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Old 05-07-2013, 06:32 PM   #31
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I like your plan bro and congrats on the IBA ride. I served with some Norwegian troops in Kosovo in 1999, they were very impressive. Best wishes.
If you go to the gym everyday and workout you don't feel as sore. Same with riding bikes. The more you ride the easier it gets. -JDowns

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Old 05-09-2013, 03:00 PM   #32
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Next morning was another sunny and warm day. So far on this ride i have had more nice weather then i did in all of the summer 2012. We had breakfast and set off to see some churches. First we visited a small church close by. For a little less then one euro each we got a guided tour inside, witch was interesting. The church is Unesco world heritage. The inside was covered with pictures painted on the wall.

Sadly the name of the church will be untold in this story as i do not remember. Sorry.

Anjinsan had heard about a shortcut to the next one and it included a few kilometers on gravel. We found he road, but it was blocked by a gate. Apparently the gate was there to protect the trees fro illegal logging. A guy came out from a nearby house and he was happy to open the gate for us. At least i think so because i did not understand anything of the Romanian Anjisan and the gate man was discussing.
I must say i was a little worried when he had a hard time opening his garden gate, but he did manage and in a few minutes we where off into one of the most beautiful woods i ever been to.

After leaving the woods we came to The Dragomirna Monastery. It is a huge structure, thick stone walls protecting the church and a monastery. It date back to 1608. During our visit there was a mess going on and the music added to the experience. This was one of the things i wanted to see in Romania.

Sadly i did not get a good picture of the outside. But it was very impressive

After this it was a short ride down to Suceava where we visited a castle ruin that was under restoration.
Close by, as a bonus was the world famous, world biggest easter egg. Well world biggest egg anyway.

Easter eggs are a big thing here and i have been seen them all over romania.

the three of us rode together south from Suceava fore some kilometer but due to that Anjinsan had to get back to Bucharest for work we split up after a little while.

Here is a rare shot of the famous couple.
They heeded south for the direct route to Bucharest and I turned west again to go to Sighisoara to see the medieval city. It is an inhabited medieval citadel that, in 1999, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage.
But first i had to conquer the mountains again. Again this turned out to be a beautiful and great road to ride. After a couple of hours i reach the narrowest pass i have ever seen. Steep cliffs on each side and at the nearest no more then 10 meter opening.

I did not see any historical defensive structures and i found that strange. Surly such a pass would have had military value in days gone by.. Maybe i just did not notice. Did i mention i like defensive structures?

The downside was that there was heavy traffic. It was like every Tom, Dick and Harry in romania wanted to go to this pass on there easter day off. So for me that meant slow moving traffic up hill, in (to me) extreme heat. I was worried that it would over heat but the GTR handled well and there was no issues. The rider did worse and i had to stop a couple of times just to cool down. But at least i had less problems then this guy.

At the top there was a major traffic jam as several tour busses was coming each way. But after i got over the top the traffic was lighter and i could enjoy the sweeping road going down the mountains on the other side.

Mostly it was 50/50 with great good roads and roads with bumpy surface and potholes. What i found most frustrating was that i never did trust the road i was on. It could be great for miles and then suddenly around a corner there was a huge pothole or the hard surface could be missing completely.

After a while i needed a little rest and i saw a beautiful church up on hill. I thought that could be a nice place to stretch my legs. Turned off the road and searched for a way to the church. The road took me to a river crossing ford and i looked at it for a few seconds and thought: well there is a first for everything and i set off. It was deeper then i thought but i did get over whiteout getting anything else but my boots wet.

Sadly the road ended soon after the small river and you needed to walk the last 500 meters up to the church. I did not want to leave any gear on the bike as there was a couple of older kids around that looked like they where up to no good. Sorry if i sound judgmental and maybe i was, but i just did not want to take that chance. And i did not fancy to cary it all up the hill. So i set off back over the small river and onto the road again.
At least i had forded a river.

I reached Sighisoara as the sun was setting, so i parked and walked around the beautiful medieval citadel.

