Thursday, 3 November 2011

87 Leaving Romania, through Bulgaria and into Turkey

Tuesday 1st November
We left Bucharest after a couple of false starts, mainly serious traffic accidents and headed down towards Bulgaria.  We had to get on a ferry to leave one and enter the other.  
The incoming ferry loaded similar to ours.

The roads looked like this too!

 There were two lorries and 3 cars in total on the ferry and needless to say we caused quite a bit of interest again, with Leon playing to the crowd.  There were no problems crossing the border and we were soon on the road, looking for our next destination.  Bulgaria is far more scenic and green compared to the other countries we have been in and the roads are all good surfaces. 
More of the Russian legacy.

Not sure if these are scare crows or non russian legacy or maybe they don't have recycling.

There are still a lot of horse and carts and there seems to be fewer stray dogs too.
Ray had plotted a course for the coast on the Black Sea, he just forgot to mention that it was an assault course for 4 by 4’s.  After much bumping and ruts and mud holes we came out of the woods to a glorious clearing and the beach.   We wild camped and set up a fire and enjoyed the freedom and so did Leon.  Although a touch cold we were happy to be back in the tent and drifted off to sleep with the sound of the waves gently lapping the shore.  At about 4.30am I woke up and found Ray was awake too. It was then we heard another vehicle approaching.  Ray looked out and saw it was another Land rover, and it just drove on the beach and then drove off.  I snuggled back down into my sleeping bag and a short while later I heard another vehicle coming. Ray again got out and as he did so, I could hear voices.  From my position it sounded like we were surrounded, and at that point in time, I didn’t know what to do for the best, so I stayed where I was and then I heard ”Hello” and Ray replied and then the sounds of many footsteps and car doors slamming and the vehicle drove off.  I called out to Ray and thought I’d better get a number plate number if I could in case he’d been whisked away but he came back up the ladder laughing.  Apparently only the driver had spoken to him, the others completely ignored him and Gromit and the only conclusion we could draw was that it was a military exercise, or the local hikers took their hikes very seriously. None the worse for the excitement we both dropped back to sleep. 

Wednesday 2nd November.
After one of the best night’s sleep in a while and the best tea and coffee we’ve had in ages, we waited for the sun to rise, but it was a little bit too cloudy, however it was lovely.  Leon had a run around, but stayed close, we hadn’t seen any, but there were dog tracks in the sand.
Leon sticking close

Rough camping and demanding cats.... how is a woman to cope?

We enjoyed the morning on the beach for a couple more hours and then headed back on the dirt track, a slightly different one and sure enough we came across a fenced off area for the military.  We continued on towards Turkey and passed through an area called Nesebar.  We popped into the town, as it was on the coast.  It was absolutely crammed with holiday apartments and hotels and everything advertised open 24 hours, from English bars, German bars, every food choice was catered for and it is obviously quite a busy season.  Everything was boarded up.  Nothing was open at all.  There was a small supermarket that looked after the locals, but that was it.  It was like being in a ghost town, tumble weed and a few stray cats and dogs.  Really weird. 

I think these speak for themselves, very sad.

