Turkey – Mardin, 27 – 29 July 2018

Short ride from Sanliurfa to Mardin with temperatures hovering around the 44c mark hahaha, road works and traffic through the towns meant slow going. I stopped to fill up along the way and could not leave until I had answered a million questions using Google Translate and had a cup of tea inside with the guys. There is a significant military presence in this area with checkpoints entering and leaving towns and armoured cars stationed at various points inside the towns as well.

Filling up in Turkey is different to anywhere else I have been. All service stations are attended, you cannot fill up yourself. First the attendant notes your Plate number and enters it into a terminal at the pump, next he fills up the vehicle, next he prints off a receipt and hands it to you and you take it to the counter and pay with card or cash and get two receipts which you take back to the attendant and give him one receipt and you get to keep the other cash receipt and the petrol receipt hahaha. This is big brother at work, every time I fill up my location is recorded.

Mardin – an ancient city perched on a hillside with a commanding view of the plains. I came here to visit friends who were the perfect hosts and took me sightseeing over the weekend I spent there.

Deyrul Zafaran Monastery or Mor Hananyo Monastery

From the monastery we drove to the Syrian border, both sides of the border are inhabited by Kurds so its quite safe except when its not hahaha, there was conflict here a few years ago.

Next we drove to Midyat stopping along the way at a river picnic spot, very nice. After that we went to a pizzeria in the bush run by a group of Assyrians who have created their own little township here called Elbegendi. On the return journey we had to go through a checkpoint and I was asked a few questions about where I had been in Turkey etc, usually the police do not speak English.

Mardin Walkabout

Dara – an ancient city of Mesopotamia.

Diyarbakir – A stop at a viewpoint on the way to Diyarbakir saw us witness a couple of weddings, here for their photographs.

 

Posted in Turkey | 1 Comment

Turkey – Sanliurfa, 25 – 26 July 2018

Longer than usual ride from Goreme to Sanliurfa through the mountains so decided to hop on the freeway and see how the toll system works. Besides Istanbul this is the only other part of Turkey with a freeway. When I entered the freeway there was a gate I had to ride through, no indication at all just rode through slowly and kept going. Good 6 lane road, hardly any traffic except through the mountains where there were quite a few trucks travelling at walking pace with slow trucks overtaking even slower ones. This must be the only way they can get through the mountains. Then from cold temps to sea level and 37c hahaha. Went through 2 more Toll gates and at the first one an orange light came on and a siren sounded, kept going hahaha, next one I watched the car in front and he got a green light but when I went through I got an orange but no siren, on exiting the freeway same thing. It must be because bikes do not have a front number plate and they have to verify it later some other way.

The main reason for stopping at Sanliurfa was to visit Gobeklitepe, a site that has the oldest known temple dating back to 9000 BC, older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids, quite amazing. Sanliurfa is also home to Balikligol where Abraham turned fire into fish or something like that making it a holy place. People are very curious and I am constantly being asked where I am from and offered a glass of tea which turns into a Google translate exercise that last half an hour hahaha.

Balikligol.

Gobeklitepe – 30 min ride from Sanliurfa, 25 lira entry, a short movie produced by National Geographic and a few artefacts from the site, everything immaculately presented. You have to walk 700 meters uphill to the site from the gate, I started walking and got picked up by a shuttle bus when I was half way there but on the way down, even though there were two busses at the top, they were not moving and there were two more at the bottom, must have been the hourly tea break, hahaha.

 

 

Posted in Turkey | Leave a comment

Turkey – Goreme, 22 – 24 July 2018

Ankara to Goreme, once again 4 lane roads that got a bit rougher when I turned off the main highway to Goreme. The whole distance was above 1000 metres so fairly cool. There were some big salt lakes on the way.

Goreme is the town you stay in while visiting Cappadocia the area where there are many weird and wonderful natural rock formations. People have lived in caves in this region for thousands of years and there are a few underground cities as well which were used to escape persecution. But I think going up in a balloon before dawn was the highlight of my visit, a magical experience.

Goreme Open Air Museum – located not far out of the town is where there are a number of churches carved into the rock, the monks used to live here as well, interesting place with many steps, 30 lira entry.

Balloon Flight –  I booked this flight with Kapadokya Balloons for 150 Euro and I booked it through my hotel and paid cash. It was for a 12 person balloon which costs more. This is something you have to have on your bucket list.

I went for a ride around the area to look at the various rock formations. Some of them have names but I did not keep track hahaha.

 

Posted in Turkey | Leave a comment

Turkey – Ankara, 18 – 21 July 2018

The ride so far, 6,000 km.

Eskisehir to Ankara, another easy ride, rising in altitude from 788m to 938m the high plains, vast open areas with farms. Its also cooler around 30c instead of 40c. There was a police presence at the outskirts of Ankara with an armoured car.

Ankara – capital of Turkey, population 5 million, an ancient city that has been modernised, it has 2 metro lines, the only ones in Turkey. Good roads and impatient drivers hahaha.

Most of Turkey does not have freeways (toll roads) but there are some around Istanbul and Adana in the South East. In order to use the freeways you have to register your vehicle at the PTT or Post Office. The minimum cost is 50 lira, 20 for the registration and 30 lira credit, you will need to show your passport and your vehicle’s documents. I also gave the lady at the counter my Turkey Insurance document because it is in Turkish and made it easier for her to read and then enter the details into the system. You also get given a card which has your registration number on it, you will need it to add credit to your account. The tolls do not cost much except for the bridges in Istanbul which are expensive. I have not used any freeways as yet but got the card just in case, there is no expiry date. If you do happen to go through a toll plaza without enough credit, you have 7 days to add credit to your account, the fine is 10 times the toll and customs checks for violations when you leave the country. Apparently when you go through the toll gate it tells you how much toll you got charged and flashes if you do not have enough credit. The lady at the counter said that I do not have to display the Registration card anywhere because the system reads my number plate.

The next bit of useful information is about getting around Ankara. The Metro is convenient and there are machines at each station where you can buy a ticket but its best to get an Ankara Kart which can be used on the busses as well from the machine for 6 lira and add credit. A singe fare then costs 2.50 lira whereas if you buy a separate ticket it costs 4 lira.

Taxis are cheap and cost less than 4 euro for a 5 km journey, they always use the meter and do not try and rip you off.

Ataturk Mausoleum, the complex is called Anitkabir. He unified Turkey, changed to the Latin script, introduced Surnames and gave women equal rights among other things. He was 57 years old when he died of Cirrhosis of the liver. There is a shuttle bus from the gate to the Mausoleum otherwise its about a 1 km walk uphill.

Genclik Park – popular with the locals

Ankara Castle – Good views all round. Do not walk up like I did unless you want to end up a cripple. Take a taxi from Ulus metro station and it will cost about 3 euro. Even then once you enter the castle there are still many steps to go before you get to the top hahaha. “And Cafe”, yes that’s what its called at the top is a good place to stop for a rest with views of the city.

Ankara Aviation Museum – worth a visit if you are interested in aviation. The best part is outdoors where there is a collection of retired air force planes and a few MIG jets. Take the metro to the last station Batikent and then a taxi from there to the museum will cost you 3 euro. Getting back you just have to wait on the main road until a taxi comes along.

Republic Museum – the original Parliament Building, 5 lira entry.

Roman Baths – the biggest complex I have ever seen, 5 lira entry.