24 Nov 2011

Heading Home

After a couple of we nights the sun came out again and has been quite hot in the daytime, unfortunately now that is all too short and once the sun goes down it gets colder and colder! We've had a few 2/3 day stops but now it is time to head home. We have abandoned the idea of going via the Croation coast and after a few days 4x4 in Bulgaria (staying in a farmhouse with a roaring fire!) we will head direct to Calais, crossing on the eve of the 7th. As we don't get the house back until after Christmas we have booked flights to Spain from 9th to 21st and then up to Chris's parents for Christmas and back to move the furniture back in from storage on the 30th.

We have not been slacking on the intrepid front though as we both went for a tandem paraglide, originally my 60th birthday present from Sarah, but Chris decided to come at the last minute (after negotiating a better price) and we both jumped right off the top of a 2000m mountain. Chris loved it and even did some acrobatics. It never occurred to me that there might be some similarity with a rollercoaster so the pilot had to take it very steadily down. That was my first and last I'm afraid, and the same goes for the parachute jump I always wanted to make, & I suppose space flight is out of the question too - I'll have to stick to the bike, and the cruise of coarse.



Chris being Intrepid

Ready for Take Off

Flying Like a Bird!

14 Nov 2011

Its Raining Again

Except for the last 3 day's sprint back across europe the long driving days are over and we are now taking a slow drive round the Turkish Coast to Bulgaria. It is raining today and cloudy yesterday but the 8 days before were in the mid 20's in the shade (mid to high 30's in the sun), blue skies and sunshine and we found a few nice beaches to camp on and a few old ruins to look at (and no I wasn't looking in the mirror!)

We hit the coast at Side, a town full of Roman ruins, some restored but a lot just sticking out of the ground all over the place. Chris particularly wanted to visit Side as she had camped here in 1976 on her way back overland from Singapore and wanted to see what it was like. Amazingly the beach she camped on is still pretty much the same as they have prevented building here due to the amount of ruins still not excavated.

After Side we gave Koray a call, he left Winslow a few weeks before we started our trip to come back to Turkey to open a Hotel and we said we would come and visit if we got to Turkey. Turns out it was Alanya and not Antalya as we thought, but they are quite close and Side is in the middle so no problem. We met Koray on the outskirts and he led us to the Hotel on his motor bike. We were expecting a small back street place, but turned out to be a 5 bed boutique hotel just beneath the Castle Walls with a fantastic view of the harbour and the bay and with a finish and attention to detail at least the equal of any 5 star property.

The evening before my 60th we camped at the Dragon Motel and camp site at Anamur (recomended) and met a Norwegian with a Russian wife staying at the Motel and toasted in my birthday with a bottle of Vodka and a glowing fire on the beach. Another protected beach but this time to preserve the beaches for the sea turtles to lay their eggs. It is not so much the building as the light as the mother turtle lays her eggs and goes back to sea, when the eggs hatch the babies follow the moon light on the sea and if there is any light on land they will go the wrong way. For this reason even the castle at the end of the beach cannot be lit up during the hatching season.

After Anamur we went back to the Centauera in Alanya for my Birthday, but just as well as it was high winds and rain by the time we arrived. According to the forecast we may get a little more rain tomorrow and the temperature is dropping even here, but should still be 18 to 20 and sunshine for the following 8 days, while we visit a few more sites including Ephesus and Troy and then up the Gallipoli Peninsular to Bulgaria.

The beach where Chris camped in 1976

Apollo Temple in Side

The Roman Amphetheatre at Aspendos

Koray' Hotel - Centauera

The garden at the Centaura overlooking the bay

the view of the bay from the garden

Koray with Chris at brakfast, Chris went traditional, but I

had sausage eggs, beans, tomatoes and onions - wonderful

On boat trip round the penincular (Alanya)

Views from the castle above the Centauera

The Ancient Shipyard, below the Centauera

I am invited to a wedding lunch whilst out on a bike ride! I was starving at the time and looking for somewhere to eat but stopped to see what the drum banging and flute blowing was about and was invited in - magic!

Anamorium - a 2000 year old City destroyed by an earthquake and in the main left just as it was and with very little restriction you can camber all over the ruins.

Mamure Castle, the other side of Anamure

3 Nov 2011

Famous for 10 minutes

After 430 miles across Turkey yesterday we are now 175 miles from the south coast. It is cold and wet here at 1000m but should hopefully be mid 20's and sunshine on the coast. We are back in the roof tent at last after 3 weeks in Hotels and hopefully now back in the tent for the next month or so. Camping at a truck stop, with a very nice (and very clean) little restaurant with Wifi!

After leaving Elista we headed down to Sochi and after 10 days of cold (we found out later that it was max 5 degrees for 5 days and -5 at night) we were amazed to see people in shorts and T shirts as we approached Sochi. Found a Hotel near the port and found it remarkably easy to book on the ship (except having to trawl round numerous cash machines to raise the funds to pay as they only accepted cash!

Sochi is a mess with all the building work going on and traffic is a nightmare, but the general oppinion appears to be that they will not be ready for the Winter Olympics!

Waiting for the boat we met up with a 4 car team of Chinise going overland from the middle of China to Poland via Turkey. Getting on the boat took ages and they insisted on us taking everything out of the vehicle and passing it through the xray machine. But the Chinese got it worse as they had the cars loaded on the boat when they decided they wanted to search again, had all the cars off, everything out and even removed one of the roof boxes after it had been emptied!!!

The sea was fortunately like a mill pond, even in the middle, and the bunk beds very comfortable so had a good nights sleep, despite the opressive heat in the room. As we had tea in the lounge one of the Chinese asked if they could interview us, turns out it is an joint expedition involving CCTV (Chinese TV) and a motoring magazine wanting to promote tourism. It is unheard of in China for people of our age to travel like us and they were facinated and promised we would be included in their 30 minute television program and featured in the magazine - fame at last. They also gave us one of the magazines and a really nice framed picture of the Monkey King.

After a long wait on the Turkish side we were through without hassle (except getting lost in the port on the way out) and off along the Turkish Black Sea Coast.

After 165 miles the sun was setting and after not seeing a camp site for miles we stopped and asked at a restaurant. They cleared a pile of wood and beckoned us into the garden, right by the sea, we pitched the tent, had a few beers, a delicious meal and the best bottle of wine since we left.

Next morning they invited us round to their home for breakfast and the discussion came round to ages, when they found out I would be 60 in 10 days the Mother and daughter disappeared and came back with a peice of chocolate cake with a candle on it singing happy birthday! They also gave us a bag of Trabzon (Turkish) Tea and a monster bag of hazel nuts picked from their trees.

We were tempted to stay another night, but the clouds were gathering so we decided to stick to the plan and head for the south.

Arriving at Sochi

The beach at Sochi

Sochi from the boat

A storm gathers over the Russian Black Sea coast as we leave

Interviewed by the Chinese on the boat

Arriving at Trabzon

The Cinese vehicles

The Chinese team

The view from our camp spot at the restaurant

Our hosts