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The border was a bit chaotic, firstly due to the duty free petrol station between the border and secondly, due to the the lack of signs. I found the tourist information office and the guy there spoke English and was very helpful. Most of it was done on foot as the booths were mostly empty and everyone queued up at the only few open ones. Our carnet got its first use and saved us paying 11million lira in taxes. We bought insurance for a month after a long discussion between the insurance man and the tourist office man to decide if Nelly is a car or a minibus/camper van. I just said that she was a car in England and eventually they gave us the cheaper insurance. Then we tried to make our escape but were turned back, missing a stamp from the baggage control man. Finally we were in Turkey and it felt great. The sun was shining and Europe was over.

We headed towards Istanbul and stopped just short so that we could arrive in daylight on Saturday. We stopped at a parking place on the motorway and three guys came over to chat to us and then returned later to invite us into the café for tea. They spoke no English but fed and watered us. on Saturday we drove into Istanbul and up to the Blue Mosque. Navigation was easier than expected and we found an otopark to leave Nelly in before wandering. We went into the Istanbul Hostel for some food and found some backpackers playing backgammon, willing away the time in a rainy Istanbul. It was good to meet other tourists and to be able to wander around and look at things. We found a flatter guarded car park right up next to the Blue Mosque that would let us stay for 12 hours for 5million lira.

Next morning (after only briefly being woken by the call to prayer at 5am) we woke to rain and spent most of the day wandering the sights of Istanbul. We went into the Blue Mosque and found the post office, the pigeon market, the fishing bridges, the aqueduct and other rainy sights. The skyline of the city was impressive, as were the views along the river but not so inspiring in the rain. We walked through a deserted fayre like area with all the food being cooked and realizing it was Ramadan we returned after sunset to sample some of the treats. The area was very busy and the profiteroles were especially popular. The next morning we headed out of the city and after some complicated navigation we made it to the Bosphorus bridge and entered Asia!

 

The rain still fell and we drove onwards around the Gulf of Izmit and then inland across to Bursa, stopping for a sleep on the shores of Lake Izmit surrounded by olive groves and rain and then later in amongst the fir trees near Manisa. As we drove towards Selcuk on 12th November the sun came out and the temperature rose. We drove down to Pamucak beach which the gendarme let us drive along and stopped. The sea was lapping the shore the sun was warming and we rested. Rainy cold Europe was over and the sunshine was here.

Photo 248 - On the Beach

 

Next day we visited the ruins of Ephesus, the main sights are the theatre (which does have amazing acoustics to it) and the heavily restored (with Austrian money) library. There are columns lying all over the place, too many to match them all up and who knows what else, as the excavations just stop at the edges at the moment.

 

Photo 313 White cliffs of Pamukkale

Friday saw us driving inland to Pamukkale and the 'cotton cliffs'. A thermal spring, rich in calcium carbonate, has formed white cliffs, photographed at the right angle you would think you were in the arctic. The water at the top of the hill was quite warm and left our feet feeling tingled. You are no longer allowed to swim in the pools in order to try and keep them clean. Quite a special place but the Turks have made the most of getting the tourists in to see it and are in danger of spoiling it with tackyness.

 

Next stop was at Marmaris and was Chris's Birthday. The town was a good size to find everything in and obviously gets lots of yachts visiting and many people starting and ending their trips there. Most visitors are presumably English speaking as most signs were in English as well as Turkish, even the plaque on the Ataturk statue. We wandered the bazaar, used the internet café and took in the sunshine and warmth.

On Tuesday we drove down to Knidos, along a road that is very slowly being improved using some interesting construction methods. Time is definitely on their side and we found a beach all to ourselves for the night. No calls to pray and, most importantly, no banging at 3am to wake you up to feast before the fast. Wednesday and we moved to Fethiye to look for our parcel from England. First bad news, no parcel but second, the good news, we found a brilliant little cove for our campsite complete with trees for the washing line and flat grass for a look at the rear bearing spacer again. The parcel arrived on Friday and we then headed east to Demre and the Lycian tombs in the cliffs. The Lycians buried their dead in hollowed out caves in the cliffs, the entrances and covers were very ornate. A natural wonder was next on the sight seeing agenda for Turkey.

 

Near Olympos natural gas seeps out of the limestone and burns. It is all contained within a national park area but the amount of gas is small, apparently the flames were once used for navigation but are now masked by the many developments here along the coast. Our guidebook told us to walk to the flames along the beach from Olympos. We tried but came to the next village and found lots of other campers on the beach so decided to move there and visit it the next night. In the village of Olympus we came across some climbers! .

Photo 424

So the next morning we climbed. Quite short routes but on nice sharp limestone. We moved onwards to the next village in the evening to see the flames

 

Photo 434 Geyikbayiri

Our next stop was for some climbing near Antalya, we had directions to some climbs on the coast from the internet (www.turkeyclimb.com). When we got there the waves were large but we met a german couple with a guide book that talked about another place so we wrote down the directions and went there. It is called Geyikbayiri and is one of the largest sport climbing places in Turkey. It is huge, the walkins are very short, the rock is sharp limestone and the bolts new and good. There is a climbers campsite and café next to it or you can camp anywhere you like.

 

We parked up on the only bit of flat ground at the campsite for free. There were loads of other climbers there but there are so many routes it didn't matter. We could have stayed there for ages but had to move onwards. I think this is one of the places we will be returning to. Fly to Antalya, taxi/bus up there and then climb, easy.

We spent the next few days driving east around Adana, through Iskenderum where we changed money and up across to the Syrian border. Just east of Antalya we had a puncture and it ripped the side wall of the tyre. We started to investigate new tyres, with the help of the internet and some local otolastik places but none of them could get tyres to fit within a week and even then they were unsure of availability. We decided to wait until Jordan.

 

 

 
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