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In Turkey: June 2008 PDF Printable Version E-mail

 

IN TURKEY: JUNE 2008

800 Miles in the Third Month of a Three-Month, 3,700-mile Motorhome Journey

From the Georgian Border on the Black Sea Coast to the Border with Bulgaria

Margaret and Barry Williamson

June 2008

This illustrated travel log describes a motorhome journey through Turkey in the spring of 2008. We started from Finikounda in the south-west Greek Peloponnese where we had spent the winter of 2007/08. For full details of this period of cycling, walking, writing and spending time in the company of good friends, click: Winter at Camping Finikes.

Our journey to Turkey took us first of all to Gythion (for the opportunity to cycle round the Mani peninsula). We then drove to Alexandroupoli on the Greek/Turkish border via Sparta, Corinth, Athens, Thessaloniki and Kavala.

By the end of April, we had reached Sedre Camping, east of Alanya on Turkey's Mediterranean coast; at the end of May we had met the border with Georgia at the far eastern end of Turkey's Black Sea Coast.

During June, we make our way slowly west along that coast, heading for the Bulgarian border before our visas expire. 

Our overall intention was to follow Turkey's Aegean and Mediterranean coasts as far as the Syrian border, before turning north across eastern Anatolia. We aimed to cross Turkey to Hopa at the Georgian border and then follow the edge of the Black Sea west, through Trabzon and Sinop to Istanbul and on to the Bulgarian border.

Turkey_Map_MBT.JPG

In the map of the whole 3,700-mile journey, given above, yellow is the track of the motorhome; blue marks other journeys by hire car from Seljuk and later from Kahta..

Our visa is valid for 3 months: this is the travel log for June, the third of those months.

To read the log of the April Journey in Turkey, click: In Turkey April 2008

To read the log of the May Journey in Turkey, click: In Turkey May 2008

For Images of the Journey, click: Turkey in Colour

To see more Maps of the Journey, click: Turkey Maps

For more Details and Images of our Motorhome, click: A Flair for Travel

For more Details of our Touring Bicycles, click: Paul Hewitt Tourers 

To read the log of our Previous Motorhome Journey in Turkey, click: Turkey Log 1997

1-2 June 2008   At COSANDERE, Nr MACKA, Turkey   Altintas Trout Restaurant & Camping  

Loaves and Fishes

It's pleasantly cool and airy T29_On_BSea_(60).JPGup here at 1,535 ft, beside the rushing stream in the forest, in contrast to the sub-tropical dampness of the Black Sea coast, a few miles to the north. A good place to be – if only we were able to cycle up into the Altindere Vadisi National Park, 8 miles above, it would be perfect (we still await new front forks for M's bike). The Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Virgin Mary (now a museum) clings to a cliff-side above the gorge up there, in time-honoured fashion - the photos resembling the wonderful Elonis Monastery in the Greek Peloponnese between Leonidio and Kosmas.

Trout farming is big business along this river and the hatchery obviously pre-dateT29_On_BSea_(59).JPGs the restaurant. Mr Altintas (a retired schoolmaster) and his family also grow vegetables and vines, and the outdoor tables are set in a garden by the trout pools under shady hazelnut trees. A trio of marble graves stand opposite, among rose bushes beside the quiet road, all bearing the name 'Altintas': his parents and an uncle, watching over the family enterprise.

Our Sunday began with 2 breakfasts. After our usual cereal and toast, we went down to the garden and were immediately offered tea by Mother Altintas. We were joined by her husband and one of the sons, and the tea was joined by omelettes, bread, olives and apricot preserve.

AfternoonT29_On_BSea_(63).JPG tea was taken around an outdoor table with more members of the family - daughters and cousins, including a hospital nurse and a policeman ('Tourist Police'). Only one of the girls spoke a very little English, so we tried to explain ourselves with visual aids - maps, photographs and sign language. The policeman came from Pamukkale and was excited to find a map of the village in our Lonely Planet, including the street where his parents lived!

A rainy day followed, spent reading, writing and baking. We ordered trout in the restaurant (total cost €3.00 each!). Again it was pan-fried and simply served with bread, salad and water - so fresh, it needed nothing else (except Margaret's apple tart to follow).

3 June 2008   144 miles   COSANDERE, Nr MACKA to ORDU, Turkey   PO Petrol Station 

From the Sumela Monastery to the Hazelnut Coast    

Next morninT29_On_BSea_(71).JPGg it was still wet. Before returning to the Black Sea coast, we drove up the increasingly steep road for 12 miles from Cosandere, climbing through dense pine forest. There was one last restaurant on the left (offering breakfast and sütlac – a local delicacy of rice pudding) and a couple more trout hatcheries, before we reached the Altindere National Park (entry fee €8: classed as a minibus, despite our protest!)

The NP boundary is strategically placed, about a mile before the main cT29_On_BSea_(72).JPGar and coach park for the Sumela Monastery. At over 3,000 ft (900 m), this should have been a wonderfully romantic spot, at the foot of a deep gorge by the wild rushing stream, clouds swirling down the defile from the mountains, mist hanging among the tree-tops. However, the magic was dispelled by the brash souvenir stalls and loud music outside the ostentatious Sumela Restaurant, not to mention a bus-load of youths playing football in the road. The little Tourist Office and Post Office were closed. Camping is not allowed but there are wooden bungalows to rent.

From the Sumela Restaurant, the former Byzantine Monastery is a 30-minute walk, climbing 825 ft (250 m) on forest paths and steep stairways (with another entry fee). There is a higher car park (cars only – not large vans), another couple of miles along the steep narrow road, giving access to the monastery via a shorter walk.

The 14thC mT29_On_BSea_(73).JPGonastery was finally abandoned, along with hopes of a new enlarged Greek State, in 1923. Its faded frescoes were repainted in the 19thC but have been subject to more recent graffiti. Restoration work is apparently in progress, though to the Turks the place is a relic of an alien religion - a paying tourist attraction. We prefer our Byzantine churches and monasteries to be alive and loved, with the scent of beeswax candles and incense, monks or nuns in residence, an air of reverence, a sense of faith and history. We didn't want to see one with the life sucked out of it, so we decided not to follow the line of visitors (a school party?) tramping up through the forest. Besides, it was pouring down!

Descending the steep valT29_On_BSea_(74).JPGley to Macka, needing to use first gear to save the brakes, we turned north for the coast, dropping more gradually over the next 17 miles to Trabzon, where the rain ceased. West along the busy dual carriageway D010, we passed the turn for Lake Sera after 6 miles, then stopped 2 miles later at Yildizli, tempted by a Carrefour/Burger King mall on the right. The empty free car park, next to an army camp, had its own armed guard!

