Here are my notes from my time in Turkey! They’re a bit varied but hopefully cover some of what I learnt while there.
Met a fellow Thorn owner, Richard, at the border with Greece (which I hopped through briefly to avoid a busier border crossing) and we hung out a bit in Erdine. First time seeing a fellow Thorn owner out and about that I can think of.
I got my first host to translate an introduction letter for me from English to Turkish as it’s one of the first countries I’ve visited with a large language barrier.
Mums tell children that “If you don’t finish your food it will cry.”
If you walk barefoot, as I like, apparently it leads to stomach issues.
Before getting married when the 2 families meet for the first time (officially at least, generally parents) the fiancée must make Turkish coffee for them all. The froth on top is very important and a signal of a good marriage. She should put salt in the coffee of her husband-to-be and if he drinks it without saying anything then it shows he will deal with the problems of marriage well.
I met a family on side of road who told me to stop. Everyone got out the car and we chatted with son translating. Gave me peanuts (apparently the go-to road-trip snack in Turkey), water and offered money. I suggested a photo instead but, after the photo, he gave me the money anyway.
Arrived at a petrol station after dark. Drank tea, coffee and chatted/showed pics until 9 and then asked about sleeping. Stayed in the prayer room. Good but woken at 7:30 by someone trying to pray and being surprised by my presence.
I didn’t get a SIM as Turkey is bizarre for phones (probably down to the joys of Erdogan). That meant visiting lots of petrol stations to find Wi-Fi. In one, I was sat around for a while at one when one guy started talking to me. Spoke some English and I showed him my intro. He bought me a coffee and a soup before we chatted for a bit more.
I also asked for the wife password at a donor shop. He told me the password and gave me tea to drink while using his Wi-Fi without any expectation of me buying a kebab.
Troy entrance 6 quid. Side entrance wide open. Should have been used. Not as impressive as I had hoped. Few parts where you can see anything of a real form.
Temple of Athena closed.
Camped in olive groves just off road five nights in a row.
Petrol station attendant offering bits of bread to everyone who walked by
Lunchtime looking for Wi-Fi, failed repeatedly. Stopped eventually to just ask for water and got invited to share lunch. Later found a hotel, they gave me their Wi-Fi password and as I sat outside using it they brought me a glass of tea.
I tried wild camping up a hill covered in olive trees. I was about to stop when I saw a motorbike. My initial reaction was to try to hide but instead turned light on and waved at him. He stopped. I Showed him my letter and he tried to communicate but I couldn’t understand beyond telling him that I had some bread. Got him to call Fatih (a host) who translated that I should put my tent up and Mustafa would be back in 30 min with some dinner for me. I started to look for where to put my tent up and another motorbike and a car turned up. I shook some hands and was given 2 loaves of bread. They drove off and I noticed that they’d dropped a hat so chased after the car. Even though I had my torch on my phone they didn’t stop and it took me overtaking them for them to do so (not a cheetah, just they were going slowly). When I gave it to them I started to walk back to the bike when my phone died and I panicked and started to envisage having to sleep outside in my shorts in the cold. Olive groves aren’t full of landmarks after the sun sets but I was fortunate and made my way back safely. The 30-minute dinner never turned up, I guess it was the bread.
Houses in Ottoman Mesopotamia didn’t have windows despite heat because of fear of Bedouin attack.
Asked to stay at BP – apologised but told me no because boss won’t let it. Fear of bombs.
Sat on the ground in Menemen drinking cream, a shout of hello from a window. 3 people offering me oranges. They drop 2 down and then invite me upstairs. Mehmet is the main guy, he speaks some English and some Portuguese. Given tea, water and a sandwich. Talk about trip and his thoughts on how dangerous the world is. Turned out to be local municipality office. At the end of work, they asked if I like meatballs. I said sure and so they called the restaurant across the street and ordered me dinner which they would pay for. Walked me there and said goodbyes.
Had dinner and after a guy who spoke some English arrived. We chatted and at the end asked where I would sleep. I said I didn’t know so they had a big chat. Their first solution was a one national park 25km away. As the sun had already gone down I said it was too far. They spoke again and came up with a second plan. The guy who spoke English and the owner of the restaurant jumped on a motorbike and said follow me. 1km later we were at the town park. Immediately on stopping, 3 kids ran over and started to speak. I thanked them but explained how being 6:30pm on a Friday night I would have 4-5 hours of random people trying to talk to me and then people would turn up with alcohol and its get even less fun and I’d not get any sleep. Their 3rd option was a park 10km away and they were willing to escort me there but I said it was OK, thanked them for the help and rode off knowing there’d be more olive trees and places to camp along the way.
5km along found a farm with 3 men inside. Got their attention and inside 5 minutes was being shown the caravan that I could sleep in and being invited to breakfast at 7am the next morning. Much better than the central park in a town of 100,000 people! The only issue, like the night in German Belgium, was the cows rattling along. That and maybe some caffeine from the afternoons bulletproof coffee experiment.
Instead of Asian style rock-scissors-paper, in Turkey people hit 2 boiled eggs together. The loser (the one with cracked egg) does dishes. It can also be done so the winner gets both eggs.
Still fine to smoke in bars. A shame.
Biggest travel screw-up so far. 5:55 flight but only got 2 hours sleep before getting up at 3:20 to take the bus to the airport. Got to the gate an hour before departure and found a seat to lay on and set my alarm for 5:30. Woke up and looked over to the gate and it seemed to not be open so I assumed in my dozy state that it was closed still. Laid down and after 10 minutes went over to the gate to see the gate was closing and then the 2 check-in staff were walking away. I asked and was told nope it was closed no chance of getting on as the gate was closed (even though still only 5:40).
Went to Turkish Airlines counter, asked about what I could do. The guy said it’d be 250 USDish for a new flight. I got on the Wi-Fi, loaded up Kiwi.com and found a flight for €81. Booked it and 30 seconds later realised it was for the 8th of Dec not 8th of Nov. Got in touch immediately and cancelled it but charged a €20 fee.
That snapped me out of my doze and found nothing great other than that 250usd. Went with a cheap but crap option instead. Was willing to spend a bit more but not that much. New option…
11am 60 min flight to Istanbul’s 2nd airport
21:10 flight to LHR from main Istanbul airport which is 5-6usd and 2.5 hours of public transport away from the 2nd one.
Erdoğan arrested 40000 people because of terrorism. A wonderfully empty word that can be used to excuse anything such as him concreting his power by suppressing others.
Turkish cars petrol cap is below, next to the exhaust. Petrol station attendants type something into a computer before filling, licence plate?
Sore knee on way to Pamukkale. Inspired some hitch-biking. Somehow had right shoulder pain since Bozyazı which isn’t great for riding.
Men in Mersin love parachute pants.