysee Cave Hotel. Very nice!

I’ve done the “tour” and the mandatory “balloon flight” (which is spectacular) I’ve also done a three hour Horse ride which was fantastic.

Here are some photos…It’s a photographers paradise!

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And now the balloon flight….i had to get up at 3.45 am but it was worth it!
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Now my horse riding…

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Churches are carved out of the rocks

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I must come back here with Merry as she would LOVE it!.

Actually the best way to see Cappadocia is either on foot or on a horse! I chose the horse!

Sadly tomorrow it’s back to business  and I head for Konya and the next day Antalya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 – 24 July Discovering Iran

I’m now in Tabriz on my way to Turkey. I aim to cross into Turkey on 25th. I enjoyed my “side trip” but it’s good to be back on Azulo!

Now, as you know, I have not enjoyed the food anywhere on this trip and Iran is no different.

I’m pleased to say, however that my Guide, in Shiraz, Sanaz took me to a restaurant that was excellent….so good infact that we went there three times for lunch to get out of the heat. The coffee was excellent also.

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Sanaz and me enjoying lunch. Note the Aussie Flag!

The waiters had flair and as you see they brought the Aussie Flag to our table!

My last day in Shiraz we visited a ruin on top of the mountain….Sanaz made me climb to the top in 40 degree heat!

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My next stop was ISFAHAN some 500 kilometers North of Shiraz and probably Iran’s most famous City outside Tehran.

I flew to Isfahan from Shiraz but almost missed my flight. The Airport information was absolutely hopeless and I sat in the departure lounge completely confused. The flight was was 2 hours late. I presume they announced that but I couldn’t understand the announcements anyway. .

It was just luck that i caught the flight at all since the Departure Gate said “TEHRANNOT “ISFAHAN”  Luckily I asked whether the flight that was boarding to Tehran was actually going to Isfahan….It was!

My guide in Isfahan was Mr Hooshang. He is a retired English teacher. Very nice but lacks a certain something that Sanaz brought to the sights!

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Mr Hoosang, my Guide in Isfahan

He showed me the sights. The Palaces, Mosques and Gardens are all so beautiful but they all become a blur when you see so MANY beautiful Mosques and Palaces.

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The following photo is the MUSIC ROOM in the Palace. Look at the way they have decorated the wall so that the acoustics are perfect

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The main square in Isfahan is HUGE. According to Mr Hoosang it is second only in size to Tienanmen Square in Beijing. In the evening when it cools down everybody heads for the square where they kick footballs and have picnics.

It’s interesting because it’s Ramadan. Nobody eats or drinks between sunrise and sunset, whether or not they are religious.

I went to the square just before sunset and was amazed how disciplined they are. People were there with their Picnic baskets and plates etc but NOBODY was eating or drinking …Then, as the sun went down they all tucked in and had a right old feast!

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Main square just before sunset

There are several beautiful 400 year old bridges over the “River”….The river does have water in in during late autumn, winter and spring but is absolutely dry now.

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In the evening, in the centre of the bridge, underneath the arches, the men gather and laze about and take it in turns to sing local folk songs. It really is a terrible racket to my ears but special to hear them.

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I met my new Guide,  who will drive me tomorrow to Tehran.…He invited me to join him for dinner which I thought was nice. He took me to a very strange Hotel owned by an ex teacher of handicrafts.( He told me he had been offered a job at Melbourne University but declined!

He has painted all the doors and walls of the Hotel. It’s actually very beautiful

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We had dinner on the rooftop overlooking the Mosque which was beautiful.

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The next day we drove to Tehran. We visited a lovely little mountain village.called Abyanch

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The “supermarket”

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We reached Tehran and the next morning, I was reunited with Azulo the next day and he started without any problems, so off we went!.

En route I visited a huge Mosque which has the third largest brick Dome in the world.

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The countryside is fairly barren and dry but I  detoured off the main highway to Tabriz and  crossed the mountains. They are impressive and rugged.

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I visited a Castle which was sacked by the Romans! It sits on an extinct volcano and surrounds a beautiful  lake.that is fed from underground springs. It is incredibly blue.

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I also visited an amazing cave complex that must have housed hundreds of people. It literally has about six levels (I’ll add the name later!)

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I passed through many little villages with simple mud brick houses. Many had hay stacked on the roof!

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Pleasant Countryside

I’m leaving Iran soon so here are some of my thoughts about Iran

As already said the people are incredibly hospitable and friendly. They really seem to enjoy helping out. Assisting a stranger is a pleasure not a chore or duty!

One amusing example of this happened when my guide got lost and needed directions. He simply stopped in the MIDDLE of a BUSY INTERSECTION and asked directions from the POLICEMAN on Point Duty! The traffic came to a standstill whilst the Policeman gave him directions. I couldn’t believe it! 

Iran certainly stands out because of it’s lovely people.