This city should not be missed if you are in the area. While walking i thought; I'm 200km away from Transfagarasen pass. I know its closed at the top, but the reason i wanted to go to Romania the first place was to ride that pass. And im gona ride what ever i can of it no matter what. So leaving Sighisoara i set my course for the original goal for my Romania visit.
This took I'm on some secondary roads that was in really bad condition and the 200 km took me 4 hours. As a bonus i saw several fortified churches along my route.

But finally at 2300 and riding almost 3 hr in the dark i found a hotel and crashed for the night. It was a nice hotel and only cost me 60 ron(about 14 euro). But the name slipped my mind. Its located at the roundabout where Transfagarasen ends on the north side.

Next time i might be riding the North side of the pass.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:13 PM   #33
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Really enjoying your report! Thanks so much for taking the time and energy to write it for us! Sometimes kids ARE up to no good and you have to trust your own judgement in the matter, because losing all your gear would have ruined your trip. Looking forward to reading more.
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Old 05-10-2013, 01:33 AM   #34
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Johnny, I congratulate you for keeping the RR as up to date as possible giving your narrow time-frame.

I am very happy that you enjoyed your first visit to Romania and I hope it will not be your last.

Cheile Bicazului pass are indeed quite nice. And related to your question, there was a fortress called "Cetatea Neamtului" a few kilometers away from it, that serverd protecting all the passes in the area that linked the province of Moldova with the province of Transilvania. I think you passed near it when you were in Targu Neamt.

Hope you are enjoying Bulgaria and Turkey. How was Istanbul traffic? :)
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Old 05-10-2013, 02:16 AM   #35
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Love the travel stories and pictures from that part of Europe. Thanks for the work of sharing your travels. Keep it coming.
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Old 05-10-2013, 09:37 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by AnjinSan View Post
Johnny, I congratulate you for keeping the RR as up to date as possible giving your narrow time-frame.

I am very happy that you enjoyed your first visit to Romania and I hope it will not be your last.

Cheile Bicazului pass are indeed quite nice. And related to your question, there was a fortress called "Cetatea Neamtului" a few kilometers away from it, that serverd protecting all the passes in the area that linked the province of Moldova with the province of Transilvania. I think you passed near it when you were in Targu Neamt.

Hope you are enjoying Bulgaria and Turkey. How was Istanbul traffic? :)
Thanx for the information. I love stuff like that.

Istanbul trafic was insane. You where right about that. Used 2 hr to get down to Hagia Sophia and 2 hr to get back out. The GTR tryed to be a scooter so we maneged in the end.
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:22 AM   #37
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Next day i woke up at 0530 and looked out the window at the mountains.

They where calling for me. There where a few clouds and morning mist but i knew that would not spoil my ride up Transfagarase's north side.
About half a hour later i was all set and ready to go. got my stuff down and would you know it my bike was still right where i parked it in front of the main doors. The lady in the reception had a surprised look on her face when i was this early. After all i had only been there a little less then 7 hours and she knew i was a tourist. I had to state why i was visiting Romania on a form when checking in and i wrote tourist. AAAHH tourist she said loud and smiled. Maybe she don't have that many at this time of the year, or at all. I don't know.
After just a couple of kilometers the road started to climb up into the mountains and the next 20 or so was great. But then i reached a roadblock made of concrete blocks. There was a gap between them, big enough for my bike and i thought: What is the worst thing that could happen and i pushed on between the blocks.
The road went on going up and it just got more and more beautiful. Breath taking views to the front and right hand side.

But the road was full of small and big stones. Some as big as a couch.

One of those could easily ruin a otherwise perfect day, so i was going slow. After a little while there was snow covering almost all of the road. I found a narrow strip close to the edge and got around them all until i reached 1640 meters. The road was gone completely under the snow.

I parked and walked the next couple of hundred meters to get this view.

I thought about spending some time clearing away some of the snow. Looked at the wet slippery grass beside the road, but in the end decided i would not push my luck and head back down again. On the way back my head was full of thoughts. Happy that i got to ride most of the north side of the pass, and sad that i could not do it all. Maybe i will need to come back for this later in life. At least i can now say i have ridden most of the north side of
Transfagarasen pass.
About midway going down i meet a front loader going up. I thought to my self, i hope he is not on his way to clear snow, and if he is i hope i never find out. I was suprised that he did not even look at me as i was coming down this closed off road where i should not be. Maybe he is just so used to it i thought, or he is laughing his ass off now as he improved the road block......

