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2-up motorcycle travel

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

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Wonderful Turkey

The line was already starting to form as we pulled up to the ferry port. People were walking down the road pulling overstuffed suitcases. Everyone was looking for coffee, but we had to wait until we were boarded.

We queued in line and started talking to a couple from Athens. She was in her car and he was riding his GS. Whatever works, I guess. Tickets in hand we went back out to the bike waiting for the ferry to arrive. Several people were standing around that looked like part of a group, with a couple photographers along. My curiosity got the best of me and I went over to talk with them. They were taking part in the UK version of “The Amazing Race” called “Race Across The World”. They were starting their second leg of their journey. Melanie is a fan of the US version, but had already boarded the ferry and was up on deck.

Finally it was my turn to board so I rode up a very uneven docking made worse by thick hemp ropes filling in the cracks. Once on board I lashed Yellow Donkey to the rail and headed up to find Melanie. I told her of the people on board and we ended finding each other, both interested in the others trip. We enjoyed conversation and shared coffee, my gift to them, since they are traveling on very limited funds. It was just great. In the end we were also asked a few questions by the cameraman and had our picture taken.

A short 30 minute ferry ride had us in port at Cesme, Turkey. Shortly after riding off the ferry we found an ATM and a small cafe for our first of many Turkish coffees. The owner was fascinated with our trip and loved that we had decided to come to his country. He proudly showed us where he lived above the cafe and his pride and joy, his motorcycle in the clean alley behind the store. The owner made wonderful coffee and pastries.

Back on the bike and headed to Seluck and the ruins of Ephesus. We had found a small hotel that seemed to have a view of the city on booking.com. We climbed and higher into the hills and the roads went from bad to worse, then to, well nothing. It seemed the hotel didn’t exist. Back down the hill and into town, closed roads and the market. We finally found a hotel that was quite nice, but way out of our price range. Across the ally was a hotel named the Australian/New Zealand Pension. Rooms were nice and the new owner had bought it from the Aussie that had opened the place.

After booking in to the hotel we set out on foot to explore the city and find a bite to eat. Passing a small cafe with seating on the street with an attached rug store, we were ushered by the owner to a nice table with a colorful umbrella providing shade. He recommended a wonderful lunch and sat and talked with us. The business was his and his wife’s. She did the cooking and he spent his time between Seluck, Istanbul and the United States. Every year he would spend a couple months driving through the US selling his beautiful rugs.

Later that evening as we walked the streets looking through the shops we passed another cafe and the owner came out to talk to us. We had a fun banter which resulted in him calling me his brother. Deciding this was where we wanted to eat we sat down to order. After we ordered our meal, dishes would come to the table which we didn’t order. He was very proud of our food and wished to share them with us, including dessert and and Raki. The bill only included what we ordered. the rest was his gift to us. Going back the next night the same thing happened. At the end of the night, many hugs were passed around. We ate in the shadow of an ancient aqueduct in the shadow of the Temple of Artemis, (built around 550 BC), and considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The next day was spent exploring the ancient city of Ephesus. Built in the 10th century BC, it is close to the coast and is one of the 12 cities of the Ionian League. Among the ancient building is the Library Celsus and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators. Ephesus was an important center for early Christianity from about 50 AD. Ephesus is one of the seven churches of Asia that are mentioned in the Book of Revelations. It is believed that Gospel of John was written here and Mary lived out the last years of her life here. The place is spectacular are took several hours to walk through.

The next morning we headed out without a real destination, just south. At a stop for fuel and coffee we were sitting at a table and a car pulls up. A man jumps out and runs inside toward us. The conversation went like this. Him: “Is that your bike outside?” Me: “Yes.” Him: “Are you from the US?” Us: “Yes.” Him: “I want to talk to you and get to know you. I don’t have time right now, I’m with my boss. Please meet me at the Mayday Bar in Gulluk, down toward Bodrum, about three hours away at 3 PM.” Us: “Okay. See you there.” And he ran out, jumped in the car and sped away. We both looked at each other and said, why not? Who can really turn down an invite like that. We spent a couple hours exploring the city of Bodrum since we had some time to kill.

