Istanbul had been a dream for a long time. Due to Covid19 we arrived there 1,5 years later than expected – but better late than never 🙂
We spent 5 days in this lively city. We had fabulous and pleasant weather. We loved to take the ferries crossing the Bosporus. Of course, we visited the majestic and gigantic Hagia Sofia and many impressive mosques. We walked through the big bazaar but did not like it very much – it felt very touristy and not at all authentic. We went up the Galata Tower and could spot our „EULE“ on the parking lot next to our hotel 🙂 we enjoyed a big traditional breakfast (including food coma) and experienced the busy suburb „Ortaköy“ where we watched all those people trying – for what felt like hours – to get the best Selfie shot in front of the mosque and the bridge over the Bosporus.
After loud and bustling Istanbul, we had some necessary rest days in the mountains south of Bursa. With high expectations we continued to Pamukkale. We ended up being pretty disappointed: on the internet you always see those beautiful photos with all the pools filled with water. Nobody tells you that these pictures are approximately 20 years old and that you can’t see Pamukkale like this anymore. Even the entrance ticket shows a picture which you cannot experience anymore :-/ this left a bitter taste. (Update: after reading our blog friends pointed out that they had seen some of the natural pools with water in 2019. We think it depends on your luck to which pool they divert water when you are there).
Afterwards we continued further south towards the Mediterranean Sea. The area around Dalyan was nice and calm, we visited a turtle sanctuary and had a refreshing dip in the sea.
The closer we got to Antalya the busier it got. Because of Covid less European Tourists came to Turkey in 2021 but they were replaced by Russian tourists. Either way it was definitely way too many people for us, so we left this region immediately and headed into the mountains where we spent some wonderful lonely, quiet days. Lake Beysehir and the Salt Lake „Tuz Gölü“ also were not very touristy and the local shepherds welcomed us with arms wide open.
Our next – and together with Istanbul our most important stop – was Cappadocia. Our expectations were once again very high but this time we were not disappointed! Cappadocia even exceeded our expectations. Every now and then we had to pinch ourselves that we were not dreaming…
We spend a lovely week there, met our first other overlanders in Turkey, admired the floating balloons right next to our very scenic overnight spot every morning and enjoyed some nice food in lovely company with Gerd 🙂 One morning we joined a balloon ride ourselves and it was a fantastic experience which we would not want to miss! We did several beautiful hikes through this exotic landscape and also visited one of the huge underground cities nearby.
When we continued, we spent two relaxing days in Soganli valley and more nice days in Aladaglar National Park with a beautiful hike in the mountains.
We continued driving for several days and finally we could say that we reached „East Turkey“! It’s such a big country and with our comfort speed of 70 km/h and a comfortable distance of 200km per day it felt like ages until we could see some progress on the map.
We enjoyed the city life and food in Gaziantep and Sanliurfa and in between we spent some days in nature. Near Rumkale we found a quiet overnight spot next to a river where we relaxed a bit and afterwards, we admired the holy mountain of Nemrut.
The further east you get in Turkey the more open and welcoming the people get. We were invited to tea and picknicks several times and the people have true and authentic interest in you.
Because of some very rainy days – our first rain in two months – we left Turkey unexpectedly quick and went to Kurdistan-Iraq. At that point we thought we will be back in Turkey soon but as it turned out later it will have to wait some more time until we will return to this beautiful country 😉
NOTES & ANECDOTES
after we entered Turkey from Bulgaria we measured a 14km long truck queue – all waiting to enter the European Union
Germans are very popular. Everybody has relatives in Germany.
for some reason we found the food rather unsalty.
the grass is always greener on the other side: on bad roads we very often have the feeling that the „wrong“ / other side of the road has the better quality
we finally put our car on a scale. Total weight: 2240 kg (including water, full fuel tank, two people)
so many roads are made with loose gravel (german: Rollsplit)
we loved the Turkish fast food “Çig Köfte” – a widely available vegan option (by coincidence)
many roads which we would consider as minor connection road between villages are redone and widened to a four-lane road
in many villages the main road is paved (deutsch: gepflastert)
on many roads they have a speed limit of 82 km/h
They regularly ignore red traffic lights and just keep going or even overtake on the right side and keep going
especially in Istanbul we saw many people who just had a nose operation or hair transplantation but still running around the city with a tourist map. Also there is a lot of advertisement for these businesses.
all cats and dogs we saw were really really big
we withdrew money for free at: Ziraat Bankasi
we spent 2 months in Turkey (so far)
Exchange rate: heavily declining. We always withdrew 2000 Turkish Lira (TL). In the beginning we had to pay 207 Euro for them. In the end just 180 Euro. That’s insane. And some weeks after we left Turkey the Turkish Lira declined even much further.
(29.08.2021: 1 Euro = 10TL; 28.10.2021: 1 Euro = 11,14TL)
we wild camped 50 nights, spent 7 nights in Hotels and 4 on campgrounds
diesel price was around 0,70€ (7TL)
we drove approximately 4000km in Turkey
we spent 13 Euro per person per day. We went to Restaurants a lot and also our time in Istanbul was a bit more expensive. If it wouldn’t have been for these two things then Turkey would have been really cheap for us. The daily costs do not include fixed costs like car insurance + taxes and travel health insurance.
SIM card: Turkcell. Excellent 4G coverage – we were really satisfied. To buy the SIM card is expensive: 290TL (29 Euro at that time) for 20GB. Recharging is much cheaper: 25GB for 100TL (10€ at that time).
we went to a mechanic just once
road condition: ranging from 5 to 9 (out of 10 points). Many 4 lane roads even in rural areas. As you have to pay toll on the motorway we never used it.
driving style / manners: respectful, friendly driving and mostly mild overtaking.