Today, 40 days after our arrival in Istanbul, I finally find some time to update our blog and to tell you all about our incredible arrival in Istanbul. Today, all this incredible trip seems like a dream to me and if it wasn’t for the pictures on our website which remind me of what we did, I’d really think I dreamt it all. However, on that very morning of July 24th, eveything was more than real…
We woke up reasonably early, although we had only about 100km to go till Istanbul. My fall of the day before reminded us that we’d better ride slowlier… and Istanbul is not exactly an easy place to find its way. So we left at 8:30am planning to arrive around 12pm and have a rest before our arrival cocktail. My hip still felt very sore from my fall, but it bothered me only when walking. After I made it on my bike, sitting on it felt quite comfortable. We rode very slowly, 50km/h, and reached the suburbs of Istanbul around 10:30… too early we thought, but our average speed quickly decreased as we entered into the city and tried to figure out where to go. And then suddenly, we saw it: Europe. There it was, the bridge leading us from Asia to Europe. A few more meters to go. As we crossed the bridge, we couldn’t believe that these were the last moments of our trip. A wind of nostalgy blew accross the bridge, as I tried to look back asking myself, is it really finished ? But the impatience of making it to the finish line kept us going. We reached the Kempinksi at 11h30, but couldn’t drive in straight away. We stopped a few hundred meters further in order to take a deep breath, look into each others eyes and realize that we JUST MADE IT. That was it, Mark and I just rode during 82 days, over 16,000 km, crossed 8 countries, and arrived with nothing more than a couple of nails missing and a sore hip. Could it really have been so easy ? or did I already forget about the hard times… I felt almost as nervous as the day of our Kick Off Event thinking of all the obstacles laying ahead of us. After a few minutes spent chasing this nervosity out of our bodies and ming, we gathered the courage to ride these last few meters into the Kempinski’s entrance, where our families were waiting for us and the Kempinski staff welcomed us with a refreshing non-alcoholic mojito. After spending the afternoon, Mark with his family, me with my fiance Arnaud, who I missed tremendously… Mark and me met again at 5:30pm ready for our (almost) last ride to the BMW Rider Academy, where BMW Motorrad welcomed us with a great cocktail reception (check out the pictures) and where we met all our friends and family members who had come to celebrate our safe arrival and birthdays. The cocktail reception was followed by a late night out for most of us, and the next day by our Gala Dinner:
After 3 months on a bike, we switched to an evening gown and high heals for me and a white tuxedo for Mark (who also got a haircut and trimmed his beard…)… what a change! We spent a magnificent evening eating, drinking, dancing with all our friends, families and sponsors (check out the pictures).
Thanks to the support of our sponsors and our friends and loyal blog readers, we were able to donate to the Sindicatum Climate Change Foundation, represented by Lord Andrew Stone, a total of USD 23,400, which will help finance training programs for engineers in Asia (and in particular in China) focusing on the development of technologies allowing to reduce CO2 faster.
We made it, safe and sound, and were celebrating this achievement with all the people we loved. We could not have dreamt of a nicer arrival in Istanbul.
Thank you, to all of you, sponsors, family, friends, bloggers, and thanks also to all these people we met during our trip and who shared with us a meal, a roof, a bit of their culture, a moment of their lives, or helped us overcome whatever obstacle was in front of us. This trip was a success and will stay for ever in our memories thanks to all the help and support we received. Thank you!
Now all of you are wondering why the post is entitled “The Arrival (Not the End)”… well this is linked to the fact that after our arrival in Istanbul, we had to ship our bikes back to China… They are now on a container somewhere between Istanbul and Tianjin. While shipping them was relatively easy, we are now waiting for the bikes to arrive in Tianjin and the paperwork war has already started. You’ve read all about ‘getting our bikes out of China’ (see blog posts Day 21 fol.), now stay tuned for the – hopefully – final chapter of our trip: “Getting our bikes back into China”. Ciao!