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Thread: Greece is the word..

  1. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Nutty GSER View Post
    4 updates in one day? Yep, we’ll take that!
    Quote Originally Posted by Micky View Post
    Ha ... correct
    All a bit easier to do now I'm back home and caught up with the chores..

  2. #98
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    And so to Macedonia



    Quite.

    Our plan yesterday was to get to Ioannina, drop off our bags and then head back out on the bikes to see the Vikos Gorge. Given the heat we sort of lost enthusiasm for it and decided to have an afternoon stroll and a beer. We alter our plan to take in the gorge today and then try and wind our way east.

    A bit of route advice from a friendly local at the petrol stop.



    There’s some dull main drag riding for a while as we head North. Once we leave the main road and head into the hills we’re rewarded.





    The way up and back is great.



    Actually, in truth we didn’t reach the actual gorge viewpoint and it was some walk from the end of the track we reached. Heavy bike gear, hot temperatures and yomping down precarious paths aren’t a great combination, so we make do with some of the views we’ve got.







    Eventually, after some interesting navigation and, well, lets call it re-navigation we end up joining up with the main E80 route.

    The riding? Simple and enjoyable with some climbs and twisties keeping things interesting. This really seems a very remote part of Greece and there’s hardly any traffic at all. I’ve been this way before, back on the original EuroRamble in 2012. We have a coffee stop at a place I stopped at back those few years ago.

    The lining of Brian’s Tour-X refuses to leave his head. We’re assuming that’s kind of a ‘I need a wash’ protest.



    Shortly after pitching up we’re joined by a couple from the Czech Republic aboard a Varadero. Usual hellos and nosing around the bikes until we do the off.

    Another gem for Brian’s photo collection of ‘Khazis of the world’



    Shortly after we branch off the main road to head North over to the Macedonian border.

    We ride across up over the mountains. I have Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Welcome to the pleasuredome” rattling through my headphone which made for a memorable ride.. outstanding. 34 years old that song you know, a Trevor Horn masterpiece. Anyway, it matched the going perfectly, really technical fun slinging round the big GS, avoiding the potholes, the gravel, the surface changes, dogs sat under trees in the road, you name it, A flip here, a slip here and a wobble there, power on, power off. Marvellous.

    The national flags start to crop up all over the place and its easy to see we’re near the border, particular the with things between Greece and Macedonia being a bit frosty.

    Not far from the border we see rain. It bloody well tips down and the going becomes precarious for half an hour or so. The rain stops as we clear the mountains and by the time we reach the Macedonian border not far away you’d have barely known we’d seen rain at all. A short stand up on the pegs allows for a blow dry.

    The border despite how relationships between the countries might lie is pretty easy. Ten minutes to cross with no bother. Passport, V5, Green Card, scram.

    After crawling along behind a border police 4x4 for a while we not long later reach the town of Bitola. We weren’t clear exactly where we were going to pitch up tonight, but at a stop on the outskirts of town we decide it will be here. We choose the Treff Hotel which is very central. It looks decent at least from the car park, and the price is right. Bikes stuck in the courtyard outside reception, sorted.

    They didn’t have a lift at this place but at least here they were decent enough to be upfront about it. They did leave a space for one though so you never know in the future I suppose.



    They like a big flag here.



    And they like a gamble by the looks of it. That’s an odd one to see.. just fancy that.



    Bitola’s main pedestrian drag..







    Bitola five-O.



    We draw out some local money and I buy some tat for the bike. I like a nice bit of tat. You may have noticed. It keeps me amused anyway.



    We meet a friendly but ever so slightly odd local bloke called Ali.



    Zlaten Dab. Didn’t he recently sign for Chelsea?



    Skopsko is better.



    I have an average Pizza. Brian has a local tapas platter, a lot of it which he feeds to a cat. I should imagine the cat spent most of the remaining evening looking for Rennies.




