Going different directions

Having left Rijeka we were both on our own ways. I was heading direction Italy and Daniel went further East.

My next destination was Arco close to Lago di Garda. To get there I had to pass through Slovenia and was surprised that cars had to cue for a couple of hours due to the border not being open and passport checks had to be done. Good thing with the motorbike I passed all the cars and was up front at the border quickly ready to keep going.

2 days of driving in the mountains ahead of me, visiting long known friends, having tasty pasta, the best homemade Steinpilzen-Risotto and a few good drinks. Italy is always worth a visit! The weather was still at its best and I was able to fully enjoy the many beautiful lakes, parks, huts and tiny roads in little villages and of course catching up with Alessio and his friends to hang out in Arco.

Chilling in the sun at the Refugio San Pedro surrounded by sheep, cows and goats, it was a beautiful moment to recap the many places we have been visiting during the last months of motorbiking and for making plans for the next trip! 😁

After two days and nights in Italy it was time to go to Munich to visit my good friend Ari and his family. Keen to not to pay any toll in Italy and Austria I picked a route without going on any highway which led me to take the old Brenner-route. The higher it got the colder it was. Actually freezing from time to time but the views were amazing. Beautiful curvy roads in nice towns, passing through Bolzano and the fascinating new Brenner highway always in sight, rushing through Austria and later some nice roads through the Bavarian countryside. I enjoyed this 8 hours drive to Munich a lot. Even more as finally I had been able to buy a fleece in Croatia which made me sit even more comfortable on my bike.

Being back in Germany and having arrived at my friends place I was happy that Ari wanted to go to some Persian restaurant. Another backflash to good times and tasty food in Iran 😁.

The next morning I went straight to the autobahn direction North. It was the longest distance I drove during the whole trip: 729km that day but as the sun was shining, the highway wasn’t that crowded I decided to keep going until Hamburg. After 135 days and a total of 21.215km driven on the motorbike without any issues I was back in Hamburg where it all began.

Last days of summer

We made it to Montenegro the next day. Driving in the mountains on perfect roads, passsing a few lakes and got some nice views, heading to the bay of Kotor – a place where nature did an excellent job placing mountains, villages, the sea and beautiful green nature all together in one place.

Even more as we were rewarded with a road to go down to the village with more than 25 tight turns and buena vistas all the way. We didn’t stay in town though but where going further North to spend the night on a camping ground and chill the next morning at the beach and go for a swim in the crystal clear sea in the bay.

We started around midday for the drive into Bosna i Hercegovina where we booked a night in a guesthouse in Mostar to visit the old town and the famous Stari Most bridge area – another site on the UNESCO list. We strolled through the city had a good lunch and enjoyed the relaxed athmosphere even though many of tourist groups where also visiting, the old town is really worth a visit. Our visit to a museum for recent history showed again of what kind of cruelty people are capable of.

Driving through the national park Plitvice and getting back to the EU we entered Croatia. Our last chance to go for a dip in the Mediterranean Sea this year. We reached a campground in Sibenik, close to all the islands ashore of Croatia’s coastline. The campground wasn’t that crowded but full of Germans and all the traditional campground rules all of sudden seem be harshly followed. Anyways a beautiful spot to stay for a night, in our case we decided to stay another night just to relax, go for a swim and enjoy the late summer days.

Following the coastline we were heading to Rijeka our last stop as a team as we had different destinations ahead of our stay in Rijeka. On the way it got darker and darker and a heavy storm showed up which made us have a break in a small town just to wait for the storm to get lighter. It was almost impossible to stay on the bike while being pushed from side to side. Not only us where having a break but every other biker passing by was just happy to find some shelter and enjoy some hot drink and food.

Staying in a nice Airbnb close to downtown we went for a stroll in the city for a bit and later for a couple of drinks. Next day was just to relax and hang out and have our last meal together, typical Croatian Mexican food! Pretty good actually.

Some shared stories and recalling some of the highlights from our trip later, it was time to part ways the next morning at least until we are back in Hamburg. We took it as a sign that for the first time during our trip we had to wait for a couple of hours to start driving as it was heavily raining in Rijeka. Around noon we were good to go.

