26.02.2018. Monday (10 days b.Dday)
It’s 10 degrees C below zero. The wind is blowing and scattering snow that keeps falling. I’m rather tired of shoveling, even though I really love snow and winter, and they say it will continue snowing and it will get even colder…It’s the 17th day of my physio therapy, my shoulder is not getting any better, the comforting thought is that the rest of the body is coming back to shape (more or less). If not by swimming, exercising, electro therapy and laser, then at least by the shovel that I cannot avoid if I want to get to the listed stuff…It’s been a while since I wrote I good ‘wandering’ (some would say that it actually never happened), the last one is from 2016. And so, while my friends are promoting their books on moto-travelling, I use fountain pen and write some reminders and notes in hope that I will eventually have the will and inspiration to write something sensible. Last winter I’ve been following expedition diary written by the first Croat who hiked, alone and without anyone’s help, to the South Pole. I’ve admired his will, his struggle with morning demons, weather conditions, life decisions. Yes, I admit that I was waiting each new blog entry with eagerness of the passionate soap-opera viewer waiting for the new episode of his favorite series. With each new step he made, I kept in mind my business travel to Cyprus in March and kept dreaming of me being winter-resistant and wander to Cyprus on the bike. I even shared this idea with a few people. My mind is not set to it yet, but today I obtained international driver’s license.
Let’s see what I have in notes until today.
Until 23.02.2018 (when I started writing notes)
The only one registered and capable of long trips is Gandalf the Gray (GtG or just Gandalf). Numerous praises have been casted on his behalf in previous wanderings, we’ve been through a lot together and I keep wondering whether I am in fact asking too much of him. He’s twenty yrs old, bought after the police has written him off, and passed more than 55000 kms with me since. I take really good care of him every winter, but my care has its limits and I cannot fully provide what I probably should. What did he get this winter? Besides regular oil change, he got NEW set of disc plates (the accent is on new as sometimes I tend to swap old ones for used, thank you Iggy). He even got the new front tire (again accent on NEW). While I was placing back the valve lid after calibrating, one of the threads in the block decided that it is enough, which gave me a chance to learn how to fix it with the spiral. Last year in Italy the daily mileage resetting wheel broke, and during Durmitor trip I noticed that RpM gauge is getting stuck once in a while. Thanks to the person who sold me Gandalf I managed to fix this, but I still did not pay parts. I took the exhaust from the same person as I got the feeling that the one that I have is coming to its end (thank you Valent). However, a friend, a fellow biker and exhaust doctor ripped my exhaust up to the end just to conclude that there is still some life left in it, so he sewed it back and repainted the stitches (thank you Željko). Cracked chrome I managed to cover with the color in spray. But before that I made mid girders that have not been there before, and I could write a small novel about making, setting up and welding. As I did not replace the exhaust and I had to change something, I changed the seals connecting to the block. The seals were NEW, from Tomić, BMW original…so someone does not say that I am stingy. When I finally started the bike, I realized that the sound I hear is not the valves but probably the chains…but that’s something that it’s not on my priority list so I hope it will do for a while. Also, I was not planning to fix the back shock absorber, but Štef made me to because he saw that it is a bit greasy and not easy to calibrate…he does not know that I never touched it and who knows for how long I’ve been driving around with that problem. And who am I supposed to take the it to? Another Štef who lives on the hill outside of Samobor, who owns a shop that you cannot stand strait without hitting the ceiling beam, in a blink of an eye realizes the problem of the spring calibration and the shock absorber itself. Spring calibration problem cannot be fixed so I got the remake and now it is mid-hard and cannot be any softer, just harder. I did not ask for the other thing. I could also write a small novel about taking over (thank you Flek). Ah yes, I almost forgot, the bike got a new spark plugs, even though the old ones were still great, I think I had them only for 2 years.
About the test drive
It took place on 19.2. in the conditions of 2 degrees C, without armor on bike, to Tokić in VŽ to get some oil for front telescopes. My legs and feet froze decently, not to describe in more inappropriate details. Cold for the head as well, as I did not have undercap nor scarf. Heated gloves helped the hands even though they are on the verge of being usable. These gloves were purchased from China of course in the moment of lucidity in the middle of day-dreaming, and in my head, they were the only thing that I need for driving long distance in below zero. I ordered ones powered with AA batteries and able to heat for 8 hours, and if that’s not enough, the batteries are easily obtained anywhere. However, the battery duration tests proved that the heating cannot last for more than 2 hours, the manufacturer admitted, so the seller apologized and returned the money fearing low rating. Two hours can be a lot, but driving, slipping off hands, annoying battery block and similar small details are the reason for saying that the usability is on the verge.
How insane you have to be to believe in Chinese product specification?
About irrelevant things
The Ferry. I spent some time searching, emailing, contacting friends and shaman in order to find a ferry that could take me to Cyprus. Mid-March is not the season, and even though there was only one connection in the beginning, the second one appeared later on. Twice is twice ? Anyway, I cannot really be sure about this information, and it would be really great if I manage to reach the harbor just to realize that the ferry does not exist or that it left earlier. I sent two emails to the carrier (they even sell tickets online), one of them got answered to 7 days later, and the other was not replied to for the time being. I found even the ro-ro boat from Greece, but this option was too expensive both time-wise and financially.
How insane you must be to believe Turkish ferry timeline?
CPD. HAK webpage states that CPD is required for all vehicles going to Turkey and asking them to tell me how to get it the reply was that – I do not need it. Just in case I used some jockers and it turns out that it is not required (thank you Boris). One thing less.
Visa. Required, but easily obtainable online. Not yet done.
Therapy. Operating two-stroke appliance last year while not using proper handling equipment left some traces on my hand and shoulder. The pain would not go away for months; finally (being convinced by others) I went to check it, and then second, third and fourth time (without much delay – thank you Vikica) and ended up with 15 days of physio therapy (pool, gym, electro therapy, laser, cryo therapy). As all of it did nothing for the shoulder and I could not oblige myself to 5 weeks of shock wave therapy, I got additional 9 days of the previous. I asked that the last day of therapy would be a day before Dday (failing to mention why). As I was not on sick leave from work, it was set that all sessions start at 7 a.m. and end up to 9.30 a.m. (thank you Marija). But, this meant that I was the first to leave the house yard with the car, and with continuous snow and shoveling my therapies were actually starting at 6 or even earlier.
Weather forecast. The only certain thing in life is change. I was checking long-term forecast for larger towns along the route couple times a day. My mood changed accordingly: bad if the temperatures were around zero, and desperate if they were in minus. I gave up planning at least ten times, left everything aside for a day or two…and then I would check forecast again and it would look less desperate with the glimpse of hope…
What is dD (b.dD)? While pausing between work and shoveling, I realized that I need to know at least approximately when I should leave in order to catch the last ferry that would take me to Cyprus on time. It turned out that I have to be on the ferry that leaves Turkey on 11th March. There is way over 2000km to get to the harbor, the distance that I could do in 3 days in better weather and my own physical condition. With a day of reserve, it turned out that I should leave on 8th March and that was named the day D (dD). I also set the approximate time-frame: day 1-950km! , day 2-750km, day 3-650km… how hard can it be?
There was a lot of snow, shoveling…I realized that my helmet does not fit into my new topcase. Nevertheless, we worked and made carrier for carrier. I even complained to the manufacturer (new model, according to web specs larger, advertised for two helmets, and my one does not fit). Changed oil in front telescopes…There were some days that I could do some push-ups, but there were many more when my shoulder could not handle a single one so I quit trying. I reassembled armature to the bike without washing it previously (dirt and salt everywhere), it was just too cold. 99% of planned pre-works finished. The temperatures are two digits in minus, testing new equipment is impossible as it is impossible to get to the road. It keeps snowing, real blizzard, we even use garden cart to take the snow from the yard down to the field. On BMW meeting I shyly admit that I might not be present for Rakel’s book presentation, and the reason came as a surprise to some. When the sun finally appeared on minus 12, I shoveled my way to the garage to fetch side cases. The forecast keeps changing constantly, from bad to worse to acceptable.
There are no more notes at this stage. Anxiety for replaced by panic. Day D was moved to Saturday, then to Friday, all because of ferry. I have no idea how much of white I sniffed (snow) so the information that the route Mersin-Kyrenia lasts hour and a half. The last plan is to undertake suicidal drive from Friday to Sunday, on Sunday taking the ferry from Tasucu and arrive to Cyprus a day earlier. If this option does not work, then got to Mersin and catch a ferry on Tuesday and after the night on the ferry go directly to the gathering. I have the visa. White stuff sniffing damaged my nostrils, my nose is bleeding every once in a while, for no obvious reason. After –20 the temperatures are slowly raising, everything looks good…it can’t be…the last day of therapy done, I got bundled and took a ride to Zagreb just to see whether the bike is in order, and whether it’s possible to drive with additional layer of clothes. Who am I fooling, I went to get some food for Rubi.
How insane you must be to plan moto-trip on a meter of snow and –20 C?
The day has arrived. I struggled with my sinuses all night. Around 5 I could not sleep any longer (partially due to therapies as I had to get up early). Made myself some proper breakfast but I could not finish it, a bit because of my sore throat, and a bit for anxiety. Medical Team (MT) is sending instructions – use nose drops and granulated anti-inflammatory medicine. Will not! This is the first trip that I am taking all kinds of medicines with me, I’m not getting any younger, half of paracetamol is not enough. Threw two salami sandwiches into back case, with some canned food and long duration bread. I dress in a load of clothes – socks, longjohns, long sleeve Tshirt from Lidl, additional white socks, undershirt, short sleeve z Tshirt, another long sleeve layer, then on top BMW suit, BMW boots, Lidl undercap, and then on top of it all thermo waterproof XXL suit and Nolan helmet. For a start I take ordinary warm gloves (from Lidl of course), and there are heated ones in the case and one summer pair from China. I load the bike with different stuff, only chargers are a decent pile…Laptop, a couple of cameras, clothes, etc. In addition to all previously collected lucky charms I add one more. Otherwise, day after day some bad news (workwise), office server conveniently broke, there are some games played around family heritage…I cannot and I do not want to think about it while on the bike.
At 8 sharp I leave the yard. I forgot to take the picture on the start, I guess the urge to drive and get away from everything was too strong. Around Paka, the temp. on the highway shows 0.9. Well, as long as it is in plus, even though I planned not to start if below 3. On reserve until the first gas station, first photo, first FB post. Later on, the sun shines directly and it is not so bad in these conditions. Without stopping I drive to the last gas station in HR (280km). The first sandwich is gone, some communication, some acrobatic peeing (with the suit on) and off again. Serbia! Temperatures are now around 8, the sun is shining, I drive around Belgrade even though the GPS leads me straight through it. I have occasional crises (I’m thirsty, it’s hot, my fist and my butt hurt) and just when I am close to the gas station or landing the crisis is finished and I just keep on. I keep looking at the helmet reflection in the RpM gauge glass, and I keep thinking how come I did not notice this before…Do I really have to clean it to have such a nice feature? I did not clean it, of course, I just replaced it last winter.
Second stop is before Niš, without stopping falls 330km, this time I pour some liquid into myself as well, not only the bike. 2/3 of the planned daily route. I’m surprised how well the bike reacts, it looks like treating him nicely has left some mark on it. Maybe the new topcase is more stable. The weather is beautiful, I have internet connection on the landing, so who needs anything more? I’m taking off waterproof thermo and warm gloves and changing into summer. Let’s do the last third.
The route to and from Pirot is interesting, the canyon part is wonderful, but unfortunately gray and filthy at this time of the year. The only color is the one of traffic signs. The trees are leafless, the water murky. Even when there are some buildings along the road, they are quite neglected. And just when you think it cannot get worse, I reach Bulgarian border. On the crossing, some stray dogs are testing each other. I’m wondering when they will smell my second salami sandwich. The cue is not long so I am patient, it’s up hill so keep the brake or turn off the engine.
Bulgaria! I see containers with vignettes, I stop, check photos, and someone from the inside of the container is showing me that I do not need it. That’s great, there are no toll boots and I do not need the vignette, and the last 200km seem easy. Right…The term traffic security is somewhat different here, the term proper driving space as well, the speed limit is respected only on the radar locations…While driving around Sofia I am really hungry, it’s getting cold, and my shadow is getting longer. I stop briefly, just to swallow the sandwich and put full gear on again. The last 100km I drive in the dark, in hard conditions, the bike lights are not really something special, dirty visor is not helping, and traffic in both ways is quite heavy. Then I realized the mystery of the shining gauge glass – the light under is not working so it reflects stronger during the day. With the 340km part I call it a day in a small place a bit off the highway. Tired and happy that I missed some big holes on the road while I was still able to see something.
How insane you must be to make your bike and yourself to a 1000km almost directly from the workshop?
The consequences will be known tomorrow. MT says fists and joints are to be cooled under gradually cooled water. Will not!
