European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
Starting to gear up for my European tour. I had planned to go to Israel but decided to not aim quite as far !

The idea so-far is to ride to Turkey - where a friend has an apartment. I'm taking two months out to do it - based on the proposition of spending time looking at things on the way instead of whizzing down motorways. The initial plan looks something like this Cross over to Dunkirk (I want to stop off in Cassel on the way - see previous posts in 2007) then head for places like Arnhem then south through Germany (into the Eiffel region) ride down through the Black Forest to Switzerland - do small town Switzerland, cross over into Italy and ride down the east coast to Bari or Brindisi, cross over to Greece by ferry, then either Island hop across to Turkey or take a land route (the former has some appeal) - then ride to the town where the apartment is. Mrs P is then joining me by air to spend two glorious weeks there (the accommodation is booked for the second week in June). I will need the invaluable advice that this place can provide. I intend to mix camping with hotel, reason to save money and just because I want to.

So I'll be popping in here now and again for some expert advise and then maybe blog as I do it.
European motorcycle holiday - Altea Ego
Arnhem? thats a bridge too far PU.

Thats really funny, I was looking at having a euro trip this year, heading into Germany via Arnhem, and then breaking out again through the Ardennes, Taking in all the sights of "Operation Market Garden" and "Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein"
European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
Me grandpappy was there :-) But, happily he came back. Seems ironic going there on a German bike - but there we are.
European motorcycle holiday - Altea Ego
> Seems ironic going there on a German bike

thats why he went to Arnhem. So you could do that very thing.
European motorcycle holiday - madux
Do you need any advice on anything in particular?
European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
Yes - Things pop into my mind now and again.

First question

Anyone used Norfolk Ferries (motorcyclists) - seem very cheap to cross to Dunkirk ?

Closely followed by:-

Anybody know of a good island ferry guide (preferably in book form) for the Greek Islands ?

Edited by Pugugly on 21/01/2009 at 18:36

European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
And ancillary question - anyone crossed from the Greek Islands into Turkey ?
European motorcycle holiday - PhilW
"cross over into Italy and ride down the east coast to Bari or Brindisi, cross over to Greece by ferry, "

Seems a pity to ride all the way down Italy when it might be possible to go down the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia via Dubrovnik (OK, shows how long since I did it!! -- Croatia Montenegro? etc)
It's a fantastic road, but I wonder if it is possible yet? Last did it in about 1987 - things changed a bit after that!!
European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
Insurance and breakdown cover was the clincher....
European motorcycle holiday - PhilW
"Insurance and breakdown cover was the clincher"

Seem to remember that stopping us after the Yugo war had ended. We thought we might do the trip to Greece again a few years ago (we drove to Greece about a dozen times in the '70s and '80s) but could not get insurance for Serbia or Macedonia - may have changed now.
With regard to ferries to Turkey, we found buzzing around the islands quite easy but Greek/Turkish relations meant that getting the last few miles into Turkey via a ferry was impossible. Again this might be different.
I'm not being much help really - just using your planned trip to remind me of many happy memories of driving to that part of the world ----forgive me!
European motorcycle holiday - madux
Norfolk Lines - Cheap and cheerful. Does the job. Slightly longer crossing than to Calais and they let all the lorries off first so they are nose to tail for 2-3 miles until you get to the main road. Bit of a bummer in a car but no problem for a bike.
Likewise when you get back to Dover: P&O seem to own the port - the ferries all arrive at the same time but P&O disembarks first and their customers have priority when leaving the port. Again, not a problem for bikes.
First time I used Norfolk Line I went 'OUCH!' when they strapped the bike down with an industrial-sized ratchet thingy over the seat but they must have had complaints as the tie-downs now have big cushions attached to them.
Take the motorway via Lille for the first couple of hundred miles rather than the Calais route - it's free!
European motorcycle holiday - Kevin
>Anybody know of a good island ferry guide (preferably in book form) for the Greek Islands?

I wouldn't really trust anything in book form.

