Tuesday 30th June
Distance travelled today (approx) – 300km.
Refueled the bike in Eceabat, before heading north to Istanbul. The service station attendant offered us a tea but we’d already put our helmets back on so we politely declined and got rolling just after 10:00am. Took the D550 north past Gelibolu (Gallipoli) before veering right and picking up the bumpy D120 back-road to Sarkoy on the coast.
My hope was to pass along the hills called the Tekir Dagi as I’d read that they were the strategic objective of the assault on Gallipoli, and I wasn’t disappointed as the road first ran between the base of the cliffs and the Sea of Marmara, and then it climbed up into the mountains and at times seemed to almost fall off the cliffs into the sea below. Whilst the GPS was telling me that this road was unsealed it was beautifully sealed and an absolute pleasure to ride on.
We passed through a number of sleepy fishing villages before getting into a more coastal holiday region near Tekirdig, and it’s here we joined the dual carriage 110 running toward Istanbul.
I’d intended to stay on the more minor of the major roads but we got sucked onto the main E80 about 20km west of Istanbul and had a roller coaster ride into the this city of 14 million people, most of whom were out driving their cars this afternoon and few if any know how to drive safely. At times I rode down the breakdown lane as this was safer than being on the road, as lane markings mean absolutely fuck-all over here and collecting a motorcycle must score bonus points as some drivers seemed to almost target us deliberately.
The GPS peeled us off the main road and the manic driving abated for a few seconds whilst I was on the off-ramp, before long we were back on another shitmixer of a road, just now we had other things to contend with like trucks being serviced on the road and other obstacles. Again the GPS encouraged me to turn onto a smaller road, and we ended up riding across a confusing array of back streets that defied gravity – they were so steep I couldn’t even contemplate trying to turn the bike up onto them, so I baled out and tried to approach our hotel from another angle.
Finally pulled up outside the hotel as shown by the chequered flag on my GPS, but the hotel name didn’t match up with what we had booked via booking.com that morning and when Karen investigated we found out we were at the wrong address – I’m still learning how to read the way addresses are written here in Turkey. The hotel manager contacted the other property, explained our dilemma (I’d got us lost – just by about 500m – but in this spaghetti road system that’s as good as 500km), and the other hotel kindly cancelled our booking and we lobbed in where I’d pulled up, as quite honestly I’d had enough of the drivers around here and my good nature was wearing a bit thin.
the staff of the Emerald a Hotel helped us carry our gear to our room, and we’ve booked in for three nights – I fought so hard to get here I’m going to stay for a while, plus I need a chance to chill out before I go riding out there again. Parked the bike in a secure, undercover car park across the road, and after a shower and change into our off-bike clothes we walked a few hundred metres up the road to Taksim Square. I recognised this name as it was mentioned in an ABC news article just a few days ago.
Heaps of people were walking around the square – it’s obviously a popular place for both tourists and locals alike. We had a cheap but enjoyable and filling dinner in a restaurant just around the corner from the square, and Karen bought some small Turkish sweets as a ‘thank you’ for the hotel staff who helped us out this afternoon.
We’ve booked onto a 1/2 day walking tour of the ‘Byzantian Relics’ tomorrow morning, and will see some fascinating sights including the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, so check back tomorrow and see how our exploration of Istanbul worked out 🙂