After a long journey, with a four hour stopover in Dubai in the wee hours of the morning, we eventually arrived in Istanbul. During the latter part of the flight we saw the most dramatic mountainous scenery in Iran and Eastern Turkey - we kept taking it in turns to stare out the window and say how spectacular it all was. On the ground, the immigration procedures were painless and we bought our visas at the airport (UK - US$20, Ireland US$15). We were delighted to see our luggage had made it as Qatar Airlines had not inspired much confidence in us.
With the help of fellow travellers we caught a taxi to Sultanahmet, the heart of Istanbul's old city and home to many hostels and hotels. Michael sat in the shade of a tree on a street corner while I went in search of accommodation. It was more expensive than we had anticipated and quite a few of the places were full. Prices ranged from 25 lira (US$19) for a room in a Turkish home with a shared bath (not very prepossessing) to a nice little hotel room for €45.
Some time later, with the help of Nuri from Nobel Guesthouse 9which was full), we found a room at the Moonlight Pension. It wasn’t ready yet, so we went for a wander around the old city and left our baggage with them. We stopped by at Nobel Guesthouse and we met an amazing French guy (Bruno) who had been cycling for some months in Europe and Africa with his wife and two small children. Very impressive!
The old city has a laid back feel to it and the lovely warm weather made the walk particularly pleasant. We did, however, see a tourist complain to the tourist police that someone had stolen something from her backpack, so I continued to carry my bag across my front! The people are friendly, but for the most part are trying to sell you something. They are particularly insistent and it all starts with ‘hello, where are you from’… You feel impolite talking only briefly, or walking on, but there are just too many touts to contend with and we simply aren’t interested in buying a Turkish carpet or kilim.
Back at the pension we checked in and moved into room 202. Then we wandered down to a local bakery and delicatessen and came back and made ourselves some tasty baguettes with salami, cheese and tomato. We sat upstairs in the covered terrace watching the ships go by in the Marmara Sea.
We chatted briefly to Hershy and Salome (fellow pension guests) and then had a good long sleep. Later we walked up to the Blue Mosque to take some photos of it illuminated against the night sky and once again met many Turkish men wanting to practice their English and for the most part, sell us things.
We slept in and went for breakfast at 09h30. It turns out Salome works at the pension in return for a free room, where she and Hershy are living until her visa comes through. She made us delicious fried eggs which we wolfed down with fresh baguette.
We spent the day doing the tourist thing and walked at least 8km around the city. The Blue Mosque, which was built between 1609 and 1619 is quite imposing and the interior has some exquisite stained glass windows, wall mosaics and tiling. Interestingly, they said female tourists need not cover their heads to enter the mosque, but I did anyway. I took lots of photos, but without a flash and tripod they weren’t the best. The Hagia Sofia, was originally a massive church built in the 6th century and for almost the next thousand years was the largest place of Christian worship in the world. In 1453 when the Ottomans took control they converted it into a mosque and plastered over all the beautiful mosaics on the inside. We only wandered around the outside as €10 each to get in didn't seem worthwhile to us.
We wandered along an area known as the hippodrome which houses the Obelisk of Theodosus, the Obelisk of Constantine Porphyrogenitus and a Spiral Column. They were interesting to look at, but not particularly inspiring. We walked up the main street and wandered along looking in the shops at stunning glass bowls and lamp shades, shoes, all sorts. We stopped at another old mosque (early 1500s) and took a few photos. The heavy leather 'doors' were pulled down across the entrance, so we couldn't see inside.
Then we went to look for the Turkish Baths (hammam), which were clearly signposted to start off with, but we couldn't find them. We bought delicious, cheap doner baguettes from a side stall and we munched on them while walking through the back alleys of Sultanahmet. Shoes are a massive thing here and we may have been better off getting some here instead of in Bangkok. We walked down the side of the Hagia Sofia and down through the castle gates where they have loads of Turkish bazaars selling everything from carpets to cheap curios which you hope nobody ever buys for you.
In the evening we sat and chatted to Salome and Hershy, which was really pleasant. Then we sat and watched a DVD in our room.
Today was quite a long one and not too successful. First of all we took the ferry across to Hyardapasa and walked a very long distance (via the train station) to the port. One interesting interlude was with a cobbler who temporarily mended Michael's sandal using ash from his cigarette and glue. It worked and he wouldn't take any money from us! The other lovely thing we got to see was the view of the Blue Mosque from across the water.
