A very oily return trip!
Wednesday morning, June 29, we can take it easy, in the morning there will be no action at the motorcycle store and further it is wait and see. So we took it easy at breakfast, made the report of yesterday and then walked around the village. First we went up to the ruins of the castle, from where we have a beautiful view over the city. Not much to see, but it's always nice to see a city from above. In the middle of the city there are some poles for a gondola elevator from the other side of the city to the castle. Upstairs we see that construction started in 2016 and it was supposed to be finished in 2019, however it seems to be at a standstill now. From the castle ruins we walk back into town through the market. What is striking about such markets in these countries is that Coca Cola bottles are reused to sell other liquids in, as here, for example, milk or yogurt. The small farmers try to sell their crops to make some money. Nice to see and to stroll around. Back to the center of the city we sat on a bench for a while to let the people and the city work in on us. It is striking that there are many older men in the center of town sitting on a bench or at a tea house. You don't see many older women, perhaps they have stayed at home a bit more.
After a while we grab another sandwich for lunch and stroll back to the hotel where we make the blog of the past days.
Meanwhile, Burak has reported back and comes to see us in the hotel. He is curious how things are going and can also practice his English. We decide to walk together to the motorcycle store to check it out. It is a short walk of just over a kilometer along the river in the sunshine and meanwhile we can chat with Burak. When we arrive at the motorcycle store, it appears that the owner has not yet returned and that nothing has happened to the bike in the meantime. We do some testing ourselves and put some pressure so that an electrician will come soon. When Karim, the electrician, arrives, he starts measuring things and indicates that both the voltage regulator and the alternator are broken. Very quickly he manages to dismantle it the left side of the block to get to the alternator and disconnects it. Suddenly, miraculously, a replacement voltage regulator appears via the owner of the motorcycle store, and Karim says he can do the rewinding of the dynamo himself. A price agreement is made for both the re-winding by Karim and the voltage regulator and Karim will start tomorrow and let us know in the evening how far he has come.
On the way back to the hotel we pass a restaurant that looks good and we decide to eat there right away. Ultimately not really a success, the doner restaurant yesterday was much better.
In the hotel we drank a beer and ended the evening.
Tomorrow again a quiet day and wait and see how it goes with the alternator. Fingers crossed!
Thursday, June 30 is all about waiting, waiting for news from Karim on how the winding of the alternator is going. In the morning Martin goes for a run to clear his head with a 10 km run along the river. It goes quite well and better than expected. We take it easy with breakfast and then walk through the city. A quick visit to the parking garage to let them know that the bike will be our guest for another day. Then we look for some smaller jumper cables, because we have noticed that it can be quite handy when you have them with you. We only find the large clamps and decide that we will continue without them. At 11 o'clock Karim sends us the first picture, the parts have been cleaned and the copper wire has been removed from the dynamo. Nice work and pretty fast. At 1 pm we get the next picture where the winding has started, it all seems to go well. We hang around in the city and have a siesta in the afternoon, suddenly we have time for that. At the end of the afternoon we receive a message from Karim to meet again in the restaurant at 8 pm. No further message, so we are curious what he has to say.
Dinner today consists of a roll of chicken tantuni. These are small pieces of chicken meat with onion shavings and heavily seasoned, rolled up in a layer of dürüm dough. Again, very tasty. Then we walk at our leisure to the restaurant where we will meet Karim. He will be back together with his daughter and will be there punctually at 8 pm. Karim says that the parts are ready and can be built in tomorrow. We agree to be at the Yamaha store at 10 o'clock tomorrow morning to build up the bike again.
We treat Karim's daughter (and ourselves) to a pastry, after which we say goodbye and walk back to the hotel. We drink another beer and then go to bed, because tomorrow morning we have to be ready at 10 o'clock at the motorcycle store. First we have to check out, exchange money and pick up Martin's bike. And if everything goes according to plan, we can leave around noon. This gives us a nice positive vibe, hopefully this balloon will not burst tomorrow.
