Turkey


Caution: There’s a lot to read in this one. 🙂

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Hoşgeldiniz, Welcome, a word that we will hear every day from now on. Before we really enter the country, we pass a few soldiers with machine guns – the first ones we’ve seen on our trip. It’s almost as if they would want to tell us: „Here is where the party starts!“. 😉

And indeed, Turkey is where our real trip starts. 

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A year ago, we visited this beautiful country for the first time. We flew to Istanbul and rented a car to drive along the westcoast down to Ölüdeniz. It was a Belgian couple we met in the Butterfly Valley who told us that we should go and see Cappadocia in the centre of Turkey. We didn’t think twice and prepared our car to drive 900km the next day. What was awaiting us there was something of the most magical natural treasures that we’d seen so far. There, in Göreme, at the Kaya Camping, we met another couple, Heidi and Robi from Switzerland, who had just driven all the way from Thailand to Turkey. We were fascinated by their adventurous stories and couldn’t stop thinking about how cool it must be to do such a trip.

So, that was it, basically. That was the start of our adventure, the moment, where the idea for this trip came up.

And now, about one year later, we wake up to the same noise of ventilators blowing air into dozens of balloons in the most stunning valleys of Turkey.

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Although we’re very happy to be back at the place, we can’t fully enjoy our stay yet, as Jorge has some kind of problem with its wheel. There has been a noise coming from the right back wheel since we drove through Albania.
So, over Couchsurfing, we contact Aydın, who is local, and ask him if he could help us to find a mechanic. He doesn’t hesitate and comes to the camping the next evening. We arrange to meet the other day and drive to the nearby mechanic together.

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When he opens the wheel, the mechanic finds a small broken metal piece who came into the brake disks and therefore caused some problems when braking. He removes the piece and reassures that it’s not an important piece at all and that we can continue our journey without any problem. At first we’re not sure if that’s just the Turkish way of solving problems or if it really won’t be a problem. We decide to believe him and pay 20 Lira (about 6 Euro) for the service.

And then, we’re finally off into the valleys again.

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Just next to the camping there’s a hiking path to the Meskendir Valley who eventually leads into the Rose Valley, one of the most beautiful paths in Cappadocia. We did this hike last year and have been looking forward to doing it again for the whole time. It really hasn’t lost anything of its magic.

The path leads from Göreme to its neighbour village Çavuşin. On its way there you have access to a few really nice cave churches.
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Last year we visited one which really left us speechless. It’s called the Kolunlu Kilise, the Column Church.

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From Aydın we learn that there are about 3000 cave or underground churches in Cappadocia.
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We stay a full week at the camping, enjoying the warm and dry weather and the beautiful surroundings. One night, we are invited by our camping neighbours, two families from Israel who are travelling through Turkey with their children. They share their food with us and we talk about life as a Jew, Israel and the war in Syria. One of the families lives just 2 km away from the Syrian border. They say they can hear the bombs and see lightning at night. We all agree that this war is the biggest humanitarian crisis (/crime) of our time.
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One day, after a coffee break in Göreme, we meet Catharina and Bert from Sweden. They started their trip in Sweden with their Saab and are driving to India, just like us. It’s really nice to know that we’re not the only crazy people wanting to cross Pakistan by car. 😉

Before we leave Cappadocia, we pamper ourselves with a really nice Köy Kahvaltısı – just the best kind of breakfast ever!

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We decide to visit Nemrut Dagi on our way eastwards. As we drive through the stunningly beautiful landscapes of Anatolia, there’s suddenly something wrong with the brakes. On a descending road, it’s impossible for us to use the brakes properly. So we stop and try to remove the right back wheel again.

It doesn’t take longer than 5 minutes and there’s a car who pulls up behind us. A young Turkish man comes to ask if we have a problem with the car. As he doesn’t speak one word in English, we try our best in Turkish. „Fren problem var“ – there’s a problem with the brakes. He helps us to remove the wheel and finds a little squeezed metal spiral in between the brake disks. It must have something to do with the broken part we removed in Cappadocia. He immediately calls someone from a nearby town and asks if they can help us repair the car. Today is pazar, sunday, and normally the workshops are closed. However, this doesn’t count for Turks if you have an urgent problem. Your problem is their problem – something we will learn during the stay in this country.

We slowly drive down to the next village, Fatih, our new friend, drives in front of us in case there’s a problem. Arriving at the workshop, Fatih explains the problem and they immediately open the car, already knowing that it has to do with the vacuum pump. It takes about 10 minutes for them to tell us the exact problem and that they don’t have the right tools and spare parts to fix it. They tell us that we would have to drive to the next bigger city, Malatya, and find someone to fix the problem there.

Fatih hands us a note with his number and the Turkish description for the problem. He said we should call him when arriving at the mechanic. We thank him and wave goodbye at the traffic light as we hit the road again in direction Malatya.

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It’s already dawning and we decide to stop at the next smaller city, Darende, to eat and pass the night there. We stop the car in the city centre and ask a young woman if she could recommend any restaurant for us. She sends her little son to the other side of the square to ask on of the restaurants if they could offer us something. Right in that moment, when the three of us are standing there, talking with hands and feet, we hear a voice shouting „Arkadaş„, Friend, from the other side of the square.

It was Fatih, whos way wondrously crosses ours again.

One more time he tells us to follow him by car. Ten minutes later the three of us sit in a really nice restaurant, talking and enjoying delicious food together. Although Fatih doesn’t speak English and the two of us don’t speak Turkish, we somehow manage to speak together.

When we finish our dinner and are about to go, he tells us to wait for him outside and pays the bill.

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The next day, we arrive in Malatya and luckily find the „car area“, a huge quarter full of workshops and mechanics. The first young man we ask for help shows us the way to the Otokar workshop, one that might be able to help us.

When we arrive at the workshop, everyone immediately stops whatever they are doing and comes to inspect the car. Again, our problem is theirs and it’s much more important than anything else. In the meantime we get served tea and take a seat.

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As it takes two days for them to order and assemble the new vacuum pump, we are invited to sleep over at the shop owner’s son, Fatih, and his lovely wife Şadiye.

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We enjoy a nice dinner at their apartment and get served a superb Turkish breakfast the other day. Then, we head back to the workshop and wait for Jorge to be repaired. We absolutely want to get to Nemrut on the same day. For the road up there we need about 2 to 3 hours. Luckily, they finish the repairing before 3 p.m. and we are able to arrive at the mountain just in time to see the sun set.

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We park Jorge in front of the peak, at about 2000 metres above sea level and pass a really cold and windy night in there. Nevertheless, watching the sunrise the next morning definitely does justice to sleeping in 4 layers of clothes and sheets.

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We’re finally off to the last city before the Turkish-Iranian border, Doğubayazıt. There’s a campsite, Murat Camping, just outside of the centre. We pay about 5 Euros for a place with electricity, ice cold fresh spring water (to drink AND shower) and a really nice view over the city.
(And two lovely puppies)

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Behind the campsite there’s the last natural beauty we visit before we finally drive off to Iran.

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And as Erdan uses to write on his huge banners across the country, we leave this wonderful place with the same words:
Teşekkürler Türkyie!