On the road of the worlds – Motorcycle tour in Mongolia – Stage 2: from Lucerne (Switzerland) to Istanbul (Turkey) – Used HONDA

Motorcycle tour in Mongolia – Stage 2: from Lucerne (Switzerland) to Istanbul (Turkey)

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 2: from Lucerne (Switzerland) to Istanbul (Turkey) - Used HONDA

Second episode of Enzo’s motorcycle trip to Mongolia to be seen on Le Journal moto du Net. Today direction Istanbul from Lucerne via Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria…

Lucerne and Switzerland mark my first country outside of France with motorcycles (read). Leaving this very "safe" country for motorcycling, I’m a little stressed … Italy, I can tell, will not be the same….

  • Motorcycle road trip in Mongolia (2018) :
  • Motorcycle road trip in Mongolia (2012) :

After crossing the magnificent Swiss mountains, that I arrive in Italy by Como. I made the choice not to go to Milan on a motorcycle to reduce the risk of theft. Indeed, the only accessible districts in Milan were near places which are moderately "safe" for motorcycles..

I go directly to Lake Como, a small historic town that is quite touristy. I wouldn’t know how to explain it to you, but when I arrived in Italy I was seized with a bad feeling. I was not particularly excited when it was a destination that was close to my heart from the development of this trip.

Golden hair and gold watches

Once I got down to earth in the streets of Como, I realized that I was surrounded by people much older than me (between 40 and 60 years old on average), designer shirts, canvas pants and gold watches … Men accompanied by women with golden hair, a very amber tan, long and elegant dresses, wearing sunglasses of disproportionate size !

Immediately, I didn’t feel out of place. Not comfortable with my growing beard, my cheap shorts (yeah it’s Decathlon shorts but it’s too comfortable) … I quickly realized that this was not at all what I was looking for and that Italy, in any case this part, is a destination that is best visited as a couple.

To confirm my premonitions, two days after my arrival, a person, during the night, decided to overturn my motorcycle while it was parked correctly in a corner. So I found her spread out in the grass, which had somewhat dampened her fall. After a controversial visit to Milan (I felt like I was in Paris), I therefore decided to change the route: towards the Balkans !

I do not like it in Italy, I decide not to insist not to enter into an infernal circle which would jeopardize this beginning of the trip. It does not matter, I will try my luck with Italy again later and otherwise !

My decision is therefore taken: direction Slovenia, a small country of two million inhabitants which is known for … not much, it is an anecdotal country of which I know nothing.

The only thing I know? Friends of mine are in Ljubljana. They go to Japan by bicycle from Paris. Two super funny guys, quite complementary: one is not very talkative, the other totally eccentric. Two bikers who have swapped motorcycles for bicycles. And as luck does things well, Sebastien, the AirBnB where we nursery, is a biker !

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 2: from Lucerne (Switzerland) to Istanbul (Turkey) - Used HONDA

Long nights are linked to discussing motorcycles and trips. And then, most naturally in the world, he offers to accompany us for a motorcycle trip in the north of Slovenia (a tiny country that we cross very easily back and forth in one day).

He generously lends to Stephane, one of my two friends (the other being indisposed because of a micro-surgery which prevented him from accompanying us), one of his motorcycles, a Yamaha Tenere 660 from the 90s! Sebastien will have his brand new Super Tenere 1200 !

The next day we set off for Bled, the only world famous spot in Slovenia. It is with our three motorcycles and a magnificent weather that we cross the north of Slovenia between mountains and pimps. We stop near a very pretty stream, which in addition to that is drinkable.

It’s happiness, my best day since I left. Clearly! Sharing what I see and feel with others, at the same time, is something that is quite unusual for me. It is around a glass of schnapps that in the evening we meet up with Sebastien to conclude this absolutely magnificent session..


As all good things come to an end, we decide to leave Slovenia with my friends to go to Zagreb, Croatia. I knew them very little before my departure but we hooked a lot, so we decided to extend the adventure together. The problem is that these lazy people only do 60 km per day when I do an average of 400…

So I have to adapt: ​​they leave in the morning and I meet them in the evening at our meeting place to camp. The next day we booked a room in a youth hostel in Zagreb which is 90 km from our campsite to be able to meet there and them to rest there..

I admit that I was quite disappointed by Zagreb … I wasn’t expecting much, and indeed … there wasn’t much. My goal is to reach Istanbul quickly enough to be able to take the time to check the bike in detail and have the wheels changed to deal with all types of roads. This is one of the reasons why I unfortunately cannot linger for a week in each capital of our old continent….

After leaving Zagreb, I head for Serbia to be able to admire this famous canyon in the south. It is 800 terminals from Zagreb. So I make a short stop just after the Serbian border at the edge of a lake, in a public campsite where I meet a Serbian accompanied by his two children..

