1478-1527: Passing Time – Prison in Paradise

Friday 20th March – 8th May 2020

We are still safe and in a good place.  And we really do know that we have been having a better time here than in the UK.

No food shortages.  Freedom to roam the adjacent woods.  Better weather.  Company to share meals, coffee, games, exercise.  And we have a place to park our motorhome, which would be difficult in the UK.  However, we DO want to leave Turkey as soon as the borders open so that we don’t get stuck here!!!  The Turkish Government has a reciprocal agreement with most countries that visas will be automatically extended whilst borders are closed.

The Camp Community

We were joined by Karen and David of thegreygappers.com … we first met in Spain at a wine tasting (funny that), in Greece this trip.  We had planned to come to Turkey this trip, but it was David that suggested travelling a bit further east to Azerbaijan … so we can blame him!!  Anetta (USA) and Geo (French) complete our new family of 6.   Danny and Lisa whom we met near Ephesus have rented an apartment nearby and join us regularly for BBQs or the odd coffee.  

There are another 6 vans with travellers from mostly Germany, one Austrian and one Belgian.  We are effectively in 3 different areas … us the Luxury Camp, of course.  The Hippie Camp and the Kindergarten as two vans have kids.  Additionally there are the residents here … about 14 of them.  They seems to come for a visit and stay.  For some work, they receive a roof, food and a little money.  Some work in the extensive grounds as there is quite a small holding.  David has been helping with pomegranate pruning and tree trunk painting, hay making etc.  

So far we are all getting on well, although there is always one!  The campsite has given us use of a chest freezer and large fridge … which almost started FridgeGate as one resident labelled a whole shelf for her use!!  

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A slight concern is that I created this and it runs till August!  We are nearly into week 8!!!

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Where we are.

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I always check the mountain first thing  higher than anything in the UK.

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Lots of animals here  campsite cats, dogs, chicken (who roost in the trees), horses  plus a snake, tortoises, crabs and weve been warned about the scorpions!

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Daily Activities

0830 hours is time to group for alternate days running and an exercise class.  We are feeling the benefit of this regular exercise.  David is about to loose his shorts as they are too baggy.  Anetta has been able to lead us on varied Yoga routines, whilst I only know the one Pilates set of exercises … need to re-visit YouTube, but never seem to have enough time!  What with bits of house work, laundry … using the twin tub, walking CO2, cooking etc … the time is just oozing away.

Over 65’s have not been allowed out for some weeks. James has therefore been confined to the campsite and the nearby woods for walking and running.  For the last 4 weekends there has been a total curfew so we are then limited to the campsite boundary.

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James had a hair cut.  Then Danny and David both put themselves at my mercy.  I did warn them, I could only do one style and had to use the dog shears as the hair ones were bust.

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The kiddie UV tent is up for CO2 … Oscar has been shorn since.

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Fell off my bike!!!

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Sorted my spices …have also spring cleaned every corner of the van … need to do outside now the pollen has stopped.

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Gardening … we’ve all herb planters and I have some flowers too …

Supplies and Shopping

There was a market in the local town on Saturday, but weekend curfews mean it has moved to a Tuesday.  There is also a much bigger market 9km up the road in Kemer. Most of the produce was pre-bagged to save people handling it, which does mean we either share bags of have a glut.   Shelves are fully stocked, no shortages here.  Other than face masks, some gloves and a cordon in the pharmacy, everything seems normal.  We do not know how busy it would have been had Covid not been around.  There are some things we have not been able to get … ground almonds, flaked almonds, decent cheese … so we can organise reciprocal food parcels???

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Masks have to be worn in all public places, temperature taken at the market and some shops.  

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Market day is always fish BBQ night.  The tuna was amazing.  We don’t usually know what we are eating.

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I’ve driven into Kemer for the market 3 times taking a few other folk with me.  Our combined shopping covers the floor and up either side of the bed!

Games

We have started doing an activity most days … so far cards, paper airplane throwing … despite my google and FaceBook research I did NOT win!  

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Paper Aeroplane throwing:  despite my googling and requesting FB help, I did not win.

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Geo wins most games, but is rubbish at putting to the rock.  1 point for a hit.  Then 3 2 1 for the nearest.

