Four Wheels Around - A Road Trip from the UK to South Africa

In February 2009 we are setting off on the trip of a lifetime from Brighton, E-Sussex, UK to South Africa. Furthermore, we are raising money for the British Red Cross along the way. This blog will cover our preparation until we leave and our adventures whilst we are on the road.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Turkey continued.....

Since we left Istanbul on Saturday it feels as though a lot has happened to us. We have had a couple of amazing experiences that seem a little bit unreal now and I am not at all sure I will be able to do them justice on this blog.

On Saturday we drove around 150 miles away from Istanbul towards Ankara. We had a bit of a nightmare trying to get out of Istanbul but really considering the size and magnitude of the city we fared reasonably well. We came off the motorway with a view to approaching a small town in the hope of finding somewhere that we could park Carol up for the night and stay in her. We have wild camped a few times but I have always felt a little nervous doing this incase we are causing offence or traspassing somewhere. We decided to adopt a new approach and try to get permission from someone, somewhere in a village and then we wouldn't have to worry about any trouble.

We followed signs to Golaka from the motorway. Mainly because I liked the sound of the name Golaka. It was a good enough reason for me as obviously the crap guidebook doesn't mention small places off the tourist trail. We asked in a couple of shops if there were anywhere that we could sleep for the night. Mainly through sign language and pointing, but it seemed noone could suggest anything. We parked up in Golaka and decided to have one last try. We wondered into a pharmacy and I approached one of the staff. He asked us to follow him and he took us next door to meet someone else. This gentleman asked us to follow him and we crossed another shop dwon to a furniture/kitchenware store. They motioned to us to sit and we perched rather cautiously on the edge of some rather nice sofas with 'For Sale' signs (In Turkish) plastered all over them. They brought us coffee and we all sat around, not saying too much for sometime whilst the Turkish men discussed amongst themselves where we could sleep. The main guy who helped us Mr Erdogan spoke very good German and so we, or rather Alex communicated via broken German and sign language amid the sleeping discussions. Mr Erdogan motione dto us to go with him and we followed his car around Golaka. We finally stopped in the forecourt of a town petrol station. Hmmm. It turned out Mr Erdogan owned this petrol station and we could camp up there for the night in the gardens next to the petrol station. He showed us the bathrooms which pleased me somewhat and also a small side room with internet and a television that we were more than welcome to watch and use.

We explored the town which was a lot bigger than we initially expected. We asked the Turkish guys advice as to where would be a good place for us to eat that evening. They wrote down a name of their friends place and requested we go. They insisted that the restaurant was the best in town and that they would put on a spread for us. They insisted it was their treat to us as we were their guests. The food was amazing and we tried to pay we really did but the restaurant were not having any of it. Back at the petrol station that we now affectionally called home we communicated via google translator and the phrasebook with the station attendent. Throughout the remainder of the evening Cay was brought to us throughout and in dribs and drabs friends of Mr Erdogan came to speak with us. One guy, Bayram spoke relatively good English. He showed us pictures of the surrounding area, waterfalls, mountains and lakes and offered to show us in the morning.

True to his word the next morning we visited the local sights. Bayram wanted to show us a traditional Turkish breakfast and again we were treated to another feast after a walk in the mountains. These people showed us such kindness and seemed to pleased to accomodate us. They refused any offer of payment but accepted a kilo of biscuits! We didn't leave Golaka until far later than planned so the next evening we didn't stop until much later. After the welcome that we recieved in Golaka we felt sure that on Sunday evening we would be back to our usual routine of being camped up close to the road, sneaking around incase we get spotted.

Sunday: As we neared Ankara the altitude rose dramatically. Poor Carol. It was getting colder and colder and infact we were in the middle of a snow storm for a while. We headed for a village in the mountains called Camlidere and psyched ourselves up to begin asking around for somewhere to camp up. We pulled up in the village and almost immediately we were surround but a few locals, one who banged on the window. We wound the window down and asked their advice. They spoke no English, or German. The main guy motioned for us to follow us whilst muttering 'Yemek Yemek' which I later worked out meant food/eat. We followed this guy feeling a little concerned that we were now being a little too trusting as he took us to his house in the middle of nowhere on top of the mountains. He introduced himself as Mehmet and we managed to deduce that he had a family. This reassured us somewhat. Eventually his family appeared. His wife Zubeyde, and children Emine and Hasan and Zubeydes parents.

They were not well off. They lived in a simple house with two main rooms. Mehmet worked as a watchman/guard and Zubeyde ran the house. Zubeyde prepared a fantastic meal which they insisted we share with them and she brought us cay, biscuits and fresh fruit for desert. Emine is ten. She is learning English at school. We spent the majority of the evening practicing English with Emine whilst she tried to teach me some Turkish. Unfortunately I do not have a natural aptitude with languages so I didn't pick it up too quickly! We played with balloons, which although a bit of a cliche, the family loved it. When it came to bed time the family offered us the use of the sofas to sleep. We refused but accepted the blankets from them! The next morning they insisted that we join them for breakfast.

Both experiences were not really comparable. Both groups of people were unbelivably kind and welcoming towards us and in both instances we were overwhelmed and moved but their treatment of us and we felt embaressed and humbled that we were not able to offer anything so kind back to them.

From Camlidere we set off towards Ankara. We decided to bypass Ankara as we couldn't face the thought of another mission into a busy and traffic laden city and so we powered on for another 200 miles to Goreme in Capadocia. Capadocia is a region in Southern Turkey characterised by an incredible landscape. The land is rocky and in ancient times, houses, stables and churches/mosques were cut into the rocks and many of them remain today around the region. The landscape looks slightly like what I imagine Mars would look like and it is incredibly beautiful. We are staying in a hotel overlooking Goreme valley in a cave room. We are a little suspicious that our fantastic, (if a little of the small side,) cave room may actually, not be as authentic as advertised and that it is a fake cave room but nevertheless it is cheap and the views are great so we wont complain too much. We have spent the day exploring the region, for once having our own vehicle has really paid off. Tomorrow we want to go walking in the valleys and see more rock buildings.

Photos to follow!

Katie and Alex


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