Category Archives: Motorcycle

Day 324 – Hometown

First thing you see in the morning

First thing you see in the morning

Our stay in Sommerach was lovely and filled with great food. Breakfast with fresh buns and good coffee gave us an excuse to hang around, spending some more time with family.

At noon, we had to go though…another 180km to Frankfurt. Just a short ride but an important one. Finishing the trip. Throughout most of the ride, our mood was pretty triumphant. Close to Frankfurt, we decided to take a detour so that we’ll come in on the A5 which would give us a view of the skyline. Shortly before we could actually see it, the mood turned sombre. We started to realize that these are the last kilometers of our trip. We had actually done it. We were still sitting on the same bike which had left Clifton Terrace in Wellington all those months ago.

Frankfurt, eh?

Frankfurt, eh?

When Frankfurt came into view, I started crying. The mix of emotions was just too much: Happy that we had made it, sad that it was over, proud to have made it, happy to be home, missing Wellington like crazy. Just too freaking much. Also, this way I ended the journey the same way as it began: in tears. I’ve come full circle, haven’t I?

Arriving in the suburb of Okriftel where we would stay with more family, we went on a last little detour to the place where we had bought Rocinante. Unfortunately, no one who has anything to do with bikes was around. So we left again for the last couple of meters to our temporary home.

Arrived at Flo's family's place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Arrived at Flo’s family’s place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Just to be stopped again when we turned into the road where Flo’s family lives. An unconscious figure lay on the footpath next to a bicycle. A man and a woman were standing at the accident site, too, but it must have happened only moments before. Flo stopped and while the woman told us that she already called the ambulance, we could still offer our first aid kit as no one else seemed to have one. There was a lot of blood from a wound on her head. One of the helpers had just started cleaning the wounds and her face when she regained conscience and the ambulance arrived. Having witnessed nothing and being already the third persons to help, we cleared the road and left to finally arrive at our destination just down the road.

We’re home now. In one of our homes.

Complete trip with important city dates

Complete trip with important city dates

 

Day 323 – Lucky peeps

Moment of truth...radiator all fixed up to be welded

Moment of truth…radiator all fixed up to be welded

Overnight, it got cool and our tent was wet in the morning. Either it had rained in the night or much condensation happened. Packing a wet tent isn’t ideal but we didn’t have time to wait around: We had an appointment at 8 am deciding our fate.

We didn’t buy food last night so we didn’t have anything for breakfast. Hoping to find an open bakery, we drove to the mechanic’s place and were half an hour early. Enough time to look around the small town and find something to eat.

Success! This hole has been fixed

Success! This hole has been fixed

The mechanic opened up at 7.50 am and saw us right away. With a long prelude about the risks of welding aluminium, he began to work. The motorbike radiator has small and thin fins so the chance of melting metal accidentally and creating a new hole while closing up the old one is substantial. However, the mechanic managed to close up the visible hole without creating a new one. So much relief. It is hard to tell you just how much relief we felt. To be completely certain that it is closed up now, the radiator was dunked into water and air was blasted through. We all watched out for tiny air bubbles but it was closed. Instead, air bubbles were released from a different location…we had a second hole.

This one was smaller and at the place where it’s fastened to the bike. It might have been created when taking out the radiator but it was still a problem now. Again, he fixed it and the next water bath test didn’t show any bubbles anymore. We could continue! *happy dance*

Happy dance! All packed up and ready to go!

Happy dance! All packed up and ready to go!

The workshop where the rest of Rocinante had spent the night opened at 9am so it was already open when we arrived. Needing help attaching the radiator back to the bike, staff promised us to make it happen between 11am and noon. Thus, we had a couple of hours to spend in Passau and started with a coffee and baked goods in another bakery. We passed some time at the river Danube but returned at 11 am to see how things were going. Rocinante was good to be clad in her plastic parts already! It took us another hour to fix up the bike, pack all our luggage back onto it and return the rental car. But at noon we were off!

Arrived at the restaurant from Flo's dad and Silvia. Achievement unlocked

Arrived at the restaurant from Flo’s dad and Silvia. Achievement unlocked

From here, we had another 300km to go to Würzburg and we did it in one go. No more stopping, no more messing around, just riding. Well, we kept an eye on the engine temperature just to be safe. The bike behaved all the way to Würzburg, or rather Sommerach, and both Flo’s dad and Silvia were over the moon to see us. We had a quick shower, a snack at the restaurant (so good! With fresh chanterelles!) and then watched the football game at their place.

