We both loved Turkey ….once we got through the border. We got to the border as it was getting dark, took our helmets off and were attacked by swarms of mosquito’s. Before Ian could get the mossie repellent out we were bitten to death. The next morning I looked like a teenager with really bad acne!
We were hot, sweaty and tired and proceeded to go through the border formalities. We were told to leave the bikes and directed 400 yards back to the duty free shop to buy insurance. Seemed like an awfully long walk back when you’re knackered in big bike boots. Then we met the Turkish equivalent of Manuel from Fawlty Tower who eventually sold us insurance.
However back at the border crossing to to the amusement of the guards we had bought a motorway toll ticket. Bollocks. So we had to march all the way back and get the real insurance. Having placated the officials again it was on the next part of the merry go round to have what we’d already had inspected, inspected again to be given a bar code to cross into Turkey. By this time it was late so it was off to the nearest hotel, check in and get a cold beer. Only problem once we’d checked into our no so deluxe room, no beer.
Our golden rule now is always check for beer first before checking in.
The next day it was into the chaos that is Istanbul which is huge. The drivers are completely mental. They don’t just cut you up, they slice you and dice you. Years of dispatching on a bike in London didn’t prepare me for this.
Indicators are useless ornaments for drivers here, car manufacturers would be better saving the money on indicators and fitting bigger and louder horns instead. The bigger the vehicle the more right of way you have, simple.
However despite the blatant aggression of the drivers wherever we stopped all the people were so friendly, curious and so helpful.
We pulled into a small dusty village called Cerkes in the middle of nowhere not expecting much and rode round looking for a hotel. This guy ran out in the middle of the road shouting and waving his arms, turns out he was the hotel manager and had spotted some business. No beer in the hotel but he assured us there was beer in town. Perfect a quick change then as we came out the manager had organised a taxi to take us all of 200 yards down the street to the off licence.
The locals all stared at us as if we were from Mars and if anything it felt a little hostile. There was nowhere else to go so we went out to sit down on the side of the dusty street. Things didn’t look very promising.
How wrong we were. One of the locals came rushing out with 2 plastic beer crates to sit on and conversation began. In very limited English, a bit of sign language and Facebook we proceeded to have a great night with the guys. The hospitality and friendliness was outstanding.
At one point a very drunken objectionable local came up and hes was instantly surrounded by 3 of our hosts and pushed away whilst our main host who looked like Al Pacino gently ushered us into the shop and apologised for the disturbance.
It was a brilliant night and not what we expected when we turned up in this small village.
We experienced the same levels of friendliness everywhere, people just couldn’t do enough for us.
In Trabzon we pulled into a bike shop looking for tyres and Denis the owner spoke great English. Once again nothing was a problem, sit down, have some tea, how can we help etc. along with a impromptu stunt display from one of the staff as he wheelied up and down the steps and the pavement.
Turkey what a great place, shame we didn’t see more in our hurry to head East.