Tag Archives: Riding

Nysa

NyssaK

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!

Riding Home

Ayvalic-sunset

Our posts here are getting seriously out of order.  Yes, there will be more from the UK but first we thought we should write about the last leg of our trip to Greece, the one that occurred when we crossed the border.

The border crossing itself was very straightforward.  We crossed at the River Evros and, whilst there was considerable queuing as our bike was checked and passports stamped, it was infinitely less hassle than the bureaucracy involved in getting the bike on a ferry.  No running backwards and forwards, just a straight succession of checks and stamps.

We rode as far as Çanakkale and booked into a place we have stayed before.  Nothing wonderful about it but it is both cheap and central.  We spent the second half of the afternoon and all evening wandering around, enjoying the town.  Çanakkale is lively and has many restaurants though as it was still Ramazan, everything was a bit more subdued than normal.  In the end we balik-ekmek-Canakkaledecided to forgo the expensive fish restaurants and go for balık ekmek.  People do sometimes ask us whether we miss fish and chips.  Hilary never really liked fish and chips.  Balık ekmek is a different matter.  Far superior to fish and chips in our opinion (and you could always ask for chips on the side if you wanted them).  Cheap, unpretentious and utterly delicious.  This one contained three fresh (boneless) sardines, grilled to order.

Next day we headed for Ayvalik.  Although we had decided to stay on Cunda (theIcecream-on-Cunda nearby pensinsula/island).  That might have been a mistake. Cunda is not cheap at the best of times and in high season….  We were quite shocked by the prices – we paid more than we did for the seafront hotel in Çeşme.  Whatever, we decided to make the most of it.  We shared many flavours of icecream packed into a fresh melon.

approaching-the-barIn the evening we took the ferry to Ayvalik.  It costs the same as the dolmuş, takes about the same time and is a lot more fun.  We strolled for a bit before visiting one of our favourite bars and getting the boat back in time to catch the sunset.

Next day we came home…  We stopped for a break at Aliağa.  Which is either one of the prettiest oil refineries in the world or a beach with one of the best views of an oil refinery.  It’s a good place to stop before you hit the Izmir traffic.

Aliaga-2 Aliaga-1

Onward to Kastoria

DSCN5186

 

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.

 

The rest of Akyaka

We should write about the rest of what we did in Akyaka before we take off on our next road trip or get completely absorbed in our latest projects…  And anyway, some photos to share.

Geyik-Kanyonu

The first whole day we were there we went for a walk.  We just headed along the coast, taking the high road there and the low road back.  Hilary’s ankle is now a decorated-teagreat deal better and she was able to keep up (more or less), though we did stop for a couple of breaks at a beachside restaurant with wonderful views.  They served us decorated çay.  Later we had decorated orange juice and, on the way back, decorated coffee.

The weather was overcast – not too cold and not too warm.  Ideal, in fact, for walking.  We walked about five hours in total.

The next day, before ouGeyik-Kanyon-bee-roadr adventures with motorcycle electrics, we headed towards Geyik Kanyonu.  We found the carpark and we definitely found a bee road…  The views were quite spectacular and we saw a couple of raptors though we didn’t manage to identify them.  We headed out towards Kaunos but, as we mentioned in our last post, we didn’t quite get there.  It was interesting to be riding the Harley along the same road as we explored on somewhat rickety bicycles a couple of years ago.

 

 

Road Tales

Of course no road trip would be complete without a story about the road. After a day walking in the local area we decided it would be good to jump on the bike. Initially to Geyik Canyon. We had a short walk in the area, but access to the canyon seemed to be closed off. A pity, but it was a lovely ride to get there, some great scenery which Hilary got to enjoy more than me given the variable road surface.

Back to the highway and for some reason the indicators stopped working, along with the tacho, speedo, and dashboard apart from a red ignition light warning. Damn I thought, looks like a fuse has just blown, well either than or an ignition circuit error. I thought about it for a while as we headed around Lake Köyceğiz, concluded not an ignition circuit error, so probably fuse. Best sense got hold me of me, I knew we were low on fuel, but how low I had no idea and the dead controls were not going to tell me. So we called off going to Kaunos and headed  instead to Köyceğiz with a plan to find an auto electrician.

In Köyceğiz the problem became a lot more clear. A quick inspection and we found broken wires hanging from the tail light assembly. The wiring that runs under the rear fender to the rear lights had clearly detached from its mounting and been torn apart by contact with the rear tire. So, off to the Sanayi we went in search of a repair. We found the auto electrician, he was not sure how to access the wiring so everything moved to a motorcycle repair place.

How-many-menThey had never seen a Harley before, but this was not a problem, off came the saddle and the rear fender. This prompted some questions about the not strictly speaking legal efi unit and further questions about the air intake / filter and exhaust. Clearly they understood this sort of thing, very much reassuring me they knew exactly what they were doing.  To add to the fun and games, numerous photographs were taken and friends were called to take more.  From somewhere a printout of the entire wiring diagram for a Softail appeared, not strictly speaking needed mending-the-bikebecause they could just bridge each wire.  Instead armed with this, the entire rear assembly was rewired with a new cable running to beneath the saddle, one new junction box, and plugged back into the main loom. One thing I am very sure of is that the new assembly will stay clear of the wheel, that amount of epoxy is never going to fail!!!

Rewired, one quick test proved the earlier failure had indeed taken out a fuse as well.  None of us were surprised by this. New fuse fitted, everything worked.

Two hours from start to finish and we were back on our way.  Kaunos can wait, we have been there before, it is a lovely site.  No doubt we will be back in the area laer this year.

On the bike. It is 9 years old. 6 years of Istanbul winters, so rain, snow, ice, salt and grit, much like the UK.  Motorcycle wiring is more exposed, so this sort of thing is expected, as was the need to replace ignition coils a year back and more recently due to the old coils, the battery. But as this stuff gets fixed life gets better. We’ve had the bike just over 2 years, we’ve done close to 24,000 KM on it, plus the 28,000 KM it had on it from the previous 7.  It is doing just fine.

First Roadtrip 2014

Roadtrip-April-2014Our first roadtrip this year was to Datça. We were previously there last May – the intention had been to go on the bike but, in the event it wouldn’t start and we ended up hastily repacking to go on the bus. We had a great time there last year and were determined to go again, to do some exploration on two wheels.
The trip down was uneventful. Well, much of the scenery was spectacular and it did get cold around Muğla. The bike, however, behaved perfectly and we made good time.
beyaz-konak-situationWe’d booked into a self catering apartment which proved to be rather difficult to find though we later noticed that the block could clearly be seen from pretty well everywhere in town. The view from the balcony was wonderful and, although there was some building noise and the electricity in the area was unreliable (probably due to the building work), we were happy with our choice.  There were quite a lot of steps down to the main part of town, the last of which had been rainbowed…rainbow-steps-in-Datcha
Just after we booked, but before we left home, we heard that the Polis had imposed a ban on drinking on the street in Datça.  This seems to have been variably enforced.  In our favourite bar (the Sunrise, where they play our kind of music) there was no alcohol on the street.  We sat just inside to enjoy our evening beers.  There was, however, no problem enjoying a beer on the beach…

On Roads

Mostly the roads in Turkey are pretty good – no worse than in the UK.  So yeah, pot holes, speed bumps (not sponsored by the Lib Dems or Kwik Fit) and variable surfaces.  Roadworks can be a different matter.   Commonly on highways they close off a lane or a carriageway and get on with the work, often with minimal disruption to traffic flow.  On smaller roads it gets to be more fun…..  Or not.

Roadworks 1.  Motorcycles and loose gravel are not fun.   It is even less fun when the gravel is really loose and deep.  When the front wheel is sinking into the gravel, part way to the axle it is all bad.  When this happens on a bend, facing a ravine it is very bad.  But no harm done – beyond pride.

Roadworks 2.  It started as fun. We got flagged down, told to wait.  The work crew gave us tea, we let them sit on the bike and take photos.  It was all very pleasant.  We were told the surface was loose for 1 km, and a quick inspection mostly broken tarmac, bedrock, and thin loose gravel.  Not fun  but OK. Then, after they got the machinery off the road, we got the all clear.  True enough about 1 km of broken surface.  Then….  5 km of partly relayed surface, compacted and dampened down gravel and sand, not fun, but it was really well compacted so the surface stayed intact. Then, the next 5 km. They had sprayed wet tar on the same compacted surface and left it there to soak in and road vehicles to press it into the stone.

The end result….

omg

This is the sand and gravel stuck onto the bike with wet tar.  Oh joy.  We got the surface dirt pressure washed off, so mostly now the tar to get off, made worse by the 6 hour trip home so now it is baked on.

The Greece Tour 2013

It all started with me asking Hilary what she would like to do for her birthday.  Go to Epidaurus she said.  OK I thought, that is doable, we live in Turkey now, near Izmir, so a combination of ferries to Athens, and then it’s no more than 3 hours, but like all of these things the plan grew and became something far more.

