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On thro Turkey

Sunday, June 28, 2009              

We spent a peaceful night at Pamukkale motor camp, last night our hostess cooked us a Turkish meal in their restaurant and showed us the tablecloths she made during the winter time, with tongue in cheek I asked her if she sold them she answered with the affirmative and showed us the total range that she had in stock.

Today was the day to look at the white calcium terraces that this town is known for, by the time we got to the front gate it was starting to get warm, and I made another one of my wise decisions and let Luda go through these terraces by herself which in retrospect was a wise decision as it took Luda two hours to get back to the motorhome, after walking through the terraces with no shoes, which of course is a no-no for a diabetic, and she tells me how she had to climb to the very top as part of the route and saw the Hierapolis ruins which were located at the top.

Whilst all this activity was being undertaken by Luda, I went through our photo files and pulled out all the motorhome photos, put them together onto pages of my web site, and this took me all day, which made me realise why I do not put photos with my newsletter, there is just not enough hours in the day when you are travelling.

Monday, June 29, 2009

With the motorhome replenished we're on our way again with our first stop being a petrol station we filled up with diesel, after going over the impossible Road two days ago the motorhome was the dirtiest I had ever seen it, in Turkey there are so many petrol stations that I believe the one we pulled into, to get extra custom, has three of four people whose only job it is, is to clean cars.

I observed this whilst we are being filled up with diesel, and had the thought that perhaps I should pay to have the motorhome cleaned, so I asked the guy putting the diesel into the motorhome how much it would cost to have it cleaned, he says nothing, it is my present to you.  So with the price like that I could not resist, first the motorhome was washed all over, then it was soaped all over, and then was again given the high pressure wash and it was almost as clean as the day it was new, however a few more treatments like this in Turkey and it will be as clean as new if we get no more dirty roads!!!

Competition between petrol stations is quite fierce, not only do they wash the cars for free, but they will give you a cup of tea or coffee whilst you're car is being filled with gas, and is not self service the real live person there to look after you.  Another day I filled up with the expensive diesel by mistake, however a free 5 L bottle of fresh water was given as a gift.

 Fethiye is where we saw the Lycian tombs cut into the Cliff face above the city, of course it was the wrong time of the day and the light was shocking but we cannot organise our tour to be there when the light is right and lead a normal life, if what we do is normal!

Then it was onto Pinara for some more tombs carved into the cliff face, however this was down a very interesting Road, at CPS in Christchurch, we have field days that are devoted to a four-wheel drive vehicles, and this was one of those roads except we did it in a 4.5 ton motorhome with a front wheel drive, so that was quite interesting going uphill on a rough shingle Road, again it was one of these roads that Luda wished she had walked, but I thought it was much more interesting driving!  Of course a side effect of this rough road is now we have to look for another service station that washes motorhomes.

Again of course the light was not right, but we got some interesting photos of the motorhome on a rough road.

Of course the British believe that a cup of hot tea on a hot day cools you down, I think there is a similar believe here in Turkey and as all along the road today their was little stands selling cups of Apple tea etc, what interests me is just how much money they would make and how they can make a living from such a venture, likewise people sitting on the side of the road with a small bucket at of cherries, just how much they would get from this venture leaves me amazed.  Just as well I don't live in Turkey!

Then we were on to our destination for the day which was Kas, we found the camp ground across a busy road from the sea with WiFi so Luda was happy with her swimming and I was happy with the Internet.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We left the peaceful motor camp on the side of the Mediterranean, Luda first having a cold swim this morning whilst I updated my web site, and then we on the Road towards Antalya, on the way there we saw some more hillside's, with tombs carved into them and on the top of one hill there was quite a collection of Sarcophagus tombs, in fact we saw quite a collection of them in another location, this substantially more work in them than a pine coffin!

Then on towards Antalya, and about 40 km out we started running into large five-star hotels, some by the beach some a distance, but the interesting thing was the shops we drove past had to languages in use in the shop displays, either English or Turkish in the English alphabet or Russian.  This area is such a popular place for Russians going on vacation that several flights leave Moscow every day for Antalya, and cost less than going to the Russian Black Sea holiday spots.

