Finally get to be reunited with the vespa! After all the walking around trying to get the right access into the cargo area of the airport and paying for storage and getting handed lots of paperwork we finally after a few hours....get to see our crate and open it ourselves. Bike in one piece. Total km 35
6km drive to the airport from Thamel, following a guy from the cargo company who helps organize things with customs. Get into the cargo area, and doesn't take too long to have the bike crated and inspected by customs. Lots of action to pack one little vespa... Total km 6
A quick 19km from Bhaktapur to Kathmandu. Not too bad, the pollution is thick though, you really feel it only after a few minutes. A little bit of a struggle iwht the traffic finding Thamel, the tourist area in Kathmandu. Once we found a hotel left the luggage in the room and went straight out looking for a cargo company to fly the bike to Bangkok. Total km 19
Leaving Daman we took the same road back to the highway. Were able to really take our time, stopping, lots of picture opportunities of the valleys, mountain passes, and crazy roads. Once on the highway 30km to the checkpoint into what is the Kathmandu valley area. The road getting to the checkpoint was pretty intense for us on the vespa. It was really hot, lots of exhaust fumes, and smoggy air in general. Quite a few big trucks going up, and the incline was pretty steep so they were practically walking. While we weren't much faster, we could have passed a few but the bike was lacking the power to safely attempt passing most of the time. So it did take awhile to get anywhere. Once through all that we took the south ring road to bypass Kathmandu for now and go to Baktapur. It is an ancient Newari town, a Unesco world heritage site so even entering its perimeter as a tourist you have to pay. Worth it though because it is beautiful, will spend a couple of nights here before going to Kathmandu. Total km 95
Back to the highway, happy to leave the less than charming Mugling. Most of the day the road followed the .... river. Quite a few rafting companies, some with pretty nice looking lodges for tourists. 30km before Kathmandu turned off the highway, heading to Daman, about 55km away. Going from approx 400-500m to 2300m at the town. Stunning views all the way up, Nepal has been gorgeous. Daman is a town where from the viewpoint you can see about 500kms of Himalayan mountain range when the weather is clear. Too bad for us it is not the right season to see anything, but we still got up at 6am to try. Regardless of no view, still a beautiful place to see, really nice people and we ate more noodle soup than any other person on record. Soaked up the quietness before our big descent into the Kathmandu valley, and its chaos and smog. Total km 137
Pokhara was great, had a nice place to stay, met some good people. Took time to do some work, explore Pokhara, see the peace pagoda, sunrise over the Annapurna range, and just relax a little. Finally today when we were leaving the city we were lucky to see again the peaks of the Annapurna range looking out from above the white clouds. On the highway drove through a valley for awhile, and continued on until we reached the turn off for Bandipur, a small village 8km drive up a really, really steep road. Tough work for the bike, but we got to enjoy wonderful views of the valleys, and surrounding mountains and hills. When we arrived in this beautiful village we found out all the guesthouses were completely full with foreigners there for a trance festival, kind of strange. So had to move on, the 8km being downhill so much easier. Continued on until we arrived in Mugling, a seedy junction town, found a room for the night. Total km 114
Driving on the Siddhartha highway to Pokhara today had to be one of the best roads of the trip so far. Very beautiful surroundings. Lots of nice people, stopped to drink a few times, wonderful encounter with Suman, a young boy we met when drinking some tea. After leaving there it started to rain and we had to stop to put on our rain gear, for about 40-50km it didn't stop. The road continues to be bend after bend, never more than 100m of straight road. The scenary kept our spirits up despite the rain, gorgeous views over the valley and river, about 200-300m below. The sculpted green terraces everywhere, really amazing. Finally the rain did stop and arriving in Pokhara it was hot and sunny. Will stay here for a few days. Total km 130
Today was our first approach to the mountains here in Nepal. Left Lumbini and drove back to the main road, then towards the small city of Bhutwal. From there we could see the mountains in the distance, great feeling, as we were going through the city it looked like we were going directly towards them. As soon as we passed through Bhutwal the road started to go up, and the speed of the bike down.... The first stretch of the road was in not very good condition. Followed the river for awhile, the water a beautiful colour, haven't seen a healthy river for awhile so was a great sight. Spectacular road, lots of bends, and the mountain landscape gorgeous. Then eventually we left the highway taking a turn off for the town of Tansen about 5km up. First impression of the place is positive, supposed to be a beautiful Nepali town to visit. Plan to spend a couple of days here, walk around the area a little. Total km 83 ...ZOOM OUT ON THE MAP TO SEE ALL THE ICONS
We haven't crossed a border since December, so we are feeling excited, always a great thing to experience. The euphoria of being in a new country. The Indian custom office was wedged between some sari shops, but they saw us before we saw them so it was okay. The border was kind of crazy, so much chaos, looks and feels like a normal busy town here, not a border between two countries. Stream of trucks, cars, bikes, pedestrians, and shops. Tons of people coming and going in both directions with out problem. The procedure for us was easy, no hassles. Literally once we were on the Nepal side the quantity of vehicles dropped dramatically, and the feeling in general was much more relaxed. Driving 25km to the small town of Lumbini, a popular place to visit where Lord Buddha was born. Total km 125
Getting out of Varanasi was much harder than getting into it. So much crazy traffic on smallish roads, with pieces of the road missing all over the place. Once we found the highway it wasn't so bad. After a long day on the bike we are stopping in Gorakpur, a fairly big city. Quickly found a cheap hotel for the night, dirty but acceptable. Perfect in the end as we finished up our rupees with none to spare, how coordinated is that (it was done on purpose!). We are really looking forward to getting to Nepal, in a way our minds are already there. Total km 227
Back to the highway again, finally getting to Varanasi today. Not much for us to enjoy visually, stopped to eat and drink a couple of times in truck stops. After crossing the Ganges river received some really good directions to take a short cut into Varanasi from the highway, driving into a back entrance to Benares Hindu University campus. Looking forward to being a few days in this intense city, a place that visitors either love or hate, no room for feelings of indiffernce. Total km 254
Going to Bodhgaya today, the town where Buddha reached enlightenment. Long journey on the highway, driving was not bad, but really really hot. The road was going up and down the gentle hills. Passed numerous coke (fuel) and brick factories. Came to the turn off from the highway, 22km on a smaller road to town. In the high season they have direct flights here from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, lots of buddhist people come to see the place where enlightenment was found and meditate and pray. There are monasteries here in the style of different countries Tibet, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. Total km 268
We left Kolkata early in the morning which was really great because the roads were relatively empty, the city we learnt comes to life later around 10am, and it was Sunday too so that always helps. Heading west, drove along the highway. Empty surroundings, big vast fields and little else. Then what felt like out of nowhere appeared a Cafe Coffee Day, an air-conditioned oasis with pretty decent coffee. With no shame we stopped to rest and enjoy this treat. Then back to highway driving, now instead of fields passing by lots of big industry, mostly coal and steel. Drove through some small towns and then the random city of Durgapur which seemed run down but still boasts a huge western type mall, always a good sign that there are some people with money who benefit from the built up industrial work. Eventually got to Asansol, just a transit stop for us, so we can get to Bodhgaya tomorrow. Total km 216
Left Balasore early today, really looking forward to entering in Kolkata. Highway throughout the morning, early afternoon. Then about 25km before the city turned off, anticipating the same headache that it was like entering Bombay, but in the end it wasn't so bad. As we approached the city and crossed the impressive Howrah Bridge we could see the massive Victoria Memorial in the far distance, driving along the larger boulevard type road with all the traffic, around some big roundabouts. Then as we got closer to the core the roads more narrow, big buildings and action everywhere. Looking forward to being here for a few days. Total km 250 (zoom on Kolkata to see more icons)
Decided to stop in a place called Balasore today, just a random town to sleep in before getting to Kolkata. When we left Puri in the morning a guy told us to not expect a nice road for awhile, that there is 4 lanes being put in but not to be done until next year. He was very much right, road works everywhere and chaotic congestion for many km. Sporadically 4 lanes would appear for brief periods of time only to quickly disappear. Today must have been one of the most hot days, the newspaper said 39C and no reason not to believe it, the amount of sweat in our helmets confirmed it as well. On the highway eventually for awhile before arriving in the anonymous Balasore, went in circles for a bit before finding a hotel. Total km 261
Spending the morning along the coast and in the little city of Konark to visit the Sun Temple. Tot km 79.