Statistics: 953km (GPS) / 75,4 l of fuel / spent 880kn
10.3. 2018. Saturday
Morning sickness somewhat weakened, I managed to pass Croatia and Serbia and stepped into Bulgaria, but still there is enough of it remaining to wake me up before the alarm. I am looking through the window, there are still patches of frost on the cars outside. Though, the sun is showing up and changing dark spots into drops of water. As it is weekend the breakfast is served a bit later, but I still sneak much earlier into the restaurant. The staff is here, setting tables and they let me in. The average offer of spreads, salamis and similar articles that you can usually find in such locations. Nice change is the selection of tomatoes. I make myself a tea, and while somewhat reluctantly I watch the food selection, there comes a question: an omelette? Great, yesterday I did not enyoj the eggs much, good to see that my appetite is back. The omelette is filled with salty cheese from heaven, and I eat it greedily with loads of super-tasty cherry tomatoes. I’m glad that I have much better meal than yesterday, after all, I plan to cross to Asia today. While paying with the credit card the lady got confused a bit, so I help her and that was the last obstacle in continuing this madness.
Until I get to the bike, the frost is gone and left enough water to spread it over vacuum press of the tank bag. Every time I look at myself in full gear I am reminded of some fictional character from some movie, I cannot remember which one. Mondoshawan from the ‘5th Element’, or Vogon, or someone third, the image is in my head. I place a post on FB so everyone knows that I did not give up yet. I look for the way to get back to the highway and seeing it in light makes my heart jump that everything went well yesterday. The real test of suspension comes in this part of the road, and while on my left side I can mostly see the views similar to Windows XP (Bliss for the advanced ones), only here I can see the scarce trees. The suspension keeps up bravely. After Dimitrovgrad, when the first sign for Istanbul turned us to Svilengrad, the road changes completely…it becomes black, smooth and sparkling so kilometers pass on with more ease. I remembered (funny, as I tend to forget things) that the friend described that the new section brought the problem of filling fuel before entering Turkey, the country of expensive fuel, so I choose Shell while the border on Garmin is dangerously close. I would not mention refueling if due to strong spiral on the hose and my negligence some fuel is spilling over Gandalf. Full of energy and smelling on top quality fuel we fly to the border, and it turns out that this was the last fuel station, even though somewhere between the queue of trucks, I think I can see the fuel station on the old road.
I pass Bulgarian side quickly, but there is some more crowd on the Turkish side. I stand a bit in the queue and wait for black and white angel to stop negotiating. The white yells ‘you have the time, wait in the queue, do not stir trouble’ and the black one is whipping it with the tail ‘are you insane to wait in the sun, look at the shade in front, if they kick you back you can always return’…guess which one won. With some eye-blinking we are already in the line for police check up, which goes on super-fast (contrary to my expectation) – like give me the passport, the bike papers, the visa and off you go. Really, after he already let me through, the police officer leans through the window and waves at me to jump the queue to the customs. Who am I to not obey? At the customs I get first ‘we have a problem’ on the road. I am ashamed that I passed those couple of cars, and the guy is typing my data, but he gets some error message (or that whatever he is looking for does not exist). Once and twice. I am puzzled as I have no idea what he is looking for. He calls someone, asks something, spills the full cup of tea over the desk, looks at me in the manner of ‘this is all your fault’, and I begin to see myself on the prison cell with the floor toilet. Finally, in the third attempt the result appears and everything is OK, I can pass…but only after his colleague checks all my cases…I could see that he is looking at the tools compartment, but then he stops and waves to pass. Even though seeing the mosque made me think that I am finally in Turkey and there are no more checkups, I was wrong, there is one more required. The queue is long as there is only one office working, so I don’t consider waiting any more, but to go direct. And so I pull up the bike, but the uniform yells something, hands are showing me to turn back…you got to be joking, look how handsome, young and blond I am. He keeps on yelling, not only on me, so I move aside and wait for the outcome. He was just pushing everyone as someone did not pass the control and has to come back. I’m relieved, I can keep pushing.
Turkey! Finally, the country I have never visited before. While I take the photo of welcoming sign, the first word I hear on Turkish soil is ‘Varaždin’. It cheered me up that someone recognized the plates, it’s not the first time and it is usually the good omen. As I’ve never been here before, and as my hopes of even starting this trip were rather low, not to mention reaching Turkey at all, I was actually not well prepared. I have no idea how the toll is paid, and I cannot speak a word (I only know that if you want to say that something is really good it should sound like ‘Muka mi je’, which on Croatian means ‘I feel sick’ , it’s like that when you are thought Turkish by Boris). I stop at the gas stop to ask, and the man says (if I understand correctly), vignette 20km ahead. After 20km I see toll boots, no barriers, two kinds of electronic payment and I have nothing. The trucks are separated, I see two drivers and ask them and they say that I should just go on until Istanbul (if I understand correctly again). And the road is amazing, wide, empty. And so I ride, and the two angels keep on mumbling to each other…one of them is sure that I have to pay, and the other ‘who cares, just keep going’. I stop on another gas stop, the answer is that until Istanbul the toll is free. Two out of three, I have no intention of stopping again to ask about it, so I study Turkey. Enormous pillars with huge and obviously heavy flags lazily waving, early fruit trees blooming, late fruit trees pruned, the factories smoking…It seems that they are doing something here. They obviously have no eye for decoration and cleanliness, but I respect treated fields and fruit trees.
The road is still wide, slowly curving both horizontally and vertically, and it keeps on filling. And then suddenly, just around the curve, surreal image…vast space filled as long as you can see with houses, skyscrapers, business offices. Huge skyscrapers are swallowing minarets, and the mosques you can barely see. And while my low processing power can cope with the scenery, the traffic just stopped and I am forced to stop as well. Istanbul is not far, but according to GPS this is the detour far away from downtown. I’ve heard horror stories about this section (chaotic driving 100km/h) so I listened to white angel and study the situation. Go…stop…go…stop…Only the ending right track, obviously forbidden, is somewhat livelier. But again, as soon as the car or two shows on it, there is an official (or whichever) car with rotation light running after them. They simply spring out of somewhere. I slowly pass through when all tracks stop. It’s hot. It’s hot to Gandalf as well. I cannot help myself, but I turn on the fan for the bike. I am hungry and thirsty. Gandalf’s fuel indicator keeps dropping. There is no end on sight, and the right edge of the road is full of broken cars and tow trucks, there is no way I can stop here.
The bridge! Huge, beautiful, 4 tracks each direction…that must be it, it can’t be anything else. I would love to take a photo of the bridge and the traffic but no way. I would like to take a photo of the sign ‘Welcome to Asia‘ on the other side, but no way. I stole this photo from the net, it shows the bridge and the flags, like the ones I mentioned before.
First time in Asia, but I cannot enjoy the moment too much. I’m still in stop-go regime and I let the flow lead me with its rhythm, maybe a bit chaotic but not at all fast, way below 100km/h. Probably Saturday 3 p.m. is not the ideal time to cross over Bosporus. After almost of two hours of this torture I finally see the gas stop. First filling in Turkey, I am not prepared for this either. Employee writes something, fills the bike, gives me the paper and I pay inside with the card. I bought a sandwich that I nibble on the landing and I am trying to cool down. I look around and cannot help but notice enormous billboard showing the combat-ready soldier. The time is passing, I am now 2hrs before Croatian time, I don’t want to be caught in the dark so I quickly move on.
Bridge again! Far away, big. I have no idea whether it is pretty, but the scene itself is for National Geographic. The tick, white fog is rising from the sea level, and carried by the wind it spills over the bridge while its pillar tops are sticking out to unreal clear and blue sky. This has to be marked, the scenery is here, and I am here, but there is someone missing to hold the camera and take the shot. Deeply disappointed that I cannot take this photo I lazily drag across the foggy bridge. Toll boots, of course, you always have to pay for pretty things. Still disappointed, I give the card to the employee and wait for the bill while gazing away, and the second ‘we have a problem’ hits me. PIN problem. What PIN problem, there is no PIN…PIN problem…ok, I have no liras, I have only euros. Ok for euros, I show 10, he is shaking no…20? You got to be joking…ah well…he gives me back the papers, I don’t even look what it says, I’ve spent all eternity here already…he gives me back some liras as well and shows me to take the card on the boot??? OK, whatever you say, just let me go.
The road is still wide, but new with traffic signs. You have to pay for it, of course. This one asks whether I have the card, of course I have, what kind of question is that, like I’m here for the first time? There are enough liras, and there are still some remaining. At one moment I was driving towards west, the sun was on the wrong side, but GPS is self-assured so I am not bothered. No idea why, Halid’s (Bosnian folk musician and singer) song is playing im my head ‘First Kiss Long Forgotten, First Party Who Knows Where, Steps Like Clouds Lead Me Wo Knows Where’ . I guess I’m spending too much time in local bars. And maybe in a few years my first entry into Turkey and Asia will be long forgotten like a first party.
The last section is not the highway, 4 tracks, 110 speed limit switches abruptly with 50 when passing through the inhabited areas. There is steep climbing at one moment, something Gandalf and I like, black angel leads this section so we fly up to 1000m above sea level. I am not resting, even though the look ahead leaves me breathless, someone is missing again to snap the photo…overheating and torments around Istanbul surface, I’m getting caught up in fatigue and pain, but still in daylight I reach the city of Eskisehir as planned. The name was not written in big letters on the map, but the entering sign states 734.000 of something (wiki says 850K souls in 2016). I pass huge university buildings, open-air airplane museum and I find the hotel…everything is OK, everything is just fine…30 euros. I put the bike in the garage and block everyone else, irrelevant as I will leave first. The room is warm, LCD with loads of channels all in Turkish, there is more than I need. There is even room service with lots of options and acceptable prices, but it is Saturday – a day to go out.
Wherever I turn, big cafés, full of life, young people drinking coffee/tea or eat something or smoke nargilas…I look and I have no idea where to go…I choose a restaurant that looks a bit fuller with families…speaking English is not a problem as long as they find someone who is in charge of it. I drew enough attention to become interesting to two guys in the corner, and the questions start…where are you from, how long are you staying for, etc. They ask me to join them, and I would even consider it if I showered before dinner. Lamb shashliks (I guess), shepherd’s salad and the Coke – 5l of fuel. Why 5l of fuel? Well, my impeccable trip preparations did not include Turkish lira exchange rate, so I am calculating in liters of fuel. I tried to buy a phone card in order to have Internet on the road, but I gave up as they do not have a tourist prepaid cards with net traffic only, they asked for the passport and way too many liters of fuel.
The evening is passing by in typing and correspondence, and outside is Fast and Furious. Loud engine noises, flying fast, the crowd cheering even louder, the basses are on, the tires are burning…Asia-Turkey, it’s all one big global village. Later on, I found out from the Macedonian colleague who comes here for work, that the city has ‘only’ 200K students. That explains it…MT discreetly says ‘rest’. Will not!
I’ve been meditating a lot on the road whether to write this or not. Why am I writing it and if it’s of any use? What can anyone learn from me? Not too much, I’m not that smart nor well-read nor informed. I even don’t know how to describe experience in an objective manner. And by day I keep forgetting things. Maybe that’s the whole point. Maybe by writing I want to show that you don’t have to be super smart nor well-read nor informed in order to travel. You just need to have courage. Travelling will not make you a great human, but lesser and lesser, but definitely more complete.
How insane you must be to attack Turkey without preparation and try to cross to Asia at 3 p.m.?
Statistics: 742km (GPS) / 30,16l fuel / 635kn spent
All night Fast and Furious, in the morning jets, that’s the sound of this city. But it is not the jet fighters who wake me up, but my aching stomach. I do the toilet session. Even when I am home, too much onion causes stomach problems, but I cannot help myself when I LOVE IT. Sheperd’s salad was full of it, and the shashlik as well.
How insane you must be to even consider that the stomach will react differently to onion in Asia?
I have no idea what time it is exactly. GPS was showing +2 yesterday to HR time, the phone keeps showing +1, there is +1 on TV, I still think that it should be +2, but I have the time today, this is the shortest section, one hour here/there. There is almost no one at breakfast, the only guest beside me is an Asian guy, what are you doing in Turkey I keep thinking? And the guy might as well be at home. I put the tea bag in the cup and turn one of the two handles on the container. The tea is pouring out…for crying out loud…I ask where is the hot water? The other handle on the same container. There is no visible marking on nor below the container, I suppose it is understood that you know the difference. Whatever, it did not happen once that we mixed to kinds of red vine instead of Coke. While I try to force myself to eat something nutritious I watch TV (I think this one shows +2 time). OK, they are showing the scenes from the war zone. And then military analysis. Some commercials. Then the report from the infantry training, young soldiers running in full gear. Some war scenography again. Some more military analysis. If by any case I was born in some other time I probably would not even notice all of it, but this kind of TV program is familiar and it makes me nervous. Or it is the stomach? I return to my room, new session. Hm, good onion, yesterday it was ‘I feel sick’ in Turkish and today it is ‘I feel sick’ in Croatian. The medicine is in the bike case, I do not need MT’s assistance on this, and the medicine is not even approved. After third session I begin worrying that maybe I am catching some signals from the force I do not understand. It would not be the first time that family and friends are hiding something from me not to affect me while on the road.