Whilst we are in this large city of 2 million we looked for a large supermarket or shopping centre and again were not able to find one, we find this quite interesting.

So we left the Russian capital of Turkey and headed inland as we did so we moved into a higher temperature range and we had the recurringfault of the generator not working, which meant the battery was not charging, and the refrigerator was not working, and at 34° C you don't need the power cut off from the fridge.

i measured the voltage when the temperature was 32°C and the motor revving at 2000 revs and I obtained a voltage reading of 13.25v which is a long way from the 14.2 V that Fiat said was optimum.  Also the “injection system failure” warning light came on and stayed on until we stopped for the day.

Eventually the temperature went down to 30° and the generators started charging again, and we were able to use the air-conditioner, so we drove on towards Burdur a city of 66, 000, a very large Lake and no camping grounds, so we will spend the night parked on a Shell service station forecourt and just hope there are no, well not many large noisy trucks.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Or the night forecourt of the service station was not too bad particularly if you had swallows a sleeping pill.  Nevertheless we are at a reasonable hour and the first thing I did when I had the car ready to roll was to check the Voltage with motor cold and A/C off 13.45v 27d air temp, of course the check was done 2000 revs and the warning light which said “injection system failure” yesterday did not come on.

This made us realize that based on the failings of the Fiat motor and not being able to drive it in the afternoon heat which means with the motor in its present condition we would not be able to join a tour like the Perestroika Tour to China or other spots as we would never be able to keep up with the group.

Today we carried on in the direction of Konya and passing through the city of Isparta of 170,000 we said to ourselves then just has to be a supermarket here, so we turned into the city, passed several mosques, and eventually found a supermarket, it was quite dark inside as they had some of the lighting turned off, either for economy sakes or for the heat which was already approaching 30°C.

The supermarkets in this area are selling anything except vegetables and fruit, these items you buy from the marketplace, unless you are a tourist and then you probably go without.

We drove past two lakes, and at the second Lake we found a parking spot which looks like it might be good for the night, in any case with reached the heat of the day when we cannot trust the Fiat motor to perform.

We have noticed a strong police presence throughout all of Turkey, doing road checks, manning radar checkpoints and other things the police do.

Turkey must have a very large army, as through out our travels so far we come across a large establishments set aside for the army and daily we passed a very large training camp where we could observe the recruits in training.  All of the army areas that we have passed have manned guard posts or observation posts and they are all armed with automatic rifles and one particular case I noticed a searchlight.  Yes the army must be taken seriously.

Again we passed many stands selling apricots, peaches, cherries, tomatoes and goodness knows what else.  It is a pretty good indication by how many stands there are as to how busy the Road is!

Two days ago I realised I had paid for and installed maps for Turkey for Tom Tom, and I could not understand why Turkey would not come up on the Tom Tom and today realised, by loading the maps to the Tom Tom it does not make it seamless and in Turkey's case you have to load that country in and work with it by itself.  It however only has 53% coverage of Turkey, and I quickly found out that the last GPS that I purchased in Bulgaria that is still working has a better coverage of the roads, but as it is harder to see because of the brightness of the screen we have stuck with the tom tom.

Currently we are heading towards Beysehir and the Tom Tom, comparing its route to the map we have appears as if it is going to be taking us over secondary roads where as the Bulgarian GPS for Turkey appears to be taking is over the motorway so we will run with that.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

We had peaceful night beside the lake, and were up and on our way towards Beysehir
where I managed to find an ATM and get a few Turkish lira to carry us on our way. 

Then we moved on our way towards the city of Konya and about 2:38 p.m. when the temperature reached 35°C we discovered we had the option of either having the air-conditioning working or the battery charging and refrigerator working.  We stopped the car and measure the voltage which was 12.84V.  For the rest of the afternoon until we stopped 4 p.m. if we wished to have the air-conditioner working the generator would not work as designed.