Following the coast up to Chilika Lake, one of the largest lagoons in the world. Not at its biggest right now since it is still the dry season, you can guess at where its perimeters expand to when the rainy times come. Still an impressive body of water to see, a strong presence in an otherwise bare environment. Nice to see groups of water buffalos enjoying lying in the small water ponds, they must like the dry season when these personalized pools are available to them. Taking a ferry boat to cross part of the lake, were really hoping for a good boat that would be easy to get on and off with the bike. When we saw what we would be on there was just a little bit of anxiety for the safety of the bike.........the only real good thing we can say about it is the bike could be 'rolled' on and not lifted. We figured this was our only option so with some tension went along with it, later we realized that if we had waited a few minutes we could have been on the stress less boat that is car friendly... but in the end we crossed fine, beautiful, and the vespa disembarked without real issue. Going to Puri, a seaside town that is one of the most important hindu pilgrim centers. Also a popular beach destination for Indian tourists. Ended up driving through the most crowded area by the temple and market by mistake, then found our way to the hotel of a friend we had met in Yanam. Total km 150.
Leaving from Rishikonda and back to the NH5 another highway day. Landscape slighty monotonous, mostly flat can see the hills in the distance, fields are beyond dry waiting for the rainy season. The temperature is really hot, sky hazy, makes the envoironment look more inhospitable than it is. Had frequent stops for eating, drinking, and stretching. Lots of road side places to stop aimed at truck drivers since that is mostly who is on this road, not the nicest places for us to be, but they are friendly enough when we have our brief breaks. Today was a really hard day physically, by the end of it we could not wait to be off the bike. The last few days we have been driving lots of km and the heat has been really intense. Now in Gopalpur on Sea, a small sea side town to relax for a few days. It's a popular place for Indian tourists and tomorrow is Holi, the festival of colour that marks the beginning of spring, which means lots of people from Calcutta here for the holiday. Coloured powder will be everywhere and on most people, festive mood in the air. Total km 269
Left Yanam driving towards the national highway going along the normal roads and through the constant towns on the way. Almost landed on the ground thanks to a massive speed bump and slippery garbage. Then finally to the highway, sometimes it can be a bit repetitive but at moments like this it is more of a welcome relief from the stress of all the busyness. Decided to skip staying in Vishakhapatnam a big city and went 10km north to Rushikonda Beach where we spent the night in the best run down beach resort in Orissa. Total km 220
Left later than we had wanted to at around 10 , but the comforts of our upgraded room were worth extending the morning for. Maybe slight exaggeration to say the road was perfect but really was a nice highway for about 150km. A bit more colour around thanks to the beautifully manicured rice fields. Then getting off the highway the last 70km was an amazing and beautiful surprise. We were able to slow down and enjoy the smaller road. Bright perfect green everywhere, fields lined with palms, and since it was late afternoon the perfect light. Passed along muliple canals that bring the mouth of the Godavari River together. Slept in Yanam, a temple town that makes up a small enclave of the Union Territory Pondicherry. Total km 238
Left early from Nellore, terrible boring day on the highway - not to sound too grumpy about it ;) Took lots of stops for drinking and eating when the opportunities came up. The environment around the highway was mostly flat. Quite a few trucks on the road. The day was pretty hot and dry. Eventually arrived in a city called Vijayawada, at first a bit of trouble finding somewhere to sleep, was declined by a few hotels. In the end went for a nicer place and had the pleasure of AC for the night. Total km 291.
The last few days we have kept saying that we must take a bypass road around Chennai, no way we wanted to cross this huge city since we didn't want to stop there. But due to not finding a bypass road at 10am today we found ourselves exactly in the middle of Chennai. A slight pain because of the 45km of traffic we had to go thru to get into and then right out of the city. Wasn't as bad as we had thought it could be, but still tiring, the north part of leaving the city was lots of road work and dust. We did get to the highway in the end after finding the best human GPS so far in India, practically escorted there. Today was really a driving day, trying to make km heading north. Hot and slighlty humid, ended up in Nellore, a big, busy, not pretty place, but found a hotel easily. Total km 227
Took the East Coast Road today to cover the short distance to get to Mamallapuram. Although the name of the road is signposted as a Scenic Beach Road actually seeing the beaches happened not that often and when they did pop out in was in the far distance. Luckily the traffic seemed to be on strike today and once here in Mamallapuram we were happy to run into a great french family we had met in Munnar and were able to spend some time together. Also went to see the Shore Temple, and the Five Rathas - a random grouping of beautiful ancient stone temples and a few animals a la elephant and cow as well - all carved out of stone. Total km 102
Today boring roads, there was lots of road works and construction which meant frequent slowing down and going thru ongoing clouds of dust. The same flat, dry, mostly bare landscape throughout the day. Not many villages, the only break from the monotony was a fairly big old fort located close to the road, and some huge odd shaped rock formations. Arrived in Pondicherry in time to enjoy walking by the water front, and thru the relatively peaceful feeling old french style neighbourhoods. Plan for the next 24hr is to find a good steak, not the most Indian, but a nod to the french colonial past here in Pondicherry. Total km 125
Left early this morning forgetting to eat breakfast. Which turned out to be the best since we ended up stopping in a small village and eating a rustic version of Idly, which are spongy round fermented rice cakes. May not sound like the most exciting breakfast but it is actually a treat that we haven't tired of yet. Continuing on driving the surroundings not really changing, mostly lots of cultivation, rice and sugar cane. Got to the city of Tiruvannamalai and saw another temple, most likely the last one we will visit here in the south. Total km 145
Today was sort of a temple day. First after leaving in the morning we stopped in Kumbakonam which is known for some specific temples, and checked them out. We met a young urban couple from Bangalore, it was nice to have a chat and they were able to give a little bit of insight into a young modern persons relationship with Hinduism. Then continuing on, driving slowly due to winding road, and we were kind of taking our time since we weren't doing too many km, we had the pleasure of a few long breaks enjoying the popular Tamil coffee. When we did reach our destination of Chidambaram we were able to be in the temple in time to see a beyond intense puja, which was pretty much a prayer offering that in this temple they do with lots of drums, bells, and fire. It was really nice and interesting for us to see. Total km 117
Left Madurai in the morning, driving with the mission to visit at least one of the Chettiar mansions. Got out of town and headed to the highway, fortunetly in the right direction after some doubt. Nice morning, enjoyed seeing numerous huge mountain/hill type rocks, funny shaped, creating beautiful silloutes against the sky. After some minor diffilculties and small backtracking we were able to get to Kanadukathan, a small town where there are numerous mansions around belonging to (or belonged to) the Chettiar community, who in the past and still are very wealthy from being efficient traders, bankers, and business people. Alot of the house are not maintained, not sure who owns them, but a few have been turned into upscale heritage hotels, we went and had a coffee at one so we could have a look. Then continued on with the idea to visit the Tirumayam fort, but due to the hot!! dry heat and lack of motivation we stopped outside to have a quick look and then left. Then continuing on with the same sceneary; low trees, bushes, green but still dry environment, the landscape interrupted by fields of either rice, sugar cane, cashew nut trees. Arrived in Thanjavur slightly tired, more km today than we have done in awhile. Total km 208
Left Rameswaram city, had a brief stop on Indira Gandhi bridge on the way out to admire the quiet fisherman village on the shoreline of the Palk Straight, would have stayed a few minutes longer since there wasn't many vehicles crossing but the massive and obnoxious flys with huge orange eyes were a bit overwhelming. Went along driving slowly through the vast surrounding landscape, mostly flat, full of green short trees and bushes. The monotony broken when passing by the colourful south Indian Hindu temples. We were lucky to pass through a village that was having a fire festival of some kind, wasn't able to find someone that could explain to us more. We just watched briefly numerous groups of people walking together playing music with drums and trumpets, dancing, and carrying pots full of fire. Later enjoyed a long tea stop, lots of people around, a bunch of kids getting out of school, chatted with some tourists from the north of the country. The day went fast with the time and kms flying by, surprised when we got to Madurai at 1600 that we had done 175km. Total km 175 ;)