Returning to the restaurant “Beim Zöpfleswirt” after the game, we had dinner together. Flo proved how much he had missed Silvia’s cooking by not only finishing his giant plate but his father’s as well. So lovely to see family again and be spoilt. 🙂

 

Day 322 – Breakdown

Rinse and repeat. That was the motto for today. Get up early, ride hard, push through all of Austria and arrive in Würzburg at Flo’s dad’s place in the evening.

Austria in a nutshell. Or so.

Austria in a nutshell. Or so.

From Budapest, Vienna is just 150km away so when we reached the Austrian capital, it was time for our first coffee stop. Not wanting to get into the city traffic, we had it at a motorway fuel station along with the obligatory Mozart chocolate. It had been raining since we crossed into Austria and it didn’t look like it would stop any time soon so I put on all of my rain gear now, Flo was still wearing his from yesterday’s rain.

It only got worse. All through Austria, it was pourring down with rain. While the suits kept us dry, our gloves were soaked through leading to cold hands and our boots were simply carry-on puddles. During a roadside lunch break at Burger King’s, we emptied our boots out, at least.

Trying to get warm and slightly dry

Trying to get warm and slightly dry

All this rain led to the probably most dangerous situation of the whole trip. It was gushing down, making it hard to see much and the Austrian traffic people deemed it appropriate to paint a giant white arrow for direction right into a corner. Only the right lane turned but the next lane over was also ornated with an arrow pointing straight ahead…in a corner. Rain and paint are the deadliest combination of things for a motorcyclist. The rear tire gave way and slide which brought the bike to wooble dangerously before the tire had grip again. Lucky us that we didn’t fall going 130 km/h on a motorway.

Damn, green cooling liquid all over the place

Damn, green cooling liquid all over the place

The border between Austria and Germany is practically non-existent. We were waved through without a glimpse into our passports and weren’t even able to stop at the “Welcome to the Federal Republic of Germany” sign as there was simply no place to stop. Still wanting to get a “back in Germany” photo, we stopped at the next rest area. As soon as we had crossed over to Germany, the rain had stopped. Still, we didn’t quite get our celebratory photo as Flo discovered bright green cooling liquid on Rocinante’s side; we had a leaking radiator.

Broken Rocinante and desperate Flo waiting for the towing truck

Broken Rocinante and desperate Flo waiting for the towing truck

The next fuel station was not too far away. They even sold liquid that is supposed to fix small leaks. All you have to do is pour it in and keep the motor going for 15 to 20 mins so that it can harden. As soon as the engine went on, cooling liquid was gushing all over the place. This motorbike was going nowhere until the radiator was fixed. Out of money and out of time, this would mean the end of our trip. No riding into Frankfurt, celebrating our achievement. What a bitter disappointment. Flo was desperate.

Our bike does this way too often

Our bike does this way too often

So first, we called the ADAC. There was nothing more we could try at the fuel station so we might as well hope that they send a mechanic. They didn’t. They sent a towing truck for a car. He was competent nonetheless and we had Rocinante securely on the truck in no time. The workshop we were towed to was awesome but they didn’t have good news for us: The replacement would only be here at the end of the week and it would cost us 500 euros. Impossible. We have neither the time nor the money for it. Completely deflated, we asked about a botch job. Due to German law, the workshop is unable to provide anything like that. You could sue the workshop and no one would take that risk. However, one of the staff people gave us the hint that we, ourselves, could ask someone to fuse the holes and put the radiator back in. This way, the workshop would be not liable and we have at least the chance to ride to Frankfurt. They were even able to point us to a mechanic for radiators of all sorts. Flo called him and he agreed to see us at 8am tomorrow morning to take a look at the radiator and try to fuse it.

Well, this is not how we thought our last night on the road would look like.

Well, this is not how we thought our last night on the road would look like.

