Monthly Archives: May 2011

Pamukkale and Heiropolis Turkey

Olympos concluded my south coast of Turkey tour.. I continued east to the city of Antalya, and then made my way inland to Pamukkale.. Another great spot recommended by my great Turkish advisor, Robert from http://www.bike-turkey.com.  If you’ve never heard of Pamukkale like me, it is actually one of the most unique places to visit in this country.  But why haven’t I heard of these things???  Every country is full of surprises..

Riding into town, this is what I saw, and whipped out the camera!

Looks so much like snow and ice.. but it’s not!  It’s quite simply loads of calcium that comes from below the earths surface, via 33C degree water (which felt really nice on a cool day).. and deposits itself on the outside, here.

They don’t allow you to walk here with shoes on for protection of the deposits.. but I thought it was cool that you can walk on it at all!  It looks so soft and fragile to me.

Once on the surface, I could feel how strong it is, strange yet quite nice, like a massage on the feet.

As I made my way to the top, the rain started kicking in fairly well.  Bummer, I really wanted to spend more time here.. my feet already wet, why not let the rest be too.  Everything seems suddenly very blue….
        

However, the rain got too heavy and crazy to enjoy anything, so both me and my new friend decide to go elsewhere.. 

It’s only about 10 in the morning now and I had already intended to stay the night here.  So I went back to get something to eat and by afternoon, the weather came good again.

Let’s give this another try!

Ahhhhhh it’s like being in a natural day spa.  Still have my warm winter clothes on as it’s really chilly in Turkey, while the countries to the north are experiencing warm summer weather..isn’t that a bit backwards? Aw well, the warm water was perfect.

So I wander to the top of the Travertine Terraces they call them,  and I see this massive ancient city of ruins there, Heiropolis.  A Greco-Roman city, from here it appears to be the size of any large town..  So when I looked at it at first, I thought it was far too much to walk around all those streets as it’s getting so late in the day.

However, my feet led me a little way in and that’s all it took.. That need to explore every nook and cranny.

This is the main street, running north to south right up to the Travertine Terraces (Pamukkale).. They believe the city was founded as a healing center to take advantage of the thermal pools.

These columns and super huge stones are part of the city’s entrance called the “Roman Gate”.

After climbing the big hill surrounding the city, I just wanted to sit and think and ponder what the heck this place must have been like..

I found this nice spot.. wonder what it is (or was), part of a house, shop, church?  But it was calling me to sit right here.. 😉

There is not a soul around here!  No complaints, but it’s a bit eery as well..  On the other hand, I felt really at home and comfortable which I thought was really strange at the time.

Didn’t help that I found my way into a graveyard.

Again, didn’t bother much really.  I am the first one to be far too scared to be wandering around a graveyard by myself at dusk..  However, all the lids were off the 1200 tombs and sarcophogi.  So! Since everybody has clearly “moved on”.. what’s there to worry about! ‘-)  I now know it’s called Necropolis and it’s the largest mass graveyard found in Turkey.  Which makes me wonder.. were these healing waters NOT doing their job???

This place just blew me away, as you might gather from the amount of photos I am including here.. After visiting many other sites in the last couple weeks (Delphos, Ephesus, Xanthos, Olympos), this one is really getting to me, and actually feel a bit emotional as I explore.

This is St. Philip, the most important Christian cult building at Heiropolis, as they call it.  Built around the 5th century AD. They used the number 8 as it’s base logic, finished by a large wooden dome.  Eight rectangular central rooms surrounded by an additional 32 rooms, all bearing the Christian symbols and most likely the resting place of the Apostle Philip.

It’s interesting and seems that I’ve noticed now that I’ve visited a few sites, these cities start off being Hellenistic, then Roman and eventually Christian.  But seems to finally “fall” completely at the hands of Mother Earth (Earthquake).. Heiropolis had a couple big earthquakes, but the last one in 1354 brought it down completely..  So who is the most powerful ruler of all!? 

It’s really getting late.. I best make my way down the hill, across the deposits of Pamukkale (only way down is to take shoes off and go back the way I came.. another spa opportunity!).

Back at the small hotel, I sit down for a small meal made by the owners wife.  A German man comes over to speak to me, and he remembers seeing me a few days earlier on the coast near Kas, taking photos, and I remember him too as he pulled in with his car to use the same spot to get his photos!  He and wife were fun to talk to, and then I hear an American voice say.. “Hey, I know you!!!”  I turn around and can you believe it was the Professor I met at Delphi Greece???  In one sitting, and proof of just what an incredibly small world it is, there are two people within a couple feet of me whom I’ve met before – a very long way from this one little hotel in middle Turkey. There are many hotels to choose from in Pamukkale, so how do we all pick the same?  Life.. in general.. amazes me.. 😉

There you go.. sorry it was so full this time and a complete account of my day from start to finish.. see you next time!

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Olympos and the Eternal Flame

I was told of a sunken city in the nearby area of Kekova, and wanted to check it out.

It was a small city that used to be part of the mainland until a huge earthquake tore it apart which resulted in becoming an island instead.

However!  When I found this beautiful place tucked well into the bush and seaside, I found where all the tour buses are hiding out.. again!   I honestly didn’t realize Turkey was so far up on the hot destinations lists!!  However, being here now, I totally understand why!

I park the bike and immediately a guy tries to sell me a spot on a boat for 70 Euro (98 USD!!)  No way.. I’ll just have a look then from the shore.. then he comes back and drops to 55 Euro.. Still not in my budget, sorry.  A walk around while having a look at other possibilities to get to see the underwater stuff.. and another guy comes along for 40 Euro.. Well, we’re getting better, but I am still not up for 56 USD for a one hour tour.

