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Thread: By Futura to Istanbul. And beyond?

  1. #1
    apriliaforum expert SpitfireTriple's Avatar
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    Day 1: Threw The Looking Glass
    Mirror glass from brand new mirror unit drops out 40 minutes into the journey east from Bristol. Instantly smashed on a wet, crowded British motorway. But I'm not turning back now.

    Do I curse the rain? No. It will make the sunshine to come all the sweeter.

    Meet a miserable Italian rider on an F800GS taking Eurotunnel back towards Sardinia. It had rained every day of his UK holiday on his new bike. He had spent the last 4 days in hospital after a U-turn collision. His gf had flown home with a fractured wrist, he was wincing every time he moved from fractured ribs. He had ridden all the way from Inverness in rain, and despite his stylish AlpineStars gear was soaked to the scab-ridden skin and cold to the cracked broken bone. A very miserable chap indeed. Silently glad I'm wearing my frumpy Triumph waterproof trousers. Note to self: do not fall off this trip.

    Day 2 : Awake around 5.30 am, somewhere in Northern France

    Eat the chips (US: fries) left over from last night - why do cold chips always taste so greasy? - then set off in light rain. Still glad I brought my heavy-duty waterproof trousers. Went into a little French cafe around 7.30, wet (on the outside anyway). Ordered myself a coffee and sat down. A farmer-type came into the cafe. He shook hands with the barman, the other customer, and then came over and shook hands with me. Maintenant je connais je suis en France.

    "Cabaret Rouge"
    This is the first Commonwealth war grave I have ever visited. It was immaculate, grass like a bowling green, rosebeds neatly edged with not a single weed. Thousands of British soldiers, and hundreds of Canadian soldiers from the nearby battle at Vimy Ridge lie here. Most of the bodies were so shattered as to be unidentifiable.



    Porte de Mars is a Roman triumphal arch in Rheims, France. It dates from the third century A.D., and was the widest arch in the Roman world. Or so Google tells me.




    I'm not covering huge miles quickly, as I'm deliberately navigating along old A- and B-roads. Well-engineered but empty of the traffic which now infests the peage toll-motorways. I believe I get to see more of the real France this way.


    Cross the border into Switzerland. Everyone is riding bicycles and looks very healthy and well-behaved. Just to confuse the traveller, road numbers on green signs indicate toll roads - the opposite of France, where blue signs indicate toll roads or peages. Swiss road signs try very hard to push me onto their toll-roads. SFr/CHF40 (20+) for an annual pass. Bugger that.

    400 miles after setting off this morning in the rain: Damn it's warm. Wish I hadn't brought those bulky, heavy trousers.

    Roadside flowers 1: Idyllium de rosis

    Roadside flowers 2: Memento Mori

    Day 3 : Switzerland into Italy (Dolomites)
    Carpe diem

    Carpe viam

    Err..that's enough poncey latin phrases
    Hot and sticky by mid-afternoon so stop by a mountain stream for a good wash. Have just about finished when - am I imagining things or have some of the boulders I used as stepping-stones disappeared? And what is that roaring sound I can hear? And why has the water gone all muddy? My brain clicks. Could this be something to do with all those "Pericolo....something something..hydro-something something..." signs I saw earlier? I hop it out of the water sharpish before the hydro-electric power plant water release swamps me. My wash kit, previously perched comfortably on a dry boulder, has been swept away.



    Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 04-01-2010 at 12:44 PM.

  2. #2
    apriliaforum expert Fox Fader's Avatar
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    Nice, nothing like loosing a mirror.
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  3. #3
    apriliaforum expert RPB's Avatar
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    Look at it from the bright side: at least you lost the appropriate mirror glass, since the whole continent drives at the wrong side of the road

    Are you really heading for Istanbul? Which route to you take?
    I did it last year on the Fut, via Romania and Bulgaria. We made it to Kusadasi in the south of Turkey, then it was time to turn - we had "only 4 weeks". Lots and lots to see.