Tomorrow morning. At least, there was hope again. All we had to do now was get a rental car as the mechanic was 25km away from Passau. Oh, and a place to spend the night which wouldn’t cost 50 Euros. We checked everything online but 50 euros was the cheapest we could find. So we concentrated on finding a rental car and got lucky. There was a special offer: 33 euros for one day and 300km. If everything else failed, we would sleep in the car. As Passau turned out to be too expensive for us, we started driving towards the mechanic. The GPS showed a camp ground on the way and maybe it would be less than 50 euros.

The camp ground turned out to be amazing. 12 euros for a night for two people; exactly what we needed for one night. Super-duper tired, we put up the tent one last time. Tomorrow would tell us if we can arrive in Frankfurt on two wheels or if we have to resort to four wheels instead.

Day 321 – Further north, stats 112 Turkey

We got up early today when the alarm clock went off. Breakfast in the hostel was quick and easy which can also be said for packing the bike. Soon we were on the road.

After 60km, we crossed over into Serbia. The crossing itself was no problem at all but for about 100km, the motoway was a one lane road without much chance of overtaking. All in all, Serbia seemed to be poorer than Bulgaria. It took us hours but we crossed all of Serbia. Crossing into Hungary was just a look into our passports and a wave with a hand…we didn’t even get stamps anymore. Since we had made such good progress, we decided to go for the Iron butt achievement and push on to Budapest. 850km in one day is a new high score for us.

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Country data #12: Turkey

Full screen version of the map

  • 4949 km in total (4854km of GPS tracked)
  • 16 travel days, 25 days total
  • $20.82 Average cost per night (5x room, 19x camping and 1x invitation)
  • 261.32l of standard fuel for $ 614.58 (4.84 l / 100km)
  • ~$24.99 for food eating half the time, two invitations
  • ~$2,400 in total.

All $ values are converted to NZD.

Day 320 – Homewards

And thus, the travelling part of this journey was over. Istanbul had been the last point for a long while, we then extended it to “after we’ve seen Gallipoli” but now, no matter how you looked at it, the travelling through Turkey was over. From this point onward, we’ll ride homewards.

On the last stretch to the border, Turkey was quite flat

On the last stretch to the border, Turkey was quite flat

Today, leaving Turkey and getting to Sofia was a “must”. We packed up early but still, we weren’t on the road as early as we’d liked. It was probably 10am already. Getting to the border between Turkey and Bulgaria didn’t take long. However, we got the first fine of the whole trip. Riding towards the border on a long straight road, we went at a 102kmh when the speed limit was 90kmh. Yes, we did speed…it was annoying anyway. There were only a few cars on the road and every single one of them was waved to the side of the road to receive their fines. It turns out that it is a common thing for countries in the EU to do as well. From now on, we saw police fining speeding before every border but we had learnt our lesson. Turkey remained the only country where we got a fine.

Last picture on the Turkish side. Bulgaria, here we come!

Last picture on the Turkish side. Bulgaria, here we come!

Spending all our coins in the town before the border, we were happy with the progress we made. Crossing the border before lunch time meant that we’d probably make it past Sofia today to camp near the border to Serbia. Standing in line, we got our passports stamped without an issue. Asking for the customs office, we got to the right place and they checked that our papers are in order and it’s the right bike. And then we waited. And waited. And waited. We had to wait for over an hour, closer to 1 1/2 hours before we could leave. When we crossed from Iran into Turkey, the staff put our information into the system incorrectly. So now, the computer protested and wouldn’t let them finish the process. Instead of copying all our documents, stamping us out and letting us go, they kept us waiting until the staff at the other border had corrected their mistake so they could finish their internal process. It had nothing to do with us or our paperwork and it was annoying as hell.

Having lost so much time rather unexpectedly, we were dreading the Bulgarian side. It is the entrance into the EU so we expected strict controls. However, all we had to do was ride through a spray of disinfectant (what?), declare if we had any cigarettes or alcohol and were sent on our way. Easy as. And so we entered into the European Union after four years away (not counting our single visit over Christmas).

Entering the EU, we noticed another step up in wealth

Entering the EU, we noticed another step up in wealth

From here, everything went smoothly. The motorway in Bulgaria is in a great condition, there are fuel stations and rest areas around and we made good progress again. It was unbelievably hot though. One of the things that struck both Flo ad me while riding north was how well off Bulgaria is compared to other countries we have been to. In Germany, Bulgaria is seen as one of those cheap countries you can go to for holidays but compared to most of the world, everybody is well off here. It was even a step up from Turkey. Europe, and the European Union especially, is a rich place and full of privilege; too often it is not really seen as such.

