The Balkans, Greece, Turkey then Serbia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Doogle, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. foo

    foo Adventurer

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    That breakfast is impressive
    #61
    bjor1978 likes this.
  2. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-5-21 At a new friend's house. Seyhzelina,Turkey 440 miles

    This morning I got up and watched a dozen hot air ballon decend on Cappadocia while drinking my tea. Then I set my route for Gobeklitepe. It's an archeological site that is 11,500 years old. I got there about 45 minutes until closing time.

    When leaving there I routed to Mount Nemrut. I wasn't going to go there until tomorrow. I just wanted to be heading the right direction while looking for a hotel. Once I cleared the big city, I couldn't find anything. So I stopped at a gas station and asked. One of the customers tried helping and even called his son to talk with me. I still wasn't understanding very well. But I thought I was supposed to follow Faruk, who was leading me to a hotel. When he stopped and opened a gate to a big new house, I was confused. Well, I'm staying at his house tonight. He showed me to my room and pointed me to the shower. After showering I went down stairs to eat. His wife made a big spread for me. Faruk had already eaten somewhere else. Getting to stay with a family in foreign countries are dreams come true for me. I spent a month with a Russian family in 2013, while the mechanic fixed my motorcycle. Most all of that time was waiting for my parts to clear customs. Tonight was a similar experience. We were having conversations through our translators. You just can't buy experiences like this. I seem to always meet the best people when I need help. Faruk let me use his phone as a connection so I could talk to Gayle for a while. But it doesn't work in this bedroom. I'll try posting tomorrow morning.
    #62
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  3. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    Now with pictures 2021-10-05 Breakfast at Karlik Hotel  (1).jpg 2021-10-05 Breakfast at Karlik Hotel  (2).jpg 2021-10-05 Breakfast at Karlik Hotel  (3).jpg 2021-10-05 Breakfast at Karlik Hotel  (4).jpg 2021-10-05 Breakfast at Karlik Hotel  (5).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (1).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (2).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (3).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (4).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (5).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (6).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (7).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (8).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (9).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (10).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (11).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (12).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (13).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (14).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (15).jpg 2021-10-05 Gobekiltepe  (16).jpg Faruk Badilli house  (1).jpg Faruk Badilli house  (2).jpg Faruk Badilli house  (3).jpg Faruk Badilli house  (4).jpg
    #63
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  4. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-6-21 Izala Hotel Mardin, Turkey 234 miles

    This morning Faruk took me out for breakfast. Another table filling spread of food. A relative stopped and talked with him a while.I tried to pay for the food while they were talking, but the server and Faruk wouldn't allow. Faruk translated his words to me "I am the chief of this district." I'm not sure what that meant, other than I wasn't paying. Great experience staying at his house last night.

    I had a 2 hour ride to Mt. Nemrut.The last 15 minutes I went up a twisting mountain road seeing no cars.It's tempting to be on the wrong side of the road at blind curves with no traffic, but that's almost a sure receipt to find a bus. I was worried it would be closed. It was open with a shuttle bus and a couple cars there. Inside I bought my $3 ticket. When I returned to the shuttle bus, it was gone. The gate attendant pointed to a small van. I assumed it was for me to ride up the last mile or 2. Wrong. A woman from the UK was in the van. Marianne and her husband Chris are full time world travelers. I read some of their blog before starting my trip. They were the people stuck in Turkey for over a year with Covid restrictions. As we all started to drive up to the top, my luggage key broke off of it's holder and fell somewhere behind plastic covering the radiator. A hour hour later we are moving again.

    They dated Mt. Nemrut at then 1st century BC. They can only guess why people came way up here to carve on big boulders. It is a great site with vast views.

