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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 09 Apr 2009

Location: Istanbul

Map Day 8 April 8
The first official day of the Ferris Wheels Turkey Treasures Tour for 2009. We met the people whom we will be traveling with for the next 3 weeks: Tom & Sylvia, James & Joanne, and Jim all from N.S.W., Joel is an American from Seattle; there’s our tour leader Mike, and our 3-man Turkish support crew - guide Baris, driver Yusuf and motorbike mechanic Shukru.
Today Baris took us to the two major buildings in the old part of Istanbul, and both buildings were visited by Barack Obama just 24 hours prior (as pictures in today’s newspaper showed – I bet he didn’t have to battle the crowds of people like we did). The Blue Mosque is an actual place of worship for Muslims in Istanbul – unique for its six minarets. Mosques only have a maximum of four of these high, needle-like spires, this is the only one in the world with six. This building is relatively new, only being built in the 17th century. Almost next door is the Hagia Sofia – once a working mosque after one of history’s very first Christian churches, building started about 600AD. Walking inside both buildings takes the breath away.
Later that afternoon, the bikes are delivered to the hotel, and I got my first look and feel of my "bike buddy" for the next 3 weeks.

Day 9 April 9
284 kms on the bike.
A rather nerve-wracking start to the day, as we negotiate our way from our hotel to the main road south out of Istanbul. The streets directly from our hotel are very narrow, cobblestones, and full of traffic and people. Just as we got onto the four lane highway that runs right alongside the Bosphorus, I could see dolphins playing, just 10 metres from the shore. About half-dozen, jumping right out of the water, and happily playing in the calm morning air. How fantastic … and we were only 5 minutes into the ride. I suddenly realized that I to concentrate on riding this dam big bike underneath me – this Ferris guy certainly puts on a show for his clients.
I am riding a Suzuki 650 V-Strom, and it’s a beautiful thing to ride. So much bigger and more powerful than my 400 back home, but after an hour, I felt quite comfortable. It took us the morning to ride out of the Istanbul built-up area – it is a huge city, and it hugs the coastline for ages. When we left the main highway, things got a bit hairy with windy roads, but I finished the first day feeling a sense of accomplishment. All that training and now I'm here doing Turkey. We finish the day in Geribolu, a charming little fishing village about 30 minutes from the Gallipoli battlefields. They're tomorrow.