1566-1568: Transit to Nice-Nis & Nasty-Nis

1566 cont.-:   Edirne

Friday 20th June 2020

Lunch after the Gallipoli tour was a pretty revolting doner kebab but it had to be done!  A few hours driving saw us in Edirne.  The main reason for coming here was that it is very close to the Bulgarian border, which we will cross tomorrow.   We met up with K and D at the famous mosque and eventually found somewhere to have a final glass of wine and something to eat in Turkey.  

It is a university town and close to the border, so we expected it to be quite Western … not!  Lots of places serving Cay (tea) but really hard to find a bar.  I asked in the Vodafone shop, thinking the staff there were quite young and would speak English … they had to phone a friend! Do they have Who Wants To Be A Millionaire here?  I got the name of the Patio bar, but imperfect directions.  We asked in a shop …. the next door show shop owner also owns the Patio Bar … really???!!  But we had a personal guide to its doors. 

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Karen and David elected to stay over night in the town centre, we elected to stay by the river as it was better walking for the dogs.  We slept pretty well as it had been a long day starting with the Gallipoli tour at 8.00.

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All, and I mean all, the streets had been dug up.  Piles of bricks and abandoned spades.  Quite why it was all a mess at the same time?

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The main attraction of Edirne is the Selimiye Mosque.  Built around 1570, it is considered to be Turkeys finest with a dome that it marginally larger than Istanbuls Aya Sofya mosque.   It had very clean lines and lots of light. 

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The marble sadirvan, ablution fountain.  Obviously not use enough as inside still smelt of stinky feet!


1567:  How Not to Tour Bulgaria

Saturday 21st June 

Turkey had imposed a countrywide curfew from 9.00 so students could get to their national examinations safely … although I presume they were all in big halls to sit the exams … would keeping people indoors make that much difference?  Consequently we set off at 8.06, slightly behind the scheduled departure of 8.00 as we had to clear up Corrie’s regurgitation of bones she’d snaffled the night before on her walk!

Although Danny and Lisa had crossed from Turkey to Bulgaria a few weeks before, we all had a slight sense of trepidation, so we met K and D at a petrol station and approached the border in convoy.  A complete lack of signage, so we led them down the bus / pedestrian route necessitating a convoy several hundred metre reverse!  Exit stamps for Turkey, only after the border control had made phone calls to confirm no penalty for overstaying our visas.  We had to sign a form to state that we agreed to 24 hrs to cross Bulgaria, and this is what we’d paid for on line motorway toll system … it even prescribes the route.

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Trucks stacked all over the place at both ends of Bulgaria  freight drivers must have to allow a day to cross the border alone.

We really only had a retina impression of Bulgaria … motorway across a wide valley and some ugly Communist housing blocks.  But our encounters with the people were a lot more encouraging … both at the coffee and lunch stop.  Fortunately both took Euros as we’d no Lev.  Welcome Break could really learn from the Bulgarians … we were given a huge choice of meat kebabs and it was freshly cooked; served with a huge munch crunchy salad … we shared a dish!  Super tasty and 19 Euro fed 4 of us!

The border to Serbia was similar … several stops and staff looking in the van, passports gaining new stamps.  At the moment Serbia is OPEN and we could stay 3 months … we won’t.  The plan is be tourist for up to 2 weeks, keeping an eye on the borders for the route home … likely to be transit through Croatia and Slovenia.

Our destination was Nis (pronounced Nish) sports grounds … lots of parking over the weekend, but it was chocker come Monday morning. We had a brief wander, mainly to find and ATM for cash and a Serbian Sim card.  The cash is going to take a lot of getting used to … Dinar 125 = £1.  There seems to be a huge number of 0’s on some of the notes and I’m back to counting them, like I used to count spots on playing cards as a child!  Should I confess that to David and Karen as I’m now the kitty holder!!!  Supper was close to the vans … a lot of restaurant choice.  Given our good lunch, we were guided by the lovely young English speaking waiter to select half portions.  He also helped with sorting out the Sim cards.  I wanted to adopt him, but Karen wanted to marry him … would that make me her mother in law!?!?

1568:  Nice-Nis and Nasty-Nis 

Sunday 22nd June 

I made use of the park by us, doing a couple of circuits for a run.  Corrie only did one circuit as she is now VERY nervous of other dogs, having had her bum nipped by Turkish canines.  J started, but stopped due to a calf pain.  And David is still off running due to shin splints.  That makes me the only runner … there’s a shock!