    Keep us posted.
    Rob - '01 Rosso Flame

    "Riders Create More Problems Than Motorcycles Are Designed To Handle" - Keith Code

  4. #4
    apriliaforum expert SpitfireTriple's Avatar
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    You bugger!
    There was me thinking that Istanbul would be a first for a Futura. Let me post the rest of my pics (will take days, I'm still on tour), then post your own. Or post a link now to your original thread if you posted the pics a while ago.

    As you have pointed out, it could have been worse, I could have lost the other mirror. Just have to be extra-careful once I get back to Blighty.
    Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 09-24-2008 at 03:35 AM.

  5. #5
    apriliaforum expert RPB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpitfireTriple View Post
    You bugger!
    Let me post the rest of my pics (will take days, I'm still on tour), then post your own. Or post a link now to your original thread if you posted the pics a while ago.
    Will post some pics in a few days in another thread. I won't hijack yours. Be careful out there!
    Rob - '01 Rosso Flame

    "Riders Create More Problems Than Motorcycles Are Designed To Handle" - Keith Code

  6. #6
    apriliaforum Member Oddball's Avatar
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    Looks great so far. Please provide more. I do not believe I'll ever have a chance to ride there and would like you to continue to take us along.

    Thanks
    Oddball ______________________ IBA# 22015 ______________________ Stillman Valley, IL USA

    R.I.P. as of 3/19/09, many parts for sale.2004 Futura RST 1000, Ash, BEF semi-full exhaust system, Tuneboy Key, power outlet, Garmin GPS, camera RAM Mount, Iridium plugs, Gen Mar risers, Vista Cruise, HID low beam...

  7. #7
    apriliaforum expert SpitfireTriple's Avatar
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    Day 3 (evening) plus Day 4

    Met up last night with my old mate Nige (and his mate young Nige) in the Italian mountain village of Falcade, "where love rhymes with good humour"

    home to old Nige's old mate Sergio with whom he worked at an oilfield in Algeria. N&N had reached Falcade in time for lunch, and had spent the afternoon with Sergio being shown his favourite hunting trails. Serge is an ex-mountain artilleryman. He has many stories involving stubborn mules.

    To save time, N&N had ridden motorways (yeuchh) to Dusseldorf, stopping overnight at Bruges (apparently very pretty). From Dusseldorf they caught the overnight motorail to Innsbruck, so didn't have far to ride this morning. They have also booked places on the Villach to Edirne motorail. So tomorrow we will need to make our way to Villach and I will need to buy a ticket (I couldn't buy one in advance).

    http://www.seat61.com/Motorail.htm This is a superb rail travel site. One man's labour of love and it shows.

    We treat Serge to dinner at his favourite pizza place. Well, the only pizza place in Falcade - it is not a teeming metropolis. As Nige had predicted, he insists on buying the wine, so it turns out to be an expensive free pizza for him. Everyone in the village knows him and greets him by name. His house is full of lodgers at the moment - he rents out rooms to walkers in the summer and skiers in the winter. Hence we're on the village campsite, Camping Eden. I note from their website that they have eleven "English toilet bowls" and nine "Turkish toilets". A great place, then, to get some practice in. Serge is happy for me to "cache" my bulky trousers and my BMW heated waistcoat (US: vest). Don't think I'll be needing them in Turkey... We stay the night in Falcade.

    Day 4

    Old Nige, not at his best

    Young Nige sucks his teeth when he sees my rear tyre. "You really need to get that changed" He tells me. He has spent the last four years owning and running a bike shop in Andalucia, so I listen to him. He advises getting it changed before Villach, as it will be difficult when we are in Turkey, and a blow-out in the middle of nowhere could waste days for everyone. And could be dangerous. I personally reckon the tyre has plenty of safe miles on it yet, it has only done 3,000. Old Nige suggests a compromise of going on the net at Sergio's place and taking a list of Aprilia dealers in some of the cities we'll be visiting. I would want the tyre to be changed by an Aprilia specialist due to the peculiarity of the Futura rear wheel mount. Plus the fact that a local bike mechanic did a bad job last time, which resulted in some damage to some of the components. So I make a paper list, then we set off for Villach across the Eastern Dolomites into the Austrian alps.