The countryside were been driving over is basically farming, and they heavy into wheat which was in the process of being harvested at this specific time.

With the temperature being so high over the last two days the tar has started to melt making a mess of the cars and vehicles and it is not pleasant to drive over wet tar.

We finally made it to Konya and decided to try to find a camping ground, so for the next two hours we drove around looking at all the possibilities and finding none, we programmed the Bulgarian GPS to the next city of Nigde and whilst it has more streets on it than the Tom Tom I believe that they are probably 10 to 15 years old and a lot happens to the streets in that time, with underpasses, traffic lights instead of runabouts and many other bits and pieces.  So Ms Bulgarian, who we call girly on the GPS kept on sending us in circles, or tried to get us to go down what appeared to be footpaths or in actual fact narrow roads.

So we got sick of this and decided the Tom Tom with less roads and sending us 30 km further to get to the next town might be a better a alternative, so we brought that into action and no time we were heading out of the city when we discovered a caravan park which we did a U-turn and are now ensconced in that.

So a caravan park in Konya Turkey is located at N37°52.203’ E32°33.003 on the Konya – Antalya D330 road!

On checking the lonely planet it would appear that this campsite is the one that is mentioned in that guidebook.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Today the we got a bus into the city and start having a look at some other sites that are associated with this city, it was interesting, from observers point of view, at looking how the woman had to dress, to venture outside, irrespective of the temperature.  The men were very comfortable in short-sleeved shirts I would not like to comment on the comfort of the women, a large number of them wearing a ankle length coat, one of coats I noticed was leather, under that they wore a full-length dress or trousers, and underneath that often stockings, and of course the head was totally covered. 

We started out early before got too hot, but by 11:30 a.m. and had reached 35° so we took a taxi back to the campground and made the motorhome ready for the next city of Nigde.

We started the motorhome the temperature was 35°C and the interesting thing it is that of the charger started working immediately we started the motor, and this was with the air-conditioner working, and it continued working for the next three hours to we reached our destination and presented no problems even though the temperature remained between 32 and 35°C.  I wonder does this mean one has to wait until the temperature gets up to the level before we can start the motorhome?

The main roads in Turkey are extremely good, with very few trucks and actual fact not that much traffic once you move away from Istanbul.  As I mentioned before there is a large number of petrol stations and one part of empty road today we came across three petrol stations all with in 100 m.  Were also noticed a large number of petrol stations that had been abandoned often with the petrol pumps intact.

For the night, we first of all tried stopping close to a mosque, but we became the main attraction for all the young boys in the district, and one of started throwing stones at the motorhome, so we moved on to our second choice which was a parking area close to a hotel restaurant.  There was a matter of getting the message across as to what we wanted to do, one of the young Turkish guys took me upstairs to a computer where he was starting to work with the translating program, when one of the other guys came and said I found somebody they can speak English.  So down the two flights of stairs I went into the restaurant where a pharmacist was having a meal and he could speak fluent English, as often pharmacists can, and was a very simple matter to tell them what we wanted to do and they very quickly agreed no problems.

We decided to have a meal there, which was a lot of egg and cucumber in the salad with lashings of onions which I passed on, and the main dish was chicken Kababs again with lashings of onions & cucumbers and whatever else they could find that I did not like!  Total cost of the meal for the two of us was 25 Turkish lira which I paid for by emptying out my coin wallet, and was consequently able to walk a lot lighter, however Luda told me that in Russia, Georgia, and probably Turkey you never pay for a meal in a restaurant with loose change, must always be notes!  Well, some of us you’ know, have got no culture!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

This morning was 23° so there were no problems with the charging until about 12 noon when the temperature got such we again had not sufficient voltage for charging.

Our next destination was Nevsehir and from there was a short drive to Göreme where going up a type of cobblestone Road at one end of the open Museum at the point where the slope must have been say 15° going around the corner the wheels just spun, a smell of burning rubber, so we had to go backwards down the hill until we could turn around.  Obviously this motorhome is designed for motorway running throughout central Europe and certainly not in the boonies where we are inclined to go. 