He comes to talk to me as soon as I arrive, then a second who passed by by bike. A group of young people approach me warmly and speak to me when they have absolutely no command of English. I love it, I am under the spell. This hospitality and this welcome put me at ease very quickly.

"Make yourself comfortable, you are at home!"

I speak with my hands, I have it translated, in short I manage. An hour later, the dad with his children invites me to sleep at his place. I pack up all my stuff and I am. We spend the evening discussing various things, he drinks a lot and offers me as much, but not tolerating alcohol very badly, I accept a few drinks and do not forget that the next day I have a lot of kilometers on motorcycles waiting for me … I don’t want to be exhausted because of too much drinking !

This gentleman’s wife arrives with the rest of the children and I have the feeling that she is not very happy that her husband did not notify her of my arrival. They go into the kitchen and come back to him, a little tipsy, telling me in English: "don’t worry, you’ll stay and sleep, make yourself comfortable, you’re at home!"

It makes me laugh because I see him negotiating in a language I don’t know at all, but I see him pleading for me with all his might. I did offer to go back to the lake to sleep and that didn’t bother me, but on this point he didn’t want to know anything !

On the other hand his wife disappeared, I have the impression that she avoided me all the rest of the evening! When it was 10 p.m., she started gardening … The next day, I left thanking my host and headed for this famous canyon that I had spotted in the south, no far from Kosovo.

Wild camping

The road is rather pleasant but nothing folichon, lots of fields … The end of the journey is more impressive because we find ourselves zigzagging on the edge of several lakes, all very beautiful. And, finally, comes the route I wanted to take to access a beautiful point of view that I had spotted on Google Maps.

The small problem is that the road is not asphalted: it is a road of 4×4 and tractors, but on a motorbike it is more complicated, especially with a package and a large cube. This little path climbs quite a bit, casually. And to add a bit of bad luck, my wheels are made for the paved road, absolutely not for anything else.

I do it anyway, I climb this small path on the hill, then I come up with a choice: either I continue on my motorcycle in a terrain of uneven advantage, or I leave it and I go up on a small hill no away to sleep with a beautiful view…

Reason prevails and I park my motorcycle on the side to begin my climb with all my camping equipment. I think I made the right choice, I have a breathtaking panorama. The kind of panorama that makes you tiny and brings you back to your little human condition in this big world … it’s very nice.

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 2: from Lucerne (Switzerland) to Istanbul (Turkey) - Used HONDA

I set up my camp, I eat and I enjoy a beautiful sunset which sets the sky ablaze in the distance. I fall asleep innocently and in the middle of the night, I wake up and I realize that there is a condensation of madness in the tent! I glance outside … Indeed I am in a cloud, literally: I cannot see at 5 meters.

I can’t do anything, it’s 2 am, I have no choice but to wait in my sleeping bag and take my pain patiently. The next day, at 7:30 am I am on my motorbike ready to go. The night was a horror! And, the first hour of motorbike too, because you have to go down this steep path in the other direction with ten meters of visibility…

Then I have to resume my way on a normal road, of course, but in the same conditions, without visibility, on a path which only presents curves and bends. It’s dangerous, I’m not really at peace. But I’m very happy to have the opportunity to escape this time.

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 2: from Lucerne (Switzerland) to Istanbul (Turkey) - Used HONDA

Cautiously, I walk forward, and as the sun warms me, dries my wet clothes and gives me a smile. I can put my visor back on and head for Bulgaria. The trip is not interesting because I cheated: I took the highway !

Indeed, after only four hours of sleep, I wanted to arrive quickly in Sofia to be able to rest and clean all my stuff. The night was trying and the day too.


At 5 pm, I arrive in Sofia in an apartment-hotel that I have reserved for myself. However, a small "detail" annoys me: I had no other choice than to park my motorbike in the street. And even though she’s tied up, I know Sofia is not the safest capital for personal property like this. I admit that I cannot sleep peacefully. In general, I do my best to keep the bike as discreet as possible when parked. I don’t want everyone to see it and I like to park it in a private place, and it’s usually possible, but this time it’s missed.

Sofia is probably an interesting city, but I didn’t have the pleasure of visiting it because for a week it rained almost constantly … I saw a few places, but I am not marked by this city.

A few days later, I therefore left for Turkey. I want to get to Istanbul quickly to avoid traffic jams and quickly find a garage that will change my tires and do the oil change. But before that you have to cross the Turkish border … And god knows how much I hate customs, for a lot of different reasons:

  • I have a drone with me (potentially banned in many countries)
  • I am leaving Europe for the first time with a motorbike
  • They can make you sweat for a lot of different reasons…

In short, I am always a little anxious when approaching customs. And it turns out that for that border, I was right to be chickweed … I arrive at the Bulgarian border, I give my papers, the guy checks, doesn’t say a word to me, not even hello, not even goodbye. He gives me back my papers, which I carefully put in my tank bag to be able to give them back in 5 minutes at the Turkish border..

