Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The west coast. Turkey.

Before leaving home I was lucky enough to enjoy the splendid culinary skills of my friend and house mate, Tom and one of my best friends of many years, Wozzy (Warren). Both love cooking and are brilliant at it. It is traditional in my house for Wozzy to do the Sunday roast and between them they tend to take over the kitchen during the week as well! We all know what we are good at and generally stick to our corners. Personally, I am good at eating! 

Before my trip, people kept asking me what training I was doing. The answer was “I’m bulking up”! Need to get some weight on me before I leave or I’ll waist away!”

The same catchphrase would be announced as I reached for each home baked Viennese whirl. It was a great excuse and one people seemed to accept willingly! 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

one month on a CRF250L

It has been exactly one month since I waved goodbye to my friends, family and a whole host of bikers at the Ace cafe,  and hit the road. It seems a lifetime ago that I was standing on top of the roof of that iconic building and waving to the crowds below! Did that really happen?

"Look at me ma! Top of the Ace!"

In the space of around 3 weeks I travelled 3,500 miles on Rhonda and, if you count the UK, ridden in 10 countries.

The last week has been spent in Istanbul, waiting for my Iranian Visa amongst other things and I must say, despite enjoying my time here, I am really looking
forward to hitting the road again tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Carpe Diem

As I sit overlooking the busy Bosphorus Straits which connect the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and tuck in to the best Kofta Kebab I have ever tasted without being drunk, I find myself slipping in to contemplation mode (ok so you cant say I didn't warn you!).

I realised how lucky I am. Many a time I have preached that there is no such thing as luck.

"You make your own luck. Good or bad. It is a matter of choice". And while I may be able to sit here and be proud that I have (in the words of Adele) thrown my soul through every open door (on some occasions I have beaten a hole through the wall with my head!), there are factors in life that perhaps cannot be changed for some people. The cards we are dealt can be manipulated for sure but some circumstances just won't give.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The gateway to Asia

Goodbye to Ian and Lesley in Bulgaria
30 miles from Kemal's place, heading into one of the largest cities in the world and my Garmin decides to stop working! The roads quickly turning from a gentle trickle to full blown unforgiving rapids. I interpreted the road signs to read "No rules apply".

"OK don't panic. Find somewhere to pull over and you can figure this out". I needed to get my bearings and I needed to unpack my "bring it on" head. I also needed to strip off some layers and lose the earplugs. I prayed that a quick reset of the Garmin would see it working again.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Popping the Vespa Cherry

Sean and his Vespa
I left Belgrade yesterday with a a full belly, new friends and my Buff smelling of fabric conditioner. Life couldn't be better!

Sean and his very soon to be wife, Tamara, have a great flat in central Belgrade with a basement car park for Rhonda, a spare bed and a very warm welcome for stray bikers like myself. I was looking forward to finding out all about Sean's own world trip which he completed 2 year ago. 18 months on the road with nothing more than a fully loaded Vespa and a heavy dose of optimism. 

Some of the photos from his trip were displayed on the walls and it was great to look at them and imagine my own walls full of similar pictures one day. Where those walls will be is another question all together and one I don't care to worry about. In fact it is all part of the adventure and the not knowing is exiting! Sean, a Canadian, had ended up here, in Belgrade, with a wonderful Serbian wife to be and a book on it’s way. I look forward to receiving my signed copy just as soon as it’s finished (hint hint)! 

Hotel California

Having left the twisties of Romania behind on Sunday I headed for a border town ready to cross over in to Serbia in the morning. I picked a name on the map and headed for it. On arrival though, it was not a great place to say the least. This place was a dump, with nothing but bordered up hotels and truck drivers everywhere. It had looked so promising on the map, situated on the river and surrounded by forest. Sometimes things only look good on paper. This was one of those times! 

I must admit I felt a little vulnerable here on my own with all my belongings on display. It just felt dodgy and it was getting late. Soon I would lose the light as well. My only comfort at the end of this particularly long day. I set my Garmin to find me a hotel and ended up heading back up the dirty riverside road the way I had come and towards the last town, which now looked inviting despite my thoughts as I had ridden through it being “You couldn't pay me to stay here!”

Friday, 4 April 2014

Hungary and Romania

Heroes Square, Budapest
I must admit to blasting through Hungary with just the one stop in Budapest with my lovely hosts Llona and Csaba who spent their whole afternoon taking me around the sites of Budapest. Another very interesting and beautiful city with it's chain bridge between Bud and Pest, the houses of parliament and the many cathedrals. I was quite surprised at how considerately everyone drove as I entered the city. I have become accustomed to people driving up my rear end and expected worse to come in Budapest. Not so. They kept their distance and I had no problems at all. Even the lorry drivers were considerate! Amazing!