Greek ferries for island hopping are still quite "flexible". Schedules can change from one day to the next so anything in book form should be treated as "Based on a True Story" rather than a timetable. Local ticket agents tend to update daily and seem to have the most reliable info. The ferry times between Italy and Greece can usually be trusted though.

European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
My research so far leads me from to Brindisi onto the Greek mainland - intention then to find my way to Kos and get the car ferry (80 euros return) to Bodrum and then ride to my destination (around 250km - where is the kilometre against the mile these days ?- you used to get ever so much in the old days :-) ) which is a relatively easy ride....

Edited by Pugugly on 21/01/2009 at 22:28

European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly

Thanks - now found a book - Inspiringly called "Greek Island Hopping 2009" published by Thomas Cook - Backed up by an online version - so best of both worlds. On order for a tenner from Amazon (13 to 15 quid on e-bay for last year's !).
European motorcycle holiday - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
I believe the Greeks have an aversion to Turks. They also do not like vistors with Turkish stamps on a passport and may make life awkward.
European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
hey also do not like visitors with Turkish stamps on a passport and may make life awkward.

They may not - but that would be a breach of some European thing about the free movement of people - being a reluctant EU citizen I may as well take advantage of the positive things. Apparently there's a two hour delay at any frontier between the two countries. I can become quite righteously indignated when pushed. I already have a Northern Cyprus stamp in on.
European motorcycle holiday - Kevin
>My research so far leads me from to Brindisi onto the Greek mainland

I'd go from either Brindisi or Bari to Sami on Kefalonia. If you haven't been to Kephalonia before, head up to Fiskardo. You can sit outside Captains Cabin having a cold beer watching the rest of us trying to find somewhere to tie-up! The show starts about 4pm.

Just outside Sami there is also Anti-Samos bay. Stop on the ridge above the bay and take a photo. The "beach" and bottom of the bay are covered in white pebbles that reflect sunlight brilliantly.

There's an official campsite just outside Sami too.

After a couple of days on Kefalonia you can then catch a ferry across to Patras on the mainland. From Patras it's an easy 4 to 5hr ride down over the Corinth canal to Athens and Pireas. From Pireas you'll be able to catch a ferry to just about anywhere in the Med.

If you've got plenty of time you could go from Patras down the peleponnese through Epidavros to visit Poros and Hydra etc. Then catch a ferry from Poros over to Aegina and on to Pireas.
Poros is home to the Greek Naval College and the amazing Trireme they reconstructed in the late '80s.

European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
Thanks sounds good. Corinth canal sounds like something to see.
European motorcycle holiday - happytorque
Used Norfolk Line 8 times in lat few years but only in a car. Seen bikes on there though and I would be happy to take my Honda X11 on board. Boats were all new in 2006 so pretty smart. And they are the cheapest carrier as far as im aware. Food decent too. Recommended.
Went to the Eiffel region of Germany last August. Drove down past Brussels, Liege then through the Ardennes region. Past Spa and into Germany towards Trier.
Stayed near the Nurburgring in a tiny village called Lirstal. Wonderfull time. Weather great, roads like race tracks. Surfaces smooth as silk. Twisty and hilly ; perfect on the bike.
Ride down the Mosel river well worth it; its beautiful.
Roads empty even in the height of summer.
Go to Cochem and climb up to the castle.
And spend an afternoon 'wine probing' in a couple of dozen little vineyard owners shops.
Didnt go any further south, so thats as far as I can go with the advice.
Have fun.
European motorcycle holiday - ole cruiser
Corinth canal sounds like something to see.>>

Very viewable in itself, certainly, but the very best thing about it is the staggering contrast between the immense (polluted) sprawl of the Athens conurbation and the glorious openness and fresh air of the Peloponnese. 100 yards sorry metres and you're in a different world. Obviously better heading south, though!
European motorcycle holiday - helicopter
Sami in Kefalonia is a lovely little ferry port and I've been there many times.