When we got to the port we discovered that our container was at a different port some distance away on the same side of the sea on which our pension is. We caught a ferry back and tried in vain to catch a taxi to Kumport, but nobody knew where it was. One chap told us to get in anyway, but we knew better than to let ourselves in for a scenic trip around Istanbul. Instead, we got a taxi to the shipping agents offices where we paid for the release documents and the terminal handling charges on the Turkish side (US$311 + US$420 deposit for demarrage). They couldn't give us the documents today because they did not have confirmation yet that our container has been unloaded, so we will have to go back again tomorrow.
We went up to the rooftop lounge to take in the views of the Marmara Sea. We spent the evening chatting to Salome and Hershy and we shared a dinner with them of kosher omelette, salads, fresh baguette and oranges. It was a wonderful evening as they are both so interesting to talk to. Hershy is a rabbi and Salome is originally from Iran. Salome also helped me with my Turkish, which may help tomorrow. We got to bed just before midnight.
Michael went to the shipping agents to collect the release documents while I went in search of drinks and food for our trip to the port. Then I sat and did some journal writing. By the time he got back and we had managed to locate the area of the port on a map it was after 13h00. We wandered down the little alley from our hotel and then just under a kilometre through the narrow streets down to the train station. It is incredible to see what a state of disrepair some of the homes are in. It must be freezing in the winter! (The two wooden houses in the picture below both have families in them).
We caught a train to Kucukcekmece and then three different buses (with a lot lot of to-ing and fro-ing in between), along with the help (some useful, some not) of locals. We took a taxi ride for the last stretch which cost 9 lira!
Then the fun began. We realised that very few people speak English at the port, in customs etc. and those that do have a very basic and small vocabulary. Nevertheless, with a lot of walking, smiling and questioning we managed to get the Carnet de Passages signed and stamped and the gate pass for when we drive Nyathi out. That entailed visiting four different offices (one twice) and one long walk and one courtesy port vehicle ride!
Then we were sent off with a young guy to get Nyathi out of the container. First we wandered about a bit (we think looking for the container) and then we went to a little 40 foot container office squeezed in among the towers of other containers, where we waited while some phone calls were made. We were served lovely sweet Turkish tea and everyone was very pleasant, if a little unsure of what came next. Then (with hand signals and a few words of English) they told us we still needed to pay more money. We showed them all our receipts to prove we need pay nothing else. They couldn't tell us what the fee was for or how much it should be. We weren't sure if they were after a quick buck, or if it was for real. It was already 19h00 and the sun was on its way down so we decided to call it a day and we told them we didn't want to keep them late. Besides without knowing exactly where our spare keys are, getting Nyathi out of the container may take a lot longer than we'd like.
Some of them left at the same time as us and walked up to the main gate. One guy said he would drive us to Sultanahmet (some 25km away), so we politely declined saying we would catch a us and train as it was cheaper. The trip back was quicker with just two buses and one train journey (for which we had to wait half an hour as we only just missed the previous one). We got back to the hotel after 21h00, exhausted but pleased with what we had achieved.
Salome cooked us French toast and eggs for breakfast to give us a good start to the day. The journey to the port was much simpler. One train, a short walk, one bus ride, a short walk and we were there. While walking the last stretch an off duty policeman stopped to check we were OK. There are a lot of genuinely nice people about!
We got security badges and walked directly down to the container office. None of the people we had dealt with yesterday were there and the story was still the same. We needed to pay a storage fee, Eventually they got an English guy, Robert Lander, on the phone who was very helpful. He told us to come to his office at Marport (about 1km away). Unfortunately he did not have good news for us and we still needed to pay an extra US$90 for storage fees and moving the container from dockside to the storage section! Nevertheless, he was extremely helpful and he and his colleagues got everything done for us in quickly.
Then we walked back to the container area and at last the ball was rolling. After some indecision (about what, we weren't sure) we convinced them to open the container. Nyathi was there, looking rather sad on her deflated tyres, but safe and sound. Thankfully we were able to gain access through the side door (for which I had keys) and then the hunt began for the spare ignition keys. Then I had to explain in Turkish that we had been burgled in Australia and the thief had taken our keys. We couldn't find them anywhere and I had slithered into the tightly shut tent area to feel around in all the compartments - rather claustrophobic.