I managed to pack and solve paperwork; kind porter is carrying stuff and leads me to the bike that I somehow manage to turn around in the narrow passage to be able to manage steep exit. I thank and greet him, and like an addict I take a few gulps from the flask. I should have taken it with me and done it already. The flask is the new addition to my equipment, I’ve been carrying medicine in all kinds of plastic bottles so far, and now I have a metal flask with engraved Budapest emblem and my name, souvenir and birthday gift received in some other life. I put on rain suit as the morning is rather chilly, as it is supposed to be on 1000m height above sea level. My drinking, or my dressing, or maybe Gandalf’s dirty face bring attention of the man returning from the morning shopping. We even managed to chat a bit. I’m a bit late with everything but who cares, it’s just as well that the temperature is rising into positive, we skip over 600km like nothing. We are back on the road rather quickly, there is some fuel left, ideal for warming up. And the road is still wide, fast and empty. We keep riding on 1000-1300m above sea level. Gandalf is purring. Everything ideal but not good. I cannot find the proper motivation. Crossing Bosporus and entering Asia were great step for me, and I am out of initial enthusiasm. It’s even not interesting watching people working in the field, I have no idea what they are doing, it looks like they are picking potatoes, and some of them are plowing. I get somewhat entertained by the local biker. Even though I wear number of layers I can still feel the chill in the air, and he is riding without a helmet in some wool sweater, and without gloves (of course) because he cannot hold the cigarette in gloves.
Gandalf feels I’m being lethargic and conveniently, as always, light a reserve indicator just after we passed gas stop. As soon as he saw another gas stop behind the curve, he shuts off the indicator, but too late. The rule is, after reserve first gas stop, no matter what. I take some water as well as I lost a lot of liquid during the sessions. I turn on the bike, it works OK, I start closing the helmet and Gandalf changes the rhythm and the rpm drop. Well, well, it can’t be that you knew this and tried to tell me. I cannot help you now, you’ll have to swallow what we bought.
I continue riding without mind and sense (the question is do I have what’s needed to ride differently?), I find the lost motivation while looking at the mountains ahead. They are beautiful, big, white caps on them, but GPS has a different plan today, and when we were close to them, it turned us to the left and the mountains stayed on the right. GPS does not know about ‘don’t go left on the path crossing, no one goes there and is beware of beasts’ (lyrics from song written by Thompson – Croatian heavy metal band), and it seems the others do not know about it as left side is full of restaurants with large billboards showing kaymak, lokum and similar delis…
Smart and experienced biker would stop in order to try different delicatesses, rest and then continue. But I am neither smart nor experienced, I’m afraid of changing rhythm and dropping rpms…Even though Gandalf uses whatever he got without complaining for the time being. I am the weak link today and I keep going down…the suit keeps slipping on the seat so I have only one acceptable position that causes back and ass pains, my arm hurts, everything hurts, I’m in allover pain, I’m carrying the while world on my back…the third day riding demons are catching up with me and feed on my deteriorating physical and psychological condition. No f… way! Today’s goal only a fuel tank away. When the GPS turned 12 I stop, I cannot do it any longer. The fact that I am over half the road makes me feel better. I know that my folks are at my sister’s place so I risk the bear (5kn) and send SMS that everything is OK, I take out the bread, the can and I go on. In order to have some fun I take a picture of us pretty ones and I notice that the exhaust color is peeling off, the very same one I was so dedicatedly painting on last winter…What a great couple we are, old and shabby. Just for the FB…clean, handsome and polite…whose mother would not love us. I am not alone on the landing, Mercedes is resting while his boss is praying in the boot nearby.
There is another Turkish village with 1 mil. villagers ahead of us. I’m trying to figure out what the warning sign (yavas) means. I see school kids running over 3-4 tracks, even though they have other possibilities, but I don’t think this is it. It can’t be that I am lousily prepared? While I glaze around, I manage to miss one turn, and with a couple additional maneuvers I am back on the traffic light in order to come back on the right way. On my right side, on the pavement, there is a case full of fish. Immediately I remember the hamster that not even Rimac Concept One could not run over, and his troubles with fish and the bike in Mozambique. I know that it is all top-production, and there is a real MT with him all the time, and he will get generously paid for it, but the thought somehow cheered me up and chased away the demons. Well, it’s not like I am riding on mud, falling off the bike, and I came really far for the time being, and what I am getting with every km no money can buy.
The plan is to get out of this fuel tank as much as I can, so when I fill up again it should be enough to reach the ferry, ride around Cyprus and to come back. Kilometers are passing by, the counter keeps turning, Tasucu is getting closer… and Gandalf is silent.Somewhere around here we are passing the highest point on this section…and Gandalf is silent. We pass by the area decorated with flags, number of busses are parked on the side (reminding me of the paid audience), there is some security, limos, you name it, the road does not look new but maybe it’s some kind of gathering, I slow down a bit, maybe someone will offer some alcohol or something sweet. But when the cannon shot (it sounded like 105mm), Zagorje experience in running away comes to surface, we are not easy to hunt down, severely on the gas pedal and zig-zag…Gandalf is still silent. I have no idea what’s in that fuel, but it seems that he is OK with the local stuff. We are already starting coming down in the canyon (it’s good that it is downhill, remember what they say about what is rolling down the hill? from the Bucharest wandering) …Gandalf keeps on being silent. I watch from afar three local bikers, light clothes on, middle sized bikes. When they get some courage (or cool down wild machines) they lean forward to decrease air resistance and test the boundaries of their capabilities – they remind me of the Seagull (not Oliver, but Jonathan L.), and of my own biking beginnings. When I got bored of them, I pass them by without any effort for Gandalf, I drop my leg down to greet them and one of them even returns the greeting. The air is more and more filled with the smell of burned breaks of local heroes who expect too much of their vehicles (like me), and if they are not properly taken care of, they hope for the help from heaven. Unfortunately, for a lot of them the help from heaven is shaped as tow truck…Gandalf keeps on being silent.
I’m beginning to worry, I pat Gandalf gently on the tank…we are so far, don’t be so silent…if you are starving just say so, we’ll find something. I’m worried that the on/off reserve indicator was the sign of some failure (indicator for example), and now there is no more reserve indicator? It would not be impossible on such an old bike. The indicator blinked once, it has been a while now, but this time I respect bike’s will and I am not stopping. All lines from the gauge are gone, but the reserve is not lighting yet, and it should be there already. The last thing I need is to stay out of fuel here. I see the gas stop afar, on the wrong side though, 440-450km from the last refueling and Gandalf is still silent. The fear is growing, I am not going to wait for the sign any more…I will stop risking that he will be mad at me. I am pouring cold tea into myself, and instead of refreshment I get warning signs from indigestion. The road ahead is really bad, bumpy asphalt, curves, road works, dust, trucks passing by. Yes, it’s Sunday and the works are at the peak, on the road, on the field, the fumes are rising from the factories as well…almost the same as 4 years ago in Marrakesh, it was Sunday as well, the only thing missing are dusty playgrounds and the kids running after some ball.
And just when there is 10/20 kms left to Tasucu, and when I already thought nothing could go wrong at this point, GPS decides to turn right. Turning does not make me feel good, but I see some extra traffic signs, I trust my GPS, but all for nothing. He has no idea where he is going…one end road, one maybe one-way street in the wrong direction, the dog is chasing me off his territory, steep hill that I am barely managing to turn the bike around…such pleasure. Driving back to the road I came from I see the car passing by and GPS would follow it…last chance GPS…and there is a real fun, we are entering narrow passage between two cliffs, wide enough for one car, obviously in the wrong direction, the car in front is showing his reverse light, I run as fast as I can, squeezing to the side of the cliff waiting for the traffic from the opposite direction to stop. All of this to use a shortcut, and even so MAYBE. The black angel is killing himself laughing. You just keep laughing, this is all your fault, you’ll get it back somehow.
By entering Tasucu after 5 p.m. I spent all my preparation time, but I still have enough time so I am not worried. I stumble around trying to find the ferry port as I see it and somehow, I manage to reach it, but only to the official entrance. That was the closest to any boat/ferry that I could. Two guys appear, one in official uniform and one without. They know what I am looking for (ferry ticket) and I realize that I cannot buy the ticket here but in town (sales office), our communication is less than nothing. I am not sure that I understood directions properly, they wrote the name of the office on the piece of paper…thank you, I still have the time, I’ll find it. I go back to the city, one track is blocked by various merchants, I spot the parking place in the shadow, that’s it, I don’t feel like driving any more, it’s too hot, I have to get comfortable and walk a bit. I ask some wrapped-up girls for help, in hope they will know some English, but alas. They do however recognize what is written on the paper and it turns out that it is not far, they want to take me there but I have too much clothes to take off…thank you, I have enough time, I’ll find it. While undressing three young lads approach, probably returning from school, one of them is particularly curious…he gathers courage, asks…when we finally reached the point of understanding ‘Mandjukić, Modrić’, the other two drag him away. There is still some hop left for this world, football is the universal language, not Esperanto.
The office was just so far that I stretch my legs walking. As I pushed rain suit into the topcase I have to carry the helmet. That’s not so bad, I can use it in self-defense, and I don’t have to explain too much what kind of vehicle I have. The office is spacious, suitcases and bags all over the place, two of them are looking at me behind the glass and just as I wanted to say something, there is a side attack…in the manner of top fixers from Morocco one character appears. My first impression is caution…rise the walls, get ready for defense…but he is persistent, takes the business card from the counter and shows – he is the boss, he is the head of the office. Those two are silent, I look at them in a cry for help, some sign from them, but they neither speak English not look disturbed. I drop the walls and the negotiations start. Of course I want to go to Cyprus today, of course I need the return ticket, but my info says that there is no ferry back until the 16th and the ferry to Mersin goes in the evening. Forget about preparation, he claims that there is one ferry on the 15th and it goes in the afternoon. I ask for some time to think and ask for the internet, he gives me official Wi-Fi password, that’s great, at least I can write home for free. I check all online timetables and the reservation application, no one is mentioning Mersin on the 15th, but he stands firm. Not only that, he is showing me the pictures of the cabin, it all shines, colors are warm (yellow), with the shower. While planning the trip I was thinking to take the cabin on the Mersin ferry that goes longer, but now I will travel during the night, I am not too fresh, and the photos look so warm…to hell with it, I like the idea, gimme all. Give me the ticket to and from Mersin on 15th. Cabin both ways, give me the card as well, if something goes wrong I will find you, just so you know.
I’m sitting in front of the office, using deserved free internet, I write home and so on. MT recommends rest and granulated brufen, even though it is known that I am against it. Will not! I look around curiously. The manager is a real character, his maxi scooter blocks parking spot for his friends, every once in a while he starts it and makes a circle, I guess he is luring new clients, or moves it an inch and turns it off, I guess that’s the special ritual for seeking attention and new clients…he is on the phone, negotiates, looks worried…a real manager. Addition: upon return home, I found the card, the guy’s name is Ali BARUT, just in case someone needs it, and the name is appropriate. As he knows everything I ask him to recommend me some food, I am not picky, fast food will do as well. Even though the restaurant is next to the office, he even takes me in, shows the selection, coordinates with staff. Of course, I do not want fast food any longer, give me some mixed meet, season salad (no shepherd today) and Fanta. There are no guests, it a bit off the season but still it is not a good sign. There comes the water I did not order, the bread and some spreads, the salad. I lazily chew on what I got, but I want the real stuff and then finally – the smell of chicken, mee mee and unrecognizable meat products, the portion is not too big or I am too hungry. Slowly (in the manner of combat-ready SEAL from Niš) I finish all those weird tastes, I pour Fanta and water over them, and the sun is slowly disappearing. Just when I was ready to pay the guy shows up with the bowl full of different sliced fruit (bananas, kiwis, apples…). After my morning experience and all warnings I got I should probably skip this…but the day was long and the fruit is healthy (well, before the meal) …I munch on fruit and pour the remaining Fanta over it…if nothing did it so far, this could be the last nail in the coffin of my indigestion.
It’s dark, I drag the bike to the office, I sip the medicine once or twice, I try to pack rain suit in the garbage bag and tie it to the back seat. It has enormous volume and it kills my cargo space, but I suppose I won’t need it now, I am on the coast. Barut appears as well, he shows respect to Gandalf, he understands that this is one heavy bike, big wheel…how much dollars? He cooled off when I told him that the bike is 20 yrs old, he obviously considers that only new stuff is good stuff. I gave up trying to place the suit, I play on the phone and I catch some weak internet…the time drags. Finally, something is happening, I see one rather disturbed lady, more and more guys in vests appear. I raise my head asking whether this means that it is allowed to the port (thinking that the ferry is already there and they will let me aboard and into the cabin to finally take everything off and have some rest). Sure, you can go, do you know the way? Of course, I’ve been here the whole afternoon, I am practically native, I know how the things are working here. For being proactive I do not get the reward but a duty to be a guide for the lady. She is going by car and does not know the way…I gulped, well she at least knows the language…go on, I suppose we will find it easier together.
