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Thread: Greece is the word..

  1. #113
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    Feb 2006
    The Epic East

    Well, Good morning Turkey. Here’s the view from the top of the Koc, as I retrieve my now dried smalls from last nights washing duty.

    I’ve got up to do some scribbling in the morning quite early leaving Brian to snooze.

    Chips and Onion Rings for breakfast?

    We don’t recall the guy mentioning there was breakfast, but on the other hand as he didn’t seem to speak much English. I wander in to the restaurant and whilst being examined by the man in the chefs hat I point at the food at which point man with hat behind the counter points at me and points at the food, which I see as the international signal for ‘fill your boots’.

    It’s a very constructive part of the morning. I also manage to get a cup of tea with Milk which I consider a real achievement. I recall Arthur Dent managing to shut down a spaceship in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy whilst trying to do so. It seemed all very familiar as most of the hotel staff gathered as I tried to explain I needed squirt of cow to make my drink complete.
    Ah, a triumphant breakfast indeed. Tea was a high point now that we seem to have left the coffee zone (there was Nescafe, but we're in agreement that this doesn’t count).

    Back to the Nescafe Zone to pack. Its not coffee, I mither to myself.

    ‘Crappy Pulpy’, the now staple of our riding refreshment hitched for handy access later.


    What an absolute fizzer of a day we had. I’d said later this evening that it was probably the best day I’ve ever had on a motorcycle. Having done a few decent rides now I think that speaks volumes. Yesterday, cannonballing across the Bosphorous was a proper ball ache but the happy reward today just made it all worth it. Very special indeed.

    We set out from the hotel in Karasu and it was a fairly standard start. A fill up with petrol and then off to standard dual carriageway stuff; nothing special, but plenty to look at anyhow. Then the dual carriageway starts becoming interesting. Winding up and down, round and up, round and down. Super stuff.

    We pass through a place called Zonguldak stopping for refreshment. We are happier than we look, trust us.

    Suitably refreshed we head off again along the coast. We transition into fantastic mountain pass stuff but all by the sea. This is followed by more excellent fast road stuff, and then back to the coast for seemingly endless mile upon mile of narrow twisty mountain roads again by the sea. The roads are varied and quite tough and the motoring standard is terrible. But it is all simply epic.

    During the morning and heading through a small town, we dart off to the main square to try and sort out our toll road card thing out. We find the ‘PTT’ place..

    .. although the charming young girl behind the counter doesn’t seem to get what we’re after

    After an entertaining exchange, involving Google Translate, me drawing a road and a picture of money, and our generally giggling a bit we get the news that we need to go to a larger main post office to get what we want.

    More fun roads are quickly accessed.

    Later in a bigger town, we find a larger main post office and with our documentation in hand we get our toll cards

    They’re now called ‘HGS’ by the way.

    Mine is stowed into the top of the tank bag.

    Brian stuffs his into the arm of his BMW twat jacket. We’re sorted.

    Out of the town and swiftly into even more fun roads. As we chatted at a later stop, Brian put it well ‘You’ve got to earn it here’. This was very true. With very unreliable surfaces, gravel, potholes, sand, bits of old road, bits of melted road.. local drivers who are complete loons.. narrow twisty mountain roads, mountain passes by the sea(!) .. all incredible.

    And I guess I say it again. What other bike could do this the way it has. Incredible.

    After an ice cream which saw our retreat from the warm afternoon we decided to do another hour or so and then try and find somewhere to stay.

    Our destination is Inebolu, with our never having again left the coast in the final run in. Brian decides to ride down a section of the empty dual carriageway on the wrong side which gives us a chuckle when we pull up. The signage wasn’t exactly clear.

    We enquire at a hotel on the seafront who can put us up and we do a deal. Its only a few steps and one flight of stairs up to the room and that’s welcome. My pedometer isn’t getting a lot of work today.

    There’s no beer at the hotel. The girl serving me giggles when I ask. I get tea with no milk but that’s OK. Later we stroll around the town. We stick out like sore thumbs as outsiders and you can feel the eyes peering at you. Maybe it is my imagination, but when I rode in Turkey back in 2012 things felt a little friendlier.

    Wandering about..

    We find a kebab shop.

    Opposite is a tiny shop that sells beer.

    The joy of kebabs.

