29 April 2012

Batumi, Georgia - Tbilisi, Georgia: Day 12 (24 April, 2012)

After a night of sleep in the "sauna" hotel, we awoke to a gorgeous day outside.  Grant asked us to wake him when we got up to get some breakfast with us. 
At the Tower Cafe in Batumi, Grant was in the smoking section

25 April 2012

Unye - Batumi, Georgia, Day 11 (23 April, 2012)

We awoke to clear skies, warm sun and an incredible view of the Black Sea. The forecast called for good weather all day up the coast.  We were out of the hotel by 10am, headed north to Georgia.

The morning view from Unye, Turkey of the Black Sea

24 April 2012

Bolu - Unye Day 10 (22 April, 2012)

We woke up to a nice sunny day.  Despite the good weather, we were a bit fragile from the last night's loss of Barcelona to Real Madrid.  Nonetheless, we must continue the journey.  We originally planned to make it to Samsun, but if we arrived early enough, we would push on to Unye.
Last night before arriving into Bolu, we needed to exit the toll highway.  Using our KGS toll card (we picked it up just after entering Turkey), we tried to scan out.  It denied us.  There was nobody at the toll so we just went around the gate.  Before leaving Bolu, we went to a petrol station to try and put money on the card.  To our surprise, you must only do this at the toll booths.
Here is the infamous toll card...don't lose it!

23 April 2012

Istanbul-Bolu Day 9

Today we started a bit slow.  HJ woke up thinking about the passport and if the Turkmenistan visa was going to be in there.  As soon as Hakan was awake, they called the DHL distribution center, figured out where the passport was going to be at and went there soon after breakfast. Scott stayed back to catch up on the blog and load some pictures.
Today's breafast stop...sun in the background...

Istanbul - Day 8

Wow, CIBT has really outdone themselves this time...two days in a row with an even more asinine explanation to why the were not able to send HJ's passport than the previous days explanation of "we did not know how to read the address."  Today's was, "we did not see a postal code on the address and thought we could not send it."  Incredible incompetence. Luckily, DHL can receive shipments in one day to Istanbul and we can go to the distribution center to pick it up.  We only need a marginal competence of CIBT to put it in an envelope and send it. Time to get moving to a nice turkish breakfast.
The food in Turkey is amazingly fresh and very tasty.  Hakan was posing here.

21 April 2012

Sofia-Istanbul Day 7

We awoke today to sunshine.  It felt great!  As if the sun was not a great omen, the breakfast Veronika and Nikola prepared for us was amazing.  We needed to get on the road today as early as possible.  We had a long journey ahead of us, roughly 500km.
The day's start...a nice muddy Sofia road, clear skies and warmer weather

Belgrade-Sofia Day 6

As mentioned in the previous day's blog, the day started off on a downer, not to mention it was raining like crazy.  Tom Tom was working well enough to get us in the direction of Sofia, but nothing more detailed.
We had printed some google maps out of the city and HJ had the Navigon prepared on his Iphone - just in case.
We had to stop and get some roadside pictures.  Serbia countryside is amazingly beautiful..but watch out for the crazy drivers!

Ljubljana-Belgrade: Day 5

Today is a new day!  CIBT had sent an email with the tracking number of the passport, and the weather looks nice (no rain).  Things are actually working out.  Roman stopped by in the morning to see us off and suggest that we take the spare tires with us.  I figured I would put them on the back to see how it looked and felt.
The spares on the back...no tubes so a just-in-case packing

20 April 2012

Ljubljana, Slovenia Day 4

Today was our only slack day we have until reaching Baku.  We wanted to check out the city and luckily for us, Emil (Obsession) came back into town late Sunday so we decided to meet Monday mid-morning. Monday was D-Day for me.  CIBT needed to give me some info about the Turkmenistan visa.  The day started out a bit stressed (it is all relavtive people...haha).  Things just were not working.  We finally got through to CIBT and found out that they messed up Harm-Jan’s visa and really didn’t know where his passport was at the moment.  They had no idea about mine either but would call us back in the afternoon.  In the mean time, Emil showed up and we headed for a walk around the city.  He knows the place like the back of his hand.  We went for food at a local place and ate some amazing food. 

Lunch at Emil's local eatery

Austria/Slovenia - Day 3

 We woke up, prepared a bit, went to get breakfast, came back, got yelled at by the receptionist for not checking out by noon, checked out and were on our way to Slovenia. While getting yelled at, Harm-Jan managed to phone a hostel he found on the internet to see if they had room that night and the following. Luckily they did! We finally were on the road about 1pm. It was another late start.  

