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TURKEY    DIARY  2

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2

From the western Turkey and Diary 1, I now enters the central art of the country.
26/6.
I wake up at five, but the bed is too good to leave yet. At seven, I head over to the restaurant to see the included breakfast. Here are a huge buffet with everything I can ask for - and a lot more. I might have to try one of these highway hotels another time!

I still have 135 kilometres to the first sight, and it is through more, relatively flat and dry farmland. It seems like hay is big business around here. Enormous piles are gathered, and then transported away. It might end up on the Arab peninsular, where I saw a lot this winter.

If here are no artificial watering on this time of year, it is pretty much a desert. I botanises a few times, when I find wild plants. It is clear, goats are greasing the area from time to time. Where the fields are watered, beets are grown along with sunflowers, corn, pumpkin, alfalfa and other crops. The wheat and rye is being harvested by now. Some of the fields seems endless!

The older villages is made up by clay huts, some live in big plastic camps and the towns have a lot of real modern blocks. I see a few tortoises along the road , but not where I dear to stop. Another time, it is a chipmunk that happily ignores the cars.

Just before I reach the cave town of Görme, I pass a fantastic area: It is made up by gravel, almost glued together to rock once again. The shapes are fantastic, and  the flora real interesting. A few small areas are farmed, and peaches grow on some of the hill sides. As none else seems to harvest them, I feel free to pinch a handful. They are the size of small plums, and just ripe by now.

I find some caves and tunnels, made by ancient rivers in the lover parts of this valley. It is only when I turn around, I notes the cave town, on the other side of the road.
It is pretty much the same sort of rocks, just bigger. It is still being used to live in, but it seems like the major income is made from tourism.

Along the road, numerous souvenir stands are found, along with some restaurants. I find a trail into the area, and it is real special. An elder gentleman invites me in, and we have a longer chat. He was borne in his cave, and now he rents out a real a nice room, have a little souvenir shop and a restaurant. The only visible from the outside, is the overgrown terrace with tables for the restaurant. His private balcony overviews most of the area, and that view will take me a long time to be bored by.

They have electricity and water from the municipal, and life is easy nowadays. But they have five months of winter, down to -25C and snow. I'm invited to come and stay for a longer period, whenever I like. I'll sure remember that!
I see the rest of this 1000 year old town, and here are so many motives, wherever I go. Eventually, I head on to the nearby rock formations.

It is nearby, but I have to stop and do walks several times. The rocks are shaped in so many different ways, and the nature seems quite undisturbed. I pass the modern Görme, which have its share of pointy rocks. And some green streetlight: Solar AND wind charging the battery.

I follow a gravel road into the rocks, and here are vine fields. The plants are not supported at all: They grow like bushes. I reach Devrent Valley, and here are some even more weird rock formations. These have "hats" on, and are more pointy than the previous. One sure look like a camel, another like an elephant. Here are camels and horses to be ridden on, but I I feel fine on the ground, watching the flora and fauna.

Realising I got way too many photos of pointy rocks by now, I head on. It is yet another 225 kilometre drive, and a truly great one. It is through enormous, but flat hills , which are real desert-like. The deep blue sky with the bright white clouds guaranties every picture to be perfect.
I see only a few foreign number plates, all Dutch. And it seems like it is Turks, home on vacation.

I pass some larger towns. In one end, it is clay huts and farms, in the other new, real fancy blocks. A single time, I spot a huge mountain, covered in snow in the distance. A single river leads through this dry landscape, and I pass a lake as well. I stop a few times to have a closer look at the plants, and do some walks in this dry area.

At five, I reach the little community of Boğazkale. I am greeted by the elder of the town, and offered some red, sweet tea. I get a map and borrow a book in German, but realises; I won't have time to explore the area today.
I see the showroom with carpets, made by the local Kurds. Here are both Muslim carpets with patterns and Hittites with "Egyptian" animals. Some are in cotton, some in silk, and the work is fantastic.

The prices clearly indicates; they receive no tourist busses here at all! We talk about how it can be sold, either by bringing the tourists here, or the carpets to the tourists. They have to pay €50.000 for a stand in Görme - and they do not have that kind of money.

