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The Walshaws in Turkey 2011 PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

TOUR OF TURKEY 2011

Rose and Alf Walshaw

The following25_On_a_ferry.jpg daily Travel Log of a 6-week tour of Turkey has been written by Rose and Alf Walshaw. 40_At_Akcatil_Camping.jpgThey travel in a Lada 4wd and sleep in a tent on its roof. Rose and Alf are both retired school teachers who have become inveterate travellers, as well as living in a traditional house in a traditional village in the far south-west of the Greek Peloponnese.

Before settling in Greece, this couple travelled extensively in mainland Europe in a Hymer motorhome. The Lada and tent now gives them greater flexibility in travelling, as will be evidenced in their log. This doesn't mean that, on occasion, they won't look for and find an inexpensive room.

Click: 56 Images of the Journey

Click: Rose and Alf Motorhoming in Eastern Europe

Click: A Warning for Motorhomers Taking Ferries in Croatia (by Rose and Alf)

Here is their Turkish Travel Log:

Wednesday 20th April
Laxanada to Corinth Canal - 240 km

We left Laxanada at 10.15 and stopped at Lidl for a small shop, leaving Kalamata at 12 noon. The petrol here was €1.66 and we still had the problem of petrol leaking from the tank as we drove over the wiggly mountain roads. We arrived at the south end of the Corinth canal, where the bridge goes up and down, to find the road closed and the taverna where we had stayed previously abandoned. So we drove to Loutraki and the north end of the canal, again where the bridge does down, only to find it was not as pretty and there were quite a few gypsies.

Back to the south end again but outside a taverna on the other side of the canal, ready to leave the next day. Here we changed the petrol cap in the hope it would stop the loss of petrol, put up the tent and had a beer watching the bridge go up and down; no interesting boats so far, only pleasure craft, but we did see a Hoopoe. Went for a beer in the taverna and then slept on a carpet of nice smelling camomile for 10 hours.

Thursday 21st April
Corinth Canal to Piraeus Ferry – 83 km, €40 petrol, 6 hours ferry in a gale

Went along the Old National Road, much quieter and cheaper than the motorway. The ticket booth for the ferry opened just as we arrived and so we were on to the ferry by 10.30 am (2 hours before the sailing time); found a table and were joined by a lovely Greek family, with a very polite and big teenager who had a laptop and was very interested in my Kindle. GALE! The weather became very windy, sea a bit rough and cold. Inside the boat was fun (Rose's words), water was pouring down the steps from the upper deck and sloshing round our feet with the sick from many of the passengers. It took an hour to queue for a cup of coffee and then they got the order wrong! My new friend suddenly stood up and had to lean over the side – he had eaten a lot. On arrival in Xios it took an hour to get off the ferry, so it was dark as we found a closed deserted campsite. Drove on to Langada and had a SUPER fish meal. Mussel pilaf, fish balls and cuttlefish plus 3 beers = €28. Drove back to deserted campsite, put up tent. Bed.

Good Friday 22nd April
Drive round southern part of Xios island - 78 km, petrol €15, Pirgi

Breakast of muesli and yoghurt - offered a passing pony some muesli and it kicked Rose hard on the bum. Drove into Xios town to Information Office. Lovely helpful lad gave us map and information. Petrol. Got drinking water from a church. Drove to Pirgi - beautiful decorated plaster houses. Then Olymbia village. It took us ages to find our way into this castle village. Then to Mesta village - too twee and tidied up. On to Lithi port. Rose was getting tired (2 pm) so parked on harbour for the night by working fishing port. First impressions of Xios - not that beautiful but interesting architecture.

Easter Saturday 23rd April

Woke to a beautiful sunny day, not as windy. Had breakfast and packed up. Left Lithi bay and drove along the west coast road with some spectacular scenery via Avgonyma and over some very rugged mountainous roads to Nea Moni - famed for its gold frescoes. Arrived just as the service had finished, saw the ossuary and the frescoes. It's a big old monastery only partially restored. On to Anavatos - a deserted village. Lots of the houses were in good repair and some more being renovated. Saw the suicide place, where inhabitants jumped rather than be slaughtered by the Ottomans in 1822. On to Avgonyma – saw an enormous bonfire in the village centre ready for tonight. Coffee, then back to Xios town where we bought tickets to Turkey for Easter Monday and decided to stay in a hotel Sunday night, there being no campsite or beach showers on this island.

Drove to Langada for another fishy lunch - very busy and many bangers going off all around us and even in the harbour! Then up up up to a viewpoint overlooking the firework battle, ready to stay for the night. But ... it got SO windy and cold we had to take the tent down again - in the wind and dark (NOT recommended) - and move a little way back into the shelter of some fir trees to re-erect the tent. Went for a walk back to the main road just in time (10.45 pm) to see the firework battle between 2 local parishes. Thousands of rockets aimed at the 2 churches - lots of salvoes. It lasted for ages - about 45 minutes.

Easter Sunday 24th April – 70 km

Woke to a sunny breezy day. Drove to Xios town to meet Don – a new Zealander who has a hotel/hostel called Xios Rooms. Had a look and they seem basic and friendly in the backpackers style. Went to Thymiana for traditional spitroast lamb and goat. It wasn't ready yet so we drank beer watching 2 lambs and 1 kid turning on the spit. Rose had kokoretsi and Alf had souvla, with wine. Back to Xios and into our room at Xios Rooms - lovely clean old-fashioned room, wooden floorboards, beamed ceiling, and a little corridor along to our own bathroom - you could almost call it a private suite! And only €25 for the night! Oh how lovely to have a shower and feel clean. We slept very well, despite other guests coming home at 2 am and talking loudly in the communal kitchen above us.

Monday 25th April - into Turkey
Cesme to Selcuk – 180 km, Petrol 126 TL (turkish lira) 1TL = 40p £1 =2.5 TL
Dereli Camping, Pamucak

Got ferry from Cesme 8.30am. We have an open return for €150 as it would have been €100 one- way (€60 for car and €20 each adult).

Ours was the only car on an old rusty ferry but there was only room for 2 cars anyway, which explains why we have to phone and book the space for our return! Choppy crossing but we saw dolphins - always a lucky sign! It took us an hour to clear Customs. They were a bit befuddled with our English passports but Greek registered car - and registered to a woman not the man! Customs official pointing at roof top tent: "What is this?" Us: "Tent". Then he looked inside the car and said "Oh! Camping … animals!" So we laughed nervously . He looked at us and barked "Dogs? Cats?" "Oh No!" we said. He thought the fridge was a pet carrier!

Into Cesme to an ATM and got 900 tl. Drove mostly motorway roads to Selcuk, passing Izmir on the way. An ENORMOUS city and I'm sure it didn't have much similarity with the Izmir my dad lived in during the war. It's an easy drive for one's first day in a new country, to get used to new road signs and a new country's driving style - traffic lights on roundabouts are the norm here.

Camping Dereli (60 TL for 2 nights) is by the sea with mainly German campervans but quite simple. We're here in Turkey!!

Tuesday 26th April
To Ephesus, old Roman capital of Asia Minor - No petrol, 0 km

Ephesus 20 TL entry each plus 15 TL each for the terraced houses (not Coronation Street style!)

Did BIG wash by hand. Everything we've worn since leaving home is now clean. Rose feels proud.

Went to catch dolmus (little bus) to Ephesus but a man gave us a lift to the turn-off. Started to walk and then the dolmus picked us up and took us the last km. I have at LAST seen Ephesus - (I wanted to when we had the motorhome but couldn't get insurance for this part of Turkey). It wasn't quite so full of tourists as I was dreading and it was interesting and BEAUTIFUL. I feel happy – also that we have now done the most "touristy" (I hope) bit. Came back via dolmus to the campsite entrance, 2.5 TL each.

I had a swim but the sea is not as clean as at home (Greek Peloponnese). Then a shower and I am writing this while Alf is wi-fing with his Kindle. Looking forward to a Turkish meal in the camp restaurant tonight as it has a good reputation with locals as well as fellow campers ... Meal WAS good and only 52 TL (£20.80) including 2 beers and a big Raki.

