I am writing this sat in my tent on a superb campsite about 10 miles North of Bodrum. I am off to meet a friend of my mate Carl Howard called Sylvia later on in Gumbet but will be pushing off tomorrow for a place called Cappadocia in central Turkey where there are some excellent ruins of an underground civilisation. Check it out on Google.
You may well see some adverts starting to appear on my blog soon. Proceeds from the advertising will also be going to the Anthony Nolan Trust unless the trip starts to get mega expensive and I need to re-coup some costs. The following are excerpts from my diary for the last week…
Friday 11 May, Day 8 – Paros, Greece
Woke around nine and took another hot shower to get rid of the road grime then walked round to the campsite. The place was empty apart from one guy on his own and I walked up and asked if he spoke English. He turned out to be from Lee On Solent in Hampshire and was there with his push bike. We got talking and I found out his name was John Matthews. A great bloke of 73 years and had completed several charity bike rides. Lands End to John 0 Groats twice!
John was in process of moving to a room and said I could have his spec if I wanted. I tracked down the campsite manager and we agreed a price of 6 Euros per night. Not bad! Moved my gear from the hotel and set up camp then went back to the Livadia for a coffee and used the free Wi-Fi internet access to update my blog and send a couple of emails. Enjoyed my first pukka Greek salad for a few years.
Got the bike running and went to the port to speak about ferries to Turkey. No joy! It seems there are less boats on than last year. Might have to go back to Piraeus after all and may even have to ride around the coast. If I do this then I might be able to pop into Bulgaria to add another country to the itinerary. Always look on the bright side hey!
Went for a quick spin and was not too happy with the front end of the bike even with the luggage off. Stopped at the supermarket and bought some tinned meat balls for supper. Spent the evening at the campsite playing chess and listening to the World Service on my radio. I am particulary interested in news from countries in Africa that I will be travelling through. If I get that far! The meatballs were just about edible but a welcome change from fish!
Saturday 12 May, Day 9 – Paros, Greece
Got up early, about 7.30, and freshened up before walking across the road to the beach for a swim. The water was bloody cold and I only lasted 10 minutes or so.
Did some routine maintenance on the bike and rigged up my cigarette lighter type charger. Tested out the charger for my laptop by going for a quick spin to Naoussa and it seems to be working. It does need a fuse fitting to the power line and I will try and find one later today.
I experimented with strapping fuel cans to the side of the bike using my Oxford Sports luggage straps. This will allow me to fit 2 water containers into one of my bags. It looks ok and after the test ride there was nothing dodgy to report.
The speedo clock has come a little loose and I took off the front fairing to tighten this up. Also, I noticed that I have an intermittent fault on the ignition wiring. If I waggle the handle bars, the ignition and neutral lights go on and off.
Popped in to Livadia to pick up my emails late morning and found that Di from Denton Clark Rentals had sent an offer for my flat. I emailed back asking her to accept the offer. This was great news as I had been sweating a little about the cost of this trip with no income coming in.
Sunday 13 May, Day 10 – Paros, GreeceAnother quiet day relaxing. It’s tough at the top! Got up for an early swim and cooked some breakfast consisting of a noodle soup with sardines. Delicious! My larder is starting to run low and I am getting fed up of tinned sardines and mackerel, although they do seem to be keeping me healthy and I feel pretty good. I am trying to wait until I get to Turkey to re-stock as the shops on Paros seem expensive. I still have plenty of Super Noodles left. I have gone through quite a lot of muesli bars and will be looking to re-stock with these on the mainland, they are really useful for a quick snack when you are on the road.
A couple arrived in a blue VW Camper and I walked over to say hello. They turned out to be Paul and Linda from Petersfield in Hampshire. They had travelled down through Italy and ferried to Corfu. Then Paros via Piraeus. They plan to hop around the islands for a while and go home through Albania and Croatia so we had a chat about the route.
I spent some time thinking about the fuel carrying arrangements and have come round to the idea that it will be best to put 2 fuel cans in each pannier, they fit quite well, and pad them out with softer stuff. This is safer than strapping them to the bike and retains the security aspect as the panniers are locked to the frame.