I give up and get a cold drink instead while busloads of tourists board their various pre-sold boats.

Eventually, the first guy comes running up to me.. “10 Euro, 10 Euro!!!”  I’m like, “Really?”  He says, yes, but I have to come now!

Anyway, in a panic, we go running down the jetty and jump on the boat as it’s pulling away.. just like in the movies!

I was quite embarrassed as I was full dress in my riders suit, big heavy clunky boots making all the noise on board.. so I hung out below to watch through the glass bottom boat, as mostly American tourists were upstairs on sundeck.

Here at the city, you can see from the boat where and old roof line is.

Steps leading down..

While on board, an American lady comes down and strikes up a conversation with me.. needed to explain the gear I’m wearing etc.. She and her family live permanently in Italy, but they are here on holiday.

After a good long chat, she goes back upstairs to her family.. brings all of them down to meet me and…. gives me money!  I couldn’t believe it!  There was no conversation about lack of funds, etc.  They just wanted to do it.. I was embarrassed!  It’s a hard line of what to except or refuse and which choice might offend. But to this day, the thought that they would do this completely flabbergasts me!

Here they are.. good looking family!

So while disembarking the boat, I was thanking them again, and they asked, “So how much did this cost you?”  I said “Not much”,  and the guy is waiting for his 10 Euro.. The kind husband pipes up and says to the Turkish captain, “Look, she is traveling the world, can she get away with 5 Euro? (7 USD).. They said yes, can you believe! (I’m about to fall over here..) And then the husband gives them the 5!!  Gee Whiz!!  How do I get so lucky to meet the most amazing people on the planet – DAILY!!  So from 70 Euro to Free.. totally unbelievable..

(This is the Turkish salesman, taken after the tour)

Well,  I didn’t get too far down the coast today.. Ruud,  the tall young yellow Dutchman – as most young guys, is really good at computer stuff (I am not!), and with my gps not working in this country, he thinks he has a map and solution to upload for me.  So I head back to Kas, and meet with him in the place he is staying from “couchsurfing”.  I have heard of couchsurfing before, just have never signed up or used myself. (In case you haven’t heard of, it’s a huge website containing generous people from all over the world offering their “couch” to travelers. A VERY economical way to travel).

Ruud has been traveling around Europe for almost one year on his super cool tall yellow bike, which completely matches the super cool tall yellow rider.. 😉

On this night, he organizes for me to stay here,  as there is an available couch for me.. yay! (I feel really young!  This place reminds me of my college days!)

The gps project took quite a bit longer than even he expected, but not being one to give up, he made it work.. thank goodness.  Much appreciated and used well during the rest of my time in Turkey!

The next morning (late morning) before I go, our host organizes for us a homemade Turkish dish called Menemen.

Aren’t they cute!

Really good guys.. super tasty, and it really filled the hole in my stomach well..

Thanks again for another place to sleep, another great meal.. I literally can’t believe even STILL all the generous people on this journey.. my biggest discovery so far..

Now, it’s time to make my way to Olympos.. really looking forward to the next stop!

Olympos is another Hellenistic city with it’s fair share of tragedy.  So interesting that it’s located right on coastal beach, it made for one of the most unique experiences of ancient history I’ve seen so far!  I can only imagine how they lived their lives on the sea.  Sounds like a beautiful life until you know that this city was constantly rampaged and taken over by Pirates, and eventually the Romans too..  Can’t we all just get along???  There was probably an earthquake in there too, as Kekova, the last city I showed not far down the coast, fell to this demise..

Above are the Roman Baths along the river.

Below, an old tile floor from a building well tucked away in the bushes.. incredible..

Here is an old Sarcophogus from a ship captain, just as you enter the city from the beach.. on the right side is an epitath and the translation of which is:
“The Ship is entered and anchored in the last port, for not to go out anymore.  Because there is no more benefit from the wind or the day light.  After leaving the morning twilight the Captain Eudemos, buried there his short lived ship like a broken wave.”
He must have been such an important man..
That was just amazing to walk through this old city.. as always, I really wish I could step back in time and walk it during the best days.  I also think it would be great to come back to NOW from 2000 years in the future, to see which cities/buildings are left behind from what we build today.. would they be sooo interesting? I make my way on to the beach.. where I can enjoy some good weather, the lapping waves and stare at the ruins at the same time letting my imagination go wild.
 

Geez, I like it here…  I could easily stay several days to soak up some sun and stroll through an ancient city whenever I felt like it.

Also near Olympus is a most unusual, mysterious and I’d say spiritual place called Chimaera. At this place are eternal flames coming out of the mountain.  I’m just wondering what the early settlers must have been thinking to see fire coming out of the earth constantly and what stories they would have made up to explain it.

Chemical analysis shows that it’s methane gas. Some historic writers have mentioned these flames since the 4th century BC!  They also have been a big help to sailors in the past, as they used the flames similar to a lighthouse while they sailed along this coast at night. Pretty darn cool, and I had never heard of such a place like this before.. I should look that up if there are more “Chimaera’s” on the planet, there must be?

It’s a 1 km hike up the hill to visit, and I did so in my riding suit.. Left the boots behind.. but a great opportunity to get some morning exercise before I hit the road.  However, looking a bit rough in this photo, very hot and sweaty from the hike.

And since I have been more exploring in this post than riding a motorcycle, here is my one and only obligatory moto photo for the day waiting for me patiently to return from the flames… alive!!