We continuedT29_On_BSea_(55).JPG through small coastal fishing towns, squeezed between the heavily wooded mountains and the sea (with very little shore). Akcaabat was followed by Akcakale, with the ruin of a 13thC Byzantine castle. Görele, 50 miles from Trabzon, is famous for the big round loaves, lined up like footballs in wood-fired bakery windows along the whole coast. At Tirebolu, 9 miles later, a castle guards the harbour. Diverted through the town, we passed the smoking chimney of the last (westernmost) of the tea-curing factories which have characterised the coastline since Hopa. What a happy coincidence of climate, soil type, ready supply of wood and export harbours!

Continuing through Espiye, we came to Giresun (Ancient Cerasos), 85 T29_On_BSea_(79).JPGmiles from Trabzon, a larger port with a fortress high on the headland above. It has a long history and is credited with introducing cherries to Europe, when a Roman general exported the first cherry trees to Italy, along with their name. We didn't notice any cherries, but dense groves of hazelnuts now took the place of tea plantations along the next stretch of the Black Sea coast.

Seeing no campsitesT29_On_BSea_(80).JPG or TIR parking, we continued, finally settling on a more spacious petrol station a few miles east of Ordu (centre of the hazelnut harvest, with a Golden Hazelnut Festival each September). The station shop sold shelled nuts by the kilo, as well as bars and boxes of hazelnutty chocolate. The assistant gave us a sample bag of nuts so, of course, we bought a box of chocs.

Setting off on a short stroll to the seashore,T29_On_BSea_(99).JPG we were overtaken by the enthusiastic Mehmet Ugur Iscan, one of the brothers who own the petrol station and the surrounding hazelnut groves. He walked us across his fertile land, where he also grew all manner of vegetables, vines (Georgian black grapes for wine), fruit trees and bushes (plums, cherries, loquats, mulberries, blackberries, redcurrants), as well as grazing 4 Alpine cows. 'All natural, all original, all organic, plenty oxygen' he repeated several times.

On the way backT29_On_BSea_(82).JPG from the beach he proudly took us into the little traditional Ottoman house, 3 wooden storeys high, which his family were restoring. Joined by his 2 brothers, we sat on the verandah, with a dish of hazelnuts and loquats, drinking raki (like Greek ouzo) as the sun set. A magical moment! We learnt that the Iscans were of Georgian descent, their grandfather being brought here from Georgia in 1882, aged 2. We also learnt that the hazelnuts grown along this coast are of premium quality, totally natural, and are exported throughout Europe, supplying major chocolate makers like Mars and Ferrero. (Remember the advert: 'Nuts, whole hazelnuts, Cadbury's take 'em  and they cover them in chocolate'.) In fact, Ugur was off to Germany next week to sell 20 tons of nuts. His older brother preferred fishiT29_On_BSea_(104).JPGng.

Back in the petrol station office, we drank coffee with Ugur as he looked at the images of Turkey on our website. A graduate of Istanbul University, his own daughters are at Antalya University and he recognised many of our photos. On the wall was a sepia photograph of his grandfather and great-uncle: fine young men with moustaches, pointy shoes and bandoliers, brandishing Lee Enfield bolt-action .303 rifles. Finally, we were introduced to the 3 young garage hands on duty for the night and told we only had to ask for tea or coffee! We all solemnly shook hands. Another super, totally unexpected, end to the day.    

4 June 2008   49 miles   ORDU to ÜNYE, Turkey   Uzunkum Beach Restaurant & Camping   €10.00 (YTL 20.00) 

Our first campsite since Tasucu, on the Mediterranean Coast

After a fill of petT29_On_BSea_(97).JPGrol at the Iscan garage (and free tea – it'd be better the other way round, with fuel at nearly £1.50 a litre), we continued along the coastal highway. Soon we were through Ordu, a lovely port at the foot of a forested hill, with beachfront gardens and small paid car parks (excluding lorries and minibuses, however). The towns certainly look busier and more prosperous as we go west.

At 7 miles, T29_On_BSea_(75).JPGwe had a choice: the old road winding round a peninsula via Persembe, or a brand new 13-mile highway cutting straight across (not on our map or GPS). Taking the new road, we climbed up to 640 ft through a pair of tunnels (the second was 2 miles long), coming down through a series of short tunnels to rejoin the coast 5 miles before Fatsa. This was another orderly seaside town, with palm trees along the promenade, shelters and playgrounds – but no campsites.

We had high hopes for Ünye (pop 73,000), 15 miles further west, with 8T30_On_BSea_(144).JPG (yes eight) campsites mentioned in the Lonely Planet: we hadn't stayed on an actual designated campsite since Tasucu, 25 days ago. Approaching the port, we passed a ship-building dock, a coal depot and a cement factory. Things looked more promising about a mile west of town, where there is a stretch of beach.

Looking very carefully, we spotted the 2 campsites named in the LP: Uzunkum Beach and the adjacent Gülen Beach, between the noisy hiT30_On_BSea_(10).JPGghway and the grubby shore. Each consisted of a restaurant and wooden bungalows, with very little space for 'camping'. Driving on, we saw only 2 more Camping signs at small guesthouses, but they could only have meant putting a tent on the beach! As for the other 4 campsites, they had probably disappeared under the new building of apartments and hotels.

Turning back, we tried Uzunkum Beach (with more space than its neighbour). It's not really open and the ablutions are unusable (except for dumping waste) but we have a level piece of grass, electricity from the toilet block and fresh water. Time for a break!

ty from the toilet block and fresh water. Time for a break! But things were soon to change.

5-7 June 2008   At ÜNYE, Turkey   Uzunkum Beach Restaurant/Camping

Made Welcome in Ünye

Next day at the campT29_On_BSea_(111).JPGsite, the doors were removed – for repainting – from the (cold) shower and the 2 toilets (one of which was out of order). The water was turned off and holes were dug to expose the sewers! Naturally, we negotiated a discount, wondering how this place passed the annual ACSI inspection it boasted.

Opposite the campsite, across a busy main road where no quarter was given, even though it had to be asked, was a bread shop, next to a tea-house for the old lads who invited Margaret to join them for cay while she waited for the baker to return from Friday Prayers. A dolmus minibus ran past the gate every 5 minutes: an easy way of covering the mile back into Ünye.

We enjoyed Ünye, a hazelnut town/port with a very long history of setT29_On_BSea_(108).JPGtlement. Starting at the Tourist Office in the 18thC pink town hall by the main square, we were given a very warm welcome (in English), an armful of free booklets, maps and posters, and a computer slide show of the Tourist Officer's own excellent photos of the locality (castle, rock tombs, 500-year-old plane trees, viewpoints). The national map he gave us, showing campsites, was exaggerated (to say the least), but it did also assure us that all Turkey was one big welcoming campground! The beautifully illustrated book on Turkish Cuisine was fascinating and a joy to read.

Exploring the town, with local cherries on sale from every stall and barrow at €1 per kilo, Barry finally succumbed to the attentions of a barber. He declared it the best hair cut in his life, with fine attention to detail: cut and shampoo; beard and eyebrow trim, nose and ear trim; forehead, arm, fingers, neck and shoulder massage - all with various accompanying unguents. Margaret, perhaps the first woman to sit in this male preserve wearing shorts, was rewarded with a thoughtful cup of hot lemon drink.

