Fabio Esposito's journey from the splendid Lunigiana to the magnificent Turkey, the cradle of civilization and an incredible country to discover by motorbike. Click here for the gallery
Ready Set Go!
Started from Aulla, I stopped in Ancona where I took the ferry to Igoumenitsa, and already here I should have understood that it was going to be a difficult journey, because the ferry arrived very late and arrived in Greece with the same delay. So I had to do a long and boring pull of about 600 km (what romantic motorcyclists call a "ride" for me is "two balls like that!"), Along the Egnatia Odos highway, to get close to Alexandroupolis, where, despite the late hour, I enjoyed a nice bath to wash away the tiredness and sweat of the journey.
The following day I "faced" the Turkish border where I lost more than an hour to buy a Turkish phone card, to get the "green card" for the motorcycle and above all to pass 4 Turkish checkpoints where they always asked me: the passport, the green card and the motorcycle registration document. The neighbor who speaks ill of the European Union would do well to experience what it means to cross a non-EU border!
From the border to Pamukkale
When I entered Turkey, I traveled almost the entire Gallipoli peninsula along a road that runs along the Sea of Marmara, until crossing the Dardanelles with a comfortable ferry at Canakkale. From here, passing through a winding coastal road, I arrived at Assos, an ancient Greek city (of which the archaeological site remains) with a wonderful seaside village with small hotels and restaurants directly overlooking the sea. After leaving Assos I followed the road along the pleasant Aegean coast to the island of Cunda (Alibey Island) where I had an appointment with a Turkish motorcyclist friend of mine.
After a pleasant day spent in company and having participated in a motorcycle rally, complete with a musical show and DJ set, I left to reach Pamukkale: needless to exert myself in the description of the magnificence and peculiarity of the world famous place! Beyond the famous limestone formations, the adjoining archaeological site is also very beautiful (you pay a single ticket for entry).
From here, I continued the journey returning to the sea, this time the Mediterranean, making the first stop at archaeological site of Pinara, to then arrive in the seaside village of Nov, which still retains several period buildings. Still along the coast, after visiting the site of Myra, I stopped at Antalya, a beautiful and vibrant modern city that has retained a charming historic center. But the one described up to now was only the starter of the trip, because from here on, the “real” Turkey was waiting for me!
First stop a A horse, the holy city of Anatolia, where the order of the Dervishes was born, where I finally began to savor the flavor of the East, with the lullabies of the muezzins who wake you up early in the morning and say "goodnight" in the evening and the strong smell of multicolored spices displayed on shop counters. Konia has a beautiful old town, full of mosques and a beautiful bazaar. After Konia, another obligatory stop Goreme in Cappadocia and here happened the patatrac of the muscle tear that forced me to bed for three days. The fourth day I could not resist and I rented a quad to ride around Goreme, despite the pain, including the Derinkuyu underground city, Cavusin ed Uchisar.
The bitterness of the forced stop in Goreme was however softened by the participation in a ceremony of the Dervish dancers and, above all, from the morning show of a multitude of hot air balloons hovering in the cobalt blue sky! Finally on the fifth day, gritting my teeth and very carefully, I got back on the road with the bike. Unfortunately the stop forced me to cut some more eastern stages, it will be for another trip!
Kebab, Amazons and back
After Goreme it was the turn of the historic city of Tokat where I ate the "Real" kebab (40 minutes of preparation), which tradition has it born in this town, and visited the various mosques and caravanserais; in Tokat there are very few foreign tourists because the reception staff of the hotel where I slept did not know English and even at the restaurant I had many problems of understanding, luckily someone invented google translate!
Another short stop in the beautiful town of Amasya, founded by the queen of the Amazons (hence the name), which preserves several Islamic monuments, rock tombs and a beautiful old town of Ottoman houses stretched softly along the bank of the river that divides the city. From Amasya I made a long transfer to get to Safranbolu, one of the most beautiful Turkish cities of the trip, with a beautiful historic center full of Ottoman houses and well-preserved mosques, even if it was very difficult and painful for me to visit it due to the muscle tear, because the streets are cobbled and steeply sloping.
Then the last stages in Turkey, that is Bursa, a modern city that preserves many Muslim monuments (including the Great Mosque, which is really huge!) and Edirne, a frontier city that blends the characteristics of Turkish, Greek and Bulgarian cities with the charm of Muslim cities: very pleasant to walk around. After repeating the procedure out of Turkey (again a long queue and 4 checks for more than an hour), and once again taking the Egnatia Odos highway, I reached Thessaloniki: really not very fascinating after the beauty of the Turkish towns. Finally Igoumentisa and again the ferry to Ancona (with the traditional delay) and the return home!
This is the brief story of 20 days of travel and just over 6000 km, but what matters is to tell the beauty of the landscapes with rugged and arid mountains in contrast with the green valleys of luxuriant nature; I would like to convey the charm of the villages that seem to still live in the 19th century, where the traveler is still greeted as he passes by and where the modernity of my bike made it look like a time machine; but above all I would like to be able to convey the feelings I felt in contact with a very cordial and always very helpful people (they helped me a lot both when I got hurt in Goreme, but also in the following stages) and very curious towards foreigners, so much so that to be able to overcome the language barrier and to "converse" with simple gestures and (few) words in English.
The police checkpoint where I stopped to ask for directions: the 4 policemen, all rigorously armed with machine guns, literally surrounded me and did all they could to understand what I was saying and make themselves understood with a thousand smiles and the inevitable offer of a cup of Turkish black tea. Only the group selfie was missing!
The Turkish biker whose life I saved; he did not speak English, least of all I did Turkish, so we looked each other straight in the eye, a handshake and a pat on the back were worth more than a thousand words of thanks.
The shy and confused look of the boy who was ashamed to ask me 5 Turkish lira (the equivalent of 80 euro cents) for half a fresh and tasty melon that I ate in a kiosk on the side of the road: probably the boy would have asked for less lira from people local, but when he saw “the foreigner with the big and expensive motorbike” he saw fit to ask for something more.
The charm of the girls with the veil: I don't know how to describe it, but for me they have a very particular sensuality; not to mention the sharp and mysterious gaze of the women with the burqua. The interior of the mosques is always very simple and unadorned, apart from the frescoes with verses from the Koran and some decorations with colored majolica and perhaps, precisely for this reason, they convey more spirituality and a sense of recollection than our churches.
As for motorcycles, I have seen very few of them of large displacement, mostly I have seen 125 and 250 motorcycles from Mondial and Cuba, as well as Honda that are not imported by us, with saddlebags across the saddles as they were used on the back. mules or camels, instead of classic and European trunks.
One last thing: gasoline in Turkey costs less than in Italy, while in Greece it costs as much and more than in Italy, I know that this is the typical curiosity that grips motorcyclists!
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