Over coffee we had a planning meeting … we pretty much want to see the main things and Serbia is not that large, so we will dip in and out of each other’s company.  We did a quick shop and then set off to be tourists.  With rain jackets  … it felt cold and rain threatened.  We are not used to this … please bring back the sunshine! 

Nis has a lot to offer and a good vibe.  Constantine (Constantinople) came from here, but little evidence remains.  The main sights can be visited in a day … and we did!  Fortress, Concentration Camp and Skull Tower.

The fortress is a large area of small museums and restaurants … CO2 had another run.  We continued up to the Concentration Camp … it was in the not so nice area of Nis … taking a short cut two big black dogs attempted to take their owners fence down in their attempt to attack us … resulting in the owner shouting at us to take our F…ing dogs away.  Nasty-Nis!

At the Concentration Camp, I chatted to a school teacher … his 14 yr olds were on a trip postponed from April.  He made the comment that this generation does not have relatives that remember the war and therefore it has little meaning for them. I didn’t like to draw his attention to the Serbian ethnic cleansing.  It has crossed our minds that anyone over about 45 here may well have been involved.

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The Red Cross Concentration Camp got its name from the nearby rail station … it was a German transit camp. 

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Every time a German was killed by the resistance, 100 prisoners or locals were slaughtered.  The penalty for a German being wounded was 50 deaths. 

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A monument a few km away was erected for the mass killings by the Germans.  Most of the people deported from here ended up either in gas chambers or dying from the conditions of forced labour.

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Researchers have used some documents and personal accounts to attempt to verify all the names of the people that passed through here.

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David ‘dragged’ us to the Irish bar … a light lunch … pumpkin soup with the Serbian yogurt, a little like clotted cream.  J’s paprika chips were so good, he needed help!


After lunch David and I had a swim … I wanted a shower without having to empty the store cupboard that is our on board shower.  Only £1.55 with an olympic sized pool.  Think it must’ve been built in the 80’s and not had any work done on it since,  The showers seemed to be communal, given the lack of signage and the chap that stayed in the shower block I was in.  No stripping off here then!  The changing cubicles had most panels bashed in, so a peeping Tom’s heaven … potentially, depending on who they were spying on!  Oh. and I was the ONLY female swimmer.  Had it not been for a mixed group of teens on the poolside, I would have thought it was a male only swim session.  And don’t get me started on the state of the ladies toilets!


The Skull Tower was visited early evening … the heavy rain had stopped and David brought a brolly … a sure talisman to keep the rain away.    The Tower of Skulls is another revered testament to Serbian grit.  An uprising against the Ottoman occupation 1809 resulted in 4000 Serbian deaths.  The Serbs managed to wipe out 10,000 Turks by blowing up an ammunition store.  Retribution was the decapitation of the Serbs …. their skulls were embedded in a tower left to instil fear and subservience in the Serbs.  Of the 952 skulls, only 58 skulls remain.  Some Serbs took a skull to bury as a symbol of their own lost family.  The chapel likes building was erected some years later to protect the Tower.

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The chapel likes building was erected some years later to protect the Tower.

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1566: Gallipoli

1566:   Gallipoli

Friday 19th June 202

Minibus, guide and drive arrived promptly at 8.00 Apparently we were the first tourists for the tour company since Covid and we were told the same thing when we stopped for Cay … a few Turkish day trippers only.  Normally this time of year is wall to wall tours … we saw a few other people at some of the monuments, but again we were very privileged to have them mostly to ourselves.

David’s Great Uncle had fought here, been wounded, gone onto fight in the European trenches, been wounded again … only to die from the Spanish Flu.  Consequently we concentrated on the Irish and British landing areas, down the South of the Gallipoli Peninsula.  We only had about 4.5 hours as we needed to get onto close to the Bulgarian border.  To be honest, with assimilating the information and dealing with the emotions, the time was enough.  I am sure we will return and spend time in the museums and at the Anzac fighting areas.

The Allies withdrew after 9 months leaving

  • More than half a million casualties, of which 130,000 were deaths
  • The British Empire lost 36,00, including 8,700 Australians and 2700 New Zealanders.
  • French casualties were 47,000, over half their number and 8,800 dead.
  • Half the 500,000 strong Ottoman forces became casualties, with almost 86,700 killed
  • There are 40 Allied and 20 Turkish War Cemeteries.


