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Turkey

 9-15th April 2014 Got out of Hatay airport, 40k from Iskenderun, our destination, at 10.30 pm with no booking for a hotel room. What to do? Well catch a bus into town and find a luxury hotel room for the price of a regular one, and discounted at that. I love Turkey already. People most friendly, helpful and not asking for a tip the whole time and the following is an example. The bus driver knew we didn’t have accommodation so he asked the passengers to help. An English speaking fellow translated, the bus driver rang ahead, we were met at the bus stop by a hotel employee, ATM’s galore (unguarded), got some money, short walk to the hotel.

16th April 2014 In the light of day Iskenderun is a delightful and modern seaside city surrounded by mountains, comparable at the very least to anything at home. Our car arrives tomorrow.

So far everything has worked out well for us considering the doubts about travelling any further north than Kenya. Some travellers did turn back but we have certainly been rewarded in persevering with our original plan. But, I had better not speak too soon as our car isn’t off the RO-RO yet.

17th April 2014 The formalities were completed with no problems but it took 8 ½ hours as our car was the last vehicle off the ferry. Got back to the hotel at 11pm.

Some items missing from the car. A springbok skin, Judy’s glasses, my sunnies and a roll of tape, reported to the police as a matter of record. Our Hotel Manager, Bilsay Gundogan could not have been more helpful, coming with us to the Police station to act as interpreter.

The detectives took it seriously enough to serve us numerous cups of sweet, Turkish tea and then driving us to the correct crime section.

18th April 2014 Drove most of the day on excellent motorways through pretty countryside. Turkey is a modern country with plenty of petrol stations, service centres, good internet and spotlessly clean.

19th April 2014 Woke up in Goreme, Cappadocia the land of Fairy Chimneys. These are volcanic (according to pamphlet. Looks like sedimentary to me) needles that have been burrowed out, in which people live. These structures surround the village and a unique scene it is. I have never seen anything like it and we will explore later, possibly by balloon.

Apparently the chimneys are both volcanic and sedimentary.

We are ensconced at the Panorama camp that, as the name suggests, looks over the entire valley.

Very windy today, no balloon flights.

20th April 2014 Balloons booked out due to the previous flight cancellations and took a tour instead.

They did look spectacular from our camp sight in the early morning, all two hundred of them.

21st April 2014 Turkey is Turiffic. Drove south toward the coast and warmer climes over large plains, most of which are cultivated. With imposing snow covered mountain ranges in the distance we descended to the coast through some very spectacular country to arrive at Akcakil Camp right on the Mediterranean coast, where we camp on a white pebble beach (they are really just big grains of sand), ready to look at the many old castles on this piece of coastline. It is early morning and already it is swimming weather here as I write this blog so I will write no more.

Later in the morning, as we left the campsite, we almost noticed some quizzical looks that the gardener and some other people along the road were giving us, and upon entering the motorway a strange flapping noise notified us that we had forgotten to pull the roof down, which made us look like an over-the-top speedway racer with the airfoil on top. Talk about a red face. I did notice, though, that it did improve the car’s roadholding abilities. Might leave it up.

24th April 2014 We are camped under the walls of Mamure Castle amongst not only gum trees but also wattle and bottlebrush. Just waiting for the wallaby to pop up.

There were already a Portuguese couple at the camp, who are cycling around the world, when the German couple from Cappadocia arrived and then another Portuguese couple, walking to Jerusalem, arrived pulling buggies complete with pet dog, not walking but sitting on the box. There are many ways to skin a cat.

A walk around the immediate locality led us around this formidable castle (largest on the Mediterranean) that originated in Roman times and then on through market gardens, one of which had a stall with very large punnets of mulberries and strawberries on offer. We took one of each but the stallholder would not accept any money.    I love Turkey.                     Gozleme for lunch.

25th April 2014 Anzac Day Lest we forget.

Tara emailed to us, as she called them, a plate of virtual Anzac biscuits. When I saw them I could taste them. Now what about the Anzac breakfast i.e. mashed potato and sausage?

