Salda to Antalya

I set off reasonably early and headed straight for the trails but within 2 minutes I was stopped at a Police checkpoint. A quick check of my documents, two officers wanted to sit on the bike before lots of pats on the back and advice to ride carefully before I was on my way.

Huge surface mines scar the landscape in search of precious stones, metals and the stone itself.
Another turn back. I got this far before walking further up the hill. The trail deteriorated and although the bike was almost certainly capable of tackling it, I wasn’t so sure of riding it alone
A few minutes later I was in the mountains again and it was a good few hours of trails like this

The ride to Antalya was easy but Antalya itself is a hugely busy town. The traffic was manic, it was hot and I wasn’t happy sat gently roasting in traffic

The TET trail disappeared and after a little bit of investigation it transpired it had been replaced by a new road.
I made it to Antalya and found a hotel with cool coffee bar nearby
An evening walk along the beach
My luggage was falling apart faster than I could fix it so it was time to lighten the load and bin this lot
Breakfast was by the waterfall
Really picturesque
Although totally man made this is waste water from a power station cooling system
This is genuine though. Hadrian’s Gate, a smaller version of the one I had seen in Greece. The Romans like a gate apparently
Antalya old city is a lovely walk even on a toasty hot day
The modern town equally good
It was hot and I needed shade and a rest
I ordered a coffee as I had eaten too many sweet things!! 🤣

I’d had two days in Antalya and barely scraped the surface of this diverse city. However it was very touristy and I was ready to move on.

I had managed to find a Decathlon and got myself a big rucksack to replace my luggage.

Turkey Usak to Salda Lake

I didn’t know it but it was going to be a great day. The TET wasn’t far off and the first section was narrow rutted roads, giving way to a trail just after this bridge

It’s a waterfall created by diverting water through a hydro-electric plant.

The gravel path was easy going and took me to Ulubey Canyon, the second biggest canyon in the world.

Dropping down Ulubey Canyon
Breath taking scenery as you wind your way down one side and up the other
It just looks so good
The climb out of the canyon was fun
Later in the day I came across this place. Advertised as a waterfall it was seriously devoid of water, but a beautiful place
It was pretty much closed for the season but staff rustled me up some food and even hooked a few wallnuts from the tree for me
There were some great fast bits on the way to Salsa
Arriving at Salda Lake I wasn’t prepared for my hotel to be so good
A room with a view

Salda and its lake are quite unique. The lake is a crater lake and is 200m deep with a stunning white sandy shoreline. I 2021 NASA declared an interest in building a research centre here because its structure and minerals are almost identical to those found on Mars.

Turkey, moving on.

After much soaking and a great nights sleep allied with top class food it was difficult to drag myself away from the Harlek Thermal Hotel in Kutahya.

60km of road led me to the TET and gave me time to consider if my knee was going to be OK.

The trail started with some nice flowing trails not very technical and just what I needed
This was fun, wish I’d put the video on. That’s one steep decent. Full on trials riding my ¼ton bike.
Riding up a mountain road with block paving for 30km. Easy riding but not easy construction
Turkey just keeps on giving
A local offered to take my pic. Thanks fella
Some of the tiny villages are really run down but you always get a smile and wave as you ride through on a bike costing more than most earn in a lifetime.

It was another lovely warm day ending with a ride into Usak. The town a mix of wealthy and poor as so many are. Booking a hotel was increasingly difficult as my default website doesn’t work in Turkey. Remember that, when you visit and you really should visit.

Anyway a Ramada Inn was reasonably cheap and the bike was safely locked next to the entrance. That night I patched up the luggage again.

Turkey, the next bit.

A quick recap. New tyres and fast flowing track, the sun was now out and the bike set up was good. I had a full tank of fuel and was ready for some great trails.

Shortly after that picture there was some more technical stuff and then some trails in the woods. There was a section of sand which the bike has no trouble with. Then a climb, not technical but looked to be sandy. I should have stopped and walked it first but its just a sandy climb right? Wrong! What looked like the sand I’d just ridden through was now quite solid and I didn’t notice until the front wheel got stuck in a rut. I put my left foot down onto the top of the rut and steadied myself but in an instant the pannier bag hit my foot trapping it. The forward momentum of the bike pulled me off the side and the bike fell. All of this was very slow speed and would have been fine if my foot hadn’t twisted round the wrong way and then got trapped under the pannier.