The map showed the landing beaches, some very narrow, the target villages and higher ground that was supposed to be captured.  It looked like a very small geographic area that was held by the Allies.  It was a shock exactly how small the area when we looked down over it from one of the hills.

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Turkish gun emplacements  either side of the Dardanelles …. the guns supplied by the Germans.  These and mines destroyed 6 Allies ships in March 1915 – the Turkish Canakkale Naval Victory.  The original plan had been to create a route up by Istanbul (Constantinople) to Russia, keeping Allied control of the waterway.  The land assault was Plan B.

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The Turks revere the Gallipoli Peninsula is a National Park as a symbol of national pride  whilst the Generals may have been German, it was Turkish soldiers who repelled the invaders.  At the time, Turkey was the “Sick Man of Europe.  At the outset of the war, Turkey was neutral, but Germany had freely supplied guns and equipment and Churchill had commandeered two battleships that Turkey had paid for (apparently!).  

This chap was a forester and during the sea campaign, he found the strength to lift up the shells when the lifting gear broke.  His statue is found in various places.


Pic taken from the target hill the Allies never managed to take.  The opening of the Dardanelles is surprisingly narrow.  The pic does not show how small the geographic area was that the Allies managed to secure in 9 months of combat  and it was a really small area.


At the Turkish monument.  All the memorials had been shut for much of 2014 to be cleaned for the Centenary celebrations in 2015.



A moving speech by Mustafa Kemal, then a Commander of a Regiment … the future Ataturk.


The Turkish memorial is visible for miles  14.5 metres tall.  From most angles you can see 3 legs, representing the Turkish common male name Mehmet, meaning the one who praises.




The Clyde steamer foundered on the rocks and small boats had to be used to create a bridge for the troops.  Hundreds were picked off by Turkish machine guns.


Allies Cenetary, with a lot of volunteer Irish.


Hellas Memorial:  honouring 20,000 British and Australians who were known to have died here, but have no known graves.



Lone Pine Cemetary with the most Austrian graves, where a 4 day battle left 7,000 dead.  


The small Salim Mutlu War Museum mostly contained shrapnel and shells, but this display case showed how dense the number of shells was on the ground.


A bit of light relief at the end  cats ever hopeful around the fish van.

1563-1565 : Terraces and Travesty

1563:   Pamukkale Cave

Tuesday 16th June 2020

A nod from the apartment cleaner that all was OK with the way we left the flat … it was probably cleaner than when we arrived!  We set off on the road … destination a cave with some travertine terraces inside.  

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A hideous landscape nearby as scarred by mining, but we’d read about the cave in ourbumble.com.  

The guide spoke some English and told us we couldn’t park overnight in the car park … Gov regulations.  He suggested a lake, but it was a good hour in the wrong direction.  And true Turkish hospitality offered us a stay on his small village so we could drink tea with his family … numerous sisters and offspring.   As it was still very hot and we couldn’t leave the dogs in the van, he kindly turned a blind eye and let them into the caves.

The air smelt faintly of bad eggs and the tortoise swimming in the water had coats and fringes of algae.  Given Covid, the pools that visitor would normally be able to swim in had been drained.  Not huge in size but huge in wow factor.  Despite the walkway, it hadn’t been tampered with too much.


The entrance was a circular hole in the ground. 


Water gushing, still shaping the caves.  Feet were wet and we also had to run the gauntlet of a curtain of water.


Just stunning calcite formations.




Pamukkale is Turkish for cotton, and you can see why the calcite rock is given this name.



The start of mini travertine terraces.






We tiredly set off for the ancient mega city of Laodice with the hope of being able to park overnight there … no chance … a barrier with security staff.  So we headed up the road to Pamukkale.  David and Karen, ahead of us had programmed in a parking, but were flagged down in Pamukkale town … you must stay in our OtoPark … great views, pool, electric etc.  No too expensive … so we negotiated a discount. I think we may have been the first post Covid customers.  We certainly had the field to ourselves – great for CO2 to be able to wander around off lead.  Despite the choice of where to park up, I managed to park under a Mulberry tree … it took some effort to get the sticky sugary fruit off the soles of our shoes and necessitated a floor clean!  We moved the van!