We are trying to find some more interesting sites to photograph and were heading out to a destination on a thin yellow Road, and a Turkish car speed past us beeping his horn and he stopped up the road a little bit, and came over to talk to us, told us his brother was living in Hamilton married to a New Zealander, told us the Road we were going on should be avoided at all costs, wanted us to come to his house for a long conversation, but we hadn't arranged another appointment so I gave him Bill Lindberg,s name in Hamilton for his brother to call and say hi!

While we were in a car park deciding on our next move a Turkish guy came over and offered to guide us around the area for 80 Turkish lire, is normal price was 120, showed us some other sites he could show us in a guidebook, and I took the guidebook to look at closer, he said an Oh that is no good, it is in Russian, I said that is perfect!  At this time we were having a problem with our LPG so we went off to have our tanks filled up, and on the way back we turned left into a area with a signpost of Zelve and then we saw most of the photographs our potential guide was going to take us to so the decision as to hire him, or not, became a no-brainer.

We had a problem with the gas today, it showed up on the consul as “gas out” we filled up and only one cylinder was empty so again a problem that is going to be with us for some time! (comment from 12th)

Tonight will drive down the Road to a caravan park, which is pretty basic, where we will spend the night.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

It was an overcast morning and had started off about 5 a.m. for us with a loud sound outside and when Luda got up to investigate she found a large hot air balloon hovering about two or 3 m above the motorhome where it stayed for the next 10 to 15 minutes, not terribly sure what they could see, there were two other motorhomes that joined us over night so perhaps there was some activity there which was of interest, but eventually they went on their way to where ever balloons go.

When we started off the temperature at 23°C so when we started the motorhome the generator light on the consul came on immediately.  The temperature reached a high of 31° and a low of 14° and we had no problems with the generator.

We drove first to Ürgüp where Luda collected more Cappadocia type photographs and then we drove on to Nevsehir looking for some photos we saw in the guidebook, but they were not to be, so we programmed the GPS for Harran some 650 km away and set off in that direction passing through Kayseri and did a righthand turn at Pinarbasi went over the mountain pass at 1890 m, all daily we're been driving at an elevation of over 1500 m, we drove into a thunderstorm, or just the edge of it, we had some heavy rain, but further on that obviously had some heavy hail as the run little piles of hail on the side of the road for several kilometres.

So we wound our way down hill over the roads that are being reconstructed and two lanes been turned and four lines, and finally we came to a restaurant, petrol station where we have parked the motorhome, dined in their restaurant, paid the 16 Turkish lira for our evening meal and we have parking for the night, near a city called Fettahdere if that means anything to you.

Monday, July 06, 2009

We got started in about 10 a.m. with the temperature at 25°C and finished driving today with the temperature at 37°C, no problems with the generator, with roads South towards Göksun where we encountered a new dam being built and of course a new road to take the traffic up out of the water, except was still in the process of being built and so again we are on what seemed to be a 4WD rally.

It was then on to the big city of Kahramanmaras which was about the size of Christchurch and then South to Pazarcik where we did a righthand turn towards Gölbasi and again seemed to be encountering new roads being built and having to drive over the roads under construction which were anything but smooth.

All day we had been winding up way downhill from the 1700 m of last night and will driving through breathtaking scenery and fortunately the Turkish roads are not that busy, nobody of the service the Road rules, so we were basically able to stop to take photographs almost anywhere.  Again today was interesting watching the Turkish drivers, drive through red lights in cities, drive around a barrier crossing at a railway, nosing the way in to any small space which may get them a few seconds ahead when the lights change, yes you have to watch the traffic from every angle!

We had been very much aware of the army presence the further east we go and the police in this area are very serious looking at the two armoured vehicles we passed today, something you expect to see in Chechnya or Beirut.  So we kept our heads down and did a right turn towards Adiyaman and then shortly after that I left turn towards Kâhta and we very easily found the Zeus hotel mentioned by Barry and Margaret Williamson on their travels through Turkey in 2008.

See map of tour to date

to top right....



