Archive for October, 2009

Welcome to Turkey……..

Posted in european trip, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger, Turkey with tags , , , , on October 30, 2009 by Bev

We weren’t sure what to expect at the Turkish border – we had heard that it takes hours to get thru’.  We knew we needed Visas and also insurance for Tiger, so we joined the fairly short queue at passport control.  When it was our turn the officer said, in perfect English and with a smile, “you need to go to big building to get Visa stamps in passport, just leave the bike in car park” so off we went to “big building”. We were only in there about 10 minutes and came away with our necessary Visas.  We rejoined the queue, this time on foot , and a lady officer called us straight away  and passed us thru passport control.  At the next window we were told to go and get our insurance certificate from 2 guys who had a little desk set up just behind us. After “bartering” for a while with them, they charged us about 8 euros.  It took less than half an hour to finally get into Turkey.  All the officials were very friendly and all spoke English.  Such a refreshing change compared to officials in other countries. 🙂


First stop was to find an ATM to get some lira and a drink.  Turkey may have the most expensive petrol of all the countries we visited but their bottled water (and drinks in general) are a hell of a lot cheaper than anywhere else!  We knew that campsites were going to be few and far between but with hotel/pansyon (guest houses) prices being very reasonable weren’t too worried.

A few months earlier, when the sunflowers were in bloom this would have been a beautiful view.


We found a little village not far from Gallipoli, and a motel with a great sea view.  The rooms were very…………basic!  Our shower was a bucket, at least we had a “proper” toilet and not a hole in the ground type tho!  The family who owned the motel insisted that we eat there, even tho’ there was a restaurant in the village.




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The next day we rode along the coast to Eceabet to get the ferry to Canakkale



Canakkale is on the Asian side of Turkey and getting the ferry here cuts out a long ride via Istanbul.  The feries run frequently and the crossing takes about 20 minutes.



Does the weather know that this is now Asia?? It got about 10 degrees hotter as we left Canakkale and the roads became like ice with their melty tar



The more South we got the more it bacame like a cauldron, with the air hitting you like  a hot hairdryer.  I was tempted to take my bike jacket off, but resisted, not just for the safety aspect but because I had already been stung twice by wasps on my bare hands, hit by a bird on the leg and had numerous stones bounce up and hit me.  Without the jacket it would have hurt!  Plus I would have been like a lobster within the hour.



We found a pansyon just before Izmir – I can’t remember the name of the town, but I do remember there was absolutely nothing there so dinner was a panini from the petrol station!

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We arrived in Izmir quite early so it wasn’t too hot or too busy, but there were these funny bumpy tar roads!



We were glad we got thru the mountains before they melted!  Whenever you stop at a petrol station in Turkey, someone comes running out with a tray of juice or chai (tea) – no charge.  They want to chat with you,  such friendly people.  They find it funny, 2 Brits riding to Turkey in full bike gear and full face helmets!


We finally arrived in Dalaman – they must have known we were coming as they had put the flags out for us.  We also had a bike escort!



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Total mileage 3628

Slipping in Greece……….

Posted in european trip, Greece, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , on October 29, 2009 by Bev

It was starting to get dark as we came into Greece, ahead we kept seeing flashes of lightning and there didn’t seem to be many towns.  After about 40 minutes we came across a little place with a hotel.  It looked a bit expensive, but after over 12 hours riding I had given up the will to live, never mind go any further, so we stopped.  When we went to reception the guy was very interested in where we had been and where we were going – he also offered to order us a takeaway pizza, as there was nowhere open in the town to get some food.  This was probably the best pizza of our tour! He told us there was a town called Kastoria nearby, on a lake and we should take a look there.  The hotel was great – a  real bed!   I needed it for my aching bones!

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We  tried to find Kastoria the next day but couldn’t! This is the first time Mr Garmin has let us down. We had decided that we would go to Athens on the return journey, so headed East across northern Greece.  Unfortunately, there seemed to be only one road across – a bloody motorway!  Everytime we came off it we ended up going back on, no matter where we were.  We tried going into the mountains and down to the coast but always ended up back on this motorway.  It’s possibly new as parts of it weren’t on the GPS, so we went with the flow and blasted along at the 140km speed limit.   I got bored, my ipod died, and I couldn’t take any pics!