A wander around the dead tourist (town) facility and back to the restaurant attached to the Otopark for a glass …

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Says it all really!

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Turkish H&S!

1564:   Mixed Emotions at Pamukkale

 Wednesday 17th June 

I visited Pamukkale with friends when we back packed in Turkey about 35 years ago.  We bathed in the terraces with water flowing over them  It was crowded.  Visitors were supposed to walk barefoot … but I remember being shocked at how many had shoes, especially military with their hob nailed boots.  The impact of this lack of care of nature was truly evident here.  Water was largely diverted in man dug trenches to flow over parts of the man made terraces where the public could bathe.  There was much less water flowing as it is, as local industry and farming has harnessed it.  Concrete large terraces / pools have been constructed on the slope up from one of the entrances.  It is staggeringly evident how the walls of the pools have been destroyed and lost their definition … in some places the concrete used to rebuild them was clearly identifiable.  Shocking abuse of the beauty of nature.

And yet … it really still is stunning.  So fortunate not to have coach loads of tourists.  A huge expanse of white.  Blinding in the sun even with sun glasses.  Hard to actually see what I was photographing in the view finder.  I had completely forgotten how vast the cotton castle is.  From below it just looks like a mass of white rock.  From up top, you can see terrace after terrace.  The ancient site of Hireapolis is at the top, with a museum contains some quality relics from here and Laodice.

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Nothing so wonderful as the beauty of nature  


D & K wading up through one of the concrete pools.


Another travesty … this pool at the bottom had pedaloes.



You could hear the water gushing through channels under the boardwalk.


So much definition of the pools lost in places.

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Sarcophagi in the museum.


We had intended to visit Laodice in the afternoon … but over the night, we had both started to think about leaving Turkey via Bulgaria.  The number of Covid cases in Turkey is on the rise and could result in a further lockdown.  The Greek border may not open on the 1st July … there would be a meeting to review it on 30th June.  The UK Consulate confirmed that we had to leave Turkey by 11th July.  Danny and Lisa had made it through Bulgaria and into Serbia.  It seemed like time to leave.  Then David took a call from the Greek consul in Izmir … he confirmed that the Greek border opening to Turkey was looking unlikely and given the infection increases, it would be sensible to leave soon.  So we did!

We drove all afternoon to Ayvalik, within a few hours drive of Canakkale, where we could catch a ferry to European Turkey., thus avoided the long drive around by Istanbul

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Ayvalik: A pretty town.

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We found some interesting small streets with lots of quality craft shops.  Including a wool shop, where I bought balls of cotton and sock wool for about £2 each … better finish the jumper I started this trip!

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Whilst not our last night in Turkey, we believed it would be the last opportunity to sample good quality Turkish fare.  Surprisingly hard to find a restaurant that didn’t just offer kebabs … but we did.  Mixed mezze, and then I had one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.  

1565:   Canakkale Crossing

Thursday 18th June 

A leisurely start … today was all about getting as far as Galipolli … we’d agreed that we would visit this before we left Turkey.  The ferries seemed to run very frequently and we we were sandwiched between coaches.  Under £10 for the crossing.  

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And that is our first sight of geographical Europe geographical since the 12th March.

We overnighted at one end of Ecebat, by the Boomerang Bar, which hadn’t opened yet due to the lack of tourists.  J and I wandered the town in search of an ice cream.  En route we had to pass a street market … and I managed to stock up on harem pants … the ones with the low gusset where you can store your jam sandwich … Paddington Bear style.

David had organised a private tour for us on the morrow morning, starting at 8.00 a.m., so a quiet night … other than the usual barking dogs!  And not just ours!

1562-1562: Living the Ex-Pat Life

1562:  A Special Day

Friday 12th June 2010

The Bodrum Peninsula has a number of posh resorts around pretty bays.  The guide book indicated a driving route.  

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First stop was Golturkbuku, described as the resort of politicians and famous and there were certainly some stunning villas on the way down.  Apparently it is de rigeur to wear stilettos and diamond encrusted sunglasses to the beach!  That’s Karen and I out!

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We asked for 3 glasses of wine, but when the bottle arrived we did not refuse.  It rather set the tone for our next stop.

