Montag, 22. Dezember 2014

The toughest part

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In the meantime we've completed the planning of next year's routing. If everything works as foreseen we'll be travelling through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan to our final destination in Kyrgyzstan over a distance of around 7.500km, which is evidently quite an ambitious itinerary for four weeks travelling time. That's mainly because we did not have too many options on where to leave the bikes after next year's trip. As far as we've been able to find out, the strict custom regulations of countries like Iran, Turkmenistan or Uzbekistan would make it impossible to store our bikes there, that's why it had to be Kyrgyzstan in the end. Thus meaning that we'll have to try to cover as much ground as possible in the beginning of the trip in burning through eastern Greece and northern Turkey, which is of course a shame. But we're optimistic that after that's been achieved, we'll have the time to take a closer look at all those exotic countries we'll be visiting. And in the end, riding through a country is a lot experiencing it, too! From my past journeys I've learnt that travelling can often be about knowing how to make compromises.
Still, there are some other things to be done like reconsidering the equipment, since we'll be carrying additional camping gear from next year on. And finally, we still need to apply for two more visa, Turkmenistan and Iran, but that can only be done two months in advance.

So now the toughest part has begun - waiting for the day of departure...






Dienstag, 7. Oktober 2014

Planning the next bit

We have finally begun to plan our itinerary for the oncoming trip in 2015 that will lead us from Thessaloniki, where we stored the bikes after this year's Balkan tour, to central Asia. We're getting more and more excited when dealing with all the foreign names - these places seem so incredibly far away! Yet we'll be heading there in a few months time...

For next year's destination Kyrgyzstan, we will have to deal with the Caspian Sea. We can cirumnavigate it to the north via Russia, to the south via Iran or cross it by ferry to either Turkmenistan or Kasachstan. The most interesting option is for sure to travel through Iran but not surprisingly at the same time the most difficult one with regard to custom formalities. But thanks to my greek friend Giannis we have found a very helpful guy in Iran who'll handle the iranian border procedures for us. For a smooth approach he recommended to enter Iran from Armenia, so we've adjusted our itinerary accordingly. Once we're in the country we'll head as far to the south as we can get, because some of the major attractions like Persepolis and Shiraz are situated 1000 km to the south of Teheran. But since we're not quite sure about how our time schedule is going to work we have a good option to shorten the travel distance at this point - to skip the southernmost point of our planned route could save us up to 4 or 5 days of travelling time, if needed. But the infrastructure in Iran is supposed to be in very good condition so we're optmistic that we'll be able to see a big part of the country. Then, after having travelled through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, we're planning to finish this year's tour in Kyrgyzstan (see also map below). We haven't found a storage solution yet, but hopefully this issue is going to be resolved within the next weeks.

To see a map click here.

UPDATE 12. October 2014
Great news! Thanks to the help of Patrik from muztoo.ch we have finally found a place to store our motorbikes after the next ride in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. He even offered us assistance in dealing with kyrgyz customs. That is really a big relief, thank you very much!







Mittwoch, 9. Juli 2014

Preparations for 2015 have begun

I am very happy to announce that a new rider will join the tour next year. He is a colleague of mine and we've already biked some tours together. Welcome Mario!





Dienstag, 10. Juni 2014

Epilogue 2014

Seeing the sights of Istanbul was a little spoilt by rather cool and rainy weather. But as most of the major attractions were indoors that didn't matter too much. We spent the first evening together with Jean-François, a motorcyclist from France whom we'd met on the border and who's right now on his way to Vladivostok. We had so much to talk about - the evening was way too short! And on our second night we had the pleasure to be shown around the city by Serpil, an english teacher and her friend, where we got to see some some less touristic areas. Thanks again!

That might be a good point to also express gratitude to the english language that made it possible to have conversations with so many people from different countries! English, you're great! Thanks!

Still, the riding part was not yet finished in Istanbul, like we had originally planned, because turkish custom regulations made it impossible to leave the bikes in the country for a longer period. So we had to take them back into the EU where our greek friends Lina and Babis were already expecting us in the city of Thessaloniki and they're going to host our bikes an entire year until 2015. Very big thanks again for that! In the end it was not easy to say goodbye to our dear, reliable travel companions that had performed so perfectly well. No problems at all, high fuel efficiency and even overloading them a bit with two people and lots of luggage did not make any impression on them. Thank you bikes!

We'll be back for sure!
















