DIRT TRACKS TO ISTANBUL (ENG) Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey 2018 || DR650 Enduro Motorcycle Adventure

You know, I am living on this stretch of land we call Eurasia since I can think It is the biggest landmass our planet has to offer but I have hardly visited any of it While the size of our globe truly humbles me, It surely can’t be a solution to scroll over mountain ridges on “Google Earth”, or watch the occasional “Planet Earth” documentary from the comfort of our homes We sometimes need to get out there, need to smell the cold wind, hear the waves breaking and feel the ground crumble under our feet And while we are probably never going to see every corner of this magnificent home, we call earth, no one can tell me, that we are not allowed to try! After riding almost 700 kilometres on the first day, which allowed me to cross the whole of Hungary, I was finally back in Romania! This was the starting point of my trail, which led southeast and stretched 1,700 kilometres I wanted dirt and let’s just say Romania granted my wishes It was time to get used to the loaded bike in the mud and brush off the first days many miles Following the spur of the Transylvanian mountains,

I reached Orchova and the Serbian border marked by the Danube River. At the “Derdap National Park” ranger’s hut I was offered a comfy couch and a place at the dinner table, where we feasted on wild boar chops and greaves Since the terrain started to level out I was able to reach the Bulgarian border in a couple of hours the next day I continued through the country’s forgotten northwestern province and some truly deserted regions Occasionally though one could make out agricultural activity It also quickly became clear to me that this year’s heavy rainfalls had vastly increased the population of biting insects Already the hot and humid climate was starting to challenge to 160 kg push pig and subsequently me Thorough and attentive preparation for wild camping turned from a luxury off the saddle into a vital necessity I began following the Trans Euro Trail (TET), which had started to establish itself and decided to take a detour to Belogradchik Luckily a friendly local recommended a stunning mountain bike trail, which allowed me to reconnect to the TET My throttle cable got stuck somewhere inside its housing

Some jerking let it move freely again and seemed to solve the problem for now I reached the center of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia and found a much-needed bed in a youth hostel for the night The lifestyle that comes with such places didn’t fall short Physically, I felt worn down and the shape I was in at the beginning was a ghost from the past Unfortunately, I also had tenacious digestive problems, that probably came from bad water Of course, I checked out the city a bit and my first impression was actually quite positive It was nice to be among peers again To be honest in the state I was in, fresh food alone was inducing exhilaration When I left the hostel, I ripped off my valve in the rear tire basically after 50 metres I was able to find a new tube and I followed the tire shop owner home In a generous act of hospitality, he offered me an air-conditioned room for free and took me out for dinner with his family The next day though I left for the mountains again, this time heading east into the wild “Stara Planina” At sundown I met a French group of travelers with their camper van

We decided to spend my eighth night together on a saddle above 1,000 meters I headed further into the Balkan Mountains And then after 11 days finally in the Black Sea! I found a beach, which over the summer months seemed to turn into some kind of informal campground Freethinkers and Bulgarian people that long for a coast as it used to be around here only 20 years ago, stayed there and enjoyed the ocean breeze Very rarely was I able to relax so fast and the ordeals of the past days slowly passed out of mind Bulgarians had a name for it: Aylyak! But I had to continue onwards. I had a goal. I wanted to reach an Asian country on my motorcycle for the first time Even though the Turkish border is only marked by a small mountain ridge, the cultural differences were quite noticeable

Also, the 100 Euro cash in border insurance for my motorcycle that were laid claim for, didn’t leave the best first impression Close to the border people from Istanbul, let me sleep on their country estate though, and I still had enough supplies to fill my belly Furthermore I was still Aylyak, wasn’t I? I was in a different country, although not a different continent now Things worked differently Traffic rules were different People talked new languages People were everywhere People wanted to go shopping at the border between Europe and Asia After so many days out in the wild the old town gave the strange impression of a constructed tourist attraction fair If you wanted to, you could feel the old Constantinople I had reached my goal. I was there, in the megametropolis

I started to think about home again, about Greece and things I’m more familiar with A series of flats started for me on the rear tyre From Mega Dereio in Greece onwards I had one every day, more than once it were two With over 4000 kilometers on the clock this was the longest trip on a motorcycle that I ever did

I was on my way to Igoumenitsa now, which is the Greek Adriatic port town Without support of the locals though, I would have probably not gotten so far This is definitely something where I want to take a leaf out of their book Syvota is a place close to the ferry I was able to relax there for a couple of days and enjoy the sunny beach The ferry I took, headed to Venice, from there I rode on the highway home Although that would have probably been too nice Just 120 kilometres away from Vienna the chain on my motorcycle gave up and I had to hitchhike home Even in my country I could count on the help of locals The next day, Lukas, also a „A Taste Of Freedom “member, picked up the bike with me Possibly it is advisable for trips of this length to calculate your chain life before you’re heading out into the unknown See you next time!