A few I did get on our “detours”



After passing Thessaloniki we got off the motorway – hurray – and came to a lovely town called Kavala.  I hadn’t heard of Kavala, but since know it was originally called Neapolis and dates from the 6th century BC.



The town has  a lovely atmosphere and lots of restaurants and bars.  We had a good evening there.  Whenever we left the bike unattended we were never quite sure if we should lock it, remove bags, or what.  Ian usually checked other bikes to see what they did – if the locals lock ’em up, we would do the same.  Here, there were bikes parked all along the pavement, so we asked the guy in the hotel (yes, another hotel!!) where to park – “oh, anywhere you like” was his reply – “nobody bothers” – so we left it on the pavement fully laden – with just the tank bag removed.  When we returned to it the next day – nothing had been touched.

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I really liked this town and wish now we had stayed there another day to have a proper look around it.


We carried on toward Turkey and Ian decided the chain needed adjusting so found somewhere to stop while he adjusted it.


When he finished he asked me to help get it off the centre stand, so I stood on the right hand side.  Now, he can’t wait and as I was going to help him he decided to do it himself and dropped it! Not wanting to have half a ton of Tiger fall on me I jumped backwards and fell  into prickly bushes.  Poor Tiger was on his side.  Ian started running about like a headless chicken – my bike, my bike – panicking as men do and trying to get it back up.   I told him to get the panniers and top box off as there was no way we would be able to lift it otherwise.  I pulled as much stuff off as I could, while he unlocked the luggage.  Thankfully, we then managed to lift him back up and saw there was no real damge – a few scratches on the right hand pannier, but my right side foot peg had totally sheared off.  (I remembered him saying on the first day of our trip about riding without a foot peg if I kept getting on and off using them)




Ian then decided a spanner would suffice as a foot peg until we found someone who could weld it back on . So off we went again with my foot resting on a spanner held on with cable ties.  We soon came to a little town with an assortment of  garages – this man did an excellent job and only charged us 4 euros!


So, it was onwards to Turkey.  We didn’t seem to see alot of Greece but knew we were coming back here on the return journey.


Thru the Balkans………Albania

Posted in Albania, Balkans, european trip, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , , on October 27, 2009 by Bev

Ian must be frightened of Linda……….he wouldn’t phone her to say we weren’t coming to Turkey, so begrudgingly he agreed to ride thru’ Albania.  I stopped sulking 🙂

We then had to go back the direction we had come and past the Skadarsko lake – half of which is actually in Albania


and inland thru’ the mountains to the capital city – Podgorica


We rode around Podgorica about 3 times trying to find an ATM as we didn’t know how much they were going to charge us at the Border.  Eventually we found one


The border area was fairly quiet, we weren’t quite sure where to go for visas, insurance and whatever else we needed and nobody seemed to understand English.  Eventually I just said , well let’s just go thru the border control and see what they say.  So we did. They stamped our passport and waved us on!  Nothing to pay – no visa – no insurance!


Ian was worried about this and was convinced that the first police patrol we saw were going to stop us and ask for documents. We never saw any.  We knew about one of the few (only?) campsites in Albania from the internet.  It is run by a Dutch couple and is just outside of Shkoder. Most of the roads are ok, there were a few “dodgy” ones,  and there are various different types of traffic on them 🙂





Everybody waved as we passed by – in the villages the children all run alongside shouting hello – they maybe don’t see many motorbikes, especially Tigers from England! This is Shkoder and the Rozafa Castle in the background



We found the campsite easily enough – it wasn’t very busy, but we had some nice neighbours:)




The couple who ran the campsite very kindly cooked us a meal of sausage and chips – which was well received!  They also told us there were no problems with police stopping you or with border officials, they said it was alot of scaremongering done by people who didn’t want Albania to have tourism.  Seems a shame really that the country has this reputation – it sort of reminded me of Turkey 15 years ago and will probably become more popular in years to come (is this such a good thing???) Anyway, when we left the next morning Ian was feeling more relaxed – I however left with 31 mosquito bites – and that was only on my lower legs!

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Riding towards Tirana I hadn’t really seen any “food” places where I would be able to get something “non foreign” (no McDonalds, KFC etc…..) so when we eventually stopped at a place in the mountains I was trying to plead “non hunger”. We had noticed on the way in a half  side of “something” turning on a spit.  We asked the guy for a menu – “no menu” – so asked what they had “lamb or cold meat” Ian then asked what the cold meat was “lamb”  – Obviously!  So lamb it was, for him then.  I had a plate of french fries! He had a plate of ……….bones!!! Looking around, everybody had a plate of bones too – so he got stuck in!

