20/9 Truck-stop, Turkey
Lat N 41° 23,35', Long E 27° 33,06'
Today: 75.2 °F ( +24 °C)
20 Sep 2005
18613 km

All night the rain was poring down. We stopped to sleep at a truck-stop 150 kilometers from Istanbul. The first five kilometers that we drove towards Istanbul, we saw three cars in the ditch, probably caused by aquaplaning. They were all by the brand of BMW.

Loads of big mosques with pointing minarets, contributes to the foggy mysterious aura of Istanbul. We visited the most famous one the Blue Mosque , which lays right next to the also famous the Aya Sofya . The sound of the muezzins makes the town a very exotic place.

After that we took a walk in the Grand Bazar . It was nice to stroll among the 400 small shops , seeing beautiful mosaic lamps, loin cloth and a lot of other colorful, glittering and exotic stuff.

We took a quick meal before we went to scout for the planned boat trip on the Bosporus. We chosed to buy a return ticket for the commuter ferry for 0,5 $ per person, instead of taking the special boat for tourists that were 20 times the price – and we got to see exactly the same view anyway. In the evening we strolled around town. Lots of buildings are very nicely lit in the night.

21/9 Istanbul, Turkey
Lat N 40° 58,51', Long E 28° 51,27'
Today: 75.2 °F ( +24 °C)
21 Sep 2005
18757 km

When we realized that there were only cold water and only salt water showers we got really pissed. For 15 € a night we expect more – at least fresh water. After Bert got our camping card back he refused to pay, and told the male receptionist off. He explained that this was outrageous, threw 0,25 € at the desk and said this is all you are going to get. And then we left.

We went in to town to visit the palace of the sultans – Topikapi Palace . The guided tour in the sultan’s private harem building was the best part. The guide told us about the life in the palace, the black ”Eunuchs”, the odalisques of foreign origin, the treasures and the very bloody accession of a new sultan.

We had a Turkish coffee and lunch at a quiet place not far from Topikapi Palace, and summed up our impressions of Istanbul; a busy port with uncountable cargo-ships , great mosques with towers and pinnacles that gives the town a skyline of mystic, cats , cats and cats everywhere and a taste of the orient.

By crossing the bridge over the Bosporus , we have now left Europe for the next part of our journey – the Middle East. But before we go for Egypt we will meet a friend of ours in Icmeler, in the south west of Turkey.

22/9 Truck-stop, Turkey
Lat N 39° 42,67', Long E 30° 09,52'
Today: 77 °F ( +25 °C)
22 Sep 2005
19106 km

The petrol is 2 $ per liters in Turkey. Absolutely outrageous! No wonder that we did not get much in the tank for our normal amount of money, which we usually pay for petrol.

Today we also heard a strange sound driving the car. We discovered that the silencer was completely ruined. After only 30 minutes of driving there was a big area of car repair shops. As usual they are all in the same neighborhood. The problem was solved in less than an hour, and set us back 50$. While we where at it we decided to look for a repair shop that could help us to install spacers to solve the problem with the low rear. After 2,5 hour with an iron-bar and sledgehammer the spacers were in position, and the cost was only 45 $. Best of all, it was a great improvement of the car!

Bennie & Debbie sent an SMS telling us they were in Ankara applying for a visa to Iran. They are going there about a month before us. This means we can get valuable information about the status of things in Iran and Pakistan for our trip.

23/9 Truck-stop, Turkey
Lat N 37° 48,12', Long E 29° 12,08'
Today: 80.6 °F ( +27 °C)
23 Sep 2005
19409 km

The day started with a visit to the Bata Haydar Magarasi – a cave scooped out by spring water rich in lime and with a distinct smell of sulphurous. Far down in the cave the bats were hanging by their feet in clusters up under the roof. Cool!

After that we went to Pamukkale - the white mountainsides that you see in all the adverts for Turkey. You are not allowed to swim in the pools , only to go in with your feet but some went for a swim anyway as soon as the guards looked away. One could imagine that it would be rather wet and slippery to walk on, but on the contrary the lime is rough and gives a great foothold.