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Kas Turkey

While in Gocek, the always helpful Doug Wothke sent me a message saying he has a friend in Kas, south Turkey, if I happen to be going that way.  I looked it up and I was only 150 km away!

Sent his friend a message, who so quickly replied at 7 in the morning.. saying to come visit!  Yay!  I always love to meet people on my way who knows the area, as they always give the best inside scoop of best roads, places etc.
So with only 150 km to go today, easy peasey.. I wander along the coast slowly. It’s a nice break to travel without a mission!  “What’s over there?”  

Well let’s go have a look! Maybe go down that road, for no good reason other than it looks interesting… these are the best days.

I found this place called Xanthos.. by the sound of it, must be more Greek ruins?  I have trouble concentrating on the history though as I am just in love with the spring wild flowers more..

I have no idea what the words say on this block, but gee whiz, words carved so many years.. centuries ago?  So curious what it says..

Deary me!! Talk about a dramatic history!  Here is the story of Xanthos I have learned from http://www.allaboutturkey.com/xanthos.htm

“Xanthos is the oldest and largest city of the mountainous province of Lycia, settled around 8th century BC in the valley of the Xanthos (today’s Kinik) river in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. Until the Persian invasion in the 4th century BC it was an independent state. When the people of Xanthos, who had bravely tried to defend their city against Persians, realized that they could not repulse the invasion, they first killed their woman and committed mass suicide by throwing themselves into the flames. About 80 surviving families and people who immigrated there rebuilt the city, but a fire which broke out about 100 years later razed it to the ground. In spite of this, the city was again rebuilt and, establishing good relations with its neighbors, was considered as an important center in Lycia. However, Xanthos again met with an unfortunate end. As a result of resisting the taxes the Athenians wanted to impose on them in 429 BC, the city was largely destroyed and the inhabitants were drawn into a war. And thus Xanthos became “a city of disasters”. “

Wait, gotta look at the bike again.. flowers and snow capped mountains this time.. just love it! ;-))

Okay, turn around Sherri Jo.. more interesting remnants of past life history to see..

Xanthos doesn’t seem to be a main attraction, no tourists or entry fees.  It’s just here.. and I just noticed there is a cow eating at the amphitheater, so there you go.  However, this is so much nicer to see without the crowds, especially on such a beautiful day.

I got a call from David.. who asks if I am vegetarian, because he and his wife are putting on a Christmas Dinner tonight!  What??  I look at my phone calendar, because I have lost sense of days and time on this trip, but I didn’t think I was that bad!
David also has some motorcycle guests from Holland, Marko and Dorine, and a crazy young third guest of the day Ruud, also a Dutch.  So with all the shiny nice motorcycles around, I guess David and family got inspired for Christmas??

I better get back on the road and make my way to Kas then.. don’t want to miss this meal!!

More coastal south Turkey roads.. that water… so blue!

I met a couple of bikers from Austria on this road.  We stopped to say hello and decided to go for an afternoon tea.  They’re on their way to India!  Brave souls to want to take on Indian traffic!

So fun to meet them.. Was only on the road only 10 minutes more, and I meet 3 more riders (2 from Germany and 1 from Czech Republic) on their one week riding holiday.  In this part of the world (South Turkey) I have seen the highest concentration of bikers so far.. they all seem to know what I only just learned.. it’s a great ride!!
Good to know I am in good company on these roads?  And you know these guys impressed me, as they walked up to me while taking photos, they say, “Hey, you are the girl riding your bike all the way around the world, yes?”  I’m thinking.. “no way…”  They only knew because they had met with Robert in Gocek who gave me all the great route advice.
Okay, I must stop dallying, as Christmas dinner is on my mind!
There’s just no stopping how pretty this ride is..
Until I met this guy!  I am only stopped for a minute here on the road, no buildings around, etc.. I was tinkering with my gps, and this guy comes up to me and I get quite a shock! I look around, there is water on one side and rocks on the other.. where the heck did he come from?
He speaks a little English and with that accent asks me #1, My name, #2 am I married and #3… can he be my boyfriend… ????!!!!  Dude, serious!!???  
Hayir.. Tessiker Ederim  (no thank you..)
He actually was a lovely guy, but I’m thinking about that upcoming meal again, better go.. hey?!!
I find my way to Kas.. however the gps (which is working so minimally for me in this country, only very basic info) does not want to take me to David’s house.
Marco to the rescue, he comes and meets me on the main road and guides me in!
We’re heading away from the coast and it’s just as pretty this way.. Again, as usual with my journey, I had no idea what to expect from this part of the world, but I didn’t think of Turkey with snow capped mountains, pine trees, etc.
Arrival to the house of English and Dutch!  How will an Aussie/American ever fit in!
This is Englishman David Bird, quite a popular presence on ADVrider, I understand.
And these are some of his kids..  I am so impressed and happy to see that he and his wife are passionate about helping the animals.. All these guys have such a dreadful story and were in desperate need of rescue in Turkey, and look how fat and happy they are now..  They also have a proper rescue center they work in helping so many more dogs and cats in the area..  
I have been laughed at a bit myself in these last few countries, as I see many cats and dogs… so many of them without homes, everywhere!  Some countries have a culture to put food out in the streets for them, and some don’t.  So for me, whenever I get a meal, I save usually half, if not buy extra, carry in my tank bag and feed the worse cases as I travel along.. It’s so hard, because I just want to feed and take care of them all!  So I can see why David’s household is full, I would be the same.
Now, young Ruud is in the midst of giving a lesson to Marco on how to properly pick up the bike when it’s down.

