Posts for November, 2013

A driving day (Near Gilvan, Iran)

Journal entry for Friday 1st Nov, 2013 (day 212, miles 15,149)

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. to read the full post

Rain! (Masule, Iran)

Journal entry for Saturday 2nd Nov, 2013 (day 213, miles 15,272)

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. to read the full post

A visit with Hossein (Canrood, Iran)

Journal entry for Sunday 3rd Nov, 2013 (day 214, miles 15,382)

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. to read the full post

Iran, the final leg (Tabriz, Iran)

Journal entry for Monday 4th Nov, 2013 (day 215, miles 15,571)

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. to read the full post

A bit of a shambles (Khoy, Iran)

Journal entry for Tuesday 5th Nov, 2013 (day 216, miles 15,774)

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. to read the full post

The border (Dogubayazit, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 6th Nov, 2013 (day 217, miles 15,907)

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. to read the full post

Inernet and cheese finally (Lake Van, Turkey)

Journal entry for Friday 8th Nov, 2013 (day 219, miles 15,982)

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. to read the full post

Movin along (Bingol, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 9th Nov, 2013 (day 220, miles 16,205)

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. to read the full post

Another driving day (Malatya, Turkey)

Journal entry for Sunday 10th Nov, 2013 (day 221, miles 16,410)

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. to read the full post

Cappadocia (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Monday 11th Nov, 2013 (day 222, miles 16,629)

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. to read the full post

Ballooning in Cappadocia (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Tuesday 12th Nov, 2013 (day 222, miles 16,629)

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. to read the full post

The Outdoor Museum (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 13th Nov, 2013 (day 224, miles 16,629)

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. to read the full post

Underground city (Goreme, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 16th Nov, 2013 (day 227, miles 16,629)

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. to read the full post

Moving again (Near Konya, Turkey)

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

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. to read the full post

(Beysihir, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 20th Nov, 2013 (day 231, miles 16,861)

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). to read the full post

Mountains and forest (Ibradi, Turkey)

Journal entry for Thursday 21st Nov, 2013 (day 232, miles 16,930)

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. to read the full post

The Mediterranean (Tasagil, Turkey)

Journal entry for Friday 22nd Nov, 2013 (day 233, miles 16,979)

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. to read the full post

Koprulu Kanyon (Antalya, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 23rd Nov, 2013 (day 234, miles 17,072)

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. to read the full post

(Kas, Turkey)

Journal entry for Sunday 24th Nov, 2013 (day 235, miles 17,189)

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. to read the full post

(Kas, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 30th Nov, 2013 (day 241, miles 17,189)

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). to read the full post

Lunch date (Kas, Turkey)

Journal entry for Sunday 1st Dec, 2013 (day 242, miles 17,190)

We had planned to get on the road today but a last minute invitation to a Thanksgiving lunch from some fellow travelers put paid to that. We spent the morning preparing and packing and then took the yellow beast about a kilometer up the hill to our luncheon appointment. Our hosts were Brett and Sandy a Californian couple who have been traveling in Europe in their pickup and camper and have decided to stay a while in Kaş and have rented an apartment up on the hillside a little out of the main street. At lunch with us were Barbara and Peter the Swiss couple we met in Tajikistan and who are staying in the campground we just departed. to read the full post

Back into the mountains (Pamukkale, Turkey)

Journal entry for Monday 2nd Dec, 2013 (day 243, miles 17,371)

So today we did get underway again. For a while the road followed the coast and we got some great views of the Mediterranean and the numerous tourists and other sea side residential developments. As you might be able to tell we are finding the Med coast very pleasant and still marvel at how blue and clean the water looks. to read the full post

Travertine marvel (Somewhere along the road, Turkey)

Journal entry for Tuesday 3rd Dec, 2013 (day 244, miles 17,440)

We were up and going promptly this morning as we were keen to explore. However our first problem was bare feet. The main entrance to the thermal area and ruins from the town of Pamukkale starts in the village main area and ascends across the travertines (mineral deposits) on the hill side. To protect those deposits from the hordes of visitors one is required to walk across the travetine in bare feet. Now us old guys are beginning to feel the effects of age and skeletal deterioration and hence bare feet are not our forte. So after some negotiation with the entrance staff we were allowed onto an alternate path that took us to the top of the hill. However as you will see later this did not entirely get past the bare feet topic. to read the full post

The ruins of Ephesus (Ozdere, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 4th Dec, 2013 (day 245, miles 17,511)

After our night with the trucks we set out in overcast and rain to find our way to the town of Selcuk and the famous nearby ruins of Ephesus. The roads were good the scenery pleasant and we eventually found our way into the main street of Selcuk. to read the full post

A travel day (Bergama, Turkey)

Journal entry for Thursday 5th Dec, 2013 (day 246, miles 17,616)

Today was a travel day. We spent a deal of time winding our way along the coastal road and then through the city of Izmir (according to the Lonely Planet the 3rd largest city in Turkey). The route through Izmir took us along the water front; it looked really inviting with the bright sun, blue water, promenade and gardens but with no obvious places to stop we only admired it from the truck cab. The city seemed to stretch for miles as the road passed through one community after another. This gave us an opportunity to admire the way the Turks have put modern roads through old towns. As it passes through a congested shopping or market area inside a town the road is made up of three pieces, the center lanes are for through traffic and there is a lane on each side for local traffic. At intersections the through-road simply goes under the intersection with a well signed 4.8m clearance. to read the full post

Bergama and the Ruins of Pergamum (Burhaniye, Turkey)

Journal entry for Sunday 8th Dec, 2013 (day 249, miles 17,686)

