LOG ENTRY 12
ODOMETER: 5630 km – 6150 km
Kerman – Bam - Zahedan
Riding through sandstorms in the Eastern part of Iran to reach our last city Zahedan. Driving through the earthquake devastated city of Bam.
After the demanding day yesterday we decided to leave very early and try to cover as much from the way to Zahedan as possible. Zahedan will be our last city to stay in Iran and we plan to cross over to Pakistan tomorrow morning.
Even thought we left Kerman early, about 7 in the morning about an hour later the temperature was already in the super uncomfortably hot zone again. We planned to do a pit stop and possibly a siesta between 10 am and 2 pm in the afternoon but we started to realize that it is impossible as nothing really on the way. By 9 am the wind started to blow and the 50+ degree Celsius, dry wind gusts with millions of sand grain became our biggest problem. Those mean sand grains always found a spot to hit our skin, no matter how covered up, somehow there was a little gap here and there, between the sleeve of the jacket and the gloves or on the tip of our nose or where the goggles met the face mask.
On the way to Zahedan
Another massive and could have been costly mistake was our water supplies. As we rushed out from Kerman all we had left is the leftover water from yesterday. We thought that Kerman must have a big service station in the end of the city as usually the case but we didn’t find any. At some point we had to stop in the middle of nowhere and find shelter from the strong sand storm next to the bike. At least we had some tomatoes which we could munch on.
The planned lunch stop at Bam didn’t go too well either but at least we found some snacks and water. Bam is a small town which is famous for the earthquake happened here in 2003. Signs of the earthquake which left almost 30,000 people dead are still visible with lots of ruins around and the construction site all over the surrounding area. Knowing what happened here and seen all the devastation, even after one and a half year later made us very sad.
Bam, still some ruins visible
After leaving Bam we still had more than half of the way to cover in the periodically arriving sand storms but we managed to drive more or less without any issues.
As we are approaching Pakistan the landscape really started to be hostile. Less and less villages almost zero vegetation or any sorts of life in fact. Iran was very colorful and friendly up until Naein but after that it started to be browner and hotter.
After arriving to Zahedan we managed to find accommodation fairly quickly which we were happy about as many people came to ask money and the situation was similar to the one last night in Kerman, with the crowd following us. Next to our hostel we found an internet café so we managed to chat with Mom which we haven’t done in the past good few days.
I only can hope that we won’t have any issues at the border tomorrow.
LOG ENTRY 11
ODOMETER: 5055 km – 5630 km
Naein – Yazd – Kerman
The warmest day so far with 52 degrees Celsius, a very friendly Iranian guys improvised Yazd trip and knife waving teenagers in Kerman.
Me and the volunteer tour guide
Mosque in Yazd
After a nice breakfast we are sad to leave Naein. I keep debating myself whether I like Naein or Istanbul more. Istanbul is a very buzzing and interesting city but Naein is the kind of place what you imagine while reading One thousand and one nights. I could definitely live in Istanbul, it would be great fun but if I need a real relaxing Persian hideaway Naein would be my first choice.
As we left Naein the temperature started to rise and before 11 am it was already over 45 degrees Celsius. When you are riding in a temperature lower than your own body temperature the wind gives you some sort of cooling, even if the difference is just only a few degrees. However, when the air is over 10 degrees warmer than you it feels like riding into an oven. Wherever we had a tiny bit of uncovered skin the sun burned it instantly and thousands of tiny sand grains melted in our skin.
The best we could do is to stick a house inside our clothes, get ourselves as wet as possible and enjoy the ride, for about 10 minutes. To be honest we done this only twice, once today and once a day before, there aren’t just stray hoses with cold water around the desert.
Just before Yazd we found a big truck stop for some rest and another surprise waited for us here. As soon as we stopped a group of truckers jumped us with fruits and food. One brought grapes another brought some poppy soup with ice and the usual bananas, oranges and tea. We always think that local hospitality can’t show anything new but day by day some new surprise welcome us.
Yazd is a fairly big city but we felt it was less chaotic than smaller Iranian cities before. We stopped at the main mosque of the city and a local guy with his daughter right away offered to take us around. He was very friendly and kept telling stories about the mosque and his family. He invited us to his home but sadly we had a long way to cover if we want to reach Pakistan in the next few days.