As we left town, we could see that at some stage there was a lot of money being poured into the area, but now 5 storey hotels were abandoned in half finished states.  The whole place was actually very sad.   
At about 4.30pm we hit the Turkish border.  It was our first time in Turkey, but Gromit had been before, apparently on her way to South Africa last year (or so the woman at the first check point told us !)
After a lot of faffing about by quite surly and rude border civil servants we were on our way.  We were heading to a little place called Kirklareli.  We knew it had at least one hotel and unfortunately it was buried deep with the narrow streets all going one way – the wrong way.  We abandoned that plan which was a shame because it had looked like a really buzzing little place. We headed in the general direction of Istanbul and found a hotel on the outskirts of a town called Buyuk  Karistaran and on parking up were surrounded by Turkish gypsy kids offering to look after Gromit.  We weren’t sure how much of Gromit would be left by morning so we took off again.
In Turkey some of the motorways have tolls and we got onto one.  They were not manned, just all automatic, so with logic applied and having watched others go through we approached a booth to get a ticket that we believed was dispensed automatically.  No, I pressed everything, sang a song, did a little jig, waved at the various components, nothing.  By now we were causing a bit of a hold up, so we backed out and went for plan B.  This was park up, and wait till they kick you out. We were approached by a friendly Romanian who told us “just drive through“, which was plan C. I tried one more time and pressed a button for help, and stated English, to which I got some Turkish instructions  back  so in the end we went with plan C and drove straight through keeping an eye out for blue flashing lights. They never appeared which was fine, except when we came to a barrier at the other end of the motorway and we couldn’t get out.  Ray parked up and went to see if he could speak to someone in the control tower.  They also told us to reverse and go through the video controlled gateway which had no barrier, so we did and all sorts of alarms went off, but luckily he must have switched them straight back off and we were off again  We made it to a little place called Corlu and found the Grand Hotel Eren.  It could take us and Leon and as it was getting late we stayed.   I can tell you Grand it aint.  It was more like the YMCA but we were there.  Once settled we headed into town to get something to eat.  Again we got lost in a mass of one way streets and Ray pulled over to see if the GPS could help us out, unfortunately a man with a uniform and big gun came over and told us to move.  Another military base, you just don’t argue with them.  We eventually found somewhere safe to park and by now being absolutely knackered we went to the first Kebab place we could find, (5 yards from the back of Gromit) and inside after a few communication problems Ray told them just “go for it” and they did.  We had enough food to feed six people and we gave up in the end.  We returned to the hotel, grateful in the knowledge that we were still free people.
Thursday 3rd November.
I awoke at 5.30 am to Ray wide awake and saying can you hear that.  I listened and could hear nothing.  Apparently loud speakers had been transmitting “Allah”. I was then aware that in my dream I had fitted all the Allahing into it so I was actually aware of it, it was just that it was some woman on the telly in my dream. I can even remember thinking what an easy language to learn.  When it got light we looked out of the window and saw we were directly across from a mosque and it had tree loud speakers on the tower.  Moral of the story, get into town in daylight.  
Notice the three loud speakers

One of the local posse, I have never seen so many dead animals on the road, and I stopped looking out of the window because I didn't like hearing the sound of screaching brakes.

Today we are heading to Istanbul and hoping to spend a couple of days there. 
A very proud nation and Ray thinks the size of these flags could be seen by satelite

Our approach into the Metropolis

 We are a bit disappointed, it is raining, the first we have had in a while.Unfortunately it set the par for the day. The drive into Istanbul was straight forward enough. Following that bloody Garmin (GPS), we got completely lost and it took us down narrow back streets, one way streets, these all in themselves are do able, but add to the mix, turkish cabs, van drivers, horns, pedestrians and idiots and you might come close to the thick soup we were in.  Ray kept his cool, (that is until he found our horn, then everything was in play, and all options were open, not that I think we found one that hadn't been tried before). It was an additional bonus knowing our vehicle weighed more than most, so when put to the test they didn't want land rover badges imprinted on their sides.  Anyway I digress, which I had time to do because it took us 2 hours to get out of the European side of Istanbul and across the river into the Asian side.  We hit the bridge and OMG it is another toll. 
This was tame!

This was just before our next conviction!

Okay we can deal with this, get to the other side and I walked into the control centre and asked if anyone could speak English. Could I pay? Tell me please, I have a man on the edge and it's starting to get dark.  I had the most handsome guy behind the counter, but eye candy only eased the pain, but not the process. Turkey does not like western women acting strong, ( tut, get on with it I say).   Computor and Turkish Guy, he say NO.  Thankfully the guy after me spoke English and he translated, it turns out there was nothing we could do, they don't take cards, it would cost 50 euros for two and a half trips, no idea how that works, but there was no cash machine and even if there was it would be Turkish Lira. He then said, " you have English number plate, they do not charge you, go through no barrier gate"   Plan C again, off we went, bells ringing, alarms sounding. I had asked him about that too, the alarms, and he said, if the number plate is dirty the alarms go off, they go off all the time.  I don't mean to be suspicious but has everyone got a sense of humour,  are they  laughing at us, or is this actually correct?  We have read since that you can buy tickets at the bank, but again we don't know, so could you all start saving your change and get a save the two plus cat campaign going just in case. In our defense your Honour, we did try to pay.

Having escaped Dodge, we hunted for another hotel on the Asian side of town.  I could see my husband's blood boiling up,  and I really think there were a couple of Turkish drivers behind us who wished they'd hadn't blown their horns.  Some of them shrunk in stature when they saw he could lean out of his window and pull them up for a chat.  I don't know why I'm laughing about it, my credit card is maxed out from all the fines, only joking Mum.  Anyway we made it safely to a wonderful little hotel called the Anka in the Maltepe district.  They had no problems with us having Leon. Everyone else did. There is the most helpful manager who is practising his English on us and we are testing his Turkish.  We are spending the next 3 days here.

1 comment:

  1. lol sounds like your having a right mare on the roads lol And if you dont laugh Mum, you will only cry lol