Eventually they towed us out using one of the forklift trucks. Michael found the spare keys in the computer box in the side compartment so that was a big relief. The port workers were fantastic they pumped up all of Nyathi's tyres for us and were generally very helpful with lifting stuff for us. Of course we were served Turkish tea midway through which made it all rather civilised.
There was a customer in the port who spoke French so he and I had a long conversation and he acted as translator for all the questions from the port workers. At about 16h00 we drove away from the container and up to the main gate. Michael went to get some final stamps on the paperwork while I parked Nyathi and waited. Before we knew it, we were out on the main road - hurrah! One of the things we found incredible was that customs did not even come down to the container or even to the car at the main gate to check the registration number.
When we were past the policed area we stopped at the side of the road to get out our Europe map and put away all our SE Asia info. Some policemen drove past and stopped to check we were OK and asked to see our passports. We did very well at first with the route (none of our maps show sufficient detail) but we took a circuitous route through the suburbs to get onto the seaside road. We found a campsite and went to check it out. Certainly not beautiful and right under the international airport's flight path, but good enough for one night.
Then we drove back to Moonlight Pension where Sona was baking fresh Turkish bread (which we tasted hot out of the oven) and Salome and Hershy shared their dinner with us. It was lovely to sit with them for a while before saying goodbye.
We collected our baggage and loaded it into Nyathi, said our sad farewells and headed back toward the campsite. En route we spotted another site which looked much nicer, but it was €5 more expensive so we continued back to our original place.
We set up camp and did some minimal organisation, both went for nice hot showers and fell into bed.
I was up just after 07h00. The planes were incredibly noisy and our earplugs didn't do much to block out the din! We spent a very industrious morning unpacking our suitcases, rationalising space in the side compartments and tent to fit all our stuff! Storing all the things we bought in SE Asia was not easy.
We worked solidly until 12h30 when we both had cool showers and hit the road. We managed to find our way to the shipping agent's office without too much trouble. Driving in Cambodia was certainly good experience to prepare for Turkish drivers who are impatient and love their hooters. We got the 420 lira deposit back for the demarrage, but the agents said there was nothing that could be done about the additional storage fee. It is the same world over. Ports charge whatever fees they like and you are essentially at their mercy.
We found our way to the bridge over the sea easily and paid the 3 lira toll. The motorway was in good condition and we stopped at a rest area to buy some doner baguettes as we were so hungry. They were 4.5 lira each which was ridiculously expensive, but we ate them heartily anyway.
We stopped before 17h00 at another quiet rest area and everyone left us in peace. I stuck the new country names on the side of the vehicle and did some journal work while Michael loaded our new software onto the computer and synchronized everything. It got pretty cold in the evening and we ate my left over doner and crawled up into the tent where we watched a DVD.
We both slept so well last night. It was surprisingly quiet and it was great to be able to snuggle up in the cold weather. It is so wonderful to be back on the road, back in our bed and to have everything in its place in Nyathi! I made us hot oats porridge for breakfast and Michael loaded the pictures from the laptop onto the main computer so I could put them into the journal.
A local mechanic came to chat to us and wanted to see how our hot water system worked. He was very enthusiastic about Nyathi and a short while later brought us some tea. Michael showed him our photos on the computer and then we wandered around the ruins which were located just next to the rest area. We couldn't make out what they were, but they were labyrinth in design and must have housed about thirty people. There were old graves and a stone with what looked like Greek writing on it. An old shepherd woman was sitting sewing while she tended the sheep, which looked rather scruffy and grubby.
I drove the first part of the day. The scenery wasn't very pretty to begin with, but improved as we climbed up into the hills and it got more lush and green and the houses more countrified and less like concrete blocks. There was a very thick fog in one section while Michael was driving and we couldn't see beyond 30 metres.
We drove past Ankarra which was not a very impressive city at all and we can understand why Istanbul remains the commercial hub of Turkey. Once of the interesting things we saw were loads of tenement locks being built, despite the fact that the new ones already completed are all standing empty. Perhaps they are trying to entice people to live near the capital city? Either way, they are not beautiful even though many are painted in apricot and mauve colours and surrounded by children-friendly play areas.
Toz Golu salt lake was enormous, but not nearly as picturesque as the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. We stopped and walked onto the outer edge, but didn't venture much further than that.
