Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

199711 Turkey Greece

SATURDAY 1 NOVEMBER 1997 – The weather is still good so we decide to drive back into the village to Mount Olympus beach. Set off along the dirt track towards the village and as we pass
a lorry parked on the opposite side our rear tyre rubs against a rock and bursts. Steve sets to work
removing the spare whilst I study the instruction books. The problems start straight away as the
wheel brace doesn’t fit the bolts that hold the spare tyre in place but the adjustable spanner does the
trick eventually. Problem number two is that the hydraulic jack supplied with the van isn’t strong
enough to lift it up. By this time we have gathered a crowd of helpful villagers and one of them volunteers to go off and find a stronger lorry jack.  Steve suggests they take one of our bikes and we then notice that Steve’s bike also has a puncture!  Whilst removing the van tyre the thread on one of the nuts fails and we have to replace the wheel with only 7 of the 8 nuts. We eventually finish about 1
hour later and decide to skip the beach and head for the nearest big town to pick up a new tyre because if we don’t get one today everywhere will be closed until Monday. The first town is
and they
don’t have one but send us on to the very big town of Antalya. We eventually find the area of town
with the tyre and car repair shops (they have a very good system in Turkey of having areas on the
outskirts of town with all the same trades clustered together) but no one can supply the correct size
and we are advised to go on to
Konya. During this time we suddenly remember that the new tyre needs the pressure checking and we also need a new nut so stop at the small town of Serik.
As we pull onto the forecourt of a tyre shop the van is mobbed by locals all trying to peer inside – they have never seen
anything like a
before. The lads at the garage are very helpful and check the pressure
and "adapt" a nut to fit. Decide that it will be too far to drive to Konya today so turn off to the
ancient town of Side. There is a nice car park where we think we can stay overnight so we leave the
van and take a walk around. Side is a very strange Roman town as the old city was so spread out
that over the years the newer buildings have filled in the gaps and it is now all mixed together but still very attractive. We return to the van but can hardly see it for flies – the local tip is just over the dunes behind the car park and this is where the flies are coming from.  There is no way we can stay so quickly jump in and drive off with the flies attached for about 5 miles. Our resting place for the night is by the beach at
Sorgun, a resort mainly for Germans with 5 star Hotels and time-share complexes. Steve just happens to notice that the local restaurant is showing English football so comes racing back to the van to tempt me to a meal out! On arrival at the restaurant there is another channel on the TV. and the man shows us that the football has been scrambled after the first 5 minutes! We decide to stay and have a nice but more expensive meal than usual.



SUNDAY 2 NOVEMBER – The weather is good and the car tyre shops will be closed today so nothing for it but to sunbathe on the beach and swim in the sea – what a hard life.  Lunch comprises red wine, crackers and garlic cheese spread.  We walk along the beach and check out some of the hotels.  Call for a drink at a bar and end up staying all evening.  Very windy in the night with some rain.



MONDAY 3 NOVEMBER – Set off for Konya and drive over the mountains via Akseki. En route we
encounter lots of herds of black goats along the road. Same story with the tyre in Konya and we
conclude that it is an American size and not available in Turkey but will give Barry in Istanbul a ring
to see if he can verify this. We are getting very good at finding the industrial areas of towns and our
sign language on tyre problems is brilliant now. Manage to phone Claire and hear that she has booked a flight to Athens on 27th to come and visit us.  From Konya we head towards
stopping at
Sultanhani to see the Kervansaray.
This is an old travellers Inn where people used to stay free of
charge for up to three days with their animals. There are very high walls on the outside and a Mosque
inside meaning that they had full security and no need to leave until ready to continue their journey.
As soon as we pull up in the van we are mobbed by local children trying to sell us things and it
is a bit overpowering. When we come out they approach us again and show us "tricks" of putting burning matches in their mouths. We do our best to ignore them but it isn’t very nice. Travelling along we notice a predominance of a root crop that loos like beet.  Turning off for Ihlara the scenery changes with fantastic rock formations. Our final stop for the night is in
Ihlara village ready for our hike into Ihlara Valley tomorrow. The friendly Anatolya Pansiyon provides parking, electric and hot showers for just over £2. We eat at their restaurant and try Sac Kavurma, a type of meat and vegetable cooked and served in a wok and very nice too.