We arranged for a air-conditioned transit van to take us tomorrow to Nemrut Dagi leaving at a 2:30 p.m. getting back about 8 p.m., we thought a 3 a.m. rise for the Sunrise tour was probably a little bit out of our league and agreed on a price of 150 Turkish lira and did not discuss the camping price, and then went out the gate for a walk through the metropolis of Kâhta and very quickly found the supermarket mentioned by Barry and Margaret, and the guy that has the campground opposite where we are just happen to be in the supermarket and started talking to us and asked us why we weren't staying with them, they already had four motorhomes from Italy, which perhaps could be a good reason.  He then question whether we are going up to Nemrut Dagi, and we said yes, he told us he could do it for 130 Turkish lira which included the entry price, the driver could speak English and was driving an air-conditioned van were is the one we had booked, he said, was not.

We thanked him very much, did our shopping, wandered across to look at his campsite and felt that our motorhome would make the place crowded, but he made some very good points so I wandered back to reception and confirmed yes the van was air-conditioned, no the driver could not speak English, which to us was an advantage as would be no idle chatter, I asked about the price for the campsite, was told it was 30 Turkish lira a night which was substantially more than friend across the Road, I commented on it and it was immediately reduced to 40 Turkish lira for 2 nights, which was okay.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

With all of the rough roads yesterday, this morning the TV would not work an d I peered into the wire connections and I see one wire hanging loose, not sure just how I will put it back on, the design seems to works on the assumption nothing will ever go wrong!

What a job, it took most of the morning to get at the back of the television to plug the wire back into it.  They could not have made it more difficult if they had tried.  At the same time I became aware that the pneumatic cylinder that counterbalances the television set when it goes up and down, when it was on the down position it was digging into the leather of the seat and if left to its own devices would have worn a hole in it quite quickly.  I cut up a Coke bottle, duck taped one end of the bottle to the outer casing of the television and let the bottom half curl underneath it and hopefully that will protect the leather from wearing.  Not exactly the steps one would expect to have to take on a Carthago.

Today we booked a tour to the Nemrud mountain which rises to a height of 2209 m and we start off from the Kahta town situated at 710 m.

We left at 2:30 p.m. and we naturally had a Turkish driver driving a minibus that we had hired for the day, air-conditioners supplied, but it stopped working after 10 minutes, I can honestly say that after this excursion I am a very righteous person.

Quite frankly the Turkish driver scared the hell out of me!  He only had one speed and that was flat out, and until I read the riot act, felt he could also speak on the telephone, we had a couple of stops on the way and as was a very hot day I let Luda do the walking to record the photographs for both of us, particularly when we reached the mountain and the path seemed to go straight on up forever, in fact Luda was just a speck through the 700 mm lens that she was still smiling when she got back, and then it was back down the mountain, if I thought going up the mountain was bad, going down with gravity helping, let me just say, anybody that scares me like that, need not expect a tip for their services.

Of course driving almost straight up a mountain, you get fabulous views in every direction, we passed a large river, large in the South island sense that in the summertime is very little water but just wait till the spring.  This river has now been dammed and consequently there is a very large Lake being formed.

Other sights were a couple bridges built by the Romans round the year 150 AD.  Other items of interest will be up to be viewed in one of Luda's slideshows.

Having experienced Zeus hotel and camping services, next time, it was the next time, I would stay across the Road at the Kommagene campground.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

We carried on our tour, first going to the ancient city of Sanliurfa, where we could marvel at the irrigation system they had all around the area, we carried on to the Biblical city of Harran, a city that Abraham was supposed to have spent some of his time.

It was then back on the road towards Diyarbakir and we decided to stop at Siverek a location that Barry and Margaret used last year and we are in the process of having all the dirt we had collected over the last few days removed with soap water and a high-pressure hose.

