Miserable day

Weds. 30th April – 147 miles ( Turkey, Afyon)
What a day! It started gorgeous enough with the most impressive breakfast buffet! There was an incredible amount of stuff to chose from, lots of it not sure what it was so we sampled few things.
As the weather was cloudy we put our waterproofs on and loaded the bikes, it was time to move on.
That’s when Alistair checked my bike and tried to start it. Nothing happended. We tried again, several times, same thing. The light will be on but the bike would not start at all! Not  good.
We started removing the bags to examine the bike again, nothing obvious. It could be the battery ( it was new), the voltage regulator, the starter motor ( new as well)…..
One lad, Kenan, and the receptionist, came out to check on us. After many gestures and using google translate, kenan and Alistair tried to bump start the bike by pushing it on a side quite street. They got it started  but did not solve the problem!
Kenan , whose honda CG125 was parked next to ours, phone a mechanic who arrived quickly. After some time looking at the bike, Alistair and Kenan bump started the bike once again, and Kenan guided Alistair to a workshop, while i waited at reception with the luggage.
About 2 hours laters they were back. Success! This is what happened. The starter motor was completely seized and as a result the Relay ( solenoid) was also broken. The shop next door had a starter motor that fitted the bike! Then the mechanic phoned someone, and 5 minutes later, someone brought a relay, that also fitted my bike! Quite remarkable, or all those little 125 have standard type of parts that can be swapped between models?
Cost fo all this? Parts and labour 90 TL ( about 42 dollars)…. In the UK a Honda starter motor costs at least 130 pounds!
After many thanks and exchange of details,we left, soon after midday. The people there had beenvery helpful   and friendly.
The destination for the day was 250 miles away, still doable….except that, as we kept going the weather turned to storm and it got progressively colder and colder, and the rain and wind was relentless…. We stopped after a while to get some fuel and i added a jumper.
An hour later we stopped again as it was too cold. We were given some tea ( tea and coffee seems to be usually on offer for free at fuel stations!) by a lad in the restaurant near the fuel station. I got my feather jacket on and my under gloves.
As we climbed to 1000m altitude we got even colder and stopped again. Around 3:30 pm we pulled at the usual restaurant sitting next to fuel stations. The staff there told us to come behind the counter near a giant barbecue to warm up our hands. We were totally shivering and could not get warm.
They gave us some tea, and as the kitchen was open, we decided to have a kebab to warm up a bit.
The kebab came with plenty of side dishes and salads and pickled chillis… They seem to love chillis here!
We got the maps out. It was clear we would be able to go very far in that sort of weather. Our gear was wet, the gloves were drenched inside as the water seeped inside from the jacket, and my plastic rain over trousers were leaking…. After drinking more tea brought by the staff, we decided to get to the nearest town, Afyon, which seemed to have plenty of hotels, acccording the the GPS.
So went back under the storm and made the 30 ish miles to Afyon.
We stopped at the first hotel we saw from the side of the road,  and got a room. It was a business hotel / thermal spa. We got all the wet gear hanging from my camping washing line and the placed looked like a gypsy camp with stuff all over the place. One of the panniers was also leaking water and some stuff got wet despite the dry bags! Gear was drying everywhere. Not a good day in total! I expected that at least in Turkey we would have some sunshine, instead this has been the coldest and wettest day so far!
What happened to Spring?

Ferrys to Turkey

Sunday 27th – 5 miles

We went to get some fuel and rode to the ferry terminal by late morning. It was a massive ferry and we got a nice cabine actually, tiny but fine. We had previously bought some food for the 24h trip at a  super market.
Then we went for a beer at one of the ferry’s bar, because that’s what you do on a ferry!
Monday 28th April – 138 miles
We arrived at Patras at 2:30 and we lost another hour to time travel! Another hour forward for our watches!
We managed with a bit of effort, due to no road signs, to find our way out of town and into the main road to Athen and Pirreus. One day it will be a nice motorway, for now it was only dual carriage way with hard shoulders,a nd 70 miles of road work…a lthough we only saw two tiny teams working for all that distance… We did as the locals and got out of the way of very fast cars by riding on the hard shoulder! We eventually found Pirreus and the ferry terminal and ensured a connection to Turkey, via the Island of Chios.
The first fery was leaving at 9 pm so we had time for a stogy gyros.  We then rode to the ferry. This time i could not bother take off the soft panniers. We took few essentials for a shower and left the rest hoping no one will steal our dirty clothes!
We had a “luxury cabin” as duals were all full and we could only have shared same sex ones! For 14 euros more we expected just the same tiny cabin than the ferry before, but with some window? Well, wrong, it was huge! It even had a large bath!
Tuesday 29th April – 117 miles
The ferry was due at Chios at 5am and we ahd a wake up call at 3:45!
We were out by 5 am and we found a coffee open. We crashed there until 7 am. We could not see any other ferry. We eventually made some enquiries and were told to go to the other side of the terminal! Go figure!
Anyway, we found our connecting ferry. It was leaving at 8:30 so we had plenty of time. This ferry was tiny though. Ther was a big struggle, by the crew, to fit a car and a camper van. The camper van very nearly didn’t make it and the driver and passenge were stuck in the van once parked inside the ferry!
The crossing was only 18km so it was done under an hour.
After that we dealt with the passports. We then had to walk to the insurance office, in the town centre to get insurance for the bikes.
All in all it took maybe an hour to get to Cesme:
Once the bikes were released by custom we were on our way for a late brunch. By then it was 11 am and we had been up for hours!
The staff at the border control was really friendly and helpful.
Then it was time to hit the road. We passed Izmir with great difficulty due to lack of map, unreliable Gps and terrible drivers.
Turkish people are reallynice and   friendly, but, like in brazil, they turn into maniacs behind a wheel.
It was a stressful moment. We survived and got out of town and into the road to Ankara ( that we intend to avoid!).
Tired after such a long day we arrived at a little town, found a nice cheap hotel. Sadly none of the hotels we found had parking but we were assured it would be fine to leave the bikes on the pavement.
Time will tell!