I get a hotel recommended, and they have a campsite as well. I go for the camp, a third of the price, and a chance to get my stored fresh vegetables eaten. I can't figure how they remained fresh, but they are. I am here all by my self, and not a single dog is barking. The only sound is crickets, and it is pitch dark. Farmland, Görme nature & Cave town, Devrent Valley, Central Turkey.

27/6. As usually, I sleep perfect in the car, and I almost get too late, when they opens the gate to the huge area with the Hattusa ruins. The Hittites were a mightily people, almost 4.000 years ago. This is their capital, and it is within a six kilometre wall, and used from the 17th to the 13th century BC.

Several gates are still recognisable, but one have been restored completely. The area is grassed by cows, more picky than goats, and here are quite some interesting plants. I start walking around the rather worn-down ruins, but here are also some rather well preserved items. Some huge clay containers, a polished green stone and carvings.  after some time, I get the car.

The first stop is the Lions Gate, where two lions are well preserved. The walls reminds me of ancient Egyptians way of fitting huge stones together. Square, but each one fitted t the others. As the area is among big hills, here are great views over the area and the surounding green hills. 

The next stop is the Sphinx Gate, found at a massive wall, built at the highest point in the area. The wall is covered in stones, 250 meter long, 15 high and with a 71 meter tunnel under. They have surely put some effort into this! I walk the tunnel, and admire the huge wall from the outside.

Back at the top, I find the two guarding Sinks, carved out in white marble. Here are several plants which are completely unknown to me, and a dense population of grasshoppers.
I find the way to Kings Gate, which is better preserved, then Nisantas, which is some carvings on a flat rock.

The Royal Castle is a group of buildings on their own hill. Here are not really that much recognisable, and I head on.
In a nearby site, the Yazilikaya carvings are found. In some narrow gorges, the walls have been carved with typical Hittite figures, reminding me of goblins with their pointy hats. Other figures are found here as well, but the area is not big. One of the gorges have been buried for some thousand years, and the carvings here are significantly better preserved.

I feel, I have seen enough, although I haven't seen it all, and return to the cooperative. I borrowed a book, I didn't find time to read, and I kind of feel I ought to buy at least a small pillowcases in their shop. Then I set the GPS for the old city of Tokat. Not the usual 225 kilometres away, but 228.

The landscape is pretty much the same as yesterday, and I reach the eastern point of this Europe tour (in Asia). And here, I see a herd of water buffalos. However, most of the area is yellow wheat fields and greener artificially watered corn and alike.

Around 50 kilometres before I reach Tokat, the road leads into some rather barren limestone hills. Then is head down to a huge valley. Here are several towns, all a strange mix of clay huts, tent camps and huge modern blocks.

I reach Tokat, and are a bit disappointed: It is just another modern town, with some real fancy buildings along the main street. Then I spot some real clay ruins just one street back, and park the car. The friendly parking attendant offers me tea, but I got old houses to see.

It is so strange to just head one street from the most fancy business buildings, to rather fallen apart clay houses. They are charming, but could really do with some mending. Many have balconies, but I doubt anyone have been out on them the last 100 years.

I passes through the barbers street, and could actually do with a haircut. I get one, along with tea, nose-trim, burning of ear-hairs, washing of the remaining hair, a neck- and head massage for €5. My barber at home could learn some!

I see some more old houses, but they are scattered over a huge area, and I rather have lunch by now. I get a big wrap with vegetables, along with a cup of tea from the next restaurant for €0,50 - and I even get a big smile!
I work my way back to the car, and realises; I have 400 kilometres to next sight, and it is 15; 30.

I figure I can take the road north towards the Black Sea, and find a hotel or camp on the way. It is by rather small roads, and through some real nice landscapes. I pass some mountains, and their backside is covered in forest, mainly pine.

At the foot of these mountains, a big river and several lakes are found. I don't stop, but spot a lot of cormorants and other water birds. After 150 kilometres, I see a hotel in Kavak, and despite it is a bit expensive, I call it a day - well, except for the six hours at the computer. Diner is the vegetables I still have left and a can of sweet corn. Hattusa & Yazilikaya ruins, Tokat, Central Turkey.

28/6. I try the included breakfast, and it is quite good. Then I start on the 250 kilometres to the first waypoint. It is through morning-misty mountains at first, then coastal plains. The wheat have been harvested by now, the corn is flowering, and the rice have just started growing.

