When I arrived at the hotel in Svilengrad there was only street parking for my bike and they wanted me to park it securely but it would not fit through the door from the street into the garden. It became a big production with a police car stopping and 2 police offering their opinion then the neighbour said I could park in his driveway which had a gate, problem solved hahaha, all this in 40c heat. When I went to pick the bike up at 0900 to leave, the guy asked if I would like a cafe (coffee) and I politely said “yes”, this turned into a breakfast with pancakes and the grandson being called to translate (he spoke excellent English learned from YouTube) and look at my blog. The guy then gave me a signed copy of his book about the village he grew up in and I departed at 1000. This is an example of the kindness and hospitality I have encountered around the globe.
Short ride to the border which I arrived at feeling slightly apprehensive but it turned out to be a breeze. There was the usual queue of Turks returning home for the holidays, first exit Bulgaria, stamp passport and check Bike papers. Next a bigger queue on the Turkish side because the returnees had their cars loaded up with gifts (I suppose) and all had to be checked by Customs. My turn came and I showed them my eVisa which I had saved on my phone, (cost US$60 applied and granted online instantly the previous day) no paper necessary. Then move on to Customs and the girl asked if I had Bike Insurance, she pointed to Building D3 and said buy insurance there. Rode to the building, parked and waited in a queue of half a dozen at a counter that was unattended hahaha. Finally the guy turns up and I pay 28 euro for 3 months which is the minimum. Move to the next counter which is Customs I think and he checks all the paperwork and says report to the inspection bay. Back on the bike and thought I would have to open my panniers up but the guy had a look at the paperwork and waved me on, all up it took 1:20 hrs and it was easy.
Straight onto a very smooth 4 lane highway which took me almost all the way to Eceabat, the last 20 kms was a 2 lane road, speed limit 90 kph hahaha. There were several police cars parked on the side of the road watching traffic but they turned out to be fake wood cutouts with flashing blue and red lights hahaha. They do actually slow traffic down until you get close enough to see them for what they are.
First thing I did after I checked in was to get a SIM card. I went into a Vodafone shop next to the hotel and they sold me a TurkCell card which is the only network that works throughout Turkey, 6GB data, 1000 min calls and 250 SMS for 100 Lira (18 euro) valid for one month and you have to show them your passport.
The Gallipoli Peninsula – a beautiful place marred by an unnecessary war that killed or wounded over 200,000 soldiers on both sides. A grim reminder of power hungry politicians at their worst. But the bright side as pointed out to me by a Turkish biker I met, is that it is now a National Park and cannot be overrun by commercial developments. Pristine beaches, small towns and local farms, Cemeteries and Monuments scattered around, all immaculately maintained. The same biker also showed me a couple of app VPN’s that overcome the censorship that blocks Wikipedia and some other sites, browsec and turbovpn.
Canakkale Epic Promotion Centre – a must see and the best place to start your tour of Gallipoli. It is a sight, sound and movement simulation on big screens (with headphones for various languages) of the naval and ground battles fought, very good, cost TL 13
Cemeteries and Monuments
Kilitbahir Castle built in 1541 has a 3 leaf clover shaped tower which I have never seen before, some very steep and tall steps to get to the top of the walls.
I visited Troy which is across the Strait, there is a ferry every hour from Eceabat (30 min crossing time) and one every half hour from Kilitbahir (15 min) and there is a queue of cars for every one. Ferries are the only way to get across the strait without travelling back to Istanbul to drive across a bridge. Cost 10 lira, and you buy your ticket at a booth before you board the ferry.
After Troy which only took an hour I decided to see if I could get to the coast on this side of the strait even though there is no road, interesting ride especially as I was wearing a short sleeve shirt and normal pants, no protection from gravel rash in the event of even a minor fall. The first bit of road was cobblestones, very rough which ended at a military installation. The guard pointed out a dirt track that would take me to the coast and I followed it very slowly and carefully, took a few pictures and headed for home. Once you get off the highway, roads become rougher and rougher the further you travel away from the highway.
I took the ferry back to Eceabat instead of Kilitbahir and when I got off I noticed a memorial park with a very lifelike diorama of trench warfare, amazing.