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Linda on BMW: Start of the Trip in Castellar

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Report August

Hi everyone!

It has been a long time since the last report and many kms. I will try and make this not too large for you to digest but give the general idea of many interesting events.

First my apologies for the last photos. I spent many hours in an internet cafe in Istanbul with a charming young man helping me upload order and label the photos but something happened in cyberspace and Heiner didn’t receive them like that hence the lack of info and order. I hope to re do them one day. For musical info the fiddler was in Budapest the guitarist in Dubrovnik (Croatia) and the bagpiper in Nesebar Bulgaria. There is also a photo of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

At present I am in Van Eastern Turkey and am just about to leave for Iran. Have just done an oil change on the bike’ covering the poor mechanics floor with spilt oil and am finishing this report for y’all. The photos will come later as usual.

I left you last time  in Veliko Tarnovo Bulgaria and then headed towards the Black sea coast. En route I found Pobati Kamini which is a UNESCO site unique because it is an area of huge stalagmites now above ground that were once in an underground cave. They look like columns of ruined cities- you can see the photo of me playing the whistle among them in the last report.

The Black sea resort of Varna reminded me of Odessa as there are many stately buildings and parks. It is a lovely city but at the hight of the tourist season understandably expensive so I didn’t stay around but went to find smaller picturesque seaside towns further south. The coastal stretch is being developed for tourism and there are many foreigners having villas built there. The highway is in good condition here and there are also painted ladies in the laybys similar to those in CZ but with more of a tan.

After two nights of being eaten alive by mossies while camping in woods I decided to treat myself to a pension in a lovely fishing town called Sozopol. It was my last night in Bulgaria so I could use up my Bulgarian money and do my washing. Unfortunately I was rudely chased out at 8.30am the nutty landlady when she discovered that I was not going to stay another night. So much for luxury.

On turning inland towards Turkey the road turned back to the normal pot hole standard and was so narrow and rough that I even checked with a trucky to make sure it led to the border. When I arrived there was quite a hassle getting the paperwork done and I hope there will not be repercussions for me to report next month as it was not to my satisfaction.

Finally across the border I went north to a small fishing village called Kirikoy as I was a day too early to meet my Istanbul contact. When I reached the village the views of the Black sea were amazing and Turkish hospitality immediately came into play. As soon as I parked I was greeted with a smile and invited for food and tea and the kind family even insisted I stayed in their spare tent to save putting mine up. After being treated like a complete freak in most places in Bulgaria I was grateful for their friendly attitude and my confidence began to return.

Well’ the time had come to face Istanbul and I rode in the next day crossing over the bridge into Asia and being met by Chris an overlanding Ozzie who had contacted me via the HUB . He led me back to his Turkish friends flat where I could stay for a few days while attacking the visa situation.

After one days rest I started a week of fear(the Istanbul traffic) and frustration(the consulate officials) intermixed with some sightseeing of amazing Istanbul and the Bosphorus. If it wasn’t for the traffic I would have seen more but it really is a tough place to travel around (practise for India no doubt)

During the week I was invited to a  meeting of EMOK’ the Turkish Enduro bike club who I had contacted through HUB earlier. Hakan’ the secretary guided me to the clubhouse and they kindly presented me with a goody bag full of very useful items not least of which was a clean T-shirt! Very nice people and I was able to stay with one of them’ Baris who lived on the European side closer for my consulate attacks. He also gave up a Saturday morning to help me track down some spare parts to carry with me.

Finally armed with both Iran and Pakistan visas I left Istanbul and headed into an almighty thunderstorm on the way to Gallipoli. It not only ruined my views of the countryside but also proved that my waterproof jacket and boots are no longer so. However the rain stopped just before the peninsular camp ground and I was able to put up my tent among a crowd of Turkish campers who fed and watered me.

I have written a separate report on Gallipoli so I won’t repeat it here but will say once more that it was a very moving experience and of course the place was heaving with Ozzies and Kiwis and I made good use of this by finding out the popular hostel where they stayed and calling there on my way out to swap reading material.

After that was Troy many ruins and a wooden horse. Read Homer for full details.

I continued south to Izmir where I taught English in a language school 15 years ago. The city has grown and changed a lot but I found the school and although it has completely different personel I met a nice Oz teacher Margaret who kindly invited me to stay the night at her flat so we had a pleasant evening talking over a few beers.

Next was the ride inland to Pumakkale the white limestone rock pools on a hill where water cascades down from the site of the ancient city of Heriopolis. Unfortunately the dust of the tourist buses and the crowds made the experience totally different from how I had found it all those years before but there was some consolence in the lovely camp spot I had next to a swimming pool. Very welcome in the heat.

