Syria has become a bigger issue as the days slipped past. I hung around Pakistan in the hope it would have blown over by the time I reached Syria but that hasn’t been the case. It just seems to keep on escalating to the point that civil war is predicted. Now, if Syria was located anywhere else in the world I could easily by-pass it. However it’s not, it’s located at the major intersection between Asia, Europe and Africa. One I would, as it turns out, find very hard to avoid.
A friend and I had made plans to meet for the first time in two years in Istanbul. I didn’t really like the idea of riding north spending endless money on expensive fuel in the freezing cold, so I got in contact with the Istanbul bikers club, who arranged for me to stay with a Vespa and old BMW fanatic Hassain in Sanilurfa near the Syrian border. I thought this small break from my adventure would be a great opportunity to come up with some options for my future.
|I did mangage to find some time to do some sight seeing around Turkey.
My future being, what the hell am I going to do from here? I’ve been on the road for 13 months and I’m feeling incredibly tired and worn out from crossing Baluchistan, Iran and Iraq. It was getting pretty cold as winter started setting in. My options just seem to be shrinking. These thoughts and options floated in and out of my head as I got more confused.
I could turn around and head back to Australia, head up into Russia, through the stans and back (this was instantly crossed out with it being winter). I could head across to Spain and head down the west coast of Africa first. I could take a break and head home or visit my friend in Germany. I could also just bite the bullet and try the Syrian border. If I get turned away then I needed to try the next one. Failing all of them I needed to find a way around Syria.
|Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
|This is the warm welcome I got in Istabul from from the Istanbul Bikers Club
Finding an inexpensive option to get around Syria was decreasing by the day. I had heard that all of the ferry boats from Turkey, Italy, Cyprus, to Israel or Alexandria had been stopped due to the raging conflicts in Libya, Egypt, Israel, and of course Syria. I had heard of one guy sending his motorcycle via Jordan Air but that cost him the same amount of money I could use in two months or more. I needed to flick through pages and pages on the internet, emailing one company after another, been given the run around, getting no replies or bad vague answers to my questions. After three weeks of constant searching and tearing my hair out, I found these (some run into dead ends, but it shows the paths I headed down):
Italy to Ashdod, Israel
Ticket for Person: € 586Ticket for motorcycle: € 159 Note:Website: Grimaldi – http://www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com/
Total: € 1570
OPTION THREE B
Ticket for Person to fly from Istanbul to Israel $340
€400 for just motorcycle
Conclusion: Complicated shipping route & possible loss of motorcycle.
OPTION FOURTurkey to CyprusTicket for Person and motorcycle: $80Notes: ConfirmedWebsite: akgunler.com.tr
Limassol, Cyprus to Israel
Ticket for motorcycle: €480
Istanbul to Dublin, Israel
Ticket price for person: $340
Mersin to Alexandria
Ticket for motorcycle: €500
Local Charges: $75
Notes: Shipping Roll on Roll off
Early December has been cancelled, next at the end of December
Istanbul to Alexandria
Ticket for person: €300
OPTION SIXIzmir, Turkey to Ashdod, IsraelWebsite: http://www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com/Note: Waiting for confirmation
Izmir, Turkey to Alexandria, Egypt
Ticket for motorcycle: $75
Local Charges: unconfirmed
Alexandria Charges: unconfirmed
Notes: Container ship
Schedule yet to be confirmed
Istanbul to Alexandria
Ticket for person: €300
Total: Unknown due to local charges
(This was turning out to be next plan c)
As you can see, it’s not an easy task to keep track of, with the different currencies and options. Some convoluted option took me and my motorcycle sailing around the Mediterranean Sea through four different countries all to land up in Tusin but with one missing boat connection between two Islands.
By the end of my three weeks I was completely sick of it and really worried about crossing the border. One clear option formed (shown in red), I could sail my motorcycle from Mersin to Alexandria and I would fly to meet it, so with that in hand, I said goodbye to my friend, and hello to Hassain and my motorcycle – let the adventure begin and leave all the planning behind me.
|I could see something growing on the bottom of my tank so Hassain helped me clean it all out.
|Me preparing things on my bike for Africa
|Nothing can stop me from going to Africa!
There are a ton more photos on Flickr – Click here for the link.