Success!  A bit worried about the color of his head though! 😉
Now, David want’s to try…
Success #2! What a good teacher is Ruud!
I also give it a go using my own bike (with only the rear bag off, panniers full)  And I did it!!  No photos though.. ;-((  Please, believe me.. I honestly didn’t do it well, but it was a good lesson for me too.
Everybody’s happy and Juliette (David’s wife) calls us in for that special meal..
Look at ALLLLLL that good food!!!

I have been enjoying Turkish food, but this is a super nice treat.  THANK YOU DAVID AND JULIETTE!!!

After a good sleep on their super comfy couch, the next day it’s time to make the next move.
Marco and Dorine from Amsterdam, are heading toward East Turkey.. I am going to follow along the South Coast, and Ruud is staying in Kas (he met a really nice girl there.. 😉
Being that the kitty cat is holding the bike down, sounds like a good choice for him.
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Ephesus to Gocek Turkey

For the first time in a very long time, we make a mistake choosing a cheap place to stay for the night.  With promises of special discount to a place under renovation, we go.. However, it was more than under renovation. This place has been and will be forever under construction. A total scam.

I didn’t want to stay, but our bikes were inside the gate before we saw the conditions… big mistake.  Guilt and obligations to the family that lives there who are lovely people.  But the guy with the promises?  I wanted to shoot.  I’ve been in some rough places along the way, but this is the worst night I’ve had so far.  The room was full of smell of paint, which made me sick. And the dust from sanding not cleaned up from the floor.  Then I ended up having one of the worst dreams ever, (probably from inhaling the paint fumes) woke up in such a scare and just wanted to go..  Couldn’t get back to sleep in worry and also couldn’t wait for sunrise to wake Poly in another room so we can get out of here.

THEN, in my haste to get out using the ridiculous ramp the guy made, I fell.. big time.
Bike landed on my leg at full force, and it hurts like heck…  let’s just get outta here!!!

I’m really ticked off and embarrassed at the same time. Mama gets me a chair and truly concerned.. giving me kisses on both cheeks.. but where’s her dag gone son… ugh!!! (I had more words for him, I just deleted them.. 😉

Today Polytimi and I make our way north to Ephesus.  A good part of our route was recommended to me by a wonderful man, Robert at BikeTurkey.com
He suggested we ride north to this most amazing historic place before riding south to spend more time exploring Turkey.  Turkey is a huge country, and I’ve only allowed myself 10 days to explore..
Ephesus is a massive site, an entire city that can be wandered all day if you want.

Neither of us felt up to the 3 km walk around Ephesus.. which is a shame.  But from what I can see from here it is soooo impressive.  And so are the hundreds of tour buses showing up at the starting gates. So my plan to be the first on in at Delphos, was not the case here!  To see it off season with so many visitors first thing in the morning, I can only imagine the mayhem to come here during summer.. so plan accordingly if it’s on your list!

In a very quick nutshell, Ephesus was originally an ancient Greek city, which later became a major Roman city..with a population of over 250,000 in first century BC.

It also plays a major role in Christian history, being the place that the Apostle Paul wrote the Gospel of John and is also claims to be the last place that Mother Mary lived.. Whew, big history!!

Moving on down the road, at some point, I couldn’t take the pain in my leg.. as I realize the swelling inside my big boots is becoming quite a problem.. So at a fuel stop, it’s time to pull out the medical kit for the first time ever.  Which isn’t bad for the length of my journey to date not needing the kit yet!

But fuel stops here are a treat as well.. Not only do they fill the tank, but offer you a cup of tea (chaj)!  Granted it is the most expensive country in the world to buy fuel in, but being there is nothing I can do about that at the moment, let’s enjoy the tea.

Isn’t this great!!!!!While I’ve got the camera out, a photo of a young boy who works at the fuel station.. I just thought he was good looking..

Now some views from the road..

I don’t know the story here, but I saw this a couple times..  all these buildings are empty!  Modern Ephesus?  Looks like I returned to earth after the big war!

They do make good use of donkeys in this country… life still has a balance here of modern and old culture.
For the modern, plenty plenty plenty of road construction!
So much that every time we stopped for a big bulldozer, we started laughing!  How could there be that many roads all under construction at the same time?

This is not just on one road, these photos are various from the ride all day!

Now I understand that the super high price of fuel is being used to upgrade all the roads.  I can honestly say, that Turkey truly does have really nice roads.  And also good to see that a government or fuel contractors are not just pocketing the extra money.

Another fuel stop, with Poly in the lead.. she pulls in and I am like “what?”  and she keeps pulling in.  Realizing that she is not realizing, I am laughing so hard in my helmet.  She stops the bike, turns it off and starts to get off.. and when I pull up next to her with my laugh, she notices what the funny is..

As we head south, we get more mountains a little different weather, but really pretty.

After the rotten accommodation last night, tonight we opt for something better.. With a seriously throbbing hurting leg to help us justify, and prices still low before season starts, he find a good spot in Gocek.  Proper parking, no shonkey dodgey ramps tonight. Yay!

Poly’s bike is really great, she has all the newest and best gear!!   Mine is looking really awful in comparison..  (jealous!)

And out for a nice rewarding dinner!

 
And a very cute flirty waiter! 😉

Gocek Turkey is a beautiful part of the world, I am so glad Robert recommended my stop here.

Next morning, a little walk around before Poly moves on from her Sherri Jo tour..  She only had a week off of work and must start making her way back North to Athens already.

As for me, I continue my journey South.  Was really fun riding with Polytimi.. we had a great time! She now gets to experience for the first time as a SOLO rider on the trip home.. welcome to my world! ha!