Arrived back from restaurant to find 7 Italian camper vans had squished themselves all around us. Also on campsite is an overland truck tour + 20 occupants going from UK to Australia. The Italians behaved atrociously. They had so surrounded a German van that he moved at 11 pm. They left the site in a horrid boggy mess by dropping their dirty water where they stood, and leaving the hose pipe open after filling with fresh water, and blocking the path to the toilet block with their vans. They seemed totally unconcerned about other campers.

Wednesday 27th April
Selcuk to Pamukkale - 210 km

An easy drive with good roads and clear signs and a stop on the road side for a kokoretsi sandwich - yum! Pamukkale roads were shut due to an international bike race but we drove the back streets and found Hotel Pamukkale easily somehow, by accident. Put up tent. Welcome cup of chai. Then to market for veg. Walked round the village getting our bearings in the rain. Played Scrabble in the shelter of a balcony. Now we're watching helicopters circling over us filming the end of the bike race. Weather forecast not good for 3 days but there are less mosquitoes here - maybe because I've just seen the truck going round the village spaying goodness knows what to kill them.

It rained so much that we decided to go and eat in the hotel - BIG mistake. A very expensive small tasteless meal for 56 tl.We don't like being ripped off by people pretending to be helpful ("I'll cook you a meal"- as if she was doing us the favour!) More expensive than the restaurant last night, no beer or Raki, and half the amount of food and courses!

Thursday 28th April
Pamukkale, the Travertines and Hierapolis – 0 km and no petrol

It rained in the night but clear this morning with sunny patches. After breakfast set off for Hierapolis via the Travertines. One had to take one's shoes off and Alf couldn't manage the walk so he came back and Rose continued to walk.

Alf - I sat in the garden and a flock of sheep just came past (10.15 am).

Rose - I felt so so so sorry for Alf and due to the STUPID Rough Guide didn't understand that there was another way up to Hierapolis, so I continued on my own up the Travertines through pools getting warmer and warmer. It was a strange feeling as your eyes told you you were in snow but your feet were in hot water, and then at the top all was steaming. Put my shoes on for a walk round Hierapolis, which was strangely peaceful as most people just go up for the Travertines. I sat and made a super sandwich from food from the market yesterday, overlooking this weird white landscape. Shoes back off to walk back down to lonely Alf.

Coffee, then I went to talk to the Oasis overland truck driver (here again!) about routes across Turkey. They encouraged me to go the route I had planned anyway. The sun came out for a couple of hours and we swam in the hotel pool while watching 3 men put up a new neon sign on the wall of the hotel - a precarious job for some of them! In the evening it rained LOADS and we played dominoes under the balcony. We cooked a quick meal during a dry spell. Early bed.

POOR POOR Alf - a bad day for him: first the Travertines and then, when we went to bed, he found his Kindle was inexplicably broken.

Friday 29th April
Pamukkale to Egidir – 269 km, petrol 110 TL

Left Pamukkale Hotel and went to get petrol, advertised at a cheap price on the roadside but when you looked on the pump it was MUCH more - so we drove off. This was to happen a few more times while travelling around western Turkey but never happened east of Cappadocia - and people have this strange idea that the more westernised people are the more honest and trustworthy! And vice versa! I think it's maybe fear of the unknown - or am I being generous?

Drove right into the centre of Denivli to find Cipa (pronounced Cheaper!), a big supermarket we had been recommended. We now know a few things: a) Cipa is Tesco, so won't be going there again. b) supermarkets in Turkey are in the centre of towns, not on the outskirts, as only a minority have transport of their own. Hence c) There was no car park for this ENORMOUS supermarket. And d) The Turkish people are not really used to supermarket type shops, so at 9.30 am on a Friday we were the only customers in the whole shop!

So then we set off on a very pretty mountainous drive to Egidir via Dinar and Senirkent, stopping for coffee in Ullaborlu where we were the entertainment for the locals for their day. How they stared and giggled - though one youth tried very hard to speak to us in English and make us feel welcome, even offering Alf a go on his motorbike. Then we went down the western shore of Lake Egidir and into Egidir town - a beautiful drive. At first glance Egidir appeared to be an enormous army base plus holiday flats, but then we found the pretty old part.

We set up our camp in a car park with the promise of the use of toilets and shower by a very friendly hostel/hotel nearby. Alf cooked a meal in the car park but then it got really windy and very cold so we backtracked to a campsite that we had passed by as it wasn't in a very pretty part and looked shut. But on arrival 2 lads came out to chat, marvel at the tent unwinding up and tell us the charge was 10 tl. The camp is by the lake and later, while we sat in the car in pouring rain playing Scrabble, a Swiss camper turned up too. They were charged 20 TL but had the key to a clean sit-down loo!

Saturday 30th April
Egirdir to Beysahir – 240 km, petrol 80 TL

Up early – welcome to dirty squatty loos. It is a small problem with this set up. We're fine in the wild, wild-camping with a shovel for the loo, but in towns and cities it's hard to find privacy and quite often we're up early and needing the loo before the cafes open.

Drove very slowly all day to appreciate this very pretty area of Turkey. The west side of Lake Beysahir is absolutely gorgeous. We stopped and made coffee. Drove a bit more and stopped and had sandwich lunch. Tremendous thunderstorms rolling round the mountains around the lake made for beautiful light and very pretty views. Into Beysahir, looking at 3 campsites on the way in. Visited a beautiful wooden mosque - it was like being in a very quiet forest inside. Very old and lovely.

Drove back to nicest campsite, which was Ada Camping and restaurant 8 km west of Beysahir. 20 TL for us for the night. Very clean sit-down loos. Cooked potatoes for potato salad in nice wooden shelter with seats provided for campers (rather a shame, as later we realised that Ada Camp has a fantastic cheap restaurant which locals came to in their hordes). Who should turn up but the Swiss camper van we shared the site with last night. They too had viewed all 3 campsites here and chosen this one. Not raining quite so hard tonight so we had a beer and a chat in the wooden shelter. Later it got SO cold we were driven into the restaurant to drink quite a few beers and Rakis.

Sunday 1st May
Egirdir to Selime (Cappadocia) – 195 km, 25 litres petrol 104 TL

We didn't sleep as well last night, either because it was very cold or we drank too much Raki with the Swiss couple in the bar last night. We left the campsite and drove to Konya, a large town of over one million people! Across a high flat plain on a straight road for 150 km. Rose said she imagined this is what it would be like driving across Australia or America. We stopped to make coffee and to see what many groups of people were collecting in the fields on either side of the road. Could they have been truffles? We could see that they were digging them out of the soil with a bent metal stick and putting them in sacks. And who should turn up but the Swiss couple!

Through Aksaray and on to Selime – Top of the Ilhara Valley. We found a Pension with a small garden (N38Ί 18.048' E034Ί15.689') for camping. The car only just fitted through the gate. 20 TL with hot water, sit-down toilet (hard to flush). Went to look at the fantastic Cathedral in the rocks and walked round, exploring Selime. An amazing beautiful and strange place. The Cathedral has to be seen to be believed. Rose went walkabout and had a chat with some of the local lads while I tried to plan our tour round Cappadocia, not easy to do. Hot showers! Not luxurious but effective. The sun has appeared at last.

Monday 2nd May
Selime to Goreme - 150 km, petrol 100 TL

Woke up to a promising sunny day. We set off in high hopes and of course it began to rain. Drove to Belismara and walked down over the river and up through the village to an old church and a wine press – in a cave of course. Then back down where there are lots of restaurants by the river and some of them had tables and chairs on small platforms in the river. Back up and along the Ilhara Valley, where we met Bernie and Barbara (Swiss couple) again! Went down hundreds of steps to the valley floor, over a bridge and walked to two more cave churches, back up the steps , said goodbye to Bernie and Barbara and then drove along to Gruzelyurt. POURING with rain. Had coffee in the square and became very frustrated with the Rough Guide. In the end went to look at an underground village - no electricity, couldn't see much! Down the Monastery Valley, which we assumed was a road, but it soon ran out and turned into a track. Saw some more old churches in caves and rocks. 5 TL to see this valley.

