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Bulgaria and Friends

We were up at 3 a.m. to catch our flight to Sofia. Like any big city, London never sleeps.
Our flight into Sophia on EuroJet was great, except for the lack of food and alcohol.

Good friends

All of our motorcycle kit made it and Dimitar was there to collect us. After a quick bite to eat, I paid Yellow Donkey a visit. Dimitar had put new shoes on her and after a couple tweaks, she was ready to go.

That night we decided to go out for a quick bite in the park. The quick bite turned into quite a few beers after some friends arrived.

Around midnight we left the party. Melanie helps guide my stumbling self to the subway station. I went directly to the ATM machine to buy my subway tickets. Melanie directed me to the proper machine and we made it to our fifth stop. As usual, we had a great night in Sophia.

The next morning we wanted to head to MotoCamp Bulgaria. While nursing a hangover, I retrieved the bike and we worked at getting the bike all packed to head out. After a quick lunch the thunderstorms rolled in. After waiting a couple hours we saw a quick break in the storms. Riding in a light rain we left Sophia. changing directions, sunshine became our companion for the final three-hour ride to MotoCamp Bulgaria.

As you turn off the main road onto a small tarmac road you pass fields of sunflowers and a small pond. Turning right at the village of Idelivo, MotoCamp will soon be on the left, you can’t miss the old motorcycle out in front. Opening the front gate is like coming home, with Polly and Ivo greeting us. While you always make new friends at MotoCamp (Steve, Ulla and Bernd) and we had several old friends Dave, Dan) that were also there, and a couple coming in the next day (Nigel, Dimitar and Kostadine). We were surprised by a visit from Sofia and Joe, who have bought a house in the village, and Graham Fields, who has called this place home for four years. Great surprise from all. Thanks. What a great couple days we had filled with good craic and beer.

Thanks Dimitar

Sofie Jacobs and Joe Dustworld

On the last day we were invited over to Graham Fields’ house for coffee. He has a beautiful place high on a hill, overlooking the entire valley. If you need a house and cat sitter sometime…

Graham Fields

Dimitar then lead several of us on a spirited ride to the flying saucer, Buzludzha, dedicated to Communism. It has even become more run down since our last visit there. The inside used to have amazing mosaics all made out of tile. There are now guards stationed there keeping people out. The dangers are great since the ceiling is now falling in.

We finally had to leave. Saying, “See you later”, is always tough. So difficult that we returned 6 hours later to retrieve my phone that I had left on the table. Ha, more drinking.

Oh oh, what broke, Sir Nigel?

The following day we headed to the Black Sea and found a great campsite right on a bluff overlooking the beach. The campground was on a small cove surrounded by bluffs with a small slope in the area down to a great beach. After a nice swim, we had a good meal and a couple beers overlooking the blue ocean while the sun set behind us, casting shadows and colors on the cliffs.

Black Sea is a beautiful blue.

The next day we crossed into Romania. As the temperature soared to near triple digits, we pushed west. With the sky a cloudless deep blue we rode through fields of bright yellow sunflowers and purple lavender. Staying hydrated, the day was a boring but good ride.

Cheers
2WANDRRs

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Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel | Leave a comment

Europe 2019

We are ready to leave again. First stop will be London and a couple pints at Ye Olde Six Bells tomorrow. This pub has been around since the 9th century. Hope the ales are fresher.

One of the most difficult things in leaving is leaving our 15 year old pup Gypsy behind. She is in good hands with Melanie’s sister Sharon in Texas.

We will be in Sofia, Bulgaria to collect the Yellow Donkey from our good friend, Dimitar, whom has been taking good care of her for the past few months.

You may follow our progress as we ride to Nordkapp then back to the UK as we attend the Overland Event in a couple months. We will be using a Sat tracking device called SPOT and this is the link.

SPOT

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Commitments…or a Great Family?

I’ve been riding most of my life. Several years ago, after several life changing events, we decided we had too much “stuff”. Our first world life of over zelious consumerism had developed a question mark, WHY? Why chase our tails to have more stuff when what we really wanted was to travel and make great memories. Our jobs took up most of our time and energy, and it was draining us.

Then we discovered Horizons Unlimited and saw the movie, “Long Way Down”. I had also met a man near me in Florida that had lost everything. He took off in a sidecar with his dog. I read a book, “Jupiter’s Travels”, by Ted Simon. I read about “2 Ride the World”, Simon and Lisa Thomas. I wanted more.

In 2010 we sold everything and took off in an RV, seeing America and working on the road. We saw the US and rode our motorcycle through every state. Then we did an international motorcycle trip, just us.

We were hooked.

We have since ridden in 57 countries, with several big rides sketched out on maps still to come.

This brings me to the topic of this blog.

Commitments…or a Great Family. A few years ago a friend, Ted, asked me “Why don’t you just go?”. I answered job, family, dog, etc, and he said “So!”.

We got to thinking, Why don’t we just go, why are commitments holding us back. Well, we decided that our commitments were a couple things of our lives we loved, family. It’s said that you can’t have it all. I thought, why not?

