Chilling on the Bosphorus

Istanbul (Turkey), 22.04.2013

The second week of travelling just started with a coffee overlooking the Bosphorus. From the terrace of our friend’s apartment (gracias Almu por la hospitalidad!) it is a breathtaking view from Beyoglu to the old town on the European side and Kadiköy on the Asian side. A morning coffee with such a view is something special and sweetens your day. For a fraction of a second I think about the monday mornings in my former company, the conference calls, the early flights, the friendly emails that made your day start the wrong way in the first minutes of your morning – but just for a fraction of a second, because the view here takes all the attention. It’s better this way.

DSC_0006This first week of travelling was all about getting away from know territory, crossing Europe. We drove fast through countries we mostly knew: Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria. On the road we had no problems travelling, everything went smooth. We were online on the road in half the countries, booked our hotels from the road. Motorways were mostly OK, frontiers if still existent were crossed with a smile an our IDs. Every country has a few strange moments, but in general if feels like one place. Europe. Bosnia is the one place that is a bit different, because of the scars of the war. It reminds you that before the EU invading and killing each other was a regular sport among European countries. It also makes nationalism look so ridiculous and narrow minded, so yesterday. On my way from France to Germany some weeks ago I had a similar thought. From the Marne to Verdun and the Ardennes the country is littered with cemeteries and memorials. So, love Europe guys! Peace, free travelling, getting together, prosperity. We’re all so close and similar to each other, much more then we might think in day to day life.

When we entered Turkey yesterday we had the first experience of how the “old world” of frontiers and differences was. We spent 1 hour to get out of Bulgaria and into Turkey, paperwork, seals, queuing, grim faces of officials who enjoy the power they have while controlling travellers. On the Bulgarian side we were lucky to have a German trainer of the frontier police helping the Bulgarian lady checking our documents. We could explain him our situation in a known language, he understood us and let us through. How will we handle these situation once the language and cultural barrier is there? Ahead of us many more frontiers are waiting for us that will make this one seem a joke probably. Once in Turkey you don’t actually feel any difference. We drove for 1 hour to get into the center of this metropolis, Istanbul. The urban area is huge, so are the motorways, traffic is tough, the city lights are fantastic. It’s the biggest city on our trip so far, the first milestone on our journey, the last stop in Europe before crossing into Asia. But it is also the last city we know from here to Bangkok. We know our way around, with the car through the city, but also through the alleys of Beyoglu to find a great Tantuni and Ayran dinner late on a sunday night. Since the first time I came here with my father many years ago I’ve been fascinated by Istanbul. We now have two days to relax, see the town again, sleep (driving every day is quite exhausting…), buy some equipment. But also to enjoy the last piece of known territory before the real adventure starts.DSC_0004 DSC_0005

From Sofia to Istanbul

Good morning Sofia.

We wake up in a nice, spacious hotel room with the charm of past decades… and a socialist touch to it. Due to a late night and a time change (+1h) we have missed breakfast time. No problem – the reception lady organized us a coffe & sadnwiches, a nice gesture.
It was the very first time for both of us in Sofia, but considering the fact that this will be the only city we will see again on our trip back from Vladivostok, we have reduced the sightseeing to the famous Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

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This is beautiful church, dedicated to the soldiers who left their lives in the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire.
I got inspired to light a candle, we took some pictures outside and than the tour continued, 435km towards Istanbul.

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At the beginning and the end of today’s trip we had a proper motorway which made the travelling faster, but in the middle the road got interesting…and all the way to Turkey we drove together with
many, many trucks.

At the Bulgarian-Turkish border we waited 1h – what a bliss.
As far as we could see that, the people on the bordeer were from Turkey, Serbia and Romania – and us.
When the guy on the Turkish side approached us for the car inspection, I wish you could have seen his face! And then the question: any bombs, weapons or drugs with you??? No, just camping stuff!
And off we went.
Right at the entry to the turkeish highway we were greeted by a shepherd with his herd of goats. Not only were there lots of them, but they also occupied the fast left lane…

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The turkish motorway was in great shape, 3 lines led us smoothly to Istanbul, where we will spend 2 days at friends place (thanks Almu!).

Such an interesting, fascinating city.
It is 4th time for me and for Boris to come back here, and we will certainly always be coming back.
The drivers got crazier the closer we got to Istanbul – the usual big city traffic. I was very happy we managed to getto the Taksim Square without geting really lost. And we managed to find our friends place without the gps. 😉 hey, i mean that surelly is something!
Finally, after we settled down we went for a food discovery – I wanted to show Boris a small, nice place whith a delicously fresh and tasty tantuni, that almu showed me 2 years ago. Mmmmh, we were thrilled.
Of course we had to add some baklava to it and then back home.

Tomorrow we will see more of this beautiful city.
Iyi geceler istanbul.