Monday 28 July 2008

I didnt do it!

I swear by the life of Barry that I was nowhere near the site of the explosions at any time in the past two weeks and I have witnesses to prove it.

Just thought I'd let everyone know I am ok, I really was miles away getting happily drunk and oblivious to it until everyone in the hostel started calling home saying they were ok. It is strange, when we were hit in the UK everyone was talking about it but here it seems that people refuse to even acknowledge that it happened. Maybe that is an attitude we should have in the UK, ignore them and eventually they'll go away!

Friday 25 July 2008

An experience not to be forgotten quickly.

I really debated about writting about this for reasons that will become clear later in the story. But what is the point in having a story if you never tell anyone about it? Kinda like owning a car and never driving it!

So the other night I met up with an Aussie guy called Brent in the Big Apple hostel. I had met him in Belgrade previously while he was halfway through a drinking game. I should have been able to see what was coming from a mile away! We had a couple of beers at the hostel and then headed into town for some food (2 lire for a donar! Bargin) and then debated the advantages and disadvantages of trying to sneak some cheap beer into the hostel. We decided the cost/risk ratio was worth it and so gave it a try and obviously we got caught and kicked out.

We headed down to a park outside the blue mosque to drink our beers before heading back to the hostel. That was weird enough, sitting drinking beer outside a mosque. While we were there 3 turkish guys came over and started talking to us. Nothing unusual but we were in a dark corner of a dark park a little drunk and breaking the law so alarm bells were quietly ringing in my head. Within 10 minutes everyone had got friendly. Only one of the turks spoke english and it was funny watching him translate everything while getting really animated. Then one of the non english speakers asked me if I liked Mary Anne. Mary Anne? was he trying to sell me his sister or something? Finally realised he was trying to say Mary Jane and I figured why not, it would be rude to say no and they were really happy when we said yes but again alarm bells were getting louder. Strange city, strange park, strange turks and strange drugs.... So this joint starts getting passed round and then it comes to my turn. Literally as I put my lips to the roach and started to toke I see something move in the corner of my eye and then these two other turkish guys turn up and started talking to the other guys. One of them then holds out his hand for the joint, takes it, has a big long puff and then stubs it out.

It is right then that the alarm bells hit full pitch. Something wasn't right and my heart knew it. We were sitting in a corner with nowhere to go and no-one within yelling distance. Then I see the gun and realise the one guy is yelling at me in Turkish getting really angry. and then the guys we were with are telling me he wants my passport which I didnt have, didnt have any ID at all. Things were getting way out of hand way too quickly. I had at this point just about worked out they were the police and I did not want to spend a night in a Turkish cell.

Eventually the yelling stopped realising he wasnt going to get anywhere with us, he just stared at us for a bit and then finally he kind of whispered "go" and pointed to the road. We both of us started walking very carefully not too fast, not too slow towards the road. I just wanted to run at that point. We rounded the corner and burst into laughter. We could still hear the argument going on in the park and I realised that being british probably saved me either a fat bribe or a cold damp night slightly stoned in a turkish cell.

The moral of the story? It's ok to break the law as long as you dont speak turkish!

Wednesday 23 July 2008

I have learnt the meaning of another phrase

"bored shitless"

It is to be so bored that going for a shit actually seems like something interesting to do. It is the last of the desperate measures we take to feel occupied. Once you have releived yourself of that measure then you litterally have nothing left and so you are bored shitless!

Thats what staring at the sterile white walls of the british embassy waiting room will do to you. I have been in and out of that building so many times that the security guards know me and smile sympathetically as I walk up. Even stopped searching me for weapons or at least they dont quite do a full pat down anymore!

Visas are basically sorted now. My Indian visa is a probable yes, just have to wait on paperwork. The Pakistani visa I will have to sort out when I get to Tehran and it will be a transit visa not a tourist visa. I wasnt planning on spending long there so 10 days is fine for me! the Iranian visa is another probable yes. I need to go in for a "short" interview and to get the paperwork again.

The Indian visa is the problem, not if I will get it but how long it will take. If I can get moving within a week I will be happy. I can then take my time going down and around the south coast of Turkey rather than rushing through on the motorways to make sure I meet up with the other bikers!

Did I mention I was writting a book? Now seems like a good a time as any to start one. I have rewritten the prologue about 5 times now. I personally think it is really good not that I plan on letting anyone read it. I dont really know the ending. Dont want to spoil it for myself! It's pretty fun making up a story as you go along not quite knowing where it is going or why.

Monday 21 July 2008

Last week

Ok so in a previous post I mentioned I met some people I was planning on meeting again in Istanbul. Well I did meet them and one of them was the most amazing girl I have ever met. She is smart, funny, beautiful, caring and she loves life. I literally spent every waking minute with her shopping, sightseeing, eating, drinking... quite alot of drinking actually. We acted like we were on holiday rather than travelling. Spent too much, kept the locals up until sunrise, generally caused problems you know the usual things us brits do on holiday and I loved everty minute of it.

But I have a problem now. You see, I have to stay here for 2 weeks now at least while I wait for visas and when Harriet left what made this city beautiful left with her. It is sickeningly ironic that I had to go all the way to Serbia to meet someone so special who actually lives less than 2 hours away from me in the UK.

