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.
This 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.