On my last visit there I was wined and dined by a kind carpet seller for whom I wrote a love letter to his English girlfriend. It was he who showed me the summit of Pumakkale by moonlight (with no tourists) and who had offered me a choice of his wonderful kilims as a gift. I tried to find this man but it seems that about 2 years after I was there he died of a heart attack at age 32.

Heading further sout into the heat I arrived in Marmaris English tourist town to meet Ted Edwards a HUB contact with whom I had been corresponding since before I left Spain. Ted is in his early fifties and is a builder. During the last few years he has experienced several heart attacks and soafter the last one he decided that it was time to do all the things he wants to sold his house and jumped on his 1300 Yamaha tourer. Now he travels where he wants and picks up work along the way. A good builder is never short of a job and at present he has one to continue in Spain in Setember. An Eastender with a wealth of wordly anecdotes I enjoyed his company over a few beers for the 2 days I was there and he oversaw my plug changing antics. You need to take off the seat and tank to access them and I found to my chagrin that I had left the necessary alen key behind. Also the spare plugs bought in Austria were the wrong ones!! So much for my preparation.

The south coast of Turkey is stunning full of bays and coves washed by an turquoise sea. As it was so hot I had to leave early in the morning stop about noon for a swim and continue in the late afternoon for a couple of hours before looking for a camp spot.

One place that was well worth visiting was Olimpus a Thracian castal town that was built on the sides of a small canyon leading to the sea. The inland part of this canyon has developed into a small tourist town where the accomodation is huts or treehouses and there are many small resturants and hippy type stalls which serve the alternative Turkish and foreign visitors. I camped under a tree house and saw the ruins and bay by torch and moonlight when most of the crowd were in the bars.

My next contact was Mesut and his lovely wife Turkan and despite teething problems with their baby they hosted me for a couple of days and were most helpful. Mesut also has a DR650 and a smaller enduro bike and is a very enthusiastic off road rider. He is also a doctor for the emergency services and’ when I left town I followed his ambulance toward Cappadocia.

Cappadocia is magic. There is nothing else to descibe it. The original inhabitants carved homes out of the tuff (earth material) that had been weathered into strange conical shapes. There are also underground cities used as hiding places from invaders.

The main tourist town of Gorome has many tourist pensions and bars and has attracted people from all over the world some like a Scottish woman I met who have stayed and made their homes there.

I camped in a valley just outside the village and was woken the next morning by a sound like a blow torch. On poking my head out of the tent to investigate I discovered it was hot air balloons flying overhead but coming in low amongst the rocks. The next night on discovering that my camp spot was being used for a party I moved a little further down the valley but was entertained by their firework display. I found out next morning that it was some of these foreign residence celebrating their marriage. All this in spectacular settings.

I pulled myself away from magnetic Gorome to find the Gorge at Ilhara about 70km SW. There is a walk along this valley of about 9kms to the next village so I did it there and back and was in ecstasy following the sparkling river in perfect weather conditions with a cool breeze blowing and the valley walls full of painted rock churches from the grecian ages of about 11th century. That evening I stayed in a camp site along the valley and was treated to wonderful white Cappadocian wine by a camp fire by a good looking 35 year old who was hoping I would marry him so he could be British. Same old story but good fun anyway.

Much as I was tempted to stay I rode up north to the black sea coast again as I was heading for the mountains to try and do some more walking. When I got there the low cloud made it impossible to do the walks I wanted but I did manage a great day in company with 2 Kurdish guys on the lower slopes and then that evening when I returned to the pension I found two Grecian motorcyclists who had seen my bike and were looking for a small German. They saw the plates and the fact that the bike has been lowered. They were a bit surprised to find an English woman but were great company and we fed and drank in a bar that had live traditional mountain music.

And so from the rainy mountains back to the now rocky desolate scenery through eastern Turkey. At Ezurum I met some Germans who I had previously seen at Ilhara gorge and in stopping for a chat left it a bit late to find a good camp spot and as the sun was rapidly setting had to ask some farmers in a small village if I could camp in their field. The whole village came out to watch and after I had moved the tent a couple of times per their instructions I finally retired but was again approached by an older man who seemed terrified that they would get into trouble with the jandarme (military police) if I was found on their land (at least thats what I assumed he meant) I kept telling him that I now couldn’t move as it was dark and that at 6am I would be gone. Finally he gave up and went away. However the trucks and agricultural machinery went on to the early hours so it wasn’t such a good choice and I left as soon as it was light.

Last night I found a good site next to a posh hotel and will be there again tonight. I shall be sorry to leave Turkey. It is an amazing country and the people are wonderful so kind and generous. The only problem is the price of petrol and beer which is like England.

Thanks again to all  the wonderful people I have met along the way and please everyone keep your fingers crossed for me getting into Iran and across the deserts.

Love to all


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