4 Jun

Turkey, originally uploaded by Big Al!.

Left the relative luxury of Greece and set off towards the border, not really sure what the roads would be like or how far we’d get. Dave seemed quite keen on another night in Greece but Alexandroupolis wasn’t the sort of place to hang around, and after a fruitless attempt at finding an internet cafe, we fuelled up for the last time paying with euros and pressed on. Istanbul was going to be too far, but by getting closer we would set ourselves up for a short run to the city and a day and a half off the bikes. The road to the border was smooth and easy going, hardly any traffic but the occasional 120mph loon meant you had to stay alert. It was a dull ride through dull terrain. The greek side was uneventful and the actual border seemed to be a river that was really a bit of a damp patch in the soil, with a bridge over it patrolled by armed soldiers, the first time we’ve seen that sort of thing. The turkish side had signs up saying welcome to turkey, but their idea of welcome was another round of being ripped off for insurance. Once we found the insurance office, after being given the run around for a good ten minutes, we were reasonably pleased to find that it would only cost 4 euros. With the 15 for a tourist visa it still adds up, but it wasn’t as bad as the 50 euro scam in macedonia. A good half hour later, after visiting 7 seperate offices for a visa, insurance and a batch of passport stamps and computer entries, we were through, into another of the weird border areas that are now starting to look quite familiar. Within the first few miles, BP, Shell and Burger King signs helped with the sense of familiarity but them it all started to feel very odd. Wierd little houses all crammed in next to each other yet surrounded by acres of open land. We didn’t know where to find a campsite, thanks to laptop woes meaning no POIs for the satnav and no easy way to use the net, so we rode till we happened to find one and ended up in a fairly nice secluded spot next to the sea, spoiled only by the ants and bitey things. We dined on finest monte negro boil in the bag goulash accompanied by a bottle of cretan wine bought in greece. The wine tasted like battery acid but that made it perfect to go with the goulash. Tomorrow we have to find somewhere to stay that is cheap and secure (for the bikes) and preferably outside the city (riding in strange cities is a nightmare, especially now we have no intercom as mine fell off somewhere unnoticed on the motorway last night). Not sure where that will be and again my broken laptop means i can’t use the info i know i have with me, which is just really irritating, as are the lumpy bits under my tent. Looking forward to a couple of days not spent riding hundreds of miles, and off to sleep with the sound of waves from 10 yards away, with a bit of culture shock and slight unease about what lies ahead, but also a huge sense of satisfaction at having ridden almost to istanbul, and almost into asia.