As we waited to T29_On_BSea_(106).JPGcross the busy seafront road, we were taken in hand by another kind resident, a retired post-master. He had taught himself French (he called himself an 'autodidact') and, keen to practise, treated us to cay in the tea-gardens by the pier. Showing us prints of his lovely photos of the promenade park, with colourful autumn skies and over-wintering birds, we were surprised to see deep snow in February of this year. After sharing something of his life, including the last picture of his only grandson, who had died at the age of 11, our new friend left to mind the family shop, so that his son could go fishing. We felt privileged to have met such a gentle-man.

On a second visit to the town, we spent most of the day in an internet centre (€0.50 per hour, with free tea!), updating our website, replying to emails and sending one to all our friends with a dozen photos of Turkey (how hard it was to choose these!) Taking a break for coffees and cheese toasts at a café opposite (empty on Saturday lunchtime), we were also given sweet buns 'on the house' and wondered how any profit was made, with our total bill standing at €3.

8 June 2008   164 miles   ÜNYE to SINOP, Turkey   Marti Camping   €15.00 (YTL 30.00) – less 10% CCI discount

Through Samsun and over the hills to Sinop

About 13 miles west along the coastal highway D010, we passed aT29_On_BSea_(79).JPG large campsite, spread along the beach and among the trees, a couple of miles before Terme. Terme is on the site of Ancient Thermiskyra, associated with Amazon female warriors, but we just saw a modern town of hazelnut packing plants, and Ford Transit minibuses for sale literally by the hundred. We were cheered by the sight of a stork's nest with 2 young.

Then the roadT30_On_BSea_(12).JPG left the coast to cross a flat region of hazelnut groves. In Carsamaba, at 30 miles, we saw the first crops of tobacco. Here we gave a packet of biscuits (which we're trying to give up!) to a lad selling bread-rings at the traffic lights.

We met the coast again at 50 miles and were soon following a railway line (from the hinterland) into Samsun, Turkey's largest Black Sea port with a population around a third of a T30_On_BSea_(13).JPGmillion. Very quiet on this Sunday morning, the city appeared surprisingly clean and prosperous. Along the pleasant waterfront (Ataturk Blvd) we passed the Lunapark funfair before reaching the port and town centre. The War of Independence began in Samsun (19 May 1919), when Ataturk landed here to organise the defence of Anatolia from Greek insurgency, and the great man is commemorated with a museum and a splendid equestrian statue. West of the city were more parks and picnic areas, with a cable car to a hill-top café and panorama.

At 58 miles, on the far T30_On_BSea_(15).JPGwestern edge of Samsun, a large modern shopping mall blocked our view of the sea and we stopped on the coach park (we were far too tall for the underground Otopark). Once through security, all armed guards and metal detectors, we had the run of 4 floors - from Kiddyland to the Food Court! We shopped in MM-Migros and lunched on a balcony overlooking a long sandy beach. A coach full of youngsters had just arrived and it was sad to see the kids rush eagerly to the edge of the water; only to stand and stare at it in 2 segregated groups. The girls were well covered, wearing long skirts or trousers, unable even to paddle. Some of the boys rolled up their jeans and waded in, 3 even bold enough to wear shorts and have a swim, but there was none of the interaction, kicking a ball about or playing on the sands that we might expect. After a few minutes, they walked back to their bus.

The broad highway followed the coast north-west for another 15 miles. AtT30_On_BSea_(16).JPG one point we followed a pick-up with an open tank full of live trout fastened on the back, water sloshing out on the bends! At Ondokuzmayis the road narrowed to 2 lanes as it turned inland (though a dual carriageway was under construction). We climbed to 325 ft before dropping to cross the broad River Kizilirmak in Bafra. This river flows down from Cappadocia, filling various dams, eventually reaching the Black Sea 13 miles north of Bafra. Its delta forms a lush pasture land, with rice paddies and dairy cattle, as well as a refuge for thousands of winter birds. After Alacam, we regained the coast at the fishing harbour of Yakakent (107 miles).

10 miles later wT30_On_BSea_(25).JPGe left the shore again to climb steeply for 4 miles, reaching 1,220 ft. Taking a tea break at the top of the pass, our engine radiator boiled over rather alarmingly a few minutes after we had stopped, cooling down as we descended the zigzags to sea level at Gerze (135 miles), a port on a little peninsula. In the parks, family picnics usually involved a 2-tier samovar for making cay – our trusty Thermos flask would not satisfy a Turkish tea ceremony!

Over the next 15 miles our route climbed inland once more, to 500 ft, asT30_On_BSea_(19).JPG we carefully watched the temperature gauge, now behaving itself. It was 3 pm and raining steadily. Dropping back to the coast, we saw road works underway to build a tunnel – that would have been nice! At 160 miles we reached the base of Sinop's peninsula but, as the road narrowed and the medieval walls closed in, we turned round awkwardly and retreated, to escape westwards on D010.

Shortly before the right turn for Ayancik, we turned right down a lane signposted for Sinop Airport and Marti Camping. About 3 miles along the lane (1.5 miles past the airport) there is a large grassy campsite by the beach, on the east side of the Ince Burn headland: the northernmost point of Asian Turkey. There were a couple of campervans in situ (German, Dutch and Turkish), the first we'd seen in weeks – sadly, we have come to the end of remote Eastern Turkey. But there was one compensation, and only one: a washing machine!

9 June 2008   At SINOP, Turkey   Marti Camping

Laundry and Maintenance Day

Sunny and breezy, the perfect laundry day! We also did some indoor and outdoor cleaning and fixed the loose fly-screen at the kitchen window (much needed here, among grazing cows and hungry mosquitoes).

A phone call to Motorhome Medics (what a long way away Cheltenham feels) gave Barry the information to tackle the radiator problem. He removed the header tank and associated pipes and radiator cap, cleaned all the accessible bits, refilled with clean water and reassembled it. Flair is also due for an oil change, so an Otobazar is our next priority.

From our DVD collection (kindly donated many weeks or months ago by friends who take British newspapers), we enjoyed re-viewing 'Educating Rita', only a little dated after 25 years. Interesting that its Liverpool set was actually filmed in Dublin using Trinity College as a focal point.

10 June 2008   71 miles   SINOP to CATALZEYTIN, Turkey   Ginolu Harbour

From a Change of Oil to the Kitten on the Quay

Leaving Marti CaT30_On_BSea_(20).JPGmping, we returned eastwards to the D010 (3 miles) and turned right (Samsun direction) for the Otobazar (a small industrial estate of small workshops and dealers in various motoring commodities), which lay on the right, 2 miles along. After that it was easy! We simply parked in the middle, waited for a crowd of mechanics to gather round and asked if anyone spoke English or German. Helpful Hüseyin, a man with an 'English (sic) wife from Rhyl in North Wales', took us across to a garage specialising in oil changes and acted as interpreter.