Many nice little restaurants by the harbour. The peace is only disturbed when the ferry comes in.

Antisamos beach is beautiful - They filmed 'Captain Corellis Mandolin' around Sami as a substitute for the capital Argostoli.The main village set for the filmwas just off the road to Antisamos from Sami .

I also recommend Fiskardo, beautiful Venetian architecture.It was about the only village not damaged by the earthquake in the fifties. It is a bit of a yachtie haven .

The last time I was there one of the larger Roman Abramovich type yachts sent his helicopter off the helipad on the yacht to land in a car park above the village to do a bit of shopping.... how the other half live....

The whole island is worth a separate visit rather than a day or two on a tour though..

European motorcycle holiday - expat
It is a very long time since I travelled on Turkish roads but I seem to remember that the drivers were very dangerous indeed. Mind you the country was great and the people really nice especially on the Med and Black Sea coasts.
European motorcycle holiday - ForumNeedsModerating
Sorry, I can't really add any useful info, but - it's quite nice to read about something that isn't all doom & gloom! I look forward to regular despatches from far away places (..although I know that will be difficult in practice..) & in the present all those little pre-trip tips & snippets from other posters. A nice antidote to my rather limited current opportunities & situation.
European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly

Primarily by Garmin 2610. However this needs to be powered up to pre-plan. Part of the pleasure (to me) will be a decent meal and a couple of local beers and an hour or so planning tomorrow's travel - so there is a need for paper maps - Atlas no good on a bike. Michelin will be the chosen vendors - now Turkey doesn't seem to be served by them- any ideas where one might get a decent road map for the "turquoise coast" ?

Spent a pleasant enough couple of hours perusing the Thomas Cook Island guide - worth £10.00 of anyone's money on a chilly damp Sunday night - better than the telly anyway !

Edited by Pugugly on 25/01/2009 at 20:58

European motorcycle holiday - Kevin
>so there is a need for paper maps -

Greek and Turkish road maps?

Tee hee hee!

If you are going to venture out onto the backroads (which you most definitely should), be prepared for plenty of backtracking and head-scratching. That junction marked on the map as a major route can often turn out to be a gap between two houses no wider than a Suzuki Jeep. The tiny signpost will be hidden behind a beautiful bougainvillae and will more than likely only have the name of the next village on it (in Greek).

In tourist areas go to the nearest car rental place first. They will have freebie maps (often in English) that are better than the official stuff.

European motorcycle holiday - deepwith
Helicopter - I agree, Kefalonia is beautiful and the locals very friendly. One of our highlights was a boat trip on an underground lake - stunningly beautiful.

Useful tip when eating - if you sit at a table with a cloth, then you will pay more for your meal, for the same food. No idea why, but worth knowing.

On this whole trip, I have a warning for Mrs P. My friend who did a trip like this one, on two wheels, got as far as Crete - and did not return to the UK for 25 years!
European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
I'm open to suggestion - a provincial solicitor's pension would keep me in olive oil and fish for a few years.
European motorcycle holiday - Alby Back
Mrs P only needs to be concerned if you are to be found practising the Anthony Quinn "Zorba" dance on any kind of regular basis or take to lobbing the dinner service around.....

European motorcycle holiday - ex-Triumph man
With regard to travelling out to Turkey, you can sail direct from a port in North East Italy (sorry can't remember the name) direct to Izmir in Turkey. With regard to paper maps, best to buy one when you get out there. Just remember if you do have a run in with the Police, they are all armed - some with machine guns!
European motorcycle holiday - Pugugly
Sadly I had to cancel the trip in the end - my wife died suddenly (aged 46) in February and everything changed including my holiday plans. I didn't want to mention it in here beyond the Mods as I wanted the Backroom to be a "Grief free zone" and so it proved to be an invaluable little private escape for me at a time of monumental grief and change. I have gone with my instincts and decided that now is the time to come clean. I'm locking the thread now, but hopefully it will re-emerge for real next year maybe.