Archiv der Kategorie: Europe-Asia

Tourist day and Preparations

While we kept waiting on quotes from different cargo companies, we used the metro bus back to Europe :p to do some of the sights of Istanbul. The following two nights we would stay with Kadir, a very good friend of my brother. Thanks again man, for the great time.

with Kadir at the roof terrace

Our first stop was the Galata Tower from where you have a beautiful view over Istanbul.

Topkapı Sarayı (palace of the sultans), Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) and the Galata Bridge


From here we walked all the way to Sultanahmet to get a good impression of this part of the city. We had a small Kokoreç as a snack on the go ;), a quite fatty and little bit hot but very tasty dish mainly made of lamb colon. We visited the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) and had a look at the Hagia Sophia right next to it. Than we spent some time in the Topkapı Sarayı (palace of the sultans) and walked through the grand bazar (Kapali Çarşı).blue mosque

blue mosque entering
Had to use a sheet, because my shorts didn’t cover the knees
almost 😉

On our way back we stopped for a balik ekmek (fish sandwich) at the Galata Bridge. In the evening we joined Kadir and his friend to watch the turkish super cup, Fenerbahçe vs. Galatasaray. The game was a bit chewy and it took to the penalties to see a goal and a winner (Fenerbahçe), but we had a good time with the guys.GaltaB

The next morning we took a ferry cross the Bosporus back to Altunizade and used the next days to plan the air freight of the bikes. Information kept coming in drop by drop. Sometimes it was really annoying and a challenge to keep calm… well, at some point we figured out that we had to organize the crates for the bikes ourselves. So we looked for a motorbike importer or retailer nearby and found the Motorium in Maltepe ( The very friendly and helpful shop owner Tolga Büyüköner, who used to ride an Africa Twin in the 90th, couldn’t provide us with used boxes but offered us to get them build by Kadir (another one 😉 ) a friend carpenter. With the language support of Ahmet Astepe we could make ourselves understood of what we needed and Kadir will even provide the straps to secure the bikes and deliver the boxes to the airport, which suits us well. Still there are many things to get done for the shipment on Tuesday, fingers crossed it will work out 🙂Motorium

The people in the Motorium are motorbike enthusiasts and were very interested in our trip so we promised to drop by on Saturday to talk a bit more about the things we already experienced and the places we want to go.

Lazy days in Istanbul

The next days until Sunday the 24th of August we spent at Daniels Grandparents house in Altunizade/Istanbul. We took it easy since it was very hot and humid. We had a lot of the very good Turkish cuisine. We are pretty much eating all the time. I have no idea how Turkish people stay skinny. The eating sessions were interrupted by visits to the local (air conditioned) shopping mall to use their free wifi and organize the next big step of our journey, the shipment to Sudan.

The bikes parked the grand parents house
The bikes parked the grand parents house


We got some beer at the swiss supermarket Migros, one of the few places selling alcohol here, which is quite funny since alcohol is pretty much the only thing they don’t sell at Migros in Switzerland.

We used the time at the house to do some maintenance work on the bikes. Daniels clutch was acting up on the way in which was most likely do to overheating in the heavy traffic and my speedometer decided to stop working since Greece. It’s not a big deal. I can drive without it, since my GPS is showing me the speed as well and no one seems to care about the speed limits here anyway. A bit more annoying is the lack of the trip distance which I use to guess the fuel level of my bike. Unfortunately, the all mighty Honda engineers did not consider a fuel indicator or reserve light as significant for the Africa Twin. A short operation in the garden delivered a broken speedometer gear in the front wheel as source of the malfunction. I ordered a replacement in Germany and have it shipped to Sudan (thanks Vanessa!).

Me use long lever!
Me use long lever!
Daniel updated his panniers
Daniel updated his panniers

Over the group Turkish Riders Support (, a very helpful initiative by motorbike enthusiasts here, we established contact to a workshop near our location to get our off road tires mounted and Daniels exhaust pipe welded. The workshop named Motorcat located in Kateköy, right behind the Fenebace stadium, is run by Yilmaz Aydemir, who won the Turkish motorbike championship in the 1000cc class on his Suzuki GSXR in 2009. They were extremely nice and helpful and got everything done well while they offered us very nice Turkish breakfast and a constant supply of tee. All day long people dropped in for a chat or small repairs and we had a great time talking to them. If you ever need motorbike support in Istanbul make sure to contact Yilmaz and his guys (N 40°59’09.1’’ E 29°02’18.2’’ Tel: 0261 5502998).