Soon we were poised above the inspection pit and supplied with excellent coffee. Using our own spare oil filter and buying 7 litres of Castrol 10W-30, the mechanics did an excellent job, including all-round checking and greasing underneath. By 11 am we were sorted and on our way: a mile back towards Sinop, then left for Ayancik.

Immediately the dual carriageway, still classified D010, became T30_On_BSea_(21).JPGa bumpy, narrow 2-lane road - and likely to remain that way. Continuing westwards through the hills, climbing to over 500 ft across the Ince Burun headland, we passed rice paddies, grazing dairy cattle and a flock of sheep guarded by a big dog and a shepherd armed with a rifle!

Then the road followed theT30_On_BSea_(24).JPG line of the Western Black Sea (Sinop being the East/West dividing line), keeping on average about 400 ft above the blue water. A tortoise ambled across the road; woodcutters stacked logs along the verges; an old woman picked cherries into a basket on her back, while her husband sat by the roadside selling them. Sadly, there was no chance of stopping on the very narrow road, with a near-vertical drop into the ses on our right. Donkeys stood knee-deep in flowery meadows, while head-scarved women had begun haymaking. We were reminded of rural Romania.

Up and down across the lie of the land, we dropped to sea level aT30_On_BSea_(23).JPGfter 40 miles in busy Ayancik (pop 10,000). Here the road turned inland, due south for 3 miles, then north-west again through the hills, crossing the broad dry bed of a river which fed a large gravel works.

Reaching theT30_On_BSea_(27).JPG day's maximum height of 1,535 ft, Flair's water temperature holding steady at Normal, we came to the small village of Doganli at 51 miles, complete with one shop and a school. The street was thronged for a funeral, as scores of solemn men (and only men) poured out of the mosque. The women, in their best long skirts and scarves, visited the bereaved cottage a little way down the road - some still arriving, some returning home, all on foot. We saw no mixing: the two genders clearly had different business – perhaps burying the man and supporting the widow.

7 miles later we saw the sea again at Güzelyurt, where the road turT30_On_BSea_(29).JPGned west for 3 miles to Türkeli. Here we stopped by the fishing harbour and a dormant funfair for a late lunch – peaceful until the dodgem cars and swing boats sprang into action as Türkeli's children came out of school! We took a quick walk round the village, found nowhere else to park and decided against staying the night.

The road westward followed white pebble beaches to Catalzeytin (pop 2,500), at 68 miles: a small resort with a fine promenade, picnic tables and playground but no camping or parking places. The fishing harbour of Ginolu, 3 miles later, was perfect, tucked below a promontory topped by an old fort.

Walking atop the hT30_On_BSea_(33).JPGarbour wall to the lighthouse and back along the quayside, Margaret heard whimpering from a fishing net store. Peering in through a broken window, a tiny scrawny kitten could be seen, tangled among the nets, a strand pulling tightly round its shoulder. We fetched work gloves and scissors and soon had the mite cut free, to rejoin its anxious mother. Good deed done, how virtuous we felt as we had our dinner (hoping the thing didn't go straight back inside to get trapped again – and that we hadn't ruined a poor fisherman's net.)

11 June 2008   34 miles   CATALZEYTIN to ÖZLÜCE, Turkey   Özlüce Harbour

From Harbour to Harbour, via Abana

Before leaving Ginolu harbour we climbed the long flight of steps to the remaT30_On_BSea_(30).JPGins of Ginolu Castle above, marked as usual by the very large red & white flag of Turkey flying high in the wind. Only the base of the castle walls remained but they had recently been re-pointed and new paths laid. It looked as if the restoration project had been ended 2 years ago, leaving wheelbarrows, pulley and cement sacks as they lay. However, it was a marvellous viewpoint on a promontory between 2 bays.

Nearby stood aT30_On_BSea_(42).JPG few houses, with 2 families busy gathering mulberries: a man up the tree shook the branches, while the others spread a tarpaulin below. Watching, we were invited to eat our fill of the sweet fruit. One of the women, who spoke good English and German, had graduated in English Literature from a Saudi Arabian university! This was her husband's native village and they were visiting his sister.

Driving ever-westwards, we climbed to 900 ft in the first 2.5 miles – a good start! Road D010 twisted and turned above the beautiful coast, dropping to sea level again shortly before Abana, at 11 miles. It was market day in the small resort (pop 2,900) and we parked to look round.

Abana had a good feel – a harbour, a promenade, some old woodeT30_On_BSea_(51).JPGn houses, a tourist office (closed), a few hotels and restaurants. We bought local produce at the market, where women sat shelling peas, and plump bread rolls hot from a wood-fired bakery. Everyone bade us welcome, asking if we were English or German; there were offers of cay – perhaps someone wrote to the Turkish Times that the first summer tourists had arrived!

Inebolu (pop 9,700) was a bigger port, 13 scenic miles later. Its harbour was a commercial undertaking with fences and gates, large trawlers and nowhere to park. Apparently in 1925 Ataturk slT30_On_BSea_(58).JPGept in the restored stone mansion in the town centre. His statue in front of it is in debonair evening dress, top hat in hand!

Özlüce, another 10 hilly miles along the coast, offered the perfect resting place on its quiet fishing harbour. As the weather had turned wet and windy, we stopped here. The road ahead twisted away through lush green hills, clad in pine and deciduous trees: more hazelnuts, as well as beech and chestnuts.

12 June 2008   55 miles   ÖZLÜCE to CIDE, Turkey   Bar/Mocamp   €10.00 (YTL 20.00)

Drama in Cide

Once the overnight thunderstorm had subsided we climbed out of T30_On_BSea_(56).JPGÖzlüce on the narrow road, reaching 775 ft in 5 miles. The trees glistened in a dozen shades of green after the rain. 8 miles later, after an ear-popping descent, we were back at sea level in Doganyurt (pop 1,300). The road continually rose and fell, wiggling its way at an average altitude of 300 ft, dropping to another harbour at Ilyasbey and climbing out again.

After 32 miles at T30_On_BSea_(64).JPGCayyaka we crossed a broad river at 200 ft, complete with gravel works and Jandarma post. A serious climb followed, saw-toothing our way through the forest to 765 ft, with spectacular views of the cliffs which fell sharply away on our right (that is, the side of the white-knuckled navigator!) Extra hazards were presented by free range cows and donkeys and suicidal tortoises. Thankfully, there was very little traffic on this winding route – and certainly no cyclists!

The route deteriorated along a section of gravelly roadworks as we dT30_On_BSea_(65).JPGescended to Denizkonak (at 37 miles and 200 ft), a village prone to subsidence and landslides, around which a new bypass was under construction. 3 miles later it began to rain as we lunched at a picnic table, with a view of the sea pounding the cliffs 550 ft below. Another mile took us up to 945 ft before a steep 2-mile descent, to cross a river mouth at sea level in tiny Sakalli.

