More than 32 million tourists visit each year beautiful Turkey, with its rich history, beautiful beaches and very friendly people. The majority of the tourists are visiting Turkey by plain, but we visited our Asian neighbor with our own motorbikes. We visit one of the seven classic wonders of the world, two wonders of nature and various UNESCO objects. Above all, we enjoy a great motorbike roadtrip.
After the necessary preparations we drive to Venice in Italy, where we park the motorbikes on a large ferry wo will bring us in 26 hours to Greece. To save costs we decide to sleep on the deck and build a primitive sleepingbunker between two lifeboats under a bright but cold sky. The next morning we enjoy breakfast with tasty Greek souvlaki in a warm morning sun and in the evening we arrive fresh and relaxed in Igoumenitsa Greece. From here we drive in two days over the Pindos Mountains and the Rhodope Mountains to the Turkey border in eastern Greece where our Turkey adventure begins.
The bordercheck is one from a old history book. Because Turkey is not a member of the EU, the motorbikes must separately be cleared by Customs. Seven desks with all friendly cheerful border guards are sending us each time from one to an other desk and after almost one hour running and waiting, we finally are ready to enter Turkey. An Italian motorcyclist warned us that the border police in Turkey is very strict, so when we accidentally did overtake a police car on the wrong site of the road, we did expect our first trafic ticket. Instead of a trafic ticket the policeman puts his thumb up and shouts: "Nice bike, I love Holland".
Over a beautiful coastal road through the hills, we drive to our first UNESCO World Heritage: The Trojan Horse Park. The story from Greek mythology is beautiful, but the replica horse in the park is realy ugly. Completly made with new wood and new material, the hors looks like bought direcly from a modern hardware store. In the nearby town of Canakkale there is an more authentic Trojan horse on the boulevard. Made with old wood and old ropes, this horse looks much more like the old ancient version. This Canakkale horse was used in 2004 in the Warner Bros film "Troy" and is perfectly recreated with old ropes and logs. When you don´t need to see the ruins of Troy, a visit to Canakkale is undoubtedly a better choice than the official Trojan park.
The hilly coastal road through the Samsun Dagi mountains, heading to Kusadasi, let us forget Troy. The highest point of this mountain range is only 1265 meters, but even at sea level on the coast, it feels like riding high in the Alps. The composition of sand and rocks, the hard sea breeze and temperatures mostly above 40°C, makes a beautiful raw and dry moonscape. This moonscape area is also used as a military training ground and on every mountain you see beautiful wide offroad tracks. Our all-road motorbikes are actually screaming for an offroad trip, but due to time limits we continue and place this nice offroad-site on our todo list.
With a record temperature of 44°C we reach Kusadasi, where we put our suspension in the offroad mode. The tarmac in this city is due to the high temperatures and heavy traffic completly broken, so sometimes you get more holes and stones then on a offroad track. Kusadasi itself is a nice beach resort and a great base for our next destination. Just 20 km away is one of the 7 official classic world wonders, the Temple of Artemis at the UNESCO site Ephesus. From the temple itself is not much left, but Ephesus is one of the few sites that really can impress. Not just a few old stones but a complete city with streets, libraries, bath houses and even brothels, dating from a period long before our era. Even if you are not intrested in the old history, Ephesus is realy impressive to visit.
Further inland to the east the road gets better and we put our suspension back to normal. The tarmac feels perfect and taking curves is again big fun, until we are catched in a police speed trap. The police officiers don't speak German or English but we get help through an interpreter on the phone. It is clear that we have driven 15 km too fast and that the ticket must be paid in cash. They are so kind to give us only one ticket, and with hands and feet they make clear that they appriciate our long visit to Turkey. Along with the ticket we also get a handful of cherries and the agreement that they will watch our travel movies on our website Lifeisjoy.nl.
If we cross a ridge into the Menderes valley we already see our next destination 40 km ahead. On the other side of the valley sunlight is reflected on a bright white mountain in a completly green valley. Thismiracle of nature is called Pamukkale and has been created by constantly flowing hot springs, filled with calcium carbonate also known as lime. We park our bikes in the reception of a warm hospitable familie hotel and climb 350 meters uphill, barefoot through 37°C warm running water. Everywhere on the mountain you see white terraces and large white water basins, which contrast beautifully with the green nature and the blue sky. The water is already flowing non-stop for thousands of years and is truly a magnificent wonder of nature.
Further inland we are suprised by everywhere brand new tarmac roads with almost no traffic. A local Turk tells us that this is due to President Abdullah Gül, who gave the infrastructure the highest priority after his election in 2007. The reason for this priority is the accessibility of large undisturbed areas with mineral resources such as oil, iron and minerals. During our ride we indeed regularly see rocks with all the colors of the rainbow, which confirm the presence of iron. The bright yellow and purple colored stone glaciers on the mountain peaks around Eskisehir, shows also the richdom of this area.
Near Eskisehir we enjoy the beautiful landscapes and large mountains. Broad valleys comparable with the USA Grand Canyon and high mountain peaks as we know from the Italian Dolomites. The bright yellow and purple colored stone and the many glistening marble glaciers give this area, despite its ruggedness, a magical feeling. The town Eskisehir itself with its beautiful center, hammams (baths) and terraces, is a perfect base for touring and is also perfectly accessible from Istanbul or Ankara. Eskisehir was a surprise for us, but no doubt a must vist for every visitor of Turkey.
About 400 km further inland we find an other miracle of nature, namely Cappadocia. Here the landscape is formed by tuff cones and large caves caused by the eruptions of the volcano-Dagi. The winding roads located between the tuff cones are heading from village to village, where most of the caves now have been replaced by homes of ordinary brick. The caves are created due to many years of erosion after the volcanic eruptions. The soft limestone under the harder lava layer is simply worn away by wind and rain, giving large caves. These resulting caves were cool and were widely used as homes, until in 1985 it became a protected UNESCO World Heritage.
We close the Turkish part of this motorcycle journey in Istanbul. With the crossing of the Bosphorus leaving the Asia continent behind and returning to the European part of Turkey. The ride through the old city (Sultanahmet) is even for motorcyclists time-consuming. Cars are literally driving bumper to bumper and there are fights for every inch of tarmac. In the city we admire many beautiful buildings and are ending at the large Topkapi palace from the Ottoman period. Here is again clear that the former Constantinople always has been important for the ancient Silk Road route and in the 21st century the new Istanbul is still very important between East and West. Turkey is a mix of culture and nature and a amazing nice country for motorbikers: Amazing Turkey!
*) Hotels and hostels are everywhere, and vary between 25 € and 100 € per room for 2 persons.
*) Petrol is widely available and about 10% more expensive than in the Netherlands.
*) Best travel time spring or autumn, summer is also fine but very warm.
*) All possible motorbikes are in Istanbul and along the coast easy to rent.
*) From Venice Italy you arrive in 26 hours by ferry in Igoumenitsa Greece.
*) Turkey in 1923 switched to the Latin alphabet making it easy to read traffic signs and street names.
*) However, there are still older Turks (before 1940) who only know the Arabic script.
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