Posted from Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey.
Well I really shouldn’t have moaned earlier because it turned warm as soon as we arrived in Bulgaria, and now we’re in Istanbul it’s too hot.
So, how’s the week gone?
Firstly, the countries have flown by. It rained as far as Höchberg (near Wurzburg) in Germany. Well, more of a constant downpour. Fortunately for me I was cocooned in an oversuit. Kevin wasn’t and just got soaked.
Since then it’s been dry, so the riding’s been more pleasant. But it’s been demanding because of the bikes’ cruising speed of about 85kph, with the average a fair bit lower due to fuel and drink stops. This has meant we’ve had longer days than we anticipated – our planned mileages were an average of 350 a day through to Istanbul to get the European leg over as quickly as possible.
Sunday 15th July
We saw quite a few rallyers on this, our longest ride of all at 716kms. This was because we were so wet we stopped on Saturday night at a hotel as soon as we left the Tunnel in Calais rather than press on to Brussels. Our eventual arrival at Hotel Lamm in Höchberg (near Wurzburg) in Germany was brightened by the receptionist taking all our soaked clothes and washing them for us, returning them to us lovely and dry during our most welcome dinner. (Note: this trip is turning into a bit of a gastrotour, but this will no doubt change further on when we’re reduced to yak burgers and steamed goat’s head).
Monday 16th July
This saw our first breakdown, but it was easily fixed despite having to deal with it on the hard shoulder of the German autobahn! Well Kevin did, I just stayed well away on the other side of the crash barrier as I wasn’t keen on ending my days crushed under some errant juggernaut’s wheels. Our overnight stay was in the Hotel Stoffbauer, just outside Graz in Austria. 612kms
Tuesday 17th July
We only met two rallyers today. I’m guessing most of them are further east or in front of us. Had our second breakdown (this time with Kevin’s bike) which was due to the same fuel filter problem as my bike had. Took an hour to fix and with everything else going on we finally arrived at our (Soviet-style) hotel, the Orašac, in Belgrade in the dark (which we also had trouble finding). 591kms
Wednesday 18th July
A boring day, ploughing on down endless motorways, but the highlight for me was the humbling experience of meeting a random English geezer at a motorway service station in Bulgaria. He was riding his pushbike from London to Afghanistan for some reason which we never determined! He’d got as far as Bulgaria in only three weeks. When we set off after him a few minutes later, we saw him pulled over by the police, probably for cycling on the hard shoulder! Our accommodation was Hotel Diana, just outside Plovdiv in Bulgaria. Great value at £40 for the two of us for dinner, bed and breakfast. 537kms
Thursday 19th July
Arrived in Turkey, but only after a 1½ hour border crossing. They even x-rayed my bike, why, God alone knows. Still, just over the border I stopped at a petrol station to wait for Kevin who had messed up his paperwork and had been sent back by border control. He turned up 10 minutes later and the attendants made us both welcome with Turkish tea and chatted with us about our trip. It was only after the most horrendous traffic through Istanbul that we arrived at out hotel, the Suadiye, where we met our lovely hosts, Enver and Glenice Battaloglu. A welcome relief and a lovely evening relaxing after our first leg. 452kms
Friday 20th July
Our day off was spent sightseeing in the old city, after getting some oil for the bikes. They had used slightly more than expected and we hadn’t brought enough with us to last the trip, bearing in mind that past Turkey high performance bike oil would be impossible to find. Dinner again with Enver and Glenice, who have been the epitome of kindness during our stopover.
Oil consumption – 1 litre between us
Fuel consumption – about 90mpg
Maximum distance in one day – 716kms
Items lost by Kevin – 1 Gerbing heated clothing controller, 1 aluminium water bottle, 1 neck buff, 1 watch (later found), 1 bungee, 1 roll-on deodorant. Don’t mind the rest, but the deodorant loss has been a real blow.