Car and camping in Turkey


Picturesque Turkish countryside covered by snow, Central Turkey

Camping in Turkey 
"Camping in Turkey is dangerous", they said ! Not so ! Despite the cold weather in the East and despite the visit of Kathleen's parents during which we stayed warm, our fondest memories of camping will most probably be those of Turkey. We usually applied the same rule as in Iran : drive off the main road into the countryside and find a quiet spot for the night. No-one ever came to disturb us on those occasions. When this was not possible, we would sleep behind petrol stations (middle picture) or in hotel courtyards. Leaving Istanbul, we got caught in a snow storm and a huge traffic jam due to cars without snow chains. Being able to sleep in the car meant we could get out of the traffic and sleep nearby (top left picture). On one occasion we stopped near to four ancient sarcophagi. On another occasion we were woken up by olives falling from the olive trees near us ! 



One particular camping spot enabled us to light a fire and have a swim in the Mediterranean Sea next morning !


Troopie gets looked after
Still no mechanical problems for Troopie (despite her age !). We did have the suspension leaves re-shaped in Antalya in order to improve our ride. The leaves were taken off the car, taken out of their fittings and re-shaped one by one. A hammer and a large piece of metal were the only two necessary tools to do this ! 


The friendly staff at Toyota Plaza Erzurum (left), Troopie gets her 150,000 km old suspension leaves a new lease of life to improve our ride thanks to the help of Antalya's Mr. Fix-it ! Emek Otomotiv, Mr. Ali Topuz, telephone 0242 221 4398, Akdeniz San. Sit. 5001 no 106. Recommended !


The only other thing that hit us in Turkey was a stone the size of a tennis ball ! And this at a speed of around 80 km/h. The windscreen held tight but the inside of the car was sprayed with small pieces of glass. We had it replaced in Istanbul. 


Kathleen taking care of the esthetics of our home on wheels (centre), Christian applying his fiber glass fixing skills (right)



The shattered windscreen, the third and last "Oto Lasticki" man, we hope, for the remainder of our trip (after 3 punctures in 10 days and none in the rest of the trip)


Life on the road : petrol stations
Petrol stations in Turkey are the modern ones found in Western countries but so is the price of the fuel. A liter of diesel cost US$ 0.50.



Life on the road : food
Turkey is blessed with cheap, good and locally produced food. Despite us being there during the Ramadan month, it was never difficult to find food.  The traditional breakfast is a strange mixture for the Western palate : olives, tomatoes, butter & honey and deliciously salty cheese served with fresh bread. Bread is usually served with both butter and honey and the trick is to mix these two together before applying the mixture to the bread ! The traditional meal in most of Turkey is the kebab ! Again this is served with freshly baked bread, rice and vegetables.


Traditional breakfast (left) and kebab meals (right) are found all over Turkey. Dr Oz could not resist supplying us with a "few" fruits when leaving Antalya ! (centre)


A less traditional meal was the one we had in a hotel bedroom with Kathleen's parents ! We had left Iran having visited a caviar processing factory but had never tried their product. In Turkey we found the exact same brand and tasted it with a cheap bottle of locally produced vodka and bread !


A slightly less traditional meal : caviar !


A variety of food sold on Turkish markets : freshly prepared vegetables, spices & dried fruit and honey


The famous lukum sweets (left), Turkish pickles (centre) and fresh fish sold on the market (right)


Dunkin' Donuts or Turkey's modern side (left), Kathleen displaying a beautiful bread for one of our many picnics (centre) & shopping like we haven't done in months (with bar-code readers and all !) at the Swiss MIGROS chain.



One of the best aspects of food in Turkey is the availability of fresh fruit from the Mediterranean coast. Oranges, mandarines, lemon, pomegranate and others are available in huge quantities and are surprisingly cheap. A kilo of mandarines only costs between US$ 0.16 and 0.65 depending on whether one is in Istanbul or in the countryside. 



Life on the road : the journey not the destination
Our travels through Turkey have taken us through some of the most beautiful roads we have ever seen. From the plateau in Anatolia covered with a thin layer of snow, to the stunning coastline along the deep blue Mediterranean to Central Turkey where the colour of the earth ranged from dark brown to strange variations of red. The common point to many of the roads we took is that the road followed the curved lines of the hills or the shore, not the opposite !








Life on the road : getting stuck...
One day we decided to take a shortcut. One we will remember !  The road leading us between Altihinsar and Ciftlik was to take us between 2 2000 meter mountains and we were looking forward to some stunning scenery. After turning left onto the smaller road, we stopped for lunch and looked upon the brown grasses surrounding us. When we drove of again it had started to snow lightly. An hour or so later there was still only a few centimeters or so of snow. But all of a sudden the car fell into what seemed like 30 or 40 centimeters of snow that had flown across the mountain road. No problem, we thought ! Let's put on the short gears, a few stones under the wheels for traction and we will be out of this in no time. The strange part is that 2 meters behind our car as well as two meters in front there was hardly any snow at all !


Stop for lunch along this mountain road (left) and what seemed like a small problem (right)


Three hours later we were still there ! The bottom of the car was resting on snow as the 4 wheels spun freely. The light snow fall had become a real snow storm. After 3 hours of work outside in strong and cold snow winds, we were completely soaked and shivering. We were only 6 km from the village we were heading for ! By now Troopie was lying deep in about 50 cm of snow. We decided two things : first to call for help (using the satellite phone) just in case the storm did not end. We had fuel and food for several days but did not particularly want to spend a few days in the middle of nowhere. Next we decided to try to get out ourselves and get to work differently by taking all the snow from under the car.



A winch would not have helped as there was nowhere to attach any cable to. A spade would have been useful though ! All we had was a 2.5 meter long bamboo pole (from Hong Kong), a well-kitted toolbox, good shoes and gloves ! We set out to cutting the snow out in large cubes of snow (like igloo builders !) using a hammer and our hands to move it away ! We also jacked the car up in every direction using the jack and a hi-lift to put stones under the wheels.



After 7 hours, we managed to get away by ourselves ! During these 7 hours not a single vehicle drove by ! On our way down to the village of Ciftlik, we encountered help that was coming our way. A Ford Transit van full of Jandarma soldiers, an ambulance and a huge yellow earthmover to get us out of there ! We were driven to the local Jandarma (which is part of the military but looks after the security of the people and can be called for help). We apologised for causing trouble, thanked them and tried to explain what had happened. The Jandarma was waiting for us together with the local photographer !! We were given food and tea. Half an hour later a young Belgian woman came over who was in Turkey visiting her brother and was complaining that nothing was happening in this part of the world ! We had a very happy time together and were very kindly invited to stay the night over in the Jandarma building. We were also asked to write an article for their national magazine !



Trying to keep dry feet in Turkey


And some people think we are having fun !

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