    Next I was going to Diyarbakır. It has the 2nd longest fortification wall in the world. Second to China's Great Wall. After going through the big city 3 times and not having GPS coordinates or signs for the site, I routed south to Mardin. As soon as I left Diyarbakır I was looking for a hotel. At gas stations, I was told to turn around or go to Mardin. I don't turn around and Mardin is 70 miles away-it's getting late. I've only seen 1 loaded motorcycle in the last 3 days. A BMW GS1200 passes me. 30 seconds later he pulls over. I stopped hoping for info on hotels. He lives near Mardin and will help me find a place.We rode through the old town of Mardin and stopped at a hotel. While I was looking at the last available room, Mehmet booked me in. Before unloading my bike, we walked down the street to a restuarant. I had another Turkish meal as Mehmet had to go. We will contact each other here on FaceBook. When I returned to my room, rinse I called Gayle on Duo. Then I went to get a shower. No shower in this enclosure. I assume it is like I had in Russia. Fill the basin (no drain) with water, soap up, and use the pan to pour rinse water on yourself. And finally I get in bed. I couldn't keep my eyes open to do my Ride Report. I'll do it in the morning.

    There have been some military check points. A few soldiers and usually 2-3 small tanks nearby.



    2021-10-06  (2).jpg 2021-10-06  (40).jpg 2021-10-06 Faruk .jpg 2021-10-06 Izala Hotel  (1).jpg 2021-10-06 Izala Hotel  (4).jpg 2021-10-06 Izala Hotel  (5).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (2).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (3).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (5).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (8).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (9).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (10).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (11).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (15).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (17).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (24).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (25).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (26).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (28).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (29).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (30).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (31).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (33).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (35).jpg 2021-10-06 Mount Nemrut JPG (36).jpg
    #64
    NaMi, Cal, River Rat and 7 others like this.
  5. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-7-21 Guven Otel $12 Kozluk,Tr 251 miles

    It was another good day except for getting out of town. The map would reverse directions after I went 500 feet. It took over a half hour to get 3 miles from my hotel. The last time I stopped to look at the confused map, I saw a road sign pointing to Dara. That got me going. Later I decided the GPS signals must be scrambled because of the Syria situation. Anyway I got out in the country and into history. Dara was established around 500 AD. They also built a huge cistern which saved the complex several times when besieging armies tried cutting off their water supply. After exploring the free site I went a little off road to explore. My guess is they cut their stones here and then transported them. This area is only a few miles from the Syrian border. On my way to Batman, I saw a lot of raised lookout stations. I guess manned with military people. There were miles of double barbed fences. And for a while there were also double concrete walls. I thought they wouldn't appreciate pictures being taken, so I waited until I found an obscure place to stop.

    The Malabadi Bridge is 20 miles past Batman. It was built in 1155 and was the only bridge around crossing the Batman River. Before going to the bridge, I stopped in Batman at a bike shop. They looked at my front tire and thought it should make it back to Croatia. Had to show them where that is on the map. They also tightened my chain which has stretched. They wouldn't accept any payment. I sat and talked, mostly with Google Translate, with the group for a good half hour. It was good times.

    Tomorrow I plan to go to Mount Ararat, or as close as I can get to it. I rode to Kozluk and found a hotel. Maybe the only one in town. The workers were all so happy to see me. A young woman wanted to give me tea or coffee. After I took things to my room on the 7th floor I went back for coffee. She also gave me water and 2 candy bars. I sat with a group of 8 and translated for a half hour before going to my room. I reminded me of being in China where there was a crowd anytime I stopped. There aren't many touriost from the USA around here. Turkish people have been amazing. One thing they aren't shy about is asking how old I am. When I'm stopped at a traffic light, people roll their window down and ask "How old you are?"

    2021-10-07 Bike shop in Batman .jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (3).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (6).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (7).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (9).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (10).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (13).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (14).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (16).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (20).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (21).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (22).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (23).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (24).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (27).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (29).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (30).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (33).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (36).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (38).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (40).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (41).jpg 2021-10-07 Dara Archaeological site  (44).jpg 2021-10-07 Guven Otel, Kozluk  (1).jpg 2021-10-07 Malbadi Bridge  (2).jpg
    #65
    ScotsFire, NaMi, Cal and 8 others like this.
  6. BrockEvan