On to Derinkuyu – much further than we intended. We got there at 5 pm - no camping! So we decided to go and look at the famous underground city, even though we were both quite tired by now.15 TL each well spent to look at just part of a city that once had thousands of inhabitants, with schools, churches, houses and a ventilation system that still works. Down three levels with a small group of people, some of the passageways were narrow and the steps steep. Not busy but could have been quite cramped in parts. We were very pleased we'd chosen to visit this site just before closing. Much more atmospheric and less claustrophobic than it would have been with hundreds of other tourists.

Nowhere to even park up for the night, so we drove on to Goreme where we found Camping Berlin no longer exists, but found Camping Nirvana in the middle of the town. 20 TL a night. Parked and had a welcome beer and a useful chat with the owner. Down into town and had beer at Fat Boys Bar, giving Kerry's greetings to her friends. Then up to a traditional restaurant we had been recommended. 25 TL each, lots of small dishes: not that impressed, but the building in the cave was impressive. Back to bed for a well-deserved sleep with sore legs.

Tuesday 3rd May - 32 km

Stiff legs! But what a nice day we've had AND no rain!! Emailed family and checked bank accounts on free computer here in Nirvana Camping. Then drove to a viewing point at Pasabagi and took lovely photos of a valley of fairy chimneys and mushroom (or penis-?) shaped chimneys.

On to Urgup where we bought postcards and wrote them while having coffee, then posted them!! The information bureau told us we could have a hammam together so, full of trepidation, we went. It was FANTASTIC! Lovely old building, clothes in a locker, towels provided, we sat pouring hot or cold water over ourselves, then into the sauna (Rose doesn't like these), then lay on a HOT marble slab looking up at the light glinting through the holes in the dome-shaped ceiling. Then after half an hour we came out. The man asked if I (Rose) wanted a massage so, feeling brave, said yes. I'm so pleased I did. He rubbed me all over with a very rough cloth and loads of dead skin came off. Then I lay down, he made bubbles all over me with a bag of air and soap and massaged me HARD but it was so relaxing. At the end he even washed my hair. The whole massage took about half an hour. Then Alf decided to have a massage too. The whole thing (hammam and massage) cost 25 TL each. WELL worth it. I've never felt so clean in all my life.

And then ... we went to a corbasi (small traditional restaurant where they sell soup and simple meals) and I (Rose) had brain soup - my favourite! It was so good and next to it I had a bowl of water, lemon juice and chopped garlic which you added to your taste. Alf had Adana (hot spicy Arabic) kebab, and we shared some good bread.

Then we came back to Goreme via Ortahasir. We checked out the other 2 campsites, both further out than Nirvana. One was 36 TL a night (!!) and the other too pushy, so we returned satisfied to Nirvana Camping which is very central and cheaper! Then suddenly appeared - not the Swiss but the Oasis overland truck full of Aussies. They set up camp; driver very friendly and chatty, leader rather harassed as they can't go through Syria as planned, due to the present crisis there. The border is now closed, so they have to fly to Jordan and pick up the tour there, leaving the truck to try and find a way of getting it shipped over to Jordan. A logistical nightmare.

Wednesday 4th May - 120 km

Woke to another sunny day! And the noise of 7 hot air balloons puffing overhead. Decided to go to Soglani Valley (one of the least visited parts of Cappadocia as it's a bit of a way off) via Mustafapasha, where we bought Thea (grandchild's) birthday present. Drove along past more fairy chimneys and then over a high plain, down to the valley to a village with a small valley on either side. Walked to a beautiful fairy castle-like church and then to a hidden church, mostly underground. Had a picnic marvelling at the view and history all around us.

Drove back to Goreme where we posted Thea's present to UK - what a helpful post man! Bought bread and beer, walked round a market, bought apricots and tomatoes and fruit. Back to Nirvana Camp. Glued trim of tent back on again – with superglue this time. Beer. Got our washing into the queue for the washing machine but the machine broke before ours got into it (luckily!) Sorry for poor bloke whose washing was in when it broke full of dirty water.

We went out for a meal in the evening. Early bed, but disturbed a bit by all the Oasis lot coming home jolly and cavorting around the campsite.

Thursday 5th May
Goreme to the Tunceli turning after Erzincan!! – 575 km!!! 250 TL petrol

We set off early as the tent was nearly dry and it looked like more rain. Up to Sivas. Stopped in petrol station for brunch at 11.30 am: a good chicken meal for Rose and lamb and peas for Alf - altogether only 15 TL (£6).

Carried on towards Erzincan. Wild mountainous roads, super scenery, roads VERY variable. Rose was absolutely terrified and thought our end had come at the bottom of a steep hill, in the rain, on a wet slippery corner meeting a lorry coming down the other side, out of control and unable to get round the bend, sliding across the road to our side with the back end of his lorry swinging out into our path. Somehow the lorry driver got round the corner and we scuttled quickly to the outside of the corner and all was OK but we needed to stop for a breather and make a cup of coffee afterwards.

30 km before Erzincan we found a campsite! ... but it was flooded with all the rain we've had, being next to the river. Campsite owner told us there was camping in the centre of Erzincan so off we set. We drove RIGHT through the middle of this big city - no camping that we could see but many ladies in burkas. So ON ON ON we went, but no petrol stations to stop in due to enormous road rebuilding projects.

By this time we had decided to turn south. The weather is TOO wet and cold to keep on going north and east. So sadly we'll have to miss out Georgia and the north-east corner of Turkey with its lovely Armenian churches (they'll still be there to visit another day). So when we got to the Tunceli turn-off south (the 885 to Elazig), we took it. Rose was getting very ready to stop for the night (565 km by now and past 6 pm) so it was with great relief that after 10km we found a small turning down to a (closed) fish restaurant next to a raging torrent of a stream. The very friendly owner was happy for us to park there for the night and use his clean, newly painted, sit-down loos.

It's been a long drive but we've got a long way and found somewhere nice to stay the night. (Little did we realise how ignorance is bliss. Later we were told this is one of the most dangerous, most heavily guarded areas of Turkey, due to the uprising here by the Kurds in 1938(?). Maybe this is why the Tunceli Gorge road doesn't feature in any guide books - and it's SO beautiful.) We can't even hear the noise of the lorries toiling up the hill on the road next to us for the sound of the raging river next to us. We also feel better for, at last, having decided to turn south. It's always better when you've made your mind up rather than the shall-we-shan't-we turmoil. So now we are heading south-east to Mesopotamia, the Kurdish area and, hopefully, warmer weather.

Friday 6th May
Tunceli Gorge to a wild-camp by the side of a lake caused by the dammed Euphrates, somewhere near Cemisgezek - 206 km, 70 TL petrol (only time bank card didn't work!)

Slept well at this lovely stop. Had boiled eggs in the sun(!) and took down the tent calmly and slowly, due to no threatening rain for once. Left at 9 am and wow - what a drive! We went up to the top (where I tried to take a photo but was bawled at by an army man) and then down down down a gorge with 22 tunnels, stopping to take photos, make coffee, buy petrol and marvel at this fantastic gorge, not mentioned in any guide book. Got to Tunceli, used ATM and carried on to try to find Baranlar Restaurant on the lake, which someone had told us allowed camping.

Got to the ferry, which was apparently near this restaurant. They sent us along the lake supposedly in the right direction for this restaurant. Well ... we kept stopping and asking, and yes everyone kept sending us on in the same direction ... and the road got worse and worse and worse ... and we carried on for more than 50 km, always worrying that there wouldn't even be a ferry at the other end of this lake. Never saw any habitation, other than nomads and their sheep and tents and donkeys. The scenery was phenomenal but marred by our worries. So we got to the other end and found the ferry !!! ... but no restaurant. So we parked up by the lake for the night.