The last few hundred kilometers before Kerman was a nightmare, the temperature just didn’t go down and we got tired very quickly. No wonder that we were a bit edgy when arrived to Kerman. Kerman was nothing like Yazd or Naein. It looked a bit worn and dirty. I don’t mean to offend anyone who is reading this from Kerman and probably our tiredness helped me form the not so good picture too. As we were trying to find accommodation we got into some sort of trouble. A group of teenagers came to us and asked for dollars. It wasn’t bothering us as we could easily speed up and leave them but whichever hotel we stopped they turned up after us. After about two hours of searching and hassling with the knife waving teenagers we found a place to stay for 30 dollars. Well deserved cold shower is on its way.
LOG ENTRY: 10
ODOMETER: 4774 km - 5055 km
Natanz - Naein
Passing Iran's most famous nuclear facility and spending the afternoon in the dreamy looking small city of Naein.
Natanz, where the famous Fuel Enrichment Plant is.
The night with the Mosque guard was rather scary. Dad woke up numerous times for movements. Of course it was only us who slept, the guard had to be awake and throughout the night people come and go, talk, check out the bikes, basically constant movements and talking which kind of scared us at some point.
Imagine when you open your eyes and a group with AK 47s standing next to your bed, drinking tea and smoking shisha. Of course nothing happened and they had no bad intentions but it was scary.
Paykan, Iranian made car
We woke p with the first shines of the sun and had a quick breakfast, tea and some sort of smoke with the guards and left. The road from here started to be very straight with fewer villages or anything basically. After about an hour we passed the Natanz Nuclear Hard Fuel Enrichment Plant which we heard a lot about in the news in the past years.
Our money problem is solved finally. We found a bank in Kashan which is allowed to exchange foreign currency for rial and we got 3 times better rate than at the border.
From here on villages were 80-90 kilometers apart and the midday heat was unbearable. The highest temperature we measured was 52 degrees Celsius.
Our room in Naein
The hotel from the outside
We arrived to Naein in the early afternoon and had no plans to stay here but the city was dreamy. Small but with wide open streets, palm trees and Old Persian buildings without the usual crowd around.
After lunch, which was probably the best meal we had in Iran we decided to look around in Naein. Accidently we ran into a motel which again was quite unique, at least amongst the motels we seen before. This one cost about 30 USD, not the cheapest ever place but we got a family suit for that with 2 separate rooms, a living room and closed, indoor parking space.
Today is already the third day without shower and the second without proper sleep so as we got our room, the big plans for sightseeing vanished, at least for Dad, he passed out on the bed instantly after shower. I guess it has something to do with age and the sleepless night.
I decided to wander around town a bit, bought some fruits. To be honest I secretly hoped to find some shop with ice cold beer but no luck this time. It is still good though, eating cold grapes and watching the Paykans –Iranian made car- passing by and listening the afternoon praying from a not very far distance.
ODOMETER: 3938 km – 4774 km
Tabriz -Tehran-Qum near Mashkat
Arriving at Tehran and finding the Hungarian embassy with a help of Muhammad but refused entry. Running out of money and spending the night next to a Mosque with the armed guards.
Today’s goal is to reach Tehran. As it turned out, there is a reason we had to exchange money at the border. There is only one bank in Iran which changes US dollars to rial and today is the start of a four days bank holiday so without that exchange at the border we would have ended up without any rials for four days. Even thought we had 300,000 rials it is quiet unlikely that we would last 4 days on it so we decided to go all the way down to Tehran and try to change some money at the Hungarian embassy.
After the problems we had yesterday today has already changed our opinion about everything here. The people are extremely friendly and helpful, even more so than in Turkey. As we drive by cars people keep offering us goodies such as bananas or oranges.
Luckily the petrol is dirt cheap so we don’t need to worry about that and every time we stop somewhere we get food offered to us.