Friday morning, July 1, after a nice breakfast, we set off in good spirits for the motorcycle store. We leave our bags at the hotel, we'll pick them up later. Martin with the bike, so that it can be used as a reference for measurements, and Rob on foot. We arrive before the agreed time of 10 o'clock, and Karim is already assembling the bike. The crankcase cover is already on and Karim is working on the cover at the starter motor. It all seems to go well, but eventually it is 12 hours before the engine is ready. After that, according to good Turkish custom, tea must be drunk before the test drive can take place.
The short test drive goes well, the engine charges well and also the measuring values of the dynamo and charging circuit are good. At the hotel we notice that the engine still leaks a little oil. We decide to go anyway and keep an eye on it. Just outside the city we stop to have another look and it appears that there is oil coming out of the engine at 2 places. One place we can solve ourselves by tightening the screws of the lid a little bit, but the other oil seems to come out of the middle of the block. We then contact Karim and return to Yamaha motors Delik for further investigation. A major setback, but this needs to be fixed first.
It turns out that there is too much oil in the block. All the oil is taken out and then the prescribed 2.5 liters are filled up according to the dipstick. However, we then have 1.3 liters of oil left that was too much! Hopefully this did not cause the leakage. After a long investigation and removing some parts such as the starter motor, it appears that a screw inside the block has not been tightened (properly), causing the larger leak. However, because the cover near the starter motor has been loosened several times now, the gasket is further damaged and still leaks some oil. It is now 17 hours and we decide to stay in Kastamonu again today and to solve this tomorrow morning. Karim will make a new gasket tonight and come to the hotel at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning to put it on. We check in again at the Kursunlu Han hotel and get the same room as the nights before.
In the evening we go out for pizza with Karim and his daughter, with whom we have built up a reasonable relationship by now. After dinner we walk back to the hotel, grab a beer and go to sleep hopeful.
Tomorrow morning we'll put the gasket on and we'll finally be able to drive on towards Istanbul.
On Saturday, July 2, after breakfast, Karim and his daughter are waiting at the hotel punctually at 9. We walk to the engines and he gets to work assembling the gasket. A job that is done in 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Martin is a bit stressed because he has lost the key to his bike. He does have a spare key, but this does not feel right, the key is always in the same place and now it has suddenly disappeared. He walked back to the hotel room and fortunately the key is in the closet where the motorcycle coat has been. The key must have fallen out when taking something from the coat pocket. Relieved, Martin returns with the key and we can finally leave.
On the advice of others, we avoid the Black Sea coastal area in this region because of the floods and drive west through the interior. When we finally reach the coast at Eregli we can still see some of the flooding, but with driving it doesn't bother us as the roads are just open. From Eregli we continue to follow the coast and make a long ride to Sile, so we have driven over 500 km today. That felt good again. The engines have held up well and there is not a drop of oil in sight.
Sile is a seaside resort where many Turks seem to spend their vacations, a kind of Spanish costa in miniature. There are plenty of hotels and it is not difficult to find one. The price of Satohotel is a bit higher than we are used to in the past few nights, but that is logical in this popular coastal town. Since it is 30 degrees today, it is nice to take a shower before we walk into the village. When the power goes out, that's another minor setback, but it's quickly resolved and we can get back to our scrubbing.
Since we didn't check in at the hotel until 6:30, it's soon time to get something to eat. We walk towards the center and ask some policemen what is a good restaurant where they also serve alcohol. They tell us to go to Dubara, about a kilometer away and along the waterfront. It turns out to be a restaurant cum pub with an international cuisine, we can choose from a variety of dishes and have a nice beer with it. The band is already playing and we decide to stay a bit longer to enjoy the band. Unfortunately, they only sing Turkish songs, unlike at the rehearsal where English was sung.
When we walk back from the restaurant to the hotel, we take a piece of the boulevard, where it is busy with eateries and sometimes live music. We drink a beer somewhere and then walk back to the hotel.
Tomorrow we have to change the route to smaller roads and then we expect to end in Bulgaria, we can finally leave Turkey behind.