And sure enough

He did. The gap was gone and i seemed to be stuck. Another car drove up to the roadblock on the other side, looked at me and turned around. Maybe he was laughing to. Maybe the front loader operator saw me going up and thought he would teach me a lesson.

But they did not know I was not a average biker, but no less then a resourceful ADV rider. Did a roadblock stop Colebatch in Chernobyl or Anjinsan in Mexico. I looked at my options and the curb was 6 inches high and that would be hard to get up with my bike. But he had left me with enough material to build a ramp.

So i got to work. Carried the panniers and top box over and drove up the ramp and down the other side.

Ha.. I was feeling that whatever Romania would throw at me i could handle it. Rivers roadblocks or virgins.. Bring it on! Well still not seen any of these virgins but I'm sure i would have handled that to.

Now i set my course for Bran castle, this would be my last stop before Bucharest where i would meet up with Anjinsan and Andrea again. On the way i passed thru several villages and small towns.

Do this men i can go back to my dirty old self?

I also had a longer stop in Fagaras, at the old castle. It is impressive with its thick walls and wide moat. It was open but no sign of any activity. A few information posters told a short history of the towers but beside that not much information.

The road from Fagaras to Brasov where a faily new road with perfect hard surface and 100 km/t speed limit. I stretched this limit a little and where enjoying myself, on the winding roads as it passed over and around the rolling hills of this area.

Close to Bran city i passed another fortress and was tempted to make a stop. But decided not to as i was ready for Bucharest.

Bran castle was a beautiful picturesque castle sitting on top of a cliff. Bran itself was transformed into a tourist machine supporting the castle and i was not to comfortable and quickly walked the steep track up to the castle. It was beautiful restored and complete with furniture and other items appropriate to its time period. About 5 euros to enter and totally worth it.
It had a couple of towers, but i found no virgins in any of them.

At this time i was getting hungry as i had still not yet eaten breakfast. So i bought me something that was freshly backed over a fire. The name escapes me but maybe Alex can fill in what it was if he sees the picture.

It tasted wonderful,

Time to get back on the road, and it was another great winding road going over mountains for the first 2 hours or so. then it continued onto the plains that Bucharest sits on and that was more dull. The traffic was getting worse and worse as i got closer to. There was some very aggressive drivers, overtaking me with just inches to spare but i did reach the apartment area where i was to meet up with Alex and Andrea. The gps did not take me to the exact address but missed by one street. Alex asked me on the phone what the area looked like. and my reply was: I'm under some trees between tall apartment blocks. That would describe 95% of Bucharest. It took some phone use before we where able to teem up again. In the end i was found, rescued and fed.

Andrea cooked us dinner and later we went out to see and hear a traditional Romanian music group perform. Alex would not join us as he had work in the morning. We had desserts and i disappointed by going for something as plain as ice cream. (its my adventure - i'll eat what i want to:)
The musicians were playing at the tables, one table at the time doing requests and me and Andrea was afraid they would think we where a couple and play something romantic. So when he approached our table i warded him off by saying we where Norwegians and would not know what to request. He then started playing a few norwegian traditional tunes and that took me by surprise. I did not see that coming.
Andre took me around down town showing me some of the buildings that looked better in artificial lighting then they did during day time. Her knowledge and passion for the city was impressive. Sadly both my cameras was out of battery so no pictures from this walk.

Every so often there would be a derelict building in between the others. And apparently this is a problem in Bucharest as most of the buildings where occupied by the communist regime and given to officials. Now there are trials as the rightful owners who were kicked out 40 years ago want the buildings back. And while this go on the buildings fall into disrepair.
It is sad and i hope they manage to sort it quickly.

Next day it will be more touring of Bucharest and then off to Bulgaria. And a look at the most impressive monument i have ever seen.