Donnerstag, 5. Juni 2014

From Athens to Istanbul

After we'd picked up the girls in Athens we took our third day off riding to have look at the city. On the following day we finally left Athens and travelled all together north through the beautiful  Parnass. We made a sightseeing stop in Delphi where we had to do some serious hill climbing in full motorcycle wear to get to see the whole area. It was absolutely worth it!  The next riding day ended in Thessaloniki and we finally met our hosts Lina and Babis, who will be hosting our bikes for 12 months in their garage. Later on also Giannis and his wife Ralu joined us and we had a fantastic evening together with tons of excellent food. Very nice! Thanks again, you're great guys!

After Thessaloniki we did another two stages with several wet portions until we finally reached Istanbul. The traffic is as crazy as we had imagined and additionally we had some difficulties in finding the appartment we had rented. When we ended up in front of Nisantasi university a huge crowd of students gathered around us after a short while. Everybody was very interested in our journey and finally with the help of their professors wo could solve the address problem. Thanks to all of you!

The next two days are reserved to look at this giant city.

















Samstag, 31. Mai 2014

We've got company!

We're very pleased that my girlfriend Solène and her sister Laure will join us this evening here in Athens and ride to Istanbul with us!

On est vachement content qu'on profitera de la ravissante compagnie de Solène et Laure dès ce soir! Elles nous accompagneront jusqu'à Istanbul. Bienvenues les filles!







Freitag, 30. Mai 2014

Riding the Peleponnes

Three days of riding across the Peleponnes lie behind us and they've been quite varied. On the first day we'd chosen a route right through the mountains that included also some offroad parts. Beautiful views everywhere! When we met a turtle in the middle of the road trying to cross it in a turtle-typical speed we decided for her that this was simply too dangerous and sped up the endeavour by carrying it by hand to the other side. I hope she was grateful, though she didn't give the impression!

On the day after there had been a significant change in weather unfortunately, and driving through the misty mountains one could have mistaken the scenery for Scotland. The last kilometres were actually through the rain, our first encounter since we started. The day ended in the local tavern and in spite of the language barrier we got all the food and drinks we wanted. Nice!

On our third day on Peleponnes the weather programme was switched back to the usual sunshine so we could enjoy riding this magnificent road between Kosma and Leonidiou that passes through the "grand canyon" of the Peleponnes. Absolutely spectacular! We finished early after a short riding day and took an afternoon off to look at the historical site of Mykene.

Tomorrow we'll drive to Athens.

In case someone hasn't noticed yet, you can see more pictures by clicking on the link on the right hand side that says "PHOTOS"!














Dienstag, 27. Mai 2014

Adriatic ... continued

After we'd entered Montenegro for the second time we enjoyed a fantastic ride through the beautiful bay of Kotor and along the adriatic coast into Albania. We were pleased to find out that three other motorcyclists were staying in our hotel in the city of Shkodër. One of them was Pete from Australia who's travelling with his wife through Europe. He happened to have just ridden through Albania and Greece and could give us a ton of recommendations. We then spent the evening in town with the other two riders Hans and Rudi from Austria and Germany. We ended up in the city centre watching the final match of the UEFA cup together with hundreds of soccer-passionate Albanians.

The next day we followed the route that Pete had suggested and he had not promised too much! The adriatic coast is spectacularly beautiful no matter which country. We just couldn't stop riding before we reached Greece. Right now we're in the north of the Peleponnes taking a break to enjoy the sun on the beach and do some maintenance on the bikes.











Samstag, 24. Mai 2014

Small detour off the beaten track

After having enjoyed so many kilometres of the beautiful croatian coastline we were up to a little change and took a turn into Bosnia Hercegovina. We stopped for lunch at Mostar, famous for it's bridge, and were amazed to find the little town buzzing with big crowds of tourists. Temperatures of more than 30 degrees made exploring the place a little unpleasant in our heavy motorcycle wear so we did not stay very long. The remaining 120 km to Sarajevo through beautiful scenery passed by quickly. We had imagined the town completely different and enjoyed the multicultural atmosphere very much. On the other hand you can still find many signs of the civil war so the impression you get is somehow ambiguous.  Of course we couldn't miss to take a look at the place where Franz Ferdinand was shot almost exactly 100 years ago.