As I approach I prepare my papers and there, amazement: my green card is no longer there! I start to search everywhere and I realize that it is not in my tank bag or elsewhere … And yet, I saw it 5 minutes ago! Too late, I’m in the line for baggage checks and I can’t turn around…

Turkish border

I ask for help from young people who are there for some reason, they work there but are not customs officers or gendarmes. I explain my problem to them, and after 10 minutes of conversation we understand each other. It would definitely take too long to tell you, but I managed to get permission to walk to the Bulgarian border. So I leave my motorbike with all my valuables at the border and I leave, convinced that it is the old Bulgarian customs officer who did not give me back my insurance paper…

Once there, I will see him at his counter. And … he yells at me because I surprised him while he was focused on his phone! He tells me he doesn’t have my document, his head riveted on his phone, and waves me to release…

At that time, I would have made him eat his phone. Anyway, in short, still it is that he does not have my insurance paper and that irritates me because even if it is not essential to cross the borders, it would have avoided me to subscribe to a insurance at the Turkish border, and what’s more is to waste 1h30 in obtaining it…

Coming back to the Turkish border I scan the surroundings, hoping to see a little green paper on the ground, but nothing miraculous happens and I had to resign myself to taking out this damn insurance to be able to cross this border..

An hour of waiting later, I can hit the road again, having successfully crossed the border. All that will have made me lose a good two hours in all. And then, now comes Turkey and their famous conduct…

Folklore on the 4-way…

There is folklore! Fortunately, when I stop at the gas station, I see a group of three BMW 1200 GS motorcycles parked. I start a conversation and decide to follow them for the 170 terminals that separate me from my "hostel".

While there are two of them on each motorcycle, they are moving well and we sometimes drive at 150 km / h on the highway, which is quite monotonous, and rather deserted until the entrance to Istanbul. And there, it spoils … Turkish driving is REALLY dangerous, especially when the traffic is dense but not congested. Because obviously all cars have a manufacturing defect in Turkey: they are devoid of indicators !

As we move forward in a group with our motorcycles, a car, truck or van may well decide to wander on our lane without any warning. Let’s talk about the emergency lane: it serves as a fifth track for everyone. When we saw motorcycles following vans or cars overtaking everyone on that line, we understood that this was our way forward..

We get back on a normal lane when the police honk us to pass, then we resume our seat. In short, it’s VERY chaotic, even wild…

The horn is, like in India, your best friend, essential to your survival. But above all, do not attempt any sudden acceleration if you see a lane clearing, because cars will disengage to access it while you repaint the ground with your blood….

After losing my traveling companions in the middle of a traffic jam, I headed for my hotel, still staying on the highway. And that’s when something happens that I’ve never seen…

Minibuses, public or not, I don’t know, but mass transport in any case, stop on the emergency lane to drop off passengers and leave! I hallucinated! They are not the same codes as in Europe.

Last anecdote and I stop there: on this same highway, a man was waiting on a safety ramp … But he was on his cell phone! That is, on a 4-lane, a man was waiting for someone or something with his eyes riveted on his phone, as if he was waiting for the bus! Knowing that a bunch of vehicles, me included, passed on the emergency lane 1 meter from him! But what can this man be afraid of in his life ?

Finally, after all these adventures, I arrive at my "hostel" where I have the good surprise to find a small place to park my motorcycle, locked, where there is a Honda 250 CRF with side luggage. made of metal. Good news, a second biker, I will be able to exchange lots of advice with him if he has been there for a while !

On the road of the worlds - Motorcycle tour in Mongolia - Stage 2: from Lucerne (Switzerland) to Istanbul (Turkey) - Used HONDA

As I was removing all my stuff from my motorcycle, this young man arrived, very frail. He’s the owner of the bike, his name is Manuel, he’s 24, he’s German, and he’s heading to Tajikistan. We spend the evening discussing motorcycles and he even gives me the name of a garage where he was able to change his tires and where, moreover, they speak English. !

Easier to be understood and above all, I would not have to order my tires on a specialized site to have them come from France. Good news ! Manuel must leave the next day for Ankara (capital of Turkey). We join on Facebook to try to meet again later, as I’m going faster than him, we will surely manage to meet again at a crossroads. It would be great, especially since we get along well and it is not perched on a planet too far from mine !

The next day I go to this famous garage to have my tires changed and have a good oil change. In an hour, everything is done. But some little Turkish techniques made me laugh.

In any case, it’s a new part of the trip that is coming: soon I will take the bridge that will take me from the European side to the Asian side. !

See you soon bikers !


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