I drive towards the port in dark, there are not too many signs or I don’t see them, but it’s really a piece of cake, we are the first on the entrance. The gate opens, they let us through, and then the paper shuffling starts. I am glad I have someone who speaks the language, but soon I realize that I would manage without it as well…I understood well what I should do and where to go. We are the first on the parking, there is no living soul around, two ferries are anchored but with wrong names. We sit in the waiting room, I don’t have to ask anything, the lady is the teacher and one of those people who have to ask everything. She is ideal for breaking up controls and check-ups. After her everyone is happy with someone who keeps his mouth shut and blinks his eyes. It is interesting that aside of the fact that I had to lead her here, I have to show her where the toilet is even though it is in front of her and marked in her own language (thank you Boris for one more important Turkish word-tuvalet). After some more sitting in empty waiting room, we do police check-up. He even stamps my printed visa and not only the passport. The customs have their own questions, but here they have a young lady with a sharp look who is guiding young subordinate, my impression even though I don’t understand what they are talking about, with solid English. The truth is I would like that I cannot understand her…as she says that the ferry will dock until 23h…and adds MAYBE. It’s mine now to wait by the bike, they stamped something and wrote down the registration, the colleague will come to check. And so, I wait, and wait, and wait…other cars are slowly arriving…and finally I get that the colleague just signs off my passport without checking and now I can go back to the customs. Who was first now is last, I understand it while collecting last signatures, stamps, something. It’s good that the procedure is finally over, we are ready for boarding, the only thing missing is the ferry. I again entertain myself with studying the surroundings, looking at ferry leaving for Tripoli (or somewhere), I talk to the curious, I blankly look at the people asking me for help in Turkish (I don’t get what they see in my appearance)…the temperature is dropping, there is some dew.
I am slowly running on reserve when the ferry starts with the entering maneuver that lasts a while. Then they are disembarking people, trucks, people again, trucks on reverse through the narrow ramp, a few cars, more trucks…more trucks…then there is level two…now the trucks can turn inside the vessel so they come out faster…and before you know it, it’s not even midnight, the ferry is empty. The people who left it are crowding around the staff and nothing is happening. One passenger, let’s name him Brada (as he reminds me of someone) is anxiously walking back and forth. We talked earlier, he drove through Croatia and Slovenia on the way to Germany, but he is worried as the trucks should have already started embarking. I stare sadly towards the boat, the passengers are already there, and the beautiful pictures of the cabin I saw this afternoon are turning in front of my eyes. No vehicles are entering, the others are warming in the cars, I don’t feel like playing memory on the phone any longer, the iron bench I am sitting on is getting colder. It does not help watching a stray dog who is trying to impress his man in uniform. He chose him obviously, probably not today, and he is overjoyed to see him. He swings on his shoulders left and right, he would jump on him, put his paws on his shoulders, but he knows he mustn’t. He bows to him, animates him, and as soon as the guy reaches with the hand he turns on his back and surrenders completely. The man is trying to explain to him that he does not want this from him, but the dog cannot help it. I look at their small show and I miss Rubi (to sneak behind my back while I do something like now when I am writing this).
Statistics: 618km (GPS)/ 40,4l fuel / 1712kn spent (225kn hotel + ferry 1050kn)
It was way past midnight when they finally started loading lorries at such speed that I snapped…I’m the only biker here, I suppose it counts for something. With bravery I walk to the guy with the shipping logo on the reflective vest and I explain my situation, eyes blinking, blond hair flipping…and guess what, no problem…he takes ticket parts, yells to the rest of the crew and I can board. Here it gets really interesting as not everyone is ready to accept me and the bike. They force me to squeeze it sideways so much that the cases are scraping some barrels that are standing there. I raise it on the trestles with difficulty and get out…but no, it is not good, put it on the side. I drag in again, I put the side trestle down (I fixed it with the hammer last winter), I hold the front of the bike and the guy is holding the back…we drop it carefully…it holds for 1 second and then drops suddenly, but we are still holding. It’s not the side trestle but the hole in the floor we managed to hit. We give up on the side trestle, drag in again, raise on the middle one…and the floor is greasy and slippery…I wait to flip over. When I saw in which manner he secured the bike, all hopes were gone, but who am I… I give up and leave for the cabin. People are already sleeping in the salon, shoes with no owners all over the place. The waiter, or whoever he is, has not much to offer, the shelves are empty and in order to get the cabin key he takes away my passport and I am not thrilled with it. I’m trying to find out when should I wake up, but I don’t like the answers so I pretend not to understand.
The cabin – the air is sticky despite the huge fan on the wall. I am happy to see the toilet even though I do not need it (surprise!), the medicine is helping. Shower is also here but I don’t stink as much yet. I think I fell asleep before I took off the suit and most definitely before I touched the pillow. I have no idea when we took off and how long the boarding lasted. I was awakened by some serious swinging and the light that was breaking through the window filthier than Gandalf (and I thought that’s impossible). I finally discover the secret of warm pictures. The rust on window frames gives the color, and the dirt on the glass disperses it nicely, no need for Photoshop nor special photo filter. It’s still not waking up time. I am not concerned about swinging for sickness, I have all medicine, but somewhere on the bike…I’m worried about Gandalf. He just became the member of the family, he got noted into my passport as a child. I dress slowly, put on the boots and off to investigate. Lady teacher is still fresh like yesterday, but the waiter’s eyelids are getting heavy. She immediately explains that we are still travelling, and disembarking won’t start before 11…are you joking? OK, that’s according to Turkish time, it should be 10 according to Cyprus time, I guess. I get out, I see no Turkey, but there is Cyprus ahead…two fat exhausts are blowing thick black smoke…I can’t do anything but take I couple of photos with the phone and back to bed, I missed the sunrise…there is no signal of any kind.
After an hour or two I get out again, it’s livelier now, people are outside, inhaling their morning doses of nicotine, it’s warm, Cyprus is well seen…that’s it, it is time to get anxious again, especially as I receive SMS congratulating me on the achieved goal…and I’m not on the firm ground yet, not even close to paperwork. I don’t like to buy the mountain pass sticker before I actually pass it. Until we started docking I have my passport again and I watch tying live. The teacher is here again to ask me something (when am I going to the vehicle?) but some other Brada is saving me the trouble of answering and he is also good in English. When the ramp started downwards I go down as well to the lower deck, I find Gandalf upright and it makes me happy, the parking space is so narrow that he would not fall far but still. The lorries are on the move, the one parked next to me is scraping the case with the side light. I can see that this would not end well, but the next one is already approaching, there is no mercy, everyone wants to get out. I drag the employee by the sleeve, take off this cable of yours and help me put the bike down. In the meantime, they managed to spill some more oil around the bike and covered it with the sawdust…I can barely stand as the metal floor is so slippery nor I can stand up straight with the bike. He looks at me blankly, but still holds the right handle. It’s so slippery that the trestle slip without resistance so we have to use our feet to block it and somehow we managed to put the bike down…start immediately, run between the lorries and get the hell out of there…outside, somewhere, to freedom…
I am passing through the loads of lorries on the dock, some of them are from the earlier ferry, and I finally get to the front, even the staff is surprised, but I get the parking spot, right next to the wrack that did not earn the freedom and got stuck here in no man’s land. I have no idea about the procedure, I can see only the truck drivers, and civilians are left way back. I see the name of the carrier on one of the containers so I guess I should ask for return, and they immediately stuck some papers in my hands, I can see some info about the bike, and something that looks like my signature. The girl-employee is looking at me…do you have insurance? Of course I have…but for here? Well, I guess not. 25 Liras for papers plus the insurance that you might not need…well, 25 it is. The card is declined by the machine so I give the last liras I have, the same ones I got on the Istanbul toll. I get no instructions so I go to the customs. Truck drivers are looking at me, one takes the papers, stamps it with some stamp that I sign. When it was my turn lady customs officer is checking it and the first instructions are here. First to the police to verify the passport, then pay for the insurance and then back to customs. No problem, but the passengers from the ferry are slowly arriving and it is getting crowded. I get the visa for Turkish part stamped into my passport without any questions besides is 90 days enough? It’s enough. I get 6 days insurance, even though it was the month minimum initially, and I pay with the second card…I realized finally, some card terminals are having problems if the card is not requiring PIN…cash direct card passes without any problems. I get the last stamps on the customs, with the question from Brada2 ‘do you require so many stamps in Croatia?’. Right, why do you think I am so calm? The original Brada is leaving just before me. So, with the earlier start I am not any slower in paperwork. They all had one thing in common…when realizing that I am here for the first time, I could see pity in their eyes and good luck on their lips.
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus! Just one more paperwork signature by the employee on the exit, and just one more checkup and mumbling that I do not have the plates on the front of the bike and I can get out of harbor…uh, uh…am I ready for this? Not really…I did not expect to arrive at all the least to arrive so fast, it’s a surprise ?. Whatever, the road is a road, bikers are taking over from the right and the left side. I am taking on the first kilometers rather gently, I did not wash out flattened flies from the visor so I have to ride with opened helmet, it seems that I am following the directions by the GPS. But this is too much even for him, the route is lost, he is calculating. And if that’s not enough, he turns off the BT module and does not want to turn it on again, I am losing voice guidance. There is some roadworks, two way traffic, there is no turning back even if I have to. We are obviously on the old part of the road as GPS manages to create the route. The bike warmed up just enough so I can hear it tinkling (either the valves or the chains), as long as the flip is up, and when shifting into first gear you can hear some bumps coming from the differential…how to solve it? You ignore the fact that there is no voice guidance, you close the helmet not to hear the bike, and you start riding as expected from the weekend biker.
Cyprus! Thanks to my impeccable preparations I was not at all surprised to reach tampon zone so quickly, to exit unacknowledged country and enter the other country. The exit runs fast, there is a queue on the entry so I try to fix GPS. First by turning off, then by accidental dropping down on asphalt to bounce a couple of times…nothing helped, still does not want to talk to the helmet. I hope I am not raising suspicion by playing football with GPS. On the entry, the lady employee is taking my passport, she does not see it that often, and calls another to put me aside. While I was parking he already returns the passport, you can pass, I turn to the bike, he whistles to come back, a problem…I did not return properly, now he’s waving no problem, you can go…I look at him for 3 seconds more…is this your final answer? On the customs check point I don’t stop at all, I just turn my head, nod and pass…I know everything is OK…and we’ll see whether I should have stopped when upon return.
And I am back to the EU…it’s nice to be home and yet so far. I ride so vividly that everything behind remains in dust, the traffic lights, turns, roundabouts, highway…I’m flying…the GPS feels better too, Greek part maps are much better and the navigation is easier. The white angel keeps repeating ‘left, left’, and the black one is silent, sure that I will make some mistake. And I am like born upside down, and like I’ve been riding like this all my life. Just before the center of Larnaca I manage to spin a bit due to early turning, but nothing serious. A bit of monkey business on the closed part of the road and the GPS says you have arrived (the address of the hotel was already entered back home, just that someone does not think that I’ve arrived so far unprepared). There is a wall on one side and the parking and garbage on the other, you can catch some sea between the buildings, I’m convinced that I am on the back entry. It turned out that I was wrong, there is a front entrance 20m ahead…our gathering hotels are not as they used to be.
I run into the hotel, looking for room and parking. The person on the other side of the counter looks at me weirdly, I am not exactly the typical guest, not that every mother would like me. I can park next to the garbage container or the fence, or in front of the hotel, or somewhere at the parking lot. Gandalf is OK in front, everyone can see him. But no room for the moment, hotel is full, you can check in at 2 p.m…I was a bit surprised, but the fact is that I was 2 hours early, my fault. Being all sweaty and dressed too warmly at least I have all the time to think about what I’ve done, contact friends and family, snap a few likes on the FB. I am so proud of myself.
The room is nevertheless ready earlier, but I can go in only after I pay for it. I’ve never seen such system anywhere, I hope they did not invent it for me. If you want me to pay, I’ll take a photo of you. Whatever, I will give you anything to let me take off all clothes, lie on the belly, shower. I do not mind lousy view, but I am a bit bothered with the sockets. I get on with work, step by step, solving what I can. And only after that washing off road dust. First from the body and later from the throat. As there was a lot to do I have ignored my hunger and it was rather late to start food hunting. And the promenade is filled with KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, all of them within 200m…but I don’t like the names…I would like something simple, something local, but among these big shots I do not see anything like it. I chose big but unknown. It tempts me with 700g of pork steak. The waiter did not even judge me properly I have already placed an order…soup of the day, whichever…pork steak and some salad with it…and beer, some good one and big. The soup is of interesting taste and texture, topped with olive oil and served with the toast cubes is huge. I immediately understood that this was a mistake and that the soup would have been enough. I like the chance to at least taste the pork, and I leave half portion. The waitress is worried and asks if everything is OK. It’s all fine, the soup is great, you’ll understand when the main course arrives…and she understood. I had to do my best for the main course. It remained just enough for the cats who circle around the table but are neither offensive nor untidy. The beer is also great, some local kind, it filled all holes if there were any and reached the throat.
It’s official, I passed from the over hungry state to stuffed…but I had to celebrate my success somehow. The celebration follow-up and dusting off continued later on, on location with 87 types of beer, bartender who speaks 7 languages (we tested some) and brings beer testers, and most importantly they work longer than others. There were all kinds of beer, we even mixed some combinations, wheat, dark, even darker, strong, light, fruity. Some of them were really good obviously as I got a praise that my English improved a lot. And the fact is that this was only alcohol and joy at the end of the successful voyage that spoke out of me. And the travel shot I did not really need, as well as the one offered by others.