    BrockEvan Brock Warwick Supporter

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    How old are you? !!!!
    I am enjoying your adventure with great envy!
    Thank you for the great writing, sharing with us.
    I appreciate it!
    Keep having fun!
    #66
  7. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    Something I didn't mention yesterday because I was a little concerned about what and why I was treated above and beyond. The motorcyclist that lead me to a Mardin hotel, Mehmet Samsa, stopped at a gas station to get gas. I didn't need gas, but he insisted I fill up also. Then he paid for it. Okay, big bike friendliness. When he found a hotel for me, I went to look at the room. When I returned to the lobby, he had paid for my room. He asked if I was hungry, so we went a few doors down to eat. I thought I would repay a little of what he had given me. He didn't eat because he needed to get home, and left before I finished. He had also paid for my meal. I guess you can understand my concerns. We are friends on FB now so I looked at his profile. He is an adventurist also.
    Thank you Mehmet for the surreal help and generosity.
    #67
  8. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-8-21 Olimpia Hotel $14 Igdir,Turkey 294 miles

    I had a long ride next to Van Golu Lake today. It was cool again forcing me to add riding pants and another longsleeve shirt. I got to Ishak Pasha Palace around 4 pm. It's about 8 miles from the Iran border. It wasn't on my list, but since it was near Mt. Ararat and Chris and Marieanne suggested it, I went. It was built in the 17 th century. If I was there 20 minutes, it was more than enough for me.

    I think it was supposed to be about 2 hours to the point I had on my map to view Mt. Ararat. After 2 military check points I came to an unfriendly looking dirt road. Only 13 miles to go. I decided I was close enough for a few pictures. In fact, I think I got better pictures when I got back on the main road. If you are unfamiliar with Mt. Ararat it is claimed as the place where Noah's Ark landed. It is about 18,000 feet high and considered sacred by Armenians. The peak looks to be about 15 miles from the Armenian border and 20 miles from the Iran border.

    I found a hotel before dark tonight. I guess I should have gotten a SIM card to help find hotels easier.

    Ararat 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (1).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (2).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (3).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (4).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (5).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (6).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (7).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (8).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (9).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (10).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (11).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (12).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (13).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (14).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (15).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (16).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (17).jpg 2021-10-08 Ishak Pasha Palace  (18).jpg 2021-10-08 Mount Ararat  (1).jpg 2021-10-08 Mount Ararat  (2).jpg 2021-10-08 Mount Ararat  (3).jpg 2021-10-08 Mount Ararat  (4).jpg 2021-10-08 Mount Ararat  (5).jpg 2021-10-08 Mount Ararat  (6).jpg
    #68
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  9. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Stir crazy

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    I guess you need to be into Ottoman architecture to appreciate it. Perhaps it was a good thing that it was closed when I visited it once.
    #69
  10. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-9-21 Kars Atapark Boutique $18 Kars, Turkey 132 miles

    As I ate breakfast near the food tables this morning, I realized how picky the people are with their food. They look at the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers until they find ones that look acceptable. I put them on my plate and look for the salt. While they decide, I'm back for seconds. Usually the only meat I see looks like bologna. They always have hard boiled eggs and several types of cheese. Coffee isn't often present, but tea seems more popular here than in England. They always have a few types of fresh bread. The chocolate stuff they put on it is real good. And I'm not a big fan of chocolate. This morning I decided to skip Armenia. The interesting places are too far down near Iran and Azerbaijan. I don't think I have enough comfortable time, tires or chain to venture the extra miles. Armenia is a Christian country that doesn't have good relations with Turkey or Azerbaijan. To go in to Armenia, I would need to go into Georgia first. So this morning I will be going to Ani, Turkey.
    -------------------------------------------

    I considered skipping Ani if I was going to Armenia. I only had 1 picture of an interesting place there. There was a whole lot more. Ani is an abandoned city founded around 500 AD. It was on the Silk Road and had a population of 100,000 at one time. Around 1700, it was abandoned. It was the capitol of the Armenian Kingdom when it was a part of Armenia. After another war it was again part of Turkey. From the site I could look across the river and see Armenia. I was walking around there for over 3 1/2 hours. I would go over a small rise and see another structure. Had to go look at it. And a sign for the Church of Tigran Honents was down a hill. Then more hill. And then holding on climbing down a steep rocky trail. It was right on a ledge with a big drop off. I think donkeys must bring some people down there. But nobody else came down while I was there. I liked that Ani hasn't been reconstructed yet. I could walk or climb almost anywhere I wanted. There aren't many other tourist attractions around, so it appears they don't ever get very busy. This may be my favorite site so far. I think. Really I've seen so many great places on this trip, it's almost like scrambled eggs in my head.