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There is also a handicap system for whom ever wins.  David felt using only his left hand was too severe a penalty.

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Hippie Camp Pizza Party.

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Easter egg hunt.  This girls won.  Turmeric and red cabbage were used for the dyes.

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The Belgian couple organised a table tennis tournament … J and Geo took part.  Fun rules, so fun to watch.

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The kids particularly like Corrie.

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Hit and run.

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Karen brought out the special napkins and made a special stone.

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I made the bunting from our friend Brian’s bed duvet cut offs!

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D and K started the birthday event with pin fizz.  Cheers.

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Lisa giving me a Victory Roll or 3 for VE Day.

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Cucumber sarnie anyone?

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Karen won the Eurowiddle competition with her Montenegro entry – the only submission to actually have been in the Eurovison Song Contest.  She bought and shared a bottle of white with her winnings 🙂

Food

Along with everyone else in lockdown, food has become even more of an obsession.  Anetta is an amazing cook, so we’ve upped our game contributing some more unusual dishes.  Weight is NOT going the right way, despite the exercise.

I’ve discovered the Remoska electric oven is not bad at baking.  So far, strawberry shortcake, spiced apple cake, banana cake, lemon drizzle, orange and polenta cake, various crumbles, birthday cake and a Victoria sponge for VE Day … amongst others!

 

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The last of the bacon … yummy!  D&K had planned to eat it in Azerbaijan. 

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Geo deboning our Easter leg of lamb  with an every hopeful Mucky dog from the campsite.

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 A small sample of some salads to go with a BBQ.

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 6 of us bought the large BBQ … only £7 per van!  It looks like a coffin, so we might cremate Oscar if he keeps barking.

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Anetta’s homemade focaccia … yum

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Foreign bodies in the liver packet … we reckoned they were penis … we did sample one but it was tasteless and spongey in texture.  However, having binge watched masterchef, I now know they are chicken hearts!

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VE Day Victoria Sponge.

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VE Day Asparagus and cheese quiche … phyllo pastry as not about to start making my own!

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Chocolate filled marshmallows to die for! 

Nature Camera Walk with Anetta and Karen

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1475 -1477: Time to Sit Tight

1475:  A Flit

Tuesday 17th March 

We woke planning to pay our dues and wander around Pirene and then over to Pamukkale, but you know what happens to plans!  Danny and Lisa in their Landy with a tent on top, had decided that if Turkey were to follow other countries with travel restrictions and self isolation, they wanted to be already settled.  They had rented an apartment just S of Antalya.  David and Karen, thegreygappers.co.uk, were already installed in a hotel nearby as friends were supposed to have joined them for a golfing week.  Given the chaos of borders closing, travel restrictions and the number of borders we would have to cross to get home … we had already decided to stay put in Turkey.  If we are going to be in lockdown, we would rather be in the van than staring at brick walls and we would rather be in warmer climes … Spanish and Portuguese campsites were not allowing new guests, and some (Spain) were evicting travellers, so we decided to flit to a campsite near Antalya.

So the morning was not what was planned.   We offered some money to the staff at Pirene for the use of the water but this was refused. But didn’t get to visit the site, time was marching on.  Nice chat … a lot of Turks have a relative living in the UK.  I rang several campsites near Kemer, but none were answering or open.  Found one just S of Kemer.  A long driving day – 8 hours across plains and with some roadside snow.  The scenery in Turkey is BIG, especially after the immediacy of Crete.  We tried a campsite just north of Kemer, he was willing to take us, but the entrance was far too tight for Jez.  My German came in useful again … a chap at the ticket office to an empty beach car park was able to tell me of another campsite further south than the one I’d identified on the phone … a good back up.

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We ventured onto a motorway for about 50Km, saving about 40 mins.  Pleased wed paid for the ANPR account.  Roads on this main route were good.

