Turkey and a bit of Greece. Twice.

It’s about time we tell you a little more about the progress of our journey. We are in Turkey since the second of June. In Greece we didn’t do anything special. We took some nice winding roads through the mountains and enjoyed the Greek food. And we bought a GoPro.

We entered Turkey at Ipsala and rode to the ferry of Gelibolu-Lapseki. When we were about 2 kilometers away from the ferry we had to wait at a traffic light and I saw a man on a scooter coming from the left. I think he caught my eye because of his flapping, curly, grey hair and big mustache. I liked his appearance.

When our light turned green, I suddenly saw the traffic jam on the other side of the crossing and I realized it would take a while to get to the ferry. As out of nowhere this long haired man on his scooter was next to me, asking “Feribot? Feribot?” First thing I thought was, “What do you want? I don’t have Turkish Liras yet.” But he asked once again and I said yes.

“Come” and he waved his arm. So we turned around in the middle of the crossing and followed him through all kinds of narrow streets and alleys. A few minutes later we were in front of the traffic jam. And after he spoke to some guys we were allowed to come through to the ticket office. He shook Klaas’ hand and waved me goodbye. Within 10 minutes we were on a moving boat, as we were the last few to enter. Good first experience in Turkey!

In Lapseki we found a hotel where nobody spoke English. Google translate makes life a lot easier. And a little less adventurous… We went out for a late dinner, because of Ramadan. We had delicious kebab and köfte while we watched people walking or driving by, in preparation of their dinner. Singing from the mosque and a loud bang at the square were the signals for the people to start smoking again and enjoy their meal, or a cup of tea. When we came back at the hotel, the ladies of the reception, and a few other people were having tea and watching a funny show on television. They asked us to join them and so we did. It was a little awkward because we couldn’t really speak with each other, but again a nice experience.

Heading towards Pamukkale we went south, again via bumpy minor roads. And we stayed a few nights at a campsite next to the ocean. I was totally prepared for a swim the next day, put my bikini on after a cold shower. And then it started pouring rain. I had to put a jacket on, as my nose was starting to get cold. But at least I could tell my dad I wore my bikini (which I had mistakenly locked up in the storage box and had to go get out the night before we left). Instead we used part of the day to figure out how to show pictures on the website, in a nice way. It’s more difficult than you’d think. But we’re working on it.

To cover some distance we took the highway towards Selçuk. Where we stayed at a really nice place, called Atilla’s Getaway. It is close to Efesus, which we visited the next day. But not after we cooled down in the pool! Efesus is an impressive Roman harbour- and trade city of at least 3500 years old.

In the evenings we ate together with the other guests, what ‘mama’ cooked for us. It was really nice. And we sat at the campfire later on with marshmallows and nice stories and travel experiences to tell one another. The first night we were in company of two elderly British couples, whom were traveling Turkey by themselves, a Belgian woman who lived in Turkey for 20 years already and took a brake, and a family of three, with their son who lived in Ankara. He was an American Turk, she was a Puerto Rican with a Chinese / Russian name. Can you believe it? The next evening a French girl joined Klaas, me and the family. The others had left. She asked us if we had already met crazy people. Not really luckily, just a few crazy drivers. But we did have some funny and other nice experiences along the way.

The very first day on the road, we were having tea in the afternoon, in Germany. The lady of the cafe asked us “Wohin fahren Sie, Niederlande?” (Where are you going, The Netherlands?). I answered “Nein, Asia”. “Aah, viel Spaß” was all she replied with (Have fun).

Riding through a small village in Romania. People watching us, surprised looks, what are they doing here? Children stop riding their bicycles and try to make us use the throttle a little extra, or they just wave at us. Garmin send us up a curvy road. With a dead end. At least, that’s what I’m thinking. Don’t want to do 30 km off-road at the end of the day, being tired and hungry already. And without being sure we even reach the campsite. So we turn around and go back to the main road. Seeing the same people watching us again, like we’re some sort of attraction passing by. Then we see a horse and carriage with a family in it. It seems like they just came out of a movie, some 50 years ago. And all of a sudden the roles turned around and we’re watching an “attraction”.