We have been touring in Greece before, a few years back, from London on the Softail Custom, so riding in Greece is not something completely new to us.  Taking a Turkish registered bike out of Turkey (and bringing it back) was a piece of bureaucracy we had not previously attempted.  However, with the extension of our insurance to cover us internationally and the purchase of a Green Card, we found we had no hassle at customs in either country, although the process can be slow.

bbq2The tour started with a run up the coast to Çeşme and a ferry to Chios, where we were met by Evangelos, a biker friend, and escorted to our hotel.  Then back into town for a Name Day celebration involving a vast quantity of grilled pork, beer, and good company.  Still with the Chopper Riders Club of Chios, the following day we were taken out for a tour of the island, along winding roads and through pretty villages full of history, with stops for coffee and pastries, and later for fish on the shore.  Sadly our time on Chios had to come to an end, we had an overnight ferry to Piraeus to catch in the evening.  We will go back to Chios to spend more time with friends and tour more of the island.

Arriving in Piraeus later than scheduled, we had a one hour tour of Athens trying to find the road towards Corinth, not the greatest experience in the world, especially in the heat of July.  It was third or fourth time lucky before we were on our way to Nafplio which we had chosen as a good base from which to visit various nearby places.  This was not the prettiest ride – those would come later, and were to be a surprise for Hilary.   As expected Nafplio was a great place to relax in the evenings, being full of upmarket bars and Tavernas at various price levels, not to mention some excellent ice cream.

Over the next couple of days we rode out to Nemea, Mycenae, Epidaurus, doing the tourist stuff and finding some pretty roads and out of the way places on our travels.  Riding around the area was also a gentle way of getting used to Greek roads which can be marked as highways but are often narrow and beride-to-sparta-14ndy, without the bike loaded up with all our gear.  Our bike is a 2005 Softail Standard, a little modified, K&N air filter, Power Commander, raised bars, custom pipes, and some HD skull items all of which we inherited when we bought it.  We have tidied it up a bit, added iso grips and pegs, and for touring, we have detachable saddlebags and windshield, and a barrel bag, not a great deal of luggage space, but more than enough to get by on.

After relaxation and sight-seeing in Napflio the more serious riding started; 2 up, fully loaded for touring, and the mountain roads of the PeloponneseNaufplio to OlympiaE, from Napflio to Olympia via Tripoli.   Around the bay, then up the side of a mountain, the views getting Naufplio to OlympiaHbetter and better.  Beyond Tripoli the road starts to climb again, passing though impossibly pretty villages on the way.  Then the descent, more pretty villages, often Naufplio-to-OlympiaOperched on the side of mountains, the road down very narrow in places, and not for the fainthearted.  Hilary’s comment when we got to Olympia, “Wow, that was like going over the roof of the world”.  Little did she know, it was going to get even better….

olympia-Hera-templeWe spent a day wandering around Olympia, the site and the museum, then it was back in the saddle.  It was also Hilary’s birthday, so I had picked out a few Olympic-stadium-1places as a potential final destination for the day.  Having good taste, she selected Mythoni, which would have been my choice, right in the south of the Olympia-Hermes-2Peloponnese, and perfect for the plan she was yet to discover.  It was on this leg that I started to feel a satnav would have been a useful investment.  Road signs covered in graffiti are not a lot of use.  Even the signs we could read lacked ‘follow up’, so we got used to starting out in the right direction then missing an essential turning.  The coast road was pleasant enough and Mythoni was charming.  We threw ourselves in the sea, found a decent bar, and a great taverna.

It was at this point I let Hilary in on the plan to ride the road between Kalamata and Sparta that is claimed by some to be the most beautiful road in Greece.  We ride-to-sparta-4set off  the following morning, refreshed and recovered from the excesses of the previous night, to Kalamata, and then into the Taygetus mountains.  Itride-to-sparta-35 is hard to find the words to describe this road.  It would of course have been a lot more fun to ride solo with the bike stripped down, but this was not to be.  I think Hilary got to admire more of the scenery than me, the road was narrow, very narrow in places, exceptionally bendy, and ride-to-sparta-41-(into-tunall too often with no barriers between the road and a cliff.  In places the road has been blasted through solid rock, creating some very interesting tunnels with bends in.   She also got to take the photos as we were going along this exceptional road, through some of the most amazing natural scenery I have ever seen.