We drove up a sand road into the valley in search of a suitable campsite and we were greeted by four giant dogs, one of which was wearing a large, iron-spiked collar. Despite their appearance they were timid and gulped down the chicken we tossed out the window. We could see their owner's large house up on the hill overlooking the gorge, so that curtailed our search for a quite spot there. We headed back toward the main road and pulled into a small quarry area where we were at least a little protected from the road. Unfortunately about an hour later someone tapped on the cab window. We asked if we could sleep there and they gesticulated that something would come and eat us - so that was a no! Perhaps that was why the shepherding dog had a big nasty collar? We drove a few kilometres along the main road and stopped at a Shell Garage for the night.
We spent part of the morning checking out Nyathi's noises. Firstly, we ascertained that the half shaft on the left front has broken and secondly, that the whining noise is most likely a worn gearbox input shaft (the same one we mistook as a turbo whine in California). Michael says the half shaft can wait until we get to Thessaloniki, where we will stopping to collect our new set of tyres from Firestone. We are hoping the gearbox shaft will last until we get home, or else we'll deal with it when it becomes critical.
En route to the Ihlara Gorge we stopped at the Selime Cathedral. It was our first taste of the bizarre Cappadocian landscape where there are fantastic carved rock formations scattered across the countryside.
A lot of the rocks and hillsides were carved out by early Christians to form churches and living quarters, many of which date back to Byzantine times. The various shrines and the big cathedral at Selime were very impressive. There were labyrinth-like paths leading in and out of various caves and the church itself still bore some of its faded glory with painted faces surrounded by halos and murals of huge feasts adorned the ceiling. We spent ages wandering along all the paths, through small door holes and generally having fun exploring.
Next we headed for Ihlara Gorge which was beautiful. The sheer sides dropped down to the valley floor where a crystal clear river was winding through, with tall green trees looming overhead. There were quite a few small children running about and some of the ran up to ask for bonbons. One little girl gave me a delicate little wildflower. The village was quite pretty and ran along either side of the gorge.
At Derinkuyu we visited an old underground town which the Christians had used mostly when under threat of invasion. It went 55m below ground and housed kitchens, a church, a school, sleeping areas and even a winery. They had large ventilation shafts and used an ingenious granite wheel to block the passages to keep out invaders. It was a little like a rabbit's warren with passages running all over the place, which were very low and caused your back to ache after a while.
As we drove along toward Goreme the landscape became slightly lunar owing to the odd shaped towers of rock and carved hillsides. We stopped in a small area called Zelve to take a closer look at the weirdly eroded countryside and then we took a sandy side road off to the right en route to Goreme.
It was a good move. None of the tour buses drove there as the road was narrow and bumpy, but it gave excellent views of the landscape.
We also managed to find a lovely secluded campsite down in one of the valleys in among some olive trees. Michael took the opportunity to change the oils and I made a huge potato salad. We both had hot baths, but the evening air was distinctly chilly and I couldn't stop shivering.
What a wonderful night's sleep. It was so quiet and we had taken out the extra sleeping bag and donned warm clothes, so neither of us got cold. The sun was out and warmed us nicely as long as we were out of the wind. Goreme village looked fantastic up against the blue sky. Sadly the bright blue sky got hazy very quickly and I missed my opportunity for the best snow covered mountain shot.
We spent the majority of the day driving. We drove close by Mount Erciyes (a winter ski destination) and it still had a very liberal covering of snow. Then we passed through greener countryside with meandering streams along the valleys. The scenery became drier and more desert like as we headed west and we climbed to almost 2000m and dropped back down to 1000m, before camping at around 1350m at the end of the day. Some of the canyons we drove through were stark and dramatic and a lot of the scenery reminded us of Morocco and Algeria.
Some of the other things we've noticed in the rural areas is that many of the men wear loose jodhpur-style trousers and that the social scene is very much dominated by men. People working in the fields often still use either manual or animal labour. Many people have their little old cars parked next to the fields, but I still find it so charming to see people astride their donkeys bobbing along with their legs shooting out sideways.
