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TURKEY 2010 & 2014
Turkey considered as the gateway between Europe and Asia is an Eurasian country located on the Mediterranean stretching across the Anatolian peninsula in southwest Asia and the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. It is bordered by the Black Sea, the Marmara Sea, the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea. Turkey is a fascinating country where many important civilizations have flourished since 9,000 BC. Turkey was home from the ancient Hittites, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines to the Ottomans which have left behind them superb architectural, archaeological and historical heritage. Modern Turkey is a secular and democratic Moslem country, founded in 1920 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and from that time, Turkey has been suffering big changes and one of the most notable is its rapidly economic development. Istanbul and Ankara are the most important cities in Turkey, the first is a city of mosques, palaces and fabulous treasures, sultans and mysterious harems; and Ankara the capital of the country. Turkish people are very friendly and hospitable, welcoming people of many races and religions, certainly in this country coexist harmoniously the Islam and Christianism. You can find in Turkey dozens of things to do and see then they never would be disappointed. Historical ancient cities such as Troy, Ephesus, Tarsus, Konya, and many other more are very interesting places to visit. Turkey hosts the most archaeological sites in the world. Anatolia is the birthplace of many civilizations, empires, historic figures and legends. One of the oldest known human inhabited areas is in Çatalhöyük, Konya dating back to 6500 BC. Ephesus (Temple of Artemis), City of Troy, Cappadocia and the cave church of St.Peter are among some of the countless important sites to visit in Turkey.
We have visited Turkey twice, see both blogs below
2010 coming from Syria
2014 coming in from Iran
After we left Aleppo it was a short 30-minute drive to the Syria and Turkish Border. Syria this time went fast, and it appeared to be a lot better organized than when we came in via Jordan. Turkey was easy, Organize Visa, stamp in your passport and your vehicle details and off you go. Once we crossed into Turkey the fuel went up to Euro 2.50 per liter!! We travelled south to Samandaq and then followed a beautiful and scenic dirt track north to Konica where we were told we could camp overnight. As it worked out the owner was Turkish but lived in Holland for 30 years and was developing a new resort with camping and chalets. It was clean and well maintained and next year a resort pool will be finished. The weather was perfect, and we are told it is like this all the way to March. NO WINTER HERE. Last night it was a lot warmer than the previous days and this morning the weather was perfect. The ocean temp (Mediterranean) was a nice 21 degrees which is not bad for the end of November. However, things will change we are told. We have a long day ahead of us as we are travelling to Goreme. Since we left South Africa today was the first time that we drove on European type freeways, with beautiful roadhouses and smooth road surfaces, hence we did the 400 odd KM in no-time. We enjoyed courteous drivers and we are now the ones who must obey traffic rules! As we turned north from Alana we started to see the first snowcapped Mountains. Around 3PM we pulled into Berlin Campground and in this part of the world at 4.30PM it is dark. AND COLD. We camped in the fantastic Goreme National Park, the whole area is full of Fairy chimney’s and we are told over 50 underground cities. In Goreme many of the Fairy Chimneys are converted into hotels or bed and breakfasts. Some of the rock formations look like ice-cream cones. We visited Derinkuyu Underground city, which brought shelter to up to 5000 people during war times. From here we visited the Ihlara Valley and the Caravan Saray of Selime and had lunch in the friendly town of Guzelyurt. And on the way back we visited the Uchisar rock citadel. In Nevsehir we picked up our snow chains (required in Turkey and we are told enroute to Antalya tomorrow we do need them). So much to see in this area, we went to visit the open-air museum, Imagination Valley and Rose Valley. As we had a lot of help from Memhet, a local who we met in Goreme. We asked him to come out for dinner with us. We heard a lot of stories about when he was a truck driver and living in Holland and that he will be writing a book about his life. It became a late late night waking up the next morning in freezing cold weather when it is still dark outside is not something we enjoy, but we were told it was going to be a long day today and we would get snow! Well, we were prepared, as we purchased the heavy-duty snow chains yesterday. Clary and I even practiced fitting them. Knowing full well doing this in a blizzard is no fun. Before we got going we had another shock: FUEL!!! We filled both tanks: $525AUD!! and that was just 235 liters! In Saudi Arabia, or Sudan it would have cost us just over $ 14 AUD. The roads in Sudan and Saudi where very good, the roads in Jordan and Syria where good, but here in Turkey they are perfect! Also, the drivers are well behaved, I know once you come from Europe you think they are crazy, but for us they were perfect, in fact we were the ones not using indicators or placing our hand out of the window telling people to stop as we are crossing over. It was a long day, we had rain but no snow, (only the mountain tops where covered) and once we got down the mountain and hit the Mediterranean the temp was a balmy 25 degrees. Today we saw our first caravans and motorhomes with Dutch-German and French number plates, no doubt spending the winter here. Bush camping is allowed everywhere, and we found ourselves a nice spot on the beach. As we were sipping our Happy hour drinks we were thinking that these would be the last warm days of our first part of the around the world trip as we are hearing reports of -10 degrees in Holland and freeways snowed in around Germany and the UK. 6AM and a glorious sunrise, warm balmy weather and as I got out of the truck we saw many tourists walking along the beach all staying in the 5-star resorts lining the beaches and beyond, and they must have been wondering what we were doing here on the beach sleeping in a truck?
