I think the title says a lot about the two and a half weeks I spent in Turkey. It will be unforgettable, I guarantee that.
After the spring break craziness in Croatia I drove about 700 miles in one day to Skopje, Macedonia. I finally got to reunite with a friend I met in Alaska last summer! Dorotea and her sister Tara came from Macedonia to Anchorage to work. Unfortunately I didn’t meet them until well over half way through the summer so I didn’t get to show them around too much.
I rolled into Skopje just as Dorotea was finishing the last of her exams so she got to show me around the entire country for the week. Macedonia is one of those countries you don’t really dream about going to for most people but it did not disappoint! I’m sure it helped that I had a true local there to show me everything but still, it was amazing.
Skopje is pretty much like every other big city but I got the chance to go to a cowboy bar again. Definitely reminded me of Eddies! Just outside of Skopje is Matka valley where I got to do a little cliff diving. And after spending a couple days hitting some good restaurants and seeing Skopje we took a drive down to Ohrid.
Ohrid is a nice little town situated on a beautiful, almost crystal clear lake. One of the highlights, besides the fortress, old city, and antic theater was this little bar, Jazz Inn. Lots of locals, good beer, good Rakia and of course good music.
The one thing I learned in Macedonia was that you can never 100% trust Google Maps. We were on our way back to Skopje from Ohrid and I decided to take and different way back through the mountains. Originally, I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal cause it was a big yellow line on google, most of the time indicating there is some sort of road, maybe pavement maybe not. Everything started out well with a nice road winding through the mountains all the up until we went through this little village. After the village there was about 4 dirt tracks leading away from it, no signs, no nothing. I still think its a good idea to continue. Not more than five minutes after being on the dirt road I hit a huge rock in the middle of the path and have my worst cash on the motorcycle yet. Dorotea was a trooper, we were both ok and once again decide to continue on. Seriously 5 minutes after that I look over to my left and there appears to be a lion running full speed toward the motorcycle. One more glance and it looks like this lion is accompanied by a pair of wolves! As they get closer I can hear the vicious barking start. I was trying to be extra cautious after crashing just a couple of minutes before but once those dogs got about 4 feet away from the bike and I saw that the lion looking dog was almost as big as the bike, I decided it was time to get the hell out of there! Thank God I didn’t crash during those next five minutes while those dogs were chasing us or else I can’t imagine what would have happened. Now we are committed to this path, there is no way we can go back past those dogs. So the next 4 hours continued on like this with more crashes, trying to follow the “road” which sometime was non-existent and me cussing google the entire time. After it was all over, I thought it was fun, Dorotea might have a different word for it.
Enjoy the pics!
I can’t believe it been 4 weeks since my last post! There is way to much to fit into one but I have to start somewhere so here goes.
It never ceases to amaze me how one stop can change your plans in a instant. This is what I love about this trip. I was just north of Munich about 30 minutes and finally out of the city so I decided to pull over and get some more coffee. Walking out of the station, all coffeed up and ready to continue on, there were some fellow motorcyclist eyeing the Alaska plates and naturally we start to bs about the trips we were both on. This friendly couple were heading to motorcycle rally north a few hours from where we were. The bs’ing turned into getting more coffee and telling stories about motorcycle trips, traveling and everything in between. I think I was at that gas station for over 2 hours! The great people I just met were Maus and Frosch (aka Frog). They insisted I join them in a couple days when the rally started, we exchanged contact info and got back on the road.
After visiting Prague I decided I couldn’t pass up their invite so there I was heading into the unknown around Leipzig, Germany to motorcycle meet up with the club Kuhle Wampe. I rolled into the site, parked my motorcycle, got a welcome shot of some liquor and then had a beer in my hand within about 5 minutes. I knew then I made the right decision. I spent the next 4 days hearing the stories of the club, getting some serious history lessons on East Germany and admiring all of the East Germany ingenuity on display. I met some great people that won’t be forgotten. If any of you guys read this, thanks again for a great time!!! I’ll see you down the road!!