We drove the last 200 kilometers to Icmeler and stopped at a Pideci for a long, narrow and tasty Turkish pizza , with hot chili as a side dish.

At 7 PM we arrived in Icmeler, but Annika and her daughter Johanna was out already at the restaurant to celebrate the 60: th birthday of Annika’s mother. But they where exhausted from traveling for the past 24 hours and not having much sleep and decided to make it an early evening. We surprised them at the reception at their hotel.

24/9 Icmeler, Turkey
Lat N 36° 47,93', Long E 28° 13,33'
Today: 80.6 °F ( +27 °C)
24 Sep 2005
19730 km

We got a great spot for parking our car. Behind the banana trees, only five meters from the pool at Annika´s hotel. (Check out the red arrow). We got to borrow the shower and toilet in Annika´s room. Since the weather was nice we stayed at the all day.

In the evening we celebrated a rather late midsummer’s eve the Swedish way. Annika had brought snaps, herring, cheddar and thin flat unleavened bread. Super!

25/9 Icmeler, Turkey
Lat N 36° 47,93', Long E 28° 13,33'
Today: 80.6 °F ( +27 °C)
25 Sep 2005
19730 km

Half the day at the beach and half the day at the pool – and everyone is happy! We decided to check out what route we should take and what border crossings we should choose passing through Syria, Jordania and Egypt. It was also time to think about how, when and where to get the visas needed.

26/9 Icmeler, Turkey
Lat N 36° 47,93', Long E 28° 13,33'
Today: 77 °F ( +25 °C)
26 Sep 2005
19730 km

We got up real early, took a shower and had breakfast with Annika and Johanna before we said goodbye.

We are now going to spend a few days in the car. In five days we are going to cover 2500 kilometers and three supposable tricky border crossings to Syria, Jordania and Egypt. Today we managed to cover the first 500 kilometers along the south coast of Turkey, without to much of an effort.

In Turkey parts of the police force are made of card board…But unfortunately not all of them. Today we got stopped for not having stopped at a red light, but they just wanted to take a look at the driver’s license, after that they let us go. We have been having the luck on our side for a long time now, wonder when Murphy is going to point his finger at us…

27/9 Mellec, Turkey
Lat N 36° 02,67', Long E 32° 41,06'
Today: 84.2 °F ( +29 °C)
27 Sep 2005
20305 km

Except for covering the last 600 kilometers along the Turkish coast to the Syrian border, we took care of ”Ulla´s old jewel” today. The other day we got an e-mail from some people that we did not know in our home town Sundsvall. They had seen our car in an article in the local paper. Ulla was a previous owner of the car. Now Ulla and her work mates are following the adventures of “Ulla´s old jewel” around the world.

The SAAB has covered 220 000 kilometers in total, but it runs like a clock! Yesterday we passed the milestone of 20 000 kilometers since we left Sundsvall four months ago. We are really pleased with our car, especially after we got rid of the problem with the low rear. It is hard to believe that 3 centimeters can make such a difference – but it does!

At a petrol station we met Mr Haluk Öztan, a sales engineer for the Swedish company Sandvik in Istanbul. He warned us for the eastern parts of the border area between Syria and Turkey; it is not a safe area. We are heading for the border passage Antakaya – Halab instated.

8/11 Elazig, Turkey
Lat N 38° 37,01', Long E 39° 17,44'
Today: 41 °F ( +5 °C)
08 Nov 2005
25662 km

We started the day with a fuel fill up and a free car wash. It was needed after yesterdays continuous raining.

It turns cold very quickly. We climb higher and higher. The scenery is fantastic with mountains and snow. Our peek today was at 2400 meters alt.

We took a room at Otel Polat in Erzerum. When we got in the room Bert got a feeling of déjà vu. He searched for some old pictures from the motorcycle trip he and Bertil made three years ago and found that they actually stayed at the same hotel, in the same room and in the same bed as then. Amazing isn’t it?