At the boarder of Germany/Austria, buying a Vignette for the bikes

Germany - Day 1-2

We began the trip from Rotterdam at just past noon on Friday. We made a quick stopover at HK Suspension to ensure that our suspension was set up correctly. After the green light, we drove south on the A61 in the direction of Stuttgart. 

HK Suspension

The beginning...

First and foremost, thank you for the devoted followers and apologies for not updating as frequently as we would like. 

From Rotterdam, we began from here

12 April 2012


For those of you who have the idea of doing a similar journey, take our advice, make sure you plan out to get your visas so you can leave on time!  We began to really plan out the trip in early January.  We basically had 4 months to get everything organized: route, possible countries to visit, visas needed, carnet de passages, parts needed, etc.  Nevertheless, we still managed to be challenged with the visa timing.  I was delayed with Kazakhstan while Harm-Jan was delayed with Uzbekistan.  Fortunately, both passports arrived on the same day to the Turkmenistan Embassy in Brussels (this past Tuesday).  Unfortunately the visa process is 5 days and we need to leave before the passports are ready.  Fingers crossed that CIBT (visa agency) will be able to get the visas to us quickly! (We needed to get a visa for Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan). The first visa, Azerbaijan, begins on April 25th...so there is not much time to get there.  Aside from the visas, I just hope that what we are bringing is more than sufficient (tools, clothes, spare parts, etc).  Well, only time will tell...Anyway, back to preparations...I have a BMW R1200GS Adventure and Harm-Jan a BMW R650GS Dakar.  Both bikes are in good shape, but there were still things that were needed in prepartion of this long ride.  We were lucky to have good friends who helped us prepare the bikes for this trip.  First and foremost, we would like to thank a select few that helped us out: Rolf Selling for taking the time to help us prepare the bikes and to organize two Saturdays at Motorport Amsterdam, Motorport Amsterdam (especially Fred) for letting us occupy two bays, BMW Harry Meyer (Arno) for being patient with me and my questions, Hans from Toms Skateshop, Iwan from Rodolfos, Logan from the Taco Shop, RSM for being the catalyst to make this trip a reality, Horizons Unlimited for providing countless stories to learn from, and to all of our friends and family who are morally supporting us along the way.
Tomorrow will be the first drive of the journey...stay tuned...

The bikes at Motorport Amsterdam (Fred in background)

Harm-Jan getting started

Thanks Rolf!

Grinding away...

The chain...to the 650GS Dakar

Playing with the rear wheel

Practice makes perfect

Installing a 20v plug

My tools...

Harry Meyer - BMW Amsterdam

Iwan from Rodolfos

Motorport Amsterdam

11 April 2012

The Riders

Harm Jan Meester and Scott Sentianin are executive MBA graduates from the Rotterdam School of Management, class 2011.  Both are ambitious about their professional futures and passionate about riding and their BMW motorcycles.  The end of the MBA was a perfect time for both guys to take a sabbatical from work, jump on the back of the bikes and head out to Singapore overland.

Harm-Jan Meester is a Dutch national living in the bustling harbor city of Rotterdam.  Growing up in the tranquil north of the country, Harm-Jan enjoyed training his parents’ horses, cycling and swimming (which he competed on a national level). During his studies at the Delft University of Technology, Harm-Jan began travelling to the then opening-up countries of Eastern Europe which turned into a long-lasting travel bug. After a number of years of international consulting at Deloitte, Harm-Jan opened his own consulting company, advising mining and oil companies on trading and supply chain issues. This work kept the travel bug alive and allowed him to work in exotic locations. Today, after finishing a two-year MBA study at the Rotterdam School of Management, Harm-Jan balances his time between working for his business, travelling and enjoying life with his girlfriend, and sports.  Motorcycling came only recently to Harm-Jan’s life, and is predominantly a means to fully experience traveling in contrast to the usual business flights and hotels.

Harm-Jan vs the 650 Dakar
Scott Sentianin is a Californian transplanted to the Netherlands after Sole Technology Inc opened a European Headquarters.   An avid participant in the action sports, Scott grew up skateboarding and playing soccer.  His international exchange to Argentina during high school created the desire to travel and look for adventure.  The travel bug bit and Scott has been travelling ever since.  The latest stint sent him to Amsterdam, Netherlands for the past 6 years working with Sole Technology.  The past 2 years has been filled with an MBA study at the Rotterdam School of Management.  To close this chapter in his life, Scott has joined Harm-Jan to travel overland to Asia.  To this day, Scott enjoys skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, riding motorcyles and playing soccer with the etnies team in Amsterdam.
Scott strapped in, ready to go
Scott's Adventure, skateboard included