Yilmaz changing the tires the hard way
Yilmaz changing the tires the hard way


The new tires on the bike look super rad :). Though, they are still a bit slippery on the smooth Istanbul roads which should be o.k. after the first 100 km. Just control the accelerator hand in curves.

New tires, yay!

In the evening Daniels aunt Suzy invited us to diner at a magnificent place down at the Bosporus were we enjoyed a delicious dinner (way too much, of course). Thanks Suzy!

At the Bosporus
At the Bosporus


Today we had perfect riding conditions and stopped only for a sip of water and fuel. We drove more than 600 km leaving Croatia passing Serbia and entering Bulgaria. The last part of the serbian route lead through a nice canyon and was a lot of fun to ride.

canyon in serbia

In the late evening we found a camping site east of Sofia, the only one for 50 km in any direction. Well the guy at the reception was quite surprised when he saw us. It was hard to tell if that was because of the bikes or because there hadn’t been any guests in the past decades… that’s what the place looked like. We got a key for the toilet, which turned out to be a complete apartment, a completely rotten apartment. There were black armchairs, which used to be red, mold in the corners and a huge slug with a tiger strip-like pattern on the back sliding across the bath room. I guess toilet wasn’t the wrong term, after all. As sundowner or “Feierabendbierche” we had a croatian pivo (beer).

Bulgarien camping
camp site                                                                                                                         the toilet

After a refreshing night in the tents we decided to not do another > 500 km trip to reach Istanbul. Instead we drove to Alexandropolis, a little town at the greek mediterranean coast. Mostly the condition of the bulgarian highway wasn’t that good, what made the speed limit of 140 km/h kind of pointless, at least if you didn’t want to stress test your suspensions. After a stress less border crossing and numberless construction sites on the greek highway we reached the gorgeous camping site which was only 50 m to the sea. After a quick swim we had calamari and sufklaki with an ice cold verina (greek beer). Then we went back to the beach to finish the day of with a bottle of bulgarian beer and a pipe, under a sky full of stars and even some shooting stars…

Alexandropolis camping
cut my toe on a rock… first use of the band aid

The next day we started unhurried at 11 o clock to reach our first major destination Istanbul. After 40 km driving along the coast, we arrived at the border and passed it without any hassle. We just needed to show the passports, the registration documents of the bikes and a valid insurance a few times. No need of a carnet so far.

welcome to istanbul
Welcome to Turkey

We sticked to the country road instead of taking the highway to see a bit more of the landscape and to skip the highway toll 😉 The closer we got to Istanbul the more cars were on the street. We wanted to spend the night at a camp site in Sultanahmet, the old and touristic center of Istanbul. This “otopark” had been recommended to us by a couple from cologne we met in Bulgaria on the parking lot of “Kaufland” supermarket. But when we got there, the traffic was already sticky, the guy wouldn’t let us in. We asked why and after a while it seemed that the park was booked out… probably.

closed camp site istanbul
“closed” otopark at Sultanahmet                                   there were nice things to 😀

So after a short rest we went on to the house of my grandparents on the asian site of Istanbul. I knew that there is always a lot of traffic in Istanbul, but since we had only to go 15 km what should go wrong. After three hours with nearly 40°C air temperature and 80°C coming from the engine we arrived like the last man standing. Since we consider safety first we were still wearing our full motorbike gear and helmet, this plus the constant pulling of the clutch with the left hand was a proper torture. The traffic to the bridge had been literally like lava, steaming hot and edging its way forward. In the meantime the sun had set when we crossed the bridge going dribbdebosporus. The traffic here is “slightly” different to Germany, but you get along quite well once your grown into it. But don’t get me wrong, with the heavy loaded bikes it still feels like being an elephant in a bee hive.

Arriving Istanbul
some guy selling water on the highway                      Istanbul trafic by night                                                   (both pics were taken by the afri pi)

We were warmly welcomed by Tante Suzy with hugs and a nice turkish dinner. Restored we went for a walk looking for a turkish beer. Unfortunately they don’t sell alcohol after 22 o’clock, which made Topher almost feel like being at home in Freiburg. So we had some Uludaǧ and Çamlıca lemonade, “schmeckt auch gut” (tastes good too).