JohnnyTh screwed with this post 05-11-2013 at 10:59 AM
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Old 05-11-2013, 06:27 PM   #38
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good stuff !
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:34 AM   #39
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Alex said goodbye the next morning and left for work. Me and Andrea got ready and took the subway down to the centrum of Bucharest.
First we went to see the unknown soldiers grave in Carol Park.

This is just infront of King Carol I of Romanias mauseoleum.

I have been to several of these graves in different cities, and the one in Budapest and Bucharest where a bonus.
From there we walked toward the Palace of Parliament. Witch is the 2nd biggest office building in the world, After The Pentagon in Washington DC. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Lots of buildings to see. Some beautiful and some... lets say interesting. I particularly where impressed by the wiring. wonder what the circuit diagram looks like.

On the way we stopped for lunch and i had some Romanian sausage.

Very different from the Norwegian sausage I'm used to.

The the building i wanted to see. And it was no less impressive then i thought.

This building where built as a separate addition to the Palace of Parliament(guess they needed more room) but at the time of the revolution it was not completed and most likely never will.

Next was a visit to the university square where the revolution started. On the way there we stopped at the local Louis motorbike accessory store and i got myself a pair of vented hot weather gloves, my fingers where cooking in the gloves i had.
Today the square was quiet. Guess the students where in class. And there is no need for a revolution any more, so they have time for studying.

this is a fountain on the student square.

Bucharest was a busy big city with fast moving traffic and people all over.

I would love to go back to this city with more time as one day is not nearly enough. Again Andrea impressed me with her knowledge of the city. All statues and buildings we passes she would know the history off. It is nice to meet someone so passionate and interested in the city they live in. If you ever find yourself on the way to Bucharest you should try to convince her to hire her for a day as a tour guide, it would be worth it.

We said goodbye to each other and i do hope that our Travel's again cross. Alex and Andrea, you two made my visit to Romania so more better.

Romania where so different from what i thought. The people so friendly and helpful. There where so many contrast. The flat plains and the high mountains. The rich and the poor people. i think most of those i passed on my travels in Romania will never have the possibility to travel like i have. But i wish them all good luck and i hope the future bring better times for them all.
One thing that surprised me was that some times on the countryside the building reminded me of the farmhouses i have seen in ride reports from Russia. There where also so many unique buildings to Romania.
And I'm sure many inmates here will be interested in hearing that the girls where different from what I'm used to in Scandinavia and also western Europe. They dressed very different, more provocative and sexy. I where there on a tuesday and Wednesday but the girls looked more like it was saturday night.

I hope some day i will return. Hopefully with my wife and daughter to show them what a great place it is. Romanians in Norway have a bad reputation and I'm glad to say that again its a few rotten apples that spoil the whole barrel of apples.

Im my way out of Bucharest i saw the Palace again at the end of a wide avenue. So i decided to ride up there one last time and get a picture with my bike.

There where a news team van parked beside me. With a TV camera on a tripod beside.
I thought he must know how to take a good picture and I asked if he could. Sure enough he was happy to. But I must say I have seen better pictures.

I heeded south toward the border and used my last Romanian Leu to fill up my bike and crossed into Bulgaria. A quick look at my passport and i where accepted in. Thats one of the advantages of being a Norwegian i guess. Most countries welcome us. Except China maybe.

I did not have many plans for Bulgaria but i did want to do a stop at Veliko Tarnovo. This is a old city, and a UNESCO site. Built on narrow hill with steep slopes on each side. The buildings almost on top of each other. Some places they even are.

Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo.
I did a speed sightseeing of the town from my bike and snapped a few pictures before i got back on the road again. My next goal was Buzludzha monument, A monument i had not heard off, before reading a ride report here on ADV. After another fantastic road with tight corners. I ended up behind a local in his car and this where perfect. He most likely knew the road by heart and it was fun to try to keep up with him.
I reached the monument as it was getting dark.

I could see it but i decided i needed daylight. The monument is in the middle of nowhere inside a national park. The last 8 km of road where in bad shape and it did not look like it had beed maintained for 20 years at least. I pitched my tent. Ate a little and did a bit of writing on my report. I expected it to be cold as this was 1400 meters above sea level, but it was not at all.