Sunday morning 3rd of July we wake up to a bright blue sky. After breakfast we set off in a cheerful mood. Rob is sniffling a bit, he has caught a cold. Hopefully that will be over soon with the nice weather of today. From Sile we drive a small road along the coast until we reach the highway that circles Istanbul. This six-lane highway goes over a large bridge across the Bosphorus to the European mainland. Just before the bridge, a lane is closed off to water the flowers in the central reservation, which gives us a nice opportunity to stop and take pictures of the bridge. This gives us a good opportunity to stop and take pictures of the bridge. If we don't do that quickly enough, he goes into his shed to get his gun. So we had better drive on. Soon we leave the highway and take the shortcut, although the road is very big and not very curvy. Due to the hot weather and the many trucks the top layer of the road has partly melted away and that's not a nice ride. The last part before we reach the border the road is a bit smaller and meanders again through the landscape. It is hot today, the temperature is over 30 degrees with lots of sunshine and we open all the air vents in the motorcycle clothing to cool down a bit.
At the border it is a piece of cake this time, so we are back in the EU. We have a chat with an Austrian Turk with a BMW 1300 touring bike who drove in one week up and down to Turkey to visit his family. At the border we see many "foreign" Turks who have probably been on a family visit. After the border we have to search for an exchange office to exchange our last dollars and a small amount of Turkish Lira. After that we drive on small and also worse roads along the Greek border to the southeast. Regularly we see the border police, apparently there are many people crossing the border illegally. Along the way we pass a lake where we have an illegal photo session at the dam.
After a good 50 km we drive to Ivaylovgrad hoping to find a hotel there. At the front of the village there is immediately a large and neat hotel. We book a room and the motorcycles can be parked behind the fence in the backyard. The hotel looks neat and the style would not be out of place in Germany or Austria.
After dinner and showering we sit on the terrace for a while and get talking to some Bulgarians from Sofia who are here for work. One of them drives a BMW GS 1200, so we immediately have a conversation topic to start with. We get several good tips on how to ride in Bulgaria and have a nice beer together before we go to bed. That beer will not make a big dent in our budget, because a half-liter bottle of beer costs just over one euro here. Tomorrow the route continues over the inner roads of Bulgaria towards Macedonia. It is about 400 km to the border, so it remains to be seen whether we will make it all the way to the border tomorrow.
This morning Monday, July 4, we got bread with fried eggs for breakfast, which we enjoyed outside on the terrace. Then we lubricated the chain and refueled, after which we can continue the route. The temperature rises quickly, so it is nice to ride among the trees. The disadvantage is that you can see little of the surroundings and it is harder to "see through" the bends. And today there are plenty of curves, so it is continually important to watch out and not make mistakes.
The roads are like this all day, so the pace is a bit slower and we can't ride more than 350 km this day. In this part (along the southern border with Greece) it is very quiet on the roads. The mountains do not seem high, but when we check it once, we see that they are still at an altitude of 1700 meters. In this border region we encounter the border police several times. Once we are pulled over but a glance at our passports is enough to let us drive on. Apparently we are not interesting enough to delve into further. At a stop later in the day for a drink, Martin gets private surveillance on the bike from a local dog. We find a hotel later in the afternoon in Gotse Deltshev, a somewhat larger town in the area. The Nevrokop hotel is a bit dated, but adequate for a night's stay.
After we have rinsed off the sweat in the shower, we walk to the center. The shower, like yesterday, is not hidden in the bathroom, but hangs between the toilet and the sink. When showering the whole bathroom gets wet, whoever designs these kind of bathrooms should be fired. With more than 30 degrees and little wind it is very hot on the terrace, but the cold beer tastes great. We walk a little further and find a smaller restaurant where we had a nice dinner. To let the food sink in we walk around the city. There is a beautiful park where many people enjoy the balmy summer evening and the children can still play freely. Almost back at the hotel we take a terrace. Martin can even enjoy an Erdinger, although it appears to be from July 2021 and past its date.
Tomorrow it will be another 100 km to Bulgaria and then we will cross the border into northern Macedonia. Let's see if we can enjoy the views better in North Macedonia than in Bulgaria where there are always trees and bushes in front of it.