I didn’t come to Thessaloniki to act as a tourist, instead I had some serious business to do. Since that crash in Gradiste almost 3 weeks ago, I was riding with a hole in my panniers and a broken right handguard. I planned to fix that, and for once fate was on my side. I found a shoemaker who applied a nice leather patch on the panniers for just 5€ (washing clothes had cost me 7€ the other day, seriously?). Although the Yamaha dealer in the city didn’t have the required handguards in stock, I could order them in a dealership in Istanbul, where I planned to stay in a few days. This way I wasn’t stuck in Thessaloniki while waiting for the parts. Only in hindsight I realize how fortunate it was, that the guy in Istanbul I phoned with could speak english as this is very rare in Turkey.
Instead of the usual touristy stuff, you have to be content with mostly bikers and cats of Thessaloniki. The motorized two-wheeler seems to be the Thessaloniki madmen’s transportation of choice. In the congested streets they are zipping past the cars using even the smallest gaps available, usually not even wearing a helmet, and there are lots of them (probably only outnumbered by hordes of stray cats). Additionally the road surface here is slippery as hell, raising your already high adrenalin beyond any sane level as your wheels start sliding at the most inappropriate moments. Want to get an impression? I have a video.
As I left Thessaloniki every thing seemed fine until my phone overheated. I was getting used to the rising temperatures as I progressed southwardly (as much as you can get used to being grilled under a black helmet and leather jacket with a hot engine between the knees). But it was too much for the phone, which sits in a transparent compartment on top of the tankbag, getting scorched by the sun, with no way for the heat to escape. This problem is going to accompany me for the next months, there was no solution and I had to cope with it. I had to prevent the battery temperature to rise above 65°C (at that point the phone shut itself off and was almost to hot to touch) by occasionally switching off the screen, unplugging the charger or hiding the phone from the sun, all the while I relied on that damn thing for navigation. I have to say I’m amazed that phone and battery survived that prolonged abuse without any signs of lasting damage.
Before leaving Greece, I had to get cash, 1000€ to be precise. Due to international sanctions foreign credit cards don’t work in Iran and you have to cover all your spending via cash. Two days later disaster struck, the greek Prime Minister Tsipras stopped negotiations with the EU and announced the referendum whether to accept the bailout conditions or not. I still pretend I’m not responsable. Admittedly carrying so much money made me nervous.
For the rest of the leg to Istanbul I chose a route through the mountains and crossing Bulgaria.
On the fourth day after I left Thessaloniki I entered Istanbul. It is a moloch, the outskirts started already 30 km away from the center, traffic was wild and aggressive, a lot worse than Thessaloniki (imagine that). I was on my last leg, tired, hot and stressed because of the traffic, then I had to find a hostel. Needless to say, I was relieved as I found one and took my first shower after 4 days. (Remember the temperatures? You get my drift.)