One story I’ll tell from the rally happened on the last morning. There was a live band the night before and we drank until the wee hours of the morning so I was mildly hungover. I was packing all of my gear up and decided to move my bike a bit closer to where I had been camping to load it up. Unfortunately, she was parked pretty close to where people were eating breakfast. So, first I was struggling to push it around all the other bikes so I could drive to my spot, almost tipping over a few times, and starting to perspire some of the booze from the night before, causing a little scene. Finally I got it to a spot where I could actually start it up and drive but now I was REALLY close to where people were eating breakfast. And imagine this, there are maybe 30 bad ass bikers in their leather cuts eating breakfast watching this dude from Alaska struggle with his bike and then I start it up to pull away and….. I FREAKING STALLED IT! I looked around hoping nobody saw it but that was not the case. There were definitely a few chuckles from the group. I’m sure people were just like “how the hell is this guy going to make it around the world!” Hahaha not one of my shining moments of the trip.
Onward down the road I enjoyed a few spots I was told to visit during the rally and over the next few days made my way to Budapest. This is one place I immediately fell in love with as soon as I rode into the city. I still don’t know exactly what it was but I will be back. I ended up staying a couple extra days here and one of those days was spent at the Turkish bath. Seriously, 7 hours of hot and cold pools, saunas, steam rooms and soaking up sun. If you’ve never experienced a Turkish bath, you need to put it on your life goal list! While on a walking tour of Budapest I met a fellow traveler, Amanda, and she told me about some music festival she was going to in Croatia, I decided I couldn’t pass this up either. I bought a ticket, changed my plans and headed back down the road!
After Hungary I headed into Serbia stopping in Novi Sad and Uzice. Turns out I arrived in Uzice the same weekend Moto Fest was happening and there were about 1000 other bikers in town. Another amazing time!
Once Moto Fest was done I headed into Montenegro and stopped of a beautiful overlook above the city of Kotor(see picture below) words can’t describe this. I also spent a few days in the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia. All of you Game of Thrones fans might recognize the pictures. I guess they do a lot of filming there.
I decided to spend a few days in Bosnia before the music festival start and it turned out to be another great decision. Bosnia is absolutely beautiful! Met some awesome people and had a great time there.
And finally I arrive to the music festival in Pag, Croatia. It was called Spring Break. If you’re wondering what it was like, the following video shows it pretty well. All I’m going to say is I had a good time.
When we left off on the last post I was getting ready to head to France. It feels like that was an eternity ago, but really, it’s only been 12 days! Since that time I’ve driven through 7 countries (France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Lichtenstein, Germany, and Czech Republic), put on another 2000+ miles on my motorcycle, and crossed 1 more thing off my bucket list which was visiting the Coliseum! It did not disappoint. And if I’m going to be honest, I might tell you that I got a little choked up the first time I saw it! If I could tell you where my intense desire to visit the coliseum came from I definitely would, but I have no idea. The closest thing I can come up with is the countless hours I played “Age of Empires” as a kid, I loved that game.
Here are a few other numbers this trip:
- Total Mileage – 12,157
- Total Gear Shifts – 28,529
- # of times I used the front break – 18,742
- # of times I used the rear break – 25,681
- Next service – 745MI
- Next tire change – 1854MI
- # of Hostels – 14
- # of campsites – 6
- Pictures taken – 856
For the past couple weeks it feels like I’ve been hitting the sightseeing pretty hard. Gone are the days of just hanging out on the beach in Portugal. While in Barcelona, I managed to catch an FC Barcelona(Pro Soccer Team) match with 85,000 other people. I still can’t believe they get that many fans to a match that wasn’t really important. I also spent a couple days trying to get lessons to kite board! It never happened but it’s now top priority of things to do. I drove through so amazing mountain valleys and roads in Switzerland and Austria, then drank plenty of good German beer in Munich.
La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona This has been under construction for the last 100 years but will be one of a kind once it completed.
Waiting for the FC Barcelona match to start!
Another border crossing
I stopped at the first restaurant in France. No english menu, and non-english speaking waitress and this is what you get!