Went back to the main temple in the morning for a couple of hours. Large and intense group of hindu visitors/devotees coming here from all over the state and the rest of India to worship, and purify themselves and their sins with the water from the 22 different tanks. Then in the afternoon we drove with the vespa to see the tip of India that is approx 30km from Sri Lanka. We drove the 15km there and then had to take a truck the last 7km. The truck was full so we got to sit on the roof, and the ride was a bit crazy, rough, and wonderful. The road kept changing between packed sand, soft sand, and being in the water itself. Eventually reaching the narrow sandy strip of land that points towards the coast of Sri Lanka, really beautiful spot, both for the sceanery and the feeling of isolation. Then back with the truck as the sun was setting to were the vespa was waiting, and we drove back to Rameswaram. Total km 29
Continuing northeast to Rameswaram today on the so called coastal road. Passing by numerous salt 'fields' where we could see the mounds of salt being harvested. Taking our time getting a bit lost trying to find some villages by the beach. When we did find the beach it was full of Christian fisherman fixing their equipment for the next night, or just sitting around. In the far distance it was possible to see the outline of some islands, most likely they belong to Gulf of Mannar National Park. The main coastal road for the most part was in great condition, and not too busy so a relaxingish environment. Landscape very different from coming down the west coast, now is much more vast, kind of looks like savanna, but more green, temperatures really hot. Had some nice encounters with some Muslim kids on a waterbreak, very friendly and full of questions. Then getting closer to Rameswaram just before the bridge to the island it is possible to see sea on both sides of the road. Really beautiful here, crossing the Indira Gandhi bridge to Rameswaram island, the water is crystal clear and turquoise. Lots of pilgrims here in town, the streets are busy with all the people who come to worship at the Ramanathaswamy Temple. We found a place to sleep, then checked out the main bathing ghat, and then later at night went to the temple to see the activities. Today was a special worship day so we were lucky to be able to observe the action. Total km 192
Started up the east coast with a very windy morning. Two pleasures today are the cooler temperature thanks to the clouds and that the national highway is actually a highway with four lanes! A nice change to enjoy this huge highway (with not much traffic, at first just us!) after the crowded two lanes from coming down the west coast. Had some rain for about ten minutes enough to get soaked, but with our speedy vespa dried quickly ;) A couple of stops along the way are enough to realize that the people here in Tamil Nadu seem deeply proud of their Tamil culture and adverse to their fellow citizens up north. Arrived in Toothukudi, nothing here to see, just a break on the way to Rameswaram. Found a decent hotel with a good price, always a bonus. Spent some time wandering around this bustling port city, took a rickshaw to go by the water. Lots of men and boys playing improvised cricket on the short strip of beach. Total km 136
Left the oppresively hot Kovalam and went and found the backroad heading towards Kanyakumari. Enjoyed driving along a nice surface, passing through colourful villages surrounded by gentle hills dotted with palms. Eventually came onto the less relaxing highway, busy and crap condition. Looking for the turn off for Padmanabhapuram Palace, and just about when we were going to give up Ganesh in the form of a small road sign showed us the way. Definitely worth visiting, beautiful wooden architecture. Then the final 35km to Kanyakumari, amazing feeling to reach the most southern point in India, where the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal meet. Will spend a couple of nights before heading north up the east coast. Total km 91.
More gray clouds this morning, but luckily no rain. Not too many km today, stopping tonight at Kovalam beach, one last stop before getting to Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin). Busy road to get here. The high season is almost over but there are still a number of tourists around, all the usual stuff for sale and to eat lining the walkway by the beaches for a few km. Despite all that it is quite nice, not as stunning as yesterday with the cliffs, but still a really great spot. Total km 71
Left Alleppey with the thought of rain on our minds because of the looming light gray clouds. Went along the national highway, passing numerous towns and many temples, churches, and mosques. The drive could have been relaxing due to the good condition of the pavement, but the usual suspects of buses, trucks, cars, motorbikes, scooters, and pedestrians all wanting a piece of the pavement it was not so relaxing. As we arrived in Varkala the rain came lightly, after a little bit of driving around found a place to stay. The sky cleared, we spent the remainder of the afternoon walking by the sea along the cliffs. Total km 125.
Left beautiful Kochi after 4 nights. Heading south from Fort Kochin, riding through placid quiet villages on a narrow strip of land, about a 100meters wide, between lagoons and the sea. Stopped to eat something in the niceish village of Kumaragam. Drove to Kottayam where we realized we couldn't take the ferry to Alleppey because of the bike. It isn't that far but we just wanted to go along the waterways. Instead went on to a small back road that drove through the middle of huge flooded rice fields, then through a bunch of villages, then out to the highway to Alleppey. Total km 121.
Left late in the morning. Going on the highway which is really just a 2 lane road going parallel down the west coast. Lots of rice fields, palms, lagoons, a few times the road right by the sea. Really enjoying the change in environment as we head south, the dressing of people, the food. Malpe has a subtle beauty, mostly Indian tourists. At the end of the beach is a massive dock yard. A long white beach dotted with colourful garbage. Two decent sized islands visible not too far away. Total km 186.
Crossing into Goa today, went over the borderline on a ferry. Big change from the Konkan coast. Drove in to look at Arambol beach, in the past famous to be a hippie enclave. Now is km's of shopping leading down to the beach and into the sea. Left and went south a little to the Russian 'colony' of Ashwin. Really built up, but not too bad, nice area. Total km 93.
Covered the short distance to Malvan in just over an hour. Found a place to sleep really close to the sea, and then spent the rest of the day wandering around on foot and with the bike, eating random Alfonso mango products. Drove to nearby Tekerle beach and met an Austrian guy who lives here parttime and enjoyed a couple beers. Then on his recommendation drove back along on the beach since the tide was out. Total km 78.
Spectacular coast from Guhagar to Ratnigiri, the road allowed us to see the sea most of the time. After Ratnigiri had some trouble finding the right road, had a few route readjustments. Was planning to sleep in Devgar but met a couple of tourists on an Enfield who recommended going to the seaside village of Kunkeshwar. When we finally arrived there it was a great choice, beautiful location by the water, important Shiva temple also that was undergoing some renovations. Total km 202.
Went back about 30km from Velas to the turn off for the road. Then up a big hill to a plateau where we spent much time trying to navigate the small roads. Our map is not very good so none of these are marked. A few times had to stop and wait for a passing vehicle to ask whether we should go right or left. Wasn't able to see the sea for most of the day, still nice of course but more like fields of barren dry land. Some villages, people really kind both in the villages and the ones we stopped for directions. Then arrived in Guhagar, a small village by the sea. Was able to walk along the quiet beach, beautiful stretch for kms. Total km 116.
Second day enjoying the Konkan coast. Went to take a small ferry boat but once there decided their loading process of manually lifting it on could damage the already not perfect racks. So instead we added about 160km of driving inland around the waterway. Which was a pain for the intense heat and unexpected km, but beautiful for the rustic sceanery. Finally arrived in Velas, staying at a homestay. Indian tourists come here to watch the Olive ridley sea turtles hatch at the nearby turtle conservation place. We didn't have a chance to go and see, it can be days before any turtle is to be seen. But did enjoy some great local village food at our sleeping place. Total km 179.
After enjoying Bombay for a few days, left by ferry (some motorbikes and people). Wasn't sure what to expect of the loading process, a bit nervous for the bike.....but luckily they were gentile and it was pushed smoothly on over the loading piece of wood. The ferry ride was an hour and twenty minutes, hot hot but great views of the sea. Arrived in Revas, then on with internal roads, sort of tropical like environment with green vegetation and palm trees. Got to Alibag and stopped to eat on the sea for the first time in India. Then onwards and found a hotel on the outskirts of Murud. Total km 76.