Hungarian embassy, Tehran
We arrived to Tehran at around 2 pm and stopped right before the city to look for the embassy on the map. We hardly climbed off from the bike a Peugeot pulled over and a middle aged very friendly guy started to talk to us in French. As neither of us speak French and it was obvious that we have no clue he switched to German and then to English asking about our destination. It turned that he is a university professor. We explained him that we are heading to the embassy. He then called up some information line to ask the address for us and as the embassy was on the other side of the city he insisted that he must take us there. We tried to politely refuse the offer as the embassy was really far away and we didn’t want to trouble him but he insisted.
Since we left Istanbul we hardly see any big city, even thought we passed Ankara it was nothing like Tehran. This city is just huge with such an impressive highway system. After about an hour driving we finally arrived to the embassy. Our new friend and self proclaimed guide Muhammad told the guards that we are from Hungary and asked them to call in so we can speak to the embassy staff.
Naively we thought that they will welcome us or at least help us. We were wrong. The Hungarian lady on the other end told us that today we missed the opening hours and they will be open again in 4 days then hang up the phone.
Muhammad got extremely angry that we couldn’t get in so he called the lady again –we have no idea what he said to her- and eventually they let us in.
The Hungarian embassy in Tehran is huge. Back in the 70s and 80s there was a bubbling trade between Iran and Hungary but since the fall of the Berlin Wall not much trade going on, let alone tourism.
Finally after waiting for about 30 minutes someone came to see us. It turned out that he is the consul and he is in charge of the embassy now as the ambassador is out of the country. We talked about an hour, telling him about our trip and the money situation we are in right now. He told us that we are in trouble us our money won’t be enough for a hotel room in Tehran and going further south crossing the dessert is not a good idea either due to the summer heat waves which can reach over 50 degrees.
I asked him whether it is possible to exchange so dollars or euros for rials but he pointed out the fact that the embassy is not a bank and why we even have such an idea. At this point Dad wanted to leave but I tried something else. I noticed that the embassy is on a huge land with swimming pool and a nice backyard. I asked the consul whether we could set up our tent there, not for a long time just for the night as it was already 4 pm in the afternoon. He said it is only possible with the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hungary which could take weeks. Nice try Tommy, at least he gave us 2 bottles of water, saying that we will need this later on.
We came to a situation to decide, spend our money on the cheapest hotel room or continue driving further to the south-southeast. We decided to use the money on fuel and ended up leaving Tehran after just a few hours.
As we left the city the food offering started again. We stopped at a big gas station right outside of Tehran and as we already expected the local truckers came to us with all sorts of food. It was comforting to know that at least we can rely on locals if we can’t rely on our countryman at the embassy.
We reached Qum around 8-9 pm and started to look for a place where we could put up our tent. As we drove through the city more and more local teens started to drive with us, within minutes we had a crowd of about 70 motorcycles driving alongside which drove the police’s attention to us. We’ve stopped by a group of policeman and surrounded by the crowd as well. As friendly they were the situation felt a little bit chaotic at this point so we decided to head out of the city as no matter which way we drove that 70 bikes followed us.
We drove eastward until about 11:30 pm when we seen a Mosque brightens up the dark night. We had a few attempts to just drive off the road and camp at some distance away from the highway but eventually decided that our best bet is just to camp next to a Mosque.
Abdulah and Ali, 2 of the Mosque guards
As we drove closer to the Mosque, armed guards stopped us but they really surprised when they see the two dirty and tired white rider. We explained that we would like to set up our tent here but they insisted to stay with them in their resting place not far, right next to a creek. We accepted our new friend’s –Abdullah, Ali, Mosen and Said- offer and followed them tho their quarters.
As soon as we arrived there they started to prepare some dinner and called their friends over to check us out and the bikes. It was about 1 am when we finally went to sleep, again, in the 1000 star hotel, under the magical Persian night sky.
LOG ENTRY: 8
Odometer: 3575 km - 3938 km
A day of disappointments on both side of the border with shady exchange rates, four hours at the border and an Iranian visa limitation but arrived to Tabriz for dinner.
Today was a day of disappointments. We decided to leave the hotel as early as possible. The endless lines of semi trailers before the border scared us and we expected a lengthy border crossing. We were talked about it earlier that as we go further to the East border crossing will be harder.