  3. #99
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    lmfao that last pic - kelley would be like woof

    also wondered what the riga pic of the shirt and tie was about

  4. #100
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    Just catching up with this ramble.

    Excellent, as ever.

    Keep them coming.

  5. #101
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    'Bitola 5 - O' ….. you know it makes sense.

    PUI since 2004


    [url=https://www.TickerFactory.com/]


  6. #102
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr K View Post
    'Bitola 5 - O' ….. you know it makes sense.

    practical gadgee

  7. #103
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    great write up, glad you had a good time with your dad, i think i will have a look at going to some of those places

  8. #104
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    ....marvellous read.....
    Bounce

    KTM 1290 Super Adventure
    KTM 400 EXC

  9. #105
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    Cheers all

  10. #106
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    Down Bulgaria way..

    I’m up very early to pad the streets of Bitola.



    Maybe it’s a little bit too early for me, eh.





    Breakfast and route planning.



    For some reason Garmin wants to route us into Greece no matter how we try to direct it to skirt us directly along into Bulgaria. Per below, we don’t want no Drama, right!



    We leave Bitola and head East.

    Macedonian borderlands



    We reach the border which was crossed really simply at an almost deserted spot. We’re through in minutes. We continue to buzz Eastwards with only a brief roadside stop for a drink.

    My riding wan’t very good today at all. For no apparent reason really. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Early in the afternoon it started to rain, the roads were poor, and I was feeling a bit anxious. We put on boil in the bag gear. The rain got heavier. We got diverted into some hillside village and had to get ourselves out, which was interesting.

    I thought about my mum for a bit, and everything calmed down. My riding became good. I think mum was on the back for a little while there.

    Earlier in nicer weather we’d booked the Hotel Luxor in Smoylen using the good old app. Very cheap - we each indulge and get a Junior Suite in a hotel for 23 Euros equivalent in the local Bulgarian groat. No breakfast but what the hell.

    It continues to rain though is at least letting up a bit by the time we reach our destination A very smiley and friendly lady welcomes us and directs us down to a garage underneath the hotel. We didn’t know about that so that was a bonus.

    My budget friendly swanky pad for the night



    Another day, another beer.



    And yet it still rains, heavy again. Meh.



    Another day, another currency.



    There’s not much going on here. Probably best to come back in ski season. We find a restaurant that is open in the gloom and the rain which has an interesting menu.



    All is ok, nothing amazing. The highlight is the background music soundtrack in the restaurant, which I happen to think is hilarious. I get the waiter to write down what it is.



    Scenic Smoylen by night



    We have an odd Irish coffee sort of thing with some god awful brandy to accompany it (in all fairness, the waiter warned me it was shit) but that made me all the more curious.
    He was right.

  11. #107
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    Mmmmmmmm Backlava.. ( post 94 - 4th picture )
    Perfekt ist nicht gut genug.

    UKGSER-A place where I've wasted so much time, learned so much, laughed a lot and cried a few times.

    Every bed of roses has pricks in it!

  12. #108
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ash View Post
    Mmmmmmmm Backlava.. ( post 94 - 4th picture )
    Dangerous place that bakery..

  13. #109
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    Greece is the word... yep, again..

    I sleep well, lost in a huge bed that has its own postcode. Nevertheless, up early and down to sort the bike. There is no breakfast but the same smiley lady who welcomed us yesterday points out that there is coffee and buns, so we have a coffee and a bun.

    Last night I downloaded the comedy music from the restaurant so this is played whilst I pack up the bike. It sorts of speeds up the process..



    .. See what I mean?

    The weather has really picked up. We stop for petrol. The girl behind the counter asks where we’re going? I tell her to the east. ‘Take me with you’ she says ‘I finish at 7’. I at least should have took a picture, idiot.