Blasting through Europe at 55mph!

Tuesday 22d April – 274 miles

So we packed up and got ready to go, justas  the rain started. Typical! I could have bet weeks ago it would rain on on departure day!
We got to the eurotunnel in good time, it was fairly quite.
On the other side we started having problems with the automated road tolls…. The sensors don’t always detect a bike, or the second one!

At 7 pm we finally arrived, under more rain, to our destination for the day: the beautiful house of my school friend Christine, in Normandy. We had a quiet evening.

Weds. 23rd April – 147 miles
We got up early to say goodbye to Christine who was leaving early and left soon after her. Our second planned stop in France was in Angers, at my brother house. Once again the weather was wet and cold.
We arrived early afternoon and went shopping at the local outdoor shop, for some additional thermal layers with Mimi, my sister in law.
After an evening of too much food an drinks we went to bed late a a bit tipsy!

Thurs 24th April – 361 miles
So far our little bikes have been going incredibly well. The only issue we had was the slow speed,e specially of Alistair’s bike. He could barely push up beyond 55 mph, until we devised a new plan!
Tagging behind a lorry would protect us from the wind and keep up at 55 to 60 mph, sometime even peeking at 65 or 70! Result. So we kept picking trucks to follow!
Despite this game we had a long tiring day, punctuated by fuel stops and rest stops every 60 to 70 miles.

It is also becoming urgent to buy some sheepskins as we end up with very sore bottoms!

We kept having problems with the automated tolls.
By 7 pm we  got off the motorway and found a   nice and cheap hotel. We got the bikes locked in the patio restaurant,and after a quick meal went straight to sleep, exhausted.

Friday 25th april – 300 miles

After a massive breakfast we left alter than planned.
We set off to go round Lyon, but with bad signals and stupid Gps,we  ended up going straight across the town centre, losing over an hour!

After unwillingly visiting Lyon, we got back on the motorway and climbed into the Alps. Beautiful views but very low clouds! We went through the tunnel du Frejus, at 28€ per bike for the pleasure!

We were then in Italy! We passed turin and by end of the day, despite wasting lots of time in Lyon we got near piacenza where we got off the motorway to find a hotel. We found a hotel by a petrol station but the place look deserted. Alistair went to  investigate but it was locked. As we started putting back our helmets an old lady came out. We parked the bikes in an enclosed yard, guarded by 2 very savage looking dogs!

After a quick shower we went to investigate the area and found a pizzeria! Dinner!

Saturday 26th April – 292 miles

We got up early, packed and left.we  rode about a mile before we saw a bakery / coffeeshop and   we stopped for breakfast.

We continued then on the motorway, with the same annoying tolls problems! We saw some other local bikers having the same problems…

As it was saturday, and for once the weather was actually rather sunny, there were lots of stylish italian bikers out for a ride. A big gang of Harley riders passed us. The last one had an open face helmet  and was smoking a huge cigar! Italians!

During one of our stops we discussed wether to get a ferry from Ancona to Patras, or ride further south and   catch a ferry from brindisi. That would mean a further 600 km to do… The choice was simple and we got to Ancona.

We arrived mid afternoon and went straight to the ferry terminal to buy our tickets for the next day.
After that we decided to find a nice little hotel in village by the coast. Without a map that did not go down well and ended up lost in various shopping or industrial zones! After an hour we gave up,cam e back to the town centre and just picked a hotel with garage!

To be continued…..