We saw someone walking his cow in Romania.

We also saw the Connexxion city bus to Almere at a shopping centre in Romania.

In Timișoara, Romania, we stayed at a hostel. The host, Raul offered us a local drink, which his father had made of plums. Klaas en me took the glasses, looked at each other and said “Proost!”. Raul started laughing and told us not to use that word in Romania again, as it means stupid, or idiot…

An outdoor showering experience in Romania: standing on a wood pallet, in between four chipwood walls. Which barely reached my shoulders and started at my knees. My underwear and towel hung over them. No other place to put them, hopefully they would stay dry. It felt like people walking on the road up the hill, could see straight into the cubicle. I felt naked. Which I was. When I was done showering, I quickly dried myself off, hoping not to get cold. Carefully balancing not to get my feet in between the wooden planks. I pulled my underpants from the wall to put it back on, but it got stuck on a splinter. In the meanwhile, I was enjoying myself. I just had a really nice hot shower with one of the best views from a “bathroom” ever. And I felt lucky to be there.

Having dinner in a historical village in Bulgaria, a VW Golf passes by, with two goats standing in the backseat, looking out the window.

In Greece we were trying to get lunch in a small village. The waiter was painting the terrace and he told us kindly the cook wouldn’t be there for another ten minutes. We know Greek ten minutes, so we ordered fresh orange juice and waited. And waited a little more, enjoying the shade. It took about 15 minutes before he brought our drinks. Then the guy asks us, “Would you like a Greek salad?” Yes we would like that. To our surprise, he asks, like he doesn’t know what goes in the Greek salad: “Do you want tomato, do you want olives, do you want feta?” It took a while, but we had a good salad with toast and it looked really Greek.

Riding in Bodrum, Turkey, getting overtaken by a scooter, the driver says to me: “Zo, jij bent een eind van huis!” (Wow, you’re a long way from home).

A Turkish man was trying to convince me with a smile to change my motorbike for his scooter. I kindly rejected his offer.

Back to the story. In Selçuk I started thinking and asked Klaas, when my dad (and his brother and wife) was going on holiday and where he was going. Because I always forget the useful details. It turned out to be Kos and he would arrive the next day. Looking at the map I saw it was only a day’s drive away. We started looking into ferries and thought it would be fun to surprise him. So I send my sister a message, if she had more details for us and she send me his flight number. We decided to ride to Bodrum and see if it was possible to get a ferry. Garmin took us on the fast route to Bodrum. Something went wrong, because we ended up riding about 20 kilometers off-road. And I mean really off-road… We could have turned around of course, but after 3 kilometer we decided to move on. We kept climbing and climbing and I felt like we were on top of the world. Unfortunately I also felt really down to earth one time, as I dropped the motorbike in a really steep, sandy, rocky hairpin. Luckily everything, including me, stayed in one piece.

Because of this detour we weren’t able to get a ferry that day. The next morning, after extensive border controls and registrations, we arrived on Kos and went for their apartment. Luck was with us as we saw them standing at a bicycle rental, on the side of the road. We hugged and talked for a while, until it was starting to get too hot to stand still. We agreed we would meet again in the afternoon and Klaas and me explored the island together. In the evening we had a few beers together at their apartment and dinner at the oceanside. The next day after lunch we said goodbye to each other and wished them a happy holiday, as Klaas and me had to pack our stuff to be at the ferry on time. We were waved goodbye by the side of the road and again at the ferry. It was really fun to see each other.

The next day we went towards Pamukkale, again in Turkey, as this was on our wish-list. Let me tell you a riddle now. My motorbike has a gas tank of 15 liters. Klaas’ motorbike has a gas tank of 22 liters. Guess who had to help who with an empty tank?