4 months of intense travelling and many many adventures of all kinds are behind of us. What a fantastic experience. And surely there are still a few kilometers to cover until being back in Hamburg…

Kalimera! 🇬🇷

Taking the ferry to Piräus in Greece we were able to get a bit of sleep placing our iso mat on the ground between the seats on the big ferry. It worked quite ok. Waking up around 6 in the morning hoping for our bikes were still upright in the deck as we didn’t get to tow them but the ferry guys promised they would. They did well and we were good to go, heading straight to the first coffee shop and to the landmark and UNESCO world heritage site of the Akropolis. We parked the bikes right in front of the stairs leading up the hill. That’s another fun fact, traveling with motorbikes: there is always a parking spot right in front of everything for you 😀

We were one of the first people on top before all the tourist busses arrived. Witnessing the huge line on front of the ticket office when we were coming down around 8:30am one can only imagine how crowded it would be later that day.

Starting to drive west bound, we had our next stop planned in Olimpia the ancient city and another UNESCO world heritage site in Greece. We went for a hotel and a good sleep after the long but stunning ride straight through the most western of the Greek main islands and the rather short night on the boat. Beautiful windy roads passing through little cosy villages and very rarely a car has been seen. So nice and now we realised so green nature and agriculture everywhere.

During our lunch break we met two other bikers, Spyros and Nikos with their Hondas who gave us valuable tips for riding the motorbike in Greece and showed us nice routes. Always good to meet local people and inside hints. Was great chatting with these dudes and further they told us there are good shops for servicing our bikes in Patra as we urgently need to get the oil changed.

Visiting Olimpia and the museums around was the first thing to do the next morning and of course we had to do some exercises in the one and only Olimpic stadium.

Around midday we left and drove off, again via beautiful roads and a few off-road adventures to Patras, found the garage of drag-bike who immediately got the right oil for our bikes and did the change too. Thanks lads!

Perfectly set we drove off to spent the night at a camp spot near the bridge connecting to the Greek mainland. A beer at the beach and a dip in the sea, first rain during our trip with heavy thunderstorms in the evening, meeting two other well traveled bikers and sharing some stories at dinner later, summarises the rest of the evening.

Another swim in the sea in the morning, another great ride through Greece (we have to say, it doesn’t matter where you drive the motorbike in Greece, it is always fantastic – we will be back some day) to Kanali, passing a few stunning lakes in the mountains, another campground, another Tavern, a huge turtle in the sea and again typical Greek dishes in the evening. So tasty.

The next day our Greek adventure was about to expire as the border crossing to Albania was due. We made it fairly smooth and chilled to the 16th country during our trip.

Follow our route here.

Merhaba Turkey 🇹🇷

The bordercrossing from Iran into Turkey was quite easy. Many people but no big hussle and super welcoming border police guys who pointed us the way. We didn’t even need to buy the obligatory insurance for our bikes, as nobody asked for it, we let it go. Driving for around 20 minutes in Turkey we got stopped by heavily armed men. We weren’t sure what’s going on but a few words later and checking our passports we were good to go. No worries this time and we drove direction to the city of Van in the Turkish part of Kurdistan.

Nice riding on very good roads lead us to a cosy city. We were going to look for a hotel after we stopped, again a police guy on a motorbike approached us. Again we didn’t know what to expect. Super friendly he greeted us and told us to wait. Wait? For what? His friend „Rambo“ – also a cop on motorbike arrived, small talk and suddenly we got a police escort to the hotel the cops had picked for us. It was fully booked, so they escorted us with sirenes on to the next hotel… super service, super nice!

The evening in Van we decided to chill out and to go for some different food after all these tasty kebabs in Iran. We found both and our first beer since 21 days too, as in Iran alcohol is forbidden.

The next morning, after a good night of sleep we went to get Daniels luggage holder fixed which was loose after all these off road adventures. A local smith fixed it for him – handmade. And didn’t even wanted a penny for his work. Daniel is still super satisfied with the work, much more stability!

We stayed for a bit of chatting and chai. Around noon we took off for some extremely nice riding on and off roads in the mountains. We decided to take this route to stay as far as possible away from potential danger on roads in the South due to the war in Syria. So far every village and city has had heavily armed outposts and checkpoints which we passed most of the times without being checked. Most of the times…

Daniel planend the route this day which included a 60km off road track. By far our most difficult but also most exciting track so far. Up and down, sand, stones, tiny ways and incredible views. We figured that not too many people drove this way yet.

