Traveling by motorcycle in Turkey has inspired many emotions for us. It had been 9 years since we had last been there and maybe all those years between our first visit and this one served to paint the country in a light more favorable than it deserves. Somehow we had forgotten that we had cut our first visit to Turkey short due to high prices for hotels, food and buses. What was supposed to be a thorough exploration of the country by bus those 9 years ago ended up being a 3 week sprint from one tourist destination to another with both of us eager to return to more economical countries.
So this time around we decided that we would take advantage of having our own means of transport and do the exploring we had missed out the first time. Our logic was that this would make our time in Turkey more economical. So you can imagine our surprise when we stopped at a gas station just past the border with Bulgaria and paid a whopping 50$ to fill up our 22 litre tank!!! And we thought Europe was expensive!
As for the visiting of sights we had missed the first time around, things started off at a screeching halt in Istanbul where we spent 2 weeks securing visas for Iran and India (we were unable to get the Pakistani visa while in Istanbul but will apply in Tehran). The cheapest room we could find, coupled with the cheapest restaurants, resulted in daily expenses of around 100$. Discouraged, we finally left the city thinking we had seen the last of overpriced rooms and services. But between the time we left Istanbul and the time we exited the country altogether some 5 days later, the cheapest room we were able to find was 30$ and the most expensive of these cheap options (in Amasya) was infested with ticks and cost a cool 40$ for the pleasure of being bitten all night.
Oh, and did we mention the speeding ticket? This was the cherry on the cake for us. Turns out that the speed limit for motorcycles on most of the roads of the country was devised by a deranged individual who was most probably abused by a motorcycle as a child. I can think of no explanation as to why you are not allowed to go more than 78 km/h on a major highway while cars zip by at up to 140 km/h. To be fair, I knew about this limit but thought no police officer in his right mind would enforce this ridiculous and dangerous limit. But sure enough, just outside Amasya we met 4 police officers who were obviously not in their right mind. Our crime? Going 103 km/h. The penalty? 160$! We vowed there and then to never return to Turkey unless we absolutely had to.And all of the above is a real shame because efforts have been made by the riding community of Turkey to address this problem but to no avail. They are a good group of people who have gone to great lengths to provide help and information to tourists like us who visit Turkey with their own motorcycle. And if you can see past the high costs of simply being in Turkey and get to know the average citizen you will find they are very friendly and welcoming. This is especially true the further you get from Istanbul where people will not hesitate to strike up a conversation and see how you are enjoying their country.
Needless to say that all of these expenses made us take a good hard look at what we wanted to do for the rest of our trip. We had been kind of ignoring the large elephant in the room that was the amount of money we had been spending since we first arrived in Europe several weeks before. We had originally planned to go to the middle-east after Turkey but the cost of doing this was simply too high so we opted to exit Turkey as quickly as possible (obviously a little too quickly according to the fine officers of the city of Amasya) in favor of spending more time in Iran and the rest of Asia.
And if you are wondering why there are no photos this time around it is because we are currently in Iran and it seems that certain sites such as the one we use for our photos are blocked. Rest assured we will post photos of the countryside of Turkey as soon as we can. Some of the sights were very nice and given that we were driving by at 78 km/h for about 1500 kilometers we had plenty of time to take out the camera and click away. Brian