I went to sleep, full of thoughts about the next day. Visiting the monument and another big city.
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:53 PM   #40
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This is great, thanks for posting it. You mentioned 'contrasts' earlier and that is the best thing about this kind of trip to me. Riding through northern, central and southern Europe and ending up in Turkey provides just that.
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Old 05-12-2013, 07:00 PM   #41
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Awesome. Ever since I visited Norway by boat, it has been my dream trip. And I liked you and your trip right up until I saw the Yankees shirt

Red Sox fan Kidding, great pics and great attitude.
We're not out here to rough it. We're here to smooth it. Things are rough enough in town.

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Old 05-13-2013, 07:47 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by sailah View Post
Awesome. Ever since I visited Norway by boat, it has been my dream trip. And I liked you and your trip right up until I saw the Yankees shirt

Red Sox fan Kidding, great pics and great attitude.


Nice to know someone like to read what i write. Red Sox.. ouch... i guess you cant help it
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:49 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by IslandMonkey View Post
This is great, thanks for posting it. You mentioned 'contrasts' earlier and that is the best thing about this kind of trip to me. Riding through northern, central and southern Europe and ending up in Turkey provides just that.
Yes it opens your eyes. I think if everyone traveled like this for at least once the world would have been a better place
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:17 AM   #44
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Next morning where a little more chilly. There where a cold wind blowing from the east and cloudy. I put the liner back into my jacket for the first time since leaving Hungary and packed the tent. i where back on the bike before 0600 and heeding for the monument.

After 1 minute of riding i passed a hotel. And after two minutes i had passed 4 hotels. I did not know that when i pitched my tent. Apparently there where a skiing resort up here.

The monument sits on a mountain top 1441 meters above sea level and overlooking most of Bulgaria i would think. The views where spectacular. And the monument no less impressive.

I snapped a few pictures and walked around the monument. I had been told that the doors where barred but it was possible to access from the back of it. I did not find any entrance only two shafts going down into the basement and that did not tempt me to try to scale down there. So i walked up front again and just as i thought i wont be able to go in i noticed a little hole about 1,5 meter up on the wall. I peeked inside and someone must have known what he where doing. The hole was into the staircase and just inside was a stair landing.
I climbed in and explored the monument for a few minutes. Some of the granite and marble floor where robbed away. Im sure the stone is used somewhere else. And the mosaic on the walls had been damaged, souvenir hunters I'm sure. But there are still more then enough to see how spectacular it must have been.

The fabric that had once covered the benches are now rotting away and the roof is leaking all over and missing a lot of its copper sheets. When it was new there where 30 tons of copper sheets covering the roof.

The windows where all broken, but the view are still in place.

The basement was dark and even if i did have a flashlight with me i did not venture to far into the basement. Did not hear any dragons to slay, so there where no point in exploring the darkness.
Some years ago i played a computer game called Fallout. The game is about surviving in a post global nuclear war, world and entering this monument took me back to that game.

Buzludzha monument was build by the Bulgarian communist regime to commemorate the events in 1891 when the socialists led by Dimitar Blagoev assembled secretly in the area to form an organized socialist movement. It was opened in 1981 and abandoned less then 10 years later, with the fall of the communist regime. It took 6000 workers 7 years to complete.
No longer maintained by the Bulgarian government or the communist party it looks like it will stand like this for years to come.

Buzludzha will for me always be the ultimate symbol of the fall of the communism. So much money spent, on something so useless and unwanted that more then 20 years later no one have found a use for it and no one will maintain it. I did read somewhere online that there is a communist meeting once a year her. So maybe some day someone will do something to stop the decay. Personally i think it should be kept as it is as a reminder for what happened in 1989.

Even a mug sits abandon on the decayed statues outside.

