Category Archives: Bike

In which we lose our camera… (and other disasters) Though the trip was a lot of fun.

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Towards the end of June, during Bayram, we went to Greece again.  This was a rather mixed adventure. We did, of course, have a wonderful time, but a couple of not very good things happened.

The first day we rode up to Cannakale. A longish ride but, once we got past Izmir, a pleasant one. There’s a really great place right above Assos where we stopped for tea and to admire the view.  Canakkale itself was, as ever, a lively and interesting place to spend an evening. Come morning we headed for the border. There were a load of cars parked up in a sort of queue but we just rode past them. It was very hot and there was a longish wait to get across the border but, really, no hassle. Though being stuck in very hot sunshine for an hour or so was not all that pleasant. Other travelers reported waiting eight hours or more at that crossing so we were lucky.  Once over the border we had a smooth run to Loutra near the Evros Valley and Alexandropolis. Our hotel room was overlooked by a huge tree occupied by a large colony of Spanish sparrows who were a constant source of entertainment.

Dadia-vulturesThe village has three hotels and one restaurant (semi-attached to our hotel). We took several walks around the area seeing bee eaters and a whole load of different raptors, although it was not really the best time of year for birding in the area. We rode over to Dadia forest and walked up to the hide for viewing the vultures. Got some wonderful photos. On our last night, we gave some mosquito repellent to some fellow guests which, somehow or other, led to several bottles of wine, ouzo, cheese and dancing till the early hours.

 

Next morning we headed to Chalkidiki where we had arranged to meet up with some friends from the UK. We had booked a hotel in Afitos which is absolutely lovely.  OK, it’s a holiday resort and totally geared up for tourists, but that has distinct advantages. We found a bar with a wonderful view…

We met up with our friends and had a very good lunch and a long natter. Then it was off to Kerkini.

Well, we love Kerkini. We met up with Vassilis who is an expert on the local wildlife. His nickname is Πελικανος. We took a boat trip with him in the early morning out to the drowned forest and where the pelicans are. We took lots of wonderful photos. We went to where he told us the bee eaters were.  You can see Ashley searching for the bee eaters in the picture below.  We took lots of wonderful photos. We went out to where he told us the rollers were. We didn’t see rollers but…. On the way home we had a luggage malfunction and lost the DSLR. And all the photos. Except the ones I took on the pocket camera.  Which is why there are no high quality photos in this post.

We retraced our steps to the place of the rollers (still saw no rollers) then Ashley went out again on the back of Vassilis’ bike. And they saw rollers (but I was in the hotel with my Kindle).

That, sadly, was not the end of the bad stuff. The bike made a horrible clunk as we were leaving Chalkidiki. And, by the time we got to Kerkini, there was obviously something wrong. Vassilis called in a friend of his who is a mechanic and, between Vassilis, his friend and Ashley, they managed to shorten the clutch cable. But it was not right. When in neutral, the bike kept creeping forwards…

Next day we rode to Kavala. It was very, very hot. We arrived many hours before our ferry was due to sail and sat in a bar, drinking coffee, then in a restaurant where we had a meal. There was a huge air and naval show going on and it was entertaining to watch the jets flying formation and the helicopters making whirlpools around the harbour.  The show continued whilst we queued for the ferry and as we left the harbour on the ferry.

We didn’t have a cabin. We had booked airline seats but the lounge was very noisy so we attempted to sleep in the bar area. Got off the ferry at Lesvos and stayed for three nights at our usual Studios (Shine Studios – really well equipped and tastefully decorated studio apartments with lovely owners, highly recommended) whilst we waited for space on the boat back to Ayvalik. We went to visit the house again. At this point we were waiting for the formalities to be done and the vendor to fix a date to come out to Lesvos to visit the notary together and finalise the sale.

The bike got us to Mytilini, onto the ferry, off again and as far as just before Menemen. At which point Ashley decided it was not safe to ride it any further. We phoned Harley Izmir who were not able to send a recovery vehicle to us till the next day. The guys in the petrol station we stopped in phoned a friend and we got recovered to Harley Izmir.  Not cheap, but necessary and very efficient.

We sat for an hour in the café at Harley Izmir awaiting a diagnosis. It was a broken clutch bearing. Which was replaced and, after about 90 minutes, we were on our way.

There was an incredible amount of traffic on the way out of Izmir (did I mention it was really, really hot?), but it thinned out just before the (toll) motorway. We’d planned to do stuff after we got home but, really… we were pretty totally exhausted. So dinner out then bed.

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The second leg – Çıralı, Patara and Saklikent

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We left Eğidir after breakfast and headed South past Lake Kovada.  This road has now been made (we’ve got covered in tar on it in previous years) and is quite spectacular.  It must be one of the best bike rides in the world though it is quite technical in places.

