Turkey has treated us well and we have fallen in love with this beautiful country. This is part one of our very own Turkish affair.
Istanbul, what a gem
Istanbul, we like you, we really do.
Andrew and Jeff from Khan On Aussie arrived in Istanbul a day before us and they suffered a massive traffic jam on their way in. Having been warned but with nothing we could do about it we made our way into Turkey’s busiest city and queen of chaotic traffic. After all, what could possibly go wrong with taking a right hand drive 6 metre long ambulance into the heart of one of the oldest cities in the world?
Nothing really. Lola dealt with the narrow streets and steep hills of Istanbul’s old town like a champion and in no time we were ready to explore this beautiful city, not before having a well deserved shower. When you couple some stunning buildings with lovely weather, tasty food and the most welcoming and cheerful people we have ever met then you know you are in the right place.
We finished the first night in Istanbul with a Mongolia Charity Rally gathering with teams Khan On Aussie, Quokkastan and YeYo-148. All four vehicles together had driven more than 8000 miles using different routes and it was inspiring to hear the different experiences and approaches we all have to tackle this rally. The elephant in the room that night? we could not wait to cross the impressive bridge over the Bosphorus and set foot in Asia!
After a day of chilling out with Jo and Jeroen (from Team YeYo-148) and taking in the beauty of this amazing place we were ready to head East towards Safranbolu and finally leave Europe behind closing the first chapter of our route.
Safranbolu and Amasra
The Old Town of Safranbolu preserves as many as 1008 registered historical artefacts and was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 1994. The problem with Safranbolu is precisely all that, it has so many beautiful things to offer that hundreds of tourists make their way to this small ancient town every day, especially at the end of Ramadan. It sounds like a cliche, but in this particular case, being so touristic takes away some of the magic.
With Amasra only 100 km North, we took Lola for a little ride towards the Black Sea once again. By the time we got going, the sun was coming down but it was still strong enough to cut through the tress that surround the stunning road leading to the coast. It was a one lane, windy and above all, incredibly fun stretch of good tarmac, mostly downhill that put Lola to test. A test which she passed with honours, even taking the luxury to pose for some pictures.
Speed limits in this part of the world seem to be more a recommendation than anything else and in a little over an hour we were presented with the beautiful town of Amasra. With a population of 6000 people, it changes into an overcrowded city of 25000 heads when the summer comes. And this time was no different. The traffic jams we avoided in Istanbul were waiting for us here, by the Black Sea coast!
We wanted a tranquil place where we could park Lola (and Smokey, the fire truck from Yeyo-148, who were joining us later on). The road leading out of the town centre and into the hills is the one connecting all the different settlements along the coast overlooking the sea. We decided to head that way hoping we could find a place on the side of the road, with a nice view if possible. And guess what? we found it. There were a few stalls selling food a few metres down the road and the family running the closest one to our spot came as soon as we parked to offer us some freshly made bread that was simply delicious! This really was a room with a view.
We head East towards Georgia with Team Yeyo-148 discovering more of what Turkey has to offer