Today we have seen many nomadic type tent-villages with children, women, washing and sheep. Are they readying for going up higher into the mountains for the summer? Also we saw an amazing blue bird, about the size of a pigeon flying in front of the car (later we identified it as a Roller - we saw many more of these in central Turkey). Now we're watching Terns diving into the lake for fish. But it's a boring evening as it's got cold and windy so we can't even cook - just a tinned fish sandwich for supper.

Saturday 7th May
Cemisgezek to Diyarbakir – 180 km, 85 TL petrol

Only one thunderstorm in the night. No food for breakfast, so left rather hungry as we didn't eat much yesterday. Caught the 8 am ferry – with just 1 minute to spare. 9 TL (£3.60) for the car and two people - cheap!! Drove to Elazig and along the lake, stopped for coffee, then through a valley littered with chemical and mining industries – not very pretty.

Into Diyarbakir, a walled city, difficult to drive through. We first went to a posh hotel that wanted 170 TL (too much) and a smarmy manager who called me Rose's boyfriend - no no no. Rose very bravely turned around and went back round inside the city walls to the busy central part. A helpful parking man helped us to park and find a hotel. We looked at 3 hotels and chose Birkent at 70 TL per night (£28) with breakfast. A big room with 2 beds, one single and one double. Showered, then went out and bought a very good kebab wrap and ate it walking along the street.

Saw a famous mosque, which is now a shopping centre and a cafι. Then we went to the bazaar: that was fun. We bought a hat for Alf, a pink scarf for Lucy and a cream one for Rose, pepper grinder for Tonia and 2 pairs of socks for Rose. It's nice being in a town for a change, everyone is very friendly. We went for a walk on the city walls (very unsafe) and as we were making our way gingerly down the steps a whole family came for a "chat". Very nice.

Then Alf had his black shoes cleaned for 2 TL (80p) and they looked like new. Rose had her multi-coloured boots cleaned for 3 TL. The man took a great deal of time, looking for different coloured waxes. They looked loved, if old – the shoes are at least 15 years old.

We saw some interesting street life, especially the bazaar where we saw tinsmiths making pots and pans, spot-welding parts together - even Rose had a go at this.

In the evening we went for a meal and got stuck with a man called Japan Ali, who seemed to have done everything and knew everybody. Alf thought he was trying a scam to get us to go to his friend's restaurant and shops; Rose had an open mind about this. Home to bed in a real bed!

Sunday 8th May
Diyarbakir to Hassankeyf – 135 km

BIG BIG breakfast in hotel - what a treat. Then a shower!! Packed. Bought 500 ml yoghourt and a grapefruit for 1.34 TL (50p!). Visited pretty mosque with black and white tiles and a separate minaret.

Drove out of Diyarbakir via its old bridge, then on to Batman following the Tigris river. Batman is a big oil refining place (bit smelly). Then down a lovely valley with ancient cave homes to Hassankeyf. On the way in we stopped at Camping Yildiz, which we had planned on staying at, but it was 30 TL for a dirty squatty loo, dirty shower and no hot water for the night, and it would have been filthy by the evening as this is a "picnic" place. The Turks LOVE to picnic (it actually means taking ALL the family and making a barbeque somewhere) on Sundays, and today is Sunday. Whether he was going to get 15 TL per person is debatable, however, even though the setting by the side of the Tigris is very pretty.

So we carried on into Hassankeyf, and there just before the bridge saw a sign for Hasbace Restaurant and Camping! Go over the bridge and turn left down a little lane alongside the Tigris river. Lovely people and only 20 TL a night with electricity.

We parked but, being Sunday, the place was too full to get near our camping spot yet (4 pm). Two boys wanted to take us to the "castle" but, luckily, Alf forgot the camera, so we came back and when we insisted on going in the regular way the two boys disappeared (no unofficial guides allowed). We paid 3 TL entrance and had a guide with only a little English. Went right to the top and saw an old mosque, palaces, cave houses, cave shops... An IMPRESSIVE sight, all with the most beautiful view over a ruined ancient bridge over the Tigris - and all this will be gone next year when they flood the Tigris River with another dam. CRIMINAL!!!

Looked for beer shop - no luck. Went to internet cafe - no electricity due to a thunderstorm at that minute. Back to camp. The 2 boys sat with us again but cleared off when Alf refused to give them money. Shame - they were so pleasant to be with until they started asking for money. Looking forward to trout supper (this is a restaurant that has its own trout pool) ... and it was good!. Walk round the village. Moved car and tent to the most idyllic spot overlooking the Tigris and into the ancient cave homes on the opposite bank of the river. Beautiful! Early bed but we found the bed was wet - obviously from the car wash 2 days ago (slept at hotel last night). Alf slept OK but I didn't.

Monday 9th May - 0 km, no petrol

Thus on waking (Alf had cramp at 5.30 am) we got all the bedding out of the van, including the mattress. Luckily it was a sunny day and we had a day off! Rose was ready for a rest in such a lovely place. Found a place to plug the fridge in, under cover in case it rained – important for beer storage.

Rose went off to see a lovely cylindrical domed tomb at 8.30 am, across a field of donkeys and cows. Then off she went to an internet cafι, 20p and a free chai. I (Alf) stayed at the campsite, tidied up the car and sorted out my pills for the forthcoming days, also making sure that no cats, sheep, dogs, hens or birds were sitting on the bedding. Or GOLDEN ORIOLES!! A pair are living in the trees by our table – oh what joy, we have always wanted to see them, especially Rose. Then flocks and flocks of sheep came down the path past the campsite, each one preceded by a shepherd who made sure of a gap between each flock. Finally 2 nomad girls with a caravan of donkeys carrying all their tents, tent poles, cooking pots etc. Obviously moving the flocks of sheep to the summer pastures. A Stork kept flying over, while we have a wonderful view of the ancient cave dwellings across the Tigris.

I, Alf, went off shopping and proudly bought a new washing up cloth, posted a card to my sister and found the beer shop we had been searching for, next to the post office. But no-one was in, so waited a while and went across to the internet cafι. Went back to the beer shop and found a man inside, bought some beer (4 TL) and a bottle of fake Black Label whisky.

Back to the camp where we began to play Scrabble when a man and a little girl walked past, gave Rose a poppy , then came back and joined us. We chatted for a while, with the aid of a dictionary; they gave us biscuits and Rose and the little girl exchanged email addresses. The people here do seem to like the look of Rose. Only yesterday a woman asked to have her photo taken with her!! It could have been to make her look thinner or her nose look smaller.

The Turks stayed a long time, teaching Rose to pronounce Turkish words; the man went off to pick Camomile, then they left. It does seem people trust Rose and want to be friendly. Went for a short walk and Rose bought a carpet/blanket (goat's wool, home-spun, 20 TL). Back to the camp to find underneath flooded, as the Man had been emptying his trout tank. Moved the car and tent. Had a few beers, a fake whisky and went off for a meal. Found a restaurant that was not too touristy, where I had lahmucan (four, a sort of very thin pizza), Rose had lamb kebab, and we shared. I had a lot of stuff. Off to a dry bed with fresh-smelling bedding.

Tuesday 10th May
Hassankeyf to Midyat to Mardin to Diyarbakir – 215 km, 145 TL petrol

Woke very early to a beautiful sunny day after a good night's sleep. Paid the Man and set off for Midyat. A drive over some very rough roads in part, past many nomads and their sheep and one NL (Dutch) campervan.

Stopped at Midyat to have a walk round the old town - some beautiful old buildings (mansions in fact), a lot of which had been or were in the process of being very nicely renovated. In between were very narrow streets full of pestering children asking for money. We saw the spire of a Syrian Orthodox church but, despite going round and round in circles, couldn't find the way in. So back to the car and found we had parked just outside another Syrian church. Went gingerly through the shut gate into a courtyard - we thought maybe it was a private entrance - and found lots of children playing. One of them opened up the church for us to see. It was a very simple church in a very Christian style, with quite simple, even crude, pictures. Outside within the courtyard was a school where the children are taught Syriac.