The corner of Sofia that we stayed in had lots of little places catering to our taste

The corner of Sofia that we stayed in had lots of little places catering to our taste

With the motorway under our wheels, we decided to push to Sofia despite being so late. We booked an excellent hostel online and with the place where we would sleep tonight determined, we set towards it. At around 6pm, we arrived at Moreto & Cafe which turned out to be incredibly lovely. After a quick shower, we walked around the block in search of food and found this corner of Sofia quite nice and interesting. It’s a pity that we don’t have the time and money to stay and explore but it’ll have to wait for another time.

The hostel organized a boardgaming evening that night and I ended up talking to people and having two cupcakes while poor Flo blogged. Then, we were too tired to participate and went straight to bed.

Day 319 – A waste of life

Saying good-bye to Ali, owner of our hostel

Saying good-bye to Ali, owner of our hostel

It was harder than we hoped to say goodbye to Istanbul. Our host Ali gave us another solid breakfast and a broad smile. We hit the road by 10 am and fought our way through suburban Istanbul congestion. Once we were out, the road was clear and the ride smooth.

Instead of following the fastest route via the inland highway, we felt like taking the direct (i.e. coastal) route one more time. It turned out that the GPS idea of getting there from the highway was a bit out-dated, so we meandered through the western Turkish countryside via the worst roads in Turkey before hitting the smooth and scenic coastal road.

The road got smaller and smaller the further we got away from Istanbul

The road got smaller and smaller the further we got away from Istanbul

Today’s ride was pretty long already with its 340 km to go. This meant that we reached the Gallipoli peninsular (known as Çanakkale in Turkey after the provincial capital on the other side of the Dardanelles to confuse things further) well into the afternoon.

Thing took a deep dark plunge from here. We thought to follow the Lonely Planet’s suggestion and visit the 2012 Gallipoli Simulation Centre before paying a visit to ANZAC cove for its importance in New Zealand’s history. As I am writing this five days later, I am still filled with wretched anger on this disgraceful display of revisionist propaganda disguised as a museum. Sad as it is, the only lesson I learned from this is a glimpse of understanding of how a kind, intelligent and hospitable people like the Turks can at the same time display such unreflected rar-rar nationalism. A visit here, most likely with tons of supporting misinformation, is part of every Turkish schoolkids’s education.

*sniff*

*sniff*

Why am I so outraged? It is hard to describe. I like to believe that as someone raised in Germany, we got a rare gift of a particular view of history, especially of armed conflicts. As much as we love our new home New Zealand and its people, their sometimes unreflected celebration of their Great War participation rubbed us a bit. How can something be celebrated that, in a way, was pretty much an imperialistic and also quite racist attack against a country which’s main crime it was to sit on resources that the British Empire would rather have for its own? But there were nuances – and also a way to engage Kiwis in deep reflections on different cultures of remembrance.

This “thing” on the other hand can probably only be described as a Turkish nationalist Call of Duty theme park ride. It clearly had a message: Our war was just, through superiority on culture and religion we fought off the arrogant invaders and it is a pity that today’s Turks cannot die the same martyr death for glory of god and country. Ten multi-media presentations, with props and everything retelling fairy-tale versions of instances of the Ottoman defence. Glorification of Atatürk. Martyrdom revered as a beautiful thing to archive. Everything was clean, good, glorious.

What was missing was any kind of reflection. Any idea of the horrors of war. What does it mean to die a martyr’s death? Not a single drop of blood was shed – people fall with an expression of glorious defiance on their faces and go to sleep – straight to paradise, I suppose. Only, they did not. Trench warfare is horrendous. People die slowly, humans get ripped apart all the time. It stinks, rats start feeding on the wounded as they are still alive slowly dying in no-man’s-land.

The whole thing took an hour. After the second display we were already disgusted, but somehow we stayed to the end. We came out pretty shell-shocked but also angry at the Lonely Planet. Seriously, how can this be in any way recommended? Without any warning or perspective.