    More scenic Italian roads, then curvier Austrian roads. Have to say, whilst the Alps and the Dolomites are stunningly beautiful, they are very crowded. Maybe it's just the time of year - August is very much "holiday month" here. And whilst the mountain roads have plenty of twists and turns, they don't flow, so much of the riding is relatively slow speed, with regular braking & acceleration.


    Old Nige won the best lean angle competition on this corner BTW, but I'll be buggered if I'll post a photo of yet another GS boxer twin.



    We reach Villach railway station before 5, and make our way to the OptimaExpress office. But there is no-one there. And won't be till 06.00 tomorrow morning. Early start for me tomorrow then, to be first in the queue to buy a ticket. The train is due to leave at 08.00.

    Nige & Nige had pre-booked two single rooms in a hotel in Villach which was now unfortunately full. I slip young Nige EU20 towards the cost of his room (old Nige snores), sneak in and and kip on his floor.
    Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 02-15-2010 at 05:49 AM.

  8. #8
    apriliaforum expert SpitfireTriple's Avatar
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    Day 5 : Jeux Sans Frontiers.

    Being organised types, Nige & Nige had weeks ago pre-booked on Optima Express, a motorail service from Austria to Turkey. Okay, okay, this is cheating but it wasn't my idea, at this point I was just tagging on to N&N's route plan. Optima's website did not allow pre-booking and payment by credit card (it had to be done by post) and so having left it so late I had no option but to simply turn up on the day.

    Problem: On arrival at Villach station, Optima say there is no room for any more passengers on the train, but "That's okay, the main thing is we do have room for the bike". Yes, marvellous, the bike can go on holiday without me. At the very last minute, literally, space is miraculously found for me, though I will have to sleep on the floor of "the office". Well, okay. I pay the same EU283 as N&N each did for their berths in a 6-berth cabin (the website price for sole use of a cabin was something like EU550). I reckon the optimum comfort/cost would be 4 people and their kit.

    Getting the bike onto the train needs concentration: The links between the vehicle carriages are little better than old planks. If you misjudge by a few inches your front wheel will slip between the carriages. To make things more interesting, the vehicle carriages are double-decker, which means very low decks. We cannot ride the bikes sitting upright, but adopt a racing crouch hoping that we won't scrape our heads on the low metal roof. You will understand why I choose not to photograph all this as I negotiate my way aboard.



    Mmm. Lick my lips that looks good. It turned out that everything on the menu bar the spicy soup comes smothered in tomato sauce. I don't care for tomato sauce, but, hey, I'm having an adventure so will eat what's put in front of me. Within reason.

    Start noticing the cultural differences. The Serbians(?) running this cranky old soviet train are clearly enterprising, or they wouldn't be running a business like this in the first place. I suspect it is owner-managed and run, perhaps by a partnership, for the waiters are more attentive than you might expect from an ex-communist background. But why isn't the menu multi-lingual? Couldn't it at least be on laminated card so that it can be wiped clean from time to time? Maybe some pictures so that those of us who don't speak serbo-croat (Edit: I now believe it's Turkish) will know what we're ordering? (Yeah yeah, laminated menus with photos are so non-U). The Serbs could charge handsomely for wi-fi access if they installed it. Caveat: I know absolutely nothing about the economics of running a profitable rail service. The booking procedure, whilst involving computers, still involved laboriously hand-writing passport details etc into a series of paper ledgers.

    Slovenia, first of the Yugoslavian states to break away, looks neat and prosperous, very like Austria. Croatia looks similar, though the cars parked in driveways tend to be older and less shiny. Things slip in Serbia, there is clearly less money around but people still take care of their houses with tidy gardens, flowers etc. Edit: Just noticed, didn't mention Bosnia. Do I remember passing through Bosnia? I think we can safely assume it wasn't populated by people with two heads. I would have remembered that and maybe even taken a photo or two.