Finally rolled over 10,000 miles on the motorcycle
Nice, France: I WILL be back here one day!
A road on the French / Italian border.
Right on the border of France and Italy.
Rome and night
A ticket for the first traffic violation of the trip.
Finally made it!
Hanging out with Marcus Aurelius at the Vatican.
The Sistine Chapel ceiling
One of many many coffee breaks
This was the view outside the front door of my hostel in Lake Como, Italy
Crossing the border into Switzerland. This was one of 5 waterfalls in this little area.
Simpson Pass, Switzerland
Just a few of the amazing views!
So not everything is good about Switzerland. I drove through Zurich on a Sunday afternoon and there were a bunch of people out and about around the lake and food stands and such. I decided this beef on a stick looked pretty good as a snack, went to pay, and it was 14 Euros which is like $16 dollars!!
Lake Constance, on the border of Austria and Germany
Taste testing some of the German beers.
Went to the Dachau concentration camp right outside of Munich. Wasn’t the most uplifting experience but I’m glad I went.
Of course I had to go the BMW Headquarters in Munich!! They have a pretty awesome museum too. FYI – It’s NOT free for BMW owners. Ridiculous.
The astronomical clock and Old Town square in Prague.
One of the churches on Prague
The back side of the church
Below are a few pictures from my drone. You can really get a perspective of a few of the roads I was on. So damn fun!
Holy jeez, where to start. First, Europe has been great! Well, Portugal and Spain have been amazing, we’ll see how the rest of the continent is. I’m sitting and Barcelona right now, getting ready to head to country # 7 tomorrow: France. I’ve had some major milestones of the trip so far and I’ve only been in Europe for 3 weeks. I got my first ticket of the trip yesterday! I’m still not 100 percent sure what I did wrong but the cops made me give them $45 for whatever it was. I’ve read two books, lost 3 pairs of sunglasses, been to six countries, broke one camera, and lost (or got stolen) two pairs of jeans. I am 400 miles ways from rolling over 10,000 on my bike! I have also been figuring out a lot more of what I love and hate about traveling around the world on my motorcycle.
So first a couple of the things I have been loving about the trip: People, you meet some amazing, interesting, fun people traveling around. Also, if you want to know the secret to making friends here it is, Have a motorcycle with and Alaska licence plate in Europe OR have a drone. There will never be a shortage of people coming up to you to talk and ask questions. I also have been loving espresso. And, HEAT. Nothing beats being able to walk around in shorts and flip flops at night and be comfortable. And for the things I have been hating… One of the worst things I experience on an almost daily basis is sneezing in my helmet. It sucks!! And I’m not a one sneeze type of guy, when I sneeze I do it 5 -10 times in a row. Nothing is worse than driving down the road at 80MPH in a full face helmet, have a sneezing episode and knowing you just blasted a ridiculous amount of snot inside your helmet. And thats really it for things I’ve been hating so far.
Here are some more pics!
Had to take a good one in front of the map in my Dad’s garage.
Niagara Falls with my boy CHUCK! We hadn’t seen each other since college so it was good to throw some beers back and do some catching up.
Dropped my baby off at air cargo in Toronto not 100% confident she was going to make it to Portugal. It took about 4 hours to get all of the paperwork sorted out and then I just drove it in and they told me they would take care of it from there
BUT SHE MADE IT!! And they actually did a great job packing it all up and make sure nothing got damaged. I think I could write an entire book about the day I spent trying to work through all of the customs and insurance paperwork. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that I speak zero Portuguese. At one point I had to walk out to the street and find someone that was able to translate for me and then willing to come back into the customs office to get everything done.
Watched a couple planes come in before I headed out of the airport.
First night in Lisbon
Getting fancy with my picture taking. This was in the Rossio square right in front of my hostel.
My second Golden Gate bridge of the trip
Drone flying in Nazare. Home of the biggest surfed wave in the world.
Sintra: This place it AMAZING!!! Old castles, tunnels, fortress walls etc.
Porto, Portugal. Fun town and the whole place could be a postcard.