We slept well, despite our camp being near the road. Today turned out to be a maintenance day. We were driving through some beautiful valleys en route to Mount Nemrut when we spotted a good place to wash Nyathi in the river. She was in dire need to of a wash (inside and out) so we decided to stop as the weather was lovely and warm. The river water was cold, but we soon got used to it. We gave her a thorough wash, including as much of the underside as possible. Then we drove her out onto the river bank and I cleaned the cab and made it all look shiny and new with dashboard polish. Almost all the trucks and buses that drove past on the road above us hooted and waved.
Michael in the meanwhile decided to have a look under the bonnet to see if there was any evidence to support the shrieking noise which had now become worse. He discovered that the exhaust manifold had worked its way loose and blown the gasket. Removing the manifold is a horrible job, but it had to be done. I pretty much left him to it and sat and worked out a route for the remainder of our Europe trip. An added frustration arose when Michael replaced the last pair of inlet manifold bolts only to discover that the aluminium threads had stripped in the cylinder head. There is no easy way to fix this, short of helicoil inserts so the job will have to wait until later. We also had a visit from some military guys in a LandRover, who were being nosey more than anything else. They asked to see our passports and loitered and watched for a while. Then they left and about two hours later came down again when we were busy talking to one of the local farmers on his tractor. Everyone was friendly enough and we convinced them we'd be up and running before sunset, which we were. The great news was that the shrieking noise had stopped - hurrah!
We found a terrific campsite completely out of site from the road overlooking the valley and settled down to a relaxing evening with the sun setting in the mountains behind us.
Today we saw our most spectacular scenery so far in Turkey. The mountains were jagged and dramatic, jutting out from lush green valleys below. Then there were starker backgrounds where the ground was harsh and unforgiving and the mountains covered in loose scree.
We drove (almost to the summit) of Mount Nemrut up a long steep and winding road. We had to stop midway to let Nyathi's engine cool down a bit and we splashed the radiator with cool spring water which was bubbling up through the ground where we had parked. We went from 800m altitude up to 2000m in 15km. Large sections of the road were cobbled which made for a quaint , if bumpy ride.
We parked and walked the remaining kilometre up some steep, slippery steps. It started to rain a little and the wind was biting, but we were dressed for the weather, so it was OK. We could still see snow slowly melting on the protected mountain sides and there was some where we reached the top.
Mt Nemrut is famous for the massive sculpted stone statues which were apparently part of a personal memorial sanctuary sited there by an obscure Commagene king some 2000 years ago. The statues must have been mightily impressive before they were toppled by earthquakes. The setting is phenomenal with views right across the valley and mountain range.
We drove through smaller villages where the traditional way of life is very much the norm. The people are blessed with fresh spring water, but their homes are mostly made of stone and it must get incredibly cold in the harsh Turkish winters. We also saw school ending in the village and loads of the kids were shouting hello and waving!
We decided to go back to last night's campsite as it was en route anyway. We made an early camp and Michael busied himself downloading emails and doing some work for Firestone while I was industrious in the kitchen. First I made enough tuna mayo salad for two lunches and then I started on dinner. It was a lovely warm evening and to accompany our meal of spaghetti, chilli soya, shaved Turkish cheese and crusty bread we treated ourselves to the bottle of wine we received from Peg and Joe in California. It was a terrific evening, certainly enhanced by the beautiful setting.
It was already fairly warm when I woke up before 06h00, but I crawled back into bed for a while. By 07h30 it was hot and when we left the campsite it was 34°C. We had a good day's travelling. The closer we got to the coast the more lush and fertile the valleys became. There were hundreds of citrus orchards and the landscape was littered with large greenhouses. More and more men wore the Turkish jodhpur trousers.
We stopped in Adiyaman and bought some heater hosing to replace several rotten sections Michael had discovered. The local mechanic insisted on helping and soon we had an audience of half a dozen men watching and trying to have conversations with us in Turkish!
The Mediterranean Sea was spectacular. What is incredible is that there are still large stretches of undeveloped land which line the coast, which won't last long. A lot of the coastline is rocky mountains and pine forests. We stopped to take photos of some impressive ruins and a fortress on an island in the water.
We travelled parallel to the coast and then started climbing the mountains and heading inland. We found a perfect campsite in a pine forest. I sat and wrote lots of emails to friends and family, while Michael cleared disk space on the laptop. We had a tasty dinner of baguette and tuna mayo salad.