    Damn it's hot. You will not be surprised to learn that there is no air-con on this cranky old train. I am wearing a neckerchief bought as a farewell present by my gf (who knows how crotchety I get when I overheat). It contains special crystals which absorb water then release it slowly, keeping the neck cool by evaporation. I had been sceptical, but it works. Seeing this, old Nige soaks his shirt in water in the sink, then returns to the carriage dripping wet but cool. An hour later, the water having evaporated, he soaks it again. I copy him, though my shirt is linen not techno. The shirts get topped up every hour or so. Young Nige is having none of this gimmickry. He has led adventure tours to Kathmandu and has nothing to learn from myself and old Nige. After baking all morning he succumbs and soaks.
    Old Nige on the left, myself on the right


    Whilst riding the bike is what this trip is about, it makes a nice change to sit with a couple of mates and chat about not very much in particular while the Balkan states roll by in the background. It's also good to give my hands a rest; even though my Futura has a (softer) MPL clutch, the muscles and tendons of my left inner wrist are a little sore from the clutch work-out they got in the Alps/Dolomites. I don't know, this never happened in my twenties on my Katana 1000 or FZ1000. Mind you, whilst I took them both to France, I never took either over the Alps.

    Dimitrovgrad, last stop in Serbia. Next stop : Sofia (Bulgaria)





    At around 10 pm, N&N having turned in for the night, I gesture that I would like to go to the office now to sleep. The waiter flicks his eyes from side to side, holds up a finger as if to to say "wait". The top man comes along. He looks at me keenly, points to his watch, then the side of his nose, then makes the "shh" sign. "Hmm", I think, but can do nothing but wait. Half an hour later, the restaurant car, where I have been camping out, is empty. The waiter comes along and furtively beckons me towards the rear of the train. I follow him to a carriage full of empty cabins. (So what was all that guff at the station about "No room on the train"? Edit: maybe the train has only just collected an extra sleeping carriage?) Anyway, the waiter points to a cabin, then makes the shh sign. Hah! A cabin to myself, while N&N share with 4 sweaty Turkish truckers. Once I'm settled I sneak back to N&N's cabin to invite them to share, but they are both clearly sound asleep, so I leave them to slumber with their new friends.
    Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 12-05-2010 at 11:23 AM.

  9. #9
    apriliaforum expert SpitfireTriple's Avatar
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    Day 6 : Bulgaria into Turkey

    Awake after a refreshing night in my own cabin to the good-humoured chagrin of N&N. They are amused rather than miffed that my lack of preparation and planning has so far resulted in my getting a better deal than them on hotel and train.

    Me ("Archie"/Andrew depending on where you know me from). Young Nige, Old Nige


    Have to move back to the restaurant car for all border inspections. Officialdom demands that if I am not officially in a carriage, I cannot be sitting in a carriage when I present my passport. All the border guards have guns. The Slovenian guard is the prettiest, the Serbian the surliest.

    Things slip as we roll into Bulgaria, not part of the old Yugoslavia but part of the old Soviet bloc. Many of the houses look uncared for. It's not just a lack of money, it's an attitude. Some houses have rubbish piled up in their gardens. We notice that we have swapped our knackered old electric loco for an even more knackered (and smelly) diesel loco.

    Naked sleeping train driver..............Note safety device keeping door shut


    Sofia


    Everything in Bulgaria looks run-down



    Children begging for sweets (or money more like)

    Edit: Just noticed: the children are all female. I hope this is not what I fear it is. The train only stopped for 15 minutes...

    Rolling onto Turkish soil at Edirne.


    I was last onto the train, I am last off the train. As I roll down the ramp I am handed an official piece of paper bearing a number:16. I understand this means I will be 16th through customs. Well that sounds good, given that there were at least 100 people on the train. Turkish customs should surely be straightforward.....
    Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 03-14-2010 at 08:26 AM.

