|03-01-2011, 09:27 AM||#61|
Joined: Jan 2010
|03-01-2011, 02:51 PM||#62|
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Houston, Texas and Tucson, AZ
Riding in Turkey
Thanks so much for the ride report, and I thought it was great that you did it on a Scrambler. Way back in the 1970's I was stationed in Turkey, at Adana and Iskenderun, and imported a Honda Superhawk. The riding was terrific and the local policeman with a BMW liked to go with me up into the mountains to "play". I want to go back some day...
|03-25-2011, 05:47 PM||#66|
Joined: Oct 2010
Location: Biker Heaven
- FoothillRyder AMA# 289558, BIR #47, COP #001
'97 Trophy 900, '98 Tiger, '03 Speed Triple 955i
My Blog: http://foothillryder.com/
|11-04-2012, 12:41 PM||#69|
Joined: Jan 2010
AFRICAN ROADS OF STONE
Every morning, I place the map on my bike’s petrol tank case with great appetite for the day ahead. To follow the map more easily, I highlight the route I am to undertake for the day. This morning the very end of my line on the map is Cape Town. Maybe this is why I am not feeling as excited and hungry for the road ahead. What is to happen when I reach Cape Town, the end of our journey and the trip back home to where we started. Back to where our loved ones and our families live. Why do they not live in different places all over the world and why can I not go on “endless bike trips”? To go back to where you started, to the very beginning, could it actually be taken as accepting defeat?
The start of my highlighted route on the map was Bodrum. My wife and I were not alone when we started on this route. Next to our triumph scrambler, two other bikes were cruising along with us. Tolga and Ece’s Dakar and Erol and Marit’s transalp were comrades to our scrambler. And of course we had Goksel and Berrin with their Nissan terrrano to watch over us and to lighten our load. After we had our friends’ farewell wishes, we started out on the road to make new friends.
Day 1, Bodrum – Stratonikeia – Dalyan (198km)
The route for the first day was kept short on purpose; to ensure we would ride compatibly with each other and to observe if we had any problems with the weight distribution of our load. It was a well made decision, plus we had a chance to experience in practice how handy it is to always stow away your rain gear within reach.
We set our first camp with a view of Caunos Rock Tombs in the garden of our friends, Becky and Emrah’s hotel in Dalyan, Kilim Hotel. Their efforts to provide us with a room were in vain because we wanted to practice setting camp for the first time especially in the rain. But we were not as stupid as to refuse their invitation to taste some of Becky’s famous lasagne.
Day 2, Dalyan - Çıralı (303 km)
Travelling from Dalyan to Dalaman, we passed through Gokbel- Mergenli. Highly recommended to those who do not like the main roads! Close to Kalkan, all three motorbikes were caught speeding on police radars, costing us 270TL per bike. This trip is starting to get very expensive.
Shocking news, Erol’s 2005 transalp, 650cc has higher fuel consumption than my Triumph Scrambler, 2007 model, 900cc. I shouldn’t have been unhappy with my bike’s fuel consumption now that I see how Erol is huffing and puffing in each gas station after we fill up and he realizes how much less I am paying.
Accommodation in Cirali Emek Pansion with a lovely garden for camping, plus we were able to get our laundry done really cheap.
Day 3, Çıralı – Phaselis - Antalya (93 km)
Recommendation; do not try to climb upto “Yanartas” in biking gear. You will be devastated. The best time to visit is at sunset when you can see the flames much more visibly.
Phaselis is the ancient graeco-roman site on route, which if you ask me, is one of not only Turkey’s best archaeological sites but of the world’s. The people of Phaselis, living in such natural beauty, were reknown for being crooks in the region and were not much appreciated in the ancient greek world. According to the story told by one of the writers of the day, he visits the city baths one day. He is asked to pay the usual fare by one of the members of the staff and the owner of the establishment notices he is actually a foreigner and intervenes. He asks the writer to pay one a higher rate as he is not a local, the rate for foreigner. Our writer turns to the bathkeeper and scolds him for daring to turn him into a local for a few dimes.
Upon reaching Antalya, our preference for dinner is the Big Man restaurant on top of the cliffs above the Med across the Antalya Archaeological Museum. Pizza and mojito definitely go well together!
Day 4, Antalya – Aspendos – Side - Alanya(156 km)
Dont you dare miss it, the world’s best preserved ancient Roman theatre is in Aspendos. The aqueducts of the city are amazing as well. When Alexander the Great conquered this area, he asked the city to pay an annual tax of 4000 horses. These beautiful horses are however nowhere to be seen anymore.