Riding towards Pamukkale we were in need of a gas station. When three were about 15 kilometers away, we stopped by the side of the road, because one of the motorbikes was short on fuel. But no worries, we still had some gas in a little bottle we use for cooking. We were on the move again. Happy we were going to make it. At the first gas station, they told us they were out of fuel. Across the road was number two, also out of fuel. ”Go one kilometer, they have gas”, they said. Okay, we can make that! And we did. But number three also ran out of it. My navigation system and the lady at the gas station told us the next one was going to be in 20 kilometers. One of us was definitely not going to make that! We took of anyway. Only 8 kilometers before the next station Klaas his bike quit again. Yes, finally I had the chance to use my expensive 2 gallon Rotopax gas tank, which was a bitch to mount to the luggage rack (thanks Erik, it’s still holding!)!

I passed Klaas, told him through our intercom headset I’d be back. Fingers crossed I would find fuel, because my tank wouldn’t let me go that far anymore either. Lucky bastard as he is, I also passed something else. In between the gas stations there was 20 kilometers of almost nothing. Maybe a tree, or some bushes for a little shade. But there it was, something that looked like a bus stop! Shade and a bench to sit on while his fuel was being fetched. I was still within reach to be able to tell him and he only had to push the bike about a hundred and fifty meters downhill to get there. Within half an hour I was back with a full gas tank and a full Rotopax and we could return to the gas station together to fill up completely. And I got an ice cream out of this.

On june 11th we got up fairly early and went to see Pamukkale before breakfast, as we thought it would still be kinda quiet. We were wrong… Loads of busses and people were already there, putting their feet in the water and posing for the cameras. It was entertaining to see, but not as beautiful as we thought it would be. In the afternoon I hid in the tent for an enormous thunderstorm, trying to read my book and keeping the water out of the tent at the same time. And Klaas was trying to find a garage to get his broken spoke replaced… He hid at a gas station and got tea and popcorn. The next morning he got an appointment at Nur Motor in Denizli, where they fixed his wheel.

Then we took of towards our next thing on the wish-list, which was the famous Cappadocia and the hot air balloons. It was a really boring ride, but in the afternoon we were rewarded with a beautiful, curvy mountain pas. We had to ride careful though, as lots of cows were walking on the road and they left souvenirs behind as well. The next day we reached Panorama camping Göreme and they chose the name right! Sitting in the open lounge, we can look out on the village, with the strange shaped mountains in which they build houses and churches.

Friday we got up at 4.15u to watch over a hundred hot air balloons take off. At first we didn’t see much, but we could already hear the fans buzzing. All of a sudden I saw these bulbs lying everywhere. And I mean everywhere! It was an amazing show to watch, with the gas burners lighting up different balloons all the time. And then the first one came off the ground and then the next, and the next. We couldn’t keep count. With the sun rising the colors appeared in the landscape and it got more and more beautiful.

At a little before six o’clock we went to bed again, trying to warm up. We slept a little more and later that day we explored the village and the open air museum on foot. And we both got a much needed haircut. Klaas got a real treat, with not only his head done, but also his beard, neck, ears, nose and eyebrows!

Yesterday we had a quiet day at the campsite, enjoying the view every now and then, while trying to get some pictures on the website. Wifi didn’t really work with us though.

This morning we were rudely awakened before six o’clock, by two hot air balloons and their passengers, which landed almost on top of our tent. Or so it felt.

And today we were on the road again, on the way to the unknown…

Things we noticed:

  • Romanians like the Dacia Logan hatchback
  • Turks like the old Fiats and Renaults and cardboard police cars
  • There are a lot of storks in Eastern Europe and Turkey, and I mean, a lot!
  • Cats and dogs are also far from extinction, as are ants, which like crawling on and in our tent and bags.
Original post date: June 16th 2019

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