The next 11T31_In_Cide_(33).JPG miles included another rugged climb and a sharp switchback descent to the seaside town of Cide (pop 5,900). Time to let the engine cool! Turning down by the Yali Hotel to the parking area by the harbour, we saw a humble fishermen's bar/tea-rooms with the word 'Mocamp' on its sign. Sure enough, there was a grassy area under the plum trees for camping, with a tap and one electric socket (no facilities, apart from simple Turkish toilets). We settled in and hooked up – nothing. The barman explained that there were electricity cuts in the town until 5 pm and the water was off until 8 pm!

After a pot of tea we walked a mile into the centre of Cide, in searchT31_In_Cide_(12).JPG of provisions and a phone box. The many children coming out of the schools on Ataturk Street were keen, as ever, to practise their English: 'What is your name? How are you? Where are you from?' They photographed each other with us (using mobile phones) and gave Margaret flowers. We handed out a few visiting cards, thinking no more of it.

Back at the MT31_In_Cide_(16).JPGocamp, we found a remarkable young English teacher, Sofak, waiting. He was writing us a letter, to leave with a pair of tickets for tonight's end-of-term production of 'The Three Little Pigs' by the Cumhuriyet (= Republic) Primary School's English Drama Club. His pupils had shown him our card, were so excited at meeting us, and begged us to come and watch. How could we resist such an invitation. 8 pm in the little community theatre it is, then.

How glad we are that we made the effort to go, forT31_In_Cide_(27).JPG an hour of sheer delight! It was a superb performance brilliantly directed by Sofak, in front of friends and parents, teachers and headmaster, as well as the local education minister. Computer co-ordinated music and photographs preceded the story, narrated in English by Sofak and a chorus of children. The main characters were also played by the children (aged 12-13), speaking their lines in confident English. The costumes and scenery they had made were simple but T31_In_Cide_(31).JPGvery effective.

After the traditional story, a fairy brought the deceased characters (the pigs who built their houses of straw and wood, and the Big Bad Wolf) back to life and the kids let rip with a couple of song & dance numbers before the curtain came down! They knew all the words for 'My heart will go on and on' from the film 'Titanic', for example. After lots of applause, we joined them on stage. Margaret was presented with a headband with piggy ears, while Barry got the magic wand. Some enchanted evening …

13 June 2008   At CIDE, Turkey   Bar/Mocamp

R & R (Rest and Repairs)

After recent storms, it's very hot again (over 90°F). The rain had revealed aT31_In_Cide_(32).JPG leak in the roof light over our shower, so this was a perfect dry day to dismantle (18 screws), clean and re-seal it.

Also time for baking: fresh cherries in a cherry & coconut cake, and in a slab of chocolate tiffin, along with local hazelnuts. Turkish fruits, nuts and vegetables are a joy – though we do miss pork products (with apologies to The Three Little Pigs)!

Wondering how long to stay, we found the bar being cleaned out ready for a disco tomorrow night. Some decisions are easy!

14 June 2008   47 miles   CIDE to AMASRA, Turkey   Coach Park

Toughest section of D101: 9 climbs, 5 drops to sea level and the lowest gears

Leaving CideT31_In_Cide_(40).JPG westwards on D101, a mile-long promenade skirts the wide sandy beach. This level seafront road, lined with new developments (apartments and a school), continued through Irmak, to cross a river by the ship-building village of Kumluca (meaning Sandy) after 5 miles. 2 miles later, at Kalafat, we began to climb: the rare section of flat coast was over! After a windy night, sea and sky were both blue.

We climbed to 390 ft above Gideros BT32_In_Amasra_(14).JPGay, dropped to an undulating cruising height around 200 ft, rose to 550 ft at 15 miles, then hairpinned down for 2 miles to a small beach at Kapisuyu. In the next 2 miles we had risen to 400 ft and plunged down once more to Kurucasile (pop 2,100). After just 19 miles we needed a coffee break while the Flair cooled down. Parked on the harbour, we watched the fishing-boat builders at work, their stacks of wooden planks laid out to season. A phone call to Paul Hewitt in Leyland confirmed that Margaret's bicycle forks were at last on their way, to be collected in Bulgaria. Good news.

Climbing sharT32_In_Amasra_(11).JPGply again, we reached 745 ft in 3 miles before dropping to another little harbour at Hisar 2 miles later. Then higher still, to 775 ft in the next 2 miles, the road marked by snow posts (imagine this in winter!). A 2-mile descent to sea level again at Karaman preceded a severely steep climb inland up a wooded valley.

Here our map showed an arrow on theT32_In_Amasra_(10).JPG road (the first since the Georgian border!), meaning 'unsuitable for towing'. At Meydan, 2 miles up, we'd reached 750 ft and continued climbing to 1,086 ft, the Flair occasionally protesting at the tight switchback of the track, automatically down into first gear on the sharp gradient. In the inland hamlet of Cakraz at about 400 ft, the villagers were busy with haymaking and milking, seemingly oblivious to their crazy access road, served by an occasional bus.

At 40 miles T32_In_Amasra_(30).JPGwe reached another highpoint (960 ft) before the final descent (another arrow on the map) to land in Amasra. The serpentine road - which we could have bypassed on a new short cut to Bartin - took us steeply down into the beautiful little port of Amasra, or Ancient Sesamos Amastris (pop 6,600 – much increased on summer weekends).

The fishing/tourist resort circles 2 bays dividT32_In_Amasra_(16).JPGed by a rocky promontory, which is enclosed by the walls of a Byzantine citadel on the site of the Greco-Roman fort. There is a small museum of antiquities near the Small Harbour (to the west), beyond which we found a large coach parking area by the water. The attendant was happy to let us stay overnight (free of charge, though buses appeared to pay).

Walking round tT32_In_Amasra_(20).JPGhe town, we explored the maze of alleyways inside the citadel walls. A 15thC church is now a cultural centre, though the lovely Ottoman wooden houses were sadly neglected or patched with rusty corrugated iron. The Big Harbour, to the east, was tourist-oriented: souvenir stalls, a busy beach with demarcated bathing area, pleasure boats offering a trip round both bays. The Small Harbour still had a small fishing fleet, overlooked by tea-gardens.

Most of the eating places were up-market fish restaurants on the wateT32_In_Amasra_(31).JPGrside, but we made a good choice at the Amasra Sofrasi, a grill/pavement café between the 2 harbours, where copious salad and pitta bread accompanied succulent chicken kebabs.

Our only disappointment in Amasra was the complete absence of a filling station – not even a can of petrol to be bought. The last was in Cide, 45 fuel-gobbling miles back, and the next is in Bartin – only 10 miles but involving a 1,000 ft climb! Scarcely believing this information, we can only hope we make it tomorrow!

15 June 2008   123 miles   AMASRA to AKCAKOCA, Turkey   Nejat Camping

Inland to Bartin, back to the coast at Zonguldak and along to Akcakoca

The climb out of Amasra deserved the third arrow awarded on our map – leaping up to 1,155 ft from sea level in 3 miles, with our petrol gauge reading empty! After another 3 miles, over the mountain ridge and down at 130 ft, we met the new Sinop bypass road: dual carriageway for 4 miles into Bartin. It was a relief to refuel at the first of several petrol stations.

