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Pococks Travels in Turkey Part One PDF Printable Version E-mail


Audrey and Graham Pocock
March 2012

Continued from: Pococks Travels from Norway to Greece

Conitnued at: Pococks Travels in Turkey Part Two

We met Audrey and Graham in January 2012 at Camping Finikes near Finikounda in the Greek Peloponnese. A retired Australian couple, touring Europe and Turkey in their motorhome (Bruce) bought in the UK, they left Finikes at the beginning of February. Audrey sent us this account from southwest Turkey in March:


We stayed in Greece from the middle of November 2011 through the winter. Up to the end of the year the weather was rather nice and we were able to sit out and have lunch in the sun, although the evenings were cool and the days short. We had some good company (on Camping Finikes) as there were on average 10 groups of campers at any one time. It was a very friendly campsite. We were inundated with baking from our German neighbours on either side (how can they be bothered)?

We did some touring around, although not too much as we would be going north eventually. However, we did visit Olympia and Ancient Messini and travelled down the Mani, the second finger in the Peloponnese. We had Xmas and New Year at the campsite before the weather decided to change.

And change it did! About the second week of January it became cold, windy and wet - not all at once but a repetition of all three and sometimes at the same time. Obviously there were some sunny days in between but not a lot and by February we were beginning to despair. Everybody who had spent the winter there before kept saying “We have never known it to be like this”. It never went below zero, as it did in the northern part of Europe, but even so 5 weeks of this was the worst period of weather since we had been travelling, including the first time 2 or 3 years ago.

Historically we have seen: Olympia, Ancient Messini, Mycenae, Epidaurus, Delphi, The Parthenon, Mystras, and the tombs of the Macedonian Kings at Vergina. I am so much more acquainted with the history of Ancient Greece now, plus I read the Iliad again. (I read it when I was 18 but couldn't remember anything about it). That has helped to paint the picture and set the scene and put things into perspective. It is SO interesting. We met a couple of Scottish girls up on the Acropolis in Athens and later in the Archaeological Museum, who told us they were studying general History at Uni. I thought 'General History' - what is general about History? There is NOTHING general about History.

We were in Athens just after the cinema was burned (on 12 February, riots engulfed central Athens in flames). We went to the Changing of the Guards to see the 400 pleated kilts and their pompomed (spelling)? feet goose-stepping, whilst being aware of the heavy police presence (indeed one was just in front of me and wouldn't budge as I tried to take photos). There were posters up on the square opposite. There was going to be a demonstration there in the afternoon and we didn't want to linger. We spoke with one man downtown who said that he worked 70 hours a week and the Government called him lazy (not personally, but the general inference was that the people were lazy). And the Government not corrupt?!!

I spoke with a lady in the Post Office who said her salary used to be 1400 Euros and now she was being paid 700 euros, cut in half! We spoke to someone in the village near the camping site in the Peloponnese and he said pensions had been cut in half. We saw masses of wild dogs and hundreds of stray cats roaming all over … starving – all very sad and a people so lovely, so kind, the nicest people so far (although I'm told the Turks are even more so).

Today (21 Feb) we learnt that Greece has been given a reprieve, a stay of execution, with a massive injection of money.

We were also to visit the Meteora monasteries, which are out of this world. I took about 70 pictures, it is so photogenic and looked remarkable sprinkled with snow. A place not to be missed. Remember 'For Your Eyes Only' (the James Bond film set there)?

We camped in the last town in Greece (Camping Municipal, Alexandroupolis) before the Turkish border to do all our washing etc. It was freezing there, windy and raining, altogether unpleasant. We couldn't wait to move south. Hang on, I forgot to say SNOWING …


Into Turkey and down to the Gallipoli Peninsula, where we overnighted in the car park of a café. The next day we walked along the beach at Anzac Cove and could not believe how narrow it is, then up to Lone Pine, all very sad and emotional. We drove around the National Park and spoke to the man in the café where we had stayed to try and tell him that we would be back for Anzac Day on 25 April and could we leave the motorhome there while we went to the Dawn Service? We think he understood us, but maybe not. We'll see. The website says that you can't bring transport near the Memorial Sites on 24/25 April and his café was only 3 kilometres from there, but we're hoping we can leave the motorhome in his garden. Note: This would be unlikely in the extreme! See the official Australian Government website (Dept of Veterans' Affairs) for Anzac Day in Gallipoli 2012.

We left the Gallipoli Peninsula and crossed by ferry to the mainland of Asian Turkey and drove to Troy, where we parked outside the Archaeological Park. The next day we spent the morning there. Not overly impressed we were, I must say. However, we couldn't have driven past and it is on the way south after all. We watched all the coaches processing the German tourists, dropping them off and picking them up, taking them to the same café for lunch and then driving them 3 hours down the coast again to go to the next major archaeological site (Pergamon) at Bergama. We didn't go to this one, as we needed an historical rest, so we continued southwards to Selcuk, which had a campsite open.

From there we visited Ephesus, which was magnificent and very well worth it. A huge site. We liked Selcuk, a small town and very walkable. We had a meal there in a little eatery, where you write in the book after your meal. We noted Steve Irwin's name and also one from Alexander Downer's staff, who must have been out on a "Jolly" and had written “ Eaten too much, drunk too much, send bill to A Downer, C/- Parliament House, Canberra, Australia,” written a few years ago when Downer was foreign minister. So funny!

Next day we visited the museum in Selcuk which was excellent, with lots of stuff in there from the site at Ephesus including statues of the fertility Goddess Artemis, or Cybele as she is sometimes referred to.

After that we continued driving south. Turkey's scenery is dramatically beautiful. It is so mountainous with passes and steep roads winding down the mountainside, quite incredible. I've never seen anything like it. There is a massive road upgrading program in progress and the new sections are impressive (maybe to allow entry into the EU?) but it's like one big building site. However there are enough old sections to indicate how difficult travel used to be. Even the older roads are continually being upgraded, with some very steep gradients to be negotiated! The houses have already been built, thousands of them - I guess like Spain was several years ago.

The people are absolutely adorable and it's smiles everywhere you go. However, they don't speak much English where we've been and no German either, to my surprise. It's most unusual not to be able to speak either French, German, English, Spanish or even a little bit of Italian and this is the first country we've come to that poses a problem. But we'll get by, I'm sure.

Since Troy the weather has been kind and we have been in T-shirts and shorts. Bliss! We have been overnighting with ease everywhere and anywhere, using the wonderful Magbaz site where people have been leaving their coordinates (see especially the Homewoods.)  We were privileged to actually meet Margaret and Barry at Camping Finikes in Greece. We've also been using our own overnight spots, ranging from garage forecourts, to outside beach-front apartments not yet open for the season, to sports grounds. Nobody has bothered us and we couldn't have felt safer if we had been in a campsite.

My disappointment lies in the rubbish that I find scattered around the countryside and in towns too. This was also evident in Greece. However, I remember a time in my own home town in Scotland when everyone just threw their rubbish on to the pavement without thinking, so hopefully things will change eventually. Coming from Australia it's a hard thing to get used to.

At the moment we are at the very bottom of the Aegean on the Datca Peninsula in the little town of Datca, where we parked on the front for the night. We're just about to go for Turkish Breakfast to a place we saw yesterday in the countryside when we stopped for tea. Next we will be driving into Mediterranean Turkey and along its coastline so we will see what's in store.

(Continued at: Pococks in Turkey Part Two)