Monday, 30 May 2011
Day 10 - Riva Beykoz, Istanbul
Best meal so far last night in a locals Greek/Bosnian resturant. A fresh sea food delight with squid as the main coarse and great local wine by the jug. Public hoiday in the UK, what better way to celebrate than with Turkey. Rode to the border with Turkey on the E85. We saw a large bird of prey swoop down on to the motorway and catch a mouse from the grass verge. We also saw a large convoy of Greek miltary vehicles on the oppersite carrageway. Is there something we have miss, not had any news since left home. We got to the border and went through Greek passport and customs no problem. We then crossed a bridge over in to Turkey which had respective countries military guarding. When we got to the Turkish side we had the first of seven (yes 7!) document checks. He was very abrupt and only wanted vehicle ownership documents, second wanted .... I won't bore you with the details, surffice to say my earlier tricks for Albania were not going to work here. I purchased a visa but Sergio being Italian didn't need one? Shengen agreement I think. UK are not in EU. At the third check I got refused entry! They were not satisfied with my nice white insurance certificate. They wanted a 'Green Card' ? Which is a different type of insurance with offical looking stamps etc. So I had to leave my bike and walk back to the Duty Free mall and get one. Sergio joined me and it was his turn to rescue me. We found a post office but nobody was in it, Sergio asked around and the impression was he was on a break. Then one of the people pointed us to an office across from the post office that could do insurance. A young lady did the honours and for 27 Euro I had 3 months insurance for Turkey on a BMW K1200 GT. Great. Then I had to chase different officials for 3 stamps and 2 signatures in my passport. All done got to another barrier where passport, insurance and ownership documents finally checked and barrier was lifted to enter Turkey. Phew! The dual carrageway was worse than the back roads of Greece and the drivers a hazard. We saw people walking down the central reservation, two women crossing and trying to push a small child through the armaco barrier, horse drawn carts, no lane descrimination, vehicles driving in the oppersite direction down the hard shoulder..... shall I go on? Bloody dangerous. Cars would tailgate inches from the back of the bike. Not good. We headed towards Istanbul on the dual carrageway and then switched to the bumper car race track they call the E80. We reached a toll point but there was no way to pay or take a ticket. We watched cars using a plastic oyster type card. We continued on the basis that we would deal with it at the other end. At the other end we were approached by two guys insisting we had to buy cards from them. When I said they were too expensive the price and currency altered. We declined there kind offer and skirted acroos the traffic queues to an offical looking building. They wanted 50 Turkish Lira each! We tried to explain that was too much and we only wanted 1 or 2 trips on the road. We were getting nowhere, when a young guy getting a top-up explained that that is the lowest credit card they sell but each trip is only 3 Lira. We had no option. We wished we had stayed on the madhouse dual carriageway. The cayous continued and the traffic got worse as we approached Istanbul. We were looking for an exit that would take us to Kumkoy on the West side of the Bosphours at the Black Sea. We saw no exit and before we knew it we had over shot our target, where riding across the suspension bridge and had arrived in Asia. Target exceeded ! We decided that rather than trying to fight the flow of traffic again we would turn off and camp in Asia. We looped around and under the bridge to a town called Beykoz (we don't know why but, I'm sure my daughter could sing a song from the Wizard of Oz play she's in that might explain it). I asked a guy at a petrol station for "Camping, Camp" and made a triangle jesture with my arms. He said "Riva, Riva, nice camp, straight on". We took him at his word and by asking others along the way found Riva. Riva is a small sea side town on the Black Sea, that has never seen foreign tourists. On the direction of others we ended up green laning again in an attempt to find said campsite. When we found it we kept our distanced and decided it wasn't for us. It looked like a refugee camp with structures of plastic sheeting. We had visions of being abused, robbed and killed. We retreated back to Riva and booked in to hotel with a pool, two twin rooms with breakfast and parking for the bikes in the back garden for 50 Lira each (£25). We celebrated exceeding our aim of reaching the furthest east in Europe with fresh sea bass from the Bospherous and local white wine in a resturant on the beach, while watching the fishing boats return up the eastury and after dipping our toes in the Black Sea. I love the irony of celebrating acheving our target with beer and the mosque in the back ground, still, if this evenings anything to go by the omar will be getting his own back at 05:00hrs tomorrow morning. Following the meal we walked back to the hotel and noticed that some lads were watching TV in the local barbers. I articulated in my best Euro could I have a haircut. I was shown to a seat offered tea and one the lads went off to drag the poor barber either from his bed or , more likely, from the local bar at 22:00hrs. The result, I've got a Turkish haircut and very good it was too. The works: head, ears, nose and eyebrows. It will seem funny not riding East any more.