Our last night in Turkey

Our last night in Turkey

We were all fed up now and only wanted to leave. We. Skipped. ANZAC cove and headed straight out again, rather getting some more distance done tonight. We camped at a nice little spot 70km further towards our final destination, at the north-eastern end of the peninsular.

What a disappointment to end the traveling part of our journey.

Nina’s comment: All of the above. What shocked me most was that this is a *new* centre. It was only opened in 2012. How can war be so glorified in the 21st century? Haven’t we all learnt our lesson? Instead, you find yourself on the ship (which is rocking… it’s a simulation centre after all) shooting at the enemy, celebrating each hit. You find yourself in the trenches (actual props of trenches… how sick is that?) waiting to shoot at the enemy. It’s disgusting. Yes, if there ever is a “right side” of a war, the Turks were on it. They were invaded, they defended themselves. But there was slaughter all around. The centre disappointed me deeply. The last room, then, just was the last straw, ending in “And this is why Turkey is so great” blatant propaganda.

Day 316 – Bridge between two continents

Rain. That thing. The slight annoyance that you forget about after camping in sunshine for a week. Well, this morning, it was raining. It slowed down our daily morning routine and it dampened our mood. Packing a wet tent is also not fun. Enough whining, we got on the road and today, we’d make it to Istanbul. 🙂

stupid toll system, still not working!

stupid toll system, still not working!

The GPS routed us on a giant 6 lane motorway. Flo, scrolling ahead, said there seems to be a ferry which will shorten the trip considerably. However, the next signs told us that Istanbul is only 90km away and that there will be a bridge. That sounds great! Yeah, nah. As with the museum in Troy, people got ahead of themselves. The motorway led right to the sea…but the bridge isn’t finished yet. From this point, Istanbul was still 120km away and we had to circumnavigate all of the Sea of Marmara. To make things worse the toll road ended with a secured gate this time and instead of waving your paywave card, they wanted cash from you. We still have about 30 Turkish lira on the card which we will probably never use up so paying cash now felt like we had to pay twice. Flo was not amused, to say the least.

Time to move on. Rocinate still looks like a demo bike ;)

Time to move on. Rocinate still looks like a demo bike 😉

Didn’t matter, we were still on track for Istanbul. Our first stop was the Touratech Türkiye shop, just for a visit. As with almost all Touratech shops we have been in, it was lovely. The staff is good for a chat, we got free tea and coffee and we looked at what’s new. We didn’t need anything but I didn’t say no to the visor cleaners we were offered…insect goo is one of the constants of our trip.

Istanbul is big. The GPS calculated another 28km from the shop to our hotel. And there is a lot of traffic, especially because we wanted to use one of the two bridges over the Bosporus. Driving from the Asian continent over a bridge onto the European continent was our idea of ending the trip. Of course, we will have a look around the city for a couple of days but afterwards, it’s pretty much straight to Frankfurt. Europe will have to wait for another journey. With those thoughts in mind, the crossing was actually quite emotional. It took us almost 11 months to get here.

The last meters in Asia!

The last meters in Asia!

Our one room apartment, once we found it, turned out to be exactly what we’d hoped for. Hotels in Istanbul seem very cheap at the moment and the online offers are very good. We got our room for three nights for 62€ including breakfast. And it’s in the center of the city.

But riding through rain and traffic, skipping lunch and being emotional about this last part of our journey had left us exhausted. We had an early dinner and otherwise enjoyed the comforts of our room.

Day 307 – Sürprise

Getting up and making breakfast wasn’t much better than dinner last night and I guess, we didn’t take a single picture of our camping spot 5m from the restaurant. All we wanted was to get going, ride the 160km to Antalya, have lunch and decide on a plan. For quite a while, we had wanted to skip Antalya altogether but now, it was conveniently placed. Also, Flo wanted to at least have a look around the old town. Where to go from there, was completely up to debate: Go inland to Pamukkale and skip most of the Mediterranean coast? Follow the coastline which might disappoint and then double back to see Pamukkale?

just say yes ...

just say yes …

The ride to Antalya was nothing special. We put on some music and it mostly flew by. Getting close to the inner city, we stopped in the shadow of a bridge to see which places the Lonely Planet recommends for lunch. Flo hadn’t even managed to get the Lonely Planet out when a BMW rider stopped just a few meters in front of us. Actually, they rode two up as well and with the panniers, their silhouette looked much like ours. We closed the distance so we could speak and they asked us if we needed help. Oh! “Nah, we just need a bit to figure out where to have lunch” – *brief conversation in Turkish between the two* “Okay, follow me”.