On to Mardin – almost impossible to find a parking space but managed in the end. Went for a walk round but it has a very busy road running straight through; people weren't very friendly or helpful and seemed to just want our money. Asking round the hotels we found it was170 TL for a reasonable one (with VERY snooty staff) and 50 TL for a flea-pit. So after a quick scamper round some quieter, pretty but over-renovated (and therefore a bit twee) back streets, we left and drove back to ... Diyarbakir. We're getting very fond of this city!

Back to Hotel Birkent (70 TL with huge breakfast) and our usual parking place outside. Off to the market to buy lots of the traditional (for Diyarbakir) beaten metal bowls, cup, ladle and spice grinder. We both bought lots of socks as neither of us packed enough - we thought the weather would be warmer - but at 27p a pair they're a bargain.

Wednesday 11th May
Diyarbakir to Siveret to Artemeia to Nemrut Dag to Karadut – 210 km, 110 TL petrol

Drove to the Siverek and then turned north-east for the ferry. We had read there are some very long queues for this ferry but we only had to wait 20 mins. It was an extremely tight fit on the ferry - so tight that I couldn't even get out of the car and gosh I was HOT! Alf was out of the car having fun chatting and making new friends with a lot of Kurdish men. Off at the other end and drove on to the second entry up into the Nemrut Dag National Park. We stopped at Artemeia and walked up and back down but missed the best – so, to Alf's disgust, we had to go up again to see the fantastic carved statue of Hercules and Antiochus shaking hands.

Back into the car and on, up up up up. Even our car got hot and smelly and we had to stop a couple of times to let the engine cool down but in the end we reached the summit. STUPID guidebook again - don't think the author has been here. The road was not described as steep and it also said the last walk up was a "20 minute walk up a paved path" so we didn't take walking sticks for Alf. It is a long climb up, over very uneven stones.

However, at the top were the wonderful headless sitting statues with their heads below. We stayed to marvel with awe and wonder as long as possible, but the clouds were drawing in and we didn't want the descent in the rain so sadly turned back - we couldn't go round the other side as the path was still blocked with snow! Drove down the easier road, checking campsite prices. Chose the last one in Karadut village, as it was the least pretentious and cheapest at 10 TL a night. Later we had a meal here and that too was only 10 TL each - so 30 TL (£12) for supper for two and a night's camping: not bad. BUT I (Rose) must never accept a chai after dinner again as it kept me awake all night - and it's a diuretic too and the ladder in the middle of the night is a bit of a chore!

Alf's watch battery died today so we lost two hours somewhere before switching on the mobiles to check for messages - not sure where we lost them!

Thursday 12th May
Karadut to Urfa – 170 km

Rose – it's 6 am and I am writing this as the sun is rising in a beautiful cloudless sky. We are off to Saliurfa back over the ferry. Just hope it's easy to find a nice cheap hotel, as I'm pretty tired. Drove to the ferry – so full it looked very third-world. Waited and watched men throwing bread for fish while waiting for the next ferry. Men all wearing different clothes – many with purple head scarves and baggy trousers, others with yarmulke type hats. Everybody very friendly; we were given two cups of chai. On to the ferry, again very friendly. They love Alf's Barbadan key holder because it's the Kurdish flag colours. We waited a long time for the boat to leave, as I think we were waiting for a bus to come. How they SQUEEZE the cars in such small spaces, even on the ramp at the back of the boat!

Driving along the road to Siveret, all our new Kurdish friends hooted and waved as they passed us. We saw lots of Iranian buses going to Siveret - why? A very windy drive.

Before Urfa we stopped at a garage for a toilet and Alf, sitting in the car, thought he was being ambushed, but it was only some friendly Turks determined that we must come and have some chai with them. Poor Alf still doesn't like tea – even after having to drink so many welcoming cups of it.

Into Urfa, where we found it very difficult to find the old part of the city, but eventually we managed, parked (haven't paid – wonder if they'll get us?) and looked at six hotel rooms, varying from 40 TL to 120 TL, in the pouring rain. Chose the cheapest - clean and friendly - went back for the car and took the rucksacks up to the hotel. Decided to stay for 2 nights. When settled I went out for 2 minced meat and salad wraps. Still pouring with rain, Alf watching Turkish TV. We want to go out and look around, waiting for weather to improve.

Alf – Eventually we went out looking for a bar and a kebab place from the Rough Guide but, after tramping round, established that neither any longer exist. Walked back to the hotel but decided to go to a bar instead. Found a line of bars near the hotel; chose one that was full of men who were very welcoming, Rose apprehensive. We watched the racing on the TV and drank draught beer. They brought us a free plate of sliced fruit, so we had another beer! Then went for food: Rose had liver kebabs and I had beef, salad and bread, total cost 15 TL. During our earlier search we saw a music place, so may go there tomorrow.

Friday 13th May - 0 km, no petrol

Woke to a sunnier day. Set off to look at the sights of the old town and on the way had a small breakfast, lemon juices and chocolate gunge for Rose. Went to look round the bazaars - carpets and jewellery etc. Rose bought a bracelet and a silk scarf; I got a new battery for my watch. Went to the mosque complex – very big with pools of carp - and into Abraham's Cave (separate entrances) where the women go to say a prayer to make a wish come true. A very peaceful place – saw a politician being interviewed – lots of people but very peaceful. Sat and had coffee; very hard to find non-Turkish coffee here.

Then walked back on the upper road, past two more Armenian churches and a mosque, and an internet cafι. Back to the same pub for a drink, outside in the sun, and bought a ring of bread from a small boy with a huge tray on his head. Back to the hotel, played Scrabble, a shower and a little sleep.

Then out to the music evening in a large hall with cushions and low tables – food on the table, but we had no idea when to eat what. There was cold, milky porridge and pomegranate stuff and salad already on the table. This was followed by a mixture of meat and veg, then something stuffed with spicy meat. Then the music? It began very loud and very boring, the singer (shouter) was dreadful and fat old ladies were cavorting on the dance floor. Later the cook came and made a production of mixing loads of raw liver with herbs, spices and some sort of grain, which took him a long time. This was very hot and spicy, not to our taste but the Turks appeared to love it. A pudding, pancake and honey, and a sip of very strong Nescafe from the same cup to end it all. Paid 70 TL and went home to bed – very poor value!

Rose says "As always, street food is better and cheaper than restaurants. We must try never to forget this."

Saturday 14th May
Saliurfa to Tasucu - 546 km, 57 litres petrol. Mostly easy driving on motorway, tolls 20 TL?

Bought some nice street food for breakfast; paid 8 TL for two days in the car park. Rose drove brilliantly for the 546 km, mostlly on the motorway apart from looking for a conglomeration of storks at Birecik that did not exist. Rough Guide strikes again!

Left the motorway and along the coast on the D400 until we reached Akcakil Camping near Tasucu – a nice place on the coast with a pebble beach, lots of people and tents and camper vans (German, Dutch). Rose has already had a swim and put in 2 loads of washing.

While on the motorway it rained heavily for short bursts and the passenger wiper was fraying. We stopped at a motorway service place – no luck. At the next one, we cut off the frayed bit and asked the service area place if they had a new wiper blade. Well, they took our wiper apart and made a new blade out of a lorry wiper blade, taking out the metal bits and replacing them with ours, and then put it all back together, perfect for 5 TL. This would never happen in the UK!

We had an overpriced (60 TL) and poor meal in the campsite restaurant, which gave Rose an upset tummy in the night, plus many mosquitoes and road noise leading to a poor night's sleep for her.

Sunday 15th May – Day off

The lady brought back our 2 loads of washing at 9 am, dry and folded! Rose washed sheet and pillow cases by hand and hung them on a line in glorious sunshine. Then the clouds came. While waiting to see if the rain falls we are planning the route and stops for the next few days. Alf glued the bung for the tent back together. The sun never came out – which was a shame as Rose was looking forward to a day of sunbathing. In the evening I made a corned beef hash – good! This is a nice campsite but the road noise is never ending in the night.