So we redesigned our lives. We had zero debt and our expenses are our lives, wherever we are. We didn’t need stuff. We didn’t need a home in one place. What we needed was the only thing you can’t have more of, time.

Now we don’t work and are thrifty with our money. We have bikes on three continents, all valued at a total of $8000. We ride, we camp and we cook.

But most importantly, we see our family.

You can have it all.

We take off next week to ride from Eastern Europe to Nordkapp, then back to the Overland Event in the UK.

Below is what we did the past couple months, with family.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, family, Horizons Unlimited, motorcycle travel, Suzuki VStrom1000 | 1 Comment

Headed to Bulgaria, and Karma

Packing up and saying goodbye to our amazing hosts, we headed to Pamukkale.

From Google; ‘Pamukkale is a town known for the mineral-rich waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside. The town neighbors Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded around 190 BC. Ruins there include a well-preserved theater and a necropolis with sarcophagi that stretch for 2km. The Antique Pool is famous for its submerged Roman columns, the result of an earthquake.’

As we pulled into town, we were greeted by a man on a scooter whom wanted us to follow him to his hotel. He gave us a good rate with breakfast included and a view of the white travertine terraces, so we stayed. Walking through town several restaurant owners met us in the street to tell us a story about their eatery. We will choose one and return later.

The next morning, we walked up the terraced warm pools and swam in the Antique Pool. Just sitting on a submerged column, you wonder who else has been is this very place with 2000 years of history. The theater is very well preserved, and you enter from the top as it is built into the hillside.

Our next destination is Gallipoli, near the southern border with Greece. Anzac Cove is a small cove on the peninsula of Gallipoli. This area became famous during WW1 and the landing of the ANZAC’s (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) on 25 April 1915. The campaign was doomed from the start after missing the intended landing site and mixed signals from the commanders. Since 1916 the anniversary of the landings on 25 April has been commemorated as Anzac Day, becoming one of the most important national celebrations in Australia and New Zealand. The anniversary is also commemorated in Turkey and the United Kingdom.

We stayed in Gallipoli at a small hotel frequented by Australians coming to this area. We met several, some ex-military, with extensive knowledge of the ANZAC campaign.

The next morning, we entered Greece and rode down to the “Three Fingers” of the Halkidiki Peninsula that stretch into the North Aegean Sea. The third “finger”, furthest east, of the Halkidiki Peninsula is Athos. Unlike Kassandra (#1), and Sithonia (#2), Athos has mostly been untouched by modern development. Most of Athos comprises the monastic community of Mt. Athos. The rules of visiting Mt. Athos are very strict. Only men aged 18 and up can visit since legends say that the Virgin Mary visited Athos and blessed it and therefore the Holy Mountain is considered the Garden of the Virgin and there is no room for other women. Men must get an advanced permit and book a visit up to six months ahead. Visitors must follow the monks’ lifestyle during their stay. We intended to ride around Sithonia but the route south along the eastern coast was blocked by a large forest fire. Disappointed, we rode back across the mountain to the east coast and found a great place on the water.

The next morning, we rode north toward Sofia, Bulgaria, where the Yellow Donkey would be spending a few months sleeping. Our friend in Sofia, Dimitar, had suggested for us to visit the Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Bulgaria. We were given advice of a nice road to follow to get to the monastery. We had just ridden through a small town and some cars were parked along the road. As we slowly passed, we saw a woman laying on the ground in a small pool of blood. Several people standing around her. Quickly stopping the bike, I grabbed my first aid kit. With the language being a barrier, we figured out that she had been walking and had been hit by a car. Several people seemed upset with my decision to assist her. The injured woman had fear in her eyes as I checked her vitals and for injuries. Her injuries seemed to be a gash on the skull to which I applied pressure. Melanie had come by the woman’s side, talking softly and holding her bloodied hand. As she looked into Melanie’s eyes her stoic fear became tears as she tightly held Melanie’s hand. After several minutes an ambulance arrived, and I communicated my finding with them. With the injured woman still holing tightly to Melanie’s hand, she was loaded into the ambulance. With many non-verbal thank-yous, from the ambulance crew and bystanders, we acknowledged and continued our way to the Rila Monastery. The connection made through these gestures helps with other peoples view of Americans, while also refueling our karma bank.

Founded in the 10th century, the Eastern Orthodox Rila Monastery is regarded as one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural, historical and architectural monuments. The hermit, St Ivan of Rila, is whom the monastery is named after. He came to this area in the 10th century. Living in a cave, without material possessions, the monastery was built by his students where they came to receive an education. The oldest buildings in the complex date from this period -— the Tower of Hrelja (1334–1335) and a small church just next to it (1343). It is now inhabited by 60 monks.

We left and stopped for some soup along the road. This was a very friendy pup.

