|Depart: Bulgarian/Turkish border
Arrive: Istanbul, Turkey
Overnight: Istanbul Hostel
- After a hearty breakfast of lamb stew in the same place we had dinner, we made the short journey to the Turkish border...where we remained for 4 hours! It appeared that the Turkish staff refused to work as there was a computer problem. This led to huge queues. Russ did a great job of bullying cars and pushing in the near the front though!
- After making though several checkpoints and filling in various forms and messing around with passports. We finally made it to the final checkpoint. As we were pulling up, a middle-aged guard came out smiling and said that there was a problem. Apparently we had been registered incorrectly as a truck and would need to go back and start again. Mak, who had been dealing with all the paperwork, was starting to get frustrated at this point. Luckily, she found a useful ally in our guard, who proceeded to commandeer random cars (including a police car!) as he saw fit to get Mak and himself to the various checkpoints. After much shouting in Turkish, gesticulation and several cups of tea later - we had finally got all the correct paperwork.
- The first thing I noticed, was that it was absolutely freezing in Turkey! Everyone was out with their coats, hats and gloves. I had always had this impression that Turkey was hot all year around but then remembered that it does snow in Istanbul occasionally.
- The roads in Turkey were great and we made it to Istanbul in no time. However, navigating Istanbul's busy streets is tough at anytime, nevermind in rush hour, in a right-hand drive truck! Although we were in spitting distance of the hostel, Russ decided that Mak should get in a taxi which we would follow to the hostel rather than going around in circles for hours. The tactic worked.
- We moved our stuff into our dorm rooms and went downstairs to have a few beers with the manager Dan, a Romanian who seemed to know everyone from Dragoman. I made a tactical blunder by moving the conversation onto Romania and its possible accession to the EU in 2007. The political debate got a bit too intense, and Russ and Mak discretely told me to ease off. In a diplomatic move, I changed the subject to football which quelled matters and even led to a hug at the end of the night!