We stayed overnight in Gythio, a pleasant enough coastal town, before tackling another mountain road the following day.  Gythio, back to Nafplio, via Leonidio taking us through the Parnonos range.  The mountain road was not quite so spectacular, but then it would have been near impossible to surpass the riding the day before.  Again, up into mountains, through tiny pretty villages, and a stunning ride down a steep valley to the coast at Leonido.   The last leg for the day was the coast road back to Nafplio, an almost endless succession of pretty coastal villages and bays backed by mountains.

Sadly good things we coming to an end, the next evening we were booked onto a ferry back towards home.  We took our time getting back to Piraeus, riding the coast road between Epidaurus and Corinth and catching some good views, but Homewardsnothing could really compare to the riding of the last two days.   By the time we got home, somewhat weary from having to sleep on the deck of an overnight ferry, we’d covered just over 2,000 kilometres.  It was an amazing tour.  Would we do anything different?  Not a lot, pack a few less clothes.  Oh, and Hilary, about that Sat Nav…..

Hilary’s Birthday in Methoni

Mythoni-beachAfter some debate we decided to head for Methoni.  It was a sensible distance from Olympia and it looked very pleasant on the internet.  We set off after an ‘interesting’ breakfast in Olympia (there was extra protein in the freshly squeezed orange juice but neither of us came to any harm), we set off.  Most of the riding was along fairly main roads, the scenery was pleasant but not spectacular.  We did miss a turning but a friendly local biker put us back on the right road.  In Greece we often found one sign pointing to where we were going but no ‘follow up’ sign (or, often a sign behind a tree or covered in graffiti).

Mythoni-Pilos-from-roadWe got some good views of Pilos from the road above and, just past Pilos we managed to get a photo of an interesting structure (though we never did find out what it was).  Pilos was, in fact, one of the places we had considered staying.  It is a lovely little town and, as you can see, there are plenty of ships in the harbour.Mythoni,-roadside-structure

Methoni is a charming small town.   Well, a village.  It has one small supermarket and a very good selection of bars, Taverna and hotels.  We grabbed a toastie for lunch then headed to the town beach where you don’t pay to hire sun loungers and a parasol (but you do get to buy a slightly over-priced drink or snack).  The sea was refreshingly cool and perfectly clear.  It was also full of tiny fish.

Mythoni-fortressWe walked along the beach to the Venetian fortress but didn’t really have time to explore it in any depth.

Later it was back to the bar for a couple of beers (we managed to find the bar where the ex-pats drink and, unsurprisingly, from overheard conversation, their concerns were similar to those of ex-pats here in Turkey).  Then across the road to our chosen Taverna where we had an excellent meal.  Including goat cooked in a terracotta pot with potatoes and onions…

Riding Round Chios

riding-along-in-ChiosThere has been a longish gap in our blogging activities because we have been on holiday in Greece.  We took the bike and had a fantastic time which will be forming the basis of many posts over the next few weeks.  We think it will take that long to sort our way through over 300 photos (many taken from the back of the bike).

So, this is episode one!

We had an easy ride down to Çeşme, arriving far too early for our ferry.  We had bbq2a snack lunch in a café near the port and waited for the port to open…  Our ferry was late arriving.  About an hour late.  We were met on the dockside by a friend and taken to a hotel in Karfaz, run by another member of the Chopper Riders’ Club of Chios.  It was his Name Day so we hardly had a chance to change out of our boots before being whisked off to a barbeque at the biker club.

Later that night we caught a very red moon shining over Çeşme.  We took pictures from our balcony.

coffee-in-olympiNext day we went riding with the Club.  We rode through Pyrgi which is famous for its decorated houses, and Hilary did manage to get a couple of pictures from the pillion.  Not easy when riding over cobbled streets!  We stopped for coffee (and huge quantities of sweet cakes and pastries) in another village called Olympi.  We got some photos there…

More countryside (the island is very beautiful, though they had a very severe forest fire last year which has left some obvious devastation), followed by a seafood meal on a beach.

We made a lot of friends on Chios and spent the evening sitting outside a restaurant, waiting for our ferry.  Many jokes were made about problems with that particular boat.  It came in a little late and we had a bit of trouble with our cabin (no key) sorted out after about an hour.  Our alarm went off at six thirty in what we thought was plenty of time to get ready to ride off.  It was plenty of time.  There had been a problem with the engine and the boat was slowed down for safety reasons.  We finally arrived in Athens soon after 11:00 – more than five hours late.  We could have had more sleep but, by the time they announced the delay, we were too full off coffee!

Yes, we were in Greece, there was coffee…

We intend to return to Chios at some time, preferably with the bike.  We made a lot of friends there and we have only seen a small part of this fascinating island.