Crossing Türkiye on a BMW Motorcycle

Crossing Türkiye and the scenery
Oludeniz

Forty Seven Days Crossing Türkiye on Two Wheels

By Norm Bour

Max, our two-wheeled stallion
Max, our two-wheeled stallion

There are many different ways to travel. Initially, most start with airplanes, and depending upon the “where” their next stage goes, it may involve a train, bus, ferry, or rental car.

We have used all these, but our preference of choice is two wheels—on a motorcycle.

Granted, this is not new, and we are not the only ones, but as I am 68 years old, and my wife is 70, I think that puts us in a small crowd who travel like we do.

During our four year history of being full time nomads after leaving the US in 2019, we found a motorcycle rental outfit in Bucharest, Romania, and they rented us Max, a BMW 310GS, for six months last year.

The Beauty of Türkiye

The cliché about travel broadening our perspective is actually true, and experiencing Türkiye and Greece in the open air, with wind, and heat, and amazing vistas, certainly made us appreciate the beauty of Türkiye, where we had been living for eight months, in the city of Antalya.

Türkiye is a country that is often misunderstood, but aside from politics and other things that take away from the lure of a country, the western coastline of Türkiye is as beautiful as the west coast of the United States, and especially California, where I lived for forty years.

Duden Falls (Antalya) flows into the ocean
Duden Falls (Antalya) flows into the ocean

Our first stop, about 100 km north of Antalya, was the city of Kas, one of the most popular destinations on the Turkish Coast. It is an interesting combination of cosmopolitan as well as bohemian, mixed in with a bit of Zen.

We found a great hostel (pansion) at the Isinda Kas, which had some of the best vibes of anyplace we stayed in Türkiye.

restaurantOur room was cute beyond measure and very reasonable at 30 € per night. We loved the walkability of the town, even though it is very steep going down to the marina, but still manageable, and also took a short walk to an amazing beach called Incebogaz Cinar Beach.

This is a unique beach, a little sliver of land, an isthmus, with water on both sides and about 200 yards of land in between, and some of the most vibrant blue water you will ever see.

Kas Amphitheater

One of the more unique attractions in Kas is the ancient amphitheater called Antiphellos, which is one of the few Greek amphitheaters still remaining that face the ocean.

It is open and free to enter, and they have yoga classes that meet each morning at the base, so you can soak up the sun, the history, and get some good stretching in.

Old Town (Kaleichi) is still surrounded by a Roman wall
Old Town (Kaleichi) is still surrounded by a Roman wall

After six heavenly days in Kas it was time to move on to the city of Fethiye, which we found more busy than we liked—plus very hot in July—and rode up 1000 feet in elevation to the nearby city of Hisaronu, which seemed to be a second home for Brits!

Everywhere we went we heard accents, and every restaurant in town had English language menus, which is graphic evidence of their primary clientele.

The primary draw to Hisaronu is the nearby beach of Oludeniz, which is about one km in length and wide enough to hold thousands of sun worshippers!

The snow covered mountains from Antalya
The snow covered mountains from Antalya

Since the cliffs abut into the beach, Oludeniz is also world famous for paragliding, and you can get your thrill for about $120 USD per person.

Our room at the Gurhay Hotel was terrific and overlooked one of the best pools we found anywhere in Türkiye! We had no specific agenda on our trek into Greece, so stayed there longer than planned, but not long enough!

The beautiful waters of Kas
The beautiful waters of Kas

So far we were batting .1000 on our trip, and loved both cities we visited. Our next stop, Marmaris, made it a hat trick, and even with ridiculously hot temperatures, we loved Marmaris as well.

Oludeniz offers many unique tour boats!
Oludeniz offers many unique tour boats!

Our room was on the main street, but what made our stay so sublime was a nice beach restaurant called Felix Beach, which had a dock extending over the water, and even in the thick of summer, it was not too “touristy” or over crowded. We used that restaurant to hang out for three solid days, and it was a nice recovery period for both of us.

The beauty of Türkiye is that it has the features and vibe of a Caribbean island resort, but at a fraction of the prices. Most of our rooms on our journey were less than $35 USD per night, and almost all our dinners were less than $25 USD- for two of us.