After winding above crevasses and through wonderful gorges full of pines, it comes out on the main road to Antalya.  Which is not quite so interesting.  Having passed through Antalya we broke our journey in Çıralı, which was enough riding for the day.  We’ve written about Çıralı before.  There was nothing much there the first time we visited but it’s become quite ‘developed’.  Still beautiful, but packed with hotels and restaurants.

We stayed in a pleasant hotel with love birds and grey parrots in cages in the garden.  We had an evening meal and left after breakfast the next morning.

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We rode on to Patara, or, rather the village of Gelemiş.  We have stayed there quite a few times before and have our favourite Pansyion where we are recognised, welcomed and given our usual room.  We walked down through the dunes and back along the beach.  All of which we have done before.  All of which is spectacular.

Next day we headed for Saklikent Gorge…  That’s for walking.  Or wading.  Depending on the time of year.  This time we got the time of year right and were able to walk all the way.  It was crowded, but still mindblowingly beautiful.

And, finally, the archaeological site at Pattara.  This was not our first visit but the archaelogists and restoration people have been working very hard.

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We stood and watched this lintel being lowered carefully into its proper place.

Finally came the long ride home….  But this was a trip worth repeating!

Inundation

Our garage

Our garage

We were planning on catching up on some of the trips we have not covered yet, but recent events have given an opportunity to kick off 2016 with a blog entry about living here is Selçuk. What some people may not know is we get roughly the same amount of annual rainfall as Dublin, but here pretty much all that rain happens in the three months of winter. December was unusually dry, no rain at all, pretty much day after day of unbroken sunshine. Then on Sunday night the rain arrived, maybe all the rain missed in December in one night.

We watched the road turn into a river. The river kept rising as the torrent came down off the hill. It rose above the kerb and into neighbours’ homes. And, as it rose further, into our garage. There was nothing we could do in the middle of the night, nothing could be got out against the water flow, the street was a knee deep torrent, it was hard enough standing up against it. Vodka seemed a very good idea at the time.

So, in the morning came clean up and a thick head. We got the bike out. Then phoned a friend who came around with a pump. Between the pump, buckets, mops, towels, and the help of various local children (who should probably have been in school) we got the water and mud out of the garage. A mattress we were storing has been consigned to the bin along with a load of spare cardboard we use to light the wood stove. This is all we have lost.

The Belediye (local council) workmen arrived with a JCB and a tractor with a trailer to clear the mud, stones and debris from the street and one nearby which was knee deep in mud.

The bike should be OK. We got it off the street, up by the side of the house. The Belidiye workmen helped us push it up the slope, hard work given all the slippery mud. I am going to leave it a couple of days to dry out, then charge the battery and see what happens. The water never got to the electrics or anything else sensitive, so I am hoping for nothing bad.

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Before we could go inside and wash our feet, the children insisted on having their photographs taken with the bike. We’ve promised them hard copy of the photos tomorrow afternoon.

The street is a mess, there is still ankle deep mud in places. More rain is predicted, maybe it will wash the mud away. The clean up will take a few days. We’re more than half way up the hill, those lower down will, doubtless, have worse problems though the drainage around our house and a few nearby leaves a lot to be desired.

Nysa

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It was a beautiful, sunny Thursday and we decided it was time for a day trip. The bike, after all, needs regular exercise. Various destinations were debated but, in the end, we decided to go to Nyssa.
Nyssa is just outside the modern town of Sultanhisar which is almost half way to Nazili from Aydin. A couple of hours on the bike got us there.
NyssaJThe site is impressive. There were a number of archaeologists at work. Their current project is uncovering the streets that run through the town on a grid plan. They are finding all sorts of monuments decorated in low relief along the way and many of these were visible from the publicly accessible areas. We were the only visitors.
The site is quite extensive – the original Hellenistic buildings were arranged across a ravine, with tunnels giving access between areas. There has been some restoration, but it’s very tasteful – it’s quite clear which bits are original and which are new. We think it’s more of a ‘shoring up to keep the structures safe’ than a ‘the public won’t be interested unless we try to make it look like the shiny original’ type of work.
The theatre is particularly impressive (Hilary has a soft spot for theatres, especially Hellenistic style theatres) and parts of the original stadium seating can be seen.  The library is clearly built on the same plan as the famous library at Ephesus but it is much less restored and none the less impressive for that.  Though it should be said that it isn’t quite as big.  The agora is huge, and very good for wildlife.  We saw Agama, ophisops and several rock nuthatches (heard before they were seen) being considerably braver than is usual for them.

On the way home, just after we stopped for petrol, we smelled wet tarmac, then saw wet tarmac then we were treated to a brief but intense rain shower.  So now the bike needs cleaning again!

3 Nights in Palamutbükü

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We decided it was time for a break from Selçuk so we took the bike down to Palamutbükü.  This is a small, seaside resort between Datça and Knidos.  We did not do a lot of sightseeing as there is not a lot in the immediate area to see and it is still rather too hot for strenuous walking.  The bay is lined with beaches backed by restaurants, cafes and pansiyons.  The vast majority of the people staying there were Turkish.  It is very much a family resort.