    2021-10-09 Ani fortification walls  (5).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani fortification walls  (9).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani fortification walls  (10).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani fortification walls  (15).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Church of the Redeemer  (1).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Romanian bikers .jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, The Cathedral of Ani  (2).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, The Cathedral of Ani  (7).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, The Church of Polataglu  (3).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, The Church of Tigran Honents  (3).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, The Church of Tigran Honents  (6).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (2).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (24).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (41).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (50).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (52).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (61).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (80).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (83).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (106).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (107).jpg 2021-10-09 Ani, Turkey (112).jpg 2021-10-09 Armenia .jpg 2021-10-09 Great Turkish supper, Kars (3).jpg 2021-10-09 Kars Atapark Hotel  (1).jpg
    #70
  11. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-10-21 Gedasogullari Otel $12 Ilic, Tr 385 miles

    I read that the Kemaliyeliler Tunnel was supposed to be one of the most dangerous in the world. It goes in and out of the mountain on a somewhat rough surface. But I didn't see anything dangerous about it. There is a similar tunnel in China that I didn't get to ride through. But this was still a fun ride. It's about 4 miles in, and then turn around and go back. I did almost go down a couple times in some deep sand/dirt.

    It was dark out before I found a room. It is difficult seeing the new blacktop road with no lines in the dark. Luck I didn't need to go far. Tomorrow I don't expect to see anything. It's 650 miles to Istanbul, my next destination.

    2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (1).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (2).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (3).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (4).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (5).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (6).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (7).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (8).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (9).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (10).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (11).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (12).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (13).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (14).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (15).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (16).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (17).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (18).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (19).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (20).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (21).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (22).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (23).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (24).jpg 2021-10-10 Kemaliyeliler Tunnel  (25).jpg
    #71
  12. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-11-21 Nar Otel $18 Cerkes, Tr 454 miles

    I woke up and felt like doing a long day ride. Go get em. I set my Google Maps for Istanbul-647 miles.After 15 miles the blue route line on the directions is missing. Several miles later I stop to expand the map and see what's going on. Evidentially it rerouted me. So I asked for a new route to Istanbul. It turns me around and head back to where we started. Half way back it starts that rerouting problem I had yesterday. Every 5 seconds it starts a new reroute. I switched to MapsMe and got going. I wasted an hour and 40 miles back tracking. That and the next several hours were scenic, going through mountains and valleys.

    I did have a problem today. I went down an expensive toll road. Well, that's what I'll call it. The cops stop me and want to see all my papers. Then sign here and here. They said I was 20 over the speed limit. Pay fine at customs when you leave the country. Have a nice day. I wasted an hour starting the day, now I wasted $75 and more time. The day isn't so bright anymore. I haven't figured out their speed limits or speed cameras yet. So, a half hour down the road and everyone is moving along happy, when 4 cops signal "ME" not the others, to pull over. Is it pick on Doug day? With limited translation I ask what did I do? Then I proudly show them my ticket that still has wet ink on it. They kind of laughed and said this is just a routine check. So we talked and translated for another 10 minutes. Where are you going, where have you been, where do you live? They finally released me on bond and waited for lesser criminals. But that second cop stop did cheered me up. 2021-10-11 Cop stop #2  (1).jpg 2021-10-11 Cop stop #2  (2).jpg 2021-10-11 Nar Otel  (1).jpg 2021-10-11 Nar Otel  (2).jpg
    #72
    NaMi, Briggski, Velko and 7 others like this.
  13. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Stir crazy

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    In town 50km/h, outside town 80, divided road 90, motorway 100.

    and re fines:

    "Penalties for speed limit violations are given according to the degree of violation. More than 10% of the speed limit must be violated for a fine to be issued. The fines are as follows:
    • Penalty for exceeding the speed limit between 10 percent and 30 percent: 314 TL, 235.50 TL for a 25% discount.
    • The penalty for exceeding the speed limit between 30 percent and 50 percent: 652 TL, with a 25% discount, 489 TL.
    • Penalty for exceeding the speed limit by more than 50 percent: 1,339 TL, with a 25% discount, 1,0004.25 TL.
    In order to pay the notified speed limit fine with a 25% discount, the fine must be paid within 15 days from the notification date."
    Source.