The temperature moved up to a top of 38° today and again we had the choice of using the air-conditioner or having the generator charging the batteries and running the refrigerator.  Fortunately after to two hours were driving towards some black clouds and the temperature dropped to the low 30° and we no longer were faced with this choice.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Last night's location at the service station was not the quietest we have had, with the sleeping pill I did manage to get five to six hours sleep, and we were able to get on our way by 8 a.m..  Our first direction was towards Diyarbakir and we took the bypass to Elâzig so we missed the old city and the location that I did so many nice photographs on my last visit.  We travel over what I would call the steppes of Turkey which would vast fields of wheat, that had been harvested, and other times just grass and not much else.

We were driving along a 4 Lane Hwy, two lanes of the each direction, with the median strip and the centre, and I was aware that a police traffic car passed us going in the opposite direction, so I glanced at my GPS and saw I was doing 97kmh so I thought that is okay.  Within 10 km we came to a police roadblock and we were told to go over to the side, they took my passport, drivers licence, car registration paper, and then brought me back a form to sign saying that I acknowledge that I was doing 105kmh, now there is no use arguing with someone they cannot speak English but I still questioned the speed, they took me over to the car that had just pulled in and I noticed beside the radar dome there was a camera, I was invited to sit on the passenger seat, and he played back the video that he had taken of me and the speed recorded was 105.  So I signed the paper, got ready for six weeks and a Turkish jail, but he said go, so I went, what happens next I do not know.

From Elâzig we programmed the GPS for Tunceli a location that Barry and Margaret found a secure resting spot for the night at the GPS selects the shortest fastest route so it seemed us to Meselikoy from where we caught a ferry to Pertex, the GPS certainly knew the Road to send us on for the best photography, and a ferry crossing at a cost of 10 Turkish lira was an interesting break from driving.

As we drove ashore to Pertex we happened to be almost in the middle of an army base where everyone had to go through security, and we, tourists, and to fill in a special form covering all sorts of miscellaneous information.  Our next destination was
Tunceli and we have read in all of the warnings on Turkey but this was a very dangerous town for tourists, and the English-speaking soldier also warned us about the city, but we thought reasonably secure with Barry and Margaret's service station that was right next door to an army security post.

So we carried on our drive and we just seemed to keep on going up and up through the hills to we got to an elevation of higher than 1850 m and we stayed within 300 m of this elevation for the rest of the day going up to over 2000 and down to 1500.  This of course gave us a much better temperature for driving and of course we didn't have to worry about the generator.  Eventually we arrived in Tunceli and found that was a town of less than 30,000 so was obviously does not have to be a big city to create problems.

We were most impressed by the two armoured cars we saw on our first drive through, we found the service station right next door to an army security base with about six officers on duty along with an armoured car, made me think a little bit of Beirut, and the Petrol station would have been ideal except they had ripped up the Road in front and there was a continual cloud of dust floating right across the service station and that did not appeal to us at all as we like to have windows open.

We cruised back to another service station, and were all the time discussing, if there is some the police and army in this town that must be quite a security risk, of course against which you balance because there are so many it probably makes the places safer.

As was only about two o'clock, and I felt like driving, I decided would go on to Barry Margaret's next stop at a Shell service station at Askale.  This again took us through the mountains up to about 2000 m, and through some of the roughest roads we have seen, rough because they were being completely rebuilt and a couple of years time it will be possibly wonderful to drive through.

We eventually arrived at the Shell service station after 450km and driving for about 11 hours, spent 140 Turkish lira on diesel and were told yes, Park where ever you like.

The gas has stopped working again, I believe that must be something wrong with the valves, I filled up with gas again and it took 3 L so there were 39 L in the cylinders when it gave the get out signal and stopped working.  Congratulations on your new motorhome!  The gas will run the refrigerator and the stove together, however if you switch on the hot water everything fails. This would appear to be the problem of the Truma SecuMotion Valve, switching off if it gets an extra gas flow!!!!  AVOID all stupid automatic systems!

