Archive for european trip

Country roads………..

Posted in european trip, italy, motorcycles, Pisa, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2010 by Bev

The next part of our journey took us thru’ the Umbria region towards Perugia.  It was slow going tho’, alot of slow country roads and at times we seemed as tho’ we were doubling back on ourselves.  The countryside was wonderful tho.  The roads were very busy 🙂

Villages seemed to be built into the mountains

There were hardly any people about and we couldn’t  find a shop, cafe, or bar.  When a supermarket loomed into view I went to get supplies.  I bought, what I thought was melon……

It wasn’t!  Don’t know what it was – he said it tasted like turnip, wasn’t very nice whatever it was!  Found some wildlife tho’

Wonder if he would have liked the turnip/melon……….

More busy roads

After riding for what seemd like days we came across a lake with an open campsite (and a nearby supermarket!) so decided to stay here.

We wondered why all the other “campers” had pitched away from the lake and couldn’t understand why, so we pitched right on the lake side

and went off to get supplies.  We came back with a feast 🙂

and set about eating it all as the sun went down

We soon realised why the other campers had set up further back – we were swarmed by millions of insects and had to take refuge in the (very hot!) tent.   That night i’m sure every bird living on the lake came to investigate our tent – there were all sorts of strange noises going on outside – Ian was snoring his head off and I wasn’t going out there to see what was going on.  I’ll bet these were some of the culprits

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The next day was pretty much the same – tho’ Tuscany this time, on our way to Florence.  Whenever i’ve seen pictures of the Tuscan coutryside it’s always full of sunflowers – not this time of year tho’

We arrived in Florence to a downpour.

Now, lets just say we “parted ways” – one of us went further and this is as far as the “camera” went before returning to the bike!

One of us had a real “moody head on” – and it was touch and go where we were headed next – Pisa or home………..The next hour was spent on the motorway (hmm – not mychoice!)  in silence!  I was glad when the motorway split – left for Pisa, right for Milan – we went left 🙂

Pisa is a lovely town – very compact, alot smaller than I expected.

Very very busy

and of course, it also has this…. I know, cheesy shot!

We went to an outdoor cafe which was attached to a hotel, for something to eat.  Ian went to enquire how much it was for a nights stay – 150 euros!!! Needless to say we didn’t stay here!

We rode up the coast to a town called Viareggio. It was a typical seaside town – lots of posh shops and big hotels along the promenade.  We found a “cheapish” hotel and went for a walk about. NO, we didn’t stay here –  we’re not millionaires!!

We had what was probably the worst meal of our entire trip here (even worse than the lamb bones in Albania!!) – I ordered a chicken parmesan and got what looked (and tasted) like one of those horrible frozen “fake” chicken things that you buy in cheap supermarkets – couldn’t eat it – the waitress was suprised and said it was one of their most popular dishes! Yuck!

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Rome……………

Posted in european trip, italy, motorcycles, Rome, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2010 by Bev

It would have been nice to spend a little longer in Gaetta but we were eager to get to Rome so set off again.  We rode along the coast for a short while then headed inland thru’ the countryside.

We had planned to find a campsite just outside Rome, figuring that any hotel within 60 miles would probably be the price  of a small house, but, after  most being  closed weren’t sure if it would be the same here.  So, when we rode past a lakeside campsite with a big OPEN sign outside, about 20 miles south of Rome we decided to stay here.  As it was now “out of season” we managed to get a little wooden chalet for  2 nights for the cost of a tent pitch.  It was also Ians chance of doing a little sunbathing and getting some laundry done! Oh, and Tiger got  a bath too. 🙂

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It was fun riding into Rome the next day – we had expected it to be alot busier

I should know the names of these buildings – but I don’t!  🙂

aarrggghhh – Look Out!!!! 😉

We soon “found” where all the cars were

We were heading towards the Colosseum and the traffic seemed to thin out again – we weren’t sure whether we would be able to park up near the Colosseum and envisaged a long walk.

Now this one I do know the name of…..

Luckily we managed to find a parking place about 10 minutes walk past the Colosseum – Italy is great for bike parking, and there seemed to be a whole area along the main road dedicated to bikes. We took over 200 photos of Rome and am hard pressed to find just a few to put on here. Less writing, more pictures!!