As we are checking out from the hotel they told us that the room rate was increased since last night. We were like, yeah right but couldn’t argue with the unfriendly and quite hostile receptionist. We decided that the hassle doesn’t worth the time we are wasting and after all he had our passports. After paying we headed to the border crossing.
The crossing was chaotic and very crowded, soon as we put down the standers a Turkish guy came to us and offered his services to get us through the border without any waiting time, he even produced his ID card as a border officer but today was his day off according to him. I know it wasn’t the smartest idea but we accepted his help as we really didn’t want to stack at the border for too long.
Surprisingly he was very efficient and gets us through faster than we expected for 10 USD.
The Iranian side was a bit less chaotic but still crowded. We had no problem with the passport control, got our stamps sorted pretty easily. We have applied for the Iranian visa months ago in Vienna so we really didn’t expect problems with that. Our only concerns were the bikes.
Before we left Hungary we went to the National Automobile Association and informed them about our trip. Exact itinerary, times, countries you name it. We wanted to make sure that all our paper works are sorted before we leave Budapest.
When we entered Turkey the custom officers asked about some papers, some custom declaration which we must have to enter but they quickly looked over the fact that we don’t have it. We didn’t pay much attention to it until entering Iran.
As we got cleared of immigration we exchanged dollars to rial, the Iranian currency. Not as we really wanted but exchanging money can be difficult here and the custom officers told us that we must get rials before leaving the border. So we did, 100 USD for 300,000 rials.
Next step is the custom clearance. This wasn’t as easy as the immigration. They have asked us to produce some sort of custom declaration again, just as they did ask when we entered Turkey. We showed them all the papers what the FIA NAA in Hungary gave us but there was some other paper they really wanted to see.
Since we didn’t have that paper we ended up staying for the next 4 hours at the custom office and we had to pay 200 dollars. As we couldn’t show them the paper they wanted, they also took our passports, re-stamped it. Our 30 days single entry visa has been changed to an 8 days single entry.
Damn it, what a blow. Of course we had to pay an extra 20 dollars for the re-stamping and extra 5000 rials for the tea we drank in the office.
I never seen Dad smoking before but today he did. Oh well, we better get used to this.
Old Mercedes truck
After leaving the border the landscape started to change, the quality of the road was unreal, even in European standards it was very good. The fuel cost only 1 dollar for 10 liters.
I love all sorts of vehicles; let it be train, airplane, cars or trucks if it’s moving I like it. The first thing I noticed on the Iranian roads are the old but very well kept Mercedes semi trailers, the old ones with the elongated nose. I really enjoy overtaking them as this model was one of my favorite from the old Nat Geo African documentaries.
Late afternoon we reached Tabriz but decided to camp outside of the city as some truck driver told us that we can find very nice campsites outside of the city which we did. It was even free with many locals staying there in tents.
What surprised me after the first bad impression at the border is that Iranian people are very friendly. Someone is waving at us from every second car and whenever we stopped for gas or just for a rest, truck drivers came to us and offered some fresh fruits or water. Just like the Turkish, they seem to love Hungarians and surprisingly all of them can relate something to Hungary.
The campsite as I said was very decent and it turned out to be free. I suspect it was a public park with toilets and shower facility but we asked and not one or two locals said that we can camp here as they do the same too. Surprisingly there was a shop selling beers as well which we quickly bought some, wrapped them in paper –so no one can see we are having alcoholic drinks- and found a nice spot to drink them. Funny enough we ended up buying the most expensive alcohol free beers. Oh well, looking forward for the next one week in Iran.
Odometer: 3067 km - 3575 km
Last day riding in Turkey through lots of military check points. Meeting with two pairs of cyclist and a constant rain and hail storm in the afternoon.
After a lovely and rather wet night -we had to consume some amount of vodka and whiskey for medical reasons- we had to say good bye to our lovely hosts and head towards Iran. The way to Erzurum is more and more started to resemble my imagined picture of the Middle East.
The villages we pass looked poorer as we advanced towards East. Flat and dried out prairie replaced the nice hilly area and the temperature rose.
