26th July 2015:
We crossed into Turkey on Friday 24 July. We need to get to Istanbul airport by 1 August for Tom to head of back to Australia and for me to fly to Rome to meet up with Fiona and Tina. I have arranged pick our leased 308 Peugeot to allow us all to complete the tour.
The crossing was a little chaotic, but quick with no substantive checking of the cars. Tom and I, as passengers have an easy run through the passport check . Hassled a little by locals who are asking us to take cartons of cigarettes across the border.
At the last minute we realise Barry could do with photograph of his visa which is stored in my iPad. ( he had the number ) …so with seconds to spare before Barry and Pete cross the border into no mans land I race back with my iPhone and picture of his visa. It did help … As passport control for the driver and us as passengers was done at different place. This has never has never happened before.
So we are through and miles ahead of schedule so we set our selves a stretch target and head for Erzurum and make it. Find a hotel with some direction from locals.
The drive is spectacular rolling mountain ranges, the road winding its way through mountain passes … Very special and valleys rich in agriculture … Wheat and other intense horticulture crops closer to the towns and villages.
The highlight of our evening is Tom wandering off and locating a place to buy us a beer. It turns out to be a little challenge as we have been told that it’s a dry city …. But not completely as after a few twists and turns the locals direct him to bar and bottle shop … And reruns with beer or two for the team . It’s been a few days of only zero alcohol malt beverages so we enjoy a beer and head of for nice meal .
That is another point about Iran before I forget. … While we ate well, the menus are very limited. Mostafa had explained that the Iranian cuisine is very limited… Mainly different versions of Kabab, lovely rice and nice yogurt.
Back to Turkey … The two other major changes we experience in the first 24 hours is petrol prices. About AUD $2:50 a litre .. This means we are now paying about $80:00 for 2/3 of tank where in Iran it was costing about AUD $ 15.00 for about the same quantity. Apparently Turkey has the second highest fuel prices in the world.
The other difference is that in Iran … Almost every second car waved, beeped the horn to say hello. Or if your driving in traffic they ask … “Where are you from ?” .. “Can I help you?” Here in Turkey we have received much more modest level of interest. Clearly Turkey gets more visitors .
The other observation is that Turkey is clearly more affluent then Iran. This is evident in the roads, the cars, housing and the general appearance.
We have been moving fast … We are now 50 or so km west of Ankara a little town of Polatli. Found a good clean hotel and the wifi works in the lobby so … Can connect and load a story or two ( and check the bank account) .
…last nights we spent in Sivas … A nice town … famous for all sorts of reasons …but I think the most important is that Ataturk negotiated the creation of the Turkish Republic in this town in 1923.
And it has a great town square and very enjoyable evening street life. Stuff going on all over the place. Turkish culture is about the streets and drinking tea….and the bread is fantastic too. The selection of food is fare more diverse than Iran. We had a great meal and noisy night sleep … Street life and things happening all night long.
We are moving fast across this country …the roads are good and the scenery quite spectacular … Rural landscapes and big long hill climbs and descents . Unfortunately rubbish every where we stop … This issue has been part of our observation along the way. The need for a clean up the world is never more real.
Heading for the Mediterranean Coast and Gallipoli and avoiding Istanbul… We will see what unfolds over the next few days. .