Monday 16th May
Tascucu to Anamur – 150 km, 28 litres petrol 120 TL

Drove on a winding hilly road along the coast. Stopped and made coffee in a pretty bay. On to Anamur. Checked Pul campsite but it wasn't really ready, so carried on to Dragon Motel Campsite, very welcoming.

Then went to Anamerion, a lovely pretty ancient site, very easy to look around. To a supermarket for a big shop and tried to find a butcher, in vain, so back to the supermarket to buy some meat. Back to Dragon campsite and parked on the beach under eucalyptus trees. The campsite owner lent us an extension for the electricity. We borrowed their BBQ and we both swam. Rose went to Mamure castle, by the beach (it's free that way). Alf cooked a lovely BBQ in the evening, lamb chops and Kofte with salad and bread. Rose says "Let's hope it's the first of many barbeques now."

Tuesday 17th May - Day off

Killed 7 mosquitoes in the tent this morning. They bite but Rose has not been reacting to them so far.

We had a lazy beach day, walked to Mamure castle again, swam, played Scrabble, did crosswords, talked to a Nazi German, and Rose gave an English lesson to a French girl (nice French family on the site). We were given cake made by the campsite owner's mother. Made potato salad and ate it for lunch. Went for a drink and spoke to the French family again. I made another BBQ of chicken and Kofte, in the dark.

Wednesday 18th May – 360 km, 28 litres petrol 116 TL

Woke to a grey but hot day. Had breakfast, packed up and paid. Rose drove all the way from Anamura to Ηirali (near Olympos), on the D400 through Alanya, Manavgat and Antalya. A continuous development of hotels and holiday places, with lots of tourists looking bored. A very difficult drive through Antalya, cars coming from every direction, turning left across the front of cars, but saw only one accident!

Ηirali was a hard place to find, down a very long road to the village. Tried in vain to find Olympos (later found our map was wrong and to get to Olympos is the next turning off the D400) - and anyway once we did find it we were so so pleased we hadn't had to stay there! We drove along the beach for about 1 km, saw some wild-camping (no toilets anywhere) and in the end found a very small site (Ηirali Camping – N36Ί 25.234' E30Ί 28.958') , 10 TL a night, with a lovely welcoming woman –and a toilet and shower. Set up camp, had a beer and walked along the road, full of hotels, boutique hotels, pensions etc. Had a good meal of pide and lamb casserole (34 TL including 2 beers) and walked back to bed.

Thursday 19th May - 0 km, no petrol

Woke up to a sunny day. How lucky we've been; (usually) when we decide to stop, the sun comes out, and the days like yesterday, when we need to drive all day, are grey days!

I (Rose) am writing this surrounded by hens and their chicks, having just put the washing into a bucket of water pulled from a pump. Sorted out the crates, which have fallen to bits with all our stuff in. Marinaded lamb for tonight's supper. To the beach – pebbly but lovely clean sea. LOTS of teenagers here in minibuses. School trip? Swam and did crosswords. Burnt myself in the shower until I was shown the cold tap. Made lamb kebabs on BBQ, with peppers and aubergines too. Wow! They were good!

Friday 20th May

Got up at 7 am, had coffee, took out the bedding from the tent and hung it on line to air. Put down tent and drove to the car park of the Chimaera (Yanartaş), paid 3.75 TL each and walked up. Quite a climb but ... wow, fantastic … amazing! There are 10 seats of fire caused by gas coming out of the ground and self-igniting. Reminiscent of the burning bush in the bible. And it was so lovely to be there on our own. We had a nice rest in the ruins of an old church. As we got to the bottom, a coach tour with lots of Japanese arrived.

Drove to an internet cafι and borrowed their computer, as Lucy obviously wanted Rose to read her last email. Had a nice pomegranate juice. Back to the campsite.

Tent up, bedding back in just before a few spots of rain came while we were eating breakfast - melon that we were given last night. I love this campsite, as we are living with a Turkish family (owners) and not just with other European campervanners.

With black clouds and rain on and off, we eventually went for a swim and then Alf ran for the car while I sat on the beach under a beach mat getting a bit cold and a bit damp and feeling very English - only they would sit on a beach in the rain. Eventually it stopped enough to get back to the campsite. Played Scrabble, rain cleared. Walked out for a meal in the evening and found a restaurant full of Turkish ladies; ordered lamb cutlets and shish kebab – small portions and overpriced. Went home to bed.

Saturday 21st May
Ηirali to Kekova

Kept awake by snoring on both sides of the tent (from other tents - NOT ours!) and at 5 am by woman in next tent laughing and talking. Finished melon and set off to look at Olympos.

A beautiful valley, crowded with pensions and hotels and tree-house hotels, so busy that cars and buses were parked in the river. LOADS of people. This is the place that's meant to be so cool and has long been on the hippy trail, but we're glad we didn't have to stay here! Cirali was much more relaxing - and to our minds more cool!

So we drove on to Androsan. This was a nice drive to a very nice quiet seaside resort, with some beach side development but nothing over the top. Then we found out why it was quite so quiet - the road to join up with the D400said it was closed. We tried to find another way, but other than retracing all our kilometres today there was no other way. So we turned around and boldly drove past the 'road closed' sign - and found it was quite a busy closed road! There was a part where the road was collapsing off the hillside quite badly, which means that the road probably is not suitable for buses, though there were plenty of lorries travelling this road!

Drove along the D400 for about 40 km and then turned left onto the Kekova Peninsula, just after a lovely field of Lycian tombs where we had some sandwiches. The Kekova Peninsula is where you can supposedly still see camels being used for working the land but we didn't see any. It's a very beautiful area though.

Went to Ucagiz and through on to Kale. Now the stupid Rough Guide had omitted to say that this place is inaccessible by car!! However, we parked and walked up and over to see the sights of this very pretty place (St Michael's castle? And many Lycian tombs) but it is spoiled by being over-touristed with many many boat trips stopping all day long. We found a place to get in the sea and cool off in amongst the boats, sunken islands and even a sunken Lycian tomb, but it wasn't really deep enough for a swim. Asked about a room for the night but at 130 TL a night we demurred!! Had a very expensive (more tourists = higher prices) beer and a Coke and walked back to the car. Found a lovely quiet flat area with a beautiful sea view for a wild-camp.

It is a beautiful place, Alf has cooked salami and potato salad, the locals are all hooting and waving as they drive past with their thumbs-up sign, and we are looking forward to a quiet peaceful night. I (Rose) am excited about Kas tomorrow and seeing my old friend and STOPPING for a while. I'm ready for a "holiday"! We're nearly at the end of our Turkey tour and would like to use Kas as a base for the last bit. Will we do this?

Sunday 22nd May
Kekova to Kas - about 50 km

Lovely leisurely breakfast in this lovely wild-camp - despite the fact that, in the night, something has stolen one of Alf's best walking sandals. He leaves them at the bottom of the ladder so he can step into them first thing in the morning. We looked everywhere but the fox, camel, donkey or whatever had taken it right away.

Drove to Ucagiz and bought me a beach dress (15 TL and hand-made) and Alf some flip-flops. Drove slowly through this lovely peninsula, stopping to look at ancient big round stone-built wells - or are they feeding places for the sheep?

Went to (recommended) Kas Camping but they said they only had space for us for one night, due to a party of Dutch campervanners arriving soon. However, once we squeezed over some rocks and under an olive tree onto a tent camping place (thank goodness for our lovely off-road Lada) they said we can stay as long as we like. It's a lovely campsite with bar/restaurant and swimming platforms (there are no beaches in this area and so this is one of the best places for swimming in Kas) and only 25 TL a night.

I found 2 English books to read - wow!!! (Once Alf's Kindle had broken I very generously gave up my electronic book reader to him, as I knew his need was greater than mine!) Swam and read and sunbathed - what a treat. Managed to get Cosmote on the Greek phone (only 7 miles from the Greek island of Megistri) and got in touch with Barbara (my Uni friend). Into Kas in evening for a look round and an expensive mediocre meal.