We planned the first oil change for today; it has been 3000 kilometers passed since we left Hungary. First we thought we made a mistake not doing it in Erzincan as it seemed like we will even have problem finding a gas station, let alone a shop to buy motor oil.
As we are getting closer to Iran and Iraq, military checkpoints started to pop up. Not just a simple checkpoint we experienced earlier with a few police officers and the regular free tea. These checkpoints were serious with armored vehicles and tanks pointing their barrels towards the road.
Finally after one of this checkpoint we spotted a small garage with a fairly big stock of motor oils, they even had matching oil filters which really surprised us. After changing the oil, the owner –as we already very used to- invited us for a tea and let his staff wash our bikes in the main time. He even gave us free shoe shine for our boots. I will really miss this Turkish hospitality and only hope Iran will be just as Turkey.
Today we met two couples, both of them on a bicycle trip. First an Australia couple travelling from London to Sydney and another French couple on the way to Beijing from Paris. We only talked to them briefly, asked whether they need anything as there wasn’t a single village for the past 100 something kilometers. As we passed them about 25-30 kilometers we spotted a sheep farm and decided to take some pictures when two huge Kangal dog started to run at us. We barely could drive away from them. Kangal is a large bodied Turkish breed, almost the size of our bikes. Dear reader, please excuse us for not taking a picture of these beasts. Nevertheless I can’t stop thinking about those couples; I hope they passed the dogs safely.
A lovely Australia couple on the way to Sydney from London
As the afternoon caught up with us Mother Nature decided to make us work for our goal, reaching the Iranian border.
First the wind started to blow with very strong side gusts and then the raining begins. It was so abrupt that by the time we got on our raingear I felt the wetness on my underwear. Oh well, my first shower since Istanbul so I can’t really complain.
The raining sometimes late afternoon turned into a hailstorm. Without any building or shed or any kind of protection we had to get keep going with the small pieces of ices playing an orchestra on our helmets.
Trucks waiting to cross over to Iran
About 8- 10 kilometers before reaching the border, trucks and semi trailers started to appear in long lines. First only one lane and then later on in two and three lanes with the drivers having their dinner next to their 18 wheelers.
By this time Little Ararat or Mount Sis was dominating the horizon. Turkey’s 6th highest mountain looked gracefully as the sun disappeared behind it.
Surprisingly we found a very decent hotel on the Turkish side of the border. For about 5 dollars we finally had the privilege to sleep in a bed, dry up our clothes and take a hot shower. It doesn’t sound very challenging not to sleep in a bed for a week or don’t shower for 3 days, we done triple the amount of that in our previous trips but after a few hundred kilometers in a cold rain and hailstorm I really think we deserve some luxury.
Little Ararat (Mt. Sis) from our hotel window
Log entry; 6
Odometer: 2355 km - 3067 km
Leaving Ankara after the night spent in the 1000 star hotel, crossing inland Turkey and driving through the North Anatolian mountains
Waking up in the morning with the sun and the smell of gasoline is exactly what a biker needs for a good day. I feel it was such a luck not finding the camping last night and sleeping on the roof of the gas station. Although last night we parted from a bottle of whiskey, shared it with the guys working at the gas station, in return they throw a little dinner party from us. Nothing really fancy, just whatever they eat normally with some picked fruits from the bushes around. Since there was no shower facility around the station we got the right adventure smell by the morning which I don't mind at all.
After the morning tea (for free of course) we decided to go and look around in Ankara. The city is nothing like Istanbul. I haven't felt any magical connection between me and her like I felt in Istanbul. The city is built on many small hills, similar to Rome with fairly small traffic in the morning and pretty chilled temperature.
After an hour we decided to skip any further sightseeing and head towards Iran. Our destination for the day is Sivas, the city on the Anatolian mountain range. The road to Sivas was pretty busy. Lots of trucks use this highway on the way to Iran. About halfway to Sivas we encountered continuous roadworks which caused immense amount of dust. I was actually pretty happy about it, imagined myself racing on a Dakar, overtaking big trucks in dust clouds, it was fun. Especially when we reached the mountains and this "struggle" according to Dad is took place on a curvy, hilly road over 2000 meters high.