I had to think of a way to sort this. I was yelping quite a bit so maybe someone would hear. I tried to lift the bike even a little in order to release my foot but some of me was still astride it. When I did lift the bars just a few millimetres the lift pushed down on the rear of the bike more. My left knee was killing me. I needed to release some twist or load on it. I started trying to dig down under it with a twig. The ground was sand like texture but had set solid. I checked my phone, no signal. I couldn’t reach far behind me or even twist to see what was going on. I’m my mind I knew I needed a lever to lift the bike. I thought I could remove the handlebars and use them somehow, but the tools are in the bag behind me. There’s nothing for it I need to get the luggage off. I started gently twisting against the pain forcing the twist more but hopefully not enough to rip or worse snap anything. It was crazy painful but I managed to reach the cargo net. There was no getting that off properly so I grabbed what I could and pulled at it until the hooks bent and came undone. Luckily the Rok-Straps were fastened behind me. With them undone I dragged the dry bag and tent to the front. At least the tent could support my body a bit. I got the tools out and linked the two tyre levers together and tried to lever the handlebars up a bit, again it was futile and painful. I pulled out the multitool. I could cut the boot open maybe. There was now way I could reach and cut that far down. I did manage to loosen the top buckle but that did nothing. However I was now twisting further and I could reach the trapped pannier. With one last twist I managed to unfasten the front of the bag. I unrolled it as best I could and reached my fingers in. Luckily everything inside was in small dry bags. My finger tips got a bag and pulled at it. Little by little I teased the bag until I got a grip on it and pulled it out. Suddenly there was less pressure on my ankle. I couldn’t reach the next bag but with the pliers I could, another bag out and another. Each item releasing the pressure on my ankle. Then……

I just had to lay there a while to let the blood circulate and ease my leg back into action
Help wasn’t coming

Having sent the drone up to see how close help would have been. All I needed to do now was lift the bike up with 1½ leg power.

Then reload the bike and carry on

Within 30 minutes the trail intersected a road and I headed off towards the next nearest town. I stopped and used Google maps to find me a hotel. What I found was a Thermal Spa Hotel. It was 30km away but that didn’t matter, luxury awaited.

Turkey Day 1 and a bit.

Turkey will need a few posts. I was awake early having not only slept on the ferry but also slept soundly in the hotel. The same could not be said for Michel.

I walked the town to get a local sim card. I liked this statue and Turkish flag but I can’t tell you more about it

It was 11am before we got going. I had studied the map and saw the TET was a long way off, beyond a town called Bursa. It happened that Michel also intended travelling that way, so once again I followed, happy not to be navigating.

You all know I’m rubbish with food right? Michel introduced me to Turkish food. It was actually ok

We stayed in a cool little hotel and Michel haggled to get a good price.

The next morning we set off knowing at some point we would go separate ways, however it nearly happened within 500m. We both needed fuel and set off to get some, I got stuck behind a van then at some lights. I got to the petrol station and no Michel. I sent him a text saying I would see him on the road. As it happens we were both in traffic minutes later and reunited.

Fuel but no Michel

We stopped at a roadside cafe, they had no coffee. I opted for a tin of cold coffee and a chocolate bar. However Michel had located a Starbucks just down the road. We made a detour.

It was time for me to hit the TET. I had yet to test my new tyres in anger and soon the trail went off to the left of the road. I waved goodbye and headed off trying to keep up with Michel as the trail followed the road for a while but I was still in road mode and hadn’t disabled traction control.

It was overcast and a bit chilly but I was loving it
At first a gentle climb on wide tracks
Then fast flowing paths. The tyres felt good I was loving it

I was making great progress and then……..


Bulgaria was going to be a road section. I had decided that prior to arriving. I had two destinations in mind. Sofia, the Capitol and Plovdiv, the home town of a friend of mine.

Having entered the country at Deve Bair in the North East of N. Macedonia, it was a straight 100km run to Sofia.

On arrival I booked a hotel and made my way to the outskirts of Sofia.

The family hotel marsina.

The hotel looked good but it was far from it. The place smelt of cigarettes and damp. There was a child’s birthday party taking place when I got there, not an issue as it would surely end before I went to bed. What actually happened was more and more people turned up and partied loudly into the early hours.