We walked just out of town in the Datça direction and found a beautiful beach complete with kitten.  We didn’t have it all to ourselves but it wasn’t crowded and the water was crystal clear.  We ended up buying yet another cheap snorkel and mask so that we could look at the fishes.  There were plenty of those, including some very colourful wrasse.

We got a taxi to Ovabükü, the next bay along on the way to Datça.  This was more expensive than expected (though not unreasonable) so we walked back.  It took us two hours and we got some spectacular views.

Palamutbükü is very popular and not the cheapest place in Turkey (certainly not in high season) but we ate well, slept well and stayed in a congenial pansiyon with a rather lovely garden.

A very relaxing three nights away from home and some truly wonderful riding both on the way there and on the way back.

Onward to Kastoria

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On the way to Metsovo we stopped at a service station and picked up a decent map of Greece.  It is now in tatters after being folded into various configurations and crammed into bags, but served its purpose.  It was needed because part of the plan was to get off the highways.

We could have gone from Metsovo to Kastoria, back east along the Egnatia Odos and then north along the connecting highway.  2 hours or so, of high speed, but not very interesting.  So instead, something much more interesting and fun…..  West to Ioannina, where we picked up the old E90 which, as suspected, is now almost empty of traffic.  It is a fabulous road, it winds past Kastoria and through mountains near the Albanian border, not for going fast on, but one to take in the amazing mountain scenery, and to drift along at a far slower pace.  The road was on the whole in really good condition, well maintained despite no longer being a major route, but not with many places to stop for refreshments, but we did manage to find an old truck stop still open and serving frappe.

Ashley found the various road signs amusing, warnings about ice – not in July, it was hot, though nowhere near as hot as the last time we traveled this road.  Warnings about bears, a rather cute sign of an adult and a cub.  Not really on the plan to encounter a bear on the road, bears are far better kept at a distance.

Not attractively named...

Not attractively named…

It meant we got to Kastoria late in the afternoon where we found a hotel easily enough and decided to relax by the lakeside for the evening,  Another frappe, a stroll, watched a pelican or two on the lake, drank some beer, found a teverna.  It was all very pleasant.  Though we did decide not to patronise the bar in this picture…

We did not get into the buying of fur and leather which Kastoria is famous for.  There were many shops in the town and around the lake larger places to handle tour buses which seemed to be aimed at Bulgarian tourists or others who use that particular alphabet.

 

Travel Complications

birthday-61bIt’s been some time since our last post but, in our defence, we have been on a longish roadtrip.  One that very nearly did not happen.

We had a ferry booked from Chios to Kavala and we booked a ferry from Çeşme to Chios, leaving ourselves a few hours for a meal on the harbour side.  As the ferry was scheduled to get into Kavala in the early evening, we booked ourselves a hotel in Kavala.  Everything was in place.

Only it did not work out that way.  The first hitch was when the Greek ferry agent contacted us to say that our ferry to Kavala would be 23 hours later than anticipated.  No major deal.  We unbooked and rebooked the Kavala hotel (for the next night) and unbooked and rebooked the ferry to Chios.  Then we went to the beach.

On our return from the beach the bike decided it had never heard of this thing called electricity.  Well, it did have a spark occasionally, but there was no way it was going to start.  Next morning we phoned the Harley dealership in Izmir.  They came out and picked up the bike.  It turned out to be a fault in the insulation of the negative cable from the battery.  The recovery cost us more than the repair.  Whilst the bike was in the workshop they checked it over thoroughly.

There are worse places to be stuck...

There are worse places to be stuck…

So, the day after that we headed for Çeşme.  It was windy.  Well, it is always windy in Çeşme, but it was notably more windy than usual (though not as windy as it was the time we took the ferry in December).  And our ferry to Chios got cancelled.  Apparently due to weather.

We booked ourselves into a rather nice hotel overnight, then off to the ferry agents who felt that we would be able to recoup some of the money we spent on the Kavala ferry.  Meanwhile our ferry to Kavala sailed off merrily at 11 p.m. from Chios whilst we were enjoying an after dinner beer in Çeşme.

Next morning we finally got the ferry to Chios where we were able to exchange our tickets to Kavala for tickets to Thessaloniki for the extra 18 euro that the trip cost for both of us, a cabin and a bike.

The good thing about the delay was that we got to hang out with the Chopper Riders of Chios.  Drinks on Saturday night and a ride out to a blue flag beach (and amazing, huge lunch which lasted us for days) on the Sunday.  And…. finally we caught the Thessaloniki ferry.

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We will have lots to say about the trip itself (though we didn’t get to Bulgaria, again due to weather).  The trip was wonderful and we saw many amazing places in Northern Greece.  We just need to process the photos….