I am close to the Black Sea shoreline, and here are some storks. I see a black stork in flight, and a bunch of white on the roof of a house. I pass Samsun; a large harbour town on a peninsular. Then it is only 150 kilometres to the start of the recommended scenic route Road D010.

It starts in Sinope, but already from Samsun, it is more or less a coastal road, although four-lane. I can see the sea behind some fields, but figures i well see plenty later. I reach Sinope at noon, and then the GPS estimates the next 310 kilometres on D010 will take five hours. And it does not include lunch and photo stops for sure. Or all the other obstacles this road includes!

Right outside Sinope, it start as a two lane road. It reach the sea right away, and do a tour in the pebble stones. Mainly clay and marble, grinded smooth and most flat. Here are really not mush animal leftovers.
Most of this coastline is dominated by big boulders, securing the coastline. Only a few places, the natural pebble remains. Never the less, the views are great.

Most of the way, the limestone-, and later clay mountains reach the sea in steep cliffs. The road twist and turn the entire way, and to add to the excitement, cows are everywhere. On the road, on the beach, in the cities - well, not on the fields.

I start looking for a restaurant, but after 70 kilometres, I give up, and open a pack of chocolate biscuits. While I still munch on the first, two restaurants turn up. None speak English at all, but I manages to get a cheese sandwich in homemade bread, and a cup of Turkish tea.

I stop many times to get photo of the coastline, and find some interesting plants. The latter is not really successive, and I only find a big thistle. Some stretches of the road is gravel, but real smooth. The asphalt, on the other hand, can be really rough. Some landslides, some potholes, some strange formations right on the road. And to add to the fun, around hundred kilometres is mainly liquid tar, with no grit at all.

One part have heavy rain, while the rest is nice and sunny. Well, the last part not that nice, as it is right in my face. Here are small villages and a fewer larger towns. Despite they have small harbours, it does not seem like fishing is a big thing around here. The old houses are made in wood, but hardly any of them are in use these days, although here are many.

At six, I realises I have at least one hour to the end of this road, and due to the sun and long drive, I'm an not really appreciating the drive. As I see the large town of Cide, I start looking for a hotel. Here are a real nice one, and despite none speak English, I get a room with sea view and breakfast. I still have some letish and canned beans, and with olives, that is kind of a meal. I have not made that many photos during the day, and the great drive is easy to describe: I can get to bed early - or catch up with accounting...
Along the Black Sea on Road D010.

29/6. I still have 75 kilometres of coastal road to enjoy, and so I do. I stop several times to walk along the Black Sea, or to make photos of the drastic coastline, when the road gains height into the mountains.

Some of the old houses I passes are now timber framed - but just as miserable as he wooden earlier. I pass a single larger town, then I reach the little fishing town of Hisar. The only activity seem to be the three species of frogs in the river. Here are a little harbour with some real wide boats, but I hardly see anyone.

After a couple of hours, I finally make it to the larger fishing town of Amasra. I had expected to be a bit more fishing/rural, but it is more of a low-price seaside town with beach balls, cafés  and alike. I see the harbour, the huge wall from the old fortress and the centre of town. I had planned lunch, but fail to explain; I don't want dead animals.

Never mind, Safranbolu is only 100 kilometres away. It is into the mountains. They are covered in beech and pine, and the road follow the rather dry river. I do a few stops, but it is getting late.
I reach the modern Safranbolu, and have to look a bit on the GPS to find the old Ottoman part of town. It is found on the sides of a huge gorge, and it is absolutely fantastic! If you only see one town in Turkey, make sure it is this one!

Despite they have manages to stuff numerous restaurants, cafés, souvenir shops and alike into the old centre, it have fare from lost its soul. Here are still ancient craftsmen, partly demolished houses, mosques, caravan hotels, copplestone alleys and a lot of locals. A narrow gorge runs in the button of the big one, right through town - but hard to find.

Here are a lot of "Lokum", which make a Dane giggle: It is an old toilet. Actually, they sell Turkish Delight. I make hundreds of photos, and really enjoy walking around in these old streets. Most souvenir are actually handmade in wood, meerschaum, glass and iron. Some are embroidery and alike, some sell nuts, brass and whatever. All arrearage in a nice way, and every one so polite.