    Make sure you get the 25% discount at the customs, I've only ever paid at tax offices (several times).
    #73
    joenuclear likes this.
  14. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

    Joined:
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    10-11-21 Nar Otel $18 Cerkes, Tr 454 miles

    I woke up and felt like doing a long day ride. Go get em. I set my Google Maps for Istanbul-647 miles.After 15 miles the blue route line on the directions is missing. Several miles later I stop to expand the map and see what's going on. Evidentally it rerouted me. So I asked for a new route to Istanbul. It turns me around and head back to where we started. Half way back it starts that rerouting problem I had yesterday. Every 5 seconds it starts a new reroute. I switched to MapsMe and got going. I wasted an hour and 40 miles back tracking. That and the next several hours were scenic, going through mountains and valleys.

    I did have a problem today. I went down an expensive toll road. Well, that's what I'll call it. The cops stop me and want to see all my papers. Then sign here and here. They said I was 20 over the speed limit. Pay fine at customs when you leave the country. Have a nice day. I wasted an hour starting the day, now I wasted $75 and more time. The day isn't so bright anymore. I haven't figured out their speed limits or speed cameras yet. So, a half hour down the road and everyone is moving along happy, when 4 cops signal "ME" not the others, to pull over. Is it pick on Doug day? With limited translation I ask what did I do? Then I proudly show them my ticket that still has wet ink on it. They kind of laughed and said this is just a routine check. So we talked and translated for another 10 minutes. Where are you going, where have you been, where do you live? They finally released me on bond and waited for lesser criminals. But that second cop stop did cheered me up.
    Ouch if I get as many as I think I could.
    #74
  15. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

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    10-12-21 Akgun Istanbul Hotel $72 Istanbul,Tr. 250 miles

    At 8:30 it was cold, 9:00 cool, 9:30 and on it was perfect for riding. 70 miles from Istanbul on a Tuesday at 11 am there was no traffic. Once I got to Istanbul traffic was terrible. Luckily bikes passing on shoulders is permitted. By 1:30 I was in my room and talking with Gayle. It had clouded up and looked like it rained some. I thought this hotel was next to the Topkapi Palace. Nope. It was near the Topkapi something else. The Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace were 3 miles away. Since traffic was ugly and it started to rain a bit, I got a taxi to go see these attractions.

    They are doing restoration work on the Blue Mosque. All I saw that was open was a prayer room. I didn't take any pictures inside there. Next the Topkapi Palace was closed. I didn't ask why. The Basilica Cistern is closed for restoration also. I have pictures from 2013 when I was there. I did go into the Hagia Sofia. The Roman Emperor had it built in 537 AD as a Christian Cathedral and it had the world's largest interior space at that time. When the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453 it was converted to a mosque. In 1616 the Blue Mosque was built and became the principal mosque of Istanbul. In 1935 Hagia Sofia was converted to a museum.

    I saw a few other old things in the area. I looked on my Google Maps and saw the Akgun Hotel was really only a mile away. So I walked there. When I went in the side door, the bartender asked if I was staying there. I showed him my room card. He said this is the Akgun Hotel. I am staying at the Akgun Istanbul Hotel 2.2 miles away. So I walked on. And it started raining. Glad I brought my rain coat.

    The first 2 pictures are the Basilica Cistern from 2013 when I was there. I really wanted to see it again.