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Gumusluk a narrow beach but so many fish restaurants to choose from. Karens must-have-accessory is a water pistol  she has become an expert shot at keeping wild/street canines away from CO2.  She can now get them straight between the eyes!

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Our choice had only opened today so our shared mezze plate was super fresh.  A lovely veranda with a view to Rabbit Island.

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Mum is usually my food soul mate, so pleased Karen is fishy (!) too.

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Baclava, banana with honey and walnuts and fruit.

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wouldn’t normally post pix of coffee  but the petals were so pretty.  Complimentary mint liqueur … sorry David … It was your driving day!

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Corrie in her lunchtime nest – she dug a hole!

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Gumusluk is a very pretty harbour with islands dotted in the bay.

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1563:   Disco Inferno!

Saturday 13th June 

A fairly easy day with local shopping.  I shouldn’t be so surprised how much wine we are tucking away as seemingly most of the EU population is doing the same.  We have now emptied the booze shop’s shelves of one particular label … Diamond white (not the cider!).  I got my Tax Return info off to the accountant … yippee.  And I’m hoping that the Tax Man will owe me!!!

We met Phil and Sandy (friends of David’s who organised the apartment) at our local bar and then they came back to the apartment for supper.  And they bore gifts … Phil had managed to buy Fish Sauce and BACON!!!  We carried on partying long after they had left!  Disco Inferno!  Hope the neighbours don’t complain … again!  And no wonder my knees ached the next day … can’t remember the last time we had a good bop.

1564:   A Slow Day!

Sunday 14th June

Funnily enough it was a slow start day!  Once we surfaced, J and I had breakfast at the local bar.  Karen, J and I drove down to Guvercinlik, which had been recommended to us as a nice place to promenade and have a drink.  It was.  Although I abstained and guzzled water in an attempt to re-hydrate.  Corrie had rolled in something revolting and the waiter brought out a load of wet wipes and sanitiser … it made her just OK for getting back into the car … shower back home!  

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We had seen windmills on the Bodrum peninsula and we stopped at this small road side seller.  The lady seller told us that they were TL60, then 55.  When I handed over the money, she gave me a further TL25 change … Not sure what was going on there as we are conscious how little these people have, given the business closures and lack of tourists.

We are gradually putting ur ‘stuff’ back in our vans as we will leave the apartment on Tuesday morning.  According to the Greek Consul in Izmir and moneysupermarket.com’s Covid pages, the Greek Turkish border will open on the 15th.  The BBC, however, says that its will not open till 1st July.  We hope the BBC is wrong!

1565:   Sorting Day and a Huge Disappointment

Monday 15th June

Disappointment and a low mood … Greece has opened their border to all countries EXCEPT UK and Turkey.  Looks like it should open on 1st July.  Confirmation that visa’s (ours expired on 10.06) are extended until a month after commercial flights open.  A decision to make … so we’ll become tourists until the end of the month and then go to Greece.  Reckon we even have time to go to Crete!

J cleaned out the tell tale dog hairs from the hire car and David returned it … we had not added to the scratches or dents!  We just about fully loaded out stuff back into the van and put the apartment back to how we sort of remembered it!  Last minute laundry too.  

Mid afternoon we met Phil and Sandy at a bar and watched their dog Lou fishing!  She paddles patiently and scoops up fish … swallowed whole!  Back to Phil and Sandy’s for supper.  Asian theme … lamb ribs and lettuce wrapped stir fry chicken.  All with a fab view off their deck over the bay.  Not late to bed …. vacating the apartment tomorrow.  It’s been fun lunching and spending time in bars around the Bodrum peninsula … but itching to get on the road and do what we do best … travelling and exploring.



1555-1561: Gallivanting Around Gulluck

1555-1557:   Gulluk

Friday 5th – Sunday 7th June 2020

We predominently settled ourselves into the apartment and discovered a few bars.    We’ve found a good ice cream parlour in the centre.  And the cheapest place to buy wine!  A few walks along the coast.  It is pretty hot, so any running is getting earlier and earlier.  

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Our favourite is the V Bar, which happens to be just at the end of our road!  They do a reasonable Marguerita … say no more!

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Danny and Lisa, who we first met wild camping on a beach near Ephasus and then saw a fair bit of when we were on the lockdown campsite, caught us up as they move more slowly around the coast.  They stopped over on the apartment sofas, after a few drinks out and then a takeaway meal in.  Really good to see them, and we know we will see them again, either here in Turkey or back in the UK.

