Posts for November, 2013


A driving day (Near Gilvan, Iran)

Journal entry for Friday 1st Nov, 2013 (day 212, miles 15149)

The next, and penultimate, leg of our Iran journey is to the village of Astara at the very northern end of Irans Caspian Sea coast. Our guide Hossein R (the one who oranized the vehicle entry to Iran) lives there and he has invited us to spend a night with him before we make the trek together to Bazargan and the Turkish border. We are to meet Hossein at Astara on Sunday night so we have two days to get to and explore a bit of the Caspian Sea coast.

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Rain! (Masule, Iran)

Journal entry for Saturday 2nd Nov, 2013 (day 213, miles 15272)

When we woke this morning the mountains around us were shrouded in cloud and by the time we got underway that had turned into a light rain forshadowing the rest of the day. This (the rain) was such an unusual occurrance that Nina and I spent some time discussing the question of "when was the last time we had rain" - our conclusion was Almaty, Kazakstan.

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A visit with Hossein (Canrood, Iran)

Journal entry for Sunday 3rd Nov, 2013 (day 214, miles 15382)

After retracing yesterdays sidetrip into Museuleh we got back onto the main coastal road heading north towards Astara and the border with Azerbaijan. This road was not memorable for any good reason, pretty much the Iranian version of strip developement being small villages with crowded mains streets every couple of kilometers, continuing rain and no view of the Caspian see. What we did see apart from lots of trucks and crazy drivers were lots of rice fields. This area is famous (in Iran) for the rice it grows.

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Iran, the final leg (Tabriz, Iran)

Journal entry for Monday 4th Nov, 2013 (day 215, miles 15571)

Today began the final leg of our visit to Iran which was to be a circuitous route to the border at Bazargan with the prospect of some interesting sights along the way. To our pleasure and relief the rain was gone when we woke and we got under way in bright early morning sunshine. From Hossein's place at (or just below) sea level we climbed into the coastal mountains through some spectacular forests and switchbacks to over 7000ft before arriving on the outskirts of the town of Ardabil.

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A bit of a shambles (Khoy, Iran)

Journal entry for Tuesday 5th Nov, 2013 (day 216, miles 15774)

Before getting underway today we took a taxi ride into the city of Tabriz to see the famous blue mosque and the city's bazaar. The blue mosque is no longer blue, it gets its name from the fact that when it was built in 1464 it was decorated inside and out with tiles in various shades of blue. The mosque was destroyed by an earthquake in 1773 and the ruins remained untouched until a recontruction effort started in 1953. Today there are only some small patches of the orginal decoration. One of the interesting features of the mosques reconstruction is the way some of the tile decoration has been extended. Gaps left by missing original tile decoration has been filled in with plaster and the plaster painted to replicate the orginal pattern but in a slightly lighter color. This means that visitors can get the effect of the full sized original decoration but can see clearly where the original finishes and reconstrution starts.

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The border (Dogubayazit, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 6th Nov, 2013 (day 217, miles 15907)

After a very early start we met Hossein at the entrance to Bazargan about 9:45am and the chaos of the Iran side of the Turkey-Iran border got underway. The first issue to be faced was actually getting into the border post. In typical Iranian fashion the entrance gate was competely blocked by taxis and other vehicles that were applying the standard practice of "park anywhere regardless of the trouble it causes". In addition the officers at the entrance wanted us to use the truck entrance and took a little bit of convincing that we infact were not a truck.

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Inernet and cheese finally (Lake Van, Turkey)

Journal entry for Friday 8th Nov, 2013 (day 219, miles 15982)

We spent all of yesterday at Larelzar Campground just catching up on chores and generaly vegin-out. Today we spent some time in the town of Dogubayazit mostly looking for an internet cfe that had wifi so that we could connect with our own computer. There must be a dozen internet cafes in a 2 block area of this town however all but one of them has no wifi, they cannot connect a laptop via their wiring and their computers all work in Turkish. Eventually we observed that the customers of these establishments are almost exclusively local boys.

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Movin along (Bingol, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 9th Nov, 2013 (day 220, miles 16205)

It was raining heavily this morning and that encouraged us to get an early start. Though to be honest we are struggling a bit with the time zone thing. There is a 1 and 1/2 hour difference between Turkey's official time and Irans (Iran is in advance of Turkey) and Turkey's time zone is dictated by Istanbul which is a long way west of where we are. The upshot of this is that the sun is down and it is dark by 4:00pm. So it feels more natural to keep to Iran's timezone, and that is encouraged as with the now short days we need to use all the daylight hours profitably.

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Another driving day (Malatya, Turkey)

Journal entry for Sunday 10th Nov, 2013 (day 221, miles 16410)

Today was more rain as we made our way west. Generally pleasant countryside of rolling hills or sometimes more like mountains. Lots of cultivated land and frequent small villages. We also passed a number of lakes that appeared to have fish farms.