We stopped driving at about 7.00 p.m. … Turkey is big!  The campsite we are on is quirky and slightly on the hippie side.  The owners (not sure who) and the staff were all at supper … a buffet.  They kept it open for us and we were delighted not to have to cook.  Quite a few residents have good English.  One lady studied in Bristol Uni … she started with Marine Biology, but after a year switched to the Circus School.  We stayed overnight in the entrance car park…


1476:  Setting Up to Sit Pretty

 Wednesday 18th March 

A new fitness regime is in place.  So after a run, I went in search of Enis, in charge of bookings.  Not to be found, not up yet possibly, as here is very laid back.  After our breaky, he was up and about.  Good English too.  He offered us the reduced rate of TL50, normally TL80, for a long stay.  This is all of £6.30 per night, without electricity, so we’re happy.  Buffet dinners get written onto a pad … and then when we leave they add it all up.  I said we would pay every 2 weeks … don’t like owing money, especially as we could be here quite a while!  Sorry Mum, I know I occasionally forget to pay you!  

We are installed in our own garden.  Views of snow topped hills.  1 minute walk to the bay.  Toilet block within metres.  Just a few of the resident 6 dogs and free range chickens visit us.  CO2 are therefore chained, but this is not a problem as there are places to walk.

We took the bikes into nearby Tekirova.  It looks as if it has not opened for the season … we could not even find a coffee shop.  We did manage to find a few small supermarkets … I bought 5 ice cream cornets … cornetto style … all of £1.90,  as 3 lads were making a fuss of CO2.  They initially politely refused, but on being pressed, accepted with a schooled Thank You.  They were feeding ice cream to a tiny puppy … don’t know if it actually belonged to one of them, but much better than tying firecrackers to its tail!

A few food purchases made and back home for slow cooked cuttlefish in red wine.  

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Our pitch.  Just missing the chicken and dogs.

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View of the estuary and just by us.

1477:  Zero Spend Day

Thursday 19th March 

Pilates morning after a lie in!  One of the resident dogs attempted to join in!  J’s second experience ever and a loooong time since the last, so he had to recourse for an early nanny nap.  I got busy, grooming CO2, making Greek Big Beans stew, marinating chicken, filling Jez with water, laundry onto soak, sausage training CO2 and cleaning our shower block … another camper may have used it last night!  cant have that!!!  Woke J and led him on a walk over to an ancient site.  As we approached, a man came out of the woods and ordered us back … it was closed.  And, other than the campsite fee, we’ve not spent any money.  Unusual for us!

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BBQ … in love with this new battery fired gadget, courtesy of Karl and June in Crete … the batteries create an air flow through the coals so it is ready to cook in about 10 mins. Hardly uses any coals and super easy to clean.  The air flow means you can control the heat too.  Recommended.

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Comfortable Oscar?  Sunbathing!

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 Local resident.


1473-1474: Ephesus and Loos

1473:  Efes or Ephesus

Sunday 15th March 

Only a 5 minute drive to the parking.  We could have cycled, but didn’t fancy leaving Jez unattended on the beach … we are still feeling our way with regards security in Turkey.  And the garage is pretty jam packed, so it would have been a lot of unpacking to retrieve the bikes.  At Ephesus we paid our car rate parking fee of £1.90.  Conscious that I’m quoting the prices, but still in a delighted state about how cheap (inexpensive is a better word) most things are.  Sultan the shuttle bus supervisor popped over with chat and a map.  He sold us the idea of the ‘free’ bus (car, actually as insufficient tourists) to take us to the top of the ancient site.  What we failed to comprehend was that a) there is nothing free about it … a £3.80 tip exchanged hands and b) the taxi took us on a selling detour to a carpet and jewellery shop!  To be fair, the staff stopped the hard sell when we said we lived in a camping car and had no room nor money.  Interesting to see modern and traditional designs.  And the shop had very clean loos!!!

I had visited Ephesus about 3 years ago with ex Mark, Stuart – his then 17 year old brother, Gill and Bron.  On our return, Mark was in trouble for ‘letting’ Stuart stay behind to learn how to become a croupier!  To save money on our tour from Istanbul to the south coast and back up, we bussed and stayed in cheap hostels.  As there were 5 of us, we were sought after and locals bartered themselves to get our bus and accommodation business.  I do remember it was an amazingly cheap trip.  I don’t remember much of the trip detail, but I did recognise the iconic gate at Ephesus.

