In Which We Ride... A Scot and South African go Long Haul

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SuperSonicRocketship, Aug 20, 2016.

  1. micko01

    micko01 another DR650 rider

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    Hey cameleer, yep we will be in Spain in about 2 weeks, then we will make our way north to Holland to rebuild our bikes.
    #81
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  2. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    We think that hanging as far South as Europe will allow is the best bet fir the winter. We reckon we will head toward Morocco and see how the schedule plays out. What we must figure is how early we can realistically cross into Russia next year! March? April? Maybe have to wait til May.

    We looked into routes to Cyprus and came up with nothing. The ferries from Turkey to Northern Cyprus are now almost impossible to take a vehicle on to, and it you do manage then you cannot cross into Southern Cyprus without being having been deemed to have entered via illegal means

    I think the Med to Morocco route is our best option now. Though i'm not sure we can kill 6 months like that.
    #82
  3. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Week 9 in Photos

    Trading Bulgarias mellow hippy beaches, for the insanity of Istanbul.
    This week we made friends with a tortoise, ate foods we never knew of, drank tiny but insanely strong Turkish coffee and even donned modest dress to enter the Blue Mosque.

    I thought Kyla quite suited the makeshift hijab.

    Love,
    Brucie

    Week 9 FaceBook Gallery
    #83
  4. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 77

    Life after the Bul.

    The phrase "an assault on the senses" is reserved almost exclusively to describe India, and for good reason too, but if an exception could ever be made then surely Istanbul is worthy. When we left the city on the 5th day I swear I could still sense some Lemon Spiced Turkish Delight somewhere on my palate.

    We headed SouthEast out of the city, fighting through more 'so-bad-you-love-it' traffic, and crossing the Bosphorus Bridge. The same bridge that only two months prior rocked international media with the deaths of almost 100 civilians. You'd never know. Once we landed on the Asian side of the city, and country, we looked to hug the Bay of Marmara, notably, nowhere near the famous city of Marmaris.

    As we skirted the perimeter of the bay we were hit with a 128 Lira toll fee after crossing the Marmara Bay Bridge. It was a nice bridge for sure, but it wasn't £17 per bike nice. We gawked the at the toll guard for an awkwardly long moment, before coming to the conclusion that we were not paying it. We could fill 3 tanks with that cash or have a night in a 3 star hotel in Turkey.

    We played our usual act; "No English, No Turkish, No understand" and signalled by hand that we would simply turn back. Only the lanes were seperated by a concrete wall, and we had accumulated a queue of coaches, cars and angry commuters behind us. The frustrated guard told us we must pay, or we stay here. Every time he did so I simply replied "No, I go back."

    We stayed put. After five minutes of deliberate confusion on our end, he let us through with a kind of I.O.U slip, only now to the sum of 10 times the original fee. We we're now due £170 per bike for our bridge crossing. After taking the bike details he spurts out "Go Turkish Bank" he said with a good serving of frustration in his voice as he handed me the long receipt like slip of paper.

    The barrier rose and we happily went through without resolving the issue. We pulled over so I could promptly chuck the slip in the first bin i laid eyes on, and get on with my otherwise perfect day without such worries. I understand that tolls and road fee's exist, but you simply can't deny someone the opportunity to leave, and then bill them for it. Hopefully it wont come back to haunt me too much. With a bit of luck the Turkish billing system won't be so well co-orinated that I get flagged at the border. If I do, i'll just have to weasel my way out of that one as well... Something i've seemingly become rather good at.

    The next 3 days had us ride from the North of the country almost directly down the median to to South Coast. Central Turkey is a strange place. Dry, hot and desert like for many miles, and then punctuated suddenly by either surprisingly large cities or dried up lake beds. There wasn't much exciting to see in the cities mind you, but they are handy to pick up supplies for the road ahead. We took a 600 mile route to the coast and finally landed in Turkeys Southern Gem; Antalya, but not before capturing and befriending the world's tiniest lizard.