Went for 80km on the highway towards Mumbai, crossing through the Western Ghats. About 55km from Victoria Terminus, which is in the so called heart of Bombay, we crossed over the first of a number of bridges to enter the city, and from here on in it was a bit of a harsh reality. The lanes felt more narrow, intensity of the traffic and horns seemed more than other cities, amplified by the humid heat, and up and down so many overpasses. Will be staying here for a couple of days. Total km 136
Started today taking numerous small back roads trying to take a short cut and skip a big city. Drove through a few villages, lots of kids around going to school, and people to work. Eventually got to the highway after enduring a massive number of potholes. Then only on the highway for about 10km, then back to a small road in better condition than the previous ones. Competing for space along the way with tons of buffalo pulling carts with large loads of sugarcane. Then later on in the day for about 60km we were blessed with one of the most spectacular roads so far in India. It was hilly, with lots of bends, good surface, rural environment, surrounded by the Western Ghat peaks, almost no traffic, and brillant light. Then the final 10km on the national highway #3, made it to Igatpuri just before getting dark. Total km 260
Started the day with a windy road up a mountain and after only a few km reached our 15,000 km point! Then after the road quickly plateaued out, and we continued on through mostly dry, yellow huge grass fields, savanna like environment. Passed on by a few towns before reaching Ellora, and going to visit the caves, most impressively the Kailasanatha Temple. Total km 106.
First day riding in the heat. Lots of low hills, bendy road. Later on in the day we past lots of banana tree orchards. Later took a back road passing by huge, dry cotton fields and huge cotton processing factories with shanty like sleeping beside for the workers. The plan is to visit Ajanta caves tomorrow, so sleeping in close by Fardapur. Had an unexpected great surprise when eating dinner to run into the great Jojo, mobile home of our friends. Total km 244.
Mandu is at an elevation of around 680meters, descended today going south. The road started out great but quickly turned into 3-4km of rock, able to drive approx. 5km/hr down. There were some signs of the road being built eventually but given the environment it looks like it could be completed in about 25 years. Then once down and back to an actual road we went along well until Maheshwar, where we stopped and looked around for about an hour, saw the ghat below on the fort on the Narmada River. Then back on to Omkareshwar, an Om shaped island, and holy Hindu place on the Narmada river. Total km 118.
Today was the longest km for us driven in India, doable thanks to the Bhopal to Indore Road and the National Highway #3 heading south west. Then for the last 40-50km turned off onto a secondary road. It was really, really beautiful, going uphill, with stunning drop offs to valleys, all around great. As we were approaching Mandu drove through a few ancient Afghan style gates, same time period as the monuments there is to visit. Mandu is a small place, with a semi ghost town feel. Will spend tomorrow here. Total km 352.
Started off okay today and quickly got worse and worse. First 50km were decent, then the road deteroiated and 20-25km worse, and then the remainder horrible. Tough for the vespa. Arrived in Sanchi exhausted and covered in dust. Visited the stupas which are quite beautiful. They are some of the oldest Buddhist structures in India. Total km 131.
Today the road was good for the most part, few places where the asphalt disappeared for 2-3km, maybe to be resurfaced in the future? Passed numerous Sadhus and road side temples. Stopping in Sagar, a medium sized town to sleep for the night, while driving around looking for a place to sleep saw a procession of Jain monks walking naked, which from what we have read is the norm for some Jain monks. We are not sure if these guys do 'dress' like this always. Hard to find cheap accomodation in some places, stayed at the misguidly named Paradise hotel. It was overpriced for our budget but okay. While there we got invited into the banquet area to have cake at a birthday celebration for a baby girl. Total km 209.
Made a mistake by saying yesterday was the worst fog, cold morning, today was much much worse. Eye glasses had to be wiped dry every five minutes to have sight.....As we were heading south towards Khajuraho, we tried our best to remain optimistic that the weather would be improving. Past through the less than appealing Kanpur, which is the same place where this Vespa was made by LML! Onwards we got some directional advice from a guy who told us about a road in better condition. Finally around 3 o'clock the sun came out, sort of, but it was enough to feel slightly warmer. Weren't stoping too much because we really didn't want to arrive in the dark. Enjoyed the road we were on for awhile, small, not much traffic, lots of small villages and cultivation. Eventually realized that the km were wrong and we had further to go than thought. The last 50km the road turned out to be in really bad shape, crater like holes. Arrived in Khajuraho as the sun was setting. It was a tough day and we decided it was enough, will avoid going to Allahabad to see the Kumbh Mela, and head south west instead. Total Km 325.
Left in the morning with the worst fog ever! We know the weather is mentioned a lot, but on a scooter the cold and fog are pretty big. The first 70km we were really wondering how the day was going to end. Between the cold, bad road, traffic, and at times the visibility was maybe 20-30 meters. Going on it did warm slightly and we didn't stop much trying to make good time, just a few times to stretch and fuel up on tea and chapati. Passed by a working elephant, numerous Sadhus (ascetic, wandering holy men), lots of road side temples, and monkey gangs. Made it to Lucknow in the daylight. Total km 260.
Left Delhi after 5 days, delayed partly to rain, and also figuring out where to have the tires changed. Heading east, traffic not too bad, took awhile to follow the various directions we were getting from people, but in the end found the road we wanted. Hazy day, lots of moisture in the air, temperature a bit cold. The road a bit monotonus. Lots of sugarcane fields. The highlight of the day was crossing the Ganges River, first time seeing it. The river was about 250 meters wide where we were, stopped for a quick picture. Kept passing lots of small towns, all appearing similar as we go by with the same garbage piles and storefronts. Today is just a transit day to move on from Delhi, staying in a town Bareilly, stopped in the first hotel we saw. Total km 265.
This morning it was really foggy, luckily its a bit warmer now so we weren't too cold driving. Once we found the national highway (after going the wrong way for a few kms.........), the road was pretty smooth. Went through some chaos trying strainfully to cross a mess of an intersection at the turn off for a city before Delhi. Once we got to Delhi we came into a huge, massive traffic jam that slowed us right down where it took an hour to go 2km. But then after it wasn't too bad to reach India Gate, then Connaught Place, then to Main Bazaar St to find a hotel. Afterwards walked around for awhile to stretch out and bring some relief to our traffic jam induced butt pain. Total km 185.
On a highway again today, in the direction of Delhi. Spending the night in Mathura, a smallish city, dirty, crowded, chaotic, and slightly mystical with people performing puja at the ghats on the river. Mathura is beside the holy Yamuna River, and also the birthplace of Krishna. The town itself left us feeling a bit claustrophobic, but the highlight was watching the daily "fire ceremony" at the main ghat Vishram Ghat in the evening. Total km 69.
Short day to Agra, mostly highway. As we were getting into town a guy in his car showed us a short cut with so many deviations that its value was very questionable. Then as we were close to the Taj Mahal a guy on his motorbike took us on a totally wacky way through alley ways to find the hotel, and as we were parking the manager looked at us confused asking how we got past the police barriers, apparently unless you have a permit no vehicles are allowed within 500 meters of the Taj Mahal. We told him we have no idea, and after unpacking the bags the vespa had to leave to park further away. Went and saw Agra Fort in the afternoon where we were able to have our first glimpses of the Taj Mahal (it is really really beautiful to see up close and personal). Total km 47.
Missed the road for the shorter route to Hindaun so ended up with about 40km more to do. Then from Hindaun to Bayana the road was decent and scenery great. Stopped in Bayana for a little, a small town, drinking a few cups of ginger milk tea, which may not sound appealing but isn't that bad. Then from Bayana to Fatehpur Sikri was one of the most horrible small roads, potholes, mostly no pavement and when there was it was a narrow strip, and worst of all was the cliff like fall anytime we had to get out of the way for somebody (slight exaggeration but........) The only plus being going so slow allowed us to really enjoy the vibrant green fields, yellow flowers, and dusty red hills ;). Total km 148.
Once we were back to the main road it was slow going due to lots of road construction, looks like they are trying to upgrade from 2 lanes to 4. The only time we seem to see a road sign is getting into big cities, passed by Tonk without seeing the indication or any sign of a city......reached Kothum, still lots of road work, then started more of a bad road, potholes, and sketchy pavement. Eventually we arrived in the less then appealing Gangapur, our lay over for the night. After taking the vespa through a brown (guess....) 'river', we asked multiple times before finding a hotel. Total km 249.