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No purchase made … I did ask how long they take to hand knot … at least 5 months.  I did NOT ask how much … if you have to ask, you can’t afford it!!!

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Sunny, so the hat made it out of the closet since last year.  After more than 150 years of excavation, they reckon 80% of the city is still to be unearthed, but it was still a 3km walk from the upper to lower gate.  It was significant for being the capitol of Roman Asia Minor, with over 250,000 core inhabitants … traders, sailors and pilgrims increased the population.

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The Odean, used for municipal debates. 

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 The Great Theatre AD41-117, under restoration.  It is thought that St Paul preached here.  Wonder if he had a full house of 25,000.

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Curetes Way, the grandest street, once lined with shops and statues.

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Marble Street and there was a long wide road out to what was the harbour … all giving the sense of sheer size of the place.

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Lots of temples along the route.

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Library of Celsus AD2 … the really impressive iconic image.  It was designed to protect 12,000 scrolls from extremes of moisture and temperature.

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Our combined ticket included the Terraced Houses.  Sadly, the impact of it was sadly lost due to the orange dust over it.  These tables ‘apparently’ had pieces of wall marble … some jigsaw.

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A number of impressive wall paintings.  The 7 Terraced Houses are all under a massive roof.  These houses were extremely luxurious.

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We were back at our beach parking overnight and whilst walking CO2, the mystery of flares going off on the beach was solved.  I asked the organiser, who spoke some English.  It was a wedding proposal.  The friends gathered, the groom arrived at the appointed time and pops the question.  We’d seen a few proposals from a distance, but not know what we were looking at.  In this case, she said yes!

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1474:  Ephesus Museum

Monday 16th March 

We really cannot tell if it that the season is too early or if people are not here due to the virus.  The Museum was very quiet; just us and 2 other couples.  It was also pretty small  and we were through quite quickly … wonder if we’ve seen too much of similar artefacts.  We’ve used all the components of our combined ticket.

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Terracotta. AD1

After soup in Jez we drove a couple of hours to Pirene, another ancient site.  We parked up in the car park, arriving at about 5.00 p.m.  The toilet block was still open … I’d a bag full of laundry and having been told launderettes are few and far between … this was too good an opportunity.  The twin tub was deployed.  I sheltered from the wind, placing its waste pipe over the standy up loo and ran the power cable from Jez.  I was getting well into it, when a member of staff came to lock the toilet block.  Bugger .. caught!  But he was a sweetie and walked me up to the ticket office and showed me a tap.  Jez and twin tub were moved.  A washing line was strung up in a gazebo, and given the wind, the first items through were dry by the time I finished.  The wind didn’t abate and I can clearly state that who ever penned Rock a bye baby was an idiot.  I hardly slept.

And finally … here’s link all about Turkey Toilet customs!

http://www.thisisturkey.net/toilet.php

1471-72: First Turkish Delights

1471:  No Bad Luck in Cesme

Friday 13th March 

We both ran – the first time for quite a while that we both had the urge.  Well, we urged each other on … slowly.  After breakfast in our very quiet parking; only one car where a chap came to admire the sea for all of 5 minutes before disappearing.  We made friends with the local wild dogs, and fed the skinny girl dog, who had obviously recently had puppies.  She then joined us on our run.  

We parked just outside Cesme and walked in … the main purpose was to pay for use of motorways and toll bridges. We don’t particularly intend to use them, but you can so easily end up sucked onto one before you know it … and there are a few we may end up having to use around Istanbul.  In the PTT I presented the V5 and J’s passport , 3 people translating the V5 … a form duly filled in and TL65 (just over £8) was paid.  I am not sure how long the credit on this will last. Being 2 axles, we are Class B.  When we have free wifi from somewhere, I will see if there is a web site so we can track the credit.  

We are being VERY cautious with our data. Both my phone and the mifi are with Three, which does not cover Turkey in its free roaming destinations.  I’ve cancelled the mifi contract.  With the ability to hotspot abroad, it is no longer needed.  This is 40gb we now don’t have to use.  James’ Vodafone contract is 60GB for £20 … their T&Cs state that this is capped at 25GB … so this is what we are using.