But fair is fair, they had some very nice hotels and facilities while we had to use our own small toilet and shower without having a spa. Antalya is also called the Turkish Riviera, but without the French Riviera price tag. And much better winter weather. 300 days of sunshine and everything on offer: Diving in crystal clear water (and be able to visit a sunken city.), Windsurfing, Waterskiing, Sailing, Mountain climbing, Golfing, Hunting, Mountain biking, Bushwalking. A culture stretching back to 2000BC, Horse riding, Nightlife, Restaurants, Beach clubs on par with Europe. With mountains up to over 3000 Meters high (9000ft) you can swim in the ocean in the morning and snow ski in the afternoon or vice versa. It sounds like I work for the tourist bureau but as we have been travelling through Africa this region is an eye-opener and it being the absolute LOW season (3 weeks before Christmas) we are amazed to see so many tourists and a lot of shops and restaurants are open. The newspapers and the tourists only have one topic today, the poor weather in Northern Europe. Holland -15C and snowing, German freeways are blocked, Mountain Passes are closed, London Gatwick airport is closed, People are spending the night in stranded trains in Germany etc. etc. Guess what we woke up to? 19 degrees C and a top today of 27C! But the weather is going to change tomorrow so let’s make the most of it. Since we left South Africa 40 or so weeks ago we have not once enjoyed a proper camping with all facilities but yesterday we found this little gem called Kas Camping in the far south of Turkey, right on the beach, overlooking the islands in the Mediterranean, lounge chairs and the picturesque village of Kas right next to us. For European standards probably only a 1 or 2-star Camping but for us a 5 Star luxury resort and it has a beach bar and restaurant. (We even had hot water in the shower) We really enjoy the luxury here in Turkey and after 5 days we are enjoying the European atmosphere here on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast. Being Saturday today we are going to spoil ourselves tonight for a dinner at the harbor here in Kas. Tomorrow we will point north and from now on we will be travelling further north each day until we arrive at around 52degrees north and have completed Part One of our World Trip but not before we are paying our respect to the Australian New Zealand and Turkish army in Gallipoli It was cold and windy when drove north towards Gallipoli, but the sun was out. We had breakfast and left for our next port of call Troy enroute to Gallipoli. Around 10 AM we arrived in Troy. This town is located at the entrance to the Dardanelles. The myth of Troy: The Athenians realized they were never able to conquer the city by force. So, they build a horse from wood and hid their bravest soldiers inside and left it at the gates of the city and left on ships and set sail to the open sea. The Troyans dragged the horse inside the walls of the city, as a war tribute and held a feast of victory. As all became drunk they fell asleep and the Athenian warriors got out and opened the gates to the city, while the Athenians had returned and slaughtered most of the inhabitants. From here we continued to Canakkale. This town lays on the Dardenelles which connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea, therefore is the gateway for shipping to Istanbul. We booked the 2PM ferry across to the Gallipoli peninsula. As we were on the ferry we crossed over from one continent (Asia) to another (Europe) but it really did not feel like it? Our first stop was the National Park, but this was closed for the winter. So, we decided to explore the southern part of the peninsula first. We stopped at Twelve Tree Copse, Pink Farm, Lancaster Landing, Helles Memorial and V Beach cemetery.