It took us more than 2 hours to cover these 60km and we were glad to see some paved road again. Sweeting, a bit tired we went to find a place to pit up our tent. Only 2 minutes driving on road again an armed outpost appeared. A soldier and a few other guys came to us with strong looks at their faces. Needing a break anyways we explained we dont understand them but we are German tourists and come in peace to rest. It calmed down a bit and the soldiers offered chai to us and asked us to sit with them. Munition and firearms everywhere around us and the boss of the guys on the phone. A few moments later we were asked for our passports, no problem. The boss took pictures of them and sent them to what they called „Gendarmes“. Telephone calls, busy talking on the phone, another chai, another call, we wanted to leave but they wouldn’t let us go, why is that? As it started to get dark and we didn’t know how the roads would be we were getting a bit nervous but been told to sit down and wait. Wait? For what? More calls, grim looks, on the other hand nice talking and with the help of google translate some kind of conversation telling them we just want to go to the city of Siirt to a hotel now. Another call and a Gendarme who spoke English. We explained the situation and what we are doing here, which obviously led everyone to relax. After one hour we gave everyone the hand and were finally „released“. All 10 soldiers who had gathered by now saluted us when we drove off. In the end another funny story, during the whole event a bit strange not to be free to go and again not knowing why.

We arrived in Siirt safely, checked in to the hotel Erdef, recommended by a group of seniors we met during our stop for refuelling, went for nice kebab and wanted to start early the next morning to Elazig, to go camping at a lake. However just right after we switched on the bikes Jendrik discovered a puncture in the rear tyre of his BMW. Good thing was, that Daniel went this morning already to buy some grease for the chains of the bikes at a local motorbike shop so we knew already where to go to fix the tyre conveniently. The guys, Ramzi and his father immediately started to dismount the tyre and fixed it, telling us to relax as we are their guest. This kindness and hospitality accompanied us through all Turkey. Thanks again! We stayed for a while, had another chai and chatted with them about many things. Our plan to start early had vanished but we were another wonderful human encounter richer. When Jendrik wanted to pay, no chance, they wouldn’t except any money from us but Ramzi has a Germany jersey now for his son!

We followed our plan and still drove the more than 450km that day mostly through the mountains to find this beautiful camp spot at Lake Hazar Gölü where we went for a dip as well…

We covered a lot of distance every 24 hours. The next day brought us to the Sultansazligi national park near Devili. Another 400km driving on good roads, some mountains and a bit of off road passing through Elbistan – as people from Hamburg we just had to have a look here.

We stopped for dinner in the city of Develi, had a Döner and later drove into the national park to set up camp. We never expected to meet someone here but all of a sudden a motorbike crossed our path, wondering what we were doing here. Well, we tried to explain we were looking for a quite spot to camp but he didn’t understand and insisted that we follow him back to the lake we had seen before. We followed and finally found this sport in the nature. Nobody around only a snake and a guy with a gun, trying to shoot some ducks. After a salad, super fresh bred we bought in Devili and a few gun shots later we went to bed.

4 days of all kind of beautiful and exciting motorbiking where behind us. Good food and meeting only super friendly and welcoming people.

Very good start for us in Turkey!

Heading further South in Iran

We started early in Quom just as we wanted to leave and as we knew we had to cover some distance. Driving out of the city and on to the highway direction South. Another advantage of starting early – it won’t be so hot so quickly. So we drove, the landscape got more deserted and dry, the heat increased. It was just straight forward, only thing kept us entertained were the many old Mercedes trucks in colourful appearance and the crazy driving, honking and thumbs up from the Iranians passing by or standing at the side of the road.

We were heading to a lake to relax outside and enjoy nature after our hotel night due to given – police – circumstances from the day before.

Our lunch break in the outskirts of Isfahan surprised us with excellent tasty kebab, fresh bread and for the first time in Iran real coffee.

We finalised the plan pinpointing a lake around Zayanderud dam. It is a holiday location for the city people of Isfahan and we were told that overnight camping is not possible in this protected and secured area… what a bummer. After our experience with these areas from the day before we weren’t 100% confident for the wild camping however drove around to find a spot and chatted with a few people and finally a younger guy assured us there are nice spots a bit up North at he lake. As he couldn’t explain the directions he told us to follow him, he will show us the spot. So glad we did… it was an incredible spot to set up camp!

The young guy even returned 2 hours later to check if everything was fine and we are good. What an effort and again showed the caring Iranian nature.

We enjoyed a good night of sleep, had a good breakfast with scrambled eggs, coffee, lavash and salad. Good start for the next stop down south. Again we were prepared to just cover distance and figured to go again to find a nice location for camping at a river between the mountains hoping for some water to get a dip and refresh.