    The kebab shop and and tiny shop folks are friendly. We buy a few cans each from the tiny shop and tuck away our treasure. Beer is now very scarce and probably not a good idea to flash it about. We don’t want to go back to our room to drink, and it wouldn’t be a good idea we think to be drinking sat out somewhere in the open. Kebabs and beers swinging from plastic bags, we walk back down to the seafront and peer over the sea wall to have a look at the rocky shoreline below. As I lean over there are two chaps sitting below, having a drink. Seems like the place to be. ‘My friend’ he calls out ‘Where are you from?’ I tell him, and he asks if we’re looking for somewhere to drink our beer. He can’t actually see we’ve got beer but he appears to have our number. Yes, we own up, at which point he tells us to clamber over and grab a spot.

    “Stay in the pink, with kebabs and drink”. Can you see the other boozehounds in the background?

    Best of gear.

    And so, another tasty kebab is had, looking out to sea drinking beer from our tins and chatting like two sixth formers smoking behind the bike sheds. We’re there for a while watching the sun going down over the Black Sea.

    Its very pretty.

    Sweet, sweet beer.

    Brian attempts a closer examination of the Black Sea.

    A day of 242 miles of perfection

    Life is pretty damn good today

  2. #114
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    Jan 2003
    nw england

  3. #115
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    Aug 2010
    Another fine instalment

  4. #116
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    Feb 2010
    In The Here and Now
    Great stuff, love it

    By the way, i hadn't taken you for a man that likes a beer or two Rob

    I like the reference to Arthur Dent's tea procurring activity managing to fook a space ship up

  5. #117
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    Dec 2009
    Canterbury, Kent
    ....& so the entertaining read continues...."if only I'd taken the blue pill"


    KTM 1290 Super Adventure
    KTM 400 EXC

  6. #118
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    Feb 2015
    I’ve only just got home and you’re planting seeds in my head for next year. Keep it up

  7. #119
    Relative numpty Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Dec 2002
    Great report this, keep it coming

  8. #120
    Rambler Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Feb 2006
    Thanks all

    More coming shortly..

  9. #121
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    Feb 2006
    Woop woop! It is de sound of da Polis!

    Day 44.

    Now where was I.
    Ah yes.
    Did I mention Turkish driving is terrible? Might have done. Anyway.


    Ramble fact 82.


    When moving away from traffic lights, remember the correct sequence:

    Message > Send > Manoeuvre

    The fact is, you could beat any Turkish driver off the line in the traffic light grand prix, even on a unicycle. The internet has far more allure..

    More ramble facts later.


    Breakfast is quiet. The place is quiet, the few people in the restaurant of the hotel sit in silence. The road outside is quiet. To cap it all the staff move around in the hotel like they are floating along. Very peaceful and pleasant.
    The honey out here is something else.

    Today can be pretty much summarised as ‘Riding through large towns on dual carriageways at high speed’. Contrary to recent experience, today becomes much more of a trawl along highway. Just Kilometre after kilometre of well developed and modern roads. It is fairly unremarkable riding but the constant coastal views to our left do make it interesting.

    We have a break for an early afternoon and have the most delicious snack. I spied a local 650GS parked up there and so went in to explore. Only thinking of a drink, we ended up diving in with the food, which was fabulous. We sit and watch the locals trundle out of the mosque on the other side of the main road.

    A man happy in his work.

    Back to the road, refreshed for more of the highway. We join up with a group of Turkish bikers on assorted machinery. There’s some guy on a Super Tenere who stands repeatedly up on the pegs and bounces himself up and down on it repeatedly. It sort of looks like he’s trying to hump it. Erm, that is more than just a bit weird. As a group they don’t seem capable of riding at any consistent pace; either not particularly quick followed by very fast. They ride pretty recklessly; overtaking on the hard shoulder and riding anywhere and everywhere. Trouble is, we don’t seem to be able to get away from them and keep end up joining them continually, going past, then them coming past us shortly after.

    The novelty and curiousity value of this becomes very old very quickly so we stop for ten minutes at the roadside to have a break and let them go. Of course ten minutes later we join up with them again. How on earth is that possible? Fuckity fuck.

    Fortunately the reunion is brief as they clear off and take a slip road south and so we’re free and continue the brisk running along the coast dual carriageway.