The British landed at 5 beaches at Cape Hellas codenamed S V W X and Y Beach. Confusion on part of the allied command allowed Turks to halt the advance. The priority was given to capture Hill Achi Baba but all this failed with huge numbers killed and wounded
In the late afternoon in search of a bush camp we drove past Anzac Cove ad also visited Lone Pine at sunset. We found a beautiful campsite half way between Anzac Cove-Lone Pine and The Neck with perfect views. For us having experienced Gallipoli, Anzac Day will never be the same. It should also be noted that I was not aware that besides the English and the New Zealanders also French and Indian soldiers were involved. The road from Gallipoli to Istanbul is not only perfect but also very scenic. However, Istanbul in the off season is not a place for campers! All camp grounds where closed so after 3 hours of driving around we decided to take a hotel. Even this was not that easy as the Istanbul old city Centre was not really build for our truck. However, we managed, and the hotel even found a spot right opposite the front door. We were warned re the traffic in Istanbul but after Africa we think it is quite tame. The other reason we choose a hotel was that we are now right in the middle of the city within walking distance of the Blue mosque and the Grand Bazaar (We need new shoes for the cold weather)
Istanbul is the former capital of Turkey and is still the biggest city. Istanbul has a lot to offer, Huge outdoor dining and drinking streets, Musea, Churches, Palaces, Grand Mosques, Bazaars.
The Bosporus runs through the middle of the city connecting the Aegean Sea and the Marmara Sea with the Black Sea. It also marks the dividing line between Europe and Asia. One of the highlights is the Blue Mosque with 6 minarets build between 1609 and 1616. Other highlights are the Basilica of Hagia Sophia build by Constantine the Great and reconstructed in the 6th Century. We also visited the Istanbul City walls which stretch 7KM. In the afternoon we organized a boat trip on the Bosporus enjoying the beautiful wooden houses, luxury hotels, grand palaces, and not only driving over one of the world’s largest suspension bridges but also going underneath the bridge. The Bogaziqi Bridge is the bridge that links Asia to Europe. At night we visited 2 bazaars including the Spice Bazaar with beautiful aroma of the east. Every conceivable flavor fills the air. The grand Bazaar is a labyrinth of streets and passage houses and more than 4000 shops, the names recall the days when each trade had its own quarter. IE Goldsmith street, Carpet seller street, etc. We purchased some shoes here water proof (We Hope) for 40 AUD!
We never spend enough time in Turkey Clary and I will be back to visit this beautiful country and spend a lot more time here,
Our second visit to Turkey was in 2014 returning from South East Asia entering turkey from Iran. We crossed the small border south East of Lake Van a wild and rugged region full of rich heritage. Having booked a Ferry from Greece to Venice time was an issue and like our 2010 visit Turkey needs a lot more time and no doubt after our world safari and our planned Europe adventure it will be back on the agenda. The southeastern corner of this region, where the mighty Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow, is where Mesopotamia rose and is now known as the cradle of modern civilization. Eastern Turkey also has some of the country’s most outstanding scenery; with its impressive snow-capped mountains, massive lakes, gushing rivers and immense fields of wildflowers (the Dutch would be interested to know that tulips originated from this region – you can find them growing wild in many places). Van is a bustling town with a variety of industries, including a noteworthy carpet-making industry. Just outside the town is one of its biggest attractions: The Van Citadel. Believed to have been built in the 7th century AD, the citadel is situated on a steep cliff overlooking the lake. From Lake Van we travelled to Dogubeyazit a small provincial town with two of the major highlights of this trip: the awe-inspiring Mount Ararat and the equally breathtaking Ishak Pasha palace. The palace is built on the edge of a hill overlooking Dogubeyazit and an immense plain. The palace, built in the 17th century, is one of the most magnificent and lavish examples of Ottoman architecture. The elaborate stone carvings on the portals and walls are exquisite. Even better we camped in the carpark. Mount Ararat, at 5,137 meters, is Turkey’s highest peak. The snow-capped mountain is a dormant volcano and is best known as the biblical place where Noah landed his ark after the great flood. It was from here we pointed towards Ankara crossing the Anti-Taurus area. Ankara Turkey’s second largest city with a population of just over 5 million people is a very old city with many historical sites. Our last stop was Istanbul, but time was running out and having visited the city already in 2010, we continued to the Greece border.