Tonight we were planning to make camp in Incekum at a distance of 25km to Alanya. Kenan Hodja, Elif’s teacher from high school arranged an apart for us at only a price of 90TL for the eight of us. We changed our plans and our route. Erol and Ece forgot their ID cards at the hotel. Just as I was about to make fun of them, I realised that I had also made the same mistake. Superb!
By the way, we also left the guide book to lead us through the Middle east back home as well. Nice... Emre, our friend in Bodrum will send the book out to Antep for us. As you can see, we are extremely well organised.
My teacher Kenan and his wife Bahar took really good care of us once again on our 2. Traditional Alanya Visit. We were also to give a talk the next day on our travels in Kenan’s class at school. We were surprised to find ourselves in the conference room giving a seminar to the whole school rather than an informal talk to his class only. We put our Africa Roads of Stone tshirts on and get prepared for an 08:30 start at school.
Day 5, Alanya - Yanışlı (202 km)
We had a great talk with the kids in my teacher, Kenan’s school, Hamdullah Emin Pasha Anatolian High School. WE told them about the countries we were going to visit, what we were going to see and do on the way, our vehicles, gear and how we prepared for the trip. We were talking for over an hour and it was a really enjoyable experience. Such brilliant kids!
I forgot Salih, a friend I worked with in the same travel agency, also lived in Alanya. I was very surprised when we met outside the school as we were leaving. I was also very embarrassed not to have let him know we were coming. Salih kindly took us somewhere in the outskirts of Alanya to have the famous homemade “Ermenek Halva”. He also made a great proposal afterwards, let’s have “goat on a spin”. Apparently it’s famous in the area. We were almost about to stay for this as well. Our trip is turning into a culinary one!
We ran out of energy 50km before Silifke in the roadside facilities of Agacli. We set camp next to the sea. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day, which proved extremely useful for some friends who were up about 40 times in the night to use the loo.
6 am in the morning, time for our wake up call!
Day 6 Yanışlı – Silifke - Adana (219 km)
In the morning we had breakfast in the famous Agacli Restaurant and started travelling to Mersin. Elif is going to have her yellow fever shot here as there wasn’t any left in Bodrum. It was 12 by the time we reached Mersin. We also found out they had typhoid vaccines, which we were told were vary hard to come by and we were very lucky to have come across. Happy to have protection against typhoid as well, we all had our shots done.
Tantuni kebap is a must in Mersin. A bypasser who was a member of the Mersin Motorbike Club approached us for a chat upon seeing our bikes and recommended a place for us. When ordering if you want no fat in your meat, you ask for “steak”. We realised we have never had proper tantuni before.
We lost too much time in Mersin over food and shots. Therefore we decided to go to Adana, to Erol’s grandmother’s place rather than Antep.
Day 7, Adana-Antep (232 km)
we headed for Antep, Erol leading and us following. Erol of Adana could not find the road out of Adana. He kept saying Adan has changed a lot! We took the lead and took control of the situation. Finally we are on the highway.
We reached Antep and had dinner in Imam Cagdas. In the foreign guidebook at hand, the recommendation was as follows; “ if there were to be an Oscar for the best kebap, Imam Cagdas would be the winner.” And they are right! Knowing we will go hungry in Africa, we keep eating non-stop.
Day 8, Antep – Urfa - Harran (257km)
We leave our hotel at 08:30 to have a wonder around the Gaziantep Coppersmiths Bazaar. We purchased some equipment for the jeep close by and had a break for Turkish coffee in the Tobacco Merchants Han.
We had a big surprise when we arrived in the world’s second largest mosaic museum, Gaziantep Archeaological Museum. As the mosaic panels were being transported to another building, half of the collection was not there to see. Our only constealltion was that “the Gypsy Girl” panel was there.
We started out for Urfa after the museum. At some point on the highway, we lost Erol. The speedy biker he is, he left us behind. This has become a classic. And as he enhoys it pretty much a habit. Don’ get surprised if we tel you we lost him in Africa.
On our way to Harran we stopped at a pide restaurant. The owner had a really old and battered bike in front of the shop which we were eyeing with some distaste. He noticed our looks and started telling us his story. Since his bike is constantly getting stolen he has battered his bike himself on purpose so no one would be inclined to steal it.
It was getting dark by the time we reached Harran. We had a “local” guide Mahmut to lead us there. He also took us out to Harran Culture house to have “mirra”. After settling in for the night in the Beyzade mansion, we rushed out to join a typical urfa “sira” night and shuted in tune to the song “daughter of Nemrud”.