Driving, driving, driving. Not much around, a few stops, a dip in a river under a bridge was the highlight – so refreshing!

Some smaller mountains finally appeared after all this paved straight highways and we arrived late afternoon around city of Fars. A smaller typical highway city:

We passed through to check the river bank and saw a few people at the river. As we didn’t eat yet and this smaller village didn’t have a shop or restaurant we went back to 20 minute again Fars city and had a very tasty dinner again, typically served on the ground.

Getting back to the river for spotting for a place to put up camp a car pulled up next to us and the usual chatting started. As we were talking one guy advised us to head up the river for a much nicer place to camp. We followed his advise and found again a fantastic quite option with the possibility to go for a swim. Only downside – mosquitos. Didn’t matter as some very kind and funny fisherman showed up, gave us some chai and lit up a bonfire. Nice atmosphere!

The next day it was time to say good bye to Beate and Pawel….

What’s going on? Our story with the Iranian 👮

What was planned to set up camp at a lake and maybe a bit of off-road driving at lake Namak, northeast from Tehran turned out to be one of these stories only travelling will bring to you.

Once we found the road leading to lake Namak, we took it, drove through some deserted villages and finally on a straight road through sandy area. The sings at the beginning of the last part written in Persian didn’t mean anything to us. Nice riding, however just straight, an industrial building showed up at the horizon, we kept driving and once reaching it, all of a sudden a pick up truck blocked the road and 3 guys jumped out of the car talking fazi, checking our bikes and gps… we didn’t know what’s going on. Thinking of we might being robbed Beate decided to pass the guys and Daniel followed. Hence Pawel and Jendrik still with the guys talking and yelling, nothing serious after a few discussions and finally we understood that the road is closed and we have to turn around. Also Daniel and Beate understood, Jendrik had the police on the phone, they again told us the road was closed and we all turned around as being told so even though keen to get to know what would have come up behind the block…

We though that’s it… it wasn’t. After a break in the next village to figure out a place to sleep we decided to go to a hotel in Quom for the night instead sleeping at the lake and take the 300km detour. We drove off, stopped again for some water, all of a sudden a guy showed up and took pictures off us and our bikes. Pretty common I have to say but it was different this time. No selfies, no laughs, just pictures. He didn’t want to let Jendrik drive off but he went anyways. Driving for a few minutes we saw in the rear mirrors a car coming to us very quick and trying to make us stop… blocking the road, both indicators on. Starting again, trying to make us stop. We managed to get around for a while but at some point he had Jendrik blocked on the side of the road and got out of the car. Jendrik started to drive off again, the guy tried to pull out the key from his motorbike due to that Jendrik almost crashed. Why all that?

The guy didn’t speak a word England but demanded us all the time to stop and showed some weird looking ID. His friend or colleague at one intersection got out of the car and run to some cops on scooters. We drove off. No cops behind but still the guy, indicators on in his silver Peugeot Pars.

We all managed to drive away, he realized he wouldn’t get us and was just following us closely. Driving for about half an hour, not knowing what was going on, we finally found the hotel in Qom – one of the religious capitals in Iran. We all stopped in front of, the guy came to us but we denied to do anything until the police arrives.

Like usual many people came to us, taking pictures and finally also the police arrived. We still had no clue what was going on. Daniel went to reserve a room, coming back from the hotel lobby he saw at least 10 police men standing around us, also with this guy who followed us. Finally a serious looking police guy approached us and wanted to see our passport and insurance. After a bit of discussion we handed over our passports and obviously all our documents are ok. Even though we handed out random papers as „insurance“ for our motorbikes.

The police men told us to park the bikes in the garage and go to the hotel. We thought everything was done. Quite released, still hungry we went to our room, getting ready for dinner.

What was it? What did we do? Why did he follow us? No clue.

After having set in the room somebody knocks the door of our room. A police men with two guys from Irak – as translator – were standing in front and asked us to go the police station because the police has some questions. Why? We refused. He insisted that we have to go, we insisted we haven’t done anything wrong, want to eat and take a shower. We also invited the police man to ask the questions right away. Discussions… We finally agreed we will get 5 minutes to take a shower, he promised that it won’t take longer than 20 minutes at the police station and there is no problem – why should we go then?

Finally he asked us for our cameras. We agreed that we would keep our cameras in hands, and he can see that we don’t do anything with it, in the meantime we take a shower. So we did.