We headed to Sofia where we were met by Dimitar, who would be our generous host for the next couple days and would be taking care of Yellow Donkey for the next several months. Dimitar gave us a tour of Sofia and some favorites pubs, where a couple of his friends showed up. My BILT boots had just fallen apart during this trip so we found a motorcycle dealer in town. I found a pair of Forma Adventure boots at a great price, which, after hearing our story, were significantly discounted for me.  As we were preparing to leave, Dimitar presented me with a bottle of homemade Raki.  We had a great couple days in Sofia and all to soon had to be on our way.

Our flight back took us through London for an overnight, on Melanie’s birthday. Several of our friends came out to the pub for drinks and to help celebrate another trip around the rock. Many thanks to all that showed up.

Until next time…

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, adventure travel, Greece, Horizons Unlimited, Monastery, motocamping, motorcycle travel, Suzuki VStrom1000, Turkey | 3 Comments

Amazing People of Turkey

The next morning, we took a walk along the harbor. The town was waking up with the smell of fresh baked bread in the air. Fishermen were busy getting their boats and nets ready for the day. Barely a ripple disturbed the surface of the water. Tiny fish swam in the crystal-clear water.

Returning to the hotel a wonderful breakfast was waiting for us in the open-air café. After enjoying a couple cups of Turkish coffee, we slowly packed up the bike to continue. We wanted to remember the past few days and the kindness we had experienced and friendships we had made.

Continuing south we followed the sea as closely as we could. It was a beautiful day with cloudless blue skies blending into the calm seas. Later In the day we stopped for a late lunch, coffee and free Wi-Fi. We made reservations on booking.com and headed south to find the homestay. The days were getting shorter and we arrived to find…nothing. The directions led us to a three-way intersection. After riding a round looking and asking anyone we could find about the hotel, we were stumped. Nobody knew of the place, but no one spoke English either. As dark was coming on we made another stop in front of a small farm to ask again. With a similar reaction of confusion from the residents, no English, I pressed the bikes start button again. Nothing! Not even a click.

I took off the seat to get to the battery, connections good. I hooked up my power pack to jump the bike, nothing. I worked on connections for about 30 minutes without anything. It was almost dark. An old woman crossed the yard and approached us. In her hands she was holding a Pomegranate. She offered it to us as they didn’t know anything else to do for us. We accepted the kindness gratefully. Such a kind gesture.

As we were riding around, Melanie had noticed a small, closed hotel a mile of so up a busy road. There was a side road that went to the hotel, mostly uphill. We started pushing. Finally, in the darkness, we quietly arrived at the side entrance to the dark hotel. The gate was slightly agar, so I entered. In the back I noticed some lights on by the pool. Two women and a man were sitting at a table eating dinner. I startled them as I approached and said hello. I was a sight. Dirty motorcycle gear and drenched in sweat. They quickly regained their composure and in perfect English, welcomed me in. Telling my story, they told me that their hotel was closed for season and they were getting ready to head back to their home in Istanbul. In the next breath the kind man said we were welcome to stay in their hotel; they would ready a room for us. He readied the room as we unloaded our gear. But next was the biggest surprise. They told us they wanted to feed us supper. “Please, take a shower and come down and relax and have a beer. We will make you something to eat”. They reopened the kitchen and made us a wonderful meal. They told us we were welcome as long as it took to fix the motorcycle. After supper the front gate was opened to bring the motorcycle into the property to be secure. Never was the topic of cost or payment brought up by them.

After a wonderful night sleep in a beautiful suite we came down to figure out the bike. A wonderful breakfast was waiting for us. There was such a variety of foods and beautifully presented. Dish after dish was brought to our table. Just amazing.

Breakfast

As we were miles from any city, I was stumped. Everything checked out, but the battery was just bad. I contacted Ferhat in Gulluk. He was upset that I had waited so long to contact him. We were 200 kms south, but that seemed not to be an excuse. It was Sunday, but he said he would take care of it and would call me back. As we waited our hosts brought us a pomegranate from a tree in their yard to snack on. It was amazing.

A couple hours later my phone rang, and it was my friend, Ferhat. He had found a friend, a member of the Turkish Hells Angels, that would find me a battery, deliver it and install it. He wanted detail of the battery along with dimensions. An hour later they had found a battery. They had called two motorcycle shop owners to check for a battery. Remember, its Sunday and shops are closed. They had all done this to help us. The guy was bringing the battery to me and would be there in an hour or so. You could hear his Harley pull up outside of the hotel and I went to great him with my host. With the host being an interpreter, he introduced himself and his son, that was riding with him. Within minutes he confirmed that the battery was bad and had the new one installed. I thanked him and offered to pay him for the battery and his time. He accepted the money for the battery but refused anything for his time for helping me. Such kindness.

Our host insisted on us relaxing for the rest of the day and spending another night. The beach was within walking distance, so we set off. Just so happens there was a bar right on the beach. Being on a cove with mountains surrounding us, the views were fantastic. With the beer being US$1.50, it was a perfectly relaxing afternoon. We were again served supper, had a great night sleep and an enormous breakfast. We insisted on paying for everything, and, as expected, the bill was very small. The Turkish people have been so kind.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel | Leave a comment

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