How insane you must be to order more than you can eat (or drink)?
Statistics: 76,6 km (GPS) / 0l fuel / 1353kn spent (hotel 450kn and 550 kn travel round)
I never wrote about official part of the cruising so far, but I have to do it now as it affected my return. It is relevant to mention that the director of our small region, was fired a few days before gathering. As it is common practice with big ones, one day you are, the other you aren’t. He was sacked by someone from the higher position who, as I’ve heard is of Bosnian origin. Why am I mentioning this? Well, certain Bosnian messed me up once, so somehow I think I understand his situation and I sympathize with him. The most important reason is that he, in all different roles he played in the last 6 years, influenced directly (or indirectly) all my cruisings (from the first one to Rovinj to the most famous one to Marrakesh). Who knows, maybe this is my last crusing with the official background. If it was written somewhere that it’s his time to go, then I am sorry that me (and my distributor) were not the ones to take him down. We managed to take down a lot (if not all) of his predecessors, as they say ‘it’s better for nation to disappear than the tradition’.
Anyhow, I was happy and in a good mood on Monday. The trip went well, the weather was inspiring, the rest of the crew is either here or on their way. It was celebrated.
I was expecting that this will finally be the day to sleep or rest as the MT keeps recommending for days, but first thing in the morning I was awakened by the sound of the industrial vacuum cleaner, coming outside of the hotel. My head is blank, it was probably not such a good idea to try all those beers yesterday, especially as I have a headache after two (the same ones). This was such a moment, I did my best, I even asked for travel Zivana, the popular local alcohol which I meet for the first time.
During the day I work as much as the situation allows me. The mess at work is significant, one of the important servers I installed a long time ago crashed. There is so much depending on the reviving the latter, I am trying to help with some advice but I am too far to do anything substantial but keep the positive vibe. I am trying to rest my butt as much as possible so I am working by lying on my stomach. That, and weak WiFi signal have as a consequence additional straining to my neck so the headache is getting stronger. I am caught up by the fatigue as well, I am not forcing anything but still I am trying to write down as many details as possible about the days on the road. I was so into it all that the day flew by, and I would not even notice it if the stomach did not start protesting. I leave the room quickly, it’s late, I’ll get some fast food just to keep me going until the official welcome dinner scheduled that evening. To avoid names, I go into some cypriot-indian-asian restaurant. It’s not really promising when dark skinned Indian is preparing Cypriot gyros but that was the best I could do.
Dinner is taking place in the same restaurant I feasted in yesterday, it seems that even I can hit a good one. The portions are smaller than yesterday (luckily), everything is delicious. I could not kepp up for long, the head was still aching, and I had cramps as well, probably due to indian-cypriot gyros, and it could also be a late post-travel reaction.
All said about the official part should serve as introduction for today. Going to bed early results in clear head. I even manage to take some city photos before the official part.
The official part goes as expected, I got a nice present, it should fit into my new topcase. In the middle of lecture I got the information that the server in the firm is finally working in virtual surrounding (this by itself is exclusive news). It’s already a common practice that I take a couple of photos and by this decreasing the costs of the organization. So I take the photos of awarding ceremony to partners and distributors. It never crossed my mind that the one for the ‘most proactive partner in 2017.’ would be given to me. If I knew I would dress for the occasion. That’s the second exclusive news. The third thing that that sweeps me off my feet is a short comment on my yesterday’s writing, on BMW forum where I publish first versions of wanderings. ‘kolekcija is back’ wrote a friend whose opinion I appreciate (and who is guilty of some of my wanderings). That gives me additional kick.
In the free time before dinner I work 200 per hour. Loads of backlogs. I barely manage to run and buy some souvenirs for the family and MT. Throughout a day I was glancing at the weather forecasts, but I did not like them so I’ve chosen to ignore them. I stole some time to check some km on the way back, and I mark the Black Sea area as a goal for the second day of return. The first day is a ferry trip to Turkey of course.
The three things I mentioned before are each for themselves a reason to celebrate., and when you add to it the fact the joy that I even reached the place (that still holds me) and the karmine* for the director, it comes to the breaking point that white angel cannot handle. Lesley Eldridge (if anyone remembers the only non-Japanese ninja) would fall on the third obstacle, how can I not fail the 5. And as my folks would say ‘and you would not drink?’.
*karmine (hm , hard to translate op.transl. lat. carmen: song, singing), the Balkan (or Zagorje) ceremonial feast for the deceased that is held in the house of the deceased, usually after the funeral…It was thought that the deceased will that night visit his home for the last time, dine and bless all in the house so often the food and drinks were left on the table.
For dinner itself I brought the trousers I wore at Marrakesh gathering, it was the only worldwide gathering that I was invited to, and so thanks to the person that we have the wakening for, even though he thought that the last dinner will be there in Africa, and he was wrong. As I was wrong about his lasting, he lasted much longer than expected. Usually my clothes recycling is commented loud and clear by some, but alas not tonight. The dinner location is, to my horror, excellent. The crew at the table even better. Red wine was out of heaven. Zivana visits us every once in a while. I can see the others are failing, but I’m not bothered and give my best. On both food and drinks. And food keeps coming, some mention some thirty courses. I have to try everything, snails especially. Everyone is avoiding them, and for me this is the first chance that I take with eagerness and I enjoy, at least while they were warm. They were not good cold. And so some Zivana, some food, some red, some food, some Zivana…and then Zivana, Zivana, Zivana…I remember I stole a cigarette, took a photo with the girl who was performing some local dance (thank you Emina), the owner, some unknown people and at the end I tried to dance. I probably took a wrong step so I was out of film, but that was after reaching higher spiritual state.
Nirvana! The fight between black and white angel (I keep calling them so in my writing, different cultures and religions have their own names and symbols, but it is the same in fact, the fight among dual forces of nature) keeps on going even tonight. It’s easy to do anything when you are alone (like being on the bike you make your own decisions and bear the consequences). A problem (that probably bothers everyone) is find the balance between your urges and socially acceptable behavior. We all want to find a perfect balance between giving into your passions and strict penance, as that is the situation that uses the least energy. Buddhists believe that there is a state where you feel complete joy, happiness and peace – nirvana. The Buddhist meaning of life is to reach nirvana. A lot of people are putting an effort to it, many falsely claim that they managed to achieve it, and just a few really manage. I think I reached nirvana. I have no wishes, no passions, no thoughts, no ideas. Complete nothingness. The photo I found in the phone later on is a proof.
15.03.2018. Thursday (return)
How insane you must be to consciously poison yourself night before return trip?
I have no idea what woke me up. I have no idea what time it is. I even have no idea how I reached my room. I have no idea where my phone is. I cannot walk straight to the toilet. The clothes I was wearing last night are scattered on the floor between door and the bed. I notice the genius layout of the bathroom as I can rest my head on the sink while sitting on the toilet. I cannot hold it. I’m sick in Croatian terms. I’m really sick. I have poisoned myself, and the poison is still running through the veins, everything is up in my throat. The thought of food makes me even sicker. I am covered in cold sweat while the body is shaking of weakness. I find the phone, and the interesting photo on Viber chat, I have no idea that I was the one to send it. I scroll through the photo gallery, there are a few more interesting ones that I have no recollection of. This is surreal, I must be dreaming, it’s like being in the Hangover movie and every new scene is revealing a new obscenity. Half-smart watch says that I went to bed at 2 and slept 5 hours (it sounds great but I don’t feel it). I look for the angels. There is no black nor white today, just the two of sick green color that cannot fly and in order to stand they have to lean on each other. I’m pleased to see that the black one is sick too. I cannot write that I am parting with my soul as I don’t have it today (some would say that I don’t have it at all). I’m trying to find a film. I know I am not violent when drunk, but I can be brutally honest, which can be worse than physical violence. Keeping my head down I go to breakfast. There are not too many people, I gently check the situation, no one is hitting me so far. I don’t manage to drink the tea even though I mixed a nice jasmine combination. Food – no chance. I am almost crawling. A ghost*.
*ghost – in original text the word used is AVET, coming from Turkish afet (bad luck), in folk superstition the deceased or unnatural being who shows itself to the people and fears the hell out of them just by the way it looks; wraith, phantom
I go back to my room. I switch from the ghost state to the zombie* state.
*zombi is voodoo creature shown as a human corpse that was returned to life by magic or other unnatural ability. This word in Haiti represents a man without his own conscience, the people who are in trance, under someone else’s mental control, mindless slaves of some wizard.
I don’t know how to describe how I feel. I believe many of you are familiar with the aftermath of excessive drinking, I am, but like this just a few times in life, surrounded by the confident people who would make sure to leave me at my mother’s doorstep and run away if nothing else. I guess I felt the same confidence and trust yesterday if I am so ruined. Today it is just me, Gandalf, Homeboy and two half-dead angels, 2500 km of the road and some sea away from home. MT recommends shower. Will not! I don’t have the time. The next advice is to force myself to throw up. Will not! I have put so much effort in eating and drinking yesterday, no way I will throw it away now. The last advice is to call toll service. Are you trying to offend me? As I don’t know when I’ll be able to do it again, I inform sis-in-law about the situation, her advice is rehydration. I know I need to be in the port by noon (at some time zone), and that’s great, I have a goal and we’ll see about the rest. There are easier and harder goals, and even though this one looks easy it is not easy to me. I cannot squeeze all the stuff in the bags, there are too many even though there is something missing all the time. Every move is a struggle. Some weird force is leading me, somehow I manage to pack the bags and close side cases, I cannot figure out how come they are so full. I checked out of the hotel, I’m trying to get ready for the ride, I’m missing undercap. I can’t find it. I go back to the hotel, asking for the room card, I check the room again but it’s not there. One undercap from Lidl (grocery store op.transl.) should not be so relevant, even for me, but if this is missing now who knows what else might be missing when I need it? I check out for the second time, I open the topcase and the undercap is the first thing I see. I still have no idea what kind of force is at work, who is helping me but I know I would not be able to do it without help. Text on picture says: “You would not be alive if you would not be dying of something” (Bob Rock to Jeremija)
I sit on the bike, I ask GPS to behave today, and the colleague is suspiciously asking ‘do you know where are you going to?’. I know where and when I should get there, that’s something. As walking straight did not work, I am surprised that the curbs are not throwing themselves under Gandalf’s wheels. I am really focused, it’s great that everyone’s stirring wheel is on the right side so I am often horrified by seeing a car without driver and that keeps me awake. There is some garage firm in Croatia (Rimac) that brags about the new concept with level 4 of autonomy. Mate (Rimac), all vehicles here are autonomous, people are sitting in passenger’s seat and enjoy the view.
It is really hard, but in my shiny armor and on my faithful stallion I feel safer than on foot. I am not time-pressed. If I miss the ferry or I don’t manage to drive this short section it is not the end of the world. Tomorrow is a new day, and all of it can still be measured by money. I get out of Larnaca, I ride on the slower left lane today, no speeding. All important maneuvers are performed with caution and after each one I do a quality check. Have I turned enough? Have I turned first to the right side? Is my speed estimate of other drivers good, etc. I do this usually (if anyone is interested), but not with such meticulous way. I even notice recommendation sign ‘drive on the left side’ that I did not notice while arriving. Quality check does not point at any major mistake and I am happy about it. I would not want Gandalf to get crashed for me and my angels getting wasted. I managed to find the crossing to the occupied side, I have no problems nor delays in any checkup. Actually, I am pleasantly surprised how I managed to find insurance papers when asked about them.
On the occupied side I stop to take some photos, I remember the people on the south side kept asking me how the other side looks like. The photo is blurry, how can I blame a phone for it today? Ferry port is on the other side of the hill.
I found the section with works and I continued driving down to Girne. That’s the part which is impossible to stop at. And what happens? I have to sneeze. I raise the flip, move undercap, put my hand and sneeze. I feel something warm in my hand (I ride without gloves as it was probably too difficult to put them on, no way I would remember to cool fists and wrists), I look and I see yellow-green mucus, sticky, dense and foamy…is someone else reminded of the last night’s snails or is it just me? I don’t know where to put this. I pull the clutch with the tip of my fingers, without counter balance on the steering wheel so I conveniently wobble. No way I will wipe it off on Gandalf or any other part of equipment. Entering the city I stop as soon as possible. I use my other hand to open side bag, it seems that here might be some wipes. And there are disinfection wipes, a present from a friend prior to Marrakesh trip (thank you Kiki). Still wet, after passing through three continents with us.
