After our nerve-wracking ride into Istanbul a few days earlier – right into the centre to Taksim Square – we were both keen to have an early departure to try and avoid some of the traffic on our way out.
We were awake around 4:00am, and had the bike loaded and on the road by 5:00am, just as the sky was starting to lighten with the first rays of the false dawn. We crossed the Bospheros Bridge almost completely alone, and could look to the right and see the full moon between the clouds and the bridge stays.
To put some distance between us and Istanbul we stayed on the E80 and made good time towards Golcuk, where we refuelled but couldn’t get a coffee or snack as it wasn’t yet 7am and the adjoining cafe/market was still closed. The servo operator offered us both a glass of Turkish tea however, and we enjoyed sipping that down as we had a short rest.
We pushed on for another hour and then stopped at a cafe that had customers seated outside, enjoying some sticky treats for breakfast, and a hot coffee for me.
Our interim destination for the day was to meet up with another Horizons Unlimited member – Bora Eris – at his tyre shop in Bandirma. Bora has arranged for a pair of new Continental TKC80’s to be waiting for us in Trabzon, and so it was a good opportunity for us to pop in and have a chat on our way through to Canakkale, our evening destination.
Bora and his staff made us very welcome in his shop, and we had a long and pleasant chat – not only about riding and tyres, but Bora spoke to us about his family history – showing us photographs of his father, grand-father and great grand-father, and a special medal his grand-father had received, and also showing us photos of his young daughters and his farm, as he discussed farming techniques he uses for his wheat crop. Bora attended a superbike training school in Istanbul a few years ago so we also chatted about riding techniques – both for racetracks and off-road, all between cups of Turkish tea.
After our long conversation and a few photos we bade Bora farewell and had a quick lunch in town before rejoining the E90 towards Canakkule. By the time we reached Canakkule we’d clocked up 505km for the day, and we were both tired from the early start and the long, uninspiring ride. We had considered stopping a little short but none of the smaller villages we passed through appeared to have a hotel nearby, and by overnighting in Canakkule that would place us just 25km away from the ancient ruins of Troy – our first destination for tomorrow.
We had pinpointed a couple of cheap hotels in Canakkale that offered bike parking via booking.com the previous day, and so we rode to the first place on our list but their bike parking was just the road verge outside, so we looped around the cobble-stoned block again and pulled up at the Hotel Helen Park where we could park in their secure car park off the road.
With the bike unloaded we had a stroll along the foreshore and saw the Trojan Horse used in the making of the 2004 movie ‘Troy’. We stopped in at a little Italian pasta place for dinner but walked out again without ordering when we found out that they offered almost nothing that was featured on their menu. A pleasant stroll through some of the backstreets led us to a small diner where we enjoyed a simple but tasty dinner. After our long day of riding it was then back to our hotel for sleep as we were both knackered from our day.