We went to see about getting tickets to go inside the Colosseum – unfortunately this was the queue

They said about 2 hours.  2 hours queueing in 40 degree heat didn’t really appeal to us………so we didn’t go in! We wandered up past the Forum to that fabulous building that should have a name which we can remember, but never can!  (Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II in the Piazza Venezia)

We set off back towards the  bike, where we had noticed loads of cafes in the side streets on the way up, to get some lunch.

The Arch of Constantine

The Arch of Titus

We found a little restaurant quite near to the bike and sat at a table with a young English couple.  They told us that the previous day they had visisted the Trevi Fountain and he had got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend in front of the crowd.  The Italians loved it and were clapping and “cooing” over them.  She said yes.  We were surprised at the prices of the food as had expected it to be expensive – was very reasonable tho’ for the location.  We got back to the bike and set off for the Trevi Fountain.

We found a parking spot somewhere near here

Trevi  Fountain

Unfortunately there were other people here as well 🙂

We realised the Pantheon was only a short walk from here so set off to find it.

The Obelisk of Montecitorio (Solare obelisk)

If you’re ever wandering around this part of Rome and are in need of a drink – McDonalds does a fab Frappe for 1 euro,  free toilets and  air conditioned – nice to cool down there!!

Macuteo Obelisk

We set off back for the bike and to the Vatican

Yay…..found it………..

I couldn’t believe it – it was SHUT!  Was not pleased 😦

There is so much to see in Rome – couldn’t possibly do it all in a day – my biggest regret of this trip is that we didn’t go back the next day – I really wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica in the Vatican and we also “missed” the Castel Saint’Angelo – oh well, there’s always another time………. 🙂



Buongiorno Italia………….

Posted in european trip, italy, motorcycles, Napoli, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , on January 14, 2010 by Bev

From Bari we headed cross country (the “ankle” part of the boot)  to the west coast, miles and miles of farmland and little villages set in the hills. During “growing” season the countryside would be filled with colour but at this time of year it was pretty barren.

We came acros these strange houses in one village, there wasn’t a soul about so we couldn’t find out what they were used for or go in.  We had forgotten that Italians take a “siesta” from midday until…………whenever they feel like it really!  Nothing is open, except cafes/restaurants, and the towns are like ghost towns.

We found a small restaurant in the mountains and had a fab lunch of traditional Italian home cooking.  I can’t remember what the dishes were but when we had them again at other places they just weren’t the same.

We decided to find a campsite early as we were tired from the ferry and found an area with lots of them.  For some reason they were all closed – it seemed strange that the camping season ended at the end of August.  I wasn’t too bothered tho’!

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The next day we headed up the coast towards Napoli (Naples) and then took a detour to Pompeii.  The roads were fairly quiet until we got to Pompeii…

Hmmm………..is there nowhere that this company isn’t ………..

The ruins of Pompeii with Mt Vesuvius in the background

Yum….food!!

So after filling our pouches it was back to the coast road and Napoli. The roads weren’t so good and we weren’t sure which part we were supposed to be on – best to stay away from the tram lines tho’

Castel Nuovo, (New Castle even tho’  building started in 1266) Napoli.

Riding thru’ Napoli  – from the lack of people and vehicles I reckon it must have been siesta time!

View leaving Napoli

It was a lovely ride along this coastline but the road often went off inland

We came to a lovely town called Gaeta and decided to find somewhere to stay here.

This town was really busy and it took us a really long walk to find a restaurant that wasn’t full.  When we sat down I noticed most of the other diners were having  burgers – so I ordered a burger – Ian didn’t – it was the best burger I have ever tasted! And NO I didn’t give him any!!

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End of week 5 – total mileage: 5155

And so to the Ferry………………..

Posted in european trip, Greece, italy, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on January 4, 2010 by Bev

I can’t remember a great deal about our journey from Athens to Patra from where we were getting the ferry to Italy.  Did we even stop………can’t seem to find any photos either.  If we didn’t stop I’ll bet I was hungry and thirsty!  (and I also would think I wouldn’t be very happy with Ian for not stopping!) I do remember this fabulous bridge tho’

I wanted to go over it but it didn’t go the way we were.

Out initial plan was to take the ferry to Brindisi but when we enquired about sailing times were told there was none till the next day, so instead booked for a sailing to Bari which was in about 2 hours time.  We were shocked also at the price of the ferry, I think they double it for 3 months of the year – why??  it doesn’t cost them any extra to sail in August than it does in April……….and the cabin prices are so ridiculously high – they add another 300 euros on the price!  (we didn’t get  a cabin!!)

