Balkans 2016 – Day 5 : Saray to Kirklareli

Another fantastic day of sunshine and warm weather. Perfect for riding. After packing my stuff I headed for a Turkish breakfast ie soup and bread. Nice warm up before heading out. 

Borh Warmshowers host at Vize and Kirklareli did not reply so I guess I have to find my own accommodation. Maybe wild camping. Anyway headed towards Vize for a coffee break. 

Had a wonderful encounter at the coffee place first with a customer who told me was a butcher via goggle translate and then bought me a cup of coffee. After he left order a Turkish coffee and the owner of the shop offered me FOC. What a great stop. 

Head off to direction of Kirklareli and had a lunch stop at Pinarhisar. Took a break from standard Turkish fare and had a burger instead. Ate half the bun of course still watching my carbs consumption. The owner there was also very chatty and mentioned that last year he host 2 German cyclist. I was tempted to ask if he could host me but it’s only 2pm and I still like to do some more cycling. So did not ask la. 

I was making good time so I decided to push through to Kirklareli and start to look for accommodation options there. First stop to buy water and had a good chat with the owner. I asked where I should sleep or camp. Well no offer lot he says sleep either at the cemetery or a corner which he pointed that looks kinda crappy. In the end I said my goodbyes and left looking for other options. Next up a petrol station with a big car wash. Also cannot so push forward somemore and then saw what look like 2 police officer having a break at a small park and I asked where I could camp. They said I could camp here. Ok the place is small but there is a part that looks very discrete so I found my camping stop for the night. Tent set up. Raki sipped , a small bite ala cold cuts and now getting ready for bed. Hopefully everything will turn out ok. Sweet dreams. See you tomorrow. 

Lions Project : RM 20.38

Breakfast soup place. Seems like a popular place in town with a steady stream of crowd.
Center of Saray town
Several water stops. Drinkable it seems but I did not try.
Nice and wide open roads.
Strange structure in middle of the highway.
Probably overpaid for the fruits and egg i bought from her but i guess it pays for the selfie.
Coffee time with owner Ugur Salm
This farmer was crossing the road. Almost ram in to me
Bald but scenic with nice colors.

A old fort at Panirhisar

Campsite at last

Balkans 2016 – Day 4 : Örcünlü to Saray, Turkey

A complete contrast to yesterday. From the sunrise it looks certain it will be a bright and sunny day. After having a couple of Turkish coffees, some peanuts and a peach for breakfast, I was ready to start packing. The plan was to finish packing and be ready to ride out at 9am. Turns out packing was not all easy and took longer that I thought.  I was all packed and ready to roll by 930 am.  

The initial part of the road comes with large emergency lanes. The second part the roads are not as good and shoulder almost non existent. Thankfully as I edged further and further away from Istanbul, traffic became much  lesser. 

The road condition was also quite good until around 30km to Saray when the Tarmac was quite broken up making it a very rough ride. Combined with the relentless dragon backs up until the last 3 km the ride was one of the more challenging 68KM ride. Maybe because I have a hauling a 40 kilo bike or maybe I did not have enough food. I ran out of Turkish Lira and was trying to get more from ATM along the way. Turns out none to be found in smaller towns. Luckily I had plenty of water and peanuts to sustain me until Saray. Well a passerby in a car did stop to ask if I needed water food or money. I should have said yes. But I say no because I did have Euros and peanuts and water. What a kind gesture anyway. 

I was elated to finally come out of the dragon backs and into the flat. And with Saray city in sight I was energize immediately and push hard to reach my end point of the day. 

All the time I was eyeing potential place to camp or to ask for permission go camp but I saw nothing really works for me. 

Saray looks like a busy town but it’s so dusty and chaotic. I went to the first bank I saw and notice that their ATM did not have any PLUS or Cirrus signs so maybe cannot use. Oh Oh. Panic No Money. That’s my primitive brain speaking. Anyway I went inside the bank to ask to exchange my Euros instead. I was give a number by a security guard and waited my turn. Turns out that the system allow them to only change money with locals as a local passport is needed. Very weird. No matter after a few Turkish chatter here and there, the lady type something on my google translator which said Jeweller. Huh ? Yes they saw the jewelry shop will change for me. So the security guard escorted me to the jewellery shop and got me the exchange. I was thankful. Actually as I ventured further there was plenty of ATM with PLUS and Cirrus. 

Now that is sorted my next task is to look for a place to stay. I really didn’t want to camp or ride around anymore to ask people if I could camp at their place so decided to ask the town folks where is the cheapest hotel. I was always hoping when asking where to stay someone would offer to host me. But no such luck but another luck appeared as I found a nice little hotel for a fair deal of 35Liras. It had twin beds shower tv and free internet access. So I grabbed it and was happy. 

I am not fully set up to have a shower , dinner and some rest to prepare for my ride tomorrow. Till then goodnight. 

Lions Project : RM 12.45

A wonderdul day ahead from the looks of it.
Thanks for a great camping experience. The journey continues.
First part looks like a highway but with wide shoulders its very safe. Although the branch out where a tad dangerous but thankfully not many.
Great country roads ahead and this is where the dragon backs starts.
Time for a break
Yeehaaaa but on the other side another climb I will eventually pass 3 of such
Another rest and peanut break.
Saray city busy dusty and chaotic.
Dinner starter. Cant resist the wonderful fresh out of the oven bread. served with goat cheese , butter and a spicy dip.

Main dish of grilled lamb kofta. Fantastic flavors.
The friendly folks at Sanluifra Iskender restaurant. They even gave me a 4Lira discount of the meal and free chai.
My home for the night.
Very acceptable room. Now time for rest.