We arrived to Sivas early afternoon and started to look for some accommodation. After about half an hour we decided to move further up the mountains as we couldn't find anything apart from hotels. Oh god, why don't we use Lonely Planet. The landscape after Sivas became even more hilly. Some of the peaks around here are way over 3000 meters and we are riding over 2000 meters above the sea level. We can feel this high elevation on our own skin, as the sun goes down the temperature is started to drop and we ended up digging out our winter jackets to solve the rather nippy situation.
About 250 kilometers after Sivas we have arrived to Erzincan. Luckily we found an English speaking local on a pushbike just outside of the city who told us to go pass the city and we will find a creek where we can set up our tent. Sounds great we thought and headed right out of the city. The guy was right about the creek. It was a great looking little creek and guess what, there was a camping as well. I think we were the first visitors this year but nevertheless the owner and his son was very friendly. They offered us to stay there for free, eat for free and drink for free. The owner, Kazim Akpolat turned out to be a returned migrant who spent many years in Germany and visited Hungary many times. God, feels like everybody in this country has some sort of connection to my beloved Hungary.
Elevation around Erzincan
Mr Kazim's camping
Mondial 250 mct
It turned out that Mr Kazim's son is an enthusiast biker. He was telling us stories about his adventures around Anatolia, and in the middle, mountainous regions of Turkey. He offered his Mondial 250 mct for a test drive but as the local alcohol, got in our heads and the long day ahead us tomorrow we decided to decline his offer and get some rest.
LOG ENTRY: 5
Odometer: 1830 km - 2355 km
Crossing over to Asia on the Bosphorus bridge and heading towards Ankara. We experienced some problems finding campsite so ended up sleeping on a petrol station's roof.
After spending a great day in Istanbul today we have to say good bye to this great city. I am the kind of person who fell in love very easily, whether it is a great looking girl, a new dirt bike or a fun hobby (nothing is more fun than riding) I can fall in love with it instantly.
Well, Istanbul is the great example. I took her only one day to move in my heart. Since we left Hungary I kept pushing dad to go faster and cover more distance as I am chasing my dream to cross the red dessert in Australia with kangaroos jumping around me and spend the night next to a billabong.
The Bosphorus Bridge from Europe
Today we decided to break camp early and beat the morning traffic in Istanbul but we managed to mock around quite a bit so we ended up in the worst morning traffic so far. After fighting our way through the sea of angry morning commuters we arrived to the Bosphorus Bridge. This mighty structure which was completed in 1973 connects Europe and Asia on its and a half kilometers long asphalt stretch.
I have been thinking for a while how to celebrate this trans continental crossing and finally I decided to send a text message to my friend on the middle of the bridge.
"Hello Tibi, I started to write this txt from Europe but I am already halfway through the bridge and hey.. hello from Asia"
The landscape in the first few hundred kilometers in Asia wasn't as appealing as I thought it will be. Long straight stretches of highways with great resting areas and dried out fields.
Waking up in the 1000 star hotel
We arrived to Ankara in the late afternoon and headed to the only campsite indicated on our map. One thing I have to point out here. We didn't use any GPS throughout our trip and only started to use travel books like Lonely Planet from India. So our Cartographia map indicated one campsite in Ankara which we found, well, we found the location but no campsite to be seen. We asked the locals about it and the same thing was told to us over and over again, "There is no camping in Ankara". We thought it is impossible as our map was pretty accurate so far. As the night approached, we called up the Hungarian embassy where we got the same information, no campsite.
To solve this riddle, we stopped at a petrol station to figure out what to do. At the station there was a rather good looking and friendly young lady, about my age, early twenties. She introduced herself as the owner of the gas station -inherited it from her parents- and she is more than happy if we stay there.
It sounded rather weird but after she sent her staff to pick fruits for us and make some dinner, we decided to stay there overnight. Nevertheless, it was a great decision. We parked the bikes inside the gas station's shop and slept on the roof of the gas station. Well, what more a budget rider can expect than a 1000 star hotel.
LOG ENTRY: 4
ODOMETER: 1720 km - 1830 km
One day sightseeing and rest in Istanbul with some good fiesta feeling, lots of city riding, getting lost and making some new Turkish friends in the city of two continents.