Next morning I went to the centre of Sofia.
There are many Russian monuments to WW2 soldiers who died.
I had read how artists had painted one monument and it was now an attraction in its own right. However as you can see the artists work had been removed
Glorious buildings adorn the capitol
This church has a contravercial image of a bald Jesus at the entrance
The statue of Saint Sofia is the newest statue in the city. It replaces an old statue of Lenin. On her left arm an owl symbolises wisdom and on the right a laurel wreath considered a symbol of peace
Whilst excavating for a new underground shopping centre a near complete Roman town was found. Its in great condition and you can see the heating systems and sewer systems
The oldest and smallest church in Sofia. St Petka church
Batemburg Square

I’d had my fill of Sofia so headed south towards Plovdiv. I got an amazing hotel at a great price, so I booked two nights.

Nothing says class more than an orange PVC chair with leopard skin cushions
Next to the hotel was a park and huge statue atop the hill
A 16m high statue of Aliosha stands in memory of soviet casualties of the second Soviet occupation of Bulgaria
Plovdiv from the monument
Looking down on my hotel
That evening I went to the singing fountains. Water jets and coloured lighting accompany the soundtrack to music played throughout the park
A great friend of mine is from Plovdiv and works in London. I tracked down his Grandmother and called him on video call. It was quite a surprise for him
As I headed south it was time for fuel and coffee. As I filled up I was joined by a guy on a BMW GS800
Next morning in a howling gale I set off to the Communist monument known as the UFO building
Many bike travellers visit this crumbling monument.
Known as the Bulgaria UFO it is really the Buzludzha Monument. A former Bulgarian Communist Party Headquarters.
Signs on the outside say it is under restoration. I saw no signs of that as the wind literally shook the roof apart
Walking round the open side the wind nearly took me off my feet
Did I mention it was windy?
Some grass
There was nothing on this impressive statue. Google says, Dimitar Blagoev Nikolov was a Bulgarian political leader and philosopher.
Some villages have old soviet planes in their squares. Most are war memorials
This one is in the infant school playground
Sunset looking up at the statue I visited
Next morning it was time to head off towards Turkey, but not before being turned away from a military base that was shown as disused.
At a fuel stop I was joined for coffee by a guy on his BMW GS800
That guy was Michel.

Michel is a Lebonese guy who was travelling home from Germany on his newly purchased GS which replaced his 650 that was stolen. We chatted for a while and Michel told me he intended to catch a ferry that would bypass the need to travel through Istanbul. I knew I would ride through it twice but I could go with Michel and then visit Istanbul on the way back. Michel was happy for me to join him.

It was nice for me to just follow rather than be navigating as we headed to Tekirdag port. On arrival we boarded the ferry within an hour but then waited another hour to sail

We were first on
The bikes dwarfed by the ferry superstructure

We had just left port when we were told the crossing would be 3 to 3½ hours. In the end it was nearly 5 hours. I slept across a bench seat in the empty cafeteria. I think it was, 3am when we arrived in Bandirma, Turkey. I had found a hotel very close to the port and happily they had two rooms. We would regroup at 9am.

Greece & North Macedonia

Entering Greece should have been easy and in essence it was however the border guard had some words. Basically as my passport had not been stamped on leaving the Czech Republic I had effectively not left the schengen zone and now only had 20 days left

Just after the border I took this car ferry
One of the first campsites I found was at Igomenitsa and there was a Honda dealer in town
I lounged on the beach while the bike got pampered with new fork seals and oil

It’s time to admit I was feeling a bit Meh! I had stopped enjoying it all for a while. I think that was due to a number of things. The bike needed new tyres again, the fork seals weren’t a cheap repair and I spent two precious days getting them done. I’d had to sit down and work out how many days I had used in the last 12 months as an overstay would be a minimum £500 fine and maybe a 12month travel ban to schengen countries.

I hadn’t done any research on Greece, but I had said several times to various Norwegians “I’ll probably head down to Athens”. Life rules say, if you tell 3 people then it has to happen. Plus I thought it would be cool to do furthest North to furthest South. We can skip over the fact parts of Spain are further South.

On day two my tent was raided at 6am

Anyway the upshot of all this is that I kind of rushed Greece. Using the motorway to head South to Athens.

On arriving I headed straight to a tyre shop. The bike needed a new front and I was less than happy with the rear that had been fine on the trails but had lost traction 3 times on the road with no warning. It just so happened that they had a pair of Anakee Wild tyres. I had heard they were good.

