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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Thursday, October 1, 2009


After the longest bus ride from hell (well Burgas) finally arrived in the massive bus terminal called Otogar to this welcome face. Aleaf is Simin's sister and treated me like family.
Here she is the next day helping me get the GPS fixed.

After that got underway I stopped for my first photo of Istanbul.

Fishermen with poles as long as a bus....

Catch these itsy bitsy fish.

Next the station where the Orient Express used to start.

Turkish delight ( of which I ate way too much)

This helpful man educated me on the cheap stuff that is mostly marshmallow and gelatin and the good stuff made with honey. I bought some of course and he treated me to a tea with them.

Blue Mosque. I enjoyed sitting on the carpeted floor gazing at the ceiling and lights and smelling thousands of stinky shoes around me.

Inside the underground water cistern. French woman could not get me and the Medusa face...come to think of it, I kinda have a weird look on my face.

This is it.

Next the Grand Bazaar where I was pursued with utter abandon even though I had my ipod blaring.

Gorgeous ceramics

And A huge place, easy to get lost.

There are 15 million people in Istanbul...and I found the two people I met on the bus the prior day there. Irfan and Anna Lena both from Germany, although he is Turkish.

After I finally made my way out, I Stopped for Turkish Coffee and did some people watching.

Then on to the Spice Baazar where I bought the hotest chili for Leo. Get ready!

Crowded as usual. The sheer press of humanity in this city is overwhelming. I even did the rush hour commute with the locals both mornings.

All kinds of some wonderful Turkish pistachios that Mert introduced me to.

All kinds of spices...they smelled divine.

Next after picking up my repaired GPS I took a Bosphorus river tour by boat.

These pool size flags dot the landscape. The Turkish have every reason to be proud of their city.
If I took Paris, Shanghai and Buenos Aires and lumped them all together, they still could not compare to Istanbul. I completely fell in love with her and decided my trip next year is to live here for a couple weeks (or more) then motorcycle the whole country.

How the other half live. These villas are 250+ million euros.

Musa (my other Turkish delight
helped me find some yummy pastries for breakfast

Here he is buying me some roasted something or other...

Stopped off here for more coffee!

I told him 3 times we could not cross here, so I decided to make it known to the world.

Palace doors won't open. This is the road where there is a center lane that literally suggests you play chicken or king of the road with the opposite direction traffic.

He took me to a bake potato place where they put anything and everything on it, including peas, carrots and ketchup. YUCK

27 year old Chemistry student working on his Masters. He told his classmates I was a professor visiting from MIT....

Buying Baklava...and it was heavenly....with more stairs...I swear I must have muscles in my butt firemen would be proud of by now...

I asked for hot chocolate...mmm miss would you like milk with that

Took the bus from Istanbul back to Burgas at 7pm. Broke down and eventually arrived in the middle of nowhere at 3am. Fortunately the hotel Laguna Beach was able to pick me up. I was so happy to see Nina waiting for me.
The next morning I woke up at 5am and rode 500 km to Sofia...yep that's right I had a big mac, fries and coke for, I know I will never hear the end of this.

Crashed & and a Bulgarian mom

So it happened. I crashed.
Now a crash, according to Hilary, is when either the bike or you are harmed. In this case both.
Sparing you the gory details, 5 days later and it still hurts to move my arm and I have bruises on my hip and legs most men would be proud of.

Our first stop...this is a lake at one of the highest points in Bulgaria.
We've added Luke's Nephew from Australia on the left.
These damn road repairs are treacherous! They cut out rectangular sections (hundreds of them) then I guess fill them in later. Only don't get stuck in a few of these at 100km an hour in the dark.

Cute cub who sold me some honey...or should I say honey that sold me some honey. :)

Stopped for another huge meal...

Bulgaria. The meat lovers country.

Now this is my Bulgarian mom Zarka. I arrived after a very painful crash in tears. She runs a pension in the village of Trigrad in the southern mountains of Bulgaria. I ended up riding out of the forest on the back of Luke's bike, too hurt and shook up to ride myself. Here she is making a rice poultice for my shoulder.

Her pension...local crafts. When you get married everyone gives you gifts of wool blankets and let me tell you that they are necessary!

That's her son sitting up on the pile, very shy but he warmed up to us by the end of our two days here. Showing him how it's done.

This was so much fun. There is a video of it in my photo albums.

Typical country scene.

Performance our last night. The young people in these remote villages go to special schools to preserve the arts.

This is my Bulgarian mom Grandfather. He fixed my shoulder. We have local village doctors like this in Quebec and let me tell you I would rather go to him than any hospital...She took pity on me because of how much I cried when he did his magic.

Here she is on my bike. Apprantly there is a big off road event here in the Fall that riders come from all over to participate in. I can't recommend this place enough. At 10 euros a night for a comfortable, clean and special experience...stay at Mama Zarka's in Trigrad.

They call this the small Grand Canyon. My first time seeing it since I arrived in the middle of the night.
As I passed through cities I found that the word "super" is not the only universal word known to all cultures here, "sex shop" is also as widely known.

Another amazing meal...eggs, cheese and sausage. Watch out, piping hot.

Now I didn't get a photo of this, remember 110 km an hour, but women in Bulgaria have rather interesting hairstyles. Remember that poofy poodle look of the 80's well it's here, in abundance.
Arrived in the black sea side town of Sozopoy and this is my much welcome Rob Roy.

Here when they say yes, they nod no and vice versa. It's very confusing. So when I asked, can you make a Manhattan, he nodded yes and said no.
Luke took me for a late night tour of the town. Traditional wood houses. Gorgeous.

Churches could not be higher than a man on a horse.

Phase of the moon, halfway now. Two more weeks of this fun.

Next stop Istanbul.