We only motored for about 130 K’s today through winding, sea cliff roads with brunch at an eagle’s nest of a restaurant, ending at the very large tourist resort, Alanya. It is A1 as these places go and we have found a spot to stay overnight right by the Mediterranean shore in a nature reserve, overlooking the grand hotels and marinas. Camping is permitted.

We notice that there are a lot of signs here in Russian and when you look at the map you see it could well be a Russian tourist destination.

26th April 2014 Kind of stumbled upon Cirali. We are wild camped on the coast, a beach, which promises a geological freak in the form of flames issuing from the side of a mountain and to our left mount and village of Olympos (not Greece), complete with many archaeological offers such as necropoli, sarcophagi, Roman bath, theatre, crypt etc.

Tonight listening to a wedding across the road with live Turkish music, and these guy’s are good, complete with fireworks.

I love Turkey.

27th April 2014 Not disappointed with either of the above and ended up at the seaside town of Kas. The camping ground we were looking for was not open and we were directed to a horseshoe shaped cove with high cliffs all around on the edge of town. Several small shanty type of restaurants here and so I went into one to enquire about the camping. No problem and no charge the proprietor of one of the shanties, told me, but not only is the shower cold but it is also alfresco in full view of the beach. Oh well the price is right.

28th April 2014 Fantastic calcium deposits and pools at Pamukkale. Met a Dutch and Ukrainian couple at Tepes camp, a spectacular, mountain high, sleepover. We also re-met the next day, by chance, on the Med coast so we had to call ourselves Club Med.

2nd May 2014 I’ve been ruined.   No more ruins we said but just had to see Troy and yes the wooden horse is still there in amazingly good shape. The history and feature of every building there are presented in great detail but the legend of the Trojan horse is not even mentioned. We are getting so scrambled with knowledge e.g. Judy suggested we go and see a place we already saw two days ago.

Last night we stayed at Bates’s Motel (Psycho) meets the Hound of the Baskervilles     creeeeeeeepy     complete with run down amusement park next door, dogs howling, footsteps in the night etc.

Today drove up toward Gallipoli or Gelibolu, as it is called here, right along the Dardanelles, quite a narrow channel maybe 6k’s wide, very nice, wondering if there were a car ferry across to Gallipoli from Lapseki. I could not believe it. Arrived, turned left to the gate, paid AUD$15, on to the ferry, ½ hour, Gallipoli.

Couldn’t find Anzac Cove. That’s because it’s 40k south.

Now free camped on a beach 1k south of Anzac cove, looking into the sunset.

We found out the next day that camping is not permitted but nobody said anything to us.

I love Turkey.

3rd May 2014 Visited the places we have heard about every Anzac Day such as Lone Pine, The Nek, Chunuk Bair and saw the daunting terrain to give us both a new insight into this baptism of fire for Australia. A huge amount of Turks also visit this site, as it was a matter of survival for their country. They are magnanimous people.

4th May 2014 Took the long way along the Gallipoli Peninsula coast to Istanbul, through small villages with narrow lanes, as the main road, all a very pleasant drive. Istanbul is a city of fourteen million (metro) and how different to Cairo. Beautiful, well-planned city with civilised traffic and this is just the first impression.

We are now camped on the waterfront in the middle of town enjoying some aperitifs after walking around some of the cobbled lanes in this immediate locale. Not quite sure if we are in Europe or Asia Minor. Explore tomorrow.

Just checked, Europe.

5th May 2014 Car service and looked around the old city, huge Medina type of market, followed by a tram ride to a terminus and back to get a feel for the place, ending with dinner at a kitcheny, hole in the wall kind of restaurant playing blues music. Istanbul is a gem.

6th May 2014 At the Turkish border exit booth the officer greeted me as Michelle even before the car stopped, this was a change from the Marko I had been called throughout Africa but still I wondered how he knew my name. I guess the plate number was entered in their computer. I had read a similar story in a traveller’s blog and I think it may be one of their clever little jokes. Later on I also thought about how the tollway cameras are NOT linked to their computer system as I had gone through quite a few electronic tolls with no Etag.

I had tried to get one, too hard.

We loved Turkey

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