We like the food here in Turkey. It is like home with rice and meatballs, chicken ragu, real bread and hard cheese. Exactly what we have been longing for.

9/11 Erzurum, Turkey
Lat N 39° 54,53', Long E 41° 16,45'
Today: 37.4 °F ( +3 °C)
09 Nov 2005
26001 km

Today we called the agent that we hired for help with visa applications to Iran. All the preparations were done and as soon as we paid we should get the code number to give the consulate here in Erzurum. To show that we are good girls and to improve our possibilities for good service Anneli and Catharina put on their scarves again. It didn’t help too much; the paperwork at the consulate was not ready so we have to wait until tomorrow.

It is really nice to have a warm and comfortable hotel, especially when it is dead cold outside. We had a bit of cozy relaxation with hot tub bath and Turkish TV. Not a single channel is in English and the all movies are dubbed.

11/11 Erzurum, Turkey
Lat N 39° 54,53', Long E 41° 16,45'
Today: 41 °F ( +5 °C)
11 Nov 2005
26001 km

Now we are heading for Iran. When we drove the 300 km to Dogubayazit we waited for the stone throwing inbreeded kids to start there so called war. Bert experienced them the last time he passed here. Stones big as fists were thrown at him while he drove by. Today we were lucky, they didn’t see us.

Next to most public toilets you also find room for prayers in these parts of the world. And sings like this you se all the time.

Close to Dogubayazit is Mount Ararat with an altitude of over 5 000 meters. Mount Ararat is the place where Noah's ark was supposed to have landed after the Flood. Several expeditions have tried to prove it through the years, but yet it is not established.

In Dogubayazit there was a mosque next to our hotel. We were pleased to get a room on the other side. to the beautiful sound we heard four times a day and one time every night at 4 AM. It is always very loud, and it is impossible not to hear it.

By the way, the electricity is not very reliable at all here in Dogubayazit. Electricity brakes down several times in every hour during the evening. We are well prepared for things like this though. We have candles and torches in the car.

Tomorrow it is time for the “penguin” outfit for Anneli and Catharina. It will be both interesting and exciting. By dressing this way we are hoping to blend in. We also have a higher plan with this experiment. We hope that it will give us a chance to experience things that are impossible if you are “touristicly” dressed.

12/11 Dogubayazit, Turkey
Lat N 39° 32,85', Long E 44° 04,82'
Today: 42.8 °F ( 6 °C)
12 Nov 2005
26321 km

Before we drove off to the border we needed to change money. In Iran cash is king. We heard that neither VISA nor Mastercard works in the ATM machines or in the banks and that our American Express travel cheques are useless.

All the banks were closed today so we went to the exchange office instead. Normally we try to avoid them because of the bad course. We need Rial and US dollar to manage the stay in Iran and Pakistan. Dollar is also often required for Visa applications and insurance for the car.

At the exchange office we got one bill with print only on one side. But the office assured us that it was okay. Later that night we got a lesson from the reception clerk in our hotel of how to discover if the money is false or not. He also recommended us to always change money on safe places like in a bank or at a hotel.

Before we left Turkey we put on our “penguin clothes”. The border crossing can be tricky and time wasting enough even without making someone angry by not wearing the proper outfit. Michal and Saskia, the Dutch couple did also cross the border at the same time as us. It went more smoothly than we ever could imagine, it took us only two hours.

We took a chance by bringing a few bottles of beer and whiskey that we had saved. We had also magazines and DVDs that they probably would have confiscated if they had found them. It is forbidden by law to bring pictures of women without scarves and with bare skin into Iran. This means that any magazine or DVD cover with a western woman (Paris Hilton, Nicole Kidman?) would be confiscated.

Right after the border we had to find gasoline for the car. The first two gas stations didn’t sell gas to foreigners. The third one was quite expensive = 11 cent/liter but at the fourth station we felt that we could afford it. We paid 8 cent/liter… Isn’t that unbelievable cheep!

Guess who we met at the hotel we decides to stay at in Tabriz? The Dutch people again.