Safe travels my friend! 😉

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Kos Greece to Bodrum Turkey

The ferry from Santorini to Kos, Greece is a midnight ferry.  The port is right down the serpentine cliff road.. and here I wait.. all on my lonesome.  Well, except for a really cute stray dog that wouldn’t leave my side.  If I sat in a chair, he sat IN the chair next to me.. If he heard a noise, he perked up and growled.. how cute to have my own little security device.

Eventually a handful of tourists were dropped off at the port as well, and ferry finally arrives.  I am here off season which means ferry choices are few!  But I’d rather go at midnight than at Noon during season with the supersize tour groups. 😉

Made it through the night, off the ferry in Kos.. just in time for a beautiful sunrise.  Hmm, what to do when you arrive an island so early in the morning??  Explore!  What else!

There goes my ferry to Rhodes, Greece..

That dag gone shadow is following me everywhere this morning!

 

I rode around the entire island and could have gone to the next ferry to Bodrum Turkey that afternoon.. but Miss Polytimi from Athens has decided she would like to get a taste of this travel on her new motorcycle.. and I love the company, so I decide to stay the night as her ferry is to arrive from Athens the next morning.

And here she is!

Early morning arrival and off to the first available ferry to Turkey this afternoon.. didn’t know what to expect, but it’s a cute little ferry!  I am used to little ferries, and big ferries now.. I still can’t believe how much of my journey involves a ferry!

We did it!

Arrival to Bodrum Turkey.. another new country, try to set the gps.

Navigating Bodrum, even with a gps turned out to be a great challenge.. it was taking me on pedestrian only paths right through the crowded market center near the marina..  I don’t understand, but I do know I need off this track!  Finally wiggled my way out with Polly following.. (I can hear the locals now as I tried to find my way.. damnn foreigners..) ha!

I had an address to the pansion I had prebooked.  But it just was not going to happen.  Turning circles, I still don’t know why the gps is all over the place, but the streets are thin and going every which way, must be built long before cars were part of the scene. We finally found a lovely man who led us to the address on his scooter.. Wonderful man!!

And with a new challenge of getting our motorcycles up a very tall concrete step for safe parking inside.. we’re here!

This was Poly’s first attempt at such a step.. I’ve done worse, still worried about it..but I wanted to give it a go. Poly didn’t want to and insisted to leave her bike parked on the street. It took a little encouragement, even though I am not the best person to give the advice.. but, she eventually did it too!! 

We have a lot to accomplish in a short time, and I wanted to see a bit of Bodrum, so we had a quick walk around.  Gee whiz they have some lovely things here.  Always a challenge when I see fun stuff I would love to have, and I can’t buy it!  So, a photo will have to suffice..

Then it’s the next challenge to get local money in a new country (Turkish Lira) and a mobile phone sim card.  I always try to get one if I will be in country more than 2 or 3 days..and I plan for 10 days in Turkey.  However, we are getting quite the run around as to where and how in Turkey.. Each store I go to seems to not know how to sell a sim card to a foreign person and pass us on to another shop.

Luckily, Poly made the process more fun as she dropped her supersize Starbucks coffee in this one!!

Knowing we can’t buy anything, we wander around Bodrum to see more of what it is like.. These Turkish boys on the beach must be best friends..

 Turkish scooter, no doubt!
Wood boats are the go around here.. I can only imagine what it’s like during summer tourist season, there are so many!
Caught a couple of guys playing cards in the morning on this one..

It’s fun to have a friend to wander around town with.. I usually do this alone, so it’s a nice treat for me that Poly came all the way from Athens to enjoy a few days with me in Turkey..  watch out Turkey.. two female bikers on the loose!!! 😉

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Santorini Greece

Wow.. Athens was so amazing.. wonder what my next stop to the Island of Santorini (Thira) will be like? 

Turned out to be the exact opposite of my Athens experience.. which again, was more about the people I met, not the location..

During my stay on Santorini, I didn’t have much to do with people at all.. it was all about the location!
 

I have heard about Santorini as being one of the best islands to visit in Greece for many many years..  and it also seems that every bit of publicity and marketing for Greece shows the famous white houses on the cliffs here.  They really are everywhere!  And so good looking with the ocean blue.. and spring flowers.

White church at Red Beach, Santorini – all over the island is black volcanic rock and pockets of red lava rock.  It’s hard to show, but the white church against the black rock I liked, but also just below here is the beach in red!  

I agree with the reasons the people love it so much here.. I have been to many islands in my life, and this one is very unique and extraordinary! However, I really don’t have much to say (in writing) about the island.  I can simply show you around with plenty of photos.  So this will be a lazy blog post.. but I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Perissa (Black) Beach, Santorini
This guy looked really sad to me.. 

Another donkey looking quite sad (the one the man is on..)  But the other is quite spunky!!  Get outta the way!! It’s certainly a way of life on the island, I pass many men on donkeys as part of their work day.

Oia (pronounced ee-ah)

My evening walks around Finikia Oia…

Original cave house on the property I am staying.. 
Oia cave houses which have been renovated into accommodation, are one of the main tourist attractions.. so it was good for me to see one of the originals as well.

New babies.. really friendly, I spent a fair amount of time with these guys..

The island is only 90 km2 all up.. so I covered it enough times in 3 days.. I learned that I couldn’t last long on a small island.  I loved Santorini, very beautiful as you can see..defintely the right choice! But I felt a bit trapped by space and was ready to move on.