    Approaching a section near a corner and there’s two fun-sized road cones, one with a small triangular sign saying ‘Radar’ on it. I see this and back off, but Brian doesn’t (he’s getting tailgated by a white Skoda Superb which is about a foot from his rear tyre.
    About a mile down the road we’re both ushered in to a Police Checkpoint, along with the Skoda driver, who is sent on his way interestingly following a brief exchange with Turkiye Five-o.
    The Policeman shakes both our hands intently and asks for documents.

    Brian still has a paper licence. Five-O are baffled by this and this culminates in an additional rozzer who appears by climbing over a fence.

    It emerges that I’m not getting collared, but Brian is, but my documents are needed as a handy reference to reconcile what features on Brian’s aged licence.

    I didn’t risk a photo of Five-O as I’m not sure how they would have taken it. Instead, I photo the cut out car, which incidentally we’ve seen loads of as we’ve crossed the country.

    The fine was pretty small, although for a moment Brian through it was 235 Euros
    Being the thrifty type, he almost has an aneurism
    Happily it is not, for it is in local currency of groat. We gingerly ride on.

    We decide we’ll quite likely fall short of the city of Trabzon tonight; by now its fairly late afternoon. We start looking not far outside in the town of Akcabaat. After not having a great deal of luck looking around we eventually are directed to a hotel in a side road for the main drag. It looks promising, large grounds, a large private car park behind a gate with a guard. When I say guard, what I really mean is a bored man in shorts and fip flops smoking a cigarette. But he knows how to operate the barrier. Which is nice. We go in. After our moment of high spirits thinking we’ve done well, it turns out the place is full. Bollocks. It is Friday night so maybe that is it. Anyhoo, we’re directed to the sister hotel, of which the manager just happens to be at this hotel.

    We’re directed to a much grottier place around the corner with on road parking where a surly man behind reception greets us to gruffly tell us move our bikes a foot to the left once parked up. This appears to be for no apparent reason. He then spends an age on the phone before he will even bother with us eventually checks us in. Brian looks like he’s ready to have a pop.

    After the delightful check in experience, the lift happily works and our room is right by it, so that is one plus. By now, I’m heating up, very hot and sticky and could well do with a rest. Hell, I could possibly even do with an imaginary beer, because that’s probably all we’ll get now we’re in deepest darkest Turkey..

    I peel myself out of my gear and then head to the facilities. Whilst showering, and listening to a podcast, my phone drops to from the windowsill and onto the bathroom floor, shaterring the screen. Balls.

    Yes, just what I needed. Sigh.

    Luckily, in my top box of spares I carry a spare Android mobile for just such an occurrence. This is one of those points where people who tell me 'I carry too much stuff' can feck right off

    I fire it up my shiny but well used standby and using the wifi update the apps and get the phone ready. Everything is synchronised through google so it doesn’t really take very long at all to be back in the mobile phone game. The only downside is the thing doesn’t appear to be charging very well, but for now it will do - well it will have to.

    After a rest darkness is upon us and we venture out to find a cash machine and some dinner. There are no street lights and its raining. The only illumination is from the headlights of speeding cars and the illumination from the shop signs and such. It feels a little like being on the set of Blade Runner.

    We find some cash, have an adequate dinner, then try and find more orange juice. You can forget about a beer here.

    Until tomorrow..

  10. #122
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    Aug 2010

  11. #123
    Never knowingly understood Click here to find out how to Subscribe
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    Nov 2005
    South Yorkshire
    Thoroughly enjoyable

    Tours, training or custom made earplugs ... it's all here.

    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

  12. #124

  13. #125
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    Feb 2006
    Cheers folks! Much appreciated

  14. #126
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    Feb 2006
    Rainy day in Georgia

    Breakfast is included here. I’m up early. The breakfast room is a bit of a scrum; short people with pointy elbows, screaming kids a plenty, but it works as I’ve managed to sort music and podcasts on to my new phone and things become calm.

    Out to the bikes and we continue east. We ride into through and out the city of Trabzon, where I treat the great Turkish public to a lesson on aggressive filtering with metal panniers. I’m in the mood. Roberto 1, locals 0.

    Trabzon and its madness thins out and we are back to usual rapid dual carriageway stuff to exit the city.