Trancoso, Portugal. An awesome little town that I stumbled upon during one of my rides. Part of the town is still inside the castle walls
Riding along the coast and I went down hard! Caught a little sand with my front tire and sailed right into the bushes. This round the world trip ain’t all rainbows and butterfly’s kids.
Risking my life for views like this are worth it though.
Camping spot on the Portugal Coast. Near Porto Covo.
These little cups of espresso have become my new addiciton. I have anywhere from 2-6 a day.
View from the “End of the World”. The most southwest point of Portugal.
The beach that was about 200 meters away from my hostel. Near Sagres. Spent a couple days relaxing here.
So I decided to go to the Moto GP Race in Jerez Spain. I was completly blown away when I rolled up, the next two pictures are the motorcycle parking lot. There had to be 100,000 of them!!
It was also crazy once I got into the race track. European fans never cease to amaze me. They were blowing off cherry bombs, artillery shells, and the biggest smoke bombs I’ve ever seen before and during the race.
Just some fortress walls on the top of a hill…
Another dam during one of my rides.
Country # 6 Gibraltar: Climbed to the top of the rock and took this. That is Africa in the background.
Lots of monkeys in Gibraltar.
After being on the coast for so long I was happy to take some mountain roads in southern Spain. There are so many little towns like this scattered all over the mountain sides.
One of the coolest things I randomly stumbled on during the trip so far! This little town called Ronda. It has a huge gorge going through the center of it and this beautiful bridge. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take out my done.
After driving the PCH and seeing a lot of friends and family I was ready to get away from the coast and all the ridiculous traffic of Southern California. My journey will not be complete until I reach the other side of the Pacific ocean on the east coast of Australia, or possibly New Zealand. Below are a few pics of the turn.
One thing I realize as I’m going through my pictures is that I never take any with the people I’m with! You guys know who you are but I just wanted to say a special thanks to Adam and Erin for the beers and epic bananagram games in Seattle. Jeff and Liz for the awesome hospitality and San Francisco experience. Vanessa and Danielle for giving me the things only Dana Point can offer. And Kempster for San Diego, the club was definitely going up on a Tuesday. After finally heading east I had the pleasure of seeing my brother from another mother who also happens to share the same birthday as me, Bo. Thanks to the Vander Wilt crew for putting their lives on hold for a couple days while I came through. Stuart and Keri for having the Dos Equis and pizza on hot standby for my arrival. And last but not least my favorite uncle Jackson, who, although was not driving down the same road as me, was taking the same journey… No Chamba.
As far Southwest i could drive in California
Went over the border to Mexico at Tecate
This was further down the road once I got back to into the USA. The border fence is quite the structure when you get to see it this close.
Decided to take this little off-road trail up this valley. I soon regretted my decision due to the fact that it was 90 degrees and I was soaked with sweat about a 1/2 mile in.
Rolled over 3000 miles on the odometer and the pic below it is where I was at.
Currently can’t remember the name of this canyon but this is where I took my drone out to do a little filming.
Freaking love this place.
Day trip to the Sandia Crest overlooking Albuquerque.
Hiked up the side of this hill to the entrance of the Sadia caves. You can see my motorcycle sitting on the side of the road if you look close.
On the road to Chama
This is my aunt and uncles cabin around Chama, NM. Lots of good childhood memories here.
A pretty sad picture right here… this is the lake the cabin is on. It used to be about 50-60 FEET higher when I was a kid. You can see the small river running through it now and the old water lines on the side of the hill.
The Indian Reservation I rode through on the way from Chama to Durango. Lots of dirt roads and NO traffic so it was great!
Lunch spot for the day
and then I hit the 4000 mile mark
The Alpine Loop just south out Ouray, CO. I WILL be back to do this one day. It looks like an awesome off-road trail from around Ouray to Lake City. This is also the first placed I layed my motorcycle over, and it happened twice! You can see the only damage 2 pictures down.
This is as far as I got before I had to turn around
My accommodations in Ouray. Great place if you’re going through this summer, all brand new remodeled rooms.