I don’t remember whether I had any difficulties in finding the port, but I know that in the port itself, no matter how small it is I managed to take a wrong turn so I wandered around it a bit. I could see the sunlight when I recognized the gate that I passed through the other day, but obviously I was blinded by it as I tried to enter on the right door (the left ones were closed). The uniform is raising stop sign and approaches. I stop. He is asking something I don’t understand. English? In fine English he is asking me whether I am English? No. Neither am I he says, so why would we speak English? I don’t have an answer to this. If he asked me this tonight during nirvana I’m sure I would have answered it, as I would know all answers about Life, Universe and Everything, but please not today blue friend, just not the head. Anyhow, the entrance to the port is closed until 11 (time of conversation 10.50) and when it’s opened, left side is the right side. Uh, it’s OK, no hitting. I park close by, it’s hot, I take off some clothes and leave the jacket over the front. Only then I notice that it is terribly dirty, greasy and oily. The aftermath of squeezing into ferry upon arrival. For the first time in 4 years I washed it and try to impregnate it, if I am in better psycho-physical condition this would upset me, but here and now, who cares? I rehydrate with the water from the stash, Jana survived the whole trip to here and here it fell. In the shade I found there is a strong stench of sewage even though I cannot figure out from where. And while I look where to move us I realize that I am parked in front of a big building with my carrier’s office. I feel the hands of some higher force in everything. I thought the office is inside, where I was solving entry paperwork.
I am not first on the counter, but when the employee raised her head she recognized me and smiled warmly, almost motherly. I knew I will have no more problems here. And there were none, the ferry is scheduled to sail, Barut rocks. And the tickets are here. Alah is great (or whichever is in charge here). I could not find the information about arrival time to Mersin, we reached the limits of our communication capabilities. I was a bit worried as I was not sure whether I solved all paperwork. I can see that some are entering the neighboring building, I have the time, I make enquiries, they send me around some offices until I end up in one where they understand me and they answer on (so, so) understandable language that I have everything that is required. That’s excellent news, to ferry we go, everything else from here must me milk and honey. Not today. I am blocked by trucks and I cannot move from parking. I check climbing up on a curb, I would check it even sober, how can I not now when I can barely walk. The fears are to be held by the horns, one obstacle, one more, some slalom and here am I at the entrance, on the left side. The doors are still closed.
Some of drivers I recognize, but some others are curious. That’s good, I also have some questions. We solve communication problems with the phone who is translating English-Turkish. I roughly know the duration of the trip and the arrival time to Mersin, and they are asking where am I from, how long I am on the road and where am I going to. I have no problems at the entrance, I enter among the first, the only problem is the blue officer with impossible question. Even though he is free he does not want to check my papers but he sends the colleague for whose communication problems he obviously knows. He waves, I look askingly, and he yells ‘Ship! Go!’ And the other one is dying of laughter.
I am the first on the ship! I am trying to hide Gandalf among different stuff and barrels by myself in hope I will protect him somehow, and not to get filthy to the end. The employee is new, he demands raising him on the side trestle. I pull out my small wooden board and obey. This time it looks more secured. I barely manage to pull out everything I might need in the next 12 or so hours (food, photo, laptop, chargers). I am so early that there are no employees at the bar, and the official doors are opened. It might be better if I did not see this. The cabin key still costs the same. It looks exactly like on Barut’s photos. Warm, airy, even smelly comparing to the breath. I take off the excess of equipment but I don’t throw myself on the bed immediately even though I deserved it, it is time for photo session. Empty boat is my playground and I play, act vomiting, I don’t act that my head is heavy, the hearts are falling for Girne (and Cyprus, now that I am sure that I’ve survived). I put the camera on the different parts of the boat in hope that the photo will turn out well, I need someone to help. I take panoramic shots, I stick my nose in some more official areas, I am all over the place. Maintenace crew is pampering this greybeard tired vessel, I cannot say that I do not understand. If I need it, I am sure that they would help me pamper Gandalf.
I lose the energy quickly so I retreat to the cabin. For the first time I am trying to fall asleep. I wasted a lot of time but saw no sleep. I take the laptop and have some fun in arranging the photos. There are a couple good ones and that makes me happy. In all relevant things today I was led by some weird force. I feel it again. It tries to tell me that it would be smart to put together some return trip plan, at least think about the next step after leaving the ferry. I risk the bear (5kn) and ask MT about the forecast for Istanbul, Sofia, Niš and Croatia, from Saturday to Monday. I read the answer a couple of times. From left to right, then right to left. No matter how I read it, the Sunday is challenging, and Monday even more. Wait a minute, is it possible, the weather is somewhat acceptable for the next two days. I am dying here and the Old Man is giving me an option to return in two days. Who is insane here? Do I have what is required to do it? I check in ‘scratch with the reason’ manner and I conclude that nothing has grown. MT is additionally point out the Old Man and hope that he will arrange for better weather than the forecast. I do not expect that he will do that for me, I am grateful on the nice weather I had so far, but still, when already mentioned, I answer and ask MT to ask him for a calm sea, we are on the move, the ferry is decently rocking from side to side, I am sick even without it. I promise I will behave and will not waste myself again in any recent future. MT is saying that Reglan tblts (Metopran) is helping with the sickness and decreases the urge to vomit. Will not! Even though I would now take both blue and red pill just to relieve me of my misery but with similar pill I took once in my life while sailing, I had a bad experience. The situation is horrible. The sea is rocking the ship in such a way that I am sliding on the bed and I am leaned on my feet and on my head on and off. You can hear the unclosed doors slamming, the plastic cover from the lamp in the bathroom falls down, and the crew is pampering the ship for hours with a big hammer so it all bangs (are those bells for me?). I am dying. I look at the camera thinking to record all this, to make a videoblog and my last will. If I die I want it to be known that I left traveling, doing what I love. And that I am not sorry about anything and no one should feel sorry about me.
How insane you must be to hope that the nausea will pass while sailing by ferry?
I give up the idea of writing the last will as it is actually too much of a dark side. I’m trying to sleep again, but it is only torture. I know I should it so I force myself. It’s really hard. I have no more water. Money box shows 3 Turkish liras. The waiter is asking 2 for half-liter, a double price than on the gas stop. Give me one for now, and give me Euro exchange rate…3TL for €? It was almost 5 on the road. How can you price a medicine? Ask pharmaceutical industry. A new laptop session. Eaten food sits in my throat. I still feel nauseous, I’m not sure any longer is it the hangover, rocking boat or food. The only perfect thing is the toilet session. Yesterday’s snails obviously helped, I should check it once again. Or Zivana perhaps? No, it’s not her, even thinking of it makes me sicker. A new round of trying to sleep, successful as two previous attempts. Colors of the cabin are becoming warmer…well, well, the sun is going away. I rushing to open the window (as taking photos through it would be pointless) and I break my nail. I should have clipped them in the morning but I had no time nor strength for it. I manage to take a photo of the sunset. Some fresh air flows into the cabin. I need something to warm to cover myself. The mystery of side cases and bags is resolved (I suppose), it must have been that the long sleeve layer of clothes ended up inside and crowded it.
It’s dark, I have no communication with the outside world for hours, I cannot look at laptop any longer, the idea of speeding up return trip is buzzing around my head, am I going to find any accommodation in Mersin and where, maybe it was a mistake not writing the last will? I’m still dying even though there is no more rocking and no works on the boat. Somehow it seems feasible to turn 1000km each day for two days, and then the last section would be in HR, so if it is impossible to drive it will be easier to figure something out. We are sailing along the Turkish coast and you can see the distant settlement lights. I’m out of water again. I take out half Euro and half lira, by the crook’s rate it’s just enough for one more bottle, not even a cent more. I eat everything else I brought into cabin. There is only some lembas bread remaining. There are no health improvements, I still cannot walk straight, but it must be the boat. I lost will for everything, I look through the window, always the same view, it takes ages to arrive. And just when I was about falling asleep, the staff bangs on door, we are arriving soon, they return the passport and tell me to leave the key in the door. Otherwise, the cabin lock is interesting, it has its own life, sometimes it would open immediately, and sometimes ten key turns were not enough. It took me almost two trips to realize when to use the force. Then it opens right away.
Statistics: 79,1km (GPS)/ 0l fuel / 2 bottles 0,5l of water
Arriving soon is more than enough for zombie to get dressed, pack all things, watches docking and takes a photo of a ship that reminds him of past life.
We are deep into the new day. Gandalf did not run away, and he also did not lay down (luckily). As much as I was trying to leave some space, they parked the trucks even closer. I cannot open side case to pack the stuff. I’m waiting in front of the truck for the driver and ask him to be careful when leaving the boat. In the current situation there is no way I can get off the boat by bike so I wait with the truck drivers for service buses to take us to customs and police checkups, in hope that the procedure will therefore be faster. The bus is taking ten minutes, there is no way I can memorize the route. I have no problems with the procedure as surprisingly I have all required papers, I only miss the bike in order to finish. While I was trying to explain this to the customs officer while he was eating, all buses were already gone. The time passes by. I am waiting hoping that the promised drive will show up. Cyprus passenger control starts. It not that they will sail away with my bike? The officer is asking one of the passengers to translate, they are not sure that they understood what I’m saying. Yes, I arrived by ferry, my bike is blocked inside, I’m here to solve paperwork while the trucks free my bike and I have to go back to the ship now. Which dock? I have no idea. Which boat, where from? This I know. It turns out that the passenger is going to the boat by car and he will take me there. I’m waiting for him to finish his paperwork. The time is passing.
Range Rover, newer, leather seats, I’m so embarrassed thinking that I will stain the seats, so they will be greasy as the owner’s hair pulled up in the topknot. Weird feeling. He does not know the right way to the boat, neither some fierce Audi SUV in front of us, so I keep wandering around with them. I finally see the boat ahead. The trucks are blocking the way in so I thank for the ride and continue on foot. Gandalf is the only one on the lower deck, I’m asking the staff to untie him so I can take off finally. Where to? Well, cunningly I had GPS in my pocket all the time and it memorized customs office position. It took me some time to find it even though I did not miss turn anywhere. Almost 3km. There are 3 persons in customs. I go in, the officer is dozing off. First I interrupted him while eating, now while sleeping, it cannot end good. I already see myself watching the sunrise here. He tells me to wait by the bike, he’ll be back in 10 minutes. The three outside are asking whether I have the problem too. As far as I know no, I just need the bike checked. The time is passing. I clean the visor and the lights. The officer returns, first dealing with the three, I don’t understand much but it does not look good, I think their car will not get out tonight. I have no such problems, all inside. A bit more paperwork and computer entries. It seems that the three have no insurance valid for Turkey. All out again, the gate is opening, I am free, I can go. And where to go at 2.45 a.m.? Is there any point in looking for a place to sleep? I sit on the bike, still in the state of zombie, and I take off, I hope in the direction of home, towards the Black Sea.
I drive without gloves, I look around, and if something catches my eye I stop. If I feel sleepy, I stop. Nothing caught my eye and I am not sleepy. I get on the highway and I follow GPS. There is some lightning ahead, I’m not sure whether this is on my route, it’s dark and I have some difficulties to orientate. Slowly it becomes too cold for bare hands so I stop at the gas stop. I fill in even though there was no reserve lamp yet. I organize stuff in the right places in the cases. I take some rehydration fluid as well. I put on full gear even though it is not cold enough. Invisible force is still leading me. I keep on driving; the highway starts turning towards the mountains, it’s starts raining, the temperature is dropping. It’s great that the lightning is getting closer so I occasionally see something ahead, neither long nor dipped lights are of much use in these conditions. I am warm in my armor, I don’t pay too much attention to gas stops and rest stops. I have no idea about the temperature but I can feel that it is still dropping. The rain is passing into snow. I have a feeling that someone is testing how insane I really am. Driving at 4 a.m., on the mountain road I can barely see, while it keeps snowing more and more and I have no idea what the temperature is? I’m not that insane and I am slowly trying to reach the first gas stop or rest stop. Finally there are some lights ahead, I leave the highway and park in front of a big restaurant. I get the negative answer asking for some accommodation, but they allow me to rest there. I have no choice. The conditions are not for the bike.
Either we have problem in communication or they do not accept credit cards. For the second time I have to use cash, and I change 10 euros. Actually, it’s not me who is changing, but the employee of the restaurant goes to change it for me while I try to choose some soup. I have to come back to life and I don’t know how. I don’t understand the descriptions so I take any. He fills my portion and throws away the rest, the soup is as fresh as I am. I manage to get the net password, now we are talking. I check the forecasts. I check the communication of the rest of the crew that was parting from their souls yesterday or took off where we left or went home. Too early (or too late) is to contact the family, but I send a message to the crew. No answer, that’s weird. I am trying to fall asleep at the table but I cannot get the right position. Not even Zagorje Superman position* helps, the table is too low, the gear is pressing my tummy (*Zagorje Superman position – arm stretched and the head is resting on the upper arm, common position at the bar of the local inns, it is used to regain the energy in case of temporary weakness). Leaned on the chair is unstable. I even set the alarm. The torture lasted for two hours, it began dawning. The mountains are covered in snow, Gandalf is covered in snow, but the road is black. There is some hope, it should just warm up a bit. The staff is making me some tea, I know it is too early in HR but I have no idea when I’ll be able to communicate again so I send a message that I am alive and traveling, it’s been a while, I know everyone is worried.