As you can see from the date on this entry we have skipped a few days. We spent those days hold up in the caravan ground at Bergama. There is not much to say about those days except perhaps that the weather varied between bright winter sun and howling wind and rain. Night time temperatures below freezing as indicated by the ice on the ground in the morning. Today we are on our way again with a visit to Pergamum, the local Acropolis (fort on a hill) and the center of the old city of Bergama to read the full post

Country villages and narrow roads (Burhaniye, Turkey)

Journal entry for Monday 9th Dec, 2013 (day 249, miles 17,686)

Today we are headed for the old city of Troy and since the days route seemed to be relatively short we chose to follow the coastal road as much as possible. As a result we spent most of the day traveling along winding roads that pretended to be wide enough for two vehicles but in many places would not have fitted two of us side by side. We passed through small country villages with narrow streets, lots of tractors, herds of goats and olive trees and olive trees. to read the full post

A visit to old Troy (Troia) (Burhaniye, Turkey)

Journal entry for Wednesday 11th Dec, 2013 (day 252, miles 17,805)

We have now been in the caravan camp at Troy for a couple of days and over that time the weather has been bright and sunny as well as wild and wet. This morning it is clear and very cold. There is some solid ice on the ground this morning and snow is being predicted for the Gallipoli Penninsula just a few miles away. Never the less today is the day we will visit the historic sight of Troy. But we will do it dressed in all the cold weather gear we have. to read the full post

Europe! (Eceabat, Turkey)

Journal entry for Thursday 12th Dec, 2013 (day 253, miles 17,826)

Today is/was a big milestone for our journey, we crossed the Dardanelles (Hellespont) to the Gallipoli Peninsula and into Europe. In all other ways the day was quite un-remarkable. This morning as we prepared to depart our camp at Troia there was light snow falling (though none was accumulating). There after a shortish hop took us to the town of Çanakkale (which we would learn is pronounced Chanakarley) and the ferry to Eceabat on the Gallipoli Peninsula. to read the full post

Exploring the Gallipoli Peninsula (Kilitbahir, Turkey)

Journal entry for Friday 13th Dec, 2013 (day 254, miles 17,896)

The weather was a little better this morning, though still not great, overcast with occassional showers. But we could not let the weather prevent us exploring the peninsula. From Eceabat we headed to the western shore which is where most of the sites of interest to Australians lie. First stop was a somewat run down information center which despite its need for some repairs effectively told the story on the background to and course of the Gallipoli campaign. to read the full post

To Istanbul (Selımpaşa, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 14th Dec, 2013 (day 255, miles 18,093)

We were welcomed this morning by bright sunshine and blue sky. Before getting underway we spent some time walking along the water front enjoying the fabulous scenery before making a quick tour of the gun battery. to read the full post

Istanbul - sort of! (Istanbul, Turkey)

Journal entry for Sunday 15th Dec, 2013 (day 256, miles 18,150)

Well today was an adventure of back streets and low underpasses. Early on in the day we were feeling good, we left last nights camp in bright sunshine and got onto one of the many freeways heading into Istanbul and all seemed to be going well. Then we made a small navigation mistake by missing a fork in the freeway. But initially that did not seem too bad as our GPS quickly re-routed us and we started following the corrected route. But quite quickly this new route dropped off the freeway, into a crowded intersection and we found ourselves confronted with a 3.6M clearance sign. Fortunately we found our way past that one only to be confronted by one that read 3.8M and at this one there was no way out other than a long reverse through heavy traffic. Now remember our truck is actually 4.0M high. But I noticed that there was a slope on the road and that the clearance was greater on the left hand side of the road. Against Nina's protests I gingerly tried that higher side and squeezed through with no damage. to read the full post

Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)

Journal entry for Monday 16th Dec, 2013 (day 257, miles 18,093)

We pretty much got going with the sun this morning with the forlorn hope that an early start would help us avoid some of the heavier traffic. It did not seem to. to read the full post

The Christmas break is over (Ipsala, Turkey)

Journal entry for Saturday 28th Dec, 2013 (day 269, miles 18,305)

Over the Chrismas period we took a break from the lifestyle of traveling and living in an "expedition truck" and rented an apartment in the Taksim area of Istanbul. Our son Brendon and his girlfriend Jessie came down from Berlin and we spent the time together doing a few of the usual tourist things and catching up on family. to read the full post

The border and Green Card (Volvi Lake, Greece)

Journal entry for Sunday 29th Dec, 2013 (day 270, miles 18,515)

The last 40km of Turkish road way leading to the Greek border was the worst road surface we have experienced in Turkey, I don't know if there is any significance to that observation or not but there you are. The border crossing was surprisingly simple particularly given what we had read and heard about Greece being the front line of Europe's efforts to control illegal immigration. to read the full post

The Tumulus and Phillip II's Tomb (Vergina, Greece)

Journal entry for Monday 30th Dec, 2013 (day 271, miles 18,587)

This morning we needed to find fuel and money so we used our trusty OSM map to pick a group of banks in the city of Thessoliniki and headed that way. Unfortunately the road system defeated us and we passed by our targeted banks on a limited access road with no way to get to our targets. A further check of the map identified a Shell station at the entrance to a small town called Chalastra so that was our next hope, and indeed it worked. Diesel for 1.355 Euro per liter (about $6.80/gallon). Also the owner would accept credit cards, spoke English and has a brother that lives in Canberra. We suspect we will meet a lot of people in Greece with relatives in Australia. to read the full post

Some Greek country roads (Near Delhpi, Greece)

Journal entry for Tuesday 31st Dec, 2013 (day 272, miles 17)

We departed our parking lot this morning in the rain and for a while continued south on the motorway paying tolls at regular intervals. But eventually our route and inclination took us onto some country roads and through rolling farm land. All in all an unremarkable day. to read the full post