Kas harbor
Kas harbor

And the novelty of Marmaris is that it is at the beginning of the Datca Peninsula (Reşadiye Peninsula) which leads out to the ferry port of Datca along 80 km of some of the most breathtaking scenery you will find anywhere. Especially on a motorcycle!

The well paved and wide roads lead along ocean fronts on two sides, then gradually increases your elevation into aromatic pine trees. At Datca you can cross the strait into Bodrum, another popular destination.

Antiphellos Ampitheater
Antiphellos Amphitheater

Next, it was time for some history; the iconic city of Ephesus, steeped in biblical lore, and still a place I consider to be one of the most magical we have ever visited. This ancient city was a refuge for Jesus’ mother, Mary, and his Apostle, John, who did much of his writing there. We stayed at the Hotel Ave Maria, where I had lodged before, and had a great room just 10 minutes from the Ephesus Ancient City.

I made a list of the 10 “Best Ruins” we have visited over our four years on the road, and Ephesus is one of them. The weather was still warm, so we continued north, hoping upon hope for better weather. Which did not happen…

the 1700 meters Babadag sky lift, Oludeniz
the 1700 meters Babadag sky lift, Oludeniz

We then trekked to the city of Cesme, another nice harbor port, and took a ferry to the Greek islands of Chios and Lesbos, for just a few days. Chios, one of the lesser visited islands, seems to be poised for expansion, and the town was quite busy, especially on the Saturday night we arrived there.

Friendly turkish kitty
Friendly Turkish kitty

Lesbos, not so much, a bit more chill, and the feedback we got from the locals is that they want to keep it that way.

They want to keep the island less developed and even with the beauty we enjoyed, we did not feel “welcome” there.

Lesbos Back to Turkish Mainland

From Lesbos it was back to the Turkish mainland, landing in Ayvalik, yet another town we flipped over! By now we were almost a month on the road, and all was good.

We learned to get up early, with the sun, and stay away from the heat, and we tried to ride less than four hours a day.

As we continued northward we kept getting closer to our next country, Greece, but first, another really great town, Canakkale, a place with great historical significance from World War I.

These were the grounds of the famous battle called Gallipoli, along with being the home of another great battlefield: Troy.

Finding a place to call “home” is very personal, and can be tricky, like Goldilocks finding the right bed. One city is too big, one city is too small, but some, like Canakkale, seemed to be just right.

The Trojan horse AT Troy ruins
The Trojan horse AT Troy ruins

It is located on the Dardanelles Strait, which is 38 miles long, links the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and is a key inlet for overseas imports.

It is about 150,000 in population so offers many of the goods and services you would expect from a larger town, yet retains the intimacy of the harbor, and the marina is intoxicating and magnetic.

This is where they have one of the city’s most famous landmarks: the Trojan Horse from the 2004 movie, Troy, with Brad Pitt.

Library at Ephesus
Library at Ephesus

My wife and I both agreed that seeing the country on two wheels made it even more special and after 47 days it was almost time to enter Greece. That is another story in itself as we spent two hours at a very hot, very busy border crossing.

Two hours we spent there, almost through, but at the last minute we got hassled by the Customs folks about our bike. I guess Americans riding a Romanian bike through Türkiye was not an everyday event!

The Basilica of St John, Ephesus
The Basilica of St John, Ephesus

When many think of destination European vacations, they fall back on the standard list: Greece, Italy, Spain, and France. Even though Türkiye is not part of the European Union, and is officially in Asia, that can be a blessing in itself, but it offers many amazing beaches and road trips that those other countries offer.

Castle of Mytilene, Lesbos
Castle of Mytilene, Lesbos

As for our almost three months on our bike, when we finished our Greek leg we continued northward into Bulgaria, then east to Bucharest, and finally to Max’s home for the winter.

As we packed everything up, finally ready to take a break, we reflected back on our two-wheeled journey. Traveling is not as easy at 70 as it is at 27, and even though it’s tougher, I advise you do it!

Ayvalik, Turkey, an unexpected pleasure
Ayvalik, Turkey, an unexpected pleasure

If you are brave enough to do it using a motorcycle, more power to you! In June we are picking up another bike and will try another 90 days on two wheels throughout Eastern Europe.

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