TUESDAY 4 NOVEMBER – A very cold night although the electric heater kept us warm. A nice bright morning for our hike so we drive to the head of the gorge at Belisirma, an exceptionally beautiful village with very old flat roofed houses mixed with the cave houses. The walk along the valley reveals lots of rock churches with frescoes, troglodyte caves and some spectacular scenery. We
return down the opposite side of the valley having crossed the stream by a rickety old bridge. The
last part of the walk back takes us past the "front doors" of the house caves and it is like living in
Bedrock although we do notice that some of them had satellite dishes up! Walking down
through the village to the bridge at the bottom we pass a house with lots of sacks of
potatoes outside. We asked to buy 1 Kilo and they say yes but then refuse to take any money. We
have been told that the restaurants here serve very good and cheap fresh fish so we end up in a log
cabin around a log fire eating a plate of four small bass fish with rice, tomato, peppers and onions
followed by fresh crusty bread and goats cheese. We drink 2 beers each but when the bill came the
beers were 250
.000TL (90p) each and Steve passes comment that the most we have paid before is 200,OOOTL (65p) so the price is immediately dropped and the full bill rounded down to 2,000,OOOTL (£6.50).  Back to the same place as last night and we are just hooking up to the electric but can’t find the adapter.  It would seem that he left it on the rear bumper this morning and drove off with it there. A walk up the road reveals nothing so we have to make do with an English plug into an ordinary adapter but this will be possible in rain.  A couple of British motorbikes pull up, Sarah and Andy from Altringham have travelled overland a similar route to us. They confirm that visas for Syria are not available in Ankara and we spend the evening in the bar exchanging travel information. Feel very sorry for them in their tents as it is cold again but they refuse an offer to camp inside the Hostel as they are tough and have camped in -20 deg before  – and you thought we were crazy.  Spend the evening in the bar with them, drinking and playing backgammon.



WEDNESDAY 5 NOVEMBER –  A super day starting off with a visit to Derinkuyu underground city. 8 levels are open to the public and you can see where up to 30,000 people have been accommodated. There are churches, wineries and wells amongst the maze of tunnels and staircases. Next, Uchisar and our first real view of Cappadocia. What a sight, the village has a castle carved out of a 60 metre high rock and from the top of this you get a superb view of the valleys around with the fairy chimneys. This region is famous for the strange rock formations made by volcanic rock eroded over the years. Some areas look like sand dunes, some like bee hives and others like chimneys. The colours are fantastic – pinks, purples, gold, grey, white and others in-between. The valley sides have lots of different shapes and with the rocks in the bottom make a unique sight that defies words.  Goreme village has hotels and restaurants actually in the fairy chimneys and an open-air museum where you can go into the rock churches with unusual frescoes. Every one is different and all interesting. It’s the sort of place you can stare at forever and not get bored. We find a campsite in the valley from where we see a spectacular sunset.  A walk into the village rewards us with a super meal – Cream of tomato soup with cheese, Pepper steak, chips, salad, rice, garlic bread rounded off with mixed melon at £2.60 a head. Don’t think we will ever get used to the prices in England again – even the admission prices to museums etc are cheap at around £1 each. We have noticed that the exchange rate has gone up again in our favour and we now get 305.000TL to £ instead of255,OOOTL when we arrived in August.



THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER –  A drive further down the Goreme valley reveals the site of the Zelve Monastic Valley. We are the first visitors of the day and have the place to ourselves. The area is made up of three valleys with churches, homes and a monastery carved into the rocks. A tunnel cut through the rock links two of these valleys. Our guidebook warns us to take a torch and wear old clothes for exploring. Climbing up steps – sometimes natural and occasionally man made metal ones accesses the buildings and tunnels, then the fun starts. The rocks are carved with tunnels at 45deg angles and holes that you have to drop down through to explore the rooms. The whole thing
is like a huge maze and you have to look for the ancient hand and
to know where to go. All
well and good until we decide to take the tunnel across to the next valley.  The book warns us that we will need nerves of steel and a head for heights but undeterred we followed the sign to the entrance.
Inside the first cave the only exit is up a 45deg shaft with a passageway visible at the top.
I don’t like the look of it but Steve proceeds to do a recce with a torch in his mouth and me staying
below with the other things. As I video his ascent I pan round to see that below the shaft Steve is
climbing there is a huge pit about 7 foot deep, as I turn round to warn him he starts to slip and not
knowing about the pit jumps backwards to safety or not as the case may be. Having hit the back wall
of the shaft with his head he proceeds to bang all the walls around whilst plummeting down the shaft and into the pit, followed by deathly silence from him and screams from me. What seems like ages later but is only seconds he starts groaning.  I’m nearly hysterical by this time unable to believe that he isn’t seriously injured. He manages to tell me that he thinks he is very badly winded and has a few cuts but doesn’t think anything is broken. After quite some time he is able to stand up but now we have a problem getting him out of the pit as he is in agony and can hardly breathe. I leave the cave and shout for help but there is no one around and it is about half an hour walk back to the entrance of the
museum. We decide that I will throw some rocks into the pit to make steps and eventually drag
him out covered in mud, moaning and struggling to breathe. It seems that his thick padded coat has
protected him a lot as this is full of gashes but underneath he is uncut apart from the side of one hand
with a deep graze. We hobble back to the van where I do my best to make him comfortable with
a massage, hot drinks etc and as he just wants to be left alone quietly to rest the obvious solution is
for me to go back and VERY CAREFULLY explore the other valleys and take photos for Steve to
see. Return to Goreme via
Avenos then through the Rose Valley to Urgup.
In Goreme we
check into the Saksagan Hotel 3,000,000TL (£10 including breakfast).  Take a double room with bathtub, 24-hour hot water and heating.  Steve once bathed and massaged sends me out to explore the village. (I think it is preferable to having me in the room trying to be quiet
!). On returning to the room he feels just about fit enough to hobble to the restaurant over the road where we have an even better meal than last night – Spicy Tomato Soup, Cheese spring rolls, Turkish Goulash or Spaghetti Bolognaise, Chocolate or Rice pudding and a drink of tea, coffee, soft drink or wine all for only £3 a head, excellent value and nice candlelit surroundings. Another bath and massage and Steve is ready for bed again.



FRIDAY 7 NOVEMBER –  Steve is not too bad and says he would prefer to head on back to Istanbul
than stay another night in
Goreme. We share the driving to Ankara via Aksaray.  Take the by pass round the city and avoid the disgusting smog hanging over the city centre.  Stop at Nallihan where we park for the night at a petrol station. Following another lovely day with sun and blue skies we get the very cold night – sorry very very cold night – with me sleeping with my hat on as the central heating for the van has frozen up. Lesson learnt, on cold nights leave the heating on low.



SATURDAY  8 NOVEMBER – There is a severe frost so we drive off in our nightclothes and stop
when the van has warmed up. The road through the mountains is poor and very twisty.  It’s a nice to approach Istanbul knowing that Barry and
Cicek are there and we can enjoy good company and surroundings for a few days. We arrive at 2.15pm in glorious sunshine having passed a thermometer showing 25deg. It’s lovely to see Barry and Cicek again and we spend time comparing notes on their honeymoon, a shorter version of the tour we have done but in 4 and 5 star hotels Cicek prepares a traditional Turkish meal for us and we end the evening by watching our home video – this causes Cicek great amusement as I call one of the villages Yavas and now find out that it means slowly in Turkish and was simply a warning sign and not the town name! The video of Steve falling at Zelve is a bit disappointing and not up to Jeremy Beadle standard -1 stopped recording too soon in my haste to check on him. Steve feels even worse after watching it.



SUNDAY 9 NOVEMBER – Yet another hot day – quite unusual for Istanbul at this time of year. I retrieve the shorts and T Shirts from the suitcases having thought they would be packed away until spring. The Barbecue has to be dusted down to cook the fresh fish that Barry buys from the local village.