Two new tyres please

Next was the campsite closest to the Parthanon. It was full and not taking anymore bookings. The lady gave me directions to the next nearest which was 20km away in heavy traffic. On arrival it was like a scrap yard, full of old cars, vans and a big dog on a chain. I didn’t even stop. I searched for a hotel and found one with underground parking. I booked two nights so I could have a day I Athens without luggage

Hadrian’s Gate to the city of Olympus
Say what you like about the Romans, they knew how to scaffold
The Parthanon sits atop the acropolis. Acropolis just means biggest hill
The queues for the Parthanon were really long so I settled for a distanced view for free
Athens is massive

On leaving Athens I headed to the olympic village, built for the 2004 summer Olympics it was a gorgeous setting and was fully equipped for athletes to train and live during the event. Unfortunately the village was subject to the devastating financial crises that hit Greece a few years later and now is just like a very modern ruin.

I now realise this is a water tower not the Olympic flame

Heading North again hoping to save a schengen day by using motorways to aim for North Macedonia that evening but not before visiting Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus ahead
I did a good thing.
Stunning roads and scenery.
This is as far as I got. The top is open to the public but is also a military base. It was closed, I could camp and hike it the next day but those where big clouds
I got caught in rush hour traffic

The last 50km to the border where on a pot holed Road and I was glad to see the border post. There was a slight delay as I had to buy insurance for N. Macedonia. By then it was getting dark so I booked into the first hotel I found. £25 and 5 star.


I’m sorry Greece and North Macedonia I’ve not done you justice but I’m back on it, ready for Bulgaria.

S2 Ep8 Albania

In writing my blogs I upload the pictures first to jog my memory and I choose what I think are good. Albania was spectacular and I’ve cut the photos down to just the 60 or so…..

This is what I expected of Albania, a little bit run down. This was just past the border
And to be fair this is also a preconceived view
This was the first trail on the TET, it ran behind a village for about 2km past a grave yard and scrap yard.
Yup that as well, was this going to be dire?
I fuelled the bike and me at a cafe. The owners were lovely..
The road improved towards the mountains
So did the scenery
I was headed for Teth on a ribbon of tarmac laid through the most wonderful mountain scenery.
At Teth there was a cafe and I filled up on greasy chips and coke.
The road turned into a track then rocks and a huge never ending climb to 1750m
The further I went the more tired I became
I can’t explain how steep this is
The bike was incredible powering up the mountain
At about 5pm I came across an old campsite. Shortly after I was joined by 3 guys from New Zealand on a cycling holiday and two German back packers
It was a very cold night. Two sleeping bags, thermals, wooly hat and socks cold
But firing the bike along the tracks in the morning soon warmed me up
Truly stunning scenery
And great riding
Towards the end of the morning this crystal clear stream was beautiful
Weird lighting but a small cafe supplied a amazing lunch
Up until I came back from the toilet that is!!!!
It’ll be fine!
It was as much fun as it looks
I dropped down into Tirana where €30 got me a huge gated house to myself
I felt a bit like I was Albanian mafia
Goodbye Tirana
Back on the TET
Much needed salad and water stop
It was just another fantastic day.  I stopped ina village for a breather and was given bunches of grapes to take away
A welcome break and hair wash to cool down
The last part of today was to cross a dried river bed of sand and rocks. I was turning round when I dropped the bike. As ever I had to unload it to lift it and repack
10 minutes later I dropped it again
I just need to get to the other side

I decided to get to the far river Bank and find somewhere to pitch my tent. As it happens there’s quite a steep climb out of the river and up a hill almost straight after. I told myself as soon as this hill levels I’m pitching my tent, I was exhausted.

At the top of the hill without any warning appeared a square with a shop, restaurant, bar and hotel.

I couldn’t believe it. I checked into the hotel and ordered a coffee. Moments later 3 Germans arrived from the other direction and then 2 French guys who I’d met in Croatia arrived as well. It was great. I also slept very well.

Leaving the hotel I was the last one away after a bit of maintenance
There’s a huge adventure bike in this picture
The trails were fast and twisty with light gravel
There was also a 50kmstrdtch of stunning road
An old monument to Russian soldiers from WW2 crumbles into the ground
There was a protest by goats who locked the road
Biking heaven

I ended the day just a short distance from the Greek border. Albania had delivered beyond all my expectations. It was thrilling, beautiful, friendly, challenging and rewarding. A cultural mix of modern and rural living. I met new friends and bumped into Old friends. I made memories to last a lifetime. Albania was so much better than I thought possible. So Greece, get your ‘A’ game on, because I coming for you tomorrow.