And that is how we met this fantastic man and friend, Ferhat.

We sat at the bar, run by a lady from the UK, and talked, drank, ate and met his friends throughout the night. He had an amazing philosophy on life and working. He was a Tug Boat captain and you could tell, loved life. He was such a kind soul. He found us a place to stay at the nicest hotel in town. At the end of the night he gave me the ultimate compliment by “placing me at the top of his head”. If I needed ANYTHING, he would be there for me. Little did we know that would happen two days later.

But thats for next time.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel | Leave a comment

Athens

We have learned a trick when riding in big cities. Park the bike securely and do public transportation. The first thing we look for is the Hop On/Hop Off Sightseeing Bus Tours ( https://www.hop-on-hop-off-bus.com ). These buses hit most of the tourist areas of the city and narrate, in your language, what you are seeing. And if you want to explore more on your own, just get back on the bus at another stop. Easy.

In the morning we walked to the pickup location for the bus and rode a big loop to see the sights before deciding which place we wanted to see first. From many areas in the city all you have to do is look up and on a an enormous flat rock 490 feet above and overlooking the city is the Acropolis of Athens. This ancient citadel was built in the 5th century BC. The area contains several ancient buildings of great architectural and historic significance, the most famous being the Parthenon. The Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron. The Acropolis is undergoing extensive renovations at the present time.


Theatre of Dionysus

Parthenon

Parthenon

Erechtheion,
honoring Athena & Poseidon, this famous, ancient Greek temple features a porch with 6 caryatids

Back on the bus and to the market. We wandered around looking at the people selling all kinds of things, even food. Finding a little cafe we ordered a great homemade pizza and a beer and chatted with a couple out enjoying the day with their new baby. On the way back to the bus we came across a car show of old Fiat 500’s. Cute little buggies.

The next day we decided to buy our ferry tickets before hopping back on the bus for more exploration. Getting off at a couple locations to look around we finally headed to the Old Market to wander around some. On the way we passed the Presidential Palace. The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was about to take place. We hopped of the bus and were treated to the wonderful ceremony. From the side the three guards entered the square, two officers and the guard. as they approached the spectators parted down the center of the viewing area as the soldiers high stepped through the people to the guarded area. One of the officers narrated what was about to happen and the two guards high stepped toward each other preforming the Changing of the Guard ceremony. It was very impressive.

Our next stop was the old town market and lunch. Finding a cafe with an outdoor seating area we ordered a couple fresh Greek pies with meat fillings and feta cheese. Excellent choice. Sitting on the street the market area filled our senses. All around the sounds of people bargaining with the shop owners for the best price, couples chatting, scooters buzzing, horns honking gave us a sense of excitement.

Ever visit must include the Olympic Panathenaic Stadium. The stadium was built on the site of the original Panathenaic games in 300 BC. The current stadium was built in 144 AD, had seating for 50,000 spectators and is built entirely of marble. For many centuries it sat abandoned until being refurbished and used again for the opening and closing ceremonies in 1896 for the first modern Olympic games. It is also the last venue in Greece from where the Olympic flame handover ceremony to the host nation takes place.

We walked on the field and sat in the chairs of past rulers and just felt the history. We walked through the entryway that the contestants had entered the field through and walked the length of what looked like a long cave carved into the marble leading to the main halls and an exhibition area. Truly spectacular.

The next day we arrived at the ferry port to make our way toward Turkey. We had to cross first to a small Greek Island, Chios, just 30 minutes from the Turkish coast. The ferry took several hours and we arrived to Chios at about 0400 am. There were a couple cafes open so we sat, had coffee and a Greek pastry, hooked up to WiFi and looked for a place to spend that night as the ferry to Turkey didn’t leave until the next morning.

