Balkan Flare – day 2

Day 2 started with cloudy skies. The alarm was set to 7.00 am so we had plenty of time to shower and pack up before the breakfast room opened at 8.00 am. Unfortunately we had to put on our rain suits as it poured from above. It was in the rain that we had to fiddle with the gate again… 
It was almost 9.00 am by the time we left the hostel and we only did 6 km before our first stop. We had to get some fuel and sat down for a coffee. In the meantime the skies cleared up so we put back the rain suits in the panniers before heading for Turkey. 
There were no events to mention in Bulgaria. The road from Sofia is a bit better and the scenery is very green. We stopped just before the border to refuel the bikes. That’s when Csabi fell off his motorcycle just as he stopped at the pump and he managed to brake his windshield but luckily he wasn’t hurt.

While we filled up the bikes a group of local boys came over to admire the motorcycles and trying to touch every bit of equipment only to be chased away by a lady working at the station. I bought a Coke and we ate some energy bars from my pannier while sitting and contemplating as felt we travelled back in time. People in this area are very poor and that can be clearly seen from the environment, the facilities and even their clothing. 

After the short break we set off to the border. Traffic was a bit chaotic as there is only one lane to the border post and that is blocked by a long queue of trucks so we had to improvise and take some risk by using the other lane to move on amid the incoming traffic. We duly waited in the queue along with the cars but once at the passport control the officer told us we had to get a visa which can only be obtained on the other side of the enormous facility. We parked the bikes and headed over to pay 15 EUR for our visas. We walked back and got a stamp in our passports. We then followed the line just to arrive to a second booth where they demanded to see our passports again and the papers and insurance for the bikes. Five metres further we were stopped again for a passport check and were asked where we are heading. Once finished we thought we were on course after 1 hour 15 minutes only to find out that 300 metres further another stop was required where we had to show our passports and bike documents AGAIN… It took a mere 90 minutes to cross into Turkey. Great adventure!
Around 50 km inland we stopped at a petrol station to get some food. To our surprise there was a small stall where they served hot food so we ordered some Köfte which proved excellent. 

We continued on the motorway towards Silivri where we planned to camp for the night in a campsite that we found in the Garmin database (Karadayi camping). We stopped for fuel just up the street and then went to the campsite…only to realise it is not a camping but a camp for refugees or homeless people. They were rather surprised to see us entering but we quickly turned back and went down to the seaside to regroup and discuss plan B. 


We decided to go to Istanbul and look for a place that was recommended on the UKGSer homepage. The riding was great. I just loved the way the traffic flows although I must admit I still do not understand why there are pedestrian crossings on the motorway… 
We quickly adopted to the local habits and followed the flow of cars that seemingly have no rules to follow. We arrived at the address only to find out that the hotel Albion does not exist anymore. We parked our bikes and walked around to look for a budget hotel but focusing on the safe parking for our motorcycles. We sound one just around the corner and the receptionist seemed to have a key to a locked parking lot just down the street. He opened it and we rode in to a building that would be awaiting demolition in every other country. 

Once we parked a small kid aged 10-12 arrived on site and helped us with the luggage. We gave him a hand to close the gates and left our bikes a bit worried to walk back to the hotel situated right in the middle of Sultanahmet area. We got a room on the second floor and headed straight for a well deserved shower. After that we walked around in the centre and got a Kebap plate for dinner along with the obvious bier. It was well past midnight by the time we got to bed…

Daily data: 

This entry was posted in Balkan Flare, Bulgaria, Turkey. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *