I had a spare week off and the John, aka ‘The Dr’ thought a 125cc scooter trip was a good idea. I was tasked with finding a cheap location to meet our needs. After liking the idea of Croatia or Portugal we settled on Turkey. This was because Turkey is just outside the EU, which means its cheap by European standards. It had a ready supply of mopeds, beaches and accommodation as well as many impressive Roman ruins.
The Dr and I finished work (at local hospital) early and sped off to Ferns, so she could take us to the airport. Unfortunately my regular sidekick (Fern) wasn’t able to make it. We had brought night flights with Sun Express, a small airline I had never heard of, but they delivered us all the same. I had arranged on the Internet for two Yamaha 125 BWS’s to meet us at the airport at 5am. True to their word there was a guy waiting with a clipboard with my name on it. We trundled threw the car park full of buses to his pickup truck with two Chinese 125 SYM’s on the back (not the Yamahas we had requested unfortunately). We filled out forms, signed, retrieved our driving licences and handed over money. These 30,000km and 40,000km machines would have to do the job. With a parting wave and vendor telling us to go slowly, we were off in to the early morning, following the sat nav in my top shirt pocket.
Leaving Antalya was easy. We only had hand baggage, the smooth handover of the bikes and the fact it was not quite 6am so the roads were virtually empty. The plan was to head east up the Aegean coast to the Roman site of Ephesus then return back to Antalya 1400 km through the mountains via Pamukkale. We slipped out the city on the D400, stopping at Goynuk canyon but it was closed. Undeterred we carried on along the main road though lush green forests of pine with their sweet scent filling the air. The pale grey blue peaks of the Taurus mountains as a backdrop.
We stopped and had breakfast at the side of the road in a cafe. Thick Turkish coffee and a pancake with cheese and herbs in it. Tea was needed to wash the Turkish coffee down, needless to say that was the last time I drunk Turkish coffee. In Kemer Town centre we rode down a path beside a hotel and got right on the beachfront. Hurriedly we got changed and made our way onto the beach and in to the Med. It was surprisingly warm for 8am. Getting out it dawned on me how tight the old swimming trunks were, so we stopped at a shop and bought matching fake Hollister trunks. And this is how we remained, in our swimming trunks for the rest of the adventure. It was 10am and the temperature was already well above 30 celcius, to wear anything else was uncomfortable at best.
We wound along the very edge of the coast the road sometimes cutting through rock with consecutive 180 degree bends on the finest tarmac. The turquoise water glistening to the left only parted from me going in through towns. We didn’t know where going to end up tonight. Kas was the next way point on the map. Suddenly my bike loses drive. I pull over and John says he saw plastic coming out the back. Unsure what to do next we get out a Rok bungee strap and start making a tow rope so we can get the 3km to town. A guy goes by on a push bike and raises his head. I gesture to him for help. He realises we have broken down by the makeshift rope I suspect and not my limited Turkish. Ismail calls the rental company who agree to pay and get us local help. A man and a lad arrive on a scooter within 30mins. They tell me to get on the back of John’s bike and follow them while the mechanic pushes the lad on my scooter with his foot back in to town. Within an hour and a half we are on our way again. It was our first taste of Turkish hospitality when we are brought lunch by Ismail who helped us on the push bike.
Even though we are 2 hours behind now we still head for Kas. We have to arrive in a place and find a cafe which has WiFi so we can search on hotels.com for a room for the night as european data roaming laws don’t extend this far. I suppose that’s when I remember and remind John that we are in Asia after all. We decided on an amazing looking hostel overlooking the bay. It’s a steep rough concrete climb to hostel and the peds didn’t like it. What an amazing place it was, for once the photos didn’t lie. It was £10 for a nice bunk bed in a 6 man dorm room or £60 for a twin room. I dashed into claim the bottom bunk. They obviously didn’t have dorms at John’s private school as he groaned while he climb the tiny latter. The pool was something else, lining up with the sea so it felt like you were sat in it. John chilled out on a sofa and watched the world cup England game, we won.
I can’t believe that the Dr keeps up his running regime in this heat. On que I wake as he is putting his trainers on and head out the door. I get up and enjoy the free breakfast of bread, boiled egg, fruit, olives, cheese, jam and instant coffee. I check the route on Maps.Me, Fethiye looks good mainly because a Turkish traveller I met said it was good. We set off following a road that clung to a cliff edge. The weather was hot 38c. On the coast you didn’t notice it so much but as the road turned inland to the forests you blasts of hot air hit you in the face. On route we met a guy at a service station on a ktm 950 dirt style bike. He was talking to John about a mountain he has been up the previous day where two guys run a lookout post for fires over a vast area. After a bottle of water and an ice cream John had decided that we were going to find this mountain. We went in to Fethiye after yet another fill up. The bikes were doing about 80/90km on a tank of £3. Fethiye was a bit of a tourist town but we were only staying the night. As so as we arrived at the hotel john wanted to get going searching for the mountain. He had written the name in back of his novel. ‘Gayran Dagi’.
We scooted out of town up the nicest road so far. We asked for directions at a petrol station and then again once we had misinterpreted what the Turkish call a roundabout. We rode up a few tracks before we found it, a 8km gravel road up to the summit. The Last 5km were rough with large stones and tight short switchbacks. We were often doing walking pace but made it on the Chinese scoots with the ground clearance of a sports car. At the top sure enough we were met by 2 fire watchers who did indeed provide tea, just like Ktm man had said.
1600m from sea level in 2 hours, it felt high as I stood on top of the block buildings roof, looking back where we had come from. They spoke no English and we spoke no Turkish. Google translate helped to a point but if you tried to construct a sentence it would not make much sense. We scoffed the biscuits and bounced down the same rough track we came up.
It seemed easier going down. The mopeds kept cutting out so we just decided to freewheel down the mountain doing a sort of silent enduro race. I nearly lost it on a bend so backed off. It’s so easy to get competitive and take risks in the moment. We arrived at the foot of the mountain far quicker than we went up. Riding back we laugh as we bet the scoots have never seen that sort of action. It started to get dark and I felt the chill. I raced down the mountain flat out john couldn’t keep up. It’s silly when look back as the light was fading and anything could have been on the road. Turkish drivers aren’t famed for sticking to their side of the road. Back at the hotel and we were straight on the the beach for a beer. The heat is upon us again. It amazing how much it changed from the village at the foot of the mountain.
We had forgone the breakfast as it was £1.70 each and ate and the garage instead. To try and keep to our daily target of £10 (60TL) each for accommodation with or without breakfast it seems. There are always fruit stalls and plenty of savoury and sweet bread to eat at the garage, with nice toilets too. Today we were headed for Marmaris, for lunch, but I was banking on in being somewhere cooler for the night, as I needed to get out of this heat in a pool somewhere. We set off out of town away from the coast on fast wide mountain roads. Pretty uneventful, passed a lake and got in to Marmaris. I slammed on the breaks as you can always bank on a English tourist town to have a cooked English breakfast! Full fry up for me. I scoff as John’s Turkish breakfast comes with Turkish coffee. We get some WiFi and find a hotel. No sooner have we arrived and The Dr crashes out and I’m chilling by the pool. I’m knackered after the previous 2 days of 250km+ on a vibrating platform. After my breakdown on the first day we had decided to show the scoots some mechanical sympathy and roll at 90kmph (55mph) max. Apart from over-takes, and when we hit a big steep climb. My scooter was sort of stuck in top gear so I had to take a run up and go flat out, if I stopped on a steep hill I struggled to get above 30kmph.
We both decide to go out for an evening scoot. We ride along the coast until we find a bay to eat ice cream and chat about books, banking and bollocks. We get back to the hotel just as its getting dark as we have another 250km to do tomorrow. Once I’ve visited the kebab shop again. I was quite taken with £1.20 doner wrap with chicken, chips and salad in.
Massive climb out of Marmaris the next morning. At one point I didn’t think the scooter would make it. We stop for petrol and breakfast both in the same forecourt. The petrol attendant is laughing at our number plate. I ask what’s funny and he replies Antalya. Through talking to the cafe owner in broken English it seems that no one ever brings an Antalyan registered 125cc ‘beach scooter’ this far and this is the cause of the hysteria. I have a lucky thought of the day and ask John to check his oil. We end up getting the garage to top us both up. We need to get a move on if we are to reach Ephesus tonight. With that in mind we push on and cover ground quickly. We are 5km from Ephesus and we got carried away racing and John snapped his drive belt at 70mph.
Luckily for us we bump into a nice English speaking businessman and he arranges recovery to a local garage and the repair. He calls the hirer and explains in Turkish what’s happened again. I get passed the phone. Abruptly asked ‘what the hell are you Doing there 700km away. This scooter is not designed for this you would of had a 250cc if I had known your plan’ he refused to pay for any repairs but offered to help us. Within an hour or so a guy on a scooter turned up and pushed john about 5km to his garage. All fixed in a speedy 30 mins. At £25 (150TL) recovery, parts and labour.
It was too late now to see Ephesus now so we found a nice hotel on a hillside called hotel Panorama, overlooking the fort.
It was such a lovely place and because of the Ephesus visit, we booked 2 nights here at £12 per night each. We sat by the pool and had the best meal so far of kofte, chips and salad.