    2013-07-31 Basilica Cistern  (4).jpg 2013-07-31 Basilica Cistern  (5).jpg 2021-10-12 Blue Mosque  (3).jpg 2021-10-12 Blue Mosque  (6).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (2).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (5).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (6).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (7).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (8).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (9).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (10).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (11).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (12).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (13).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (14).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (15).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (16).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (17).jpg 2021-10-12 Hagia Sofia  (19).jpg 2021-10-12 Obelisk of Theodosius 390 AD  (1).jpg 2021-10-12 Road to Istanbul .jpg 2021-10-12 The Serpent Column 4th century AD  (1).jpg
    #75
  16. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio and Surprise, Arizona
    10-13-21 Novotel Hotel $130 Sofia, Bulgaria 361 miles

    The traffic out of Istanbul was as hectic as it was yesterday. I did follow an ambulance down the narrow shoulder for 5 miles to get past most of the congestion. I was hoping to get to Thessaloniki, Greece and get a chain. But with a light drizzle and a sign saying 67 km to next services (meaning gas only probably), I routed to Edirne. The chain had gotten so loose, I was afraid it might start jumping teeth on the sprocket or jam up. The boys jumped right on it and charged me 100 Euros. I was back on the highway in about 40 minutes. When I altered my route to get a chain, I had to reroute to Pristina. 15 minutes later I was at a border crossing. I thought Greece, but it was Bulgaria. Turkey didn't get me for the speeding ticket.....yet. I was told they would get me at customs on the way out.

    It was a chilly damp day. I should have stopped and put my rain gear on to cut the wind. Tonight Sofia is going down to the low 40's. Winter came fast.

    Something is different about the drivers here vs Turkey. When cars pass me in Turkey usually they would come a foot or 2 into my lane. Even with no cars in front of or behind them. It can scare me if I don't notice them coming. No idea why they do it. So far here in Bulgaria, it hasn't happened. A good thing about truck drivers on my trip-when they need to pass, they pass. There is no 2 mile event for passing. When they get past someone, they pull back over. Usually when they are 15-20 feet in front of whoever they are passing. In the USA, many will wait until there is enough space for a couple semis to pull over. And I rarely see the overloaded under powered trucks out there. So far, I've only seen 1 truck tire tread on the road. At home I see them every couple miles.

    2021-10-13 New chain  (1).jpg 2021-10-13 New chain  (3).jpg 2021-10-13 New chain  (4).jpg 2021-10-13 New chain  (5).jpg
    #76
  17. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio and Surprise, Arizona
    10-14-21 Ambassador Hotel Nis, Serbia 112 miles

    It was a cold wet day. I was going to delay leaving until I saw the temperature
    was going to go down another few degrees. I hoped to get in front of the rain cell. And I did, the last 7 miles into Nis. Even when I got here it drizzled the rest of the day. I have a nice room on the 12th floor. I was going to wait a while before going out, but the view from my room looked like a rain system was coming my way. Maybe 2 miles away. It was a mile and a half to the Skull Tower.

    In 1809 the Ottomans had surrounded the Serbs, who were fighting for independence. They would be impaled if captured alive. Serb commander Stevan Sinđelić ignited their powder magazine that killed all his men and any Ottomans in the vicinity. Afterwards the Ottomans decapitated, skinned, and stuffed the 952 skulls with cotton. Later they built the tower as a victory trophy. Most of the skulls have now been returned for burials.

    Next I went to the Nis Fortress. It was built in the early 1700's. During WWI it was used by the Bulgarians as a prison for Serbian patriots. Now many areas of it have been turned into bars or outlet sales.
    2021-10-14 Ambassador Hotel  (1).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (1).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (2).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (3).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (5).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (8).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (10).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (11).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (3).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (7).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (8).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (9).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (10).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (11).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (12).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (13).jpg 2021-10-14 Skull Tower  (14).jpg
    #77
    NaMi, Briggski, Velko and 5 others like this.
  18. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio and Surprise, Arizona
    10-15-21 Hilton Double Tree $133 Zagreb, Croatia 414 miles

    I had the best breakfast of my trip today. Everything. I even ate some things I didn't recognize. It was another cold, wet, Balkan day. It was a light drizzle for the first 4 hours. I'd guess it was in the upper 30's starting, and later mostly in the upper 40's. I stopped at gas stations a couple times to warm up. When I was 70 miles from Zagreb I saw a little blue sky. Eventually it was all blue sky and low 50's.

