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Mosque at Cirali
We had a wonderful time in Greece and it would have been easy to stay there and enjoy spring. However, the lure of another country and culture proved too much to resist, so we decided to drive to Turkey. Our road miles would have shortened considerably using ferries but we decided to drive through north east Greece. During our journey we saw several unfinished civil engineering projects including incomplete bridges, motorways, slip roads and junctions.
Can you imagine what it is like to come off a motorway straight onto a lane because no one finished making the exit road? Once away from the tourist areas we noticed a high level of poverty. Around Thessaloniki in the north of Greece we saw farm workers living in makeshift tents under a flyover and another community living in extremely tatty modular buildings. Many fuel stations had recently gone out of business.
The van hit a couple of huge potholes very hard and when we stopped for our first night's sleep on the journey we noticed that our fresh water was leaking from a pipe under the van. We saved what we could for drinks, washing and cooking. Mike had a look underneath and the offside engine cowl was missing, it seems that we had lost it after hitting one of those potholes. As it had fallen off it must have hit the freshwater pipe and punctured it. Mike's repair with sealant and tape has so far proved completely effective. When we arrived in Turkey we pulled over and Mike looked underneath to see if his handiwork was holding up. Within 5 minutes two drivers stopped to see if we were in trouble, one in a car and another in a bulldozer.
Our second night was spent on a dockside at a port called Lagos. We found a nice spot near the front, cooked and ate supper, then settled down to watch a film on TV. After about 5 minutes we were disturbed by a loud knock on the side of the van. The caller indicated that we needed to move as we were preventing a large fishing trawler from landing the catch. As we packed up we could see how busy the quiet quayside had become.
The roads in Turkey were in a better state of repair than those in Greece. It seems that the entire network of what we would class as 'A' roads are being upgraded to dual carriageway as we encountered roadworks for almost all of the journey. Driving out of Çanakkale we were clocked for speeding. Mike negotiated the fine down to 50 euros, but he noticed a polythene bag stuffed with notes on the seat next to the policeman. For the rest of our time we stuck religiously to the speed limits not wishing to swell the bank accounts of any more traffic cops. Rules of the road had seemed a bit of a joke in Greece.
Just after crossing the border we saw that a lorry parked at the side of the road had shed it's whole load of washing machines. Mike's thoughts were with the driver, "he'll be in trouble for not loading that correctly".
I wondered how a future owner would get on .
Our German friends Christian and Lena were staying in Cirali, on the south coast. Pressing on with day two of the long drive accross Turkey and wanting to surprise them we arrived at dusk and found a superb spot on the beach. We failed to notice until the following morning that we were on soft sand. A couple of attempts at driving out left us up to the front axles, so we were relieved when we saw a tractor on the lane running behind the beach. We waved and fortunately the driver turned round and came to our rescue. Once organised with the towing cable it took approximately 30 seconds to pull us out. Two days later he returned to make sure
Mike was ok and not stuck again as we were parked not too far away from the former spot.
Cirali is on the Lycian way, a coastal path around the anciant civilisation of Lycia. We did a short walk along
the path, but it was extremely hard going and we had to turn back after just half an hour. My progress was hampered because I stubbed my toe on a granite step a couple of weeks ago, thankfully the pain has now subsided and I am properly back on my feet again.
The Chimera are natural gas flames that have been alight since ancient times and are close to Cirali. We
could see one of the fires burning at night from our parking place on the beach. We visited them one evening, a journey using our bicycles for 2km and a difficult climb on an unlit path up the mountainside. Giant steps had been made using boulders, some of which had dislodged and looked like missing teeth when
we descended by torchlight.
We stayed in Cirali for about a week before continuing along the coast, stopping at Kas, then Fethiye and now,
Turunc. The weather has been dry most of the winter but unseasonably cold. We woke up to snow one day at the beginning of March and learnt from a newspaper that villagers nearby had been dancing in the streets that same morning, as they had never seen snow before. The temperatures appear to be improving now but at
the time my favourite human invention was the hot water bottle.
Fethiye is of a good size and has a Citroen dealership. We decided to get the engine cowl replaced that we lost in Greece. As we had to wait a couple of days for the part to arrive we decided to make enquiries into getting a larger LPG tank fitted. Not knowing where to start I emailed the Fethiye Times, the local newspaper. A member of the editorial team replied within a couple of hours. The next day we followed the advice given and had a brand new 35 litre gas tank fitted the next day.