The next morning week visited the Roman marble city of Ephesus. It was a site to behold.
We spent the rest of the day chilling at the hotel and watched the England-Croatia world cup game, we lost.
The next morning after a lovely breakfast we set off towards Pamukkale and its mineral rich thermal pools. It was very hot, some 41c, so the Doctor stopped at a jet wash to get a soaking. As we headed towards the white snow like hills of Pamukkale I thought I had a puncture as the bike slid around the tight corners of a village. I hadn’t got a flat but i had been traveling for a long while on straight fast roads that day so had forgotten how much to lean my twist and go.
Pamukkale is a mass of calcium deposits cascading down the hillside. We had the walk through the Roman town of Hierapolis to get there, passing through a cobbled road of full crypts with multiple levels inside like giant shelves.
Once at the hot springs we bathed in the tepid water which was clear but devoid of that sulphur smell. That evening we found local hotel for £10 a night each with breakfast and a pool. I was getting fed up with chicken and chips and had spotted a chinese called China town when looking for a hotel. With fat bellies we climbed on the bikes and went for an evening ride up a mountainside.
Up early for the last full day on the bikes back to Antalya 250km. We rode hard up through the hills. My bike struggled up hill sort of stuck in top gear. John, the Doctor was having to push me with his foot on the back of my bike . After a few hours we were back in sight of the blue peaks of the Taurus mountains. The ride down into Antalya was very hot. Superheated air of about 50c seem to be funneling up the mountainside along the tarmac. As we stopped at traffic light behind a bus it was unbearable as the rear engined machine kicked out its fumes.
The city was manic. When we had left 6 days earlier it was dawn and no one was around, it was hardly recognisable as the same place. For our last evening we needed a pool so filtered our search on hotels.com. We stopped for a kebab, but not a kebab like we have in England . This Turkish kebab was in a pancake style wrap with chips salad and chicken. For about £1 it filled a gap. We got to the hotel and John fell asleep under the aircon while i checked out the small pool in a tidy yard surrounded by lime trees, full of fruit. The owner sounded Russian and didn’t speak a word of English. We wrote numbers down and done lots of thumbs up and nodding.
We decided to go for a evening ride to cool off after the heat of the day. We headed out of the city on the same road 1500km ago a noticed a cable car on the hillside. The kebab hadn’t lasted long and i was on the hunt again. We rode back along the beach front and found a nice cafe on stilts overhanging the beach and stopped and had beer and burgers. It looked a funky place down on the beach but it was closing up so we stayed up on the cafe bit. I asked if we could go down to the water edge and we were shown down the stairs. John and i didn’t need to strip off as we had been wearing our swimming shorts the entire holiday. Straight into the water even though it was 10 o’clock at night. After 20 mins of being in the bath we got out dried off and go to find a cash point in the evening chaos. We rode without helmets or clothes, in just our wet shorts back to the hotel. Tomorrow was the last day and i intended to lounge around, the doctor wanted to head back up into the hills for one last time to climb Termessos, he had a mission to complete.
Lazy day for me, but the Doctor was up for his early morning run then off to Termessos. I waited poolside for him to return, then we went back to the same cafe as last night and it had been transformed into a day club, music, scantily clad girls, sun loungers with table service and of course the sea. A warm yet cooling experience performed once an hour for 20 minutes or so, in between sunbathing.
We had a night flight back to the UK so broke off and headed back to the hotel around 6, stopping at a garage to put a few thimbles of fuel in.
We raced through downtown Antalya, rushing to the airport. We arrived and handed our bikes back. We asked about refunds for the parts but guys made it clear the boss said no, commenting that an 8 day rental normally amounts to 250km not 1500km. We didn’t feel so hard done by and smiled. We walked into the terminal building and had our bags x-rayed by security. Once inside we checked the board but couldn’t see our flight. I approached a guard and asked for help. He didn’t understand and gave me a desk phone. A female voice took my flight number and told me to go to terminal 2. I then asked the guard where it is, he points 6km. Shit! We bomb outside and grab a taxi, good job I have some lira left. As soon as we arrive John gets caught up at security, unhappy with a metal bungie strap in his bag. Finally we get in to the right terminal and we can relax before our night flight back to Stansted.
Total km covered in 7 days riding with 1 day off. 1500km
10% off road / trails 30% small roads 60% main roads.
📆 8 Days
✈️ £190 flights return to Antalya from London
🛵 £130per bike. SYM 125cc (8 days) (€300 deposit)
🛒 £30 per day per person expenses
📄 £30 travel insurance
🎫 Visa £25
⚙️ Parts/labour/recovery £25
💸 Total £650