    Honestly? I wasn't much impressed with Antalya though. The old town is certainly pretty enough, but draped in so much tourist-tat that you couldn't take a single photo without it containing at least one Kebab Menu or a stand studded with £2 sunglasses for sale. The highlight however is the setting. The city is among the most idyllic spots you could hope for a city to spring into life. Where the steep Taurus mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea with nothing but soft white sands to separate them. 2 days in Antalya was enough. The £17 per bike bridge toll we dodged actually more than covered the amazing deal we got in the hotel. Plus the hotel manager took a selfie with us and said "Nice bike" at least 4 times.

    Hopefully the rest of the coast can impress.

    Hey can anyone smell Lemon Spice Turkish Delight?

    Love,
    Brucie

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    View over the Med

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    Oh my

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    Delightful

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    Dried out Lakebed in Central Turkey
    #84
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  5. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    The Call to Prayer, or Adhan as I am informed, is all part of moving into the Islamic world. Actually the recital usually provides a nice background noise to the towns and cities.

    This minaret however was about 20 yards from our hotel room balcony/terrace in Antalya.

    It is called 5 times per day. 4 of these recitals are identical, but the first call of the day for Fajr prayer at 5.00am includes the line; ٍٱلصَّلاَةُ خَيْرٌ مِنَٱلنَّوم which roughly translates to 'Prayer is better than sleep'.

    Mosques do not have snooze buttons, so we had to learn to accept our new 5.00am alarm.

    Then I remember. I must be thankful for my position. Being awoken at 5.00am by the Adhan on a once in a lifetime adventure is still infinitely better than setting your alarm for 8.00am to go to work.

    Love,
    Brucie

    #85
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  6. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Excellent info! I'll look over it. Morocco is the plan now certainly. From there we really are lost.


    I think I know what you mean. Perhaps in the same way that Turkey isn't really the Middle East, even though it is geographically so.

    What we don't want is to end up 3-4 countries deep in Africa and then find we have to back track all the way to Morocco because a Trans African route perhaps isn't possible on the basis of a turn-up-and-see kinda deal.

    Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal and Gambia seem do-able from report. I'm struggling to see a feasible path that doesn't involve backtracking. Our African end goal is of course back to Kylas house in South Africa. The question I guess is Morocco > South Africa do-able in 2016?

    I don't think we will make it to Morocco in 2 weeks, but if you ride North into Spain France we might catch you North Bound as we head South?
    #86
  7. micko01

    micko01 another DR650 rider

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    Africa north to south is totally doable, plenty are doing it now but it is a matter of risk. AQIM are still playing games in the Sahel regions of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and have been active in northern Nigeria as well, they probably still are. Boko Haram certainly still are. Add to that the risks of delta state separatists in south-east Nigeria, and bandits in DRC, on top of just general low-level corruption and the shit that can come with it in all of west and central africa...... well, yeah, there is certainly some risk there to deal with. But if I'm honest, and if you are careful, the likelihood of getting caught in something violent, or something serious like kidnapping, is extremely low if you take sensible precautions (like don't go to Timbuctou), but the problem is the consequences are extreme, and random shit happens. For example, some people just got abducted from a mine in southern Mali. So as highly unlikely as these risks are, they are real, they can happen in unexpected places, and it is something you'll have to evaluate for yourself.

    If your in eastern Europe already, there is always Egypt and down the east coast too. Egypt is presenting some challenges right now, but once your into Sudan, a lot of your risk and bureaucratic hassle is over. Ethiopia has gazillions of pesky rock throwing children which you'll have to deal with, but after that, Kenya and everywhere south is awesome. That side is functional Africa, it may be a little slow but shit really does work... central and africa though? nah... not so much...
    #87
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  8. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    See PMs :)
    #88
  9. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 80

    Birthday Boy.

    Last week I had a kind of mental referendum on what to do with my life. East or West? In the end I knew that weather and schedule meant that we must head West towards Greece. The other option floating about in my brain was to catch a ferry to Cyprus, but it turns out there are 2 Cyprus's, and they are still not talking, which means the ferry trip and entry to the Southern Cyprus is near impossible to organise. Thus the decision was made and the route was set. From Antalya we head West. Which is probably a good thing because if you head East from Antalya you end up in Syria with 2 days riding. Hmmm... Maybe one day.