“My hearth is dead, the kind of trouble that this is
She has left me for good, this is my fortune.
Karbala is my world now.
Let her suffer at the hands of Allah...”
Day 9, Urfa - Kilis (215 km)
At 08:30 we left our hotel and visited Balikli Gol and the Urfa bazaar. We stopped for tea and coffee in Gumrukhan, bought some local scarves, poshi and yamani. As the African Roads of Stone team, we proudly attended an opening of a new gas station.
The day’s plan was to cross the border into Syria and to stay at Aleppo, however as we were late to receive our passports with our Egyptian visas which were to be couriered to us, we had to change the plan and stay in Kilis, the closest point to the border. Our last night in Turkey, tomorrow we go to Aleppo.
Day 10, Kilis – Aleppo (68km)
6 am in the morning, our wheels were rolling and we reached the border.
And memorable words from Erol at border control, “my friend is a European citizen, do you need to see her passport?” Probably, what he is trying to say is different from the words rolling out of his mouth but we did take the mickey out of him. Marit, our Estonian friend, is having the same difficulties we have in Europe over here. She needs a visa whereas we do not. How beautiful it is to enter a new country without the need for a visa.
Our first stop in Syria is the Castle of Alleppo with a history dating back to 3000 BC. It is said to be the world’s oldest fortification. We left our vehicles in the parking lot for two hurs. We were only back late by 15 minutes and shocked to find they are digging into the tarmac of the parking lot with huge machines. Erol’s bike is cornered off and a machine is heading for Goksel’s jeep. More interestingly, the work machines are still not stopping despite noticing that we are heading towards our vehicles. It is obvious that they are looking for an excuse to tow away the vehicles, imagine all the hassle afterwards. We took them out of the parking lot, helter skelter. Straight onto finding a hotel. We settled in one right in the middle of the town, across from the Sheraton. 30TL per couple per night. Plus they arranged parking for us. For those who are heading that way, it’s called Zafran hotel.
We immediately started to prawl the city. Our dinner is Aleppo’s famous toasted bread with black cumin seeds and feta cheese with of course fresh mixed juice.
We all find that it is an incredibly dirty city. Everyone is littering on the ground. There was a really bad stink the minute we crossed over the border. Of course we get used to it. We are glad to have had our shots against yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis B.
Day 11, Halep – Palmira (371km)
It was really cold as we started out at 6 am. When we stopped for coffer, we noticed marit was crying because of the cold. Being European(!) she has not told us she was suffering. We sent her out to the jeep along with the other girls.
Somewhere in the middle of the desert the tarmac road divides into three, no signs, no gps. Ini mini miney mo... Suddenly we saw a truck approaching us from a distance. We asked the driver in tarzanian and he did point us the way. The road was never ending. The weather was warmer and the girls got back on the bikes.
At the entrance to Palmera, a kid of 11-12 years of age was carrying an empty cardboard box. He pretended like he would hit us with this, same trick on Tolga’s bike and then he really did end up slamming Marit with it. We were also surrounded by vendors when walking through the ancient site of Palmera. We kindly refused their advances.
Palmera is an unexpected ancient Roman site in the middle of teh Syrian desert. It is also called the Rose of the Desert. It really does deserve this name. Especially at sunrise and sunset the marble columns are painted in amazingly beautiful colors.
There are hotels fit for every budget in Palmera but if you are also looking for a budget place like we were, Al Faris hotel is recommended. We paid 70TL for 8 people.
We met a Spanish couple, Monica and Ramon as we were off loading our vehicles in front of the hotel. They were also planning to cross the same route as us, but heading back earlier from Kenya. We told them we were planning to go to Spain next year for the World Hot Air Balloon Championship. They invited us stay at their place. Mi casa es tu casa....
Day 12 Palmera - Homs -Tripoli (296 km)
The weather was colder this morning when compared to yesterday. “Desert Cold”... In less than 100km, Erol had to stop three times to warm his hands with his exhaust. Finding it hard to cope he put on anotherpair of gloves. On top of it all the rain started. And finally his right case flew off on a road similar to a highway. Thank God it was not broken.
We were unlucky as we only had a chance to visit one of the world’s best preserved and true to its original castles, Crac De Chevaliers on a really rainy day Hence the climb up to teh castle was really difficult and steep. Erol fell off the bike after skidding. No damage.
While walking around the fortifications of the castle, Tolga was making us all laugh with his vertigo getting worse and worse.