MONDAY 10 NOVEMBER –  Cicek leaves early to go to University to take an exam. In Turkey you can leave college and just go back to take exams over an extended period of time. She returns later
having been given the wrong date. With
Cicek’s help we manage to locate a Goodyear
tyre of the
correct size on the Asian side of Istanbul. (Ours is
but everyone says it is not available in our
size in Europe). Decide to drive over to collect it and combine the trip with a shop at
the way Steve notices a huge
sign and Barry skilfully cuts across four lanes of traffic to check it out. The open bonnet and hazard warnings lights seem to help us to park in the main road.  It
turns out that the garage deal with all makes and can get the "unavailable in Europe"
tyre in
a couple of days. At £130 I think we will be on a bread and jam diet for the next week. Steve’s back
is slightly worse after our shopping trip (I told him not to put so much beer in but at 12p a can he
couldn’t resist) also the bank balance has taken a battering but as we don’t know what we are up
against in Greece we think it is better to stock up on the things we know to be cheap in Turkey.



TUESDAY 11 NOVEMBER –  Steve is not at all well this morning – so bad in fact that he agrees to take some tablets. I massage his back with a special mixture of Indian Oils and leave him covered up in bed smelling like a mild Curry. Spend some time with Barry making adjustments to the computer but I still get very baffled, think I would have had more benefit from doing a night school course in
Computer Studies rather than the Urdu which it looks like I won’t need. We visit a computer shop in
Mecidiyekoy where I arrange for a few problems with mine to be looked at and Barry leaves his so that the fax can be repaired. The man asks us to return in a couple of hours so knowing Turkish hours we go for a very nice lunch at Café Season followed by the cinema in Sisli before collecting
Barry’s computer.



WEDNESDAY 12 NOVEMBER –  Barry’s computer is worse than before and it transpires that the shop have swapped a very expensive chip with a cheap one which will be very difficult to prove! Nice hot sunny day again – can’t believe it for the time of year. Steve is still not so good so he stays at home while Cicek and I go and collect her Mum to come and watch the Wedding video. No one else has a video so every time someone comes we have to watch the Wedding film again, it’s nice in a way as I know that they appreciate it.



THURSDAY 13 NOVEMBER – Yes it’s the 13th and not a good day. Firstly we waste most of the morning visiting electrical and then L.P.G. specialists to finally establish that the problem with the Generator is a faulty circuit board. This turns out to only be available from the U.K. at £155.98 and we must have one. Set off into Istanbul with Barry & Cicek in the car and the first shock (to us but not to Barry and Cicek) is to see a car coming towards us the wrong way up a dual carriageway! Our next shock is a car running into the back of us and pushing us into the car in front and that car into the next one. Fortunately no one is hurt and the car in front of us drives off as it is old and battered anyway. The car that hit us was an expensive Mercedes and the driver offers Barry 10,000,OOOTL (£33) for the repairs but Cicek says she would rather go to her Dads garage.  We all drive there and the price quoted for the repair is 45.000.000TL (£150). The man hands the cash over and disappears. Apparently if you want to put an insurance claim in the Police have to be called out which takes absolutely ages and more often than not the people sort it out themselves. Collect the new tyre to replace our punctured one £130 and then decide that rather than tempt fate and carry on into Istanbul we would return to Sariyer for a "fish butty" at the quay. The place is closed!



FRIDAY 14 NOVEMBER –  Drop the car at the garage for repairs and continue into Istanbul on the local bus. It’s very cheap and a good service with a bus about every 2 minutes. Went to the German
embassy for Cicek to get a visa application for their Christmas trip to visit Barry’s brother in Germany. 
For Turkish people to leave and visit any other country they have to have a visa and answer lots of
questions about finance etc. Take coffee at the Pera Palas then we go to an auction-viewing restaurant for a large, long Meze style lunch  Visit the cinema to see “Volcano”.  Return by bus to
Yavuz and Cigdems to wait for Yavuz to come back from work with the car. He returns very late and then insists we wait while he eats his tea and then comes in for a chat. Barry invites them for a fondue tomorrow night.






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