    The coastline is stunning in mid-September. End of story.

    No? Ok; Mountains, cliffs, caves, waterfalls, saphire waters, blue skies and a cool sea breeze. We could have rode endlessly. In fact the only thing stopping us is the fact that after about 6 hours in the saddle you struggle to do much more with the rock hard seat.
    We didn't plan the route, instead just following 2 rules. 1, Keep the sea to your left. 2, see how the days unfold, and indeed, for 3 amazing days we rode the coast.

    Day 1 had us on the Coastal Highway with the breeze in our... erm... eyelashes?

    Day 2 Where we took the smaller roads and found the most surreal and mystical little campsite you could imagine, where you pitched a tent in a dense plantation of tropical trees. Hammocks hung from the banana, pomegranate, lime and olive branches. The floor had watermelons growing wherever the sun could penetrate the thick canopy. The whole area was perhaps only size of a tennis court, but you could easily get lost in it.

    Day 3 was my birthday. We found ourselves in the local campsite of the small town of Dalyan. The town wasn't hugely inspiring but it did have a pretty special view of the Tomb of the Kings, something I only thought existed in Egypt and Jordan. The highlight though was bumping into Nea and Rich, a 26 year old guy and 27 year old gal from England who have been on the road for near 6 weeks on a pair of beautiful Triumph Bonnevilles. We chatted most of the night to discover we were headed the same route, and agreed to travel out together Eastward. The only problem being that the bikes are so different that the routes we select would likely not suite. We like dirt tracks, muddy ruts and potholes. I would imagine the Bonevilles seek twisty roads that sweep through the scenery. Fair enough, we instead agreed to meet them at the days end destination instead.

    Amazingly after 6 hours of riding trashy logging paths and gravel track, we arrived in the port city of Bodrum, and somehow had actually arrived first, but only by around 4 minutes. I was ecstatically happy, right up until Nea revealed that they had actually been swimming in the afore-mentioned saphire waters, and having lazy lunches on the beach for a few hours. I on other hand got dirt under my eyelid and Kyla fell asleep on the actual road for 20 minutes because, and I quote, her "mosquito bites are so itchy i'd rather be dead."

    We may perhaps share the Aegean ferry voyage with Nea and Rich to Athens, but after that is a mystery. One thing I have learned from the couple is this; when going on a motorcycle journey of 2, bring seating for 4. They were excellent hosts, and it was rather cool that they were the only people other than Kyla that I spent my birthday with.

    Thanks Rich and Nea. Follow their adventure over at 'Nea and Far' on Facebook.

    P.S For those back home: The Turkish man who ran the campsite in Daylan lived in Dunfermline for 17 years. Somehow, he made it out alive, although i'm sure he was dead inside.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    #89
  10. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 83

    Turkey, It's been a pleasure.

    Enquiries, at the very relaxed ferry ticket office in the Turkish Port City of Bodrum, informed us that we could get from Turkey to Greece by taking a small local boat across to the resort island of Kos, and from there take an overnight 12 hour island-hop crossing that eventually kicks you off at Athens. Or at least Piraeus, since Athens isn't, as I originally thought, actually on the coast.

    It's worth sailing. You could ride the whole way by road, but the shape of the land in this part of the world means you would to travel a huge 1,000+ mile horseshoe shaped path to get somewhere that is only 280 miles away as the crow flies, and much of that is through land we had already covered when we first got to Turkey.

    Hows this for scandal; Greece has the cheek to claim Kos as it's own, regardless of the fact that you could hit it with a well constructed paper airplane from the Turkish shores. I believe it lies less than 3 miles offshore at it's closest point. From Bodrum the boat trip was about 16 miles. The fee for this shaky 40 minute voyage? €114 for us and the bikes. Big money for a small boat! I wasn't exactly pining to find out the price of the big boat.