Business done, we wandered the streets, socking up the flavour of a new continent and country.  Before we knew it, it was time for lunch.  So we had a meatballs, salad and chicken kebab … served with tomato rice, a few chips, tomato and a grilled green pepper.  Tasty and the total bill was £12.55 – we think that this was tourist prices too!

I was delighted to be back in a country where ice cream seems to be available all year (Greece does not facilitate my ice cream addiction).  So pudding … nut and coffee flavours was ordered … 2 big scoops in a cone for £1.10.  I dived straight in … weird texture … slightly chewy.  Salep, the powder of a common orchid bulb gives it an elastic texture and it doesn’t melt as quickly.  I found I had to bite into it.  When J and had an ice cream the next day, we ordered it in a cup, but found it hard to use the spoon to cut into it … I managed better than J, who gave up … no prizes for guessing who finished his!  Flavours good though, but easier to eat in a cone.

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Near the marina in Cesme.

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Overnight in the bus turning circle with a sign that we risked being towed away!

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Oscar slightly suspicious of the girlie.

1472:  Selcuk

Saturday 14th March 

We had an easy day … we parked up just outside the town by the Basilica of St John … free we were told by someone trying to sell us a guide book.  I wandered around the massive Saturday market; household, tools, carpets, head scarves and rows of super fresh food.  Honey from an elderly leathered man, who carefully wrapped the large jar in newspaper … this is one fo the best I’ve ever tasted.  Someone else told me we should always buy from old people as it is the genuine article from villages.  An abortive search for a laundrette … apparently these are pretty rare so we also bought a large tub with a lid … looks like I’ll be back to hand washing and using the twin tub more sparingly as it uses a fair amount of water.  Though we did fill up at the petrol station – diesel and water.

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The wide sandy beach where we will have spent 3 nights.  Busy with locals picnics and BBQs.  We’d read that rubbish is a problem and recycling a VERY new initiative (still to find a recycling bin) and in the mornings, all to picnic rubbish was neatly left in piles or tied up in bags on the sand … and yes that is a bin you can see.  And the bins are emptied daily.

After lunch in the van, we (and CO2) explored St John’s Basilica and the Aysuluk Fortress.  A combined ticket includes these, the Ephesus Museum, Ephasus itself and its Terraced Houses … £46.40 for both of us. 

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We had to wait for this fellow to cross the path … CO2 fascinated by its progress.  A chap trying to sell us Roman coins, laughed that the Turks like to eat them as a kebab … LOL

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The fortress by the Roman site.

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Basilica of St John: c.527 was destroyed by earthquakes and attackers.  The Apostle John is believed to have visited twice, once with the Virgin Mary, as Jesus had entrusted his mother to John’s care.  It is also said that he wrote his gospel whilst on this hill.  This tomb C4th supposedly contains some of his relics and is why the basilica was built here.

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Full immersion?

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Lots of signs that the work was undergoing restoration, but wonder if they know where these and lots of other piles fit?  But a certain charm as a site as it had not been over restored!

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This Church was given money to become a small museum of artefacts on 2007 …. think the money might have run dry – still no entry.

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Looking down onto Isa Bey Camii.

We had our first proper Turkish coffee and got chatting to a Frenchman.  He was on a sabbatical for a year and coming to the end of his pilgrimage to walk, yes – walk, to lots of religious sites.  He only started using transport when he was in Greece.  We bumped into him again in Ephesus and he plans to visit the museum, when we are too.

A knock as the door when we were back at our sandy over night spot.  Lisa and Danny are several months into their year off to travel to Mongolia in their Landy with a roof top tent.  Coffee led to wine, and then some more … both J and I felt a touch poisoned next morning, but we drank more than they did!  When will we learn?


1467-1470: No Chaos/Chios in Turkey

1467:  In Search of Oil!

Monday 9th March 2020

The engine oil light had come on on 28th February … just as we were leaving Crete and all our contacts who could have helped us to find a suitable garage.  We’d had our eyes open whilst at Itea etc, but not seen suitable garages and google was not helping.  J had not managed to find anywhere that could do an oil change in Porto Rafti whilst I was away … not commercial enough,  So we decided to move to another spot we’d used 2 years ago, Varkiza, Ag. Marina, nearer Athens and more built up … we really wanted to find somewhere before arriving in Turkey.  On the way, we did a Lidl shop, which included a little pork!  Just before our destination, I spotted a Castrol sign, but it was now closed for the evening … we’d head back early next morning.