Friday, July 10, 2009

We left the Shell service station after a quiet night heading towards Yusufeli which was to be the point where we turned around and came back, so we drove past Erzurum thinking we could see that on the way back, and very quickly climbed to over 2000 m and then we came to a nondescript town called Tortum and then it was on to Uzundere where we started seeing some magnificent mountains that had been pushed up out of the earth and you could trace the layers from ground level to several hundred metres in the air, layer after layer after layer, we have never seen anything like this anywhere in the world and it was a beautiful Road running through the gorge so we carried on the Road and till we came to the turn off to Yusufeli a village that was supposed to have spectacular scenery.

The only spectacular thing about it was on the Road to the village we came across a swing bridge that we photographed going across the angry river, one of many swing bridges we photographed today, the big difference was on the way back we saw a Lada car driving a cross it, and neither of us would have fancied walking across it and it was one of the best jerry-built bridges we've seen today.  Of course we're talking about very primitive bridges which are possibly better than the dozens of flying foxes with seen strung across the river's.

We drove to the edge of Yusufeli until we found it place we could turn round, it would be unfair to call it a one-way Road, perhaps a one and a half Way Road, after turning round we're on our way out when a minibus, coming the other way, managed to pull over enough to let us pass, and as we are passing, the driver asked me if we want to go camping in this area.

We said yes, but is there one here, he said yes I'll turn round and you can follow me, well we did for must have been about 5 km, and we got sick of getting further and further out into the boonies, so when I saw a side road I decided to turn round, this underpowered Fiat just spun the front wheels till we backed up and tried again had a different angle.  So was on out of this dismal, but religious town, the Mosque which was as usual in the centre of the town, was just celebrating midday prayers, and there were dozens lined up outside, not sure whether they could not fit in all when it was just cooler outside so by the time we drove back through the town there were men in every direction, walking anywhere on the Road, so a little bit like a game of dodgem but we safely escaped.

We twice drove through army checkpoints coming and going, but today they just weren't interested in us which certainly saved the 30 minutes the last one took.

It was then back down the magnificent gorge to see all of the marvellous rock work created by nature from a different angle, a Castle on the top of one of the large rocks, and once again see all of the small houses clinging to the sides of the gorge, usually made out of Wood that there were stone and adobe in evidence as well.

Many times a day we get visual evidence of just how the Turkish men drive in the way that they overtake and moved into any little gap at lights so they can get on their way a fraction of a second sooner and occasionally we physical evidence of moves that did not work, today we saw a crane lifting a truck back onto the road from where he had driven off it and another the truck was in a mess against the side of a cliff on the edge of the Road where he had not quite made the corner for some reason, and there was another truck beside it and they were shifting the load of wood from the wrecked truck to the truck that was at the moment working.  Of course almost every truck we see on the Road looks as if it is heavily overloaded so one could say that they are all accidents waiting to happen. 

We were up in the mountains and over 1600 m most of the day, at one point at 2200 m we saw snow still unmelted on the peaks, however when we got down lower, and as the temperature had rose above 35° the generator stopped working which we have now come to expect at this temperature and as we had probably done about 300 km we got a new signal light which said Injection system failure, something we have had probably two times before, we sort of wonder what is going to happen next, but we got safely back to Erzurum where we drove through the 380,000 city expecting to find a supermarket, and if there was one there, it was well hidden.  It was then only a few kilometres to Askale a dusty little town where I tried to find some Diet Coke, but they are not into that here at all in the countryside, so was back to the Shell service station and the car park.

We now commence the fight with the gas bottles and the Truma valves that want to switch to gas off whenever we have more than one appliance working.  Isn't that wonderful being on vacation in an expensive motorhome with everything working, when we managed this, I will let you know.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Our destination for the day was the Sumela monastery near Trabzon and to get there we passed through Bayburt where we saw the immense walls with the ruins of the Castle inside perched on the top of a hill.

When you drive through any part of Turkey you will see an immense number of mosques, every small village has one, many petrol stations have one and of course unlike the Western churches these Mosques are used several times a day every day.  They appear to be with and walking distance of their flock, and of the distance was too great you'll find another Mosque.

We travelled over a large number of roads under repair and being reconstructed but the vast majority of the roads we travel on today were very good which a large a good travelling speed.