Maybe if I had a boat! “If I had a boat,  I’d go out on the ocean, and if I had a pony, I’d ride him on my boat..”  – Lyle Lovett

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Athens, Greece Part 2

So.. it’s Alex and I on tour today.. through Athens and to Acropolis!  First to tend to some errands though.  One thing not to forget on such a big journey.. you are not exempt from running important errands, no matter where you are in the world! ;-=)

Somewhere amongst the spring blossoms are lots and lots of white Greek buildings!

First order for the day was a wild and hairy motorcycle trip on the highway around Athens to the sea port Piraeus, where I need to pick up my ferry ticket and more for me to know where I need to go the next morning on my own.  (I usually do this as I hate being in a panic if I can’t find some place as important as the boat.. especially with a 7:30 AM departure the next day.. best for me to be prepared!)

I also don’t make a very good motorcycle “passenger”,  as young Alex flys full blast through the highway traffic.. in between cars who are side by side at top speed??  All I could do was hold on and keep my eyes closed!  I knew from Poly he is a good rider and to trust him.. but it tested me!!!  (Thanks again, Alex ;-))

The next errand was an absolute SHOCKER!  Some very NAUGHTY Greek friends had an idea sparked by Spyros Simopoulos from Los Touristas.. to pay for the items I had ordered at the Makan Trt Touratech shop in Athens…????? Four of them got on board.. Spyros, Vaios, Nikos and Poly.  Can you believe they paid for my things??  I am so shocked and grateful.. How totally amazing are my friends here! I’m disappointed I didn’t take a photo of Spyros and Vaios from Los Touristas Moto Club when they visited and interviewed… but here is one of Nikos (from BMW Club Hellas) and Poly.

Nikos, Me and Poly

Luckily, Poly had a couple photos to send me of the guys….. thank you!  This is Vaios..!  Who rides a KTM 990 Adventure.. Good Man! 😉

and Spyros Simopoulus (we won’t mention his bike.. from Japan.. ha! ;-)))

Naughty Naughty freinds.. love them!  So Alex drove me to the shop to pick up my new shoes and battery for my gps.  Both of which were not cheap!  THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH… !

I can not tell you how sad I was to let go my shoes.. I even considered paying to send them home in the post.. until I came to my senses.. But remember, these are my ONLY pair of shoes, they have been everywhere with me.. PLUS, remember the story when my subframe bolts broke in Siberia, and Walter tied on the rear end of my bike with packing straps until we made it to the next town over 400 km away?  Along this path, he carried my gear and lost my shoes!!! Then he back-tracked 180 KM!!!! to find them on the side of the Siberian road and returned them to me..big thanks again for that Walter! The Drama these shoes have seen.. and I have to let them go??  ;-(

Here is my parting photo.. and their replacements..  Angela kindly gave my old ones a proper send off in the box.. I’m sad.. but Thank You to my shoes.. who have taken me to odd places in the world.. miss you!!

Welcome new shoes..!!  I hope you will be happy with what you are about to encounter.. 😉

I had contacted Angela from Italy, and she had worked hard to track down the exact model and color of shoes and had them shipped here.. she is the greatest.. but then she goes the extra mile.. as I have learned all Greek people do.. She gives me a new TOURATECH JACKET!!!  Holy schmoley..  I am blown away again!!   I love Greece,  I might have to move here.. ;-)))  Here we are with our matching jackets.. and thank you so much!!  I love it and wear it.. everyday!!  Obviously, if you want the best service in Athens, go to Makan Trt Touratech http://www.makan.gr/  ;-)))))

Okay, we still have that all important Athens tourist attraction to see.. Acropolis and the Parthenon.  it is an amazing part of history and the focal point for most visitors to Greece.

I like this easy explanation that I found at http://www.in2greece.com/english/places/historical/mainland/acropolis.htm :   

Acropolis
The word “Acropolis” means city by the edge, and there are many acropolises all over Greece. They were always situated on a high spot, and were often used as a place for shelter and defence against various enemies. The one in Athens is the best known of them all, and is therefore often referred to as “The Acropolis”. Towering over the capital, its is a very impressive sight, and walking around on its grounds, it gives the visitor a feeling of awe and a true sense of the greatness of the ancient Greeks.

Mythology :The founder of Athens and Greek civilizations was king Cecrops, according to mythology. He had been born out of the earth and was half man half snake. He taught the people many crafts, as well as the burial customs, and decided which god would protect the city.
There were two candidates: the goddess Athena and the god Poseidon. In order to prove their worth, and perhaps bribe the people, they each presented the city with a gift. Poseidon struck his trident into the rock of the Acropolis, and out sprang a well. The people ran to the well to drink its water, but had to spit it out since the water was salt, Poseidon being a sea god. Then Athena touched the ground, and an olive tree grew out. This proved to be a much more useful present, so Cecrops decided that Athena would be the patron of the city – thus giving it her name as well. The wooden statue of Athena which originally stood on the Acro-polis was believed to have fallen out of the sky. 

I have to admit, I was struck by the greatness of it all as well.. but I was also struck by the greatest amount of tourists who are visiting this place.. off season!  (I get really.. looking for the best word.. ancey?  when I am surrounded by crowds)..  I found it really hard to enjoy Acropolis with the masses.  Therefore, we did a somewhat quick run-through and left.  I have read and learned plenty outside of the site.. I am glad I went in, felt it and experienced it.. but it was enough for now.

Alex is an excellent tour guide for the day.. many many thanks to him for showing me around.. He has good taste, and intends to be moving to Melbourne Australia soon… watch out ladies!!!