  10. #10
    apriliaforum expert Pat's Avatar
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    Impressive pics there, ST. Which way through the Dolomites did you go?

    Best time to go and avoid the tourists is June (when we went) but I thought the roads were better in Austria than Italy. And the drivers....

    As for the mirror, mine fell out of the bike when the bike had less than 250 miles on it (the right one again) so I guess they aren't stuck in properly at the factory.

  11. #11
    apriliaforum expert SpitfireTriple's Avatar
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    Day 6: Jeux Avec Frontiers

    Pat/ Can't remember the exact route without my map, but went through Bolzano then several passes including the San Pellegrino.


    Turkey: So much for number 16. No-one is interested in my piece of paper. After having my passport details written down longhand by no fewer than 4 different officials in 4 boxes, I am at the main gate, last to leave, but "The policeman in charge has gone home" ..pause. I do nothing, show no frustration, just shrug my shoulders. Pause. Are they waiting for something, baksheesh perhaps (or am I too cynical?) "You must sleep the night in the compound" (The holding area surrounded by barbed wire fences). "Okay" I say, shrugging my shoulders again, showing only very mild disappointment. Showing angst or annoyance might have led them to think they could push for hefty baksheesh. Showing no emotion at all might have been perceived as cocky, resulting in awkward behaviour. My show of mild disappointment and resignment however leads to a quick huddle. The gate is opened for me.

    Of course, maybe the policeman in charge really had gone home, and maybe they really didn't know what to do.

    It took 3 euros for insurance (good) and 3 hours (not so good) to get through Turkish customs. I now begin to understand the border frustration I've read about in all the motorcycle travel books I've ever read. Most recently BTW, Dan Walsh's superb These are the days that must happen to you. Comments on horizonsunlimited

    Dan on owning a bike: "To them, the bike's garage clutter. To us, it's a Beretta, half a mil' in cash, and a forged passport hidden under the floorboards. Whether it's used or not, that choice is always there."

    Behind us, the sun is going down, flecking with gold the khaki dark landscape before us. We set off east towards Istanbul on the D100, a dusty old A-road running roughly parallel to, and south of, the O3/E80 motorway. We make good progress but the light is failing fast and the road is very bumpy in places. Bumps big enough to throw you off if you don't see them in time. N&N want to cut north to the motorway to get to Istanbul tonight. I don't like motorways and I don't like riding at night in Turkey. (a) it's unsafe, and (b) I'll miss the scenery. So I peel off. I continue for a short way on the D100 A-road as far as the town of Luleburgaz where I am invited to park my bike in the lobby of the on-the-main-road-through-town-can't-miss-it Yaman Hotel. 50YTL (New Turkish Lira) - about GBP22 / EU28 / USD40 - later I have a large clean room.



    One day maybe you too will take the Optima Express. Assuming it still gets to Edirne around 4pm, then if you are lucky enough to be quick through customs, you could well reach Istanbul before dusk. In long-evening mid-summer anyway. You would probably need GPS to find a specific hotel before dark. Having said that, if you're riding into Istanbul in the dark, and your eyes are on your GPS screen, then you will have an accident. If like me you are slow through Edirne customs, the Yaman at Luleburgaz is the obvious place to stop. Edit: I've since learned that Edirne (once known as Hadrianopolis) itself is worth seeing, it was once the capital of the Ottoman Empire and has some good architecture. But after being cooped up for 33 hours on the Serbian Prison Train as Old Nige named it, you'll just want to get on your bike and get some miles under your belt.

    After a delicious shower (cramped sinks only on the motorail and 40+C in the concrete-floored customs compound) I walk into town. It feels so different to anything I've experienced before - but then I'm not particularly well-travelled. The cramped unlit streets are busy with conversation, families sitting outside their front doors chewing the fat chatting with the world going by. I hear some live music and head for it; it turns out to be a celebration of a Turkish wedding. I guess. A huddle of girls in the centre of the closed-street "dancefloor" surround what I can only suppose is the happy couple (I can't see into the huddle).
    street music (13 seconds)

    By accident I find myself in a big square with fountains in the middle. This must be The Big Square With Fountains In The Middle. It is past 10, and the restaurants are shutting. This isn't Spain. Damn! I torture myself looking at images of chicken and chips on a picture menu pinned to the wall. But a waiter comes out all smiles and smartness. He beckons me to a table, takes down the chairs from the table-top, and from the adjacent table-tops to put me at my ease, and hands me a menu. "Drink?"

    The food arrives quickly (well, I suppose I'm the only customer now) and is delicious. After two days on the Serbian Prison Train, this is a feast. I get fat around my mouth, and mime-ask for a napkin. The waiter brings two wet-wipe sachets, and I make it clear that these are appreciated. Eventually, I slap mah belli like Fat Bastard on Austin Powers. Or is it Mr Creosote? The waiter seems genuinely pleased that I have stuffed myself.

    I tip him the price of the meal which is less generous than it sounds. He is very pleased indeed. He rushes off, then rushes back with an armful of wet-wipes.And won't let me leave without taking a large wad with me. No nappy(diaper)-rash for me this tour. You want a wet-wipe? I'm your man.

    Winding my way back to the Yaman (to my surprise and relief, I take no wrong turns), I hear more music down a side street. I video what I see - it's dark, but the sound at least will be recorded.
    street music 2 (11 seconds)

    Speaking no Turkish, I twice try approaching educated-looking men to ask in English about what's going on (the head-scarfed woman I approached just turned away from me). They don't seem interested in trying to explain. Odd, you'd think they be pleased to signal the wedding, say by pointing to a ring-finger. But I don't push it.
    Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 03-14-2010 at 08:31 AM.

  12. #12
    apriliaforum expert SpitfireTriple's Avatar
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    Day 7 : To Istanbul. A missile with a man on it

    "Special Turkish" breakfast as recommended by the waiter

    It was a bit like uncooked wet pastry. No, that's being unkind.

    The young waiters come out of the cafe and crowd around the bike staring. The alpha male (well, the English-speaker) approaches "Where you from?" "England". Looks of incredulity. I make symbols for riding from country to country, "France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria.." I miss out the bit about cheating on the motorail, not wishing to lose any of my new-found street cred. This is my first experience of the typical reaction from young Turkish men to the bike and the journey. They are fascinated by it. This is all new to me, I have never been a star before (only a film/TV extra in a previous life). If I am honest, it's not me that is the star here of course...

    map
    http://maps.google.co.uk/?ie=UTF8&ll...2.8125&t=h&z=9

    I set off East. Going into a couple of towns, Corlu and Silivri, I pass riders on scooters or mopeds. They catch me in the queues for traffic lights . I negotiate the traffic less aggressively on my be-panniered Futura. But rather than making their way to the front of the queue, they pull alongside and stare at the bike. Then glance up at me, then stare at the bike again. Between the towns, oncoming riders twice pulled u-turns to catch up and ride alongside me for a while - usually until I open up and they can no longer keep up. I'm not mean about this - if they want to have a good stare at a Futura I let them. They are, after all, displaying discernment and good taste.

    Ex-US M107s (M110s?) near Corlu

    I'm later told that having an image like this on my camera means I could be arrested as a spy. Perhaps my advisor is being melodramatic but now that I've uploaded the image I will delete it from the camera.

    Futura meets the Propontis (Sea of Marmara)

    It's 38C / 100F. I can't resist this beach and bar



    Turkish bridges (the river is little more than a sewer)


    And vehicles


    These are everywhere - flown by ordinary people as well as from govt buildings


    The road had recently and crudely been tar-sprayed and covered with loose gravel. I was riding very slowly as close to the uneven edge of the road as I could. Not all drivers were so cautious. This dust swirl is the aftermath of a speeding Turk managing a 360-degree gravel spin before continuing on his way, barely slower than before.