I love boats, I would like to have a boat and sail all over in (on?) it.  Ferries are not boats.  They are floating “family hotel complexes”.  I HATE them (more than I hate camping!) People commandeer the “couches” as soon as they set foot on the ferry – they put their feet, luggage, clothes and whatever else they have all over them so nobody else can get on them.  Even tho’ we were pretty much one of the first vehicles on the ferry, we weren’t the first people.   Foot passengers – hundreds of them, and they had pretty much taken up every available “couch”!  The ones who really annoy me, are the ones who book cabins, take their luggage to them and then come and claim their “seating area”  – STAY IN YOUR CABIN  – YOU’VE PAID FOR IT!!!!  We managed to find a table and a couple of chairs near to the TV area – big mistake!  There were kids running around shouting and a group of around 5o Italian pensioners who completely took over.  Why do people speaking in a foreign language always sound louder than those speaking your language??  Anyway, we didn’t get any sleep and arrived in Bari the next morning very tired!

We couldn’t get off the ferry.  We were blocked in by a GS, which Ian stood admiring and I felt like kicking!  We were with all the trucks, it was very hot and the diesel fumes were choking.  It was almost empty when Mr GS arrived.  Ian and he spoke – I just scowled…..

Moaning post over!  😦

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A little bit of history……

Posted in Athens, european trip, Greece, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , , on December 3, 2009 by Bev

This could be a long post!!

Ian didn’t want to go to Athens – said it would be too hot and too busy!  I really, really wanted to go, so we did!  It was great riding into the city as we could see the Acropolis stood  right in front of us.

We had found a Hotel via the GPS which was right in the city, opposite the old Town Hall.  I didn’t hold out much hope from the name, Hotel Economy, but when we got there it seemed ok.  The reception staff couldn’t have been more helpful, but they did raise an eyebrow when I said for one night only.  The lady gave me a map and circled all the main sites  and spent about 10 minutes explaining them all to us.  They told us to park Tiger right outside the front door so they could keep an eye on him.  When we got to the room we were really pleased as we were on the top floor and  had a great view of Lycavitous Hill in the background.  We also realised that there was no way we would see everything in one day so I went and booked another night. Peak season in Athens does not come cheap –  150 Euros for 2 nights………..but it was well worth it!

Tiger was down here, directly below under the canopy

So, off to explore then

Looking at the map, the major sites all seemed to be in one area, so we decided to leave these for the next day and went off to find the Parliament building .  Statues are everywhere

We found it and had just missed the guards changing shift

As is was so  hot we decided to “cool off” in the City Gardens and try to find the original Olympic stadium (Panathinaiko Stadium)  thru’ the gardens, it was alot quieter here and we had a nice walk thru’

Panathinaiko Stadium  was originally built  in 566BC and was rebuilt totally in marble in 329BC .  It is the only major stadium in the world to be built entirely in white  marble.

Just a short way from the stadium is the Zappeion, built in 1888 for the revival of the modern day Olympics and now used as a conference centre.

Just down from here is the Plaka – OK, it’s a tourist trap but it’s fun.  It’s narrow “higgledy piggledy”  streets are lined with shops, restaurants and cafes.  Most of the shops sell the same items and are full of overpriced junk, but there are  a few decent ones.  As in all good Greek (and Turkish) tourist areas the restaurant staff try to pull you in with offers of “freebies”  I think it was the offer of  “free beer” that got us in here!

I can’t remember what we ate – I probably had chicken and Ian something “Greekish” but it was ok.  Trying to leave was another matter.  We asked for the bill and were brought plates of  fruit – melon, grapes, orange – “on the house”  While we were sitting, we listened to the waiters patter, which was always the same ” the lobster is good – special of the day” – yes, and also the most expensive thing on the menu!  We  ate our  fruit and asked again for the bill.  This time we were brought 2 glasses of red wine ( I don’t drink red so Ian had both) Next came 2 shots of Ouzo…….were we ever going to be “allowed” to leave??  I know why they do it – people see a busy restaurant and think it’s good – also we were sat on the end table, right next to the pavement, they like these tables full. We finally got the bill, around 20 Euro, very reasonable for what we had had.

The Plaka sits under the Acropolis and Ian reckoned if we kept this on one side of us (can’t remember which) we couldn’t get lost!

I wasn’t too sure tho’……….