Through Bartin (an industrial town) and across its river, we headed south-west on D010, still a new smooth dual carriageway at about 65 ft. What a contrast to the coastal road from Sinop! At 33 miles it turned due south down a river valley, shared with the railway line serving the large coal port of Zonguldak.

At 43 miles, 6 miles after bypassing the town of Caycuma, our road for Zonguldak turned right (north-west). Climbing gradually over the range barring our way to the sea, the dual carriageway turned back into a rough 2-lane road 9 miles later at 800 ft. At 55 miles (1,355 ft) it ran through a half-mile tunnel before the 10-mile descent. We passed stockpiles of coal at the roadside, then the first coalmine a couple of miles before the coast.

Zonguldak (pop 107,400) had none of the feel of Ancient Sandraka (aka 'Sandra'). The centre was a mess of roadworks and diversions until we were past the port and shipyards, heading west along the Black Sea once more. The beaches and tea-gardens were thronged with bathers and picnics on this sunny Sunday – the first weekend of Turkish school holidays (until September!) As we left, we just managed to park at a Carrefour supermarket, packed with shoppers. This is a different Turkey, within range of Ankara and Istanbul, and we begin to feel the pressure.

At about 70 miles the slow 2-lane road (the D010 we've followed since the Georgian border) left the coast to climb inland through a couple of short tunnels and up to 1,640 ft. We lunched in a layby before the descent to Eregli, at 95 miles – another coal port. Its ancient name, Herakleia Pontika, derives from the Greek legend of Herakles. One of his Labours was the slaying of the 3-headed dog Cerberus, who guarded the gates of Hades in a cave near Eregli. As Turkey's first important coal mining area, it was doubtless a fearsome black hole!

The busy road now took an easier route along the equally busy sea shore, through the resort of Alapli (104 miles). Just before Akcakoca we passed the turning for Düzce, where we could join the Istanbul-Ankara motorway, a mere 25 miles inland. As we'd been told of camping at Akcakoca, we continued.

Spotting a sign for 'Hamburg Camping – 8 km', we bypassed the turn for the town centre and kept going west. At a Shell garage, about 5 miles along, we asked directions: next right, back towards Akcakoca. Following this lane, we soon saw the simple campsite on the right and met its owner, German-speaking Erol. He warned us that there would be a 'wedding party' in his restaurant that evening but insisted it wouldn't disturb us. Unimpressed, we asked if there was another campsite. 'No, but you'll be fine here. A nice family wedding with quiet music, not a disco, from 7–11 this evening. They will invite you for a drink. You can take photos.'

We parked, T33_Akcakoca_(11).JPGgrabbed a cold drink (on a stiflingly hot day) and set out for a stroll. Less than 3 minutes later we came to Nejat Camping, just across the road, run by a much more honest German-speaker! His beach-side campsite was 'not really open' as he was busy building a new swimming pool/bar – to be joined by a boutique hotel next year. However, we were more than welcome to park on his grass, with electric hook-up and use of modern toilets.

Returning to Hamburg Camping, we found tables and chairs laid out around our motorhome and a DJ testing the amplifiers at full blast!! Erol said sorry as we drove off, to settle further along the lane at Nejat Camping. As we cooked our supper, at about 7 pm, the heat culminated in a thunderstorm and it rained heavily all night. Sorry, Erol, but we did feel pleased!

16-23 June 2008   At AKCAKOCA, Turkey   Nejat Camping

R & R (Reading and Writing)

Enjoying the peaceful camp and pleasant weather after the storm, we took time to write emails and work on a number of pieces for our website, as well as the many digital photographs taken along the Black Sea coast.

Walking into the town centre (about a mile), we passed not only 2 internet cafes but a third campsite (making Erol of Hamburg Camping a triple liar!) This was the fully equipped ADAC-listed Camping Tezel, where we met the French-speaking owner. As hT33_Akcakoca_(16).JPGe was asking the highest price we've seen in Turkey (€18) for a night for a place on a small sloping terrace, we didn't move! Had we got on, we would have to reverse off and back into the main road.

In the town we sipped tea in the gardens overlooking the fishing harbour, opposite a huge, recently built, modern mosque. It holds 5,000 with facilities including a corpse-washing room. The minaret of the former mosque has been made into a clock tower.

An addeT33_Akcakoca_(38).JPGd bonus at Nejat Camping is a WiFi signal from the neighbouring Günbatimi Hotel, good and strong. The manager confirmed we were more than welcome to use it, free of charge! In return, we had a couple of excellent meals at his beachside restaurant during our stay. Freshly cooked steak or fish, simply served with salad and bread, went down well at sunset at beachside table with attentive waiters.

On the longest day of the year, the eponymous Mr Nejat opened the pristine swimming pool and Margaret celebrated the Summer Solstice with a delicious dip.

24 June 2008   309 miles   AKCAKOCA to EDIRNE, Turkey   Grand Ömür Camping   €15.00

Our Longest Day's Drive in Turkey on its Busiest Motorway, from Asia to Europe

We intended taking 2 or 3 days to reach Edirne, with overnights on motT35_Edirne_(13).JPGorway services. Rather than driving directly to motorway E80 at Düzce (25 miles south of Akcakoca), we followed the Black Sea coast further west to Karasu before heading south to join E80 at Adapazari.

Leaving Akcakoca, the narrow road (our old friend, coastal highway D010) twisted and turned for 6 miles, climbing inland to the village of Kalkin, tucked away among hazelnut groves at 360 ft. After a 2-mile descent back to sea level, we hugged the empty shoreline, past occasional simple campsites and guest houses along the next 4 miles to the fishing village of Melenagazi. The level road was wider for the next 13 miles to Karasu, a larger fishing harbour (pop 25,000). Here we finally left the Black Sea, which we had faithfully followed for the past month from Hopa on the Georgian border.

Taking road 650 to the city of Adapazari (also called Sakarya), we found a new smooth dual carriageway for T35_Edirne_(14).JPGmost of the 30 miles, with a few sections still undergoing road works. It crossed a flat area of hazelnut and corn farming (max height 100 ft). We paused about half way in the small town of Firizli for bread and supplies. The weather was hotter and drier than ever, away from the coast, with the temperature inside soaring and our fridge struggling to keep its cool. We'd taken the precaution of emptying the freezer section of all but bread and carried nothing highly perishable.

It was easy, if slow, to bypass Adapazari, following signs for the E80 Ankara-IT35_Edirne_(11).JPGstanbul motorway, the country's busiest. At 65 miles we joined the motorway (direction Izmit-Istanbul), taking our toll ticket. The first 6 miles ran along the southern shore of Lake Sapanca. At 83 miles we stopped at the service station and had an early fast lunch at McDonalds.