We had a great night's sleep and were rearing to go at 07h30. We had oranges for breakfast and washed the few plates from last night. The road was steep and winding and there wasn't very much passing space with the big trucks on the road. We hadn't been driving for too long when we started passing the most gorgeous pebble beaches with clear water gentle lapping on the shore. We couldn't resist and stopped to play for a bit. The rock pools had bright red anemones and the pebbles on the beach just begged to be skimmed. I left Michael trying to better his record and I wandered along and collected some beautiful pebbles with coloured lines and marbled surfaces. I am going to use them in my pot plants. Michael thinks it is absurd to be carrying extra weight in the form of rocks home, but they're coming home!
We alternated between stunning beachside driving and climbing through dramatic mountain scenery. We stopped to rescue a tortoise which was crossing the road. I dashed out, bare feet and moved it into the bushes, collecting a few thorns for my efforts, but it was worth it. Then we sped away before the trucks we had overtaken earlier caught up with us. Unfortunately, we were stopped by the police later in the morning as we had overtaken a truck (who had pulled over for us), but it was a solid white line. They weren't particularly friendly to start so we smiled and spoke our bit of Turkish and apologised and he told us to be careful and gave Michael back his International Driver's Permit. Phew!
Further on we saw a fantastic castle on the sea shore. We stopped to investigate and it was well worth the 2 lira each to get in. Mamure Castle was first built by the Romans in the 3rd century and subsequently occupied by the Byzantines. In 1221 the Seljuks took control and built a mosque within the castle walls.
It is by far the oldest castle we have ever visited and was remarkably well preserved. We had a terrific time climbing up the narrow stairs up to the top of the walls and looking around in what remains of the original 39 towers. The castle is protected by the sea on the one side and a large ditch on the other.
The ditch was filled with algae rich water and is home to hundreds of turtles which swim up to the surface to say hello and seek food when you approach. Of course we couldn't resist throwing them some bread! There were also loads of frogs croaking mournful songs.
When we got close to the town of Alanya we started to see loads of tourists, curio shops and tour buses and I think it will continue like that for the rest of the way to Antalya, Fethiye and beyond. The good thing is that the road improved vastly and for the most part was dual carriageway. After Antalya we headed north inland toward Denizli. Frustratingly, by the end of the day a new Nyathi noise had manifested itself, so we'll have to see if it gets better or worse...
We had a somewhat disappointing day today. Firstly, Nyathi's medley of noises continued, which worried both of us a bit. We drove to Pamukkale which is one of the key attractions in Turkey. It comprises a number of pools in chalky mountains into which water flows. There are also shops and some ruins, but in general we didn't find it very impressive. Certainly not enough to warrant the 16 lira fee to go in and wander around at closer quarters and have a dip in the water. Also, given the thousands of people we saw milling about (and probably swimming) we decided to spend a short while there and push on.
We stopped at a big fuel station and Michael checked the manifold gasket bolts. However, the noise continued. In Nazilli we stopped and Michael took the rocker cover off and found the rocker shaft had broken. It turns out the front retaining stud had stripped out of the aluminium head (just as the other two did in Sukhothai, Thailand). The one good thing is the ones he fixed in Thailand were fine! The friendly garage manager brought us each a glass of ice cold water as it was really hot. The resident mechanic also came over and 'helped' Michael a bit. They tightened everything up a bit and we were hoping the quick fix would last until Izmir about 160km further on.
A short while later the noise came back, so Izmir wasn't looking promising. Then Michael had a great idea - that we could take out the push rods and disconnect the fuel injector and run on 3 cylinders for a while. We spent a while getting greasy and "fixed' her to run on 3 cylinders. We were planning to go to Thessaloniki, where we could get the right parts sent out. Nyathi didn't sound great and she ran really roughly, but at least we made progress albeit at 60km/hour instead of our usual 80km. Besides, we can almost certainly claim to be the only 3 cylinder 6-wheel drive in the world!
We were lucky to find a great campsite in a disused quarry. We needed a bit of a run to make it up the steep dirt track, but it made a quiet, secluded spot, in an otherwise village upon village road.
I had a marathon cooking session making loads of potato salad and two night's worth of chilli chicken.
Today turned out to be a wonderful one! We sat in the sun and ate our oranges for breakfast and Michael played with the poppies. We had nice hot washes and then we headed for the town of Slecuk and the famous ruins of Ephesus. When we first arrived we had a run in with one of the rude shop owners who demanded 3 lira for parking. We just did not like his attitude and we resorted to leaving and finding a parking elsewhere. After much indecision we bought a guide booked and paid the 30 lira to visit the ruins. It was certainly worth it. The only downside was the vast number of tourists and this isn't even peak season.
