we caught the fast boat from Istanbul to Bandirma. 2 hrs and we cut out around 350km of the traffic madness we had seen in the city before. Unbelievably people were actually trying to overtake us in their cars in the queue to get on the boat. This despite the fact that all seats are pre-booked on the ferry too. The loading guy didn’t seem to think we needed to fasten down the bikes at all to which my response was something like “er ducking dead on“. He seemed annoyed when i ignored him and lifted 2 straps off the wall to tie them down but i did it anyway and somehow it all got sorted. I am glad we did it because the boat captain sailed the ship much like everyone drives but you have to admire the fact were were on time and it cost less than half what it costs to go Belfast to Stranraer.
We refuelled at a station just outside Banderima where the attendants were interested where we were from and then amazed when I told them the bike is diesel. I gave them a little suckindiesel.com card and they gave us a cloth each embossed with the company name etc. It was a nice change of pace to have people excitedly interested in the bike and us.
we moved on around 150 miles to Bergama where we got a fantastic pension called “Athena“ at the top end of the town which was handy to go to the site of the ruins. It was run by a nice guy who smiled in a welcoming way every time he said yes. He was friendly and helpful and could not do enough for us. The bikes were securely parked in a closed courtyard which he was sure to lock whenever we were not around and didn’t get frustrated at our continual requests to get in and out. In short it was perfect. Our plan was to visit the ruins in the morning before heading further south.
In the morning our new friend emerged proudly wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “Your village called, they are missing their idiot“. How apt I thought. We shook hands and went to leave when I turned the bike on and noticed low fuel pressure. It started anyway but I looked at the pump that had a slow leak in Germany and saw it was leaking pretty badly now. Nuts. Though as Helen pointed out it happened in a great place. We‘d have to stay another night. No complaints from the owner gleefully rubbing his hands and smiling. Happy days.
I spent most of the day stripping the bike down to get at the pump. The job went quite quickly and was even enjoyable in the sunshine and quiet, interrupted only by the gentle blowing of the breeze in the tree leaves above or the strangely soothing call to prayer from the local mosque. I guess it went fast because all the tools were beside me on a picnic table as opposed to scattered all over the garage floor. I am sure there is a lesson there somewhere…
Bike back together we headed out to the ruins to discover the road was closed (its 5km up there). we turned and a tour guide seemed to suggest we needed to go 20m up the road then park and go up to a shiny glass building. Helen got annoyed at a group of young boys from the bus who were pushing and wiggling the bike with her on it causing her to be unstable though they got the message when I shouted and blew the horn at them. Its more the fault of those meant to be looking after them though I guess.
We parked the bikes up as suggested and were welcomed into the glass building by a security guard who put us in a lift. We got out to discover it was actually a cable-car. having been suspicious of seemingly helpful people we had to ask the cost several times only to be told each time it was free. Why? It was the very first day the thing was open!
As we ascended our spirits were also lifted with our turn of fortune. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was like the scene in Titanic where Leonardo is ecstatic with his luck being able to get on the boat, and wondered if it is a good thing the system was brand new or not. However it was extremely smooth and quiet, even over the rollers at the pylons. Having arrived safely we spent a couple of hours exploring the place more or less to ourselves in the evening sunshine. It was amazing and really made us wonder what civilisation must have been like all those years ago. There was clearly a lot of organisation involved and a large amount of manpower and considerable skill. My mind turned to the forces needed to get that many people to do something like that and the considerable respect and belief that leaders in ancient times must have commanded.
the day rolled on and i wanted to stay for a while to see the sun set though we left at quarter past six with just 15 minutes til they closed. we arrived back to find the cable-cars stopped. We wandered towards the road to see if it went the right way but were unsure so went to ask. For a moment they considered starting the cable again but then helpfully decided to lay a car on to take us back.
while we were waiting the engineer got talking to us and seemed keen to practice the English he had been learning at night school. It was a real treat to be asked where we were from without the next sentence being “come see my shop“. It was even more interesting to get some insight into his life and ask a few geeky questions about the cablecar system which had been built over 6 months. He had noticed the bikes and had a VFR 800 himself. Due to the lack of engineering jobs and pay he had to work 2 jobs and seemed like a busy guy with his first child also on the way.
The car that arrived for us was a pick-up truck and didn’t have the room for everyone inside the cab so being opportunistic Helen and I climbed into the back with our new friend at which point I remembered the driving standards in Turkey. Too late we were hurtling down the road which was thankfully closed talking and trying distract ourselves although we were probably only actually doing maybe 30 mph. We arrived at the bikes and chatted about the diesel conversion and our journey for a while. After resetting all the controls and taking my bike out of gear I started it to show what it sounded like, we wished each other well and parted ways, somehow enriched for the experience.
As we left for the second time the next day it was playing in my mind how none of this would have happened had it not been for the fuel pump failure. It‘s strange how something that seems bad at first often has the best consequences.