We had now decided to head for Turkey from where we would enter Syria, and avoiding the town of Homs where there was “a little tension,” would ride through Jordan into Saudi Arabia and take a ferry to Port Sudan from where we would be back-on-track and heading for Cape Town.
But as Peens had to compete in the World Para-Gliding competition in Sopot (Bulgaria) he returned to Romania before the rest of the group with new ignition, and with his glider strapped to the back of his KTM rode over the nearest mountain following the shortest distance route on his GPS only to spend twice as long getting there as the “road” became a track and then it started raining.
After a week the rest of the group followed with Bob taking the wheel of Brutes, and the plan was to first head North, find a small gravel road and then head to Constanta on the Black Sea as we did not want to ride on the highway from Bucharest to the Black sea. But first we had to learn KTM Lesson Number 1 when Rocky’s bike just died without reason in the middle of rural Romania. After frantic texting messages back and forth we all arrived at the GPS coordinates where the bike died. We then spent several hours stripping the bike as my phone call to KTM South Africa believed the problem was either with the safety cut-out on the side stand which might have been hit by a rock which bounced-up on the gravel road or a loose wire between the sensors in the exhaust pipe and the Engine Management system. During this time everything possible was checked, from fuel pump to filters and entire wiring harness. After no fault could be traced we decided to head back for Bucharest to a Bike-dealership. Not wanting to repeat the lengthy attaching of the bike behind the Toyota, Rocky flagged down the local Potato farmer, who loaded the KTM on the back of his little 2-stroke-truck in return for a few Dollars, but the poor man must have thought he misunderstood the sign language as Rocky discovered his keys were no longer in the bikes ignition, and thinking the farmer took them and put it in his pocket during the loading process, Rocky then started “feeling-up” the farmer double-checking the poor man’s pockets, in the process interfering with the “hanging” of his “man-parts” due to the farmer not wearing underwear and no linings in the pockets. Eventually the keys were found in Rockies own pocket.
At the bike shop we then learnt KTM Lesson Number 2 that when you insert your plastic key into your bikes ignition, turn it on, then of, then put in the real key, turn that one on and off and then save the new programming but putting the plastic key in again and turning it all the way, the bike has been re-booted, so this was all we needed to do and Rockies bike was ready to go again. Later we heard that the plastic key should not be close to the bike and kept at another location, so this might have been part of the problem, we just don’t know.
So we set of to Constanta the nextday and then followed the coast down, crossing into Bulgaria and then turned West again to rendezvous in Sopot and spend a night with the Para gliders. From here we once again turned East and we meandered back to the Black Sea where we spent a weekend in the coastal town of Sozopol, a holiday town bursting out of its seems with local holiday makers.
We then headed to the mountains and passed into Turkey, then rode down the West Coast and visited tourist attractions with included 1st World War Battlegrounds, Biblical ruins of Ephesus, and Pamukale where we swam in the ancient lime-baths where the Romans once washed their clothes. We spent many days meandering on back-road passes along the Ocean and discovered several hidden villages where we bought our food and got to know the non-tourist way of living. One costal little harbour town that stood out was Foca and I can still remember fondly the best Shish-Kebab, grilled on open fire, washed down with an ice cold Efes beer, and the smell of fresh fish hanging in the air.
But the wives were getting restless and we turned the bikes North and headed for the old city of Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, where we found a maintenance store under the hotel where we stayed which was big enough to lock-up our bikes and old Brutis. But before we headed home we first visited the sights of the Blue Mosque and Hagia-Sophia, a stroll through the Spice Market and eating roast fish, bought from a street vendor after a river cruise up the Bosphorus River.