On the Lebanese border during passport control, the soldier on duty gave us a piece of paper to fill out. He continued with his job when we returned the paperwork to him. A few minutes later Iasked him when he would be checking our papers. He turned to me with a sneer and showed me a big load he would first have to go through. I got annoyed and threw myself out of there. Tolga took charge. With his indelible charm, he told teh soldier we were on bikes, travelling in the cold and rain... Still no reaction. Finally Goksel takes over and finds a soldier of higher rank and explains he used to be a soldier as well. They took us into a different section and finished our checks in 10 minutes. There were some 50 people gathered around our bikes. They dispersed them shouting out in Arabic and allowed us to get on our way.
Road in Lebanon are very pleasant. Finally we are seeing some greenery. By the time we reached Tripoli it was already dark. We just could not find the hotel we were looking for. We went into Pizza hut to ask for the road and spent an hour in there. We were hungry. We settled into an expensive hotel behind the restaurant. All thanks to the power of plastic.
By the way, we really appreciated having people stuck in traffic along us lowering their windows and welcoming us to Lebanon. At some point a couple in an expensive merc jeep led us all the way to the area we wanted to get to. They were very sweet.
The girls especially were very tired. Nobody wanted to leave at 6 in the morning. With the hotel being nice as well, we decide to depart at 10 am.
Tripoli -Beirut (84 km)
We started on the road to Byblos from Tripoli. Yet we missed a turning. We realized there was a cable car crossing over us in the sky. We immediately changed our route and jumped on the cabel care. It took us up to a place called Harissa. A statue of Virgin Mary adorns the hill tiop. With her hands open she is facing the sea.
We visited the “Jeita Grotto” caves. Two caves, one filled with water which you have to go around in a boat. The other is a rather long walk. To sum up in one word the experience was magnificient. There are some amazingly beautiful stalactites. If you are ever in the area it is unmissable.
We are in Beirut late in the evening.
We found a 3 bed house for rent, Tolga and his partner drew the short stick and had to stay in the lounge. Bir ev bulduk.3 oda 1 salon.Çöp çektik
Tomorrow, Jordan over Syria.
Departure at the nightmarish hour of 6am again.
Day 14, Beyrut -Amman (355km)
WE thought we’d beat the rush hour traffic in Beirut by starting early but we were not successful. Despite the traffic, we were still able to make it to Beirut’s “Pigeon Rocks”. The city is beautiful, somewhere between Antalya and Izmir.
We crossed the famous Bakaa Valley and reached the Syrian border. Didnt stop by Damascus and drove straight onto the Jordanian border. This time we were able to make it through customs easily. It would be wise to give the Jordanian officials the exact change (25$) for the cumpolsory traffic insurance as they do not give you any change back. Late in the evening we are in Jordan – Amman.
Tomorrow we will be swimming in the Dead Sea.
Day 15, Amman – Petra (259km)
At 8 in the morning we left our hotel in Amman. Thenplan is to get to Petra before sunset. But we will give abreak for swimming in the Dead Sea. By 11, we went swimming in a new facility opened by the lake shore. They kindly gave us towels to dry ourselves with, tea to warm up and let us use their showers. 6 people swam, 8 had tea. We paid 160TL. Were we ripped off or what?...
You may have heard of it. The density of salt is quite high in the waters of the Dead Sea. Ece was trying to submerge Tolga in the water at some pint and though he didn’t resist, she was unable to push him under. You can stay on the water without doing anything.
There are two negative sides to the Dead Sea; one is the high amount of flies, the other the really sharp stones cutting into your feet.
While driving to Petra, we chose the back roads which are not much preferred by the local people either. At some point when we asked for the road, they wished us luck pointing us inthe right direction. We got the point when we saw the road.
We were in Petra by 4pm. We went to a restaurant owned by old Jordanian friends of mine. They took really good care of us and helped us find a nice budget hotel. We are here for two nights and will be visiting Petra all day tomorrow.
Day 16 Petra
We are tour leaders who are taking groups through Ephesus ancient city through almost 4 hours. They are selling 3 day tickets for Petra, imagine. We paid almost 100TL per person for a single day ticket. The cost of touristic sites’ entrance fees is reaching a considerable amount on this trip. This should not be overlooked while planning a budget for the trip.
We first had to walk through a grove of about 1.2km in length, 80 m of height. When we reach the end, we are face to face with the most famous edifice of the site, the Treasury Building (which was demolished by Indiana Jones) – 30m wide, 43m high – really amazing. Petra on the whole is of course magnificient.
If you would lie to visit the Monastery, you are advised to rent some donkeys from the kids on site or else you will have to climb some 800 steps. As we knew the price, the bargaining process was a bit funny:
-37 JD (Jordanian dinars)
-Brother please make it 10.