1468:  Oil and a Ferry

Tuesday 10th March 

The Castrol chap spoke good English … couldn’t do a van our size, but up the road, was a lorry garage, opposite the toy store, try there.  Google translate was our friend here … no, he made lorries, could not do an oil change and sent us back down the street to opposite Eko Petrol station.  Feeling slightly despondent, I ran across the dual carriageway … the young lad spoke good school English … yes they had the right oil and could do a change.  J was beckoned, drove and did a U turn …

As well as the oil change, the mechanic checked the oil filters, topped up the coolant and changed the remaining old windscreen wiper, which the young lad had to run down the road to buy.  He also jet washed the engine.  And where our bumper is hanging off slightly, courtesy of the recovery / tow in Corsica, he drilled 2 holes and neatly cable tied it together.  The bill was £163, and bear in mind the oil was EUR65 for each of 2 5 ltr containers and we’ve brough about 2 litres away with us.  So pretty good for a mini service, I think.

A coffee and pastry to celebrate for lunch.  Our ferry to Chios was not until 8.00 p.m., and en route, another quick shop for wine, as Lidl had only bottles …  I cleared out the shelf of bag in box, only 5 x 5 ltr of white.  Will we cope?  That’s only 45 litres on board, as we’ve read that Turkish wine is not up to much.  Interestingly, all the wine we have is from Crete, although some was bought on the mainland.

Ferry was typical Greek … it seems like chaos boarding, but they know exactly how to organise it.  We and one car were the ONLY non commercial vehicles, in fact there were hardly any vehicles, just container trailers expertly reversed on.  We were shown to our cabin by staff and Result!  It was a 4 berth with bunks.  I was able to sleep in a top bunk without CO2 joining me!  They had their own bunk underneath … J, who was on the other low bunk, did say that they tried to join him during the night … but I didn’t know anything about it … zzzz’s.  Supper was chicken I’d previously cooked with salad … must prepare more salad meals now the weather is improving.

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CO2 waiting for the oil change to be finished.

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The overnight ferry route from Pireaus to Chios

1469:  The Resin Island – Chios (Hios)

Wednesday 11th March 

We were woken not by a discrete tap on our cabin door, but by someone actually opening it an poking his head in.  We later spotted him doing the rounds again … a thankless task of checking all the cabins had been vacated.

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We had to wait for all the trailers in front of Jez to be hauled off before we could get to Jez.  Then we were told to hurry up and get off  foot passengers for the return leg were already on board!

Arrival in Chios was at 0500 hours and it was still dark.  We drove though the super quiet and narrow streets out of Chios, grateful not to meet any other traffic.  We parked up at the Mastic Museum

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A huge car park that was out of sight and we had it all to ourselves.

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From the parking, CO2 and I climbed up to the viewing platform; CO2 were tied to the base of the rickety and rusty spiral stair case.

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View from the top.  

After a solid sleep for a couple of hours we went into the Museum.  One of the first places for a while where J was given a 50% discount. Good value at EUR6 total.  My guide book (eBay, of course) was published 2006, and hadn’t mentioned this museum, as it was opened in 2016.  It was a gem and we thank David and Karen, thegreygappers.co.uk, for telling us about it.      When petroleum products replaced a lot of the uses for mastic, the locals organised a cooperative and started manufacturing chewing gum.  We’d come across mastic as a flavouring on Crete, when there was a limited ice cream flavour choice … I’ll stick with vanilla.

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As well as the usual static exhibits, there were short films about the mastic trees, growing, and harvesting, the production processes and the arichecture of the mastic villages.

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Chios is the only place in the world where mastic is grown, due to its climatic conditions.

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The resin is the product of the tree sterilising the wound cut into its bark.  It is harvested during night time as the sun turns it to a useless honey.

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Even in the modern chewing gum factory, one process is still the hand cleaning of the resin.  Growers are paid according to weight and a laser examination as to the cleanliness of the mastic.

