Chapter 2
Greece & Turkey
The Abominable Mudman meets the Carpet Salesman...

The Abominable Mudman meets the Carpet Salesman...

Flog rugs to foreign punters

You know all the stuff about the 'long winding road' leading to the goal etc; well I've arrived! I want to become a carpet salesman here in Istanbul! Yes it's true...I'm going to stay to flog rugs to foreign punters. Nothing like pulling the rug over their eyes or even out of their flies, or whatever! It feels so good to be sending this report from Istanbul, especially when I think that if I were still in England, the winter would be starting to set in.


The ride down from my parent's house near Duesseldorf via Bonn to pick up my passport (sans Sudanese visa) to Lyon was as boring as it was uneventful. I got 650km out of the tank, which is about 6 litres per 100km or 40 mpg in old money. This is what it should be. 3 cheers for the new needles in the carburettors!

Lyon was excellent as usual. Steven, Elizabeth and their friends were very laid back. I did have an adventure with the right hand HT lead falling out of the ignition coil. Before I checked properly, I had the carb apart because I thought it was defective. The bike had started and was running (albeit on 1 cylinder). So, Brighty, do you checks... fuel, spark, electrics etc before you start to dismantle the bike for 2 1/2 hours on the side of the road!

Interpol are also hot on my tail


On Tuesday, I set off for Perugia in Italy. I had some grief at a tollbooth where they wouldn't accept my credit card, even though it was acceptable in the booth next-door. I got a thing to pay at the post office. I may have forgotten to pay, so now Interpol are also hot on my tail. A couple of days later I drove via Assisi to Ancona for the ferry to Iguemenetsa in Greece.

Here's Brighty's next hot tip: never arrive early for a ferry in Italy. I got there at noon for a 3.30pm boat which ended up leaving at 5.30pm, with me being the last vehicle on. I can't describe the pleasure derived from standing in the midday sun breathing in diesel fumes for 5 hours. I won't mention the nice bloke running around blowing his whistle rather loudly next to my ear.

The roads in Greece are excellent for an enduro bike. Windy tarmac, gravel, dirt and mud (more of that later!) The first day I made it to Kalambaka, site of the Meteora Monasteries. These were built on huge pinnacles of rock for protection from attackers.

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Not to worry


I thought I had a problem with the bike, with the rear bevel/ driveshaft making a slight clicking noise when you spin the back wheel slowly. I asked several BMW mechanics en route to and also in Istanbul of their opinion. All said not to worry, and one chap in Thessaloniki said it was probably caused by the fact the oil was hotter/ thinner through high outside temperatures and lots of miles per day. Let's hope there is no problem as the shaft has only done 6000 km from new.

I headed North and then East around Mt Olympus. Some top biking roads. Here follows the next lesson for all you budding overlanders:

Scenario: You're riding on tarmac, then gravel, then dirt, when ahead in a dip next to a big tree you see some mud and water. Do you
1. Stop, look and drive through slowly?
2. Ride round the side?
3. Leave your brain on the trans-Adriatic ferry and accelerate toward the water?


You've guessed it! The answer is NOT 3! The reason for this is: The front wheel slips and the bike and rider lands in the mud. The right side of the bike is completely caked in brown cement-like mud and the rider is doing his best to look like an abominable mudman! His sense of humour may also be failing as there is fuel running out everywhere and he can't pick up the bike without removing the spare tyres strapped on the panniers.

Hermann the German


The following day I drove as far as I could up Mt Olympus. The 8-hour hike to the summit was too much after the previous day's exertions. There was too much cloud anyway! I did meet two Germans (one of whom was called Hermann) who live in Greece riding a 1940s 250 single and a 1950s 500 twin Beemers respectively.

My overall view of Greece was that the roads are great for biking, the women fat and/ or ugly and everybody is German or speaks German.

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The border crossing into Turkey was quite hassle free, but involved lots of bits of paper. I managed to get insurance ('sigorta' in Turkish) in the first big town. It was a real adventure finding somebody who spoke English to help me. A pleasant woman helped me out and I got a year's (they couldn't do 3 weeks) third party insurance for US$10!

The drive into Istanbul was absolutely mad. Evening rush hour with cars everywhere. At times it seemed like 99.9% of the road surface was covered by a vehicle.


I've spent the last couple of days chilling, seeing the sights and doing bike stuff, including meeting up with some very pleasant Turkish bikers. Yesterday I drove to the Jordanian Consulate to apply for a visa. Totally mind-blowing. In most Western cities there is some sort of order to road travel, so a bike swerving in and out of the traffic is quite unusual. Here everything, bus, car, bike, cart, scooter, animal, beggar, pedestrian etc etc is jockeying for space. Somehow everybody gets to where they are going without too much agitation. All you have to do is assert yourself on the road. Indecision spells disaster. When in Istanbul, do as the...

Istanbul is a city of 15 million people and all are on the move all the time. Most are gracious and friendly (even the carpet salesmen!) The food is great, the Mosques a bit noisy at 5 am and fuel is the same price as the UK. About a dollar a litre. I put 42 litres (for 655km) into my 43 litre tank yesterday. Now I'm poor!

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