After enjoying the lovely Udaipur (the Venice of the east.......and 'romantic' capital of India), we were off on a 4 lane highway. As we approached the city of Chittorgarh we could see the impressive fort in the distance. Continuing on it started to get more hilly, and then at Bijolia the road condition worsened, quite bumpy, patches of asphalt missing. The surroundings really nice, green fields, fields full of yellow flowers (harvested for making cooking oil), and we passed thru many small, dirty, bustling villages. Then arrived in Bundi, a great town with many Brahmin blue buildings. A relatively quiet place, less tourists, dominated by the fort and impressive city palace, both aren't as upkept as well as some, but have an amazing location. Total km 276.
Drove up first thing in the morning to see Kumbhalgarh, an incredible and huge fort that's at approx 1100meters, great drive to get there and with the constant elevation gain a hard work out for the vespa. Afterwards returned to Kalwara, and then towards Udaipur. We may say this a lot but today has been an incredible road, really beautiful, the best in India so far. It was pretty narrow but not too many other vehicles, going up and down over the hilly scape, beautiful trees, lots of small field plots growing not sure what. And more simple villages and friendly people, with the same great vibrant red, orange, and pink saris and turbans. Briefly met a couple from Germany cycling. Eventually came out to a highway and on to Udaipur. Total km 107
We left Jodhpur kind of early so was able to miss the heavy traffic. Heading south, stopped to see the strange Om Bana Temple, which is supposedly centered on a Royal Enfield, but while there were many worshippers no bike was to be seen... Went on to pass through Pali, then going on south we drove through many beautiful, basic villages, almost no traffic, a lot of the woman wearing stunning red, pink, orange saris and the men with a variety of colorful Rajasthani turbans. Really great day for the scenery, from desert, to bright green fields, to low rock type mountains. Went to Ranakpur to see the stunning Chaumukha Mandir Jain Temple. Then back tracked to Desuri to make our way to Kelwara. The road continued to be great with the mountains, cultivated fields and many smiling and friendly people which has not been the case further north. Total km 241
Had a late start today, but a nice morning, and finally cleaned the air filter, possibly should have been done a little earlier....The first 12km over Snake Mountain to Ajmer were very beautiful, nice to drive up a small mountain after so much flat driving. Then right thru Ajmer, a small but chaotic place. The road after was really busy, only 2 lanes, lots of traffic, potholes, and the randomly placed speed bumps. After awhile did have patches of smoothness, and was mostly long and straight, passing thru semi desert, savanna like surroundings. Got to Jodhpur and ended up driving thru the bazaar trying to find the guesthouse, which led us to a beyond steep hill where the vespa stalled out and we were lucky to have people close by to help so we didn't slide all the way back down......Staying at the Hillview Guesthouse, really really great view of the city and nice people. Total km 223.
Noticing the warmer weather as we go south a bit, but still chilly while on the vespa. After leaving Jaipur the road was pretty much a modern highway. Stopped to eat at a road side place, a spicy breakfast prepared and served by 14 year old boys, probably wasn't our most smart choice due to the basicness and run down feeling, and mice, but the bread was good and by bedtime we were not sick so it worked out......Continued on the highway, then just before Ajmer turned right to go to Pushkar. Much smaller road, passing by lots of small villages that have the highest density of speedbumps in all of India, sometimes 10 in a row, just in case you didn't notice the others. 22km from the turn off we arrived in the holy and touristic Pushkar. Total km 151.
Started the day with clear skys, not too cold, the road quite decent. Then just after Sikar there was about 40-50km of deviations because of road work, it looks like they are trying to build a four lane roadway. Tons of speed bumps, dust, cars trying to get by. Getting into Jaipur wasn't too bad, but feeling the intensity of the traffic, Jaipur's population is about 5 million so there is a lot of it. Got to the hotel after asking only a few directions. Total km 144.
Did a tour around the Shekhawati region to visit the numerous havelis in different towns. Havelis are traditional, decorated residences that the wealthy (silk, opium) merchants used to live in. Some have been restored, others in pretty bad condition. Total km 123.
There was a little bit of fog this morning, but much better than yesterday and not as cold. Road started out in good condition, then as we crossed into the state of Rajasthan the road condition became pretty bad. Not sure if this will remain constant or change. Then we took a pretty small road and for about 20km between Rajgarh and Jhunjhunun it was in really bad condition. Only a strip of asphalt with room for one vehicle, with huge sandy spots, potholes. Had to jump off the pavement to avoid any bus/car/truck when they tried to pass. Also had a close encounter with an angry cow who started to come at us while we were trying to get out of the sand, funny now but definitely not then. Stopped in Jhunjhunun to see the Rani Sati Temple. And made the not so wise choice to drive through the crowded bazaar to find the Khetri Mahal, a historic building. Then drove the final 30km to Nawalgarh. Total km 188.
Felt like a freezing cold morning, very foggy! We waited until 930 for the fog to leave, but it didn't so we started to drive, and the fog stayed around until about 1430. Visibility was less than 50 meters at times. It was about 100 km before Hisar when it cleared. Spending the night in Hisar, an anonymous, bustling, slightly chaotic feeling city. Had a bit of trouble finding an affordable place to sleep, but eventually was sucessful. Total km 246.
First full day driving in India, crossing over Punjab, enjoying the beautiful green fields, rice, sugarcane, and maybe some wheat. Beginning of the day was a busy 4 lane highway, the traffic wasn't too bad, but not so fun having to deal with all the buses that like to drive the wrong way while coming right at you, blaring their horns and only turning away when they have to...Later on back to some smaller roads, stopping to eat a snack in a town and ending up with what felt like 40 young men around us staring at the bike. Eventually arriving in Chandigarh to sleep after recieving some good directions from Bobbi, who has spent some time in Canada, Burnaby. . . Chandigarh is a union territory and city, they started building it in 1955 when the state needed a new capital. Not a normal Indian city, has a suburb type feel, designed by Le Corbusier, who was from France. Total km 255.
Crossed the border to India this morning, first had a bit of a wait on the Pakistan side since there were about 5 overlanders to cross so they were a bit slow with the carnets. Then we drove through the same area where they did the flag ceremony to cross the border. On the Indian side it was pretty quiet, went through the steps quite quick. Nice feeling to now be in India. Drove to Amritsar in about a hour, getting into the city provided a warm welcome to the city traffic of India! Found a hotel and went to walk thru the old city and see the Golden Temple. Plan to stay a couple of days. Total km 31.
Left Lahore around 1200 since we are only driving to the border to watch the flag ceremony. Drive out of the city was nice, along Canal Road, busy but calm feeling. Lots of big trucks at the border, the area itself feels a bit isolated. Watched the flag ceremony that the Indian and Pakistan officials do every day when the border closes, really great to watch, both interesting and entertaining! Slept at PTDC - government hotel. Total km 28.
Foggy, moisty, cool morning, back on the highway with the escorts. 40km before Lahore the escort left, had to find our way thru the huge amount of traffic to get to the center of the city. Hired a rickshaw to help guide us. Sleeping at Lahore Backpackers. Will spend a week here, its relatively safe, and being the cultural capital of Pakistan lots of things to see. Total km 226.
Back to having an escort, they drove fast and not many stops. On the highway going towards Multan, then just after Bahawapur took a secondary road, two lanes, crazy traffic full of crazy drivers, lots of potholes, our group trying to follow the police who were driving as crazy as everybody else! Happy when that road ended and we were back on the highway. As it was getting later trying to get the police to help us find a hotel, unfortunetly ended up driving in the dark for a few km. Finally we did stop in a restaurant where the kind owner allowed our vehicles to sleep in the restaurants garden area away from the road, and police stayed overnight. Total km 407.
The road leaving Jacobabad in terrible condition until Sukkur, took 3.5 hours to do 80km, not sure if the road is like this normally or if its due to the recent flooding. The escort disappeared just before Sukkur. We made our way to the national Karachi-Lahore highway. It's in pretty good condition, have to avoid potholes, traffic a bit much due to the crazy drivers of the buses and minibuses. Then eventually as it was getting close to dusk we (Estafette and French truck) decided to find a police station and ask to sleep for the night. At first they didn't want us, but in the end they were kind and let us park in their gates. Total km 247.