Balkans 2016 – Day 3 : Istanbul to Örcünlü, Turkey

Woke up this morning at 445 am and feeling my bike staring at me asking me to set him up. Tossed and turned and few more times and woke up just in time when the morning prayers started. To me it signaled time to set up bike. Was happy that the bike was intact and all parts seems to be working. Next working on packing the panniers and rack bag. With that in the bag pun intended, went for my favorite soup shop for breakfast and came back just as Mustafa arrives. Mustafa my host does not stay at the apartment he is hosting me in and instead he stays with his mom a few blocks away. 

Had a bit of a chit chat with Mustafa before saying our good byes and finally setting out.

I decided to try out a new route instead and headed north on the old Erdine road towards road D020. It was a good choice. Traffic was bearable and on faster roads there was wide shoulders.  

However the day was over cast and rainy. It rain pretty much the whole day. It is as if Mr Cloud and Mrs Rain playing peekaboo just to irritate Mr Sunshine. the rain although mostly light came in waves making wearing the right clothing difficult as you’d feel sometimes too cold and sometimes too hot. 

In anycase I am happy to be on the way and inch myself towards Basel. Yehaaaaa !

Lions Project : RM 5.53 

My usual soup place. This time i am not sure what soup it is. Doesnt matter. tasted great
They serve other goodies as well.
Mustafa sending me off. Thanks for the hospitality.
Final pose before pushing off. Its already been raining lightly
City of Arnavutköy. First stop for superb grilled chicken Only 12 Liras for the whole bird.
Yummy. i fiinish the half and the rest keep for others.
Turkish yoghurt drink.
Part of the D020 road Nice rolling and wide shoulders. Traffic is also not high. you will pass by several forrested areas.
Found a nice paid campsite near the village of Örcünlü At frst they offerred me a nice chalet with fireplace for 100 TL but finally I settled for dinner and camping for 35TL.
Turkish Raki Made of Grapes,raisins and Aniseed distilled then water and sugar is added last. 45% proof. This will keep me warm on cold days but a tad sweet for my taste.
Dinner deal. Grilled lamb cutlets , turkish cofee and camping for 35 Lira.
Handy and cheap thermometer says its close to 16 C and droping Preparing fo a cool night of camping.
Welcome to my chill out camping pad
Look at the stars see how they shine for you.
There you go Darth is all soiled from todays wet ride but ready to take on Day 4

Balkans 2016 – Day 2 : The Waiting Game. 

Another day of waiting gives me the opportunity to acquaint myself with Istanbul again. Yes I been to Istanbul 3 or 4 times before around 20 years ago. After a great soupy breakfast I stuck around a little while before heading by bus to the edge of Bosphorous on the Europe side and took a ferry across to the Asia side for a quick lunch and then back via a senic Bhosporous tour. Headed back to wait for the luggage arrival but not a single sign. As it turns out it’s pasar tani Wednesday around the area I am staying and it was a massive one. Enjoyed the sight of the variety of local produce, spices and dried goods. Decided to head back again to wait. Still nada. Its almost 10 pm now nothing yet. To be continued. ………

Had a wonderful chicken vege soup with unlimited amount of bread. All for 4 TL only.
Scenes at Eminonu the edge of Europe along the Bosphorus. This is where you can hop on local ferries or do a Bosphorus tour
Do like the turks and relax with a cuppa bitter coffee. Yeehaaa
The view of the Euopean side of Turkey. Surprisngly doesnt seem to have changed much after close to20 years. I am glad that no signs of massive mega towers all along the Bosphorus
Rumeli Fotress. Built in 1452.
Hey Green peace. what are you protesting against now.
OK OK will act touristy and pose. Background structure is Kizkulesi aka Maidens Tower. Would have been interesting to take a boat ride over but entrance priced at 20TL is a bit of a rip off.
Transformation of a framers market
Fantastic array of stuff you can get here.
All the produce are super fresh and inexpensive. I bought a kilo of Peaches at 2.5 Lira only. That works out to be around 3.50 RM.
Hanging shoes
Head scarfs are very popular
Crowd swell.
More crowds
Entrance to my warmshower host ‘s apartment
Here with my very talented host. Mustafa was a graduate in Business Admin and now he is a graphic and multi media designer He is also the owner of Pilli bikes sepcializing in outfitting bikes with electronic kit.

One of Mustafa’s clients bike

Balkans 2016 – Day 0 

Monday evening  I head for the airport to catch my flight to Istanbul. Trying to do it most affordably. Get someone to send to 1 Utama bus station- FOC. Take Skybus to KLIA2 – RM15. Take KLIA express to KLIA from KLIA2- RM2. If you have the time, this will work. It took me around 1 hour 45 mins to get from I Utama to KLIA. It was 8 pm so traffic was still a tad heavy. I guess you can make in faster rike during non peak hours. 

All ready to be loaded to be sent to 1 Utama bus station.
Waiting for the bus to come. A tad delayed due to bad traffic.
On the KLIA express

Balkans 2016 – Day -1

The incredible IKEA Dimpa bag. What an impressive and affordable bag. All my camping gear and 2 rear panniers can fit nicely inside this

Busy busy day of packing and meeting up with buddies for farewell fling. Packing is essentially done. Just need to tape up everything and we are good to go. Tomorrow will be a super busy day to get all necessary errands done.

That was the only cooler bag I could find. All my cooking stuff goes in here. Sexy pink is the new black ?
The bike is packed and ready to be boxed.