The drive doesn’t stop getting better! Beautiful little valley on the 141 in CO.
One more time.
I can’t imagine waking up to this every morning, but someone has to do it! Thanks again Stuart and Keri!
About the only thing you can take a picture of driving down I-80 in Nebraska. Rode 865 miles that day and I hope to never do it again.
And for the past couple days Ive just been hanging out in Iowa, spending time with the fam. In all reality my next post will be coming from across the pond in Portugal!! WOOOOOOHOOOO!! So damn excited to get over there!
Until next time…
So the trip has begun! 14 days in and I already feel like I have WAY too many stories to be able to tell over a blog post! Good news is that I have been journaling daily(almost) so at some point down the road I’ll be able to remember some of the crazy things that have happened along the way. The days of riding with a really sore back, neck and ass have finally started to be a thing of the past and I have slowly started to weed out some of the gear that I thought would be a great idea when I started this trip. I had some pretty serious doubts the first 2 hours of the trip after I had gotten off the plane in Seattle, packed up my motorcycle and just started driving. Back and hip cramping, shoulders hurting, rain, cold, and of course a sore ass made me second guess my decision to buy a motorcycle I have never ridden before, ship it to Seattle, and drive it around the world. But its amazing what 14 days can do. I’m ready for the next 500.
Overall, I feel like I prepared well for this trip and all my gear and machine has been performing just like its supposed to. The first three days in Washington and Oregon I rode through about 12 hours of coastal downpours and 99% of me and all my stuff stayed completely dry! It was actually a huge surprise but now I feel much better about tackling the rest of what mother nature will bring at me. There are only a few lingering things (Visa for Pakistan) that I have been stressing about and other than that its been free and easy down the road I go.
Below are some of the pictures I took as I made my way down the coast from Seattle to Red Wood National Forest.
Finally got my motorcycle packed up in Seattle at Alaska Air Cargo and I’m ready to hit the road! I arrived at about 5:30A.M and left there around 9A.M.
Finally made it to the coast!
Lake Quinault, WA
No bueno waking up to rain. This was by far the worst day for it so far. It poured for the first 5 hours of the day
Bad ass picture of my helmet
Heading down to the largest mainland cave in the US, which also happens to have a lot of sea lions in it.
Just getting into the redwoods! This is what I was most excited about driving through the USA. I have never done it before and they did not disappoint
Well everyone, the day has arrived. It’s 11:30PM on March 22nd and I’m sitting at Ted Stevens International Airport one hour away from boarding the plane to begin my world tour. Bottom line is I’M READY!!! The past few weeks have been and unbelievable mixture of excitement, stress, fun, stress, excitement, and more excitement. Seriously, it’s been exhausting. At no point in my life have I been more excited for something for such a long period of time. Now that I’m 5 hours away from doing it I’m ready to move into the relaxation and experiencing mode of the trip.
Today had some pretty intense realizations of the things to come. I said goodbye to the people that I have grown really close to over the past 7 years living in Alaska and unfortunately there were a few people that I didn’t get the chance to. I have been hit with the fact that tomorrow I’m not going to be able to wake up in a normal bed, stumble into a normal shower and jump in my truck to go pick up coffee at the usual spot. Everyday for the next 12 months is going to be something and somepeople new. And it is freaking awesome!
Below are a few of my babies I had to say goodbye to today. My life. My truck, my snowmachine, and my trailer which contains everything else I own, not currently in Seattle.
So beings that this is really my first blog post of my trip I’m going to let you know a few things you can expect during the coming months. For starters, I’m pretty sure my posts will be short and sweet and more often than not contain more pictures than words. Second, my goal is to post once a week. Third, dont excpect some riveting, edge of your seat, consuming novel from me. Colors and shapes kids, keep it simple. (kind of like #1 but I’m just trying to be clear)
Tomorrow I join up with this beast and head north to the Canadian border for my first of about 35 border crossings! I’ll turn around and spend the night in the Seattle area before I head down the Pacific Coast Highway. And now I’m off to drink a few beers before I get on the plane.