I have a long chat with the real nice shopkeeper; Cenk Türkcü, and then I rush through the outer areas without shops. It is a huge area with Ottoman houses, and I actually consider to spend a night here, just to make sure I see it all. But several hundreds of photos must be enough.

It is yet 400 kilometres to Istanbul, and I have to overnight along the route. The big mountains turn smaller and smaller, and small farmed patches start to emerge between them. I stop a single time to get a photo of an Aesculapian snake; Zamenis longissimus. I had though that would be easy to find a place to sleep on route, but the few hotels along the highway, are closed! I try to blend in with the trucks, but I'm too good: I have to pay a fortune for the TIR parking. I rather pay for a hotel then.

I end up turning off the highway, when I pass a larger town at eight. It take quite some effort to get to pay for the toll road. I have to make an account (passport and registration attest), then set money on it. And as I already have used it twice, I'm almost broke right again. A flashlight turns on, when you pass without sufficient funding. And when the police stops you, you are so doomed - if I get it right.

I find a real nice hotel at nine, get a Turkish omelette and start working meanwhile. It is way too late, and my plan about hitting Istanbul early seem to go sideways. Well, Safranbolu was worth it. Then I might have to spend a night in Istanbul. Finding a place to sleep is easy, finding a place to par is another thing! More D010, Hisar, Amasra and Ottoman Safranbolu.

30/6. It is only 150 kilometres to Istanbul, but the traffic intensifies a lot, as I get closer. And the GPS had planned a U-turn on the highway, climbing the fences in the boulevards and don't really care about one-direction roads. And where it had hoped for a ferry, I prefer the tunnel to return to Europe.

It end up in a huge detour around a better part of the endless (well, 22 km) old city wall, build by Constantine the Great to protect Constantinople. Here are what probably is leftover posters from the presidential election, although I only see one face. Here are a lot of city, but with 25.000.000 citizens, I guess they need some houses, roads and cars. I see most...

I finally make under the old aqueduct and into an area with scattered old buildings. Then I somehow make it to 30 metres from Aya Sofia, and park on a OtoPark spot. Old Istanbul is truly a lovely city. I pass so many mosques, see so many nationalities and here are a fantastic atmosphere.

I only see Aya Sofia, Aya Irini and most of the other buildings from the outside. However; I will have to enter the basement of the old Basilica. It is build as cisterns, covers 9.800 square meters and the roof is held by 336 columns, each nine meters tall.

The discrete lightning is fantastic, and despite the columns and floor is soaked, the air feel fine. I walk around and try desperately to capture the atmosphere - or at least the scenery, but here are - as there ought to be - murky. Out again, I speak to several men, who are real polite, also when I finally tell them; I will not buy a carpet in your shop. They offers tea anyway, and continues talking about other stuff. Guess they are bored.

I see some of the central squares, some of the back alleys with houses under destruction, trams, shops, restaurants, copplestone streets, ancient buildings, more mosques and then I make to the entrance to the Old Bazaar.

I have seen something like it in Kuwait?: The old bazaar and its houses have been covered with one new roof. Here are great decorations, over 4.000 shops and not that many customers. I am not looking for anything in particular, and that I find. I recon it will take a week to see it all, but I'm just here to get the feeling. I find the antique area and some other interesting corners.

A guy who try to sell me a leather jacket, recommends me a kebab-restaurant, and it is good. Then I make a few more loops out in the daylight, before I return to the car. It is around 300 kilometres to the border, and the first 15 is accomplished in one hour. Then both the landscape and the traffic opens up a bit.

It is the typical flat hills with farmland. And the typical afternoon shower. The little border crossing is a slow process once again, but I get through with lots of smiles. Istanbul.

Turkey have been fantastic, although I do admit; I have driven a lot. I am sure here are way more to see, and I might actually return one day. Istanbul and the entire eastern part of the country still have lots to offer. Turkey is fare from cheep. I have spend €440 on the seven days, diesel the better part with €175, hotels €118 and then about the same on food, gadgets, road- and park fees and less in admission. I have driven 3614 kilometres and taken 2201 photos.

Then it is time to return to Bulgaria.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary 1  2