Finally left Quetta after 3 nights, arrived on a Saturday and had to wait for the paperwork to be done on Monday. The city has a strange atmosphere, okay enough to walk around during the day, but a bit intense keeping in mind its Taliban connections. After leaving the city we slowly went up and crossed the Bolan Pass. Then came to a beautiful valley about 30km before Sibi, and eventually met the flat area of the Kachhi desert, which has lots of its land cultivated. Before Jacobabad we passed through the area that was badly flooded in September, people living in tents now in the area, some right by the road. We got in Jacobabad as the sun was almost set, a dusty, dirty, chaotic city. Found a gated hotel, security presence remained overnight. Total km 319.
Left Nushki with a beautiful morning, and just after leaving town had a huge pass to go up, great scenery, we were passing all the huge trucks that were struggling up themselves at 10 km/hour. Didn't actually see a train but the tracks crossed the road a few times. As the day went on the villages became more frequent. When we got to just outside Quetta the police changes became ++frequent and this continued until we were in the hotel. Since today is Saturday we have to wait until Monday to apply for a NOC, which is to arrange the escort to Sukkur. Total km 149.
Similar situation as yesterday with the escorts. Luckily for us not as windy, which with the Vespa makes a big difference! Most of the day it was flat desert, passed thru some small villages. Towards Nushki the scenery changed a bit, some green fields, and even a few mountains close to the road. The road in pretty bad condition, makes for sketchy driving, lots of pot holes, cracks, and sandy spots. Spent the night in the police station in Nushki, a small town about 20km from the Afghan border. Security is pretty tight, not allowed to go out, having to have an armed escort to go to the store. Total km 204.
Finally left the border area, with the Suisse family and a Levi (rural police officer) escort in their vehicle for all of us. The road crossing the desert was in okay condition most of the day (couple times road covered in sand), and at times a bit windy. We were stopping about every 50km for the checkpoints where you fill out your name and passport info. Eventually arrived in Dalbandin, and slept in the police station for the night. Total km 302.
Left Zahedan this morning to go to the border, waited about two hours for the escort to get started. The road very dusty, isolated, surrounded by low mountains and desert. Once at the border crossed easily with the presence and assistance of the Iranian officer on the Iran side. Then on the Pakistan side no issues. Officials appeared professional, kind, we enjoyed some tea. By the time the process finished it was too late to leave, stayed there and slept at Custom House in an office. Total km 97.
Today went to Zahedan, from here on have to travel with a police escort. Standard for foreigners with their own vehicle due to ongoing security issues. A few km's in met up with a Suisse family in an Estafette going the same way. In the end it was our most tough day so far, the escort was disorganized so we had long waits and many km to make, they ran out of fuel/ flat battery. We were crossing desert, strong winds, a sand storm, at one point was sort of hit by a mini tornado (sort of!), mentally getting used to having an escort. The last 45 minutes was riding in the dark, and eventually was taken to a hotel. Total km 330.
Heading south east to Bam, flat road, nice weather. Less trucks on the road, and traffic in general as we are going east towards Sistan and Balochistan provinces, feels quite different, the atmosphere and people. Went to Akbar Guesthouse in Bam, which is where Giorgio Bettinelli, the late great Vespa traveller, had stayed on his trips in the early 90's, and 00's. Really nice to hear Akbar share his stories of Bettinelli and to see the guestbook where Bettinelli first wrote in 1992. Later on went to see the Arg-e Bam which they have been restoring since the devastating earthquake in '03, and saw the relatively new bazaar, post earthquake. Total km 203.
Started the day with some sunshine which is usually a good sign, but still pretty cold. Left Sirjan without actually seeing much of it since almost everything was closed for one of the biggest Shia commemorations of the year. Continuing on with the same environment for the last few days, still enjoyable to see the desert and mountains. The vespa climbed some hills, we must have been at around 2000 meters. Finally warmed up about 40km before Kerman. Most places closed for the ongoing holiday activities, we found a place to sleep and had a look around the center, closed bazar, and main mosque. Total km 196. PICS , VIDEO STILL
Cold and cloudy day with the constant rocky desert and surrounding mountains. Had a few long uphills that showcased the ever present strength of the Vespa. The second 100km was a flat, faster road, and we were even lucky enough to see a couple glimpses of sun. Sirjan is a pretty big town, almost everything closed for the day before the Ashura. Total km 210. PICS, VIDEO STILL
Would have been nice to spend more time in Shiraz, really nice feel in the city. Slightly south and east bound. Past a large temporary salt lake, great scenery, thru a valley. Took a 6km detour off the main road to see Sasan Palace. Our initial plan was to stop in Neyriz for the night but during a quick stop in the town 40km before, Estahban, we met Omed who invited us into his familys home. Once again we were fortunate to experience the surreal Persian hospitality. Total km 194. PICS, VIDEO YET TO COME
Beautiful morning through the ruins of Persepolis. Then back to the road for about 50 km untill we got to the wonderful Shiraz. Ended up with a quick drive literally through the bazaar. Spending the afternoon checking out some sites. Total km 59. PICS, AND BAZAR VIDEO TO COME.......
Left with a high possibility of rain, and a too cold wind! In the end we were able to avoid any rain, took the Isfahan - Shiraz highway, with a detour to see the ruins of the city of Parsaegard. Then back to the highway eventually getting to the stunning tombs of Naqsh-e Rostam. Another 5km on to Persepolis, staying at a hotel for the night right by the site, plan to visit in the morning. Total km 153. SOME PICTURES SOMETIME.......
Left with another cold morning but luckily sunny....really enjoyed the scenery, crossing part of the Kavir-E Abarkuh desert. Stopped in Abarkuh briefly to look at the Old Cypress and eat an Iran burger........Then went on to the highway for the next 50km with a daunting grey sky. Stopped in the cold, anonymous town of Safa Shahr for the night, was able to find a place to sleep in something like a hotel. Total km 264. PICS, VIDEO FUTURE.
Left Tak-Taku guesthouse after a great breakfast. Short distance back to the main road, heading south-east, bypassing the town of Na'in. Enjoyed the rocky desert with the same great rocky mountains in the far distance. Nice drive, again lots of trucks coming and going from the Persian Gulf. Cold day but happy for the clear sky. Traffic got a bit busy closer to Yazd. Eventually got to town and stayed at Kohan Traditional hotel. Total km 225. PICS, VIDEO STILL
Finally after too many days of hassle getting our Indian visa's done in Tehran we returned to Isfahan to renew our Iranian visa in a few hours and then today back on the road! Picked up the Vespa at our friend Majids office, and then headed east for 90km of rocky desert and mostly straight road. The temperature was quite cold, sunny and windy. Stayed at Tak-Taku guesthouse, its in the Lonely Planet, we really enjoyed the homestay and would recommend it. Total km 96. PICS AND VIDEO TO COME?????
Got up really early in anticipation for a long day, but left later than planned due to trying to get ahold of our breakfast...Once on the road it was a great drive. The direction we were taking, eventually passing thru the town of Natanz is where the much disputed nuclear site is, you couldn't really tell much from the road but we had some guesses where some protected parts were. Then just before Natanz we made a detour off the main road to visit the historic village of Abyaneh at 2200meters. A really, really great area to get to the village, going up thru an autumn coloured valley topped by rocky peaks. Lots of Iranians from the city out enjoying the weekend doing one of their favorite pastimes, picnicking! After checking out the village we returned the 20km back to the main road. Then about 10km before Natanz we ran out of fuel...and as usual the great Iranian hospitality came through and fixed the problem within 10minutes. The scenery continued on with desert towards Isfahan. Close to the city we met Tom and Juli, two German cyclists riding from Berlin. Then we got in to Isfahan smoothly, and found a hotel for the night. Total Km 257. PICS/VIDEO SOMETIME.