Some of the roads were busy, others not so






I love the brightly painted blocks of flats


I began to think the Ian was on some kind of mission – he was!  To my annoyance he said he wanted to be in Greece before dark, he was worried about the bike as we had no insurance and didn’t know where we would stay.  I wanted to go along the coast – he wouldn’t – made some excuse about the roads there being bad – I didn’t believe him – but as he was riding and not me, it was his choice 😦



It was about 8.00pm when we reached the border, and fairly quiet.  We got thru passport control without a problem and then saw this guy waving a piece of paper at us.  I knew we didn’t have anything that looked like that, so fumbled around in the bag for a few minutes, chatting away and smiling at him all the while.  I found our V5 (vehicle registration document) and handed it to him saying this is what you need – he looked at it, looked at us, mumbled something in Albanian and waved us away!  I still don’t know what we were supposed to have, whether he was finishing his shift and couldn’t be bothered with a couple of English people who he didn’t understand or whether he was in a good mood and letting us thru, and I don’t really care!  So, to anybody that asks – no, Albania is not a problem, you don’t have to pay a fortune to get in and out and you don’t get stopped by the police.  They need to do something about them bones tho’!

Coming into Greece was not so good.


Thru’ the Balkans……..Croatia/Montenegro

Posted in Balkans, european trip, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by Bev

It was  quite a “flat” ride from Venice into Slovenia and I began to miss the mountains 😦

It was also very hot.  I haven’t mentioned Tiger  lately – he was still doing well, still comfortable and no problems (apart from Ian’s constant “messing about” with the chain!) We weren’t covering great distances in miles but some days were sat for long hours on the bike as we still weren’t using motorways.   Mr Garmin hadn’t got us lost and was proving invaluable, not only for directions but also for finding camp sites, fuel stations and other such points of interest.

We only briefly “touched” Slovenia.  We rode along the coast,but it was so busy that the only place we were able to stop was here


Not the best view in the world!  So it was down into Croatia.

My first thoughts on entering Croatia were “yuck”!


The first 15 minutes was industrialised and high rise buildings, but I soon changed my mind.  The scenery was fantastic and the sea so blue.



Up until now I hadn’t had a problem with food (i’m a very fussy eater) and had been able to understand the menus fairly easily – I sort of thought I might have a problem in Croatia.  Anyway,the country  seemed to be full of pizzerias so that suited me fine 🙂


We found a campsite, right next to the sea and went for a walk about.


and found a bar


I ordered a sandwich – cheese and tomato – and knowing the European penchant for mayonaise specifically said to the waitress “no mayo, ketchup or any other sauce”.  What came can only be described as “road kill lookalike” – a half baguette filled with cheese and possibly half a bottle of tomato ketchup!  The ketchup was everywhere.  I don’t like to complain,  so spent 10 minutes with a pile of serviettes wiping off the ketchup.  Of course, I got told off and when I went to take a photo of my “sandwich” was told “don’t dare show yourself up anymore by taking photos”!  I forced it down 😦

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We didn’t realise how big a country Croatia is and soon realised it was going to take about 3 days to get thru’



There were no shortage of campsites, at very reasonable prices. The Croatian people are very friendly, they don’t all speak very good English but you can generally make youself understood.  We had heard of people being “ripped off” in Croatia but we went with open minds and, though we did get charged for a plate of extra  fries at one place we had no problems.  The roads are very good and the drivers quite courteous.





We ventured into Split – but not for long, too busy, too many cars!


It was in Croatia that I decided I didn’t like camping!  It was too hot in the tent and I couldn’t sleep.  One night, even tho’ it was blowing like a typhoon, and we wondered whether the tent would take off, it was just not blowing into the tent and it felt like a sauna.  I had to keep the door unziped and risk “creatures” coming in!


Ian never had a “sleep” problem tho’


Croatia was probably more expensive than we expected, but all in all we enjoyed it and were looking forward to the other Balkan countries.