The ruins are magnificent and the city was built on a vast scale. As we understand it building commenced in the first century BC. It is incredible to wander through the remains of what was clearly a spectacular city housing more than 250,000 people. The other thing we found quite amazing was the good condition of the ruins. Many of them are over 2,000 years old and the detail of the carving and masonry work is still very much in evidence.
We entered the ruins at the Odeon Amphitheatre and walked down Curetes Street. Grandeur was also placed underfoot as the street was paved in marble and many of the theatres, homes and public places had the most intricate mosaic patterns on the floors. It was quite unbelievable how beautiful they still looked.
In terms of beauty, intricate detail and outstanding masonry skills the Library of Celsus is the piece de resistance. It was built in the 2nd century AD by Caesar Julius in honour of his father. The facades are magnificent and we think the restoration work has been done very professionally. When we first stopped at the library it was thronging with people, lots of them crowding into the shade to escape the heat!
We walked down Marble Road to the Great Theatre. It is very impressive and in its heyday seated an audience of 25,000. Apparently the first two storeys of seats were built by Nero in the 1st century AD and a subsequent storey was built in the 2nd century. Just as we arrived at the theatre two diminutive Japanese women were singing some type of opera and the sound was incredible. We climbed to the top to get a better idea of how the sound carried, but they stopped singing with spontaneous applause from seated visitors. The Harbour Road which leads directly up to the theatre entrance is now overgrown with grass, but you can imagine how inspiring it must have been to walk up the road with the Great Theatre in your sights.
We spent a good three hours wandering in and out of all the ruins. As the heat of the day increased, the visitors diminished, which we liked! I had a brief rest on the "throne" in the public toilets. The seats were carved far too close to each other for comfort, but then I suppose communal toilet facilities strip you of shyness or concern for personal space! The sewage systems which ran through the city were apparently very extensive and sophisticated.
We drove through Izmir and kept a look out for a Land Rover garage, but couldn't see one. We stopped at the ferry port to find out if the ferry to Gallipoli still ran, but, in short, it doesn't. We decided to press on and it turned out to be a good thing. About 60km along the road we saw a light industrial estate so we went to see if there was a machining shop. As soon as we stopped lots of men came over to see how they could help. In the end we managed to get the rocker shaft welded and a helicoil fitted to the cylinder head to fix the stripped stud. Nyathi sounded so much better afterwards.
It was a great end to our day. As the last light was fading we managed to find a place to camp a short distance from the road next to an abandoned house. We thought some of the farmers in the distance may pay us a visit, but we were left alone for the night!
We the caught ferry from Canakkale across to the spit of Gallipoli. We met a very well spoken man called Ata, who spent ages chatting to Michael about Nyathi. We stopped at the information centre shortly after Eceabat. The exhibition was informative and portrayed in a balanced manner. The layout was a little confusing, but nevertheless it was very interesting. We spent stopped at the Anzac Museum, which did not seem nearly as professional and it had an open air sculpture of two fallen heroes, which has to be the worst attempt at sculpting we have ever seen.
We ate our lunch on the move (prepared on a lap tray). We stopped at Shrapnel Valley cemetery which was very beautifully presented. The graves were all neatly laid out, some in the shade of large evergreen trees. We also helped a tortoise overcome the obstacles of a newly built parking lots with high curbs and lots of rubble. We have seen a number of tortoises in the wild which is very encouraging.
We drove further along the coast to Anzac Cove, the disastrous landing area and battle zone where the Australian and New Zealand forces were defeated by the Turks. It is no surprise when you see the incredibly rough terrain and consider how difficult it must have been for the Anzac troops to gain any kind of foothold when bombarded by fire power from above. There was a fitting memorial which looked out over the bay. We saw a number of coaches of Turkish visitors wandering around the sites.
We battled to find a good campsite for the night, which was out of site. We tried a quarry, but it was incredibly muddy and with Nyathi slip-sliding about we decided it was a bad idea. Instead we asked a garage if we could park in the far corner of their grounds and they were most obliging. We even managed to have a hot wash before going to bed! We were "serenaded" by local radio played through the garage forecourt's intercom system.