Turkish Delight. 24-28/09/10

Posted: September 29, 2010 in 5.Turkey

Turkey is awesome, fact. We are both blown away by the beauty of the country and the friendliness of the people. We have been here a little over a week and it’s just flown by, far far too quickly for my liking.

We left Istanbul and headed back towards the Mediterranean coast. The original plan was to see Gallipoli but after looking at the map and working out just how far and how much petrol it would use we decided against it. Diesel in Turkey has to be the most expensive in the world. At the moment it is around £1.60 a litre! This makes quite a difference to the daily budget, as almost half of our budget for the whole of Turkey will be on fuel. I thought it was meant to get cheaper the further east we went…? Anyway, with Gallipoli off the cards we headed about an hour outside Istanbul and got a ferry across the sea of Marmara, which saved about an hour of driving. Camping in Turkey is not widespread and most, if not all the campsites are on the west coast. The GPS gave up on the map front after Greece so we are back to paper maps and all the calm and unruffled conversations that come with this form of navigation. It also means that we now only have a ball park idea as to where the campsites are. Our first campsite in Turkey took us about an hour to track down after off road driving up a farm track, off road driving reversing down a farm track, and asking local people who clearly didn’t understand a word of what we were saying. In the end Megan turned the page of the Lonely Planet and the directions to the campsite were there staring her in the face. I am still, a week later, doing all the washing up in penance for the names I called her after she admitted this fact to me.

We stayed a couple of nights on the coast near a place called Ayvalik, having the beach to ourselves and meeting a very nice German couple and their very impressive truck that will hopefully take them to Cape Town. For the first time since we started I felt the Land Rover was a bit small and I should have bought a bigger car. Maybe for the trip back to London…

From Ayvalik we headed further south to see the famous ruins of Efes. We stayed at a very nice campsite in Selcuk but were the only ones there so it felt a little weird, which is worrying if we are ever to wild camp. The lady who ran it spoke no English but her Italian was first rate so Megan and her chatted while I just smiled and nodded in the background. Efes itself was amazing, up there with Pompeii in my mind. Following the success we had in Greece we found the mandatory Japanese tour group ever present at these places and followed them around. As far as we can understand the building below was the first ever Starbucks, built by the Inca’s 24 years ago.

That night it the heavens opened and for the umpteenth time this trip it rained like someone was pressure washing the tent and car. This time however Megan’s clothes were dry! (They weren’t really but I could be bothered to get the bloody silicon out again so I told her they were, shhhhhh).

From Selcuk we drove further along the coast toward the resort town of Oludeniz. Along this road we encountered our first police stop. To be honest I thought I was speeding when he waved me over but all he wanted was a look at my driving license. Again, very disappointing. I had the pack of cigarettes ready for the bribe but it was all very ordinary and straight forward, I almost wanted to go back and demand that he threaten me with prison, impounding the car and a mild beating but Megan, ever the boring one wouldn’t allow it. Booo.

There are more English people in Oludeniz than Turks, all sporting lobster tans and a craving for knock off jeans. Enough said. We went there for the tombs at Fethiye up the road, which again were pretty amazing. After looking around the main site we followed a hand painted sign promising more tombs that led into a little old lady’s back garden. She was very excited to see us, and not at all put off by our surprised faces she proceeded to lead us along what can only be described as a cliff edge to another set of tombs. She had the footing of a mountain goat, it was a thing to marvel as she helped us along the ledge. I’ll admit that my manhood was called into question when she held my hand to help me up a particularly tricky section.

The drives to the places we have been to have been wonderful. The landscape in Turkey changes with every bend from mountain to flat plain, and everything in between, a hidden gem. Anyone who hasn’t been should come, and not just stay on the beach!

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