Now we can fast forward to another great night out in Party in Athens.. !! It’s a birthday celebration in a really cool bar downtown..

 Happy Birthday Sophia!

I get to ride on the back of another bike with another good looking Greek man, Vasillios!  Well half Greek, his Mom is American ;-))

These are the busy streets of Athens at 3 in the morning!

We arrived home around 4.. I got straight to packing my bags so I can get on the road to the ferry by 6.. they surprised me again with Nikos showing up at the house to ride with me, Poly and Vassilios to the port.. with no sleep!!  These are great friends!  You all are THE BEST OF THE BEST!!!!

It was a chilly ride and I learned that I can still be really drowsy..on a motorcycle on a highway in cold air when I haven’t slept.. that’s a worry!

But seriously, I am truly amazed these guys would ride so early with me on a Sunday morning.. so far out of their way and a nice sleep in.. xxxxx

We arrive the port in plenty of time.. and I got ONE MORE last and great surprise…  I actually have a dear old friend myself.. whom is currently working in Spain and I did not expect to see.. but my April Fools’ surprise number 800 for Athens comes to see my at my ferry!!!

Because he is such an OLD friend, he gets the black and white photo.. ha!

His name is Captain Giorgios Apistolas.. and we met way back in 1995 while I was on a Mediterranean Cruise with my sister.. (no photos in my computer from then.. long before I was using a digital camera)

I did have this one photo in the computer for some reason. Here we are on the Carribbean Island of Martinique in 1997.. in a tiny hideaway restaurant on the beach, of which we rode to on George’s little motorcycle that he kept on the ship!  14 years ago!!  Can’t believe it..  We’ve continued to stay in touch this long..

So so happy to see my good friend.. really special to me.. and quite a perfect ending to my time in Athens..

The time has come to say goodbye to all these amazing Greek friends.. I feel like the luckiest woman biker in the world!!  And you can see why it wasn’t the location of Athens that made this trip… it is TRULY the people.. outstanding memories I will cherish forever… 😉
Time to board the ferry…

Usually, I’d be waving to George as he sails away.. this time it’s the other way around..

How I will miss everyone in Athens.. Special thanks to Polytimi for being the most amazing host, introducing me to so many new friends and credit for many photos above!  As well as BIG thanks to everyone, your freindship and so many amazing gifts..   Grateful doesn’t seem a big enough word!!!

I do hope we ALL meet again…


Athens Greece

Delphi was hard to leave, I knew I could stay there another day.. easy!  But I’ve got a plan, and sometimes it’s best to stick with it.. how to absorb so much history in such a short time!?

Here are some little snipets of my ride from Delphi to Athens…  sorta liked the look in the rear view mirror!

I see these everywhere.. in all shapes and sizes, in memory of someone who has died here on the road.. many times in the middle of nowhere and there are candles burning inside.. very dedicated to their losses..

Old meets new…

On to the supersize city of Athens..!!!  Part of the decision to leave Delphi for Athens, is the weather takes a big turn to several days of heavy rain tomorrow.. I’d rather ride today, it’s nice! Looking forward to getting there of coarse.. but it’s even better when you know you have a place to stay, a new friend and host!  And with a handy Garmin gps, it guides me right up to the house of this big city of 11+ MILLION people, no worries.. I love that!

Here I meet a lady, Polytimi Boznou, who has invited me to stay with her while in Athens.. introduced by another friend Ian Coates..!

I arrived to her house a bit before she did and got the photo!

I’m not sure how she sees out that visor, but she says its good! 😉

Poly has recently bought this nice bike, and looking forward to some adventures of her own.. we have lots of stories and info to share.. 😉

We immediately know we will get on well and surprisingly she has my 4 days in Athens completely scheduled!

Being that it IS raining nearly the entire time I visit, the schedule and my Athens experience is more about the people than the destination..looking back at all of my favorite places on my trip so far, I noticed that each of them were my favorites when I had good people around me..

First stop, Poly’s BMW Club meeting with the presidents 40th Birthday (George Bernados in the white shirt) to boot!

 Poly and I at a very beemer blue bar..

We both love to be surrounded by good looking men, and we’ve achieved that here!! How lucky are we!!! ;-))))

(Thanasis Pafilis, Spyros Kapodistrias, Vassilios Exarhos, Konstantinos Fountas, and me!)

Try to say all their names 10 times fast.. ! (Glad they are not fussy about the bike I ride.. 😉  So Night #1 in Athens, was a treat, really had a good time.. so much so, that the birthday boy ends up giving me gifts! Is this a Greek tradition I might learn to like?? ha! A club t-shirt, stickers, patches, calendar.. thanks George!

Probably the easiest thing to do with Night #2 is to post the interview/video they made.. Poly invited another bike club she attends over, called Los Touristas.. they came bearing treats (really yummy box full of desert cakes) and video camera!  Oh dear, should I be worried? With a few prepared questions, I did my best to answer them all… I sound like an absolute idiot, (as usual), but it was so nice of them to have an interest.. and I really love the music and photos at the end!!  Thank you Poly, Spyros, Vaios and Los Touristas Moto Touring Club!!  And if you around Athens, they are worth meeting..! http://www.lostouristas.gr 😉

Want to meet more interesting Greeks on bikes??

Night #3 we meet Orestis and Elias at a coffee shop around the corner.. Two very interesting men who travel a lot on their bikes and many more interesting stories to share..  I think this is part of the fun traveling by motorcycle rather than by camel.. or backpacking.. I might be wrong but there seems to be such a feeling of “brotherhood” if I can use that term as a woman in the biking world.  It seems like meeting with family at every stop, in every town, in every city.. it’s the greatest club to be a part of.. the World Club!