    We’re now getting closer to the border frontier. We pass what must be a thousand full size pictures of Erdogan, the Turkish leader, in a blue suit and on a red background, which are attached to every lamp post on the road. It starts to get boring and I’m happy to see the back of them. The frontier land continues onwards, with lots of big Turkish flags fluttering about. They like a big flag, and the big flapping red flags are quite impressive.

    As we get closer towards the border, the dual carriageway finishes and we work our way from the shoreline up into a road higher up in the cliffs that works along the coastline.
    It clouds over and begins to drizzle. A couple of kilometers or so from the border, we encounter a huge convoy of parked lorries and take care to navigate past. Nothing is moving and everything seems eerily deserted. It turns out these lorries are queueing, so goodness knows how long it’ll be taking those to get through.

    Through a tunnel in the hillside, we’ve got to the front of the local Operation Stack and have emerged abruptly at the queue for the first checkpoint. I ask the man if we can filter up on bikes by miming what we want to do followed with friendly thumbs up. The response is a positive one so we tootle on and a break in traffic for a manoeuvring car handily lets us in right at the front. In a relatively brief amount of time we’re up to the window.

    We begin the amiable ‘Let’s not get stopped’ charm offensive routine. Brian’s tactic is to immediately talk about Football, which seems to get everybody engaged. The fact he’s a Leicester fan is useful, for the plucky antics of the Foxes a couple of seasons ago means they’ve registered on the radars of folks in the backwaters of beyond. For me, after Brian, I then have to confess I’m a West Ham supporter, and this is greeted with sympathetic gestures and the hint of pity, which I’m well used to. I also have my plastic season ticket for the last season which is a good prop. I never actually used it to go to a game but as a prop it proves actually useful.

    The important thing is though, that these tactics actually work.

    Whilst waiting at one of the further checkpoints to do our routine we come across a frustrated looking German chap who is stood to one side by his alpine white WC1200 Adventure. He comes across for a chat. He tells us he’s been selected for an x-ray, and he’s been here a few hours waiting. No one, him included, seems to know what is going on.
    Yikes. We only hope we’re spared it, which it turns out we are. Goody. Feeling slightly guilty we move on to the next stage.

    The girl at the next window is sat very high up in the booth (mastermind assumes this is for the lorry traffic). She’s wearing a headscarf with her face uncovered. She has striking features, a beautiful smile and the most incredible blue eyes you have ever seen. It was reminiscent of that famous National Geographic photo if you ever saw it. I have to reach up to hand her the paperwork, like a toddler reaches upwards to mummy sat at the table. We both are having a chuckle at my exaggerated reaching. She struggles a little with my battered and now in bits V5 and I have to paddle the bike around so she can properly see the number plate. A colleague helps her with the detail and after some concentrated keyboard input everything is in order. We can go. “Where have you come from?” she asks. “London!” I tell her. “London” she exclaims, “that’s amazing. I would like to go!”

    With that, one side of things is complete and we set off to the Georgian side of the border crossing. This part is a vast expanse, like a football pitch with several lanes and markedly different to the bottleneck Turkish side.
    We’re directed to the far end of these many lanes with just a couple of cars in front we are up to the checkpoint; it must have been in under ten minutes.
    Documents are shown and there’s very little fuss. The burly border guard tells us we need to buy insurance and points to kiosks and shops over in the melee over the border.

    We’re through. We are now in Sarpi, Georgia

    The Georgian-Turkey border..

    Oooh, Georgia border Five-O.

    Things are kind of a chaos on the other side of the border. Buses, cars, taxis stopping anywhere, unloading, loading up with lots of people milling around. We find a place to stop amongst the chaos and Brian sets off to find insurance with me minding the bikes. The drizzle starts up again and gets slightly heavier.

    This was my second Blade Runner déjà vu experience in 24 hours.

    Whilst we’re waiting around I manage to break my tooth on a boiled sweet. Eek. It doesn’t instantly hurt so that’s a bonus. We’ll see how it goes I suppose.

    Brian emerges with Insurance..

    … and then its my turn.

    I arrive at what turns out to be a small office; a peculiar and amusing cross between a nightclub and a money change come insurance bureau. There are three young guys in there, smoking away and listening to loud dance music- generally having a ball. They cheerfully sell insurance and change some cash up whilst chatting football.

    Apologies, the photo is a bit blurry but it seems kind of appropriate, I think my ears were bleeding..

