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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Midnight Express

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So I decided to give'er balls and just go for it. Evening was falling on the Greek border and I had hooked up with an Italian motorcyclist for a stretch of road. I had taken pictures of his bike in a little Greek village and then we met up by chance at a gas station. He was going to spend the night in Alexandropolis (which in hindsight would have been wise) and wanted to know if we could bunk up and share some accommodations.

I agreed and I followed him out of town but he motioned me to go ahead. Well I did, and I think I got too far ahead because I didn't see him after awhile. Did I just miss the Alexandropolis turn. Damn it. I did! Well no turning back on these roads. I continued forth and I was at the Turkish border within the hour. Talk about a cluster%$#%. You would think a civilization as old as their's could streamline a few things. I had four, count them, four different checkpoints to go through. Each of them requiring a different thing. The first just wanted to see if I had some documents, I did. The second, needed me to go buy a Visa, 45 Euro later I had one, great. The third guy needed proof of Turkish insurance for the bike, I had to go back near the beginning and buy it, 5 Euro, no biggie. Then the forth guy had to make sure that the first three guys looked at everything. Terrible.

Needless to say it didn't get much better after that. I had already lost my helmet camera so what more could go wrong? Well with no moon and no lights with the exception of traffic, which there was alot of, it was dark. I mean dark dark dark. Then all of a sudden my bike got super loud. Damn it all to hell. I'm breaking down in the middle of no where. Sorry. In the middle of nowhere Turkey. I was still moving, it was just ubnoxiously loud. I figured I must have rattled of a bolt on my exhaust header, but I brought spares. Good thinking Elvis. I made it about 20 kilometers before I found a gas station to pull into. When I got there I was devastated.

Where's my muffler?

Oh know! I'm screwed. What do I do?

This was the first major mistake I made along the trip. I was exhausted (pardon the pun) and I wasn't thinking straight. The right decision would be to go back and find the muffler, and I did try to do that, but there was no way to cross the highway. I should have turned around when I did get the opportunity. It was about 30 more kilometers ahead plus the twenty plus another twenty to get turned around again plus the twenty to the gas station would have been another 90 kilometers added to the trip. It was so dark and I was so tired and I was scared. It was a bad combination.

The bike still ran but by the time I made it to Istanbul I was done. I came off the toll plaza and I escaped to the first hotel I could see. The Holiday Inn. How very adventurous of me.

I was deaf, tired, and cold from the days travel and I'm ready to give up.

I'm done. I want to go home. This is bullshit.

I quit.

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Greek Village

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This is a video post. You have to go to the website to view it.

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You can't forget Munich

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In my haste to get out of Germany and on with my motorcycle adventure, I had a mini "beer" adventure. I spent My Sunday evening and part of Monday day swilling beer in the world's famous Hofbrauhaus. I would go into it but my hands are too sore to type.

This is me a week ago. Watch the video. Have I changed much?

video

And my poor Italian friends that I tormented into drinking well beyond their capabilities:

video

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Sometimes your the Wheel Sometimes your the Road

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Today was brutal. I drove 14 hours to get to Greece and I still didn't make it to Thesaloniki. The first 300 kilometers took nine hours and the second 300 kilometers took four. The route I took through the mountains of Montenegro and Albania were sick. I thought the roads in Croatia were small and twisty, but the route through Montenegro was not much more than a goat path.

I made it though, and after waiting an hour to get through the border into Albania I was rewarded by getting lost in Tirane. I took me forever to find a street that was never more than three blocks away. I had to stop at the side of the road as the heat was getting to me. A man approached me and asked if I needed help and I asked him, "How do I get to Elbasan?"

"Elbasan?", he looked puzzled.

"Elbasan.:, I replied.

"Oh... Elbaaaasan", he worked his way through my poor accent.

He tried to explain it to me in Albanian, German, Italian, and French but I wasn't having any of that. I knew gouche meant right but that was it. Now in hindsight I know hat le duexieme feu means. The second light the turn gauche, right. no left. Right! Wrong. My puzzled look sent him in search of his boss who speaks English.

The gentleman invited me inside his cafe and sat me down. He asked if I would like a coffee and I accepted. It was a small price to pay to get me back on track. He explained that he lived in Ireland and England and that's where he learned English. I was so grateful to sit and talk to someone. When you spend many hours inside your helmet you start to go a little crazy.

He wanted to see pictures of my family (a common theme in this part of the world) and I obliged him. We talked about my trip, which I embellished a little for effect, and he drew me a map showing me two traffic lights and a left. How easy! I asked him for my bill but he was having none of that.

"I invited you to my cafe and offered you a coffee and some water because I thought you needed it. I would not expect you to pay for that."

The kindness of people never ceases to surprise me. All the stereotypes of Albania and Albanians have disappeared in my world. These people are friendly and hospitable.

So I continued to Elbasan and before I knew it I was in another mountain pass. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the goats couldn't make it over this one. I took alot of video ust to document my last moments on this planet and I let'er rip. It wasn't until I reached Podgorec that I became completely unnerved and truly scared. It was pitch black with no moon out and the road had disappeared along with everything in my bladder. The route twisted down the mountain and turned every thirty meters on a dime. On top of that I shared the road with oncoming traffic. It was frightening and I never want to do it again. Off roading in traffic is not right.

When I hit the flats the road to the border didn't get any better. As I passed a hotel I saw a KTM parked in the lot. I guess he had more sense than I did.

I pressed on to Greece and the border was a snap. I love being Canadian! Once I got into Greece a saw the most beautiful thing... paint on the roads. Black asphalt! Dotted lines. Signs! Yes my god I have made it. I now know how Moses felt after wandering the dessert for all those years.

I got on the freeway and hammered as far as I could. I found a small hotel(where I'll be leaving in about ten minutes and I make my way east.

On the Freeway.

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