After spending 5 days in Tehran, mostly getting the Indian visa process started, (warning! not recommended to do here!!), we were finally back on the road. Great feeling to leave Tehran and be moving again. Just outside the city passed our 6000km! Sharing the road with the big trucks since we're both not allowed on the highway. Mostly desert, some rocky mountains, and passed by a few big military bases. Eventually getting to Kashan and parked the Vespa and ourselves in a Historic Guesthouse. Total km 257. PICS/VIDEO LATER :)
Left with some light rain, luckily it didn't turn into too much. Being a Friday, and a holiday, and an early morning the traffic was really light. After realizing we're not allowed on the highway we took the big road that bikes are allowed on. The 40km into Tehran was spent passing by constant industry. Got to Azadi square, then took a approx 7km straight line thru the city. Did a little wrong way driving down a one way street....and eventually reached Firouzeh Hotel.
Today driving south towards Tehran was by far the most dramatic and beautiful road so far this trip. Filled with a constantly winding road that took us from approx -25m to about 3000m at its highest. Numerous rivers, bare mountains, mountains filled with fall colours, long (dark!) tunnels, and tons of Iranians going for a holiday weekend. Decided to sleep in Karaj and do the final small step to Tehran tomorrow, taking advantage of the (hopefully) less crazy traffic and being an extra holy Friday. Total Km 172. PICS AND VIDEO L8TER
Another day going along the Caspian, although still only able to see it on/off. Stopped in the very green city of Lahijan, the tea capital of Iran, and was directed to an amazing mountain/hill viewing area. The road to Nowshahr had a bustling energy, with what felt like no real break between villages, a constant movement of buildings, people, and vehicles. With some difficulty due to the lack of signs and our not precise map we were finally able to get to the center of Nowshahr and find a place to sleep. Total Km 219. PICS/VIDEO LATER..
After leaving Ardabil had the BEST ride to get to the Caspian Sea, beautiful road that over 30km took us from 1400 meters to -25 meters below sea level. It was green and full of trees, and literally ran parallel to the Azerbaijan border. Felt the moisture in the air as soon as we were at sea level. The rest of the day was going along next to the Caspian Sea, although we only really saw glimpses of it. Was able to stop a couple of times to see how dirty the beaches are. At Bandar Anzali headed inland to spend the night in Rasht. Once again we weren't wanted at a Mosaferkhaneh which turned out for the best as we found a really nice hotel at a great price. Total Km 278. PICS AND VIDEO LATER ;)......
Backtracked the 60km to Ahar, slightly more chilly at 8.30am. Passed our 5000 km mark! Once in Ahar headed east and came across another green valley surrounded by rocky mountains. Fast road with nothing too spectacular until we were almost at Ardabil and we could see the massive, snow capped mountains in the far distance of Sabalan Mountains and also saw a pack of Bactrian camels, the original two humped ones. Ardebil greeted us with some grey clouds, & the people at the Mosaferkhaneh didn't want us to sleep there, not making our first impression of the place very positive. But once settled and visiting the few sightseeing of the city, although nothing super special we found it interesting, with a good vibe and young environment. For dinner wanted to try something traditional, found a restaurant that had "pichag qeimeh" - lamb with almonds, caramelised onions, and a soft boiled egg. Total km 226. PICS AND VIDEO SOMETIME........
Took 30 minutes to get out of Tabriz, eventually getting to the road to Ahar. Passing thru a somewhat monotonous dry mountain environment. Finally found a fuel station that sold benzine, and spent 0.60cents to fill the tank, a big drop in price from Turkey......Stopped in Ahar to eat, a somewhat anonymous yet bustling and lively city. Then on to the final 60km to reach Kaleybar. The road to get there was really beautiful, surrounded by mountains, with a green valley and small river. Once in Kaleybar we arranged a taxi to see Babek Castle, walking the final half hour to get there, a beyond spectacular and isolated location. Total km 178. PICS AND VIDEO TO COME..............
The day started with 20km thru a great super green valley, a noticeable change from eastern Turkey. Made good time with the road being in pretty decent condition. Stopped for tea a couple of times, and a few beautiful introductions to the infamous Iranian hospitality. Arrived into the maze of Tabriz, and 45 minutes later with the guidance of many people found a hotel. Total km 266. PICS AND VIDEO TO COME WHEN WE CAN !
Left in the morning to visit the great Inshak Pasa Palace which is 7 steep km from Dogubayazit. Positioned on a hilltop, with mountains behind and the valley below. Then back to town and off to the border, final 35km in Turkey. Crossing the border took 3.5 hours, with no particular hassles, but a drawn out process for sure. Then 25km to Maku, got a room for the night, and had a quick visit to the base of the cliffs to enjoy a stunning view of Maku in the valley and surrounding mountains. Total km 71. PICS AND VIDEO TO COME WHEN WE HAVE ACCESS!
After 4 days in Erzurum and Iranian visa obtained, we were on the road. Sunny and cold day a couple of interesting encounters with great travellers on bicycles. Spectacular scenery with bare mountains, lots of small creeks, few quiet and poor little villages and in the end the mighty Mount Ararat. Total km 285. THIS MIGHT BE THE LAST STAGE FOR A LITTLE WHILE SINCE WE ARE ENTERING IN IRAN TOMORROW DUE TO GOOGLE MAPS (AND MORE GENERALLY GOOGLE PRODUCTS). WE WILL TRY TO UPDATE IF POSSIBLE OTHERWISE IT COULD BE A MONTH OR SO ... SO KEEP CHECKING IN
Cold and quite rainy day. First time actually riding in the rain. And to make it even more fun had a couple of summits over 2200 meters. But overall a good day, happy to be in Erzurum and get our visas. Total km 185
Rained lots over night, clear skys this morning but still had to deal with some wet roads. The road for most of the way was in great condition, spent going through the cold steppe landscape. The last couple of days there has been a very noticeable increase of military vechicles/tanks on the road. Normal in this area due to the longstanding conflict of Turk/Kurds, but still striking to see as a visitor. Arrived in Bingol just after our 4000km point! Bingol is a small city, with a positive vibe even with the gray clouds hanging around. Total km 198.
Woke up this morning to rain, luckily as we were about to leave all ready in our raın gear the sky started to clear. Continuing on with the beautiful mountain scenery, and of course the constant companionship of road construction that has taken over the country. Aside from the cold, it was quite nice. The original plan in Tatvan was to visit Nemrut Dagi Volcano but due to the cloud and cold decided there would be no view. Checked out Lake Van instead, the largest lake in Turkey. Total Km 163.
Had the best coffee ever thanks to the terrace view in Mardin, video to come soon! Would have liked to spend more time here to explore the area but happy to leave our less than desirable accommodations. Took a smaller road so we could make the detour to Savur. Worth it to both see this random, pleasant town, but more so being intrigued by the partly barren valley, random mini forests, falling apart villages, and frequent military stations. Then passed quickly through Midyat where we met two Turkish english teachers who joined us in visiting Hasankeyf. A beautiful but also sad place since it will most likely be under a new lake when a huge dam nearby is completed. Then on to Batman! A large town based on oil fields close by. Total 186 km.
Left Diyarbakir with another great Kurdish experience, an amazing breakfast with our new friends. Then took a rather bumpy road, filled with construction, along the Tigris River, beautiful! Unfortunately the sky was brown thanks to the sand being pushed around by the wind. Got on to the main road and 75km later made it to Mardin oldtown. Greeted by great honey coloured buildings, tons of dust, and more roadwork, like crazy! Spent time visiting the sites in the vicinity, including the stunning mosques, that are on the hill with a view of the Mesopotamic plains. Total km 93.
This summarizes our two day walking tour of the sites within Diyarbakir's great walls. Could have been done in one but due to the wonderful kindness and hospitality of the Kurds we spent much time talking and drinking çay.
Up at 0415 to get a ride up to Nemrut Dagi, a very impressive site! Beautiful sunrise, just us and about 30 other people. Then back to the pension for a quick breakfast, then 40km to Ataturk Lake ferry crossing. The rest of the ride was long, straight road with quite a few big trucks all the way to Diyarbakir. Had a great impromptu road side stop with the friendly and helpful dutch couple, Mirjam and Coen. Total km 161.