The road on towards the Turkish border where again great roads. Roads in Bulgaria in general are great roads, at least they where on my route. Good quality hard surface and always winding its way thru the terrain. A few villages where along the way, but mostly the road took me outside of them.
I reached the border before noon and this where the only border I had been nervous about. Knowing Turkey for previous travels, i knew they would cheek all papers intensely.
The crossing took about 1 hour and there where no big problems. Had to buy a visa(15) and the guy checking my passport told me i had to drive on, buy the visa and then come back to him. Kinda silly way to do it. Would be better to have the visa sale outside the visa checkpoint. When the visa was cleared i went to customs, he only stamped my passport and waved me on. One last cheek of passport and bike paper later i where in Turkey.

I had to show my passport a total of 5 times at different checkpoints and bike registration papers and greencard 4 times.
Also the whether improved as i entered Turkey again and i removed the liner in my jacket again.

I never did see any sign telling me to buy a vignette so i carried on and in a few minutes i where on a motorway heeding for Istanbul. This was a motorway of good(boring) quality with 120 km/h speed limit. Like rest of eastern Europe it did not seem like anyone respected the speed limit.
Half a hour or so later i found myself at a toll boot. Fully automatic and nowhere to ask what to do. On the far side i could see a guy waving a red flag. I slowed down and stopped to figure out what to do. Then he started waving his flag like a madman so i drove over to him. The alarm sounded as i passed the tollbooth. And i explained to him i did not know what to do. Buy in Istanbul he told me and waved for me to cary on.

Two hours later after a boring motorway ride i found myself at another tollbooth. But this time there where a building beside it selling vignettes. Gave him 20 and he gave me a small sticker and waved it infront of my face. I put it on top of my tank bag under the clear plastic. Thought maybe that would work as it clearly where designed to be placed on a cars windshield. I drove thru the tollbooth and again the alarm sounded. Clearly that did not work. Next time i tried to open the tankbag and flip the sticker forward toward the cameras, again the alarm went of. The last time -when exiting Istanbul- i dug it out and waved it over my head like the guy i bought it from did. And that worked. But i did feel it was suicidal way to clear the tollbooth in dense traffic. maybe there will be some fines in the mail for me when i get back home.

I punched Hagia Sofia into my gps and it took me off the motorway and told me it was 8
km to my target. It did not tell me how bad traffic where, but i knew it would be bad.

The pictures do not show how insane the traffic is. It was like this or worse the whole time.

Others had warned me that no other city where like it. And they where right. It is a nightmare. There is cars everywhere and everyone is pushing his way forward for a spot in the line. If you wait you are stuck. It took me a while to get used to ride like a Turk but when i did things started to speed up. Riding like the locals meant; riding on sidewalks, wrong way in one way traffic streets, using the lane restricted to tram only and so on.

Even parked on the sidewalk. A few minutes after i parked a security guard came out from the bank i parked infront. I thought he would ask me to move, but no. He just wanted to ask where i where from and where i where going. Friendly guy.

It took me two hours to reach the old city. If i had walked i would have been there sooner. But then i could not have said that i have ridden my bike in Istanbul traffic. I guess its a achievement but not sure i would recommend it for anyone. And specially not with a heavy bike with panniers and stuff.

Walked around for a good hour and saw Hagia Sophia and The Blue Moske.

My plans for a nice dinner to celebrate reaching Istanbul was scraped and i had a bite to eat at McDonalds. Wanting to get out of the city and be able to ride a few hours closer to my final goal before it got dark. I wanted to reach Alanya the next day and there where 1000km left.
Istanbul sure where a busy city with loads of tourists. Even saw Americans there.

It took me another two hours to get out of Istanbul and to cross Bosporus strait. next time i will take the tram myself.
That was it. I had reached Asia on my Bike. I still had a day worth of riding but reaching Asia was a big thing for me.
I stayed on the motorway and pushed on until 2200. I then found a road side motel and got myself a room. Parked in front of a restaurant that was open 24/7 and they said they would keep an eye on it. Maybe the duck walking in front of the restaurant and the dog sleeping next to it would do so to. The room was a staggering 30 ytl (about 12) And it even had excellent wifi, so i could call my wife using Viber -free calls on net- and do another days ride report.

Tomorrow il reach my final destination and get annoyed with the duck
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:56 AM   #45
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Nice! Looks like you are taking a similar route back to the one I am taking down to Greece from Germany.

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