On the Harley – Touring Turkey Part 1

A couple of years ago we rode the Harley from London to Turkey.  I have covered the places we got to elsewhere, but I have never written about the road and the road experience.  It seems a good time to do this.

We entered Turkey from Greece.  This involved lots of paperwork at the border and back and forth to various officials.  It seems that the first official wrote the registration as LAO7TZX and the next as LA07TZX.  It does not look very different, the letter and the number but it made a big difference to computer systems.  Eventually it was sorted and we were on our way but in need of some fuel.  Next time I will fill up in Greece, the price of petrol came as a shock.

The first stage, to Canakkale was pretty straightforward, the road uneventful.  What I did notice is that the traffic was better behaved, more considerate and a great deal more sane than that I encountered in Greece.  The road was not particularly inspiring for much of the way, it got prettier around Gelibolu, and we made it to Ecebat for the short ferry trip across the Dardanelles to Canakkale without incident.  We’ve stayed in Cankkale several times but after having arrived on the bus.  Hilary managed to book a  room without a bathroom out of sheer failure to notice that the room had no bathroom but it had off-street parking for the bike.

We left Canakkale the following morning, so Canakkale was my first time riding in an urban environment in Turkey.  This was probably a kind introduction to urban traffic compared to the likes of Istanbul or Izmir.  We made it to the highway and headed south, stopping briefly at Troy, which we had visited before but is hard to pass without stopping.  The destination was Babakkale, a small village and the westernmost point of Asia.  At Ezine we left the highway, we had to stop to ask directions, a local shopkeeper helped us on our way.  The whole town is full of cheese shops.  It is famous for Tulum.  The narrower twisting country roads were on the whole pretty good most of the way, the last few miles were less fun, large patches of loose gravel, broken tarmac, and at times spectacular views which I did not get to really appreciate due to concentrating on the road.  Riding on gravel with a cliff to one side dropping to the sea is good for concentration and not for admiring the views.

Babakale is downright stunning.  Again, we had visited before.  There is a castle.  There is a view.  There are calamari – Probably the best calamari in the world.  That is Babakale.

The following morning we found we had a flat rear tire.  There was a wedding the previous evening and it appeared there was some high spirits.  A helpful local brought out a hand pump and we were soon on our way.   We followed the coast, with some spectacular views  across the Agean to Lesbos, passing through Behramkale (Assos) and staying on the coast road.  There was a foal on the road in one village, we passed it really slowly and with the throttle closed, but it still startled, presumably used to local bikes, but not to the sound of a big v twin.  In other villages we encountered chickens on the road, ducks, sheep and the occasional goat, all of which have more sense than horses.  A bit further on we found a really nice beachside place for a late brunch before once again joining the highway, destination Bergama.

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