Well, it's less than a fortnight until we plan to hit the road, and all being well we should be setting off on schedule. Progress on getting prep done was definitely hindered by the gorgeous weather we have had over the past week (three hour dog walk in the sunshine anyone?), and today's cloudy weather was spent dealing with unexpected car issues.
Despite this, we have managed to sort the main outstanding things that we had to do, which were as below.
We have gone with Navigator for this. After reading about another motorbike traveller who got stuck in Mexico with an enormous hospital bill following an accident (his bike was bigger than 125cc, so he could not make a claim with his insurer due to restrictions), we contacted them and checked a few technicalities. Fortunately, they gave decent answers to all our queries and seemed good to deal with. The even better news is that we are covered for going to non FCO advised areas (e.g. Iran), as long as what we are claiming for is not related to the reason given for the restriction. This was a relief, as I was having visions of not being covered for medical expenses if we had an accident in Iran. Anyway, we have insured ourselves for the trip to the tune of £504.00 for the both of us, which was actually a lot less than I was expecting.
After the Pakistani visa failure, we were expecting this to be a total nightmare. However, I have to say this was almost totally painless. We are lucky to be close to London, so we just filled in the online forms and went to the visa centre in person. Oli was envisaging enormous queues and a wasted day, but the process only took around ten minutes, meaning we got to spend the rest of our time wandering around sunny Green Park instead. We only did this on Wednesday, and our passports arrived back by special delivery this morning! We are not actually sure if we will be going to India on the trip now (Pakistan visa dependent), but thought there was no harm in having the option. All our other visas can be applied for either on the roads or granted at the relevant borders.
We also took stock of the outstanding things we needed to purchase, and ordered them all at once. The last few days have been like Christmas here, with a lot of random parcels arriving! The dogs both go a bit mental when parcels are about, and Susie kept shoving her nose into whatever was getting opened.
The last minute purchases were as below:
Dainese Knee V Armour (one pair each) - can be worn with our Draggin Jeans and also under our normal textile trousers.
2 x Aluminium 1l drinking water bottles - I hate the taste of water when it's been warm in a plastic bottle.
One pair of Sealskinz socks for me - There is nothing more miserable than spending a day (or longer) with wet feet... eurgh.
One Aquapure Traveller bottle - This just looks like a small sports water bottle, but works as a decent water filter and will get rid of viruses / amoebas etc. We will probably end up cursing this as a total waste of valuable space, but the stakes are so high with bad drinking water that I think it is worth carrying anyway. We have also bought some chlorine dioxide water purifying tablets (again, not really expecting to have to use these, but definitely worth having).
Exped Dry Bags - We found these cheap on ebay, and are going to use them as clothes bags. Our panniers are cloth rather than metal, and although they are technically waterproof, I don't fancy finding out they aren't after a long day of riding in the rain.
We have done a sample pannier pack with all the clothes we're planning to take, plus sleeping bags, and it's really not looking too bad. People have seemed shocked when we say how few clothes we are bringing, but I think in reality we are probably still over packing, and will end up dumping some of it in Turkey!
We are both going to be sad to leave lovely Sussex, but are also itching to get on the road. Europe wise, we are planning to head fairly quickly through Germany and Italy, and then spend most of the three weeks in Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania. We'll then get to Turkey via Greece, avoiding Istanbul traffic by getting a ferry from Athens to Chios, and then another from Chios to Çeşme. So excited!
To finish up, here is a video you might enjoy...