Inside Hagia Sophia
Today is the first day that we decided not to go any further but look around in Istanbul and spend the day with sightseeing. I still have the buzz in me and all I want is to ride further and further but it would be a sin to miss out Istanbul. Thinking back now we should have spent at least 3-4 days in this beautiful city.
I am very mesmerized with Turkey actually. This country gave me something new what no other country did before. I have been around quite a few African countries and most parts of Europe but this amazing mixture of East and West spiced up with Muslim traditions and extremely friendly locals instantly made Turkey one of my favorite country. Talking about friendliness, we do a large part of history with the Turks. Hungarians fought against the Ottoman empire for generations and we had been occupied for over 150 years by them. Inevitably we share not just a part of our history but also lots of linguistic and cultural elements. After only 2 days in Turkey we are already used to people giving us fruits, free teas or just a few good words after they found out that we are from Madzsaristan, as they call Hungary.
Riding in Istanbul is great, nothing like in over regulated Europe. Here you can horn, overtake, turn, stop, speed or basically whatever you want and surprisingly the traffic is flowing, not jammed, or at least not for us. The only thing you have to make sure -heard from locals- that when you are in an accident, your vehicle's front should be ahead of the other one as the vehicle behind is always in the fault. I don't know, we haven't seen many accidents and luckily haven't been involved in one either.
The day quickly went buy and even thought we planned to squeeze all the wonders of the city in our very time constrained sight seeing trip, a few places left out. We still manage to visit Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi palace, the main bazaar and the Golden Horn. Whether we made the bad decision to leave next day and leave the other 100's of sights unexplored will remain a mystery for now but the riding bug was already getting it's way, pushing us towards Ankara, the capitol city. We spent the late afternoon with some more fiesta on the beach nearby our campsite, listening stories from locals and mentally preparing our self to leave the European continent and cross over to Asia, which little we know about yet.
LOG ENTRY: 3
ODOMETER: 1299 km - 1720 km
Leaving Burgas in the morning, crossing over to Turkey and continue riding all the way down to Istanbul.
First kilometers in Turkey
The first night we spent in the tent was quiet uneventful. We planned a rather short day today, only about 400-450 kilometers to Istanbul. Our campsite in Burgas was a small camping with a private beach. However it was nothing like the Sunshine coast on the other end of the city where we originally planned to stay. In the previous blog entry I’ve mentioned that I am from Burgas. It is partially true as my parents had a lovely vacation there exactly nine months before I was born. The exact place of this holy event however turned into a German built mega hotel so thes chances for my mission to lie on the holy grass of the Sunshine coast camping quickly vanished. Nevertheless, our campsite of the other end of the city was just as great for about $5 per tent with some local families camping there too.
Meeting with other bikers at the Turkish border
The way from Burgas to the Turkish border in the morning was fairly good, nothing like the way from the Friendship bridge to Burgas. Sometimes we felt yesterday that the giant holes on the road are left there as an obstacle for NATO tanks if the West every decided to invade Bulgaria. As we reached the border we met an American couple, travelling around the world from San Francisco on a fairly similar route as us.
The one hour process to cross the border felt like an eternity, little we know that this one hour border crossing will be the fastest for the coming year. After paying the visa on arrival fee the Turkish custom officers were asking for an extra document. We suspected that it is just about some extra money and after some negotiation they let us enter Turkey so we forget about it quickly. Of course the question for that mysterious paper will come back again and again later on at every border crossing. Going for the extra mile, the gas station attendant guiding the cows off from the highway
The highway to Istanbul was amazing, even better quality than we have back in Hungary. This, the pretty mediterranean landscape and the hospitality of the locals quickly get Turkey in a special place in our heart. Everything was so relaxed, we were shocked when stray cows crossed the highway at the petrol station or when we ordered the cheapest food on the menu which was kebab and the waiter kept bringing more and more meat, of course for no surcharge.
We arrived to Istanbul in the late afternoon which was a major mistake. We learned after that arriving into a huge and unknown city during afternoon rush hours aren’t the way to go. Still it only took as two hours to find a very nice camping near the sea, sorry readers, we are beach obsessed riders.