It finally got light and we went looking for the place I had booked on booking.com. It was described as on the hill overlooking the beach and ocean with a pool and a hot tub. After negotiating a terrible broken road down to it we found what was a deserted hotel. Nobody was around and the pool and hot tub looked as if they hadn’t been used in years. I had already paid for it through booking.com Grrrr. They did reimburse my money.

Headed back to town we found a great place place right on the water on the other side of the island. First up, go explore the island. The island was beautiful and ended up being one of favorites, it seemed almost deserted.

On the backside of the island we came across a road that looked like it went down to a beach area. Coming around the first corner we were startled by a group of tanks with soldiers standing near them. We waved and they waved back as we passed and soon we became aware we were on a proving ground and the signage encouraged us to turn back. We took the advice, there is always another beach. The soldiers waved at us again as we passed probably laughing amongst themselves.

Riding back across the mountains to the other side we saw a sign for the Nea Moni of Chios. This was an 11th century monastery that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to tradition, three monks founded this monastery here when they miraculously found an icon of the Virgin Mary, hanging from a branch of myrtle. Constantine was exiled on nearby Lesbos. The monks visited him and told him he would become emperor. He promised them he would build them a monastery if that became true. Indeed, when he became emperor, he built them the monastery. Over time the monastery became the riches monastery in the Aegean with nearly 800 monks. It was well known for it’s mosaics, which are one of the finest examples in all of Greece.

As it got toward the end of the day we found our hotel, a wonderful studio with cooking facilities. The owner couldn’t have been friendlier. He showed us around and took our picture with Yellow Donkey to put on his wall to remember us. There was a market just on the street facing the water. A wonderful man helped up with vegetables and pasta for our meal for the night. Such wonderful people.

The next morning we set out in the dark to get to the ferry port. Our host was at our side wishing us a safe journey and to return to see him again some day.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, Acropolis, adventure travel, Athens, chios, Europe, Greece, Horizons Unlimited, Monastery, motocamping, motorcycle travel, Suzuki VStrom1000, VStrom | 2 Comments

Athens, and MotoRacing

We arrived at the ferry port in plenty of time and sat in an outdoor cafe sipping coffee on the docks. Our ferry to Athens hadn’t arrived yet, other ferries were in port and the docks were bustling with activity. The chatter around us was very international with many languages mixing together and competing with sounds of diesel trucks and ferries.

The ferry finally arrive and everyone moved very quickly to queue in line to get the best seats on board. Usually the motorcycles board first but this time we were delayed as large semi trucks and cars loaded first. It was finally our turn and we were directed to a post in the front of the line. The mates on board did an expert job at lashing my overburdened Yellow Donkey securely to the post.

The winds had picked up again and the 6 hour crossing was rough but the large jet ferry handled the rough waters without much concern to us. We arrived at the ferry port of Pireas outside of Athens just as the darkness of the day was closing in. The next day we were exploring west of Athens and had book a unusual looking place along the coast a few miles outside of the city. As I was trying to keep up with the traffic and follow my GPS I must have been going a little fast between lights. We stopped at a light and a motocop pulled up beside me. He was very upset and was yelling something to me in Greek. I didn’t understand at all what he was saying and he started motioning to me to follow him and off he went. As I was about three lanes in from the turn, and the light had just changed I just went straight heading for the A road. It was several turns away and I guess the cop gave up because I never saw him again.

By now the dark of night had settled in. The road twisted along what I believed was the coast as every once in a while we could look to the left and see the lights of Athens in the distance. The road seems very desolate in the darkness so we were wondering if what we had booked was actually there. Finally, as we rounded a corner, a hotel came into sight. The distance was about correct so we turned in to find out if this was the place. I went to the front desk and this was it, but not in the hotel. One of the guys working there had a wooden shack out back right on the ocean. It was tiny, but comfortable. It was no more than 70 sq ft. but there was room for a bed and our gear. We could use private facilities at the hotel for the bathroom and shower.

