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! .
|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,
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.