    Once on Kos we did have fun though. Our short lived affair with ultra-cool Bonneville adventurers Rich and Nea sadly had to end as they would stay on the island for an extra day with friends. We chose to take the second crossing later that night. This meant we had about 9 hours to kill on the tiny island. It turned out to be a whole adventure in itself.

    A quick scan of the map showed that the land to the centre was mountainous and had some gravel tracks that led to abandoned and derelict church buildings... Yup.

    The mountains on Kos aren't exactly the Himalayas, and the gravel tracks were short, but quite technical. Watermelon sized rocks littered most of the track and the tight, climbing turns were badly neglected with huge 50 foot sheer drop-offs to the side. Once we summited the mountain, the supposed church ruins turned out to be a few stones vaguely laid out in a few rectangles. Hmmm... ancient ruins indeed. The way down the other side however, well, when crawling the bikes along the dry scrub to the roadside we stumbled across a cleverly disguised abandoned military lookout post cut neatly into the rock face. A creepy ladder dropped into a old concrete stairwell. At the bottom was a thick steel door locked with a heavy latch. Not too well locked mind you, a bit of wiggling soon had the latch displaced, and the heavy door creaked open to reveal a small room, again with thick concrete walls. The room was stripped completely bare and the only feature that remained was the thin lookout slot at the far end facing out from the mountain. Peering through the opening revealed it's purpose. To keep a watchful eye on the Turkish coastline from an elevated position. I guess Greece and Turkey used to be even worse friends than they are now. This very room served as a sore reminder as to why we couldn't visit Cyprus just weeks prior.

    After I played soldier in the lookout post for a bit, Kyla demanded some beach time, we headed back down to the coast and after a brief flirtation with the immensely salty sea, we bumped into the well traveled German couple; Andi and Ramona. We headed to a nearby bar and exchanged stories of adventure, rallies and the Middle East over a vanilla milkshake. As the sun set, we said our goodbyes to the lovely Germans and headed to the port. A perfect way to end our day in Kos.

    In the end, the fee for the 12 hour, 275 mile, overnighter from Kos to Kalimnos, to Leros, To Skala and finally to Athens was just... €166. This didn't include a cabin mind you, instead we opted to sleep in the lounge, pushing two chairs together and sleeping in the egg shaped space in the middle. It was still a bargain given the previous days daylight robbery. We have taken close to 20 ferries on this trip so far.

    I wish I could figure out the pricing methods.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    Foreground is Turkey, Background is Greece

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    Overlanding Germans

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    Hatchling
    #90
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  11. numbaphive

    numbaphive not quite rite

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  12. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    copy that.
    #92
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  13. Ruud109

    Ruud109 Dutch in Barcelona

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    Bruce, how are the WR performing? Care to give an opinion about the likes and dislikes as travelling bikes so far?

    If you guys decide to hit northern africa, come see me in barcelona!


    Ruud
    #93
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  14. JGT

    JGT Been here awhile Supporter

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    Any update from these two riders? I was checking in on this thread for a while but no postings recently. Wondering where they are now.
    #94
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  15. motopoet

    motopoet The Moto Poet

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    Alive and well. Had some technical issies so got backlogged w advrdier, but more up to date in facebook!

    Ride, Smile, Blink Slow
    www.themotopoet.com | Instagram: @motopoet | Twitter: @themotopoet
    #95
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  16. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Hi Ruud.

    The WR's are certainly punching well above their weight. We have stuck to dirt track and gravel where ever we could, and in that setting the WR makes perfect sense for this kind of moto-backpacking trip. As we drift further West again the bikes make less and less sense. The dirt roads become fewer and further between, road surfaces become predictably better and the WR's, although are perfectly capable of on road riding, are not even close to the bike i'd chose for tarmac.

    Overall however i'd struggle to be pushed for a better machine that can do it all and still retain the tiny fuel costs. There is plenty power there for gravel, and just enough grunt to gobble up highway in moderate stretches if needed. With the 42 tooth rear sprocket, Kyla can sit on the motorway at an indicated 75mph or 120km/h for 2 hours non-stop til the fuel light winks at her. I reckon the speedo is about 3 - 5% off.

