Saturday, May 7, 2011

Week 5 - end of part 1

Mon. April 30 Istanbul to Bolu
Miles 165
Up early for a change & straight down to the Matas trading co. to pay our respects and thank the management for their hospitality. From there to the embassy to arrange to have mail forwarded to Tehran. Finally, at about 10.40. we drove onto the ferry & 10mins later we drove off at Scutari in Asia. Past the Florence Nightingale Hospital & the infamous barracks, and we were away on the road to Ankara.
Figure 1.50: Tony Stead, ferry to Scutari
Just outside Izmit the roof rack started to fall to bits so we had a longish stop to get it sorted out. We have a really pleasant camp-site for tonight-quite high up in the hills and away from the main road. Did an engine oil change on the land rover, also cleaned the air filter.
Weather - warm & cloudy.

Tues. May 1 Bolu to Ankara
Miles 207
Left early & after a pretty fast run got in to Ankara at about 2p.m.. Hung around until 3p.m.then went up to the Marconi office in Pan-American building. Renewed acquaintances with Bill Leonard, whom we had met previously in Kavalla. He introduced us to Reg Willard who invited us out to dinner with him. He also took us down to his hotel room and gave us the run of the bathroom. Just what we needed. After a good bathe & shave, we changed and drove around Ankara until 8. Back to the hotel to pick Reg up and then off to a restaurant for dinner.
Met another Englishman, Mick, who invited us back to his place for a nightcap. Drove out of town and camped for the night. Ankara is a very modern city compared to Istanbul. It is well laid out and relatively clean with spacious streets and underground arcades of shops, but it has none of the character of Istanbul. Did our 3000th mile today. During the night it poured with rain.
Weather - warm & wet.

Figure 1.51: Ankara

Wed. May 2 Ankara
Miles 75
A terrific day. Dereck & I set off up the local mountain (Elmadag), which dominates the Ankara skyline. Reached the top in about 2.5 hrs. Very impressive views and plenty of good scrambling on the way. There is an old ruin on the top, which looks to have been a mosque at some time. Made our way down slowly and arrived at camp at about 4p.m. Went into town to have dinner with Bill & Audrey Leonard, also a very charming English girl called Penny. After a first class meal we stayed around, talking & drinking until nearly 1a.m. I think Penny would have come with us if she had been asked.
Weather – mixed.

Part 2: Ankara to Quetta

Thurs. May 3 Ankara to Ulukizla
Miles 240
Spent a frustrating morning trying to get visas for Iraq & Syria. For Iraq, no-go and for Syria, too dear. We have decided to take the southern route through Turkey instead of the Black Sea coast on account of weather, roads etc.
Took Penny for her tin of baked beans, said our goodbyes to the Marconi crowd and pushed off on the road to Adana, & the Med. As soon as we left Ankara the scenery changed to wild semi-desert & has been the same since. Passed the peak of snow covered Hasan Dag and we are camped at the foot of the Taurus Mts through which we will pass tomorrow. They are well snowed up.
Met an American today, riding a big Triumph motorbike. He has come from San Francisco across the States, by sea to Tangier, Gibraltar, and London and then by our route across Europe, heading for Israel. He seems to be absolutely clueless about lots of things; he didn’t even have a map of Turkey. Stopped at a place called Aksaray this afternoon and we couldn’t even find a butcher shop Today’s run has been over some of the longest, straightest roads I have seen. We see lots of these dirty, big Anatolian sheepdogs now. We have also seen vultures, performing bears, and camels. We passed 2 lots of the latter today.
Weather - fine & warm turning to cold & wet

Fri. May 4 Ulukizla to Adana
Miles 162
A very interesting run. The first few miles across a dead flat plain on a dead straight road heading for the seemingly unbroken line of the Taurus Mts. Just as we reached the hills the road swung left in their shadow and entered a fantastic series of gorges which led through the mountains, down to the plain and to the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The gorges are known as the Cilician Gates. At the narrowest part, about a car width wide, is a stone tablet inscribed in Latin, commemorating the passage of the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius with his army. Saw quite a few nomads near the mouth of the gorges, complete with camels, goats, donkeys, and dogs. Drove through Tarsus, birthplace of St Paul, and on to Mersin to have a look at the sea. After a quick look we turned east again and headed for Adana. We can still see the snow-clad peaks of the Taurus.
Weather - warm & sunny

Figure 2.1: Cilician Gates
Figure 2.2: Cilician Gates

Sat. May 5 Adana to Urfa
Miles 233
Another interesting day’s run. From Adana up over mountain ranges followed by a long plain, and then a long climb onto the Anatolian Plateau and the town of Gaziantep.
From there the road was over the high, rolling plateau. Most of the villages on the plateau seem to be built of mud bricks. Surprisingly, all the land seems to be cultivated but we have been unable to find out what it is that they are growing.
The land now is very dry and we have trouble getting the water bags filled. Saw the results of several bad accidents during the last 2 days. An oil tanker on its nose at the bottom of a ravine, a minibus on its side across the road, and several other quite bad smashes. Turkish driving is just not good. The land rover is losing oil, we think from the gearbox from a “gone” oil seal on the clutch-operating sleeve. We will have to do something about that at the earliest opportunity. Did our 4000th mile today.
Weather - wet on the coast then dry as we moved inland

Figure 2.3: Anatolian Plain, Turkey

Sun. May 6 Urfa to Baykan
Miles 237
On the road by 8 a.m. and through the village of Urfa, then on to Diyarbakir. Just as we entered the town we hit a most monstrous pothole, & the roof rack fell to bits - again! Every time we hit a big bump we have to effect repairs to it with bits of wood, rope and even the heel of an old boot on one occasion. If it lasts as far as Tehran it will be doing well.

Figure 2.4: Diyabakir

All day we have been driving through rich, cultivated land. These people are so keen to use every scrap of land that they grow crops on the flat roofs of their houses. We even saw a donkey grazing on the roof of one today. The women make colourful figures in their national costumes, which they wear all the time and not just to please tourists. The headdresses seem to change every few miles.
The mean average height of Turkey is 3000ft above sea level. We are now travelling through the lesser-known parts of Turkey and a crowd is quick to gather when we stop. It is nice to be off the tourist track.
Weather - cloudy but warm

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