We saw the ruins of a couple of castles in the hills as we passed and they were all substantially past “the use by date”.

Trout farming is a major industry in this part of Turkey and were there is fresh water flowing you often see many tanks with the water flowing from one to the other often with the sign of fresh fish for sale, or we presume that's what it is in Turkish!

One piece of road construction all the traffic was held up whilst they were pushing large rocks from high up on the cliff down to road level it was very interesting to watch the Turkish drivers edging their way forward, going one either side of the queue to get close to the beginning and when the queue starts rolling they drive on the wrong side of the road to get to the front, I cannot understand why we constantly do not have a Turkish Grand Prix driver as champion of the world.

We travelled over the roads over the mountains to 2502 m and enjoyed magnificent scenery, of course this height is not all that impressive as we started off at 1640 m, but we are a high enough to see lots of snow on the distant mountains.  It is always amazing the wide variety of flowers we see growing up in this height, and of course we're there are flowers you'll find the beekeepers and their hives always with their living accommodation beside the hives, I figure you would have to be pretty desperate to go and steal a beehive but I guess it happens from the security they keep on their hives.

On our driving today we passed through many tunnels the longest being 2 km and the shortest about 200 m.  I guess there becomes a certain point where a tunnel is more cost-effective than moving a mountain, or placing the Road over the mountain.

We then passed through Gümüshane and we saw lots of new apartments being built with a new mosque built in the middle of the block, but then we were on the Road again towards Torul and then on to Maçka where we turned off for the monastery and travel about 12 km up the Road to the gate to into the national park, 20 Turkish lira for the minibus we were driving that was disguised as a motorhome and then we went on to the parking area for the monastery from where we believe there was a substantial walk up to the ruins and of course the car park was full.

So I drove on to the shops expecting to be able to turn around and come back to Park, and there was a guy there waving people on up the hill, and he waved us on, so we drove up this wind the steep road crossing over several bridges some with beautiful waterfalls all with volumes of water flowing, until we reached a lookout spot where I stopped.

At this point, which was 1 km from the ruins, Luda said she would walk the remaining distance, and the understanding was I would wait there and then we would back up to the T-junction and go on back down the hill.

So I was sitting there blocking half of the Road with lots of cars streamed past me going both direction's, and I thought really I should turn round, backing up was out of the question with all the cars coming behind me, and I thought was surely they have got a roundabout at the car park, so I will drive up to that and turn round and be facing the right direction when Luda gets back.

Ivan!  Do you not realise you are in Turkey?  Well I got up to the top and here were all the cars and minibuses parked on either side of the road with the narrow space between them for cars to go forward until they jammed up not being able to go any further, and not being up to turn round!

Fortunately I was at the front of this mess and I signaled to a guy that seemed to be in charge that I wanted to turn round, he told me to back up 10 m, which I did, a tour bus that was parked on angle came out, they signalled me into this space towards the drop of probably 1000 feet, and the tour bus got ready to drive back down, and cars kept on arriving and then trying to turn round, well all I can say is this would not happen in Germany!

Eventually there were sufficient cars that had left for me to be up to turn around and so down the hill we went with very little problems and then we drove on to Barry and Margaret stopping point at the Altintas Trout farm and restaurant where we are parked on the forecourt plugged into their electricity all at no charge, so I guess we will be eating at the restaurant and night which will be fine by me as long as the Trout is boned!

The temperature did not move over 32° today so we did not have any problems with the generator, however the Coke in the refrigerator does not seem to be as cold as it should be so we will see what a night on the electricity does to the temperature and see what running the gas water heater by itself is permitted by the Truma valve. OK we have just tested the hot water and it will not work, will check out the local PRV and see if a simple Turkish one will work where the expensive German one fails!

Tonight as planned we dined at the restaurant, fish of course, no, mine was not boned!

The cost of the meal was eight Turkish lira for us both, Luda liked the Trout so much we bought another six for the deep freeze and the dinner and the extra Trout cost us a total of 30 Turkish lira, parking no charge, electricity no charge.

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