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The brand Elma stand for Greek (Elinka) and Mastic.  The museum stated that it the only gum made with natural products.

From the museum we drove to Pyrgi, one of the mastic villages.  Knowing that villages have notoriously narrow Jez-unfriendly streets, I’d identified a car park next to the village stadium … my assumption that coaches can drive there is usually correct …  It was a little tight, but the car park had a big closed gate across its entrance, next to a house.  On the balcony of this house were some very friendly ladies with no English.  They indicated we could park across the entrance, applauded J’s reversing and laughed at Oscar’s over excited barking.  More lovely Greek people …

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Geometric patterns are cut into white washed walls to reveal a layer of black volcanic sand underneath. Even on the underside of balconies.

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Wise decision to park Jez outside  this was relatively wide!

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The central square and coffee stop.

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Corrie trying to blend in with the houses.

We attempted to go to a beach car park for our overnight, but it was seriously sloping and there were no restaurants open there.  We about turned and stopped roadside at a restaurant we’d passed.  Then back to the Museum carpark over night … moonlight and stars … no orange light pollution.

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True to form, we ordered too much food … baked aubergine with feta, baked local cheese and a hock of slow cooked pork.  Then the excellent salesmanship of the owner / cook persuaded us to have her slow cooked beans … all really delicious.  Only beans made it home to form the basis of the next nights dinner.

1470:  Mesta and Chaos Ferry

 Thursday 12th March 

We read that Mesta is considered one of the finest examples of mastic village architecture.  A central tower, single storey houses, later built upward, then a protecting village wall.  Really narrow alleyways and passages, often with arches, where houses extended sideways.  Indifferent coffee in the square, quickly joined by a vocal tour group.  We later realised they were Turkish as they were on the ferry that evening with us.

We drove the non direct route back to Chios town, filling our tanks at a water station on the outskirts of town.  Loads of locals were using it, some with bringing a pickup flat bed full of containers.  Why, I have no idea.

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Very barren landscape, the mastic trees are low growing.  Other trees were destroyed in fires or used for boat building.

Onto a disused harbour, 1.5km out of town, but quiet for J to nap.  I walked into town to collect our boarding passes.  A slight moment of concern as the lady declared she had just printed the passes, but none with our name.  After about 5 mins, she realised that all the agency tickets were in a drawer …. duh!  Oh and by the way, the ferry leaves half and hour earlier than advertised!  J received a phone call from me to make Jez ready and picked me up roadside.  At the dock, it was all minor chaos.  A few trucks with police (riot gear inside the busses) as there were about 150 immigrants on the dock.  Only about a third were families; most being young men.  I don’t know how long they had been there, but they’d set up a washing line.  Chios and Lesbos have both been in the news as they are so close to Turkey and have had more than their share of migrants and locals have just about had enough.

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On the walk into Chios town.

At the harbour it was really unclear how to proceed and where to go.  We headed through Passport control, down a tiny gap in fencing, then onto the vehicle control.  We reversed ourselves back out, whilst foot passengers went forward.  The vehicle registration lady would open the gate  so we could load Jez … but a truck and police car had to be moved first!

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Jez on the ferry to Turkey.

On arrival in Cesme, Turkey, a friendly dog handler spoke excellent English and he told us to park up, and go though passport and vehicle control … the latter took a while as the lady ended up needing help working out what to enter from the V5 and insurance.  Then it was 300m back into the port and up onto a ramp for Jez to be X-ray’d.  He only just fit and it was a bit of a clonk as he descended.

At the final gate, all the documentation was checked again and I was asked if we had anything to declare.  Magically our bag in box wine shrunk to about 15 litres. And whilst waiting I learned how to say Thank you.

We pulled over in Cesme town, almost immediately to identify a cash point.  I tried to withdraw 2500 Turkish Lira and was told I’d exceeded my car limit.  A slight concern s it had not been used.  I then tried with 2000 TL … and it worked.  I received a huge wad of TL50 notes.  The exchange rate is just under TL8 to £1.

About 8km further south in the now dark and down a dirt track to a lovely wild spot, tarmac but right on the beach.