Monday 23rd May - Kas

Alf walked into Kas for some shopping - it's only a few hundred yards to the town centre. I sunbathed, read and swam - a holiday! Barbara and Alex arrived 11.30 am. We sat and chatted for a couple of hours. It's nice to meet up and still get on after 35 years!!! An afternoon of swimming and resting.

Met Barbara and friends in evening in Kas after buying Alf ANOTHER pair of sandals - the others only lasted 24hours. An evening of drinking and chatting. Late night for us - midnight!

Tuesday 24th May - Kas

Another holiday day! Alf into Kas shopping again - this time for a tiny barbeque. I planned the next week or so's routes, so we can book our ferry ticket back to Xios while we're at Barbara's house tomorrow. Alf made barbecued chicken in the evening and I made pasta salad.

At 8 pm went to ex-pat quiz in Kas - not quite my cup of tea! Today 22 camper vans arrived on the site. What fun watching them drive very badly and get stuck - surely there should be a driving test for manoeuvring camper vans, they were hopeless!

Wednesday 25th May - Kas

Woke this morning looking forward to going to Barbara's for lunch, but we both know we're ready to move on. We needed this holiday but are now getting bored. Phoned Thea (grandchild) to say happy 6th birthday and they all seemed well and happy. Into Kas and bought a carpet( €110) and 2 cushion covers for Kris for feeding the cats. Also bought a pair of gorgeous sandal/boots for me (made by the people who made all the shoes for the Harry Potter films) and a killim bag for the wash bag, to replace the split Lidl carrier bag.

Caught bus up to Barbara and Alex's house. Chatted, viewed the house, had a super lunch Barbara had cooked, sat by the pool, talked, used Skype to book our ticket back to Xios and then on to Piraeus. Into Kas at about 6 pm to collect the carpet and I still love it and am very happy I bought it. Went for a beer or two, Alf had a crepe meal and I had street food. It's been a lovely visit and really nice to meet up with Barbara again - a good stop.

Back to the camp and couldn't find our car and tent as ANOTHER camper van has arrived and parked on the road so we can't get out – but he says he's leaving early in the morning.

Thursday 26th May
Kas to Patara via Kaputas beach - 48 km

A grey muggy morning. Packed up car and tent, ready by 9.45 am. Waiting for camper van to move so we can get out.

Left at about 9.50 and drove along the D400 to Mavi Magarasi – a beach down 180 steps. Had a swim while the car was looked after by 2 Jandarma, then back up the steps and on to Patara. Drove through the village and on to the site, with only a few things to look at: ruined baths and an ancient theatre, much overgrown. Down to the beach, had a swim and then it clouded over. Had a beer, back to the car to park it level and played Scrabble. Luckily we had not put the tent up, nor lit the BBQ, because we were moved on. So we drove back and through the village of Gelemis onto a track, just as Alex had described it, and at the end of the track was a beautiful clearing in pine trees overlooking the sand dunes and the long Patara beach. Gorgeous.

Alf still feeling poorly, so finished the potato salad. Put the tent up, much to the enjoyment of a local man who just sat and watched the procedure.

Thursday 27th May
Patara to Gemiler via Sidyma and Kaya Koyu - 107 km, 15 litres petrol 105 TL

Alf still not feeling too good but a lovely wild-camp with secluded places for morning ablutions. Away by 9.30am after melon and muesli.

We meant to go to Xanthos but, due to strange road signs, missed it and took a much smaller road south of the D400 to Sidyma instead. This was a lovely wild site with no signs, so one just wandered around encountering ancient tombs and hammams and using one's imagination as to the original layout.

Then on towards Oludeniz - hopefully! It was a tiny road going up up up through amazing wild countryside. Then ... the road finished and turned into a track. We stopped and asked a man building a wall if the track would take us to Oludeniz and he said "mmm ... yes" so we carried on via the summit of Baba Dagi! (1969 m). Wow, what a road - the paragliders go off from here. Thank goodness we were in a strong car, as the road was ROUGH in places and then we were still in first gear going down as the road turned into scree. It would have been more relaxing and fun had Alf not still been feeling poorly, me worried about changing a tyre with a sick husband (the road really was rough) and the petrol gauge showing very very low. But the road eventually came back after 15 km and we carried on downwards towards Faralya, stopping to take a photo of Butterfly Valley and the beach far far below.

Then on to Oludeniz - UGH. What a place! All English breakfasts, fish & chips, English football available on TV etc etc. Checked out Sugar Beach campsite, as Alf said he'd like a shower after being poorly. Not too bad a campsite and only 20 TL but by a swampy mosquitoey lagoon. So we found out directions to a garage and Kaya Koyu. Went for petrol through another place with football, Viagra and fish & chips, turned back and carried on to the abandoned Greek village of Kaya Koyu. We thought it might have been a hot sweaty visit but there was a beautiful breeze while we were walking around (the Greeks knew where to build).

The village had a sad atmosphere - everything plundered from the houses, local Turkish people using the churches to keep their sheep in, and all the churches with the TURKISH flag flying from them. The houses were beautiful, stone-built and pretty - where are all the Turkish houses of this era? We seem to have seen ancient cave dwellings, followed by concrete! An Egyptian man showed us round his family house, which he still keeps locked and guarded against theft. It was the only house still with wooden floors, doors, built-in wooden furniture and a roof with wooden beams. All the other houses have had all the wood stolen from them. Bought some coral earrings from the Egyptian.

Then back to the car. Asked at the ticket booth if there was camping anywhere near and she said vaguely that she thought she'd heard some people sometimes camped at Gemiler, 8 km further on. So we carried on to there. It was 2.50 TL to park but, yes, it says 'Camping'! There are 3 beachside bars/cafes here. The 2 on the right are rip-off places; the one on the left is municipally run (as is the car park). We paid 10 TL for the night's camping and use of the toilets (beautifully clean, new sitties) at the nice bar on the left, where there are also beach showers. Went for a swim and then a beer at said bar, to ensure full use of their loos - what a tussle to drink a cold beer after a long full day overlooking the island of Aya Nikola and its wonderful ruins! Alf is now cooking Koftes on our barbeque and the car park man has come over to ask if everything is OK. We're very happy here.

After the barbeque, and giving the left-overs to a lovely dog, we went back and had another beer. The bar is open when you want, as the lad sleeps there. Back to car to find a rather noisy generator running for the bar but we managed to sleep well, despite some noise from cars and silly people in the night. At breakfast the next day there were apologies to us for the disturbance in the night!

Saturday 28th May
Gemiler to Dalyan – 85 km

Alf woke at 7am to a grey day, made coffee and started packing. Rose woke just as it began to rain so we put down tent quickly, finished coffee and went for a really good omelette breakfast in the bar. A fisherman, already drinking beer, offered us a tour round the local coast which could have been interesting.

Out of Gemiler there is only one road back to Kaya Koyu, then we took the road to Fethiye. A thunderstorm began and it rained so hard we actually had to stop for a while going up the hill. On the way down we saw a car off the road, straddling a steam lengthways, just after a corner. We stopped to ask the 2 very dazed men if they were OK but they said yes. We then carried on very slowly down a very slippery hill, with waterfalls rushing down the hillside by the side of the road.

Into Fethiye, where we came across the rock cliff tombs for which this place is famous, took some photos and carried on to Gocek. Couldn't find the centre of this place, which is meant to be very pretty but all we could see were dismal posh houses and the masts of posh boats, so we carried on.

Drove through Dalyan, which on first drive through looks very touristy with SKY TV, English breakfasts and fish & chips. At the end of Dalyan we found a small, rather run down campsite which was flooded in its grassy parts, so we parked outside in the car park with a Dutch van. It's still raining. Went into the village and Rose bought some trousers - Egyptian design. Found an internet cafι. Walked back, had a beer at a restaurant by the river and the sun came out!

The sun is still out now at 5.40 pm, sitting on the roof of the campsite bar which overlooks the tombs in the cliffs on the other side of the river. This campsite is ideally situated for this view - specially at night when these tombs are spot-lit - but the owner is somewhat laid back. He seems more interested in drinking than cleaning up this somewhat shabby campsite. We've had showers - not very warm but adequate and rather full of mosquitoes. Rose is dreading sunset. This place is meant to be VERY mosquitoey but we've squirted ourselves (and the bush outside the tent) with the repellent and guess what!? This is the only place we didn't get any mosquitoes in bed with us!