7.30 local time. I gently remove some snow from the bike. The thermometer is showing 2 in plus. Some guys are trying to start a van whose fuel is frozen. If Gandalf starts we go on, and if not, I’ll wait some more. In all our wanderings in the last 6 years I can count on one hand the situations where he started at the first key turn as now. Rough sound, due to rich fuel mixture required in such conditions, it shakes off the remaining snow. I think Gandalf has stated his opinion pretty clearly, like a hasky who drags himself from the snow ready for the slides. Another good thing is that during the night, in all darkness and torture we managed to cross the big part of the mountain range. Just a bit more and then we continue on the plateau. The snow stopped, it is cold but it does not pass through the armor. The toll boots, like many so far, opened…I pass through and I hear the siren wailing. I pull over in the right, I look around, there are some building around but not too appealing. There is some employee of something not interested in me at all. There is a uniform showing up from behind the fence and barbed wire. Just drive he says. I realized by now that the siren is wailing when the others are passing by as well. The bike is not heating enough so I don’t have too much heating for my hands, but stretching fingers occasionally is enough to decrease the sense of cold. The temperature keeps changing, more or less positive, in the rhythm of signs for mandatory winter gear to cessation. I don’t have winter gear on the bike. Fresh air and the cup of tea keep me awake, I’m still nauseous, but the rhythm gets better. It seems that the peak of weakness has passed. What Zivana, is this the best you can do? See me, I’m still alive, and I wander. Nothing without haw stake (or ax, op.transl.).
50kms from Nowhere (Niğde is very similar to nigde which on Croatian means nowhere) and 25 hrs from the last sleep, watching GPS showing the next turn in 300km, I’m curious. Tell me GPS how long to reach home? It’s not an easy question, he keeps on calculating, and calculating…he’s faster than Deep Thought computer…and says lousy 2050kms to home, and if you start driving without a pause, you would be home until 2 a.m. the next day. Silly, being 50km from Nowhere and 2050km from home it does not scary at all. I keep GPS to navigate to home and check the accommodation offer along the road, if I’ve been nuttier this morning, they were ‘just’ 150-200km away. From there, 50km from Nowhere, and half way to Ankara I use all fuel. Now already intentionally I spot a small, unsightly pump, in hope to find Gandalf what he likes. I did not switch him off yet and I knew what I will buy to me. A full shelf of stuffed teddy bears. The employee looks at me puzzled, are you sure you want that white bear, brown eyes, in ultra-dirty nylon cover hanging here for days (years)? Yes, I’m sure, I want this one as it is the smallest, and I don’t know whether I could fit it at all. I finally have someone with me. I was so happy about this and I wanted to share with all my FB friends, but no internet. The gas stop has it, but in order to use it you need to type a phone number to get the access code, and the phone number has to be local. The locals notice my suffering, and one of them plugs WiFi hotspot on his phone and gives me the internet. It shows again, the smaller (poorer) the man is, the sooner he will help you. And perhaps he felt merciful seeing me crunching energy bar that was still partially frozen loudly. This is my first stop at daylight after the ferry, and while I was doing some reorganizing to fit the teddy in, I notice deep scratch on the right-side case. The ferry left a trace nonetheless. If I was in a better pscyho-physical state this would disturb me, but here and now, who cares?
It’s easier now, I have someone with me, I managed to squeeze him into topcase. I go around Ankara, I need some food, but still have no real stimulus. It’s even better while I am hungry as nothing is stuck in my throat. I rolled off 500km, I can almost smell the Black Sea, I could use some rest but I keep on pressing. I stop just before noon. Big restaurant, a lot of entries, exists…and when I enter one of them, again a big restaurant left and right…I don’t get it, but there is a kind young employee who does not seem to be bothered by my Mondoshawan appearance, he sees tired traveler who needs food and drink. He is showing me the offer but I see only one thing…chicken in some sauce…and not the white meat (wood), but the real stuff, with skin. Chickeen! I gasp, like Leeloo in the 5th Element when she bones chicken legs. With the choice of pickled salad and plain rice, heavenly feast. Considering that everything is still stuck in my throat, MT says chamomile tea, ginger tea or baking soda. Will not! I drank the tea that I got without asking for it, I have no idea what kind but it’s good. I know my sister finds it strange that at 10 a.m. her time I am answering that I am not sure about Istanbul, even though I keep thinking about it, but there is still 400km to the bridge. Let’s go on and we’ll see.
Some 200km from the bridge, 550km from Nowhere and 1550km from home, 37 hrs from the last Zivana, I am finally revived. The color finally turned into my face, the knot is left from the throat, I feel reborn. It’s over, the body had disposed of toxins, one life cycle had ended, and like Phoenix, the new life is born from the ashes. Stronger, more determined and more focused than before. The head roars with ‘Zivana (Greek woman in original) you should know, it’s all over, goodbye and never come back…she wounded my soul…she took everything’, the song that some time ago we played so loudly and kicked the membranes out of cousin’s speakers. I’m conscious. I am not zombie any longer. To hell with the Black Sea and taking photos of jerks in front of the water, straight home on the wings of euphoria. Angels are finally taking off as well, buzzing around, probably enjoying the resurrection. I’ve been trying whole day to find a rabbit, a vehicle that would drive at acceptable speed and I would rest behind. I managed to do it on every trip so far, but in Turkey not today nor when arriving. Everyone is far below the speed limit or far above.
How insane you must be to hope for the normal Turkish driver?
120km before the bridge, on the stop situated next to some lake (unfortunately it is not Black nor Marble Sea) I start preparing for the attack on Istanbul (actually going around it from both sides of the bridge that leads to Europe). My wounds from the last attack are still fresh, now I have to be smarter, I underestimated it in the opposite direction. It’s not early to prepare, the traffic is already denser and is not decreasing far after the bridge. To avoid the heat I take off the last layer of clothes, I pack it on the seat, I take out summer gloves. All vent holes on the suit are opened to the maximum. To avoid hunger, I much on energy bar. To avoid stopping in order to pee, I go to the toilet. But of course, the one outside is closed and I have to go inside. There is a small market inside, baskets full of food, fruit, spices…hundreds of colors and smells…I know if I would let my mum in she would not get out for a week, but someone had filled my back space so I have no trouble in getting out. I had to buy ‘just’ one nut cracker.
800km and 12hrs after leaving the port, I am ready. Gandalf, GPS, someone, me and my angels, against all. There is nothing in this world that can stop us. To spice up my challenge, I put one more demand on myself. Not that I don’t want to turn on Gandalf’s oil cooler, I don’t want to raise a single line of temperature. That’s the challenge. The road is ours, all tracks. As soon as it gets tricky on allowed tracks, there is a spare right track. In front of interceptor, behind the interceptor, crossing over 5 tracks, slalom, if need be on the on the get off tracks. They don’t even have the time to honk. But I am not the only one, there are more, so I am a rabbit for a while, and then someone else takes over. Their craziness I make up with agility and narrow width. I turn my head as an owl, almost 360 degrees, the eyes see and the brain is processing, I feel the traffic, I am the traffic, even Trinity from Matrix would not be ashamed by this driving. If it happens that something is not in my sight, there are angels who are controlling from above and notify. Not even the black one is messing up. Nothing can stop us or slow us down. We are not the fastest, there is one faster category, so called Japanese-Turkish kamikaze, half-geared riders of narrow and fast bikes, roaring so loudly so everyone can hear them. The black one gathers courage, pulls out the sword and foaming from his mouth yells ‘525 years ago you were ravening Zagorje, the revenge is sweet…press more, press more’. And the white one seems to be OK with it as well. Drele (Croatian singer) goes through my head ‘let’s go bold tires, Zagorje roads are awaiting, maybe some crazy Turk gets drunk and kills us with the Record camper’ so I am extra careful about Opel drivers. The bridge is behind us, the temperature stabile, excellent team work, but by the end we lose our breath a bit and join the flow that gets livelier. The temperature reacts immediately. No way you b…! One more attack and we are done, Istanbul and surroundings are behind. The advanced can compare speed graphs for first and second crossing.
After 16hrs on the road, dying and resurrection, snow, wind, sun and fat 1000km behind, it was the time to think about a place to sleep, I guess. I say I guess as the body is not showing any signs of fatigue, the bike as well, someone is silent. We are stopped by the reserve lamp. It seems that it works when needed. In the pump’s annex I see some buildings, so let’s see what they are offering. And there again ‘Chickeeen’! The answer on my question about accommodation is Edirne, city 120km away. Chewing on chicken not as good as the previous one, I check the map on GPS, and selection of accommodation on the phone. It makes no sense to sleep in Turkey when Svilengrad in Bulgaria is 150km away, there I am practically home. I find some location, it says opened until 20h, and the watch says I have an hour and a half. In the brewing euphoria that is still holding me that is so feasible and I am back in the saddle. The first thing that started deflating my euphoria is creeping darkness. The second thing was disgustingly long queue of trucks, the body maybe shows no fatigue but the sight becomes blurry and I am afraid to drive fast past them, just in case that I miss some driver walking along. I am pushing through on the Turkish border, a bit scared that they will lock me up when they see that 18hrs ago and 1200km away I entered Turkey and already trying to get out of it, but nobody seems to be bothered. The third thing that pounds the last nail into euphoria is Bulgarian border. A number of queues, all standing still, people are socializing. Of course, straight ahead. I inquire about the reasons for queues and the answer is changing shifts. Bulgarians, not again. During last year’s wandering, upon return from Bucharest, the computer system crashed. Now the computers are working, but there are no officials. Half an hour of waiting I spend talking to other drivers. They shake their heads a bit hearing when I started and where from I arrived. Lady official are back! I have all papers. But she has a brother customs officer. Open the topcase. He is not falling on the brown eyes of someone, just pushes him aside. He savagely opens the backpack, pushes the hand in, force-opens the box and finds the reward proudly like he found something forbidden. ‘What’s this bro?’ Reward bro. Disappointed, he just waves, we are no longer brothers, go.
Bulgaria! Thick darkness at the entry to Svilengrad is broken by the glittering hotel and casino adds. I am not interested, I drive to the approximate location of the accommodation. The holes are big, GPS is not reliable, but there is no much traffic so we slowly progress. On the approximate location I find the hotel, small, well-lit, with interesting name, but it is not the one I am looking for, the price is almost double. They did not hear about the one I want. I switch on the telephone navigation, I am not sure whether I am on the Greek or Bulgarian network, I just hope I am not on Turkish. Driving through some dark alleys I reach the dirt road with enormous holes, this should be it. I pass the last 50m. The light is on, but I see no entrance. I turn the bike around, trying to find the part of the road that is flat enough to pull it on the central trestle, part of it breaks, it’s good that we did not flip over. I put it on the side, I turn, the light is off. Twilight zone. I am finally tired enough that the price difference does not make a difference and I don’t feel like searching any more, the other one I know where it is and I that it works, for this one was a bad choice even to Gandalf.
1050km from Nowhere and 1150km from home, after 1250km marathon in one day, I settle in London. Who of the bikers can say that they drove Mersin-Ankara-Istanbul-Svilengrad-London in one day? As my friend temporarily in Germany (I think he is in Germany) would say ‘I tore Turkey as sow greasy bag’. I broke my own record in kms in one day. I spread the news loudly. All pores on my nose are black from the glass frame. I flood the bathroom as the shower has no curtain, and it’s small. I plug the electronics to chargers, it’s been a long day. There were two days bound together in fact. I feel suspiciously just some small pain. I mix one granulated brufen without MT’s recommendation and without a real need for it. The forecast is not any better and for the home they show snow starting tomorrow at 18.00, and there is everything along the way, sun, heat, rain and thunder. MT says rest. Will not! Until midnight I do who knows what on the laptop.
Statistics: 1223km (GPS) / 77,14l fuel / 795,98kn spent
On the picture below I marked and counted all stops longer than 10 minutes. The time on the graph is according to HR time, not local. You can see Nowhere as well.
Euphoria kept me attached to the laptop (too) long. I simply could not help it, I guess I passed the edge of a regular fatigue. No sleep for two days, actually I slept too little in the last 5 days and the body seemed to adapt to it. I entered unknown and unexplored state and I have no idea what to expect. In such situation there is no rush. Alarm was set but just in case I oversleep. Of course, it was not needed, I think I was even awakened by a rooster. There is no breakfast in the hotel so I emptied everything that remained in the personal stash and reinforced it with the flask medicine. I’m lying, there was some bread left. I feel (much) better than expected, more or less equally in pain as when I went to bed. I have no idea whether this was influenced by the soluble medicine from yesterday. It would be a shame to return everything. And again, if I was taking the medicine at every MT’s suggestion, I would stay out of it half way through. I am taking stuff out in tranches as the staff kindly asked me yesterday to remove from the bike everything that can be taken away, even though they have lit parking and video surveillance. What would happen if I’ve left it in that dark alley last night? As a goodbye I get free tea, not much but at least something warm and against fatigue. I even take out the camera.