Önder and Nazan in road attire

Önder and Nazan in road attire

One of the advises the Lonely Planet gives you for Iran is “just say yes”. Wondering if that sentence still applied for Turkey, we followed the BMW as it wove through the traffic. Stopping at a place that is owned Antalyaspor, the sport’s club, we introduced ourselves. Önder and Nazan were on a day trip to Kas, about 200km further down the coast, and back. They invited us to join them but 400km starting at lunch time seemed too daunting for us. So while we had lunch and they had a coffee, we explained our journey. It ended with an invitation to Önder and Nazan’s house for tonight. They would be back in the evening so we had the whole afternoon to explore Antalya before being hosted. Such a sweet deal was not offered often so we said yes once again.

Riding through the old town

Riding through the old town

Already being slightly late for their expedition, our two future hosts left soon after to get on the road. We took a bit longer in figuring out what to do. Mostly, both of us were tired already. Thus, we spotted a park on the map for a relaxing nap and a bit of reading time before doing anything else.

Three hours later, the light started to look golden so it was now or never to see Antalya’s old town. Access to the old town is restricted but Flo managed to get us in without having to take a ticket. Maybe motorcycle don’t count. Once we were at the car park, the owner saw our license plate and started speaking German with us. He had actually lived in Frankfurt for 16 years and seemed happy to speak German again. An invitation for tea followed soon so we sat down for some çay and some talk about Frankfurt. It almost seems as if there is a pattern emerging: A lot of people we met have lived in Germany and have good memories about it and speaking German. Others, who probably haven’t lived in Germany, seem to be slightly hostile. If that is because of an abundance of German tourists or because of the recent political things, I cannot say. Being German provokes a reaction is all.

Another ally and minaret

Another ally and minaret

After tea, we started on the walking tour that the Lonely Planet recommends. Strolling through the small streets of the old town, it reminded us of Höchst’s old town, the quarter in Frankfurt where we had lived. Yes, there are a lot of hotels and restaurants catering to tourists but you can also find quiet corners. We really enjoyed it despite our negative expectations beforehand. It is pretty. Having more money would be good because then you could actually try one or two of the hipster food places that we now only imagine are lovely. When we got to the marina, we noticed the other reason why we might like it: The lack of tourists. Yes, the odd ones are there but given that it is high season, the city is practically empty. Turkish tourists can be found but not in masses.

We came past some old houses, a mosque which had started as a church, ruins of old, the old city wall etc. etc. In the end, Flo stopped with a surprised shout. One of the motorcycle rental shops had a transalp in barley yellow on display. Rocinante without being Rocinante. For us, it is the first time we have seen another yellow one but not a lot of people seem to be riding the Transalp anyway.

15 km through the night, always the eyes on this

15 km through the night, always the eyes on this

By now it was 7pm. Önder and Nazan hadn’t gotten back to us yet so we dined in one of the nicer restaurants. Veggie kebab for me and half a chicken grilled over charcoal for Flo kept us occupied. Still, we hadn’t heard anything. So that is my excuse why I had dessert. 🙂 Another round of sweet rice pudding and also a text from our hosts made me really happy. It took them another hour to make it into Antalya but they picked us up from our parking spot so we could follow them to their home. They’ve had a hard time making it back as there had been a 15km traffic jam, adding to the already long day both of them have had.

Finally, we made it to the place where we could rest our heads. I was slightly surprised when we turned into one of the gated communities. Once we’d parked, a tiny kitten which I thus dubbed “Tiny” greeted us. Being pre-occupied with the kitten, I was flabbergasted when the door opened. Despite being “forewarned” that we would get a whole floor to ourselves, I couldn’t believe it. It was a whole flat just for us. A fully functioning flat with a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom. And after refreshing ourselves with a warm shower, we were invited for tea upstairs.

By now it was really late and everyone was dead tired but we still had a lovely tea with nibbles and conversation. Önder suggested a couple of things that we might look at along the coast, especially Kas where they went today. Flo, on the other hand, promoted Ted Simon and Horizons Unlimited. After that, we just fell into bed intend on sleeping in.