    The riding is decent, driving standards continuing to decline, but traffic thins out and we’re able to have a good play. Around midday we pass through the Bulgarian border town of Zlatograd and work our way up to a deserted border post using a pass. It’s a nice modern two way road on the way up. Up at the top, there’s no traffic. All there is to see is a miserable Buglarian and an ever so slightly more cheery Greek chap. The Bulgarian bloke looked particularly put out, obviously he was very busy doing nothing at all, and we’d interrupted him being in the zone.



    Well hello again, Hellas!



    The dog under the tree never moved at any point apart to have a quick look at me.



    I stop at the top to look at a LAMPF message which looks to be a loose connection. It goes and we have light. Sorted, we put a bit of music on. Heading down the other side of the pass it’s a real contrast. A worn single track road with plenty of loose stuff lurking about. I’m almost taken out by Postman Patos in his little red van. Careful now and concentrate, old chap.

    The view south, in the distance the town town of Medousa..



    We join decent roads and riding is enjoyable for an hour before we hit a town and then the main road down towards Akexandroupoli, the destination tonight. It’s dull and hot. I can’t help but marvel at the amount of concrete used to create a some of the junctions. Just for a left turn off of the main road, the concreted area is huge, almost as though they had so much concrete around they had no idea what to do with it. Of course, at many of these the road markings have work away, so they’re just huge wide expanses of tarmac. All a bit odd. Hey ho.

    The last half an hour of the tide is entertaining, leaving the newer main road and heading through what would have been I guess the old road which winds up and over the hills. Any more fun, and the fun meter will break..
    We meet up at our very average hotel, significantly more expensive than last night, and for one room rather than the two and nowhere near as good. Oh well, that’s Greece versus Bulgaria for you.



    Today has been a relatively quick day, only 160 odd miles, so we have a decent amount of afternoon remaining. I have the urge for a walk, a greek salad and a sticker so off I jolly well go.

    A decent beer, that. Not your Mythos style fizzy piss.



    The Greek salad box is ticked



    Mind the corners. If you get it wrong you get your own small church. Yikes.



    Greek DAS. Flip flops, shorts, Hi Viz. The chap in the red car appears to be supervising – well, he’s looking at his phone a lot.



    Alexandropouli Five-O



    Still World Cup time out here now so we watch the France v Belgium semi final over dinner in a decent spot.



    Tasty, tasty.



    Later in the evening the seafront road is closed in the town. Two touring bikers get parking tickets as souvenirs.



    Further east beckons tomorrow!

  14. #110
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    (git)

  15. #111
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    M’off .. to Asia

    Actually, what’s the plural of M’off? W’off, I suppose

    So, as I’d said, we’re still planning to head East crossing into Turkey this morning

    I’d read a few things about this border crossing in July and August and tried to make sense of various travel sites, Crapadviser and various Google reviews. Some stuff I’d read said it could be 3-4 hours in July. Bringing that subject up last night didn’t exactly lighten the mood. Given these internet nuggets of ‘wisdom’, we decided to get up early and do the off. We were out on the road just after 8 and it was as brief and rapid float up the main road which found us at the border an hour later. With nothing ahead of us we’re right up to the first window and through with a passport check at the Greek exit. After seeing Brian’s bits, the guy waves me through. Ooh, a good start.
    Next we have passport control for Turkey, which again doesn’t take a few minutes. My downloaded Turkish visa is on my phone, obtained poolside in Corfu, so not printed out. Hell, it is supposed to be an e-visa after all. Its not a problem- the border guy scrolls and zooms in competently around the screen of my phone and wishes me a good trip. Stage 3 is customs. They take a brief look but aren’t particularly interested in my bike. The big thing seems to be them searching various cars in front whilst walking around them very slowly which takes an age, even longer if you take into account the compulsory and extended cigarette breaks that everyone seems ot be indulging in.

    We get through the final obstacle and into a main car park. We get a coffee from some friendly types who take some Euros in change.



    Ah, the ambience of the Greek/Turkish border.