Svilengrad at daylight does not look any better than last night, at least what I can see. I’m trying to come up with some inspiration to push me through the day, but I cannot find any…been to Asia and came back…been to Cyprus, drove on the wrong side and came back…moved ahead the number of total kilometers per day…achieved a lot, much more than expected. And there are even no mountains covered in snow in sight. But, the forecast is for snow at homeland for 6 p.m. so let’s try to see this one at least. Highway speed limit is 140km p/h, and that’s sort of the top speed for Gandalf long distance. He uses fuel faster, and I get tired faster. The road does not glitter today, probably due to the position of the sun, but black and smooth is quickly left behind. GPS and the helmet are having arguments today again so I take the last ace out of my sleeve. I connect the phone to the helmet and I run random music flow. Random my a…Usually I don’t listen to the music from the phone (except when trimming to diminish the noise) so there is no fresh or adopted choice. More some songs that by accident were at hand at a given moment, a couple of foreign bands and more or less everything from Hladno Pivo. The first song running was Adele’s…and the song that every once in a while, there is a pitched Crazy. I admit, I am crazy for driving and the road. I realized this yesterday, after the resurrection. I realized that driving is healing me better than the physio-therapy, vineyard and pharmaceutical products. I don’t really care about the location and destination. Gandalf, the road and the accidental encountering (talk) with the ordinary people along the way, this is what matters.
I was not even aware how I needed to cleanse body and soul. I was not aware how difficult the idyll can be. Everyone sees some idyll in my life. The married ones see my freedom, the ones living in the concrete city blocks see my green, my friends are convinced that I do nothing, my parents see that I do nothing, FB friends are seeing the nice photos I post occasionally, some others see my other oldies…the grass is always greener somewhere else. I have nothing to hide, I live idyllic life, but it obviously can be difficult in its own way. As the phone chooses song by song randomly but ideally, I fall into trance even more and start daydreaming. Even though there is till 1000km to go, the trip is over for me, the only remaining thing is driving to the box routinely. I dream that Mate will assemble touring electro-bike, that we will not tank fuel on the stations but change batteries, that maybe in the adopting period the batteries will be assembled instead of cases, what could be the advantages of having the front drive, how could he sort out the amortization to generate power so it has comfort adjustment as an additional convenience. I dreamt about my vineyard and sweetness of raspberries. The words kept flowing like a river, it’s been a long time since I experienced this. And then, without obvious reason and with no need whatsoever, the Bulgarian plates car driver is slowly going into left (mine) track. And he won’t stop. Suddenly, all dreams have disappeared, I forgot the words and the ideas, and the film rewind. No way! I avoid without decreasing the speed, I choose a couple of modest words that I emphasize by honking. I know it is not the driver’s fault, that’s the message from above about fragility of existence and how unrealistic is to think that you are in control.
I drive around Sofia a bit longer as I spent time singing rather than following GPS. The road is not bumpy as the other day or I am already used to it. There is no traffic in my direction today, nor some speeders. Or it’s the music that makes it all nicer? Even Bulgaria that slowly disappears. The police is on the same spot, I can’t say I memorized it, but I remembered when I saw them. They are not interested in me. Border. Queues. Just to see a bit what’s happening and hop to the front. Just behind the car with the neat problem solution sticker. Even though my crew has grown out of this solution and switched to the off-road vehicles. If someone recalls, one was it was up-hill, so it’s down-hill now and it is easy to move. Not even customs have problems in letting me pass.
Serbia! Welcomes me with a big welcome. If I can say that I am at home in the EU, I can surely say that for Serbia as well. I have collected many personal and professional connections throughout the years. I have an open invitation for accommodation for today, but as I am advancing it seems I will not use the offer. Due to this I am home feeling I switch part of security energy to the steering energy. Now I see that this section is scarcely described when arriving, only one small piece. I realized that the section is a bit longer than 10km of Sisevac canyon only by driving with the little fuel in tank. I really wanted better photo of the bike from this location but the pieces did not fall into place, next time.
The first stop and rest today I take on the Belgrade highway. Even though the employee is offering a better fuel option, I choose less octanes, the bike will in any case swallow whatever it gets. I treat myself with a triangle sandwich. I talk nicely and show the turkey one, but the guy is diving me the other…no, turkey and Coke. There is a space for eating and drinking, but it makes no sense to sit as I’ll be doing it the whole day. I walk around the bike and chew on turkey, talking to the employees and inquiring about the forecast. It should have been raining already, I am in maximum gear, but the sun and heat are killing me. The local phone shows that it is currently raining in Belgrade. Acrobatic peeing, music on loud and straight to Belgrade.
The sign above highway shows ‘Someone loves you’. Well of course, if no one else, then mother for sure, at least by obligation. Kilometers and tolls are passing by routinely, this time I follow GPS through Belgrade center. Saturday around 1 p.m., after rain, I expect traffic jam. Road works that were not expected are adding to the crowd. I switch on to easy Istanbul mode of driving and it turns out that it is faster to pass through the city than to go around. I run over some glass remains on Gazela (bridge in Belgrade), remained after some small crash, unavoidable. And it runs through my head, as so many times already on the return trip, the question by a Bosnian colleague – what do you do when you have a flat tire? I never had it so I have no idea, bite your thong, every ‘lastik’ shop in Turkey and Bulgaria reminded me of it.
Up to the Croatian border the road is getting more and more wet, but no rain, like we are above the clouds. I adjust the speed and rhythm to the fuel so I can make it to HR. The phone is choosing the right song for the situation ‘above the clouds, there is no lying…’ Serbian police officer asks ‘isn’t it too cold for the bike?’. Not even close as it was and it seems as it will be soon.
Croatia! Spacva stop was my goal for today that I dreamed of on the Girne-Mersin ferry, on the last strings of life. I’ve been driving without gloves since the border so I cool off hands and wrists, and I get the first feeling about the conditions. Spacva is after 9 hours of driving achieved goal. The sky is getting darker, the temperature is dropping. I spend 20 minutes of pause to tank up to the top of the finest fuel there is (as I stopped on the place where they have no other), I’ve learned to tank while sitting on the bike, the central trestle is broken and I cannot tank fully while leaned on the side. I proudly send around the message about where I am, I check the remaining communication from Cyprus crew, I walk left and right as Balthazar trying to stretch a bit. I drank whatever liquid I had in the case and protected it with additional cover. It makes no sense to look for accommodation here. I change BT modul on the helmet, listening to music had used the battery but it’s not big deal as I have one more in reserve. At 3 p.m. we are ready for another attack. The start was on 10 Celsius and weak rain. As the rain kept on beating the helmet louder and stronger and the temperature kept dropping I would raise the speed and turn on music louder. There are none faster than us on the highway. Not even passing through big deep puddles is slowing us down. We are running on the edge of the speed that angels can achieve in these conditions, they are also slowed down by this cold and heavy rain (and you know that you should not be driving faster than your guardian angel). The cars and trucks are raising thick curtains of water that we pass through half-blindly. Driving along the truck wheels is a special treat, maximum shower even the most hidden parts. The wind is blowing significantly now. Just keep kicking, you did not break through my armor yet. And phone again finds appropriate music which mentions wind, driving wrong side, doing things differently etc etc.
And someone will say that there is no higher force that is involved in music choice, like it is random…The sign above highway says ‘don’t drive tired’. Who is tired, I am just warming up. I am happy, there is no other place in the world I would rather be in this moment, but right here on the road, with wind and rain are washing out all insects and dirt collected while wandering. I don’t mind the water that begins dripping into my gloves, actually I expected that the shoe impregnation I used quickly will fail sooner. The next sig shows that the temperature fell to 7, and the phone is conveniently playing Vivaldi’s season, guess which, the pitched sounds of violins in almost heavy-metal style are announcing the storm, snow and ice. It can’t be random. And it is the right kick for me, I am not backing off for a mm. Half-smart watch on the hand since I entered HR (actually since it caught domestic network and internet) keeps on vibrating. The lagged and new messages are arriving, congratulations on the achieved and so on…One of them is from MT ‘you are not driving on the rain, are you?’. Luckily, I cannot see it, I am sure I would have stopped if I did (Will not!). Until Ivanic no one is taking over, and then there is some SUV nervously signaling me to move just to set right in front of me and spill over me some more. I did not congratulate him on the fantastic maneuver.
Of course, on the toll I have the problem of taking off and opening the gear pin order to pay, the employee is understanding, everything is dripping from us. I even manage to put wet gloves back on. Hard conditions and merciless rhythm burned the best fuel from the tank so I need to save to get to the next gas stop, the same one where all this madness had started.
For the last section I put summer but dry gloves. I even thought of turning to the old road to avoid two more reassembling for the toll, but now I would drive home barefoot and naked. The temperature drops to 5, the rain is merciless and every drop is harder and harder making everything feel harder than the temperature suggests, but it is manageable. Pushing Gandalf as the devil pushes sinful soul does not help any longer in keeping the hands warm. This cold rain cools him off as well. I was afraid of such conditions while planning the trip. The vision of homeland gives me some immunity to it. To spice it up a bit, the phone chooses Nola and Day song, the refrain is brutally true: Day, completely ordinary, as every other day, completely ordinary’. I cannot help not to agree with it. One more, completely ordinary but everything but dull wandering for official purposes is approaching its end. To me, this is a bit more of ordinary day then to the others. My grass is greener.
I refuse to end this madness without a dot to I. I assemble a new nirvana sight in my head, similar to the one from Cyprus. There is someone on one side, and on the other there is staff from the local pub. There is no dot on I for me. I get rejected under explanation of being (un)photogenic. Who in the whole world can look bad next to us today? Tamika, you disappointed one tired traveler.
How insane you must be to expect dot on I in the pub?
Whatever, there is no dot. Passing by the MT’s location I honk twice to signal that the shift is over. At 5.58 p.m. I switch off the engine in the house yard. There is no one in sight. Not even snow. I open the garage, park, strip off the first layer of wet gear. No one in sight. The house is locked. I enter, Rubi is not here to greet me. She appears on the third call. It is great that someone is happy to see me, even if she thinks that I brought some food or treat. One more proof that this is just ordinary day.
How insane you must be to turn 1100km with two pauses?
Statistics: 1120km (GPS) / 80,78l fuel / 1212,88kn spent (hotel 305,82kn)
Conclusion (sort of)
Everyone should pull out their own opinion about what was insane on this trip and what was even more insane. I’ve died for this wandering several times even before it started. It required a lot of ‘medicine’ (Medicine for body and soul bottle). It is interesting that in similar situations the body would by default loose fat, but this time not a single gram like it knew what was lying ahead. To what limits my insanity stretched? Well, I did not want to shave hoping that the beard will provide some additional warmth. And then someone will tell me that I was anxious for no reason. I cannot help it, it’s the genes, if I am not here the whole world would be gone.
It’s time to draw the line and mention some things that were neglected or missed. On the whole trip I’ve spent 30 Euros and 50 cents of cash. Everything else was paid by card. I wanted to try 100% no cash, maybe it is possible, but being inexperienced costed me some. Heated gloves were not used the whole trip, I’ve been saving them for extreme conditions that never occurred. I’ve been helped from all sides, family, friends, colleagues and casual acquaintances. The MT had endured the most of mine psycho-physical wits. I’ve often thought about Boris and his ‘best wife in the world’ Ksenija. They’ve been having hiccups for sure. If someone of their caliber tells you that Turkey is high and the port is huge, you should take it more seriously than I did. On the other hand, of I’ve listened to Boris’ words ‘the A students would maybe go from Varaždin to the port of Tasuku in three days, but that would be a great run’ and taken them seriously, I would not even try to drive Mersin-Varaždin in two days. Those are the only two days in the past X years during which I’ve neglected my job completely.
What suffered during the trip? Nothing on my side, I cannot count the broken nail, and it happened before that I lose the part of the film. Some get more injured by moving the sofa. On Gandalf’s side the central trestle piece got broken, the one we welded 20,000 km ago. Obviously, the job was not well done so we have to do it again. There is a scratch that I will not mend but emphasize with a sticker. So, almost nothing on Gandalf’s side.
Were the preparations adequate? It depends. Physical preparations were excellent, all those walks through the snow to vineyard, climbing Ivanšćica, shoveling, swimming and therapies along with quitting smoking prepared by body for efforts far larger than needed or planned. The poisoning was not a part of the plan. Preparations involving necessary information about the countries I’ve travelled through were not as they should’ve been.
Not Gandalf nor I are perfect, and far from being good, but we gave our best and picked one extraordinary wandering. The stubbornness required to plan and realize this trip I learned from my dog Rubi. She never gave up her attitude, not even for the comfort or the treat. Perhaps I was a bit influenced by the movie ‘Eddie the Eagle’ and the tears he had evoked from me after jumping from 90m high ski jump on the Olympics, for the first time in life. And Davor that dragged slides last winter.
Was I making the right decisions at the right time? Except the one about Zivana, well maybe even her, all of them were right. They were not easy to make, not easy to go through with, but they were right. It was snowing the next day, the temperatures dropped to negative. Even now, after return, I still feel euphoric and I make decisions easier, I see more clearly what I want and what needs to be done, no matter if it is pruning apples or work. Unfortunately, this is not so good news for my darts crew. I used to be more considerate. And if Master Yoda is right (and he is the one with the best understanding of Force), stating that the failure is the best teacher (The greatest teacher, failure is.) then I did not have a good teacher. Seriously, I learned nothing, I would do everything the same again.
Until the next wandering, stay fat and happy, pull out everything from yourselves and guard your angels…
There is more! You can leave the comment below. Answer to some or all ‘how insane you must be’ questions. Write if you like it, write if you don’t like it. All comments are being looked over, but rejected are only ones that have no connection to above, promote cheap loans or similar…just leave some trace so I know you’ve been here. Thank you!