Sunday, 20 April 2014

Week one N 37.56.21 E 29.06.35

Pamukkale in a lovely hotel. We've had two nights in a hotel in Istanbul and four nights camping as we made our way south along the Agean sea and are now moving inland toward Goreme. Officially in Asia now, or as the say in Turkey, Anatolia.

There are 18 of us, including three crew, with one more joining along the way. The youngest is 19 and the oldest (not sure who as it is a secret) is older than we are. We have the least traveling experience. Two couples are using this trip to emigrate from the UK to Australia. One of the young men has a work visa for a year in Australia and another is heading toward home in New Zealand for First Christmas at home in ten years. The tallest reminds us of my brother, Tom, complete with mannerisms. There are also four older (than the young ones) men with a wealth of experience and stories. One says he is from the UK but has spent the last ten years as a farm manager in Tanzania. They also host the overland trucks at their camp site. And last but not least is a lady from Norfolk island with a wealth of travel experience and great wisdom. A group I'm looking forward to getting to know over the next six months.

Our crew includes Theresa, who's done this before and is mentoring the two new guys. Mikkel did this trip last year and I'm waiting patiently for him to find some interesting beastie to show the group. Nico has been overlanding in Africa for five years and is learning the details of this route as he will be leaving us in Kolkutta and bringing the Nepal to Istanbul group back. His music on the truck is spectacular. Learned about Kubus (South African heavy metal group) yesterday.

So far, Turkey has been heavily urban. The roads are paved and the drivers are a bit crazy with passing on blind corners. We take "wee" breaks at service stations where I am learning to not flush toilet paper but place it in the basket. Then check out the snack foods. Nescafe is a popular brand. As we travel, we've become aware of the calls to prayer- not all singers are created equal!

On the truck we all have our jobs. For the first section, til we cross the Caspian, I am "truck wallah", a glorious title I shall be sad to give up. It involves setting up the camp chairs, collecting money and tips for group activities and planning parties. Cal is the fire god - an easy job with his experience.

The camping was not fun with torrential downpours, but we soldiered through. We got puddles in the tent and condensation on the sleeping bags, but the gear did what it was supposed to do and kept us dry and warm.

Along the way, we toured the Galippoli peninsula - our Turkish guide was knowledgeable and interesting. Perhaps a few too many cemeteries. Then a quick rainy stop in Troy so I have a context to place all the artifacts we saw in Istanbul. Continuous civilization from 300,000 BC to Ottoman empire.

We missed Ephesus and spent the day checking the waterfront at Kusaidasi and hiking up to a hilltop monument. Oh, yes, and testing out Turkish ice-cream. It was pistachio (really common ground and sprinkled on deserts) and lemon.

Then on Easter Sunday we afternooned at Hieropolis. More cool old stuff, including an octagonal church from the 500s. Walking barefoot down the Travertine terraces ended the day. Ice cream tasted included banana, mocha and chocolate. Three little scoops piled on each other.

Lots of pictures are going to icloud, but here's a few that I remembered to snap with my phone.

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