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Cappadocia (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Monday 11th Nov, 2013 (day 222, miles 16629)

We started the day in mountain mist but that soon lifted and we were treated to a nice sunny day. It is always a little surprising how bright sunshine lifts the mood a bit. However, as you can see from the photos we had, in addition to the sunshine, a little work to do on the truck today. I discovered this morning while doing by irregular inspection that some bolts were loose and needed tightening. Fortunately we found an abandoned gas station which had a nice concrete driveway with a cover in which to work.

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Ballooning in Cappadocia (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Tuesday 12th Nov, 2013 (day 222, miles 16629)

We were out of bed early this morning 4:15am to be ready for our 5:00am pickup. Thence a short drive in a minibus to the Balloon companies headquarters for a light breakfast followed by another short bus ride to the launching area. We hung around at the launching area for maybe half an hour while the crews inflated and otherwise prepared the rigs and in truth also waited for the sun to get closer to rising. It was interesting to watch the balloons being inflated as this was now a somewhat familiar procedure having watched it many times at last years Albuquerque Festival.

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The Outdoor Museum (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 13th Nov, 2013 (day 224, miles 16629)

This morning we woke to find balloons flying right over the top of the campground. A truely wonderful sight. Following that exciting start to the day and a leisurely breakfast we eventually walked a little way down the hill to the (apparently) famous Goreme Outdoor Museum there we joined a real throng of tourists to visit and explore a series of caverns carved out of the rock. Most of the caverns had in the past been used as Christian Churches and in their day had been heavily and elaboratey decorated. In many cases there was enough remaining of the decoration to give a real glimpse of what these must have been like.

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Underground city (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 16th Nov, 2013 (day 227, miles 16629)

We have been hanging around the campground near Goreme for the past few days basically taking it easy, enjoying the sun and the morning ballloon display. It really is a peaceful place at this time of year. Any way today we organized with the campground host to do an afternoon tour of the area and in particular to visit the underground city, Kaymakli.

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Moving again (Near Konya, Turkey)

Journal entry for Tuesday 19th Nov, 2013 (day 230, miles 16,741)

As you can see from the dates on this post we are still at that campground in Goreme. We have simply been enjoying the peace of not moving everyday and we certainly have enjoyed the sunshine, the interestng scenery and the balloons. Notice in the first photo in the 3rd set (they are the ones from today), that shot was taken looking up through the hatch over our bed. We have spent a number of mornings doing that - laying in bed watching the balloons fly.

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(Beysihir, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 20th Nov, 2013 (day 231, miles 16861)

We had debated a bit last night and agiain this morning as to whether we should try and enter the city of Konya or simply take the bypass and give it a miss. On the one hand Konya seemed to offer some interest as it is the home town of the whirling dervish orders and on the other it is always a bit of a stressful challenge driving the truck in an unfamiliar town. Fortunately we decided to give-it-a-go and discovered that Konya had wide streets, the route to the center of town and the Mevlana Museum was well sign posted and right near the museum were a couple of large vacant lots in which we could easily park (we soon discovered that hordes of tour busses also parked in these lots).

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Mountains and forest (Ibradi, Turkey)

Journal entry for Thursday 21st Nov, 2013 (day 232, miles 16930)

We woke this morning to bright sunshine and a picturesque lake right in front of us. For a while we lay in bed watching the more energetic locals out getting their morning exercise and then eventually stirred ourselves out of bed. The sun and scenery did not encourage a rapid departure so we did some chores, went for a walk into the town center for a little shoppping and just plain looking. It was lunch time before we finally got ourselves underway.

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The Mediterranean (Tasagil, Turkey)

Journal entry for Friday 22nd Nov, 2013 (day 233, miles 16979)

This morning we continued south towards the coast along more twisting narrow mountain roads descending towards the Mediterraean. The morning was overcast so we got very indistinct views of the Mediterranean in the distance, infact one could argue that we needed a good deal of imagination to see the sea.

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Koprulu Kanyon (Antalya, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 23rd Nov, 2013 (day 234, miles 17072)

This morning we were heading north again back into the Taurus Mountains in order to visit Koprulu Kanyon a scenic attraction and National Park and the nearby town of Selge with the ruins of a large Roman theater. After crossing the coastal belt the road wound its way up a river valley through picturesque forests, along side crystal clear water and past a number of villages with many restaurants and rafting businesses seemingly closed for the winter season.

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(Kas, Turkey)

Journal entry for Sunday 24th Nov, 2013 (day 235, miles 17189)

There was still a bit of last nights rain and sour weather around this morning as we set off west from Antalya. Magnificent roads and magnificent scenery was the order of the day as we wound along the coast squeezed between the escapments of the Olympos Mountains on one side and the Mediterranean on the other.

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(Kas, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 30th Nov, 2013 (day 241, miles 17189)

As you can see from the date on this entry we have spent a week at the Kaş campground and have generally had a pleasant time. The weather has varied between wild winds and torrential rain to nice calm sunny days with temperatures warm enough (both air and water) to encourage us to even go swimming (once).

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