In the evening we went into Dalyan and found a super Turkish restaurant in the middle of all the English breakfasts, 'real' bacon etc. Rose had brain and tongue soup, followed by liver kebab (Rose VERY happy) and Alf had Beyti kebab (kebab wrapped in a durum, cooked then chopped into pretty circles.) GOOD meal with 2 glasses of wine – 42 TL. Didn't sleep terribly well, due to effectively camping in the street and people walking past all night going home from nightclubs - one of the nightclubs being just behind the campsite - and talking noisily and sometimes drunkenly. Also there were dogs barking all night, though I did like the campsite dog which howls at the Muezzin!

Sunday 29th May
Dalyan to Gokova via mud baths on the west side of Koycegiz Lake – 145 km

Drove down to have a look at the estuary and Isutzu Beach, passing a much nicer looking campsite on the way about 4 km before the beach. Had to pay to park near the beach, so we just admired the estuary from above and turned back through Dalyan and on to Koycegiz along an extremely bumpy pot-holed road.

Sadly the municipal campsite which has such a nice reputation was closed, with camper vans parked outside. We carried on down the west side of the lake to the mud and thermal baths. The roads have been BAD today - in fact more pot-hole and mud than road. The mud baths were only 4 TL each for mud bath, swim in lake to remove the mud, and then 2 outdoor thermal pools and 2 indoor ones with lovely domed roofs - one indoor one is unisex, the other alternates between entrance for men and women. One of the outdoor ones has ancient Roman bits round it and a battery-operated clock in the middle of the ancient artefacts. Alf managed great, despite all these pools having very uneven rocky bottoms. At the end we had a shower (though we still smell of sulphur) before having a very good cheap pide each, and a chat as to where to stay due to Koycegiz Camping being closed. Decided to go on to Gokova.

Set off and the heavens opened (how many days have we had with no rain - not many!) It was raining so hard that once again we had to stop as visibility was so bad. Joined D400 again and carried on to Gokova, which is just about where the D400 and the D550 meet, but it was VERY hard to find the turn-off. It wasn't just me that kept turning off, following signposts that were taking us in the wrong direction, turning round, back onto the main road, stopping at the petrol station to ask the way, and then happily finding the right road. In to Gokova, through Gokova, back again ... where is the campsite? Again back, round, through - no campsite.

Met a nice Greek/Turkish man (!!!!) who said "OK, follow me". We did. Tried to get in a gate which we'd tried before - a voice told us this was the back entrance - so we turned down a road that said 'Apple Beach Resort'!!! and had a guard. No mention of camping or picnic area, which is a turn-off to the right just after the guard. We're told its 25 TL!!!!! for filthy loos and we can't find the shower that they assure us is there amongst the filthy stinking squatty loos - but we can't face looking further due to the smell. So we must continue to smell of sulphur. Met a nice ancient New Zealander cycling around Turkey. Don't think he's enjoying the roads, the weather or this campsite!

Rain came again - beer in restaurant. Later had STEAK! - really pushing the boat out. We asked if the chips were fresh and they said no, but we can make fresh if you like! As if anyone would choose frozen chips - and this is the second restaurant this has happened in! Delicious fillet steaks with very rich sauces, total 57 TL. Good restaurant, worth frequenting so one can use the restaurant toilets. We have asked whether they lock them or if we can use them in the morning - all sorted so we don't have to brave the disgusting site ones. To bed for BAD night. Dogs barking all night all over the campsite and people walking past our tent home from the boom-boom nightclubs down below us in the village. AND it was mosquitoey. Not a campsite to recommend to others!

Monday 30th May
Gokova to Pamucak – 207 km, 30.5 litres petrol 130 TL

Leaving now after a poor night's sleep in the hope of arriving in Pamucak early and having a restful afternoon. We'd paid 25 TL for this dirty noisy site, though I have complained in sign language about the loos, showers and dogs barking. Afterwards heard from nice Turkish camper van owner that we weren't the only ones complaining this morning. Our nice NZ cyclist friend had already left - poor man he was desperate to stay 2 nights and have a bit of a rest, so I expect he complained as well.

Drove straight to Pamucak, only stopping for petrol and a GOOD lunch in a truck drivers' place. Rose had Oeuf Florentine (spinach with egg on top) with garlic sauce; Alf beef stew, couscous and home cooked beans – 25 TL.

Arrived at Pamucak at Camping Dereli near Selcuk (we are finishing the tour at the same site as we started) about 2 pm. Went for a swim in very smelly (sewage?) sea, then 2 tractors came and destroyed the dunes in front of the campsite making a sandstorm all over the campsite. So much for the peaceful afternoon we were looking forward to.

Rose went to use the internet to get away for a while. Played Scrabble, finished Barbara's book ('10 o'clock horses' - good) and showered. What a welcome shower to get rid of the sulphurous smell at last, though was it only yesterday we had the mud bath?

Alf is now making egg sandwiches for the journey home, while I'm doing this diary with beer and fag. Maybe this campsite needs some pitches marked out, as there's a lot of jostling about and people moving because newcomers have come too close or taken their view. Also they should NOT destroy the dunes, and should also get the next door place to have their 'entertainment' quieter. We could hear EVERY banal word of it clearly in bed, though we'd had a good meal at the campsite restaurant.(This restaurant has a good reputation throughout Turkey amongst campers, though it is always full of locals as well as campers, actually). We had 2 beers, beetroot, broad bean humus, samphire (which they call seaweed) and a mixed grill each, with lamb chops, beef steak, chicken and 2 types of Kofte – 61 TL.

Tuesday 31st May
Pamucak via Sirince to Cesme to Xios and overnight to Athens – 150 km

We meant to have a lazy morning but the tractors came back to make more sandstorms by destroying the dunes, so we packed up and went to visit Sirince - a Greek village 8 km north-east of Selcuk, famous for its fruit wines, though you couldn't really see the village for tourist shops. We didn't stay long.

Carried on to Cesme, buying no more expensive Turkish petrol and arriving with the tank empty. Had a leisurely good meal of lamb's head soup, durum and pide. Drove to the port and confirmed that the ticket we phoned about last week actually existed (the ferry only takes 2 cars!). Alf had to go through Customs separately from me and the car, which only had very quick cursory checks on leaving. I had to go through Customs from the wrong side!

We bought 2 bottles of whisky and 800 Greek cigarettes very cheaply. Boarded the ferry at 5.50 pm and left at 6 pm along with a party of Koreans. Arrived in Xios at 6.45 pm. Parked next to the port entrance (no petrol remember and it's still very expensive on Xios), collected our reserved ticket to Athens and went for a good octopus and pork (no pork in Turkey) sausage meal. Boarded ferry at 9.30 pm, left at 10 pm. I slept well on the floor between the reclining seats. Alf not so well, as the lights and TV were on all night.

Wednesday 1st June
Piraeus to Laxanada – 300 km

Alf woke me at 6.15 am. Drove off the ferry at 6.30 am hardly awake, though luckily Alf was more alert than me and warned me when I went wrong. We turned left out of the terminal hoping it was the right way for Corinth. Although it was a bit hairy (rush hour and me sleepy) it was a FAR quicker route missing out all of Athens and most of Piraeus too. Also found a garage quickly, thank goodness, as the tank was extremely empty. Easy drive home.

So all in all a successful trip. The car and tent behaved superbly. It's been good to be back on the road again - though long enough for Alf.

Our overall view of Turkey: the east is wonderful, rich in culture, very friendly people, and it feels far less European, not so money-grabbing as Western Turkey. We are sad that we missed the north-east of Turkey and the Armenian Churches there. Also that we missed Georgia, due to the cold weather ... but never mind, the next trip is becoming clearer in my mind: Georgia to Ukraine, to Moldova to Romania ...