One of the “not so good” roads






Montengro is very similair to Croatia – just smaller and cheaper!  We weren’t sure of their currency, so when Ian went to buy some drinks with only Euros in his pocket, we didn’t know if we were going to get any.  He came back with 4 bottles telling me “he had all these and change from 2 euros” and that Montenegro had used the Euro for years. We had decided to stay in a hotel today as I was getting fed up camping!  We only actually passed 2 campsites and these were both on the lake side and looked fab!



We stopped at the town of Budva and found a lovely hotel.


and even treated ourselves to a meal in a resraurant


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End of 2nd week – total miles 2268

Budva is the type of town where you would take a weeks package holiday – full of hotels and shops, and alongside the beach lots of restaurants, bars and market stalls.  It was “nice” but one night was probably enough for us!


The next morning Ian went down with the luggage and I thought he was taking a long time so went to see where he was. I was greeted with “that’s it, we’re not going to Albania”.  He had been talking to a biker who had previously been there and had been fined hundreds of euros at the border and had also been fined by the police numerous times during “spot checks”  He had told Ian we could either  get a ferry from Bar in Montenegro to Igoumenista in Greece or to ride thru Serbia and  Macedonia and into Greece that way.  I didn’t really want to go the Serbia route (this also involved Kosova).   A Romanian guy had overheard and told us we would have no problems in Albania but there was no way he would go thru Serbia???? What to do??  The ferry seemed the best option.  By the way the biker was Serbian!

So, off to Bar then.



We arrived at Bar and found the ferry booking offices


I went in to enquire about ferries to Greece and was told ” no, ony ferries to Italy”!  This was not good – I knew Ian wouldn’t get a ferry to Italy and then another one from Italy to Greece and there was “no way” he was riding thru’ Albania so I had a brainwave!  When I told him about the ferry his reply was “that’ s it then, end of the journey – looks like we’re going to Italy”  So my brainwave was put into operation – I SULKED…….. and also told him he had to phone Linda and tell her we wouldn’t be coming to Turkey………

Water, water, everywhere……

Posted in european trip, italy, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , , on October 25, 2009 by Bev

I woke up with a bad head today!  He said it was the wine – I said it was his constant talking was finally getting to me………….anyway, no time to be ill!

We planned to stay in Lake Garda another day, to go to the  town and then for a “short” 90 mile  ride round the lake.  We were staying in Riva del Gado which is at the northern end of the lake.




It’s a pretty place, fairly touristy but not too crowded.  The northern end is mountainous.  We soon realised that our short 90 mile ride was going to take nearly the whole day.  The traffice was slow and the main road went thru’ every town .  The weather also began to change


We stopped for a drink in this little town


and when we got back to the bike the heavens opened.  It was like a tropical storm – the drains couldn’t cope with it and within 15 minutes the roads were flooded.  And then it stopped………and started…….and stopped……it went on like this pretty much all the way round – we were wet and dry so many times and also didn’t get many photos 😦


When we arrived back at the campsite it was flooded.  Luckily our little tent was dry!


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As we were preparing to leave the next day we got chatting to the English couple who’s pitch we were sharing, Sally and Dan, they invited us to stay with them if we were passing thru’ Nice – and we exchanged phone numbers. Our next destination was Venice for another 2 day stay.

The weather had changed completely – and we rode thru’ more lovely scenery, again avoiding the motorways.



more mountains


and some great trees! 🙂


This was the first day I started to get hot on the back of the bike.  Once we had left the mountains behind I got a bit bored and wondered about what would happen if I accientally fell asleep!  Hmmm…. suppose I’d better stay awake then!

We found a campsite about 10 minutes outside of Venice called Camping Jolly!  Seemed to be very popular with young backpackers and had lots of facilities including a “disco” 😦  – we found a pitch well away from this!!   As we were lying in our tent later this evening we heard a  vehicle pull up in the pitch behind us.  We got out and saw a large campervan reversing into the space – but it didn’t seem as if it was going to stop.  I yelled at the driver to stop when he got a few feet away from Tiger but he seemed to not realise we were there until Ian shouted again at him.  We could have been “crushed by camper” had we not got out!


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The site ran a bus service into Venice for 4 euros return so we decided to take the bus rather than the bike and had booked the first one at 9.00. I went to Venice over 20 years ago and loved it.  Its a beautiful city but August is probably the worst (busiest) time to go.