    I have been listening to Mad World on my (actually my gf's) iPod. The title seems appropriate for riding in Istanbul, not the lyrics though.

    This was written when Tears For Fears were on the dole, sharing a flat over a pizza/pasta place in my adopted home city of Bath. TFF moved out and my friends Emi & Karim moved in. I think Karim even went to a party at Roland or Kurt's big pad near Bath. Fame and wealth had not lead to happiness it seems. Err...that's the best I can do for a pop star story I'm afraid. Dig that 1980s dancing though.

    Edit: I've retrospectively inserted a few more Youtube links in this blog. They are mainly for my pleasure when I revisit my travels. Music, like scent, can be powerfully redolent. But if we share even vaguely the same taste in music you will at least have some sound to go with the images and text. If we don't share similar tastes, just ignore the links!


    Welcome to Istanbul. BTW, don't ignore the no-entry signs


    What do you get if you cross a 1600 year old aqueduct with a modern motorway? Temporary lane discipline. Valens Aqueduct (completed 368AD during the reign of Emperor Valens) meets Ataturk Boulevard.


    Backstreet full of nothing but small machine shops



    Old Lockheed F104 Starfighter (with German-spec killer drop-tanks?) museum
    more

    Two quotes from (US) Starfighter pilots:
    "Every piece of this aircraft is trying not to fly but there is a big fucking motor back there that is saying Oh yes you will fly"
    "Want your own 104? Buy a farm and a chair then sit and wait."

    Latest fashions

    Edit: I've just done some research on this style of dress. Apparently boys wear it for their ritual circumcision or sunnet. Ouch. On the special white hat is written, "Masallah" - "God preserve him". Maybe those wedding celebrations I saw last night weren't actually wedding celebrations. Maybe the ring-on-finger explanatory gesture I was expecting would have been a rather different gesture...

    Come back to the bike to find a young Turk with a CBR600 t-shirt taking a photo with his mobile. We get chatting, he invites me for tea. It means missing a chance to get to know a local, and to see and hear Istanbul through a local's eyes & ears, but I politely decline. I feel rude, but I am hot and sweaty and really want to get myself sorted out with a hotel before nightfall. But I use his mobile to take his photo sitting on the bike, then he does the same for me on my camera before I move on.


    Entrance to Istanbul University


    Found a safe place to park

    The two bike cops riding away made a u-turn to be in the picture once they saw me readying the camera. Istanbul has special "tourist police" who speak at least some English and are very helpful and friendly.

    About to enter my first ever mosque


    Muslims hurrying to prayer (9 seconds). You can see the foot-washing fountain on the left.

    Blown away by the exoticism of Istanbul, I spend far too long wandering round mouth open. By the time I start looking for a place to kip, all the hotels I try in town are full. Around midnight I end up at the Osaka Hotel out of town, on the airport road. As I walk in, the manger is watching some dodgy porn on his computer - old black women and - I don't know, I glanced away . He quotes a price of 70 euros. It is late, I'm tired, and I can't be bothered looking elsewhere. I key in my code on the Visa machine. Later, I will discover that he has somehow charged me 150YTL, rather more than the 70EU I was quoted (I couldn't see the price on the Visa machine so I trusted him - I will be more careful next time). He has used an "in-house" rate of exchange. Hurrah! I have been scammed. I will later mark this down philosophically as part of my travel experience.
    Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 01-08-2011 at 01:40 AM.

  13. #13
    apriliaforum expert Pat's Avatar
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    Excellent tale, mate. Keep it up

  14. #14
    apriliaforum expert northern phil's Avatar
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    You dont half know how to pee people off, Very jealous.
    Keep up the excellent work, enjoying the story. Its like watching Palin.

  15. #15
    apriliaforum expert Shippers's Avatar
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    Enjoying the read. I hope your travels continue to be as interesting as they appear to be reading them. Keep posting.

    Mark

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