Turkish Delight (groan)
The Turkish border is quite a thing... jaunty waves abounded from the armed 'kids' on the bridge but then we hit the big guns. Hut 1: Greek farewell dude and a photo of the bike number plate; Hut 2: Friendly Turk greeting; Hut 3: Main Turk a) passport check b) bike insurance (but a bargain at 8EUR); c) visa (not a bargain at 30EUR) d) vehicle stamp e) final stamp; Hut 4: customs and photo of bike; Hut 5: post-main-passport control, fierce, then super friendly and of course, another photo of the bike number plate and with more jaunty waves and, quite some time later, we were in Asia Minor, our 3rd continent.
A few things we noticed straight away about Turkey, is that NO ONE drinks coffee, it's tea, tea and more tea, in fact, our teeth have been rotted by the vast amounts of sweet, black (bonus) cay we have been given over the past few weeks - a quick visit to Sensei Di and his tooth salon when we're back I wager. There is also no Turkish Delight (boo) but lots of halva (yum) and definately no hummous (boo), our biggest problem!
It's been a Roman ruins bonanza, with visits to Troy (no Brad Pitt, alas), Ephesus, Pergammon, Hierapolis and the famous travertine pools at Pamukkale. Also the amazing 'fairy chimmneys' in Goreme (and the early morning wake up call of 20 balloons floating over the tent doing their 'sunrise over the valley' thang).
The Turkish people are unbelievably friendly and generous: one guy came out from his shop by a mosque in Sarkikargac and gave us a bundle of fruit, then brought out hot drinks and bottles of water! Then the amazing bonus night near Ankara where it was getting late, so we nipped into a likely looking spot just off the ring road. Alas, we were then waved over by 3 armed security guards, and with much use of the phrase book, it turns out we had entered the studio lot of TRT (Turkish TV), but over more cay, the guys said we could sleep in one of the spare snow ploughs, use their shower and asked us what time we wanted breakfast. Result! Then the international language of 'Pass the Pigs' game whiled the night away.
the security guys at TRT
our 'bed' for the night
Other notable friendliness was at the Abant lake campsite, which in itself was negotiated with the (again, armed) ticket guard over much cay, where we were greeted by the other campers like lost family and given almost more food and cay than we could cope with...
We were also given Turkish names: James (as he doesn't look English apparently!) is now known as Tolga (a name given by Zafer, a pide shop owner, and his eccentric American pal Delmar) and Imogen was given 'Dilara' as 'Imogen' was way too tricky.
Our original plan was to spend a month in Turkey, but with the haemorrhaging of cash on petol (about 1.40 UK pounds a litre - ARGHHH), we had to cut it short and head for cheaper countries. In fact, the petrol was such a problem that we saw cars being pushed through the Turkish border into Bulgaria, being gratefully fuelled by the myriad of petrol stations eager and waiting just over the crossing.
Now in Bulgaria, the land of free camping in the mountains, having a huge, be-tusked wild boar thundering through the long grass by our tent (with James almost whittling a pointy stick as 'protection'), washing in river water and being generally 'hombres' of the hills, after all, you can't be a true biker until you've pooped in the woods (and in the case of IM, thrown up also, after some Bulgarian bad eggs, unless it was the 1EUR wine... surely not).
James 'hombres' shaving in river water
On a more personal note for those of a soppy persuasion, James and Imogen are now engaged, with rings being purchased in the Grand Bazar in Istanbul and exchanged between the Aga Sofia and Blue Mosque... AHHHHHH...
Posted by Imogen Mitchell at 10:55 AM