View on the Ocean
Home for the night

We unpacked the bike, got changed and headed to the restaurant. In the parking lot was a truck with Suzuki motorcycle stickers on it and several signed names on the side. As we entered the restaurant a poster on the door showed that there was a Legends Track Days with the Stars at the Athens motorcycle road track that weekend. We sat down next to an older couple with team Suzuki jackets on talking to another man about the track days. I could hardly sit still as I wanted to talk to them to find out what was going on. After dinner we were able to talk to them and they were among the races going to the track days. At the end of the evening they invited us to come over to the track the next day and check thing out.

Suzuki van in the parking lot.

The next morning, after our delicious free breakfast, we wanted to check out the Corinth Canal a bit further to the west. As we were leaving the hotel a man pulled up beside us. He was the organizer of the Legends Track Day and invited us to be his guest at the track. We will definitely be there but it wasn’t starting until around noon, giving us some time to explore. We took off for the canal. It was just amazing to stand on the center of the bridge above the Cornith Canal and watch small boats passing almost 150 feet below us.

From WikiPedia: “The Corinth Canal connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland, arguably making the peninsula an island. The canal was dug through the Isthmus at sea level and has no locks. It is 6.4 kilometres (4 mi) in length and only 21.4 metres (70 ft) wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. Nowadays it has little economic importance and is mainly a tourist attraction. The canal was initially proposed in classical times and a failed effort was made to build it in the 1st century AD. Construction started in 1881 but was hampered by geological and financial problems that bankrupted the original builders. It was completed in 1893 but, due to the canal’s narrowness, navigational problems and periodic closures to repair landslides from its steep walls, it failed to attract the level of traffic expected by its operators. The canal consists of a single channel 8 metres (26 ft) deep, excavated at sea level (thus requiring no locks), measuring 6,343 metres (20,810 ft) long by 24.6 metres (81 ft) wide at the top and 21.3 metres (70 ft) wide at the bottom. The rock walls, which rise 90 metres (300 ft) above sea level, are at a near-vertical 80° angle. The canal is crossed by a railway line, a road and a motorway at a height of about 45 metres (148 ft).”

Corinth Canal

From there we continued west on a great curvy road through the mountains but along the coast headed to see the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, built in 340 BC and still in use for concerts. The theatre was
dedicated to the ancient Greek God of medicine, Asclepius. It is considered to be the most perfect ancient Greek theatre with regard to acoustics and aesthetics and seats between 13-14,000 spectators. Standing at the base of these structures just lets your imagination run wild as to the people that have been in attendance through the centuries.

Excited to return to the track we loaded up and raced back toward Athens. As we approached the gate we were waved through and ushered to a special covered parking space. Boy, did we feel special!

We started walking around looking for the couple that we had talked to the night before, racer Mauro Stucki and his lovely wife, Judith. We found them, Mauro in full racing leathers, waiting for his turn on the track on his GSX R1100 Suzuki.

We visited for a couple minutes and then headed to the entrance gate to the track. Seeing all of these famous racers was just fantastic. They would wave before entering the track to have 10 laps of fun. In a line-up of older Ducatis waiting to take the track “Fast” Freddie Spencer lined up in the back on his new factory Honda. He had laped all but two on his first two laps. Then they just played passing each other and having a great time.

After their track time we went over to where Freddie Spencer was and Melanie and I got to chat with him for about 30 minutes. I grew up and rode in Daytona Beach and remember him racing there in the 80’s. He was just a great guy and it was an amazing experience. On top of that, he signed my motorcycle helmet.

We then headed over to the concession tent where the racers and the organizers were selling shirts, hats, photos and other things. The world famous Giacomo Agostini was being interviewed and in a photo session.

From Wikipedia: Giacomo Agostini (born 16 June 1942) is an Italian multi-time world champion Grand Prix motorcycle road racer. Nicknamed Ago, with an absolute record of 122 Grand Prix wins and 15 World Championships titles.Of these, 68 wins and 8 titles came in the 500cc class, the rest in the 350cc class.