    I think the greatest quality of these machines is the durability. Kyla's favorite hobby is to drop her bike. And her little white stallion is majorly marked up from it, but never seems to pick up more than a scratch to plastics or a bend to a handguard. It's light enough to pick up fully loaded all day long too, which is something you never really think about until you ride a groggy illegal logging track in rural turkey or somesuch place.

    Honestly, I am delighted with these machines. Simplicity and durability is their success over the GS's we had. The only thing I would ask for a is a spoonful more torque. Something like a WR325 would have been perfect. But at 128kg wet I will live with the complaint.
    #96
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  17. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Sorry folks! Don't worry we are alive and well.

    I've been plagued with with a string of technical problems which have left me updating from my phone on the FaceBook app. The process to copy over to adv was horrible on the phone so I had to let it slip. I have everything back up and running now so will copy over the entries just now!
    #97
  18. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 85

    A is for Athens

    The ferry port at Kos is a shambles. Whilst the hordes of people, suitcases, scooters, cars and 18 wheel 40 tonne trucks come flowing out of the massive ship, they simultaneously allow the new passengers and vehicles to board. We scrambled the bikes inside after at least 4 different crew shouted "PIRAEUS" at us. When we got to the deck where the bikes would stay overnight, we found out that, firstly; there were no straps to secure the bikes, only pieces of thin nylon rope, and secondly; the aforementioned rope was used to simply tie the bikes to other bikes.

    A fair system I suppose. If one falls, they all fall.

    After sleeping in our cocoon of lounge chairs on the overnight ferry, we were woke up by a husky voiced female on a tanoy around 8.30am telling us we had arrived at Athens. The crossing had taken 12 hours and 45 minutes, of which Kyla had slept around 3. I somehow managed to sneak 6 or 7 hours in the busy, bright and noisy lounge. The time between the tanoy announcement and actually being off the boat seemed about 2 minutes. No boring queues and British style security checks here it seems. Perfect.

    We made good time and got our way to Athens only camp ground, unwittingly named; Camping Athens, by about 10am. The campsite was the most expensive we had seen yet. The shrewd lady behind the desk wanted €32 per night for us to pitch our tent on a piece of hard ground that was made of 50% gravel and 50% live ants. The only upside was that it was still very early so we essentially had a whole extra day to explore the city.

    So Athens, what can I say? Well we spent two whole days in the city. The first day left me majorly unimpressed. We walked the streets of the old town (very old town) and heard nearly exclusively the English language, as a means to serve the tourist trade. In fact we bumped into more Americans/Canadians/Brits on holiday than we did actual Athenians. The old Monistirakiou Town Square is about as Greek as Disneyland Florida. I went to bed that night, on my gravel heap, a bit miffed.

    But then I remembered a favourite saying of mines; "You're not in traffic, You are traffic."

    The hordes of tourists were here for the same reason I was. To see the famous sights of Athens. The Acropolis, the Parthenon, Temple of Hephaestus etc. Who was I to get annoyed at them? After all, aren't I the exact reason that every restaurant has English menus and souvenirs?

    I headed into Athens on day two, dragging Kyla with me, with a clear motivation to try and enjoy what the city has to offer and not let such things get me down. Still, we stayed away from the major tourists traps and explored the back streets. We walked into town instead of taking the subway, we ate from smaller cafes, visited a local motocross shop, accidentally found an amateur drama in a local park and most importantly; hiked up the Philipappos Hill at sunset.

    I can't believe how easily Athens won me over this second day. It's amazing what a change in perspective can do, or what you can find just 2 or 3 streets away from the souvenir shops. Speaking of perspective, it's also amazing what a little altitude can do. The Philipappos hill is only 500 feet high, but more than high enough to see the city sprawl out beneath you. There was nobody else up there, we had it all to ourselves; perfect views of the Parthenon at sunset, 360 degree views of Attica and Ancient Greek roads leading back down to the city.

    We loved our Jekyl and Hyde experience of Athens. It sets us up perfectly for the rest of Greece too.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    Pan Athena

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    The best statue

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    #98
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  19. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Day 88

    Myths and Legend.