Whats worse? Every step of this trip, which I have planned and dreamed about for so many years, takes me further away from her. I think I know what "the other side of the world" means now.

Saturday 19 July 2008

I stepped on a dead rat today.

With no shoes on. I learnt a very valuable lesson!

I´m heading to Gallipoli today so I am not making a long post. I will be back in Istanbul by Monday so I will update you all then. Sorry I´ve not been updating the blog but I had such a great time last week that I didnt really feel like sitting infront of a computer writting about it but I promise I will tell you all about it on Monday.

Friday 11 July 2008

East is East. Europe is now a distant memory.

It`s official. I am no longer wandering the smooth tarmaced roads of the EU but the slightly bumbier roads of Turkey are just as inviting. Two nights ago I slept ın the border town of Erdine which used to be the capital of the Ottoman empire. I was one day late for the annual oil wrestling which annoyed me a little but nevermind. The town was small but full of interestıng sites.

This mosque ıs at the center of the town. It ıs consıdered the most beautıful mosque ın Turkey. And just as the call to prayer started I dropped my bıke on the ground ınfront of maybe 50 people! Not at all embarrassıng.

I only stayed here fr one day but ıt was worth stoppıng. There are not many sıtes but they make an obvıous change from what you see ın Europe.

I am ın Istanbul now stayıng ın the bıg apple hostel. It ıs very nıce even ıf ıt does lack aır condıtıonıng. Oh I should mentıon I forgot to put suntan lotıon on yesterday for the rıde to Istanbul. I would take a photo of my arms but I fear the flash would cause more damage! I am goıng to meet up wıth some people I met ın Belgrade and Bulgarıa later today. Its goıng to be nıce not havıng t go through the usual ıntroductıons. Meetıng new people ıs great but you do tend to repeat yourself alot.

Now for your vıewıng pleasure:

Ok these two guys were pure classıcs. These photos were taken at about 3 ın the afternoon. The guy ın hıs boxers has a story he wants to tell but he just kept on repeatıng the line 'the swedısh gırl' and 'amerıcan hıkers'. Yes there ıs a pıcture of a bus, yes I took ıt whıle rıdıng. Yes ıt does say KamılKoc..... And fınally the brıdge where Franz Ferdınand was shot startıng WW1

Monday 7 July 2008

Another week another thousand miles!

you know, give or take the odd 100.

I am now in a place called Velko Tarnovo which is a small fort town outside of Sofia in Bulgaria. I probably should have posted something about Belgrade before this. And Sarajevo before that but I have been erm drunk I guess is the best excuse.

Sarajevo was definitely an eye opener. It is hard to think about war when we live in such complete safety in the UK but walking around the streets seeing grenade marks, bullet holes and blood stains really brings it home especially as it happened so recently. For those of you that don't know Sarajevo was kept under a complete siege for almost 4 years. The Serbian attackers took the high ground surrounding the city and literally bombarded it with immunity from retaliation. The effect on the city, even now 14 years on, is visible both visually on the streets and in the mentality of the people.

A quick switch now from the depressing to the more light hearted night scene of Belgrade seeing as Sarajevo has been documented by far better writers than me. Belgrade has this awesome three stage, every night concert inside a ruined castle. The atmosphere there was great and again the drink was cheap. Met some people that night who I am planning on seeing again in Istanbul if I make it on time.

Now like I said, I am in Bulgaria. My first night I spent in a hotel that cost 20 Euros and was by far the nicest room I have ever stayed in. My second night I haven't experienced yet but I will let you know in a couple of days how it goes!

More border trouble due to my green card, again waved off after handing over a smoke. For something so cheap (about 5p each over here) cigs carry alot of weight with border guards!

After a couple of nights here I am going to make a big push into turkey and Erdine. It'll be a hell of a ride but I need to get myself into gear if I want to get my visas before next year!

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Just some photos in this one

My first campsite just outside Reimes in France

Mine and Barrys first sunset

Notre Dame Cathedral (stumbled across it by accident)

Some cool classic bikes in Zurich

View from my campsite in Zurich

Pushing over the tower because apparently holding it up is uncool...

What I am going to do to someone that says pushing the tower over is also uncool. Actually a statue in the Vatican museum.

Bet ya cant guess what this is

And another of the coliseum to prove I was there and not actually waiting to go onto BB!

and I dont know what this is but I am looking very thoughtful in it. It is in Rome again!

Tivel fountain in Rome. This was a really nice place to sit and relax in the shade while the rest of Rome boiled

The Vatican. I dont know what to say really. It didnt have any religious feelings for me but I was overwhelmed by the sheer size and beauty of it. I can understand why thousands flock there to catch a glimpse of the Pope. It definately has a sort of power to it but if it is of state or of God is another matter.

Some Spanish guys on the crossing with me from Pescara to Havar 4CATS Llancavor (I spelt that wrong) was their riding name. You cant see the fourth cat in this picture so it doesnt make much sense.

Thats it for now. I will upload the whole album at some point but with no comments. Too many photos. You can play guess the city or something.