The organizer of the event, whom we had spoke to at the hotel, saw us and motioned for me to come up with him and Ago, he wanted him to meet me. I was just beside myself as we both asked questions and chatted. We posed for the photographers and he also was kind enough to sign the other side of my helmet. This old lid will be retired soon and become a treasured conversation piece. As we left and were getting ready to move on the photographer wanted to interview us and take pictures of us with the “Yellow Donkey” as we were leaving. Wow, what a day.

We headed into Athens to a hotel near the ferry port with secure motorcycle parking. The next couple days would be spent exploring Athens before we would catch the ferry toward Turkey.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, adventure travel, Athens Racetrack, Giacomo Agostini, Greece, Horizons Unlimited, motorcycle travel, Suzuki VStrom1000, VStrom | Leave a comment

The Greek Isles, Santorini

Santorini.

So much has been written about this island. It appears as the number one island to visit of the Greek islands in the South Aegean Sea. But with that comes a fee. Increased costs for everything and people in the annoying form of tourists off a cruise ship. The worst ones.

Santorini is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago, which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. The island was the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred about 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash deposits hundreds of metres deep. It may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete, 110 km (68 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis. (wikipedia)

As the ferry pulls into crescent bay you can see why it is so popular. It’s just beautiful! The ferry docks at the base of a sheer cliff, which makes up the inside of the caldera. Riding off the ferry we wait for a couple large trucks to clear the tight serpentine road leading to the top of the cliff. The AirBnB we booked is on the east side of the island with contrasting beaches to the cliffs. This is the original side of the island before the eruption formed the caldera to the west.

We pulled into a small beach village of Kamari and up a side road to our place for the next few nights, the Villa Dioni. The restaurant attached to the villa is Alexanders, named for Alexander the Great, a Macedonian. We are greeted by the owner of Alexanders as we dismount, trying to figure out where to park the bike. He tells us in perfect English that it will be fine right in front of his restaurant. The owner of the villa, his daughter, is out at the moment and to please come in and be his guests for a cup of Greek coffee. We had a wonderful visit with him while waiting for his daughter to return. He invited us to return in the evening to his restaurant to eat, drink and enjoy the Greek music of which he would be part of. Of course we will return in the evening.

Dinner at Alexanders with my Love

The next morning we took off to explore the island. We rode along the top of the caldera along towns with white washed building clinging precariously to the side of the cliff. On the northern most tip of the island is the town of Oia. This is what Santorini is known for. The side of the mountain from the top and spilling down towards the water are whitewashed and blue building. It is an amazing sight with the deep blue of the water in stark contrast to the white. Cruise ships and three and four-masted sailing vessels drift in the water below. Across the water is the other side of the caldera and the rest of the now inactive volcano. There are no roads in this town other than at the top. The inclines are steep and when too steep, stairs. All the way to the bottom. Overweight tourists grumble as they all have to walk to their overpriced accommodations somewhere is the maze of white buildings. Porters carry enormous suitcases stuffed with way too many pairs of shoes and coordinated finery. The problems of the rich.

Panorama looking southwest

We sit and look at the beauty and the watch the tourists complain. On the way back to the beach we pass a brewery, the Santorini Brewing Company. We chat with other Americans there that can’t believe we would actually ride a motorcycle over here. The owners and brewers are also American and the beer is actually very good. On tap are Red Donkey, Crazy Donkey, and Yellow Donkey. We thought this would be a good name for our poor, overburdened V-Strom, so it is duly christened at this point.

Deciding we have seen enough we head back to the hotel and spend another fantastic night at Alexanders eating amazing food and listening to our host and his small band play traditional Greek music. What a night.

The next day we catch the ferry back to Athens for a few day of more exploration before heading to Turkey.

Cheers,

2WANDRRs

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, adventure travel, Europe, Greece, motocamping, motorcycle travel, Suzuki VStrom1000, VStrom | Leave a comment

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