View from Rialto Bridge:


The first bus back was at 7pm so we have almost 10 hours to walk around Venice.  I took almost 150 photos 🙂 – obviously I can’t put them all on!  How to pick the best……

It got very hot today – first day for the suncream!  The little side streets were lovely and cool and alot quieter than St Marks Square, which was absolutely heaving


It was also extremely expensive.  We stopped at a little cafe for a drink – 10.5 euros for a capuccino and coke!  Makes me think……if NOBODY paid these prices they would have to lower them………..wouldn’t they??

So on that, we walked down a few side streets and found a cheaper alternative!


A few random shots





When we got to here, we realised Ians directional antennae was faulty – we were at the total opposite end from where we had to catch the bus from!


He did “pretend” to know which way to go, but I knew he was lost!


So, a long walk back the right way then!


We got to the bus with about 10 minutes to spare – when we saw the bike park, we were glad we hadn’t riden into Venice!


Italians sure do like their bikes and scooters!

Ian got a “treat” the next day! (no, NOT that sort of treat!!) We were packing up and chatting to the Australian couple next to us, who were busy making pancakes, when an attractive young lady emerged from the tent behind them, stretched a few times, looked at us, smiled, and then realised she had not a stitch of clothing on!  She grabbed at a scrap of material from inside the tent, but it wasn’t enough to cover her, she then proceeded to “pack” away wearing just this. Every man nearby suddenly emerged from their respective “accomodation”  I don’t think Ian had helped to pack away so much previouly or did he again, and the Australian guy certainly cooked a fair few pancakes!  SORRY NO PHOTOS!!!!

It takes 4 hours on the map………..

Posted in european trip, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by Bev

Ian had read about the Stelvio Pass in the Italian Alps so wanted to ride it.  A heavily laden, 2 up, Triumph Tiger may not be the best mode of transport to tackle the 48 hairpin bends (would sure have been much more fun on one of Ian’s old bikes  – a GSX R 1000) but after a slow start he soon got into it and I  started to  get some shots



Snowy at the top!


As it was a Saturday afternoon the Italian racer boys were out in force and we watched as they were going round bends with not just their knees but their hand on the ground.  Oh, to be young  with no sense of danger……….  We were also amazed at the amount of  pedal cyclists riding up – a 2760 metre high ride up a twisty road full of motorbikes and cars would not be my idea of fun!(I would probably have a heart attack before I got to the first bend!!)  And coming  back down…..




At some point of the descent I got “told off”.  As any pillion knows, it’s hard not to slide forward when coming down a steep road if you have no grab rail to hold and are trying to take photos!  I was then told I was responsible for the rear brake pads wearing down as he had to keep braking for me!  Hmmph, I think I was expected to get off and walk!


Haha – no I didn’t get off – this was somebody else waiting.

After this is was mountain pass after mountain pass and into Switzerland.



This is St Moritz, and Ian decided we would get something to eat!  Now St Moritz has to be the most expensive place in the world – I thought it would be, he had never heard of it!  It was – we didn’t!  We left.

It was from here that my route map had said 4 hours to Lake Garda (I remembered this) so we thought if we cracked on we would be there before dark…………



Once you get in these mountains, you can’t get out!  There don’t seem to be any straight thru’ roads, they all wind their way up and down the mountains, some of them are really slow.  We soon realised it was going to take a lot longer than 4 hours so looked for a camp site when we got back into Italy.

We found one with a view of a waterfall in a place called Chiavenna.



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The next day was more of the same – mountains


and vineyards


and little towns


We eventually arrived at Lake Garda, alot more than 4 hours later,  and found a campsite.  The receptionist told us there was only one pitch available and to go and look at it. We found the “pitch” – a small triangle which “housed” 2 boats and a French registered car.   After debating whether or not we were in the right place, we decided we were and it was going to be too much hassle to explain to the people who had parked here that this should be our pitch we were set to leave.  A woman then came up to us and asked us, in English, what the problem was.  We explained and she told us it was her car and she would move it but  if we wanted we could put our tent up on their pitch and park the bike next to the car.  (the boat owner was still unknown) We did this and it turned out she was English and was living with her partner in Nice, France and they were on a touring holiday too.  The site had a well stocked shop so we bought ourselves some goodies and a couple of bottles of wine and went and sat with the swans on the lake!



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End of our first week – 1444 miles.