Watched the first half of the Man City game in Livadia but was disappointed when the locals demanded the TV be switched over to basketball at half time. There was an obnoxious Spurs fan in the bar who couldn’t put a sentence together without use of the F word. I kept my head down and didn’t speak to him. I listened to the second half of the match on my radio in the tent. Well done City! Amazing last few minutes, but that’s football.
While I was in Livadia I used the internet to do some more checking on the ferries to Turkey. It seems that Chios and Kos are the 2 best bets. Kos is my preference as it only takes 3 boats, one to Syros, one to Kos, and one to the mainland, whereas the Chios option will require one more boat.
The mosquitos are a real nuisance on the campsite and I have been bitten about a dozen times. The bites aren’t too bad and I guess this is good training for Siberia where I believe the mozzies are gigantic.
Monday 14 May, Day 11 – Paros, Greece
After much deliberation I finally booked my ferry to Turkey via Syros and Kos. Seemed a bit expensive at 74 Euros from Paros to Kos and I believe it is another 55 Euros from Kos to Bodrum. I booked as far as Kos using Nikos at Polos Tours at the port in Paros he phoned the port authority in Kos to check it was all possible so at least I know I won’t turn up and find I can’t get across.
Bumped into Yannis at Cactus and had a good chat about stuff. He is concerned about the future for Paros and feels some development is needed, such as an airport, to generate economic growth. Yannis mentioned that there is a motorcycle dealer next to the Dubliner that might be able to give advice on tyres etc.
I went up to the bike shop called Moto Trust and met a great guy called Peter who was also into travelling on is BMW GS800. He had done trips to Turkey and Tunis so I was interested to talk to him about the road conditions and fuel prices in Turkey. He told me that fuel in Turkey was more expensive than Greece. He invited me to the Paros Moto Club meeting on Wednesday but unfortunately I will have left the island by then. The shop had some interesting machines in, one in particular was an absolutely mint Yamaha Tenere 600.
I checked up on fuel prices using www.mytravelcost.com and found that Turkey is currently the most expensive in the world at 1.97 Euros per litre. I have around 900 miles to cover in Turkey so this is going to cost around 200 Euros. The good news is that from there on the fuel can only get cheaper. In Georgia it should be around 1.04 and in Russia 0.73. The cheapest price I will pay with my current itinerary according to the website is 0.66 in Kazakhstan. They currently list the UK at tenth highest with a price of 1.76 Euros per litre.
Had a couple of beers in Livadia and then had an early night with the radio. I have got into the habit of turning my sleeping bag inside out before getting in because I am sharing my tent with all kinds of creepy crawlies. It is impossible to keep them out.
Tuesday 15 May, Day 12 – Paros, Greece
Went into Parikia and checked out the exchange rates for swapping my Sterling to Euros. I went to 3 banks and two exchange offices and the deals ranged from 1185 to 1210 Euros for 1000 Pounds. I think it will be best to change my cash to Euros here rather than wait until I am in Turkey. I can spend the Euros in Turkey and then get some Roubles in Russia. I have read that it can be difficult to change Sterling in Russia once you get outside the cities in the Western part of the country. I definitely don’t want to get stuck in Siberia with no Roubles for fuel. Once I get to Magadan I intend to use my credit card to pay for the shipping fees to Anchorage.
Rode out to the point at the harbour entrance where there is a memorial to the Empress Samina ferry disaster which claimed 80 lives on 26 September 2000. The inscription reads ‘their lives in the embrace of the waves’.
Did a little fishing but it was very windy so packed in. The track out there is a bit rough and it was a good opportunity to play on the Tiger without the luggage on. I still have a lot to learn about handling the bike on rough roads so I watched a couple of videos on YouTube in Livadia over a cold beer. The experts make it look easy and I picked up a couple of tips.
Had a couple of beers in Livadia and got the map of Turkey spread out to try and decide on a route. Finally gave in and decided to implement Google Ad Sense on my blog. Not sure how much revenue this will generate for the charity but it is worth a go.