To Istanbul

To Istanbul

November 21, 2012  |  Greece, Turkey

The next morning I left the hotel in Bitola and after adjusting my chain tension again I was heading for Greece. At the border I had to show my documents again. 100 meters further was a line of cars all with their hoods open and border police inspecting the cars. One came up to me and after I shutted off my engine he asked me where I was going while looking at the tires on my panniers. Once again I replied with ‘Singapore!’. ‘You going where?!’ he asked and some other guy also joined the conversation. We talked a bit about the trip and I told them about my SPOT GPS tracker and gave them both my namecard. After that I was free to go. Passing all the cars with their hoods open with a grin on my face. That’s how you deal with border

After a not so interesting ride in Greece I arrived in Thessaloniki. I searched for a coffeeshop to have a coffee and use their WiFi to find a place to sleep for the night. As I was out of Euros I first asked the girl at the counter if there was any ATM nearby. She said no but offered to buy me a coffee. That was very nice of her but that’s not how businesses work right? We talked a bit and I booked a hostel in town. When I left the coffeeshop girl told me that there’s an ATM around the corner. Whut? I get some money and go back to pay for my coffee but she refuses. I tell her that I’m confused. ‘You guys have money troubles right?’. She says yeah but one coffee isn’t going to make a difference anyway. I was thinking about telling her about the Latte Effect but instead just thanked her and went to my hotel.

The next morning I headed for Istanbul. I knew it was too far to drive in one day so I didn’t know where I would end up yet. The ride was a bit more interesting than the day before and I even ended up on a loose sandy road. I took some great pictures there and continued my way on this sandy road. Unfortunately it was a dead end and I had to go back. It was so hard to ride that I sometimes had the feeling that it was the bike that was riding me. I dropped the bike once but it was at a very low speed and because of my panniers it almost stayed upright. No damage at all!

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It was getting darker and I came through a lot of cotton fields, small farmvillages where I got a lot off attention. I didn’t really feel like staying in any on this places so I decided to ride a bit further to Alexandroupolis. It was fully dark now and the roads got curlier and curlier. Too bad, best road since Montenegro and I couldn’t see a thing.

I setted up my tent, which was still a bit wet, on a camping and took a shower (I could write a chapter about how stupidly constructed this shower was. Water came out with such force that it blew the shower head out of the wallmount and sprayed my clothes wet. This happened five times before I thought it was best to just hold the shower head in my hand. I learn slow). After that I went to the city to eat something and have drink.

I woke up way too late again. When I arrived back at the camping the day before I found out this city had city-wide free WiFi. Couldn’t let that opportunity pass! Soon I arrived in Turkey. The border wasn’t a really big deal and people were pretty friendly. I had to buy my Visa first but the office where I could buy it was closed for lunch so I used that time to bend straight the rest-plate of my jiffy standard. I think it was bend when I crossed a trainrail in the dark yesterday to Alexandroupoli. The visa costed €15 euro. It’s just a sticker that is put into your passport.

I stopped for gas on my way to Istanbul and the first thing I notice is the friendlyness of the people. Two kids instantly come to me and admire my bike. Their English is not that good but they were very interested in everything. I payed with card and the owner of the gas station handed me the machine. When I entered my pincode he turned his head away which is something I’ve never seen anyone do before. A bit later when I stopped in Tekirdag to eat something lot’s of people came up and asked me where I was from. I was liking this country already. Can’t wait for the next weeks!

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Around Istanbul the traffic became denser. I was doing 90 KMH in fifth gear, riding safely on the right lane when I suddenly saw a car standing still in my lane a bit further. I braked, shifted lanes and applied throttle again but I forgot to downshift! Around 2000 RPM this engine is very choppy, don’t know if that’s the right word but it’s the thing that happens when you ride with too low RPM. I heared a big CLING noise followed by a rattle and sudden loss of power. ‘Oh shit’ I thought ‘ ‘My gearbox is gone. That’s going to be a costly repair. And how am I getting the bike from this road to a repairshop?’ I tried every gear but none off them worked and they all made this rattle noise. I parked the bike on the ride side of the road. There was no guardrail so still standing in the right lane I start inspecting the bike. Luckily it was just the chain that had come loose from the violence off the engine at 2000 RPM. That’s something even I can fix! With cars passing by me at 90 KMH at not even a meters distance I started getting my tools. I was way too hasty so when I opened my toolroll a 30mm socket falls out and started rolling under my bike towards the passing cars. And a 30mm socket is a big piece of metal! If a car would hit that and sends it in the air people would die. But luckily it rolls back and nobody was injured. The chain was back on fairly quick and I was on my way again to my couchsurfing host Emre.

Emre is also 24 and works for Bayer, a German pharmaceutical company. We played some Tekken and he gives me some advice about things to see in Istanbul. When I mention that I have to apply for my Indian visa in Ankara he tells me that there’s an Indian consulate in Istanbul. It’s only open for a small period of time in the morning so I planned to go there on Tuesday.

The next day I went to Borusan Oto, the BMW dealer in Istanbul to get my oil and filter changed. I had big plans for this day but the city is so big and with lot’s of traffic I only managed to get passphotos for my visa and withdraw some Turkish Lire before the day was over

On Tuesday I went to the consulate. It opens at 10:00 and before that I had to find a copyshop to print and copy everything I needed for for the Indian visa and I had to search for an exhange office as the Visa is to be payed for in dollars. I found them both on my way to the consulate so at 10:00 I had everything ready and I was at the consulate. My application was rejected because I was not going to be in India within a month. I have to get it in Teheran, Iran they said. I was not very happy about this because I just read some horror stories about applying for an Indian visa in Iran. Just going to try it again at the embassy in Ankara.

In the afternoon I finally went sightseeing. The city is beautiful. At the blue mosque there was a school excursion of about 50 girls. They all wanted to make a picture with me. That was kind of funny. After about ten pictures I’ve had enough and excused myself. After explaining to other bypassers that I was not a celebrity and not from TV and it was probably just because I’m tall and blond I went on my way again.

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Wednessday I went to Büyükada, one of the Princes’ Islands near Istanbul. I rented a bicycle and I quickly found out that I prefer motorcycles.

Tomorrow I’m covering some distance again when I go to Ankara.

4 comments on “To Istanbul

  1. Hoi hoi!!
    Ik heb weer gesmuld van je verslag!! Prachtige foto’s.
    groetjes, Henny

  2. Miranda on said:

    Hey Rocco,
    Geweldig om die verslagen te lezen, maar je hebt wel een hele grote EGO,;P als ik zo lees over die foto’s.
    Geniet van je reis en vergeet geen verslag te schrijven, zodat het thuis frond mee kan genieten met jou reis.

    Kisses Miranda

  3. Annie Nijenhuis on said:

    Hoi Rocco, vanavond je vaders verjaardag gevierd en ieder is vol van jou avontuur. Er zijn best veel die door jouw blog hun engels
    weer lekker op kunnen halen. Soms laaide er een discusie op over wat je geschreven en dan toch weer even nalezen. Zo zie je maar dat het thuisfront erg met je mee leeft en niiet kunnen wachten tot je volgende verslag.
    liefs mama

  4. Hallo Rocco,

    Leuk om te lezen wat je allemaal meemaakt. Geniet ervan. Groeten uit Nijverdal

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