    While in Serbia I saw 3 convoys of trucks carrying tanks and other army vehicles going the other direction. I'm in Croatia now, so I don't care. I have another 8th floor room with a full wall window looking over the city.

    I don't know where I'll go the next 4 days. I'll look at the weather map and find a place that is warmer than I've had recently.

    No pictures today, but a few from last night at the Nis Fortress restaurant.

    2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (1).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (2).jpg 2021-10-14 Nis Fortress  (3).jpg
    #78
  19. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio and Surprise, Arizona
    11-16-21 Hotel Palace Vrkljan $62 Karlobag,Cr 207 miles

    I looked at the weather and saw the least cold and driest chance was the Adriatic coast line. I routed to Rijeka. It bored me in 10 minutes. So I rode south down the coast line. There was a brutal wind starting 15 miles before I got to Rijeka, and it never stopped. I rode the center line most of the time and it would blow me half a lane one way then the other. It was dangerous. Tonight my server told me they have 150 kph winds, and the winds are typical.

    The road reminds me of the Oregon coast. Lots of camp sites right off the road. It must be very popular for bikers since it's all curves with a nice view of the coast. I saw a lot of bikes today. I rode through the town of Senj and saw a long wall. It looked like a castle wall. I rode through an open gate and wandered around. It looked like the old city inside with people living there and life as usual with stores and all. Rather tight getting through with the bike in some places. And from there I went up a hill to the Nehaj Fortress, built in 1588. It was closed, but looked to be in excellent condition.

    I rode another half hour and found a hotel in Karlobag. Tomorrow I will go back to Zagreb. I need to get a Covid test before I can board my plane. And they don't have testing at the airport. If I get tested I hope they will have results by Tuesday.

    2021-10-16  (14).jpg 2021-10-16 Hotel Palace Vrkljan in Karlobag  (1).jpg 2021-10-16 Hotel Palace Vrkljan in Karlobag  (2).jpg 2021-10-16 Nehaj Fortress  (1).jpg 2021-10-16 Nehaj Fortress  (2).jpg 2021-10-16 Nehaj Fortress  (3).jpg 2021-10-16 Nehaj Fortress .jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (1).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (2).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (3).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (4).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (5).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (6).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (7).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle  (8).jpg 2021-10-16 Senj Castle .jpg
    #79
    NaMi, Briggski, DavidM1 and 4 others like this.
  20. Doogle

    Doogle Do it while you can Supporter

    Joined:
    May 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio and Surprise, Arizona
    10-17-21 Grand Union Hotel $161 Ljubljana, Slovenia 273 miles

    I left Karlobag and rode up over the coastal mountains to return to Zagreb. The winds weren't as bad as yesterday, but still unpleasant for about 20 miles. It was sunny skies and reached the low 60's eventually.I need to be Covid tested before I'm allowed to return to the USA. 2 sites I checked said Covid testing could only be done at 2 airports. Zagreb wasn't one of them. I planned to return to Zagreb and get a room near other facilities that could test me. Monday is the earliest I could be tested and be within the 72 hour test period. My 1st flight is to Paris, and that is where the 72 hour test time matters. Some places need 24 hours for results. Not wanting to be stuck somewhere not having results, I went to the airport to make sure what to do. They said they do have testing there. Come back at least 2 hours before your flight and get tested. Great. Now I have 2 free days. I decided on Ljubljana, Slovenia, because I can't pronounce it.

    It saw a castle up high on a hill and of course had to visit. It was built in the 11th century and completely overhauled in the 15th century. It doesn't have the master stone workings I've seen in other places. But it has great views and draws a lot of people on a Sunday afternoon. One area had information for having weddings there.

    I found a hotel nearby and unpacked. Then I walked around the nearby town. Everything is very clean and pleasant. I took some not so good pictures of interesting buildings. Then I found an Irish pub for some grub.
    2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (3).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (10).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (11).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (12).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (13).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (14).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (15).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (16).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (17).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (18).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana  (19).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Adriatic coast, Croatia  (1).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Adriatic coast, Croatia  (2).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Castle  (1).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Castle  (2).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Castle  (3).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Castle  (4).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Castle  (5).jpg 2021-10-17 Ljubljana Castle  (6).jpg
    #80