Turkey: The Black Sea Coast, Istanbul and Gallipoli
Where East meets West! In Turkey we rode along the Black Sea coastline, hung out with fellow travellers in Trabzon, got motion sickness from too many corners around Amasra, serviced our bikes, camped in some sweet spots, got stuck in Istanbul traffic for hours and explored the Gallipoli battlefields.
In Trabzon we got in contact with some Turkish motorcycle riders whom we had met on the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. One of the riders, Sedat, is the manager of his family's hotel and he generously put us up for a few nights. This was no normal hotel! It had a rock climbing wall and Sedat’s vintage BMW collection in the foyer. Being an adventure traveller himself, Sedat often hosts fellow motorbike and cyclist travellers. We had some good times with the other adventure travelling guests; creating bubbles and wacky night-time photography with Julie, climbing with Janine, breakfast with Emese and Hannah and taking Gianni for his first motorcycle ride.
Having racked up 24,000 kms our bikes were due for a service. We ordered some oil from Istanbul with help from Mehmet and when it arrived we completed the service on the driveway of the hotel overlooking the sea.
Thanks again Sedat and Mehmet for your hospitality. We hope to be able to return the favour when you make it to Australia for your next motorcycle adventure.
After a full day of riding we made it to Sinop on the Black Sea Coast. We found a nice cove just east of the city centre and once all the tourists cleared out we set up camp. A local Turk gave us his firewood as he left so we enjoyed our first fire in a while. Todd, with his newly learned night-time photography skills (Cheers Julia), took advantage of the nice scenery and took some magnificent dusk shots.
On route to Istanbul we had our first experience on the autobahn. The KLRs are revving hard at about 110km/hr and cars burned past us so fast it was like we were standing still. At one point a Lamborghini went past in a blur. Passing trucks and slower cars was quite dangerous – you really had to check you mirrors for fast moving traffic that approached so quickly.
Due to recent terrorist attacks there were police checkpoints at major toll stations and some streets had been strategically closed. This caused traffic chaos and we were caught up right in the middle. We crawled for hours, completely boxed in. Even on bikes we could not escape. During the jam a car lightly bumped into Todd's bike and a bus driver next to us noticed our Iran flag stickers on our panniers and gave us a bunch of lollies. We arrived at our hostel at 10pm. The place did not meet our expectations so we managed to find a sweet last minute deal at a nearby four star hotel.
We got our “tourist on” and spent a full day enjoying the sights. Being peak season the major sights were completely packed – the queue for the Palace was ridiculous! It was interesting the Hagia Sophia, which is approximately 1000 years older than most of the mosques and madrassas we saw in Uzbekistan, yet so modern looking. Truly an architectural wonder!
After Istanbul we made tracks for Gallipoli. We arrived around lunch and spent the afternoon exploring the coves and battlefields up the escarpment. We met two fellow Australian’s, Frank and his wife, who are travelling around Europe in their Queensland plated 75 Series Landcruiser.
At dusk we made camp on the northern shore of Anzac Cove. It was a privilege to be in such sacred place. The tragic losses and sacrifices made here by the ANZACs won’t be forgotten. Waking up at dawn with the sun rising over the ridge sent a tingle down the spine.