Day 306 – Southsun groove

The roadworks picked up at some point in the morning. So although the light morning haze kept the sun from burning us out of our tent, we got up eventually. The morning ritual was performed efficiently if a bit lacklustre in the energy department.

The whole island is taken up by another fort, just off-shore from the castle

The whole island is taken up by another fort, just off-shore from the castle

Soon after though, the rhythm of the road started coming back to us. The wall of high-rise vacation bunkers loosened up and soon we finally felt like riding along the Mediterranean. There was a cool double fortress / castle very early on that got us a bit excited. One castle stood on shore, the other maybe 500m into the sea, fully occupying a small island there. All nicely illuminated by the morning sun shining down a now clear blue sky.

The first planned stop were the caves of Heaven and Hell. The Gorge of Hell is a massive sinkhole that ancient Greek colonists believed Zeus imprisoned the 100 headed monster Typhon. The view down the almost vertical shaft from a little viewing platform perched over one edge was a good warming up exercise. The real star was the massive cave at the bottom of the chasm called Heaven.

The sparsely lit cave was indeed beautiful

The sparsely lit cave was indeed beautiful

After a brief climb down to the “bottom” of the open chasm, an enormous cave opened up at one end of it, leading way deeper into the earth. The footing going down was treacherous, but we managed to reach the lowest part without a tell-tale “mud butt”. The cave was huge, going down almost 200m and was in places maybe 70m high.  The ancients believed that the river at the very end to be an access to the underground river Styx – not for us though, since the river was currently dry 🙂 It was really cool, nonetheless. On our way out, we had a short breather and rest at the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, build in the 5th century by the Byzantines to let a raucous bunch of teenage school kids pass.

Great lunch right at the sea

Great lunch right at the sea

On our way to the next destination, we had lunch at a beautiful and quiet restaurant right on the water’s edge. The eccentric proprietor served us a beautiful vegetarian bean dish and we enjoyed the sounds of the calm sea for a while.

Said next destination were the ruins of Anemurium. This city founded by the Phoenicians was ruled by Romans of one kind or another (Byzantines) until destroyed in 580 AD. The ruins are a magical place and exploring them in the beautiful afternoon light was just the thing we needed to get us back on track. Some of the public buildings still have bits of ancient mosaics decorating them. All can be explored freely and there was almost nobody there. Just an amazing spot.

An overview over Anemurium

An overview over Anemurium

With our spirits soaring, we were ready to tackle the road once more to reach the next campground along the coast. Unfortunately, this one was another 150 km away. Until now, we travelled pretty quickly on the brand new 2 lane coastal highway, with its many new tunnels. The next bit would go through the national park and while supremely beautiful, the more careful routing of the new road meant that it was not done yet. Any other day, this would be perfect for us. A quiet one lane highway, hugging the coastline as close at it can with hundreds of turns along the way.

From Anemurium, it was another 100km to the next camp ground

From Anemurium, it was another 100km to the next camp ground

We made the best of it, grooved along towards the setting sun and enjoyed ourselves. We had one more heart-warming encounter with two Kurdish guys at our last fuel stop and made it to the outskirts of Alanya sometime after 6 pm. The “campground” turned out to be a rather odd thing. Mainly a restaurant, they directed us to a tiny patch of grass within 5m of the diners sitting at the edge of the beach. We did not care much, though, got our cooker out and keeled right over after dinner was had. Earplugs helped a lot to drown out the sound of jolly diners and surprisingly loud peacocks.

Day 300 – See you when we get there

To continue where the last entry left off: 440 km to Göreme. It kind of became our mantra. After breakfast and packing we just wanted to get to Cappadocia. Really, really in need for a break now. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for Göreme wasn’t that great either but going on to the Mediterranean coast might prove too long.

So we got on the bike and rode. And rode. It was mostly cold and did rain a couple of times. For lunch, we found a posh looking restaurant which was great…until our main course arrived and, once again, chicken wasn’t counted as meat so I ended up not having a main course. *sigh*

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After that, we kept riding through grey skies and bad weather until Kayseri, where we took a turn to get to Cappadocia. Luckily, here the sun was shining so we rocked up on the camp ground, set up the tent and collapsed.