    The insurance was pretty cheap for a week, something like fifteen Euros equivalent in the Georgian groat. Using my tried method of evaluating the value of a currency that is previously unknown to me, I ask the gents how many beers the remaining Georgian groats will buy me, at which I’m assured it will by me many, many of them. That’s a currency conversion I can simply understand, so I’m very happy, and of course it feels good to be back in a land of beers, wines and spirits.

    Whilst we’re on the subject of insurance, it reminds me- I’ve seen lots of posts about in other countries that people haven’t bothered getting insurance. Let me say it now, in Georgia DON’T DO THAT. I’ll explain later.

    It’s raining a little more now as we ready ourselves to ride into Batumi, which we decide to be our destination.

    Prior time on my hand internet research told me that Georgia has the worst road safety record of all of the Caucuses. They’re not big on regulations and those that exist are pretty lax. For instance, they have no MOT, so if it rolls, you’re basically good to go. This accounted for some of the stuff we were to see here and in the coming days. Much of it wouldn’t be out of place in the film Mad Max.
    The driving standard is assured to be also equally appalling, but to be honest its hard to tell after the tiring auto twattery that was Turkey.

    The schlep into Batumi is that. A low speed, rain schlep. Mostly suburban and semi suburban riding in traffic. The rain has picked up and seems to have a calming effect. Batumi arrives in short order and provides an interesting skyline with many modern buildings and construction of future ones going on. We’ve seen nothing remotely like it since the towers of Istanbul.

    We have no accommodation booked, so in the heart of things we spy a McDonalds. We drop in to see Ronald and loiter around the reception soaking the tiled floor and using the free WiFi. It is actually a pretty interesting place to be, I don’t suspect there are many McD’s in Georgia and there are lots of people around taking photos and posing for selfies. This is in addition to the usual lurkers you find in McDonalds, plus us a grubby pair, so it was interesting. It looks as though they had door staff of sorts but they were too polite I think to come and tell us to bugger off.
    After fifteen minutes or so, and a bit of discussion on a decision, using our app we find a place tucked away but near the city so it seems. There are ‘Courtyard by Marriot’, Holiday Inns and other big chains in town but that’s just not what we are after.
    Once booked Brian carefully uses Maps Me on his phone to pick our way through the streets to our destination. We don’t have maps on our GPS units anymore- they ran out in Turkey.

    Our destination is on an unmade road in the city and we bumble through the rain filled pot holes until we reach a house with a metal gate. Credit to Brian’s navigation here. I haven’t seen a single street sign.

    The place, now found, doesn’t look particularly inviting; a house facade directly on to the ‘street’ but Brian finds a route in by an unlocked metal gate and discovers that looks are indeed deceptive. We’re given a very friendly welcome. After unpacking we’re told we can leave our bikes in the neighbours garden behind some large gates. Excellent and a really hospitable start. We get the warm ‘we’ve landed on our feet’ feeling.

    We can part our bikes in the neighbours garden. Sweet!

    It gets better. We’re showed to a very nice self contained one bedroom apartment. Perfect and it works out at something like 20 quid a night. We decide it’ll be good to perhaps stay a few days to explore. The owners tell us to come down and join them once we unpack, so showered and changed we go and join them where they’re having lunch and want us to join them. It’s an all round fabulous experience. We eat and chat. The two sons speak English and translate for Mum and Dad. They pour wine- they have red and white- and both are incredibly tasty. We figure it probably should be- Georgians are the oldest wine makers in the world.

    It turns out the wine is home made. The two sons show us around. They make it. Talented fellas.

    The Georgian sauce (plum derived as it happens) was remarkably tasty.

    Great hosts. Number one son and Dad.

    We spend hours sat there and the hospitality is first class. Whenever a glass gets to half way, one of the sons appears, like the shopkeeper from Mr Benn, and tops it up.

    A few hours spent. Musical accompaniment..

    The family, the two sons, mum, dad and Brian doing an impression of Eddie Cochran

    I’m feeling quite pissed by this stage. We could have sat there all night- but Brian and I break off, feeling obliged to see a little of Batumi on a Saturday night.

    So we stumble off into the fading light of Batumi.. hic!

  15. #127
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    Aug 2010
    You’re meant to suck boiled sweets, ya daftie!

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