Orestis wanted to meet to also do an interview for an online biker magazine,  http://www.bikerstime.com  as well as on to his personal blog at orestistrips.blogspot.com.
And Elias has also done a lot of traveling and had many good tips and stories to share as well!!  I have to admit, I am really really embarrassed by the attention… but love that I had an opportunity to meet these guys as well.. all organized by Poly!

But wait!!  She has one more to meet tonight…Poly says I must meet the best looking biker in Athens..  Alex!

Sheez.. what can I say.. Poly has lots of awesome biker friends (and they are all good looking!) While they are talking, Poly has arranged for Alex to show me around Athens and Acropolis tomorrow.  Well…. okay!  And somewhere in there they have decided I won’t be taking my bike, instead to ride on the back of Alex’s beautiful red 1200gs.. Well.. okay!  Did I mention.. I love my life!??!!

Athens to be continued..

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Delphi (Delphos) Greece

After Meteora, I made a b-line to Delphi or Delphos..  Here is the best explanation from my friend Orestis ( http://orestistrips.blogspot.com ) in Athens about the name:  in Greek we have more than one version for each name depending on the use of it. When you are asked “what’s the name of this place?” the answer is “Delphi” (Δελφοί). If you are asked “where have you been at?” the answer is “I went to Delphous” (Δελφούς).   Anyway..  making the b-line point because I simply took the highway from Meteora and it was rather boring as most highways are..

For many CENTURIES!!  Delphi was the religious and spiritual center of the ancient Greek world.  And as far as they know, Delphi was also the GEOGRAPHICAL center of the world!!  Ha!  Called the Omphalos, meaning Navel… it was the meeting point of 2 eagles which were dispatched by Zeus from the ends of the universe to find the center of the world.. how’s that for Greek History 101!! How lucky do I feel to be at the center of the world..needed to happen at some point on this journey, hey..?

I arrived Delphos late afternoon.. not able to find a place to stay as the camping grounds not open for season yet, and the pensions or guesthouses are booked full with Asian tourists..  but as all things that are meant to be, I got to stay at a place that is not advertised and an extremely modest price.. my favorite!  And here is the view from my window toward Galaxidi on the Aegean Sea.. works for me!

Once settled, and being a very small town, I headed straight to the ruins of Delphos, even though I hadn’t eaten all day.. do I eat or see the sights!?  I get too excited.. I can always eat later.

The main site was already closed, but the gymnasium section is across the road and always open.. looking at it from above, looks great, so in I go!

The gymnasium was a popular hangout for the people of Delphos.. here they would socialize as well as prepare for the big games.. starting in 586 BC, athletes from all over Greece would come here to compete.. which became a precursor to those most famous Olympic Games!

Really special place.. I am wishing I could time travel.. really bad!  These ancient cities would have been magnificent in the day!  If I could only walk the streets, see the athletes practicing, shops, gardens, clothes, jewelery, etc etc

I interrupted an American man to take a photo with the gymnasium area behind me..  that’s one thing I can always count on in tourist places is American voices..  they’re everywhere!!
Next morning – What time does the main gate open?  8:30… I’m there at 8:25.. first one in and lucky to get around and take photos before the busloads of tourists wander in..
I first wandered up to the top where the stadium is.. one of the highlights and I am sure will be the goal of the other tourists too.  It’s a very odd feeling to be wandering in the stadium field, where many have walked and performed before… built around the 4th century  B…. C…!!  They not only had athletic games here, but also music events.
Okay, I can’t help it and please don’t tell anyone, because I’m not technically supposed to be on the field… but I had to run!!! Were women allowed to compete back then??
  
All right, I’ll behave a bit.. not supposed to be here too, but what is it like to be a spectator.. needed to know~~!
This is a really amazing place to visit.. even better early in the morning.. the birds.. the poppies.. and no tourists!
 
And I met the American man.. again!  And on top of that, he is a professor from California!  He did not have any students with him as he so often has done in the past.. so he adopts me and walks me through Delphi offering so much incredible information and knowledge.. how lucky can I be.. really!? He tells me the best time to take photos is to get in early before the tourist buses… I said, I KNOW!!  Ha!  He tells me an area I can get a great photo, again in an area not allowed. By now an official is in the area, sees what we are up to, and we get in trouble… Darn!! But humorous that it’s the professor, not the students this time.. Oh well, I will have to be happy with what I’ve got. 😉

Amphitheaters are popular everywhere around this region.. and again.. I can’t help myself but feel the need to entertain the ghost people..

The professor taught me about this orb.. it was supposedly had a smoke coming out continuously and mysteriously.  Worshippers would come from far and wide to hear a message from God through an oracle if they had a problem or big decison to make.  The female Oracle’s would meditate around it, and speak in tongues.  The male “Priests” would interpret the messages.  (The one of the left is a reproduction as the original is in the museum)

Some of the messages were inscribed on the walls for everyone to read.. and remain today!~

Here is the original (or parts thereof..)  Sorry for the bad angle of the photo, there was a distraction in the background.. 😉

The most flourishing times of Delphi was from the 6th to the 4th Century BC.  There is so much to talk about, but I don’t really want to make the blog a huge history lesson..  However, I hope you get a chance to visit here yourself if you havn’t already.. it was so great and far above what I expected to see and learn.. and I have enjoyed every bit of it.

Needless to say, it’s all incredibly fascinating to me.  I could have spent all day with the Professor, but I had to go back to my room, pack and get myself into Athens. 

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