I regret to say i give the food a big thumbs down! I appreciate my restaurants haven’t been the most expensive but I’ve had a good sample now. Kebabs and stews and fairly ordinary salad’s and rice seem to be the staple foods…Obviously the lack of booze isn’t a big hit with me!

The sights are magnificent of course and Iran is a TREASURE HOUSE! 

The countryside I’ve seen has  been mostly desert and some rugged mountains. I’ve only seen a fraction of the country though.

The country is of course VERY religious. That can be a little irritating at times if you’re neither Muslim or religious…for example when you have to wait for your Guide whilst he says his prayers!

As for safety…I’ve felt 100% safe here

Overall I think Iran is a terrific destination!. 

 

 

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10 – 17 July Surprising Iran

I’m now in Shiraz, Iran. I am on a “side trip” from Tehran to see some of Iran’s amazing historical sights.. Azulo is tucked away in the Tour Guide’s apartment!

I return to Tehran on 20th and then head for Turkey

I say “surprising Iran” because if you believe the Media then Iran is a place to be avoided. Quite the contrary.

It is a lovely country with friendly people who go out of their way to help.Maybe our Politicians don’t see eye to eye but the people are great! The roads are first class and so far the Police have not caused me any headaches!

So far I can’t say the food excites me too much and of course there is NO ALCOHOL which for me that’s a bit of a pain!…. It somehow seems incongruous sitting in a “nice” restaurant having dinner and having to drink water of orange juice. Quite ruins the effect!

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Dinner drinks! Now quite right somehow!

My journey from the Border at Bajgiran to Tehran was uneventful. it’s about 900k and I did it in an easy two days.

I stopped at the first town called Quchan for some water and besieged! Azulo and I are always an attraction and I’m always surrounded by people asking me where I’m from and hopping about like Kangaroos when they understand I’m from Australia

DSCN0920Here was different though…….. I literally caused a traffic jam! There were about 15 people all pushing to get near and take a photo. I was asked by one old bloke to come to his house for dinner!

Before I left home, I had booked a Private Tour from Tehran to Shiraz about 1000K south of Tehran to see some of Iran’s famous Historical places such as Persepolis and Isfahan. It’s a long detour so I thought Azulo could have another break!

My first two days however were spent touring Tehran. It’s a HUGE city of around 14 million people and seems to go on forever!

Tehran

Madhi, my “Driver” and Mojgan my “Guide” were terrific. Mojgan speaks excellent English.

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Moijan and me

.I think I saw everything and was exhausted by the evening!

My timing here is not the best since it’s mid summer and boiling hot but also it’s RAMADAN where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Not eating is one thing but not DRINKING in this heat is extraordinary!

Now Taxi drivers, as we know, are the font of all knowledge and wisdom, so the following is what I have been told, not from the Tour guide but a taxi driver……Apparently,only a small percentage of the Tehran population actually “fast” but this being the ISLAMIC REPUBLIC, the Mullahs insist that NOBODY is SEEN to be EATING OR DRINKING! So, just about all the Restaurants and Coffee shops are CLOSED!

Tehran has many Palaces and Mosques and the Crown Jewels of the Shah’s are amazing. Here are some pictures. Sorry I couldn’t photo the jewels!.

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In the Bazaar there was a man with a cage of dozens of sparrows. Now how’s this for enterprise….Nobody wants to eat or keep sparrows so what was his angle? Well, according to Moigan, people buy them and RELEASE THEM! I felt sorry for the poor little birds so i bought one and he immediately flew off to a tree. One lucky sparrow!

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Selling sparrows…I bought one and off he flew!

Just some other photos for your perusal.

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Look at all the air-conditioners!

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In one of the Palaces there is an exhibition showing the adventures of two Iranian blokes that rode around the world for several years on two MATCHLESS Motorcycles from about 1953. Unlike me, they were met by Presidents and Royalty everywhere they went!

I suppose it was a little more unusual to ride a Motorbike around the world in 1954! Perhaps Mr Abbot will welcome me home?

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1954 Matchless – Ridden around world, Sorry for bad photo…wrong lighting!

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One of the tallest in World

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Shiraz and Persepolis

My tour guide in Shiraz was also excellent. Her name is Sanaz. She took me to all the Palaces Mosques and Gardens in Shiraz. It’s SO hot here that by 12.00 it is almost impossible to concentrate!

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My dinner on my first evening was particularly unexciting. it was a soup come stew called Dizi. I was sitting alone in the restaurant when it arrived and I looked at it and had absolutely NO idea how to eat it! There was a bowl of stew and some bread and some salad leaves of some sort. There was this pot with a plunger and I simply had no idea what to do with it! I still don’t know why there was the plunger !

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I wasn’t sure how to eat this!

The second day we drove at 7.30 am to Persepolis. Persepolis was founded in 550 BC. It was destroyed by Alexander the Great. Sadly not as lot remains but you can see what an amazing place it must have been. The place is huge and was buried until 1930.

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The mausoleums of the Kings is cut into the cliff

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I fly it Isfahan tomorrow