Also, while bargaining, explain clearly that you would like to go all the way upto the monastery or else they turn around somewhere midway and head back down. On the wa back, you climb down the steps one by one. By 8:30 in the morning we entered Petra, it was sunset by the time we left.
Day 17, Petra – Aqaba (331km)
We started our journey from Petra by 7.30amWe are planning to go to Wadi Rum and stay overnight if we like it. Wadi Rum is Jordan’s adventure activities centre. Deom rock climbing to camel safaris, they have a range of activities on offer.
We were hit by hard winds on the bikes enroute. It was difficult to control the bikes. By the time we reached the highway, the wind turned into a sandstorm. As we thought the condition would be even worse in the desert, i.e. Wadi Rum, we decided to skip it. And the sand followed us all the way to Aqaba.
The next day, we went to an agency to buy tickets for our crossing over to Egypt. 55$ per bike, 235$ per vehicle and 70$ per person. The people at the agency told us there were no ferry crossings on the weekends and that the crossing tomorrow may be cancelled due to the weather conditions. They were expecting us back at 9am the next morning.
We found the best value hotel in our price range, Jordaneh Apartments. Cheap, clean and central location, costs 30JD (app 60TL) Highly recommended.
Day 18, Aqaba
We went to the ferry agency at 9am. Bad news. No crossings today. There may not be one the next day either. Shoot...
Unsatisfied by the information we received, we also went out to the port. They found an official there who confirmed it.
Due to the sand storm in Egypt, we wre stuck in Aqaba. We are unable to cross by land through Israel to get to Egypt because we have no visaws for Israel. Our only option is the ferryboat.
Our visas for Jordan and the traffic insurance we got are all for one week only. This was a mistake, we should have been more flexible in such matters. We walked around in Aqaba and went to a Chinese restaurant highly recommended by oir guidebook. We immersed our sorrows in food.
It’s Ece’s birthday tomorrow. Oout of boredom we decided to celebrate a day early. We organised a surprise party in the room and we are to go on with the celebrations for three days and nights. Happy birthday Ece.
Day 19, Aqaba
Really bad new; 11 dead and 59 wounded due to the sand storm in Egypt. If you remember, 95% of Egypt’s lands is composed of desertsu can imagine how badly it must have been affected. This also means we are here for the day again. No ferries. We are starting to settle in here, shall we look for jobs?
Day 20, Aqaba-Dahab (112 km)
WE left our hotel at 9.40am They had advised us to be at the port early to take the 13.00 ferry. Weird, though there were no ferries in the last 3 days there is not anyone around, so we are done early and ready to get on board at 13.00.
We met a British couple at the port, Ed and Lois. Ed rides a Yamaha XT 600, same model as Emre’s old bike. With an Acerbis tank, Arrow exhaust and Lois has a BMW GS 650. They found each other on Horizon Unlimited, a website for bikers travelling all over the world. It’s Lois’ first motorbike. He’s only had an experience of 2 days offroad training before he started out. Ed on the other hand is on his 3rd bike but its also his first long road experience. We discussed bike mechanics all along the ferry crossing. They are no better equipped than we are, fortunately we are ambling along on our way without any major problems.
By the way, While crossing Turkey, Lois had all his tyres including his spares stolen in Adana. We made fun of Erol, who is from Adana, asking himn to hand back the girl’s tyres.
It was incredible that the ferry started out right on time. When we got to the other side by 14.30, they did not let us off the boat, saying tehy’d need to complete our paperwork. We thought it was rather nice of them. But we had to wait for at least a half hour on the ferry. The real adventure started when we got off the ferry in the customs area. This was the customs area which caused the most hassle for us.
For the first time we were asked to actually off load all out stuff on the jeep and the engine chase numbers were checked. They asked us if we had take any alcohol. They gave us Egyptian plates which we put on the bikes, both front and rear ones. They printed Egyptian drivers licences for us. We were there for more than 2 hours. It was dark by the time we left customs.
Erman Abi, an acquaintance from Bodrum, who is a diving instructor was waiting for us in Dahab at a distance of about 70 kms to the customs area. Even though it was dark, we still set out on the road. Ed and Lois tagged along. We went through a police check when we got to Dahab. Erman Abi was awiting for us by the side of the road with Sigi, the manager of the hotel we were to stay at. After a wonderful meal, we went to sleep in our rooms by the sea side. We will be scuba diving the next morning. Open your arms red Sea, we are coming!
Without a doubt, the place to stay in Dahab is “Camp Dolphin”.
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