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The complex pool.  Karen and I had a dip and had a welcoming committee … wanted to know where we are from and where did we quarantine.  All this in German, but the chap brought along a grand daughter with school English in case neither of us spoke German.  I think they were reassured, but the people in the neighbouring flat have been complaining … can understand with UK infection rates, why people are concerned.   

1558:   Bafas Lake

Monday 8th June 2010

We booked a hire car for one week … good that it allows 3 of us to drive it at no extra cost.  We had a choice of a diesel or petrol, but chose the slightly cheaper petrol on the basis that it had more scratches and dents and we would be putting CO2 into it.  Needless to say, the dogs stayed behind when we went to the office to do the transaction!

Picked up the car and then collected Karen and CO2 … destination Bafa Lake.  Interesting as it is 70km2, so big.  And it is both saltwater (as salty as the Dead Sea) and fresh water.  Fish have to be able to live in both.

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  Car hire for a week.  A saloon, so Oscar is in the front foot well and Corrie spread out between two of us on the back seat!


Bafa Lake.


Lots of ancient remains of Herakleia scattered around a rural village.


Great lumps of rock.


Little Black from the village joined us on our walk  camouflaged in the mud!


Gilt head bream, one of my favourites  might have been out of the freezer given the lack of visitors to the area but super tasty.


We had a mid morning snack here and lunch  a superb view of the lake and breeze through the open doors – I goosebumps from being too cool  a novel feeling.

1559:   Labranda & Milas Market

Tuesday 9th June 2010

Getting to Labranda was an interesting drive … there seem to be quarries either side of it and trucks bombing up and down every minute … a lot of pulling over to the side of the narrow road.  It was a long climb (in the car!) of 610m up, but worth it.  It is thought it became and ancient site due to the spring water and the cleft in the rock said to have been caused by the war like Zeus’ axe.




Zeus must have quite a temper to split this rock.  Someone had kindly cleared all the long grass and obviously intend coming back to collect the bales.


The source of the sacred spring  guess this makes Oscar a saint?!?!?!


Fabulous views.


Next stop was Milas, as we have been told about the HUGE market there.  Disappointing as it was pretty much all fresh produce … we had hoped to find handicrafts and Turkish baggy trousers.  

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Whilst we stopped for a snack lunch, a cake delivery …. so beautiful.  Really think we should buy one just to see if they taste as good as they look. 

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We settled with chocolate eclairs … James wore his!

1560:   Bodrum Under Refurnishment

 Wednesday 10th June 2010

To avoid the heat, for us, but more so for the dogs, we set off at 0700hrs!!!  Gulp!!!!  Having parked, we walked along the marina which is in the process of been refurnished and found somewhere for breakfast … mine was two eggs with feta cheese.  Durning a wander around the shops in small lanes, I found a ‘trendy’ pair of harem pants for Maddy … needless to say they were 4 times the price of the ones I had bought at the local lockdown campsite market!  


The Marina and Bodrum castle.  David is selecting his boat.


St Peter’s Castle is also being renovated, so we only had access to about 50%.  Started in 1406 by the Knights of St John, it has time as a prison and was shelled by the French in WW!.


Numerous ships dating back from C10 foundered nearby and were excavated and some actual timbers recreated as a ship … but most of the Underwater Shipwrekcs Museum was closed to us.  Just this display of amphora which probably held wine.



K&D have now been told they are Dog Parents should  anything happen to J and I!



The Mosque turned church.


Looks like the Mouth of Truth in Rome.  J still has all his fingers so he can’t have lied!


He might have his fingers, but he lost some hair!  A £4.05 incl. tip – hair chop, flames around his temples, & ears, nose hair trip and cologne.

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The result!

1561:   Notary Nonsense

 Thursday 11th June 2010

Back into Milas to get a document notarised.  We want to give Power of Attorney to a Cretan accountant so he can sort Tax Numbers and bank accounts with a view to sorting our Greek Residency.  Hung around for a bit and met up with the translator … but not going to happen as we first need a Turkish Tax Number.  Grrr.  Not to worry … it looks as if the Turkish / Greek border may be open on the 15th.  Fingers crossed for that.  A lazy and admin jobs afternoon.