The next day led us into the mountains of Montenegro through Durmitor national park and that was truely one of the most fantastic rides I've ever had! We took a small road that went up to almost 2000 m and the beauty of the scenery was overwhelming! Joining a bigger road later on we were surprised to find the roads of Montenegro as smooth as a babies' behind, as we say in german! Not wanting to miss Dubrovnik we took a final turn into Croatia and visited the historic town centre in the evening. It is in an incredibly perfect condition almost like a scenery built for a movie!
Today's plan is to make a 180 degrees turn and head for Albania.














Mittwoch, 21. Mai 2014

Croatia - a real beauty!

When we woke up in Ljubljana on the morning after the rainy day we were very pleased to find the find the sun shining again. But packing our bikes our mood got a little spoilt - there had been an attempt to steal Christian's bike! The ignition lock had been damaged but luckily without doing real harm to it.
So we left Slovenia behind and after we had entered Croatia I let my old friend Tomtom do the lead using this awesome "windy road" routing feature that takes only small roads and the result was absolutely convincing! Lots of corners and great views! We spent the night near Rijeka at a private accomodation hosted by a very friendly couple. Then the next day's ride along the adriatic coast was what every motorcyclist dreams about! Perfect roads, gorgeous scenery and sunshine all day long ending in a nice hotel directly on the coast. Today the nice conditions continued and we've now arrived to Split. The evenings here can be pretty exhausting - huge piles of meat have to be eaten every time...
Tomorrow we'll be heading for Bosnia.













Sonntag, 18. Mai 2014

The Alps ... continued

What a great riding day! We started in sunny conditions in Merano heading east through the Dolomites. The scenery was just breathtaking! Though the weather was constantly deteriorating we stayed almost dry and finished the long riding day in Ljubljana in the evening. We had tried to find an accomodation via couchsurfing but had no success with the couch however what we could find was some company for the evening there. A local teacher hosting a funny french guy showed us around the city and all the four if us had a nice evening together! Today we're waiting for the rain to finish and will have a look at the beautiful city of Ljubljana.












Samstag, 17. Mai 2014

The Alps


For crossing the Alps we had considered to take the Brenner tunnel but since Christian's bike ist named Transalp that wasn't really an option. So we chose a route through western Austria via five passes all being between 1500 and 1800 metres high. Because we were expecting cold temperatures Christian bought himself some warm gloves in the morning but when arrived up there we got the impression that we were at the right place but with the wrong equipment! Skis or snowboards would have fitted much better in to the scenery than motorbikes! In fact it was like in deepest winter and even snowing from time to time. But when we descended into Italy the temperatures went finally up, like we had benn promised, and after a lot of research we found a lovely B&B in Merano in an old castle. Today we're heading to Slovenia.














Freitag, 16. Mai 2014

The start

After all the preparations it was good to be finally able to set off. Our first riding day led us through rather cool and cloudy southern Germany to the house of a friend near Lake Constance where we spent the night. Today we've decided to head south to Italy where the weather forecast looks a bit more friendly.







Dienstag, 13. Mai 2014

Very last preparations

postal voting for regional and european elections





Freitag, 25. April 2014

About the grandiosity of the international motorcycle community

We weren't surprised to find out that the question where to leave our motorbikes after our first stage was a tough one. But how well this worked in spite of all the difficulties to organize this from far away gives us hope for our future journeys!

Here are the details. After we failed to get approval from turkish customs to leave the bikes in Turkey we had to find another solution. Luckily I had gotten a contact in Istanbul from an english travelmate I had met in New Zealand in 2012, who had travelled through Turkey before. He gave me the address of Mehmet who is the kindest man and seems to know every living soul, at least the ones on two wheels, in Turkey and neighbouring countries. After several other attempts he introduced us to Giannis who succeeded in finding the perfect place for our bikes by putting up a search in several greek motorcycle forums. The pleasant outcome is that we're now going to be hosted by Lina and Babis in Thessaloniki. We cannot thank all of you enough for your helpfulness, kindness and generosity! And thanks to all the others that were willing to offer a place to us, too! It's just great to experience that motorcyclists are such a strong community across all frontiers!

The last preparations on the bikes have already been made. We can now enjoy the last days before our departure with being excited that the journey's soon going to start!










Montag, 24. März 2014

First obstacles on the horizon

Even before we've set off we have to face the first difficulties in connection with our travel concept. For the moment it looks like it is not going to be possible to leave the bikes in Turkey for a longer period than 6 months. Now our alternate plan is to try to solve the bike storage problem at least close to the turkish border in Bulgaria or Greece since there are no restrictions in regard to customs in the European Union.