    Once upon a time, I worked for the Scottish National Tourist Board. I think it was between the ages of 15 and 21. One of the most prominent memories of this period in my life was the constant exposure to tourist focused media. Not just Scottish either, I became fascinated with the tourist brochures and catalogs of every country I could find. One thing I noticed is how many of them chimed in with the phrase, or rather cliche of 'The Lands of Myths and Legend'. Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Spain and loads more all made claims.

    Greece however actually IS the land of Myths and Legends. Ancient Greek tales are the best in the business when it comes to old folklore. It's physically evident on the ground here too. You can barely travel more than a few miles here in Greece without seeing a sign for a 2,000 year old temple, or the birthplace of a Demi-God, or impeccably preserved amphitheater.

    In fact, i'm a bit obsessed with ancient Greek mythology. Before we left for the trip Kyla would often get me in trouble for staying up too late reading Bulfinches Mythology, telling the tales of Achilles, Hecules, Medussa, Atlas, Hydra, and all the others.

    So being here is a dream.

    Where else on the planet can you visit ancient city-states with as deep a history as Delphi, Thebes, Sparta, Amfissa and Corinth all within a few hundred miles of each other? Not to mention all the countless nameless monuments, ruins and temples you find on the way.

    I am loving it here.

    A few days ago we came past what looked like a whole abandoned village of 10-15 buildings high up on a hillside, maybe 500 feet up. It was certainly old, but not ancient. We rode the bikes as high up the hillside as they would allow and made the rest of the way on foot. What we found was fascinating.

    We deduced that the place was an old mining village, deserted perhaps 40-50 years ago based off the late 60's - mid 70's dates on the pieces of paper and old food cans left behind in the homes. The buildings were so well preserved. Ceilings, doors and windows were intact. One still had a rusted lock in place on the front door. Inside we found beds, chairs, drawers, old wooden chests and even an old leather jacket, thick with dust, still hanging from a nail by the entrance.

    Deeper into the village revealed the disused mine itself. The building by the entrance still had empty dynamite crates and old explosive fuses strewn about the floor. The mine entrance was still open...

    ...Against every primal feeling in my body telling me not to; I went in alone. Kyla simply would not follow.

    The mine was the deepest, darkest and most sensory depriving place I have ever been. There was no light. Period. It's almost impossible to find the words to describe how it actually feels to walk maybe a quarter mile into a pitch black, terrifying, disused, probably dangerous mineshaft that could be laden with explosives, unstable structure, rife with toxins or lacking in oxygen. I took a creepy video in there, like something from Blair Witch, that gives me shivers when I watch it back. I'll try to upload that soon.

    It was a seriously intense experience. Kyla immediately pointed out that when I finally made it back to the surface I was noticeably white, and my arms covered in goosebumps.

    On the way back down the hillside to the bikes, Kyla had a stumble and fell on a pointy rock that jutted out the dirt. Luckily she landed on her... ehh... plump gluteal region... and thus damage was kept to a minimum. Which is good because she also fell 2 days earlier down an ancient set of slippy marble stairs close to the Acropolis with the same outcome.

    Yup, Greece is being real good to us.

    Next we head North towards Meteora, aiming ultimately for the Aegean Coast trying to find somewhere to chill out for a few days and decide what to do with Kyla's sketchy fuel pump before we head into the Balkans.

    Love,
    Brucie

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    Kyla can't get bottoms to fit...
    #99
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  20. SuperSonicRocketship

    SuperSonicRocketship 50 Nations and Counting

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    Week 10 in Photos

    Central, Sunny and Southern Turkey.

    We we're hit with indecision in week 10. With no idea of where to go, when, why or how to do it, we kinda just drifted South and let the plan form itself. My 28th Birthday came and went. We made new friends. We crossed more borders. I guess just another busy week over at In Which We Ride.

    Also some bonus photos of a very old Roman viaduct we discovered on the coast road in Southern Turkey

    Love,
    Brucie

    Week 10 FaceBook Gallery