Our first glimpse of the eastern end of the Sea of Marmara came 10 miles later, just before we disappeared into a tunnel. Emerging, we looked down over the Sea for some miles, with views of ferries and naval vessels. We passed another service station (and Burger King) at 100 miles, but it was too early and too hot to think of stopping for the night.

The 6-lane motorway T35_Edirne_(16).JPGbecame ever busier, through an industrial sprawl of shipyards, factories, coal depots – and still over 30 miles from the centre of Istanbul! At 140 miles we paid our toll (€1.50 for 75 miles of motorway – a bargain). The next 27-mile section of E80 is free of charge, circling north of Istanbul. This includes crossing the new bridge over the Bosphorus, 228 ft below – the sign read 'Welcome to Europe!'; we just felt sad at leaving all our friends among the Asian Minors.

After crawling through Istanbul traffic where twT35_Edirne_(24).JPGo motorways join, we collected a toll ticket for the onward motorway (Edirne and Bulgaria) at 167 miles, just past the exit for Ataturk International Airport. At the next services, 27 miles later, we stopped to make tea with a last view of the Sea of Marmara. We might have spent the night here, but without an electric hook-up (for fans and the air-conditioner) it meant sitting in the mounting heat, bereft of shade. The temperature inside the motorhome was 95°F with a low humidity of 23%!

Continuing across the plains of Thrace at about 300 ft, typified by crops of cotton, sunflowers and wheat, we saw plenty of baby storks in the nest. Passing more services at 275 miles, only 30 miles before Edirne, we decided to continue, having phoned the campsite to check it was neither closed nor full.

The toll was under €3 when we took the exit to the east of Edirne (junction 3). Meeting road D100 (the old main road from Edirne to Istanbul), we turned left (east and away from Edirne) for about a mile until we saw the campsite sign. Turn left again and the entrance is on the right, about half a mile along a lane.

On previous visits to Edirne we stayed at Camping Fifi, which has now closed. Grand Ömür (unfortunately) is the only alternative. We were greeted (that's not the right word) by a German-speaking warden (Kampingplatzführer), her insane ankle-snapping dog and a large sign picturing some of the things that are 'Verboten' (we were to discover more!). It was 7 pm and 100°F, as we settled in a corner of the unkempt field to cool down and try to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Margaret had looked forward to a swim but the pool was grimy and uninviting (and cost an extra €5 per person per dip).

25-26 June 2008   At EDIRNE, Turkey   Grand Ömür Camping  

Beauty and the Beast: the Edirne Experience 

We soon learnt that anything we might do around the campsite was 'Verboten'. Margaret was reprimanded for crossing the concreted area around the pool and bar wearing soft flat light sandals – the warden (wearing heavier shoes herself) pointed to a picture forbidding stiletto heels! This was our shortest route to the shower block, the alternative being through prickly grass, and the concrete was too hot to tread barefoot!

Complaining about the mosquitoes which infested the showers, we were told that we had chosen to camp by the hedge where they lived!! The campsite dog ran wild, jumping and snapping at anyone it spotted, exempt from the rule about loose dogs. Our dog-dazer had no effect on the thing (perhaps it was deaf), so we resorted to throwing stones when it came near, while its owner watched in amusement from her upper window.

Keeping away from this lunatic (in sole charge of the asylum), we busied ourselves with inside and outside jobs: cleaning, laundry, fixing the door lock which had begun to stick and putting new bulbs in a couple of outside lights. Washing the van was, of course, 'Verboten'. We only tolerated this nonsense in order to spend a day in Edirne (pop 120,000) - a beautiful historic town on the Tunca River.

A regular local bus T35_Edirne_(25).JPG(number 4) ran past the camp gate, taking us 5 miles into the centre for €0.50 each. Edirne, founded by Roman Emperor Hadrian (Hadrianopolis, shortened to Adrianople), became an important stage on the Via Egnatia (Rome to Constantinople) in Byzantine times. Falling to the Ottoman army in 1363, it became the Ottoman capital for almost a century until they took Constantinople. The legacy of Seljuk and Ottoman architecture is impressive: several mosques, bazaars and a caravanserai, all well preserved. Modern Edirne, at the EU frontier of both Greece and Bulgaria, is also a bustling border town with a pedestrianT35_Edirne_(39).JPG shopping centre, quite unspoilt by tourism.

Edirne had been our very first experience of Turkey in the summer of 1989, arriving from Bulgaria on a 6-week cycle ride from England to Istanbul. Then, we were captivated by its colour and life - in stark contrast to the dispirited greyness of the Iron Curtain countries we had ridden through - and it's still one of our favourite Turkish towns.

We began ourT35_Edirne_(58).JPG fourth visit to Edirne at the Selimiye Mosque, the central landmark of the town, its 4 slender minarets (the highest in Turkey) and lofty dome filling the skyline as you approach from the east. Completed in 1575, it is the work of the great imperial architect Sinan, designer of the Suleymaniye Mosque in IstanbT35_Edirne_(56).JPGul 25 years earlier. Sinan considered the Edirne mosque, built for Sultan Selim II, to be his finest and it is indeed a lovely building.

We like the overwhelming impression of cool airy space filled with light, and tT35_Edirne_(53).JPGhe feel of the thick-pile carpets beneath our bare feet. On previous visits cameras were forbidden and the dress code was strictly enforced, with long skirts and scarves handed out as necessary. Now, though, the rules seem to have been relaxed: no-one objected to our shorts, Margaret's headscarf was not needed and photographs were allowed. We simply removed our shoes and respected the silence of the faithful few, who sat cross-legged reading the Koran or counting their beads. There was no entry fee, just a box for donations. Rents from the shops in the attached bazaar also support the mosque.

Behind the Selimiye Mosque lie the history & archaeology museum (visited previously) and an old Hamam, which is currently being restored, next to a beautifully renovated house now open as a hotel.

Taking a break in Café Sera, the tea-gardens and fountains in front of the T35_Edirne_(35).JPGSelimiye Mosque, we watched a pair of peacocks displaying, while one of their mates kept her 4 chicks in line. There was a clutch of eggs in a hollow among tree-roots - no need to incubate them in the heat of the day!

Across the road, we saw the earlier Eski (= Old) Mosque, Seljuk in style, dating from 1414 and still in use. Behind this is a 16th century han (a caravanserai or roadhouse, with food and lodging for camel caravans, where goods could be unloaded), now turned into the enormous Hotel Kervansary.

We lunched inT35_Edirne_(68).JPG Özge Pastanesi, a cake shop & café tucked among the warren of lanes and shops around the Post Office. Then there were the 2 covered markets to browse: Bedesten Bazaar near the Eski Mosque (also built in 1414) and the later Ali Pasar Bazaar designed by Sinan (1569). Both are lofty, cool, well maintained halls, selling all manner of clothes and non-food items. Barry bought a pair of excellent leather shoes (and socks in order to try them on!) The local souvenirs are baskets of fruit-shaped soap (not sure why), or miniature brooms decorated with flowers and small mirrors, which were traditionally given to new brides. We had to search beyond the bazaars for more useful items, like bread and edible fruit!