    We’re pretty happy with our border cross- though in about 35 or so minutes. We go to make off but find we’re not done. Ah. There’s another V5 and Passport checkpoint. Blimey. But we’re through in just a few minutes, courtesy of some queue jumping and a sympathetic lorry driver who waves us in front. Soon where breezing along the almost deserted main E84 route towards Istanbul. For an hour or so, the traffic is light.

    So we also have to work out the obstacle of the road tolls here. I have a KGS tollcard from my last visit to Turkey, so we stop at a Shell Station where you could top them up to try and work out what the score is. At the first station they tell us no- they can’t do that here- and to stop at the next Shell station in x kilometers. At the next one they tell us no, we can’t do that here- and to stop at the next Shell station in y kilometres. ‘By the end of this’ I tell Brian ‘you’ll be a Shell of a man’

    At the third stop, a local speaks with us and tells us these particular toll cards don’t work anymore. That all stopped in 2013. That explains a lot then. He asks where I’m from. London I say, and whereabouts he asks. I tell him. He immediately runs off and grabs his brother who is sat under an umbrella having a drink. He runs a shop about half a mile from where I live. Funny old world.
    We have a chat and the quality of information improves as you might expect. He tells us we need to find a Post Office. Look for the ‘PTT’ and you will need to buy a toll card. 50 Lira should be more than enough. Good stuff.



    We continue our way eastwards and ride through Istanbul on the main E80 road, following the signs for Ankara.

    If you ever have the misfortune of planning to take the road through Istanbul my advice to you is not to do it. There is a route to the North which is apparently far more manageable. Anyway, on this particular drag when you can see the very large blocks of flats, and Istanbul in the far distance, well, you’re still probably half an hour of complete madness from the middle of town and. Probably more. There are traffic accidents. People stopping traffic in the fast lane of the motorway to buy water from vendors standing in the central reservation. Everything dodges left and right. Motorcycles are just something else in the way. I’d be as generous to call it an interesting experience but not one I’d like to repeat in a hurry. No wait.. not ever again actually.

    Eventually after crossing the Bosphorous and reaching Asia (gosh that sounds exotic) the traffic begins to very gradually thin out. Driving is still mad, and anything is fair game. Relaxing it is not.

    Later we leave the main highway and head North towards our coastal destination of the day, Karasu. We find a hotel through luck, the amusingly named Koc Otel. The room is nice, the electricity variable and the lift is a bit of a gamble by all accounts. It goes off a couple of times. At least we got the bags up to the fourth floor before it went on the blink.



    A stroll out, a sticker bought and eventually we plump on getting a kebab, which is handy as the menu option appears to be almost entirely kebab. We’ve sort of worked out that getting a beer here is going to be tricky, but at least the hotel sold Efes which works for us.

    We have the nicest mixed kebab ever at this spot. The sign featured a picture of the owner on it, and at the time we went in the owner was sat in a chair beneath it, which was a bit odd.



    They were friendly; the chap who served us was polite, good humoured, spoke English and talked fondly of his days in Edmonton. The food was fantastic.

    Me just doing my warm up exercises..



    So, so different from falling out of the pub into my local kebab shop, you know.



    We were as you might probably guess full up as we went back to our hotel to sit in reception, drink Efes and watch England get booted out of the World Cup by Croatia. Hey ho.





    Reflecting back on the day, ballistic had said how he wanted to visit central Istanbul but I was reluctant having been through the pantomime before. With the bike well loaded I didn’t want to be trapped in 30 plus degree heat. Later on he’d said he was happy that we didn’t go having seen the antics of the traffic which made me feel a little bit better about passing it up.

    We buy some Juice for the bike tomorrow. Cappy is the brand, which we call Crappy. Funny guys, eh? It’s nice stuff. Orange Juice seems harder to get than any other which seems peculiar.

    A decent sleep under decent aircon which lasted through the night, which was cool (quite literally)

  16. #112
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    Really enjoying this...


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