Heading towards the great Nemrut Dagi. Left at a decent hour and very grateful for the clear skys. Reached our 3000km point for the trip so far! The road is in decent condition, more of an isolated feeling going east, less villages and gas stations between the cities. Really beautiful landscapes, quite barren land but still seeing plenty of agriculture. Arrived in Kahta where we turned off for Karadut, a battle full of incline for the vespa! Weather not good for the sunset, so plan is to do sunrise at Nemrut Dagi. Total km 245.
Left Develi at a record early time for us, prepared in our rain gear, which fortunately we didn't really need right away. The road was a mixture of two lane paved to major road works for 10km of dirt and bumps, until we reached the pass at 1990 meters. Eventually got to a main road where we hit some head wind and light rain for about 30km to the nondescript town of Goksun. Then on to another main road with gentle downhill that the Vespa loved, some rain and bit of hail until we arrived in Kahramanmaras, which as it turns out is a huge city, not a small one as the map says. Total km 240.
Wonderful road until Yesilhisar with great rock formations, sleepy little villages and gorgeous canyons. The impressive Mount Erciyes kept us company through out the day. Too bad that once in Develi the most weird storm came in and we had to turn back and spend the night ın this little town. Total Km 126.
Spent the day admiring amazing rock formations. Driving slowly through the different villages in the area and walking up enough hills to check out the different viewpoints. Total km 57
Leaving the city wasn't as hard as we thought it would be thanks to yet another generous Turkish person who led us through the many streets. Then on to highway driving towards Aksarey, passing 5 million tons of potatoes and about as many trucks. . . . .Stopped at a caravanserai that is being restored before arriving in Goreme, just in time to catch the sunset. Total km 240.
Walking tour of Konya, starting at the astounding Mevlana Museum, 100% worth a visit, highlights including a pretty courtyard, detailed picture history with great descriptions of the Mevlana story, Quran reading room, Mevlana's tomb, and plenty of other artifacts related to the Dervish order. Then quick visit to the Ucler Cemetery. Walking through the busy small road that runs parallel to Mevlana Cad visiting Serafettin Mosque, Semsi Tebrizi Mosque. Eventually getting to Alaaddin Tepesi and visiting Alaaddin Mosque and it's two huge Seljuk tombs. Next stop the Museum of Wooden Artifacts and Stone Carving, with it's elaborate doorway, and beautiful almost modern display of the artifacts. Moved on to the Tombstone Museum, finishing off at Sahib-i Ata Kulliyesi Mosque.
Left Egirdir, going up the east side of the lake, went past a ton of apple orchards. Took a slight detour to Yalvac to see the ruins at Antiocheia-In-Pisidia, they are still working at the site to uncover and preserve. Then down to Beysehir, the road had some lake views but we weren't that close to it. East where we keep meeting super friendly police, and finally arrive in Konya, a downhill entry into a huge, beautiful city, lots of traffic, a city known for its great mixture of modern with the ancient. Total 262km.
Left early morning, bypassing the town of Denizli, the road was newly paved four lane highway all the way to Dinar. Arrived in Egirdir after the best lakeside road and view ever! Large military base and area on the lake as well. The town of Egirdir itself was a great surprise, amazing location, friendly people, stayed at Charlys Pension, which has an outdoor sitting, eating area that overlooks the lake to the west. Total km 251.
300 km through the heart of the agriculture region of west Turkey. The road was a mixture of four lane highway to two lane uneven roads, with a constant presence of trucks. Eventually got to the valley where Denizli is located, and arrived at the white travertines of Pamukkale. Total km 300.
Left Eceabat this AM and caught the 9am ferry boat to Canakkale, heading towards Can. The road was very winding and up and down with beautiful views of the small farming villages, about a million red peppers, and the Turkish Pine trees (East Mediterranean Pine). Met three motorbikers from Suisse, lots of friendly locals, and a great truck driver! Ended the day with 30km on a more main road getting to Balikseir. Total km 210.
Explored the Gallipoli Peninsula, visiting the different memorials and cemeteries. Lots of history to learn from both the Allied forces and Turkish. Also the entire peninsula is quite beautiful, nice roads, great trees, and views of the Mediterranean.
Last morning in Greece, left Alexandroupolis with a clear sunny sky. Border crossing to Turkey no problem, minus 45euro for one visa. Once in Turkey had some what felt like highway driving for about 25km. Then highlight of the drive was the road along the Dardanelles! Very beautiful! Got to Eceabat and found a hotel before taking the 20min ferry to check out Canakkale by foot. Total km 188.
Sunny day. Last glance of the beautiful old town of Kavala and after 50 km of windy road we stopped in Xanthi and little detour to reach Porto Lagos and Lake Vistonida. Got here in Alexandroupoli quite early... Tot km 170
Left a bit late, had 50 km of highway driving then stopped for a quick visit to Thessalonki, a big city on the sea. Almost ran out of fuel on the hilly road to Panorama, avoided the highway for the rest of the day to get back to the sea and ended up in the beautiful town of Kavala, which is surrounded by sea and mountains. Total Km 240
Long journey through the flat region of Thessalia with a couple of coffee breaks in Trikala and Larissa. Ended up on the Aegean sea and riding for the last 50 km along the coast before stopping in a camp area in the small village of Makrigialos. Tot Km 205
35 km loop around Kalambaka to visit the monasteries that make up the Unesco World Heritage site of Meteora. S. Nikolaos, Rousanou, Varlaam, Great Meteora, S. Trias, and S. Stefano.
Got up early, made our way through thick fog to Ioannina, had a quick visit of the city. Went on to Metsovo and checked out the place. Then continued on to Kalambaka and got a room for the night. Total 192 km.
Arriving in Igoumenitsa at 6.30 pm decided to head out anyway. Avoided the highway and took the E90 spectacular, winding old road. After 40 km pull over and set up the tent for a windy and quite cold night.
Leaving at 6 am in the dark enjoyed the quite and beatiful morning (a little bit cold). Coffee break in Treviso and long line up at the port in Venice. Boat left 3 hours late. Entertainment provided by the slovenian gold wing club. Total Km 94
ciao ragazzi ,Da ovaro con la neve all'india con lo smog,siamo tornati in carnia tra le nostre montagne finalmente.tutto bene e il 18 febbraio inizio a lavorare con contratto indeterminato almeno cosi possiamo mettere via un po' di soldi per la moto e per una catapultata in canada o australia.abbiamo provato a vedere un po' di foto del vostro viaggio ma non siamo riusciti ad aprire ne video ne foto.come mai paolo?
Hi my friends! do you remember me? A nice guy from Pordenone and a pretty girl from Canada! Yup, that's me! we met in Indian Embassy in Tehran. I am happy to find you safe passed from east part of Iran and Pakistan. Also I finished my journey to Mumbai on Dec' 07 but unfortunately at the last day I got seek for complete next 10 days! ;) I wish you the best. Merry Christmas in advance.
I can't believe you are crossing the border only now! I guess you must have enjoyed spending so much time in Iran - lucky you. Hope Pakistan will be fine but also beautiful ;) Perrine
I think you are a little crazy to cross the Pakistan Border. Try to get India quikly Good luck
I am eager to see the next pictures and videos from Iran Take care
I envy you, heading off on another CRAZY trip. Enjoy and take good care of yourselves!
posti molto bello. Spero di vedere che nuovamente in Turchia ancora vuoi... :)
...finalmente di nuovo in sella....sono proprio contenta!! Il bolide si comporta bene?...mi auguro proprio di si!! Buon viaggio!!!
maledetto , ti invidio sempre tantissimo!! ma il bolide è sempre la stessa LML? saluti alla tua sweet half e.......bon courage!! ahah!
Congratulations Paolo I like that you fulfill your dream, You show great courage and determination and I will travel with you in spirit. I wish you a safe journey
Che splendida avventura !!! Ale vi segue qui e Lori non fa altro che chiedere di voi , Take care !!!!
Mi sembra stiate facendo un ottimo viaggio!!!Ma come si sta in due sulla vespa?ogni quanti km fate una sosta nei trasferimenti? Continuate ad aggiornare questo sito,mi sembra di stare con voi!!!