The town's third historic mosque, the Ücsefereli (finished in 1447), overT35_Edirne_(28).JPGlooks the central Hürriyet Meydani (Freedom Square). It's an interesting Seljuk-Ottoman design, each of its 4 minarets a different style, but presently covered in scaffolding and sheeting. Nearby is an unrestored Hamam designed by Sinan and still in use, and the partly rebuilt Macedonian Tower, dating back to Roman times, now providing a roost for Edirne's pigeons!

To the weT35_Edirne_(65).JPGst of the centre are the narrow streets of the original medieval town, with old wooden houses. To the north, over the Tunca River on the graceful Ottoman bridge, is the vast mosque complex built for Sultan Beyazit II (1488). Since our last visit, its hospital has been converted into an award-winning Museum of Health, but that will have to wait for next time. Always leave something to come back for!

Hot, thirsty, laden with shopping, we enjoyed reading the 'Turkish Daily News' over fresh orange juices in the tea-gardens, then found a taxi for our return journey. We needed to call at the 'Otobazaar' (motoring workshops), situated off the main road on the way back to the campsite, to find some electrical items (relay, switch, fuse, etc) to fix the motorhome's radiator-fan. The taxi driver was extremely helpful, despite the lack of a common language. He looked at Barry's sketch and took us from one supplier to the next until we found everything, then drove us on to the campsite, dropping us and our bags by our motorhome. What a wonderful day we'd had – until the Mad Woman running Grand Ömür appeared at our door.

Shouting in German, she demanded to know whether we had asked the taxi driver to come into the campsite or whether he had driven in of his own accord. Bewildered, we asked why it mattered, what was the problem? She complained about campsite security and her own safety (this was at tea-time, in broad daylight, with 2 other campervans nearby on the site). Refusing to answer her absurd interrogation, we closed the door and put the kettle on.

Then the distraught taxi driver came back on foot – the Campsite Warden from Hell had prevented him from driving out of the gates! Margaret (our German-speaker) walked back with him to the taxi, where she-who-must-be-obeyed began to deliver a lecture about Turkish law forbidding taxis from entering, threatening a fine, protesting that he should know this, etc, etc! Extremely angry by now, all patience exhausted, M told her that if she didn't let the very kind and courteous taxi driver get about his lawful business at once, we would ring the police. Only then was he allowed to go, with our profuse apologies for the waste of his time.

Barry successfully wired and fitted a relay switch to the radiator – tomorrow we leave, with the only last couple of days of our 3-month visa unused.  

27 June 2008   17 miles   EDIRNE, Turkey to KASTANIES, Greece  

Exit Turkey, after 3,700 miles in 3 months

The Mistress of Grand Ömür Camping had not finished with us yet. Finding that the electricity supply had failed during the night, we checked our hook-up trip switch. Then we checked whether the lights in the shower block worked and whether the neighbouring campervans had power (from a different socket that we couldn't reach). They were all OK. We had breakfast, using the gas kettle, before Margaret went to Reception (locked, no doorbell). She knocked on the door of the warden's house (no answer). She walked round the site looking for the woman and was about to give up when the warden flung open an upper window and shouted down to ask what we wanted, obviously angry at being woken (this was 8.30 am).

When told that our power was off, she snapped 'Why, what have you done to it?' Refusing to believe it had gone off during the night, she complained at being disturbed with something that was 'not her problem', suggested we were accusing her of deliberately turning it off, then said we must have exceeded 6 amps (which we hadn't – and it was the first we'd heard of this latest new rule). 'What do you expect me to know about electricity?' she asked, before shutting the window, while her crazy dog ran circles round an increasingly fed up Margaret.

Barry moved the motorhome into the gateway, to prevent any further games, while Margaret went in to pay. Reaching for a campsite address card on the counter, she was told 'You don't need one of those, all details are on the receipt.' This proved untrue, so M grabbed a card and jumped into the motorhome. It was a strange and disturbing end to what had been a wonderful 3-month tour of Turkey. Had they called at Grand Ömür Camping on their way into the country for the first time, others might have turned straight back!

Returning to the main road D100, we turned right towards Edirne, passing the motorway junction after 1.5 miles, then a Carrefour supermarket followed by a Kipa shopping mall at 4 miles (both on the left). We spent an hour or two at Kipa (= Tesco), spending our remaining Turkish currency on groceries and a Burger King lunch.

The next choiceT35_Edirne_(70).JPG was to take the motorway directly to the Bulgarian border, about 10 miles north-west at Kapikule/Kapitan Andreevo, or to find the minor Pazarkule crossing point from Edirne into the Greek village of Kastanies. We decided that this Greek border would be quieter, being for light traffic only (the trucks take the major Ipsala-Alexandroupolis crossing further south).

Heading towards Edirne, we took the nT35_Edirne_(75).JPGext left turn, signed 'Pazarkule', assuming it would avoid a transit of the town centre. It did indeed detour round the town – along a narrow lane behind the Otobazaar and over the railway lines, then 4 miles south to the next bridge over the Tunca River, then 4 miles north again, through empty farmland and a military zone, still signed 'Pazarkule', until we met a cobbled road just south of the bridge from the town centre. Not a recommended short cut, but it did finally join E85. At 16 miles we came to the Turkish border.

This was not the quT35_Edirne_(77).JPGiet little guard post we remembered, as it was besieged by Turkish drivers coming the other way - returning from Germany, Holland or Belgium – the annual migration of guest-workers going home on holiday. The small customs post was not coping with the impatient crowd, hot and thirsty, and cars were parked everywhere. Barry had to manoeuvre between them to find a place to stop, while M tried to discover which queue was for those leaving the country (answer: no segregation, get in line!) Eventually, the customs officer took pity on us, checked our passports, puzzled over the handwritten note from Tasucu Harbour, then waved us through, coming outside for a hug and a kiss on both cheeks.

The last hurdle was at the Greek border post, where the official asT35_Edirne_(79).JPGked to see our 'Green Card' (not actually necessary for an EU citizen driving into EU-member Greece). Then he protested that it wasn't green (being a computer print-out)! We argued our case and were allowed in, after an inspection by a man convinced we had a dog on board! A line of guest workers' cars lined the main street of Kastanies, normally a sleepy little village. We guessed that they had come here hoping to avoid longer delays at the major crossing points from Bulgaria or Greece.

Our next move could be south to the coast at Alexandroupolis, or north into Bulgaria. Which will it be? 

to be continued . . . . .

To read the log of the April Journey in Turkey, click: In Turkey April 2008

To read the log of the May Journey in Turkey, click: In Turkey May 2008

For Images of the Journey, click: Turkey in Colour

To see more Maps of the Journey, click: Turkey Maps

For more Details and Images of our Motorhome, click: A Flair for Travel

For more Details of our Touring Bicycles, click: Paul Hewitt Tourers 

To read the log of our Previous Motorhome Journey in Turkey, click: Turkey Log 1997