S2 Ep7 Montenegro

My first view of Montenegro was border control.

Well border control was slow. Over an hour to get through and the first time I’ve been asked for documents. Passport and bike docs.

One of my first stops was for a haircut.
In Montenegro they have scenic routes marked and this was route 3.

I thought I’d film the zig zag road. Took the GoPro session off the chin mount and put it on the top mount. Bleep battery dead. Swapped it for GoPro no2 bleep memory full. OK I’ll get to the top and fly the drone.

At the top unpacked everything, hooked up the phone, switched on the drone. It needed calibrating, did that and it refused to fly as it is too close to an airfield.

You know I love an airport right
I don’t know, but I like it

It was all roads and I ended up in Podgorica, the Capitol. I had a fantastic carbonara in town before heading to my super cheap apartment. It was cheap and cheerful.

It looks OK but it was in a dodgy looking area
Inside was a bit tired

Next morning I would be headed to Albania.

S2 Ep6 Stop the clock!

As this would be my first day in a non schengen visa country I could stop counting days. As Brits we can now only spend 90 days in every 180 in schengen registered countries. So at 50 days the counting was put on hold.

I headed for Zagreb to try and locate a new front tyre. Long story short 10 shops 70 miles no tyre.

Riding towards the coast I took shelter from a massive downpour

It was 4pm and the skies were black. Next to the petrol station was a motel. I was in and cozy for the night as heavy storms rattled on.

In more grey skies the next day I headed further towards Rijeka. Soon I was staring at the Med.

I had plans to visit two lesser known tourist attractions

On the coast to the North of Rijeka is the first ever torpedo factory and testing facility. Empty for decades its slowly being reclaimed by the sea.
This is the Communist built Palace Hotel. Again now abandoned it was fascinating to see and wonder what deals were brockered in those little booths on the dance floor.
Lunch in a cute harbour but storm clouds were forming
29km later I found a great apartment and there was a supermarket just down the road. I ate way too much that night.
Decission time. The weather said stay on the coast but the TET is in those mountains and I wanted some off road.
As I went up the clouds moved away.
I cant explain how steep this rocky path was. I almost turned round. Riding alone is no time for heroics.
I walked up the climbs to assess them first. I was shattered. If it rained I was scuppered
A gentle reminder not to wander off the track
Some bits were awesome, fast gravel tracks weaving through stunning scenery
Towards the end of the day a hill top monument to those young men who gave their lives just 27 years ago.
Im in a race against the seasons and Im not winning
Time to head back to the coast and find somewhere
At a cost of £24 I got a 3 bed apartment with a covered entrance for the bike.
The covered entrance was needed. The weather was bad and there was no way my bike, my mis-matched tyres and my ability were going to be able to continue in the mountains
So I followed the coast road south, dodging rain storms. This is Zadar an old city and fort
It was beautiful but as so many places it was full of boutique shops.

Back on the road and still rain dodging i was pleased with my efforts until I felt a few drips. I always go straight for full wet gear but there was nowhere to stop and in the few minuyes it took to find a place, the rain was hammering down. I was drentched. It carried on for quite some time. I decided to get a room.

This little place was perfect. It literally had steps down into the sea.
Next morning it was as if nothing had happened
I was headed for Dubrovnic. This is a spectacular bridge. I stopped to admire it and met a Brit on a BMW who had riden down just to see it.
Dubrovnic campsite was rocky.

I had heard from a work colleague, Mark and his wife Julie, that they were in Dubrovnic. We met up and I drank beer. (Not done that in a while).

These two were great company for two nights. It was great to see Mark and meet Julie
A patrol boat from the serbia Croatia war
Looking like something from the A team. This armoured vehicle was manufactured in Dubrovnic to protect Dubrovnic
The old town is captivating. I walked around the castle and streets for hours.
Used in Game of Thrones they were filming again during my visit
Viewed from the top of the cable car

The weather had been awkward for off road riding but when it cleared up Croatia delivered in so many ways. I was fairly sure Montenegro would struggle to match it, but its the next country just a few short kilometers away.

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