A few night shots – The Tower of the Winds and the Roman Agora

On the way back to the Hotel we passed a Bar which had a football match showing on TV and about 15 people  in it, so went in for a drink (well, not in as it was an outside bar!) On looking around over half of the people were police officers – is the crime rate in Athens so low that the police can sit and watch football while on duty???

When we arrived back at the Hotel the guy on reception called us over and said we should remove all the luggage from Tiger – we had left one pannier and the sleeping bags on.  He said there were tramps round the area and a sleeping bag would be very tempting to them….to be honest if they wanted to go thru’ the hassle of getting the bags off they were welcome to them!  We took them off tho’ to keep the receptionist happy.

Our night view

The plan the next day was to get up early – we didn’t!  Our Hotel was only about 15 minutes walk from the Plaka so we went thru’ here again

past a couple of old churches (the names of which I can’t remember)

It took ages to cross this road to Hadrians Arch – lots of traffic.

I’m not going to write a “history lesson” on every site we visited – this blog will be long enough as it is! 🙂  You can see the size of the Arch tho’ in comparison to me

We had to pay to go into the Temple of  Zeus, we got tickets for 12 Euros which gave us access to, I think, 7 sites.

We were here around Midday – very hot and very bright!  My sunglasses decided at this time to break – so it was back to the Plaka to seek out a pair of “designer fakes”. I picked up a pair of D & G’s for 10 euros (expensive!!) We then found our way to Hadrians Library and the Roman Agora.

I had my first ever Greek Gyros in Athens – I won’t normally eat “kebap” type things but these looked good and were chicken not pork or lamb – very tasty it was too………..what have I been missing all these years……

A couple of shots on the way to the Acropolis

It was quite a long walk up to the top and when we finally got there were boiling!  Why do we buy drinks on the way, to drink when we get to the top,  but finish them on the way up?? There was a little “cafe” type place here so as we had no drink  left bought a couple of iced slushes.  9.5 Euros!!! This is the second “rip off” (after Venice) – but there was nowhere else so we didn’t have much choice.  It was funny sitting listening to people complaining.

The Theatre of Dionysus

View from the top with the Tempe of Zeus in the background

The Propylaea

The Parthenon

View over the city

The Erechtheum

Caryatids Balcony

Entrance to the Temple of Athena Nike (I think!!)

We made our way back down to the Ancient Agora

The Stoa of Attalos

The garden of statues

Statue of the Emperor Hadrian

The Temple of Hephaistos

The Acropolis seen from the Temple

It was a long walk back to our hotel from here – a few shots along the way

After a quick shower and change we were back out.  We were knackered – but not too knackered for a few beers!  🙂

Athens was amazing – as I said Ian hadn’t wanted to go but it turned out to be his favourite city of our tour.  We would love to have stayed longer but the Hotel was a bit expensive, although compared to some of the other European cities we visited, in general the prices were not too bad.  The people are friendly, and as throughout most of Greece, try and speak to you in English.  We will, no doubt, go back there one day………….

Doing this post has driven me mad!!! It keeps locking my laptop up, every letter I type it saves and it won’t put pictures on properly….ggrrrrr  😦

Rainy days in Greece………

Posted in european trip, Greece, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger with tags , , , , on November 13, 2009 by Bev

It was quite sad leaving Turkey.  We love the country and the Turkish people are so friendly (and I suppose we’ll miss Linda and Dave 😀 ), but were happy to be back in Greece.  The first part of the trip was pretty much a mirror of  our previous journey.  DSCF2764

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and then we found these…..

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a Patisserie full of the yummiest looking cakes i’ve ever seen – didn’t know which to pick (he wouldn’t let me have 2 😦 !)

I  was quite glad we had come back the same way as it meant we would be going to Kavala (the town I had liked so much the first time) again.  It was mid afternoon when we arrived and VERY hot!

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We should have stayed here, I told Ian we should stay, but no, he wanted to crack on. And this is what happened

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It started in the mountains and only lasted a short time, but I got absolutely soaked (for some reason, some bright spark  designer decided that my waterproofs were made to wear INSIDE the bike clothes, the jacket is ok outside but the trousers not.  I didn’t really want to strip off in the middle of a thunderstorm in the Greek mountains to put them on!) I also changed colour……. much to the amusement of the petrol station worker where the photo was taken. (was hard to get them clean – toothpaste did the job in the end!)