Daniel and Jendrik were ready to go with their cameras and the police guy to the police station. Suddenly also Beate and Pawel should come too. That wasn’t the deal we interfered. Again discussion. Talking to the police men we finally ended up all together in a police car with 2 cameras and a young police guy, driving crazy with sirens on, through Quom, to the police station. He wasn’t driving, he was flying. Scariest drive ever for all of us.

Having arrived at the station we were asked to sit down, don’t use our mobile phones and wait for what will happen. We also met back the guy who was following us and his young fellow smiling at us. We didn’t think it’s too funny…

All the police guys and the guy went to a room leaving us with waiting. What’s going on? We sat there. An hour or so had passed, we still sat there a young guy approach us to help translating. Didn’t help a lot as neither he would know what’s going on. Feeling a bit worried we now insisted to call the German embassy. Firstly they wouldn’t let us call, we insisted and got handed over a phone to contact the embassy which promptly reacted and called back a few minutes later to talk to the police. Actually without any results. It seemed nobody, neither us, the police, the guy nor the translator would know why we are here. By the way: still having the two cameras with us…

Another half hour passed, the embassy called again, talked to some people – no results. We insisted we got promised it would take only 20 minutes. Now 2 hours had passed. Finally we got called into the police boss office, a special agent came with us and we sat there. Again asking what was going on. Another call from the embassy – no results. Sitting there, we finally were asked to hand out our passports. Talking, discussions in fazi… what’s going on?

Our passports numbers were noted down, handwritten on a piece of paper. Wrong by the way, ok for us. What’s now? Nobody seemed to know. By now it was almost midnight and we still didn’t eat. We decided to just leave the room and pushing to let us go. After almost 3 hours finally they told us we were good to go.

Wait, what? What a show… we were told now that the guy who followed us would be arrested, they were embarrassed we had to come to the police and they will bring us now to back to the hotel. But why did we sit for 3 hours? We still don’t know.

Again back in the police car, again sirene on and even the special agent escorted us on his motorbike back to the hotel. By the way: Daniel still with the 2 cameras in his hands, nobody wanted to see these in the end.

The whole „thing“ cost us 4 hours. We called back to the German embassy everything is fine, had dinner end went to bed hoping it’s over. And it was.

Now we are kind of laughing about the whole story but there had been times we we were a bit worried. Not the nicest feeling being chased through a city by a random guy, being in a police station, not understanding the language, not knowing what is going on. Why did it all happen? Still no clue.

Props to the German embassy in Teheran which was on hold for us, trying to help. Felt good to have some support in this situation.

Our night in Qom the 2nd holiest City in Iran. We left very early the next morning…

Actually met a few other Iranian police during our trip, all were super friendly and helpful we have to say some just asked for a picture.

Driving around in Iran

Waking up the next morning in Mansuleh we found out we slept on the walkway of the cows who belong to an old lady and we would have to leave this place soon so the cows could travel trough… We rushed our stuff together to head further east. All our gear and bikes where heavily dirty from the rough trip through the clouds the evening before.

We left the place and had breakfast together with Beate and Pawel. So nice they had coffee and a stow to heat up water since our is gone. Enjoying a good meal and nice talking we decided to change our plan from going to the Caspian Sea – instead we joined the couple to go to the mountains and for some off-road driving. Gooood choice!

We were trying to reach a castle in the mountains via side roads and enjoyed nice off road riding and on paved roads. A lake appeared and we decided to stay all together another night at lake Zanian instead and head to the castle the next day.

Refreshed from a dip – actually something special in Iran as usually swimming is forbidden in still waters – into the water we took off to go to the castle via tiny roads which didn’t appear on google maps or navigation but Pawel had marked the way on his map. What an adventure. No road really, just gravel and sand, big stones in the way and deep valley ahead. It was a challenge but definitely worth it. So much fun. However we didn’t make it to the castle in the end as the roads just got more rough with some deep mud pudels. We kept driving until reaching normal roads again but now it would be have been a big detour to see the castle… we could see it far away on top of a mountain.

Everybody was happy anyways!

The ride was a bit tiring and so we decided to have lunch/dinner and look for a good sleep in a hotel. Typical kebab and rice, yogurt and some greens.

We stayed for the night in Quezvin. As we have had so many laughs and fun on the road, again all 4 of us decided to keep going together and were off to see the Namak lake to set up our tent and stay for the night. The driving was pretty much straight forward until we reached the road leading to the lake… at least we thought we did, what followed was meeting the Iranian special police and is worth a story for itself. To be continued.