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We got to Thessalonika and started looking for somewhere to stay.  Thessalonika is very big, very busy and very hot!  After we had rode down the the seafront Ian decided he didn’t want to stay here and was going to look somewhere else.  I was still soggy and felt like I was wearing a wet nappy (not that I know what that really feels like!) so wasn’t too happy with his decision.  For some reason we ended up in a huge industrial park.  It was around 8 o clock and getting dark.  There were also the biggest mosqitos I have ever seen flying all over us – when 2 flew into my helmet I think I lost my temper and a shouting match ensued!  About an hour later we found  a small town – only trouble was it didn’t have a hotel!  We rode around a bit more and by chance saw a large block with Hotel in huge letters on it.  It was in the middle of what seemed like a field and nothing else.  There was also a very unusual  piece of artwork on the ceiling

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The guy on reception told us not to open the balony door as big mosquitos were about – we knew this already!

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The next morning we saw where we were

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It was overcast pretty much the whole day and we rode South towards Volos.

We rode past Mount Olympus but it was shrouded by clouds so no good photos 😦

The sun did eventually come out tho’ and it was a lovely ride thru’ the mountains

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Volos is situated on the East coast about half way down Greece. The Port of Volos services some of the nearby Islands including Skithos and Skopelos.  It’s a very lively town with lots of shops and the seafront full of restaurants and cafes.

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Why do people think grafitti looks good………..such a shame!

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Then…………..

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didn’t last for long tho’ and the sun came back out.  Tiger also found a new friend

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This was going to be our first night back camping since Albania. (seems so long ago) and I wasn’t loking forward to it , but we found a great site somewhere just south of Volos on the coast.

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We sat and watched the sun go down, and had a competition – who could take the best shot 🙂  – he had the better camera, but I think I won!

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but his was ok (well, it did have me on!!)

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When we got back to the tent, a little white cat was hanging about.  Ian soon befriended it, played with it and, big mistake, gave it food!  It was very hot during the night so I had the inner and outer doors unzipped, I couldn’t sleep, he was snoring his head off.  I heard a rustling noise outside and being very brave ,  had a look out.  The stupid cat was in the tent – I didn’t want it in and couldn’t get to sleep with it playing about so woke him up.  No matter how many times we put it out, it kept coming back.  In the end, because I didn’t want it wandering about over me while I slept, we had to zip up the inner door……….still couldn’t sleep as it was like being in an oven!  Told him not to feed any more animals when we camped!

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The next day we rode further south towards Athens.

Heading back……..

Posted in european trip, motorcycles, travel, triumph tiger, Turkey with tags , , , , on November 11, 2009 by Bev

The original plan was to come back thru Turkey via Istanbul.  We decided not to do this (we will have plenty of time to go to Istanbul when we go and live there) so it was back, pretty much the same way we had come.

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back thru Izmir

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to a little seaside town called Ayvalik.  We found a pansyon right on the beach, cheap and cheerful.  The “bathroom” was quite small and Ian had trouble fitting in it!

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There was a TV and satellite receiver – I touched it and nearly flew across the room.  There was obviously some kind of wiring fault as it gave out a shock everytime you touched it.  Didn’t want to watch TV anyway!  The owners dog took a shine to Ians leg, wouldn’t leave him alone – must have some sort of doggy smell about him!

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We walked into town – seemed to be quite a busy Turkish holiday place, not the usual “foreigners” resort, as nothing was in any other language but Turkish – thats the menu behind my head, guess which I went for!!!
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The next day we were heading  back up to Canakkale and the ferry

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When we came to Canakkale on the way here, we missed the “horse”  I really don’t know how – it’s quite large :D.  This was the one used in the Brad Pitt film Troy and was given to the town by the film studio.  I was quite excited by the fact that Brad had touched this horse…….(even tho’ I couldn’t!)

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Canakkale is a lovely town, it’s the nearest major town to Troy,  and we have some time to wander about.

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Ian, as usual, had to have lunch at this cafe, I plumped for one of those things in the cart – not quite sure what they are called but taste good and cost pennies.

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As it was a Sunday, the ferries didn’t seem to be quite so regular but we got one after a few hours – it was full.

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We had remembered a hotel in a town called Kesan which was fairly near the Greek border so headed towards this.

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It was alot better inside than out, even tho’ our air conditioning didn’t work and I was hot 😦  ……….and there was a Burger King across the road!!

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End of week 4  – total miles 4131

It was less than an hours ride to the Greek border the next morning, which we passed thru’ without problem.

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Gule gule, Turkey – see you soon!