Tag Archives: car

2 on 4 wheels

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Now that we have rendered the namesake of this blog inaccurate, we have enjoyed the comforts of a car and found ourselves dismayed by the lost pleasure of being on a bike.

 To catch up the saga though:

Kirsten and I met in Thessaloniki at 3AM after my ferry arrived in the west of Greece and I blasted through the night across the country to meet her, sadly missing all the beautiful landscape to the dark of the night. We had been missing each other and were eager to get our European adventure under way. I met her lovely hosts and quickly fell into a grateful slumber. The next morning Kirsten’s CS host took us for breakfast: a lovely sampling of flaky Greek pastry with cheese and spinach within, all washed down with a frigid Coca-Cola. We then made a trying attempt at navigating through the city of Thessaloniki and finally began heading eastward towards Turkey. The landscape was infinitely pleasing with rocky crags, sparsely situated trees and bushes and an uncountable number of red poppies. The next two nights we camped close to the coast, the first place a designated camping area with only one other customer, the other a once thriving camping area transformed into a derelict plot of land. Our diet mostly consisted of Greek cheese and bread, tomatoes, olives (for me), pasta and the occasional Gyros. It was a pleasure to note the remains of Ottoman Empire constructions, a few towers and walls. We spent three lovely days observing the Greek culture before we came to the border of Turkey. Happily the crossing was relatively unhindered and we were glad to see that Turkish is written with the Latin alphabet as Greece could be problematic at times when attempting to decipher their written language.

At first glance the Turkish landscape was already quite beautiful but we realized we knew neither the currency or its value and we were getting hungry and tired. The rain was coming down in torrents and we thought a hotel might be nice for a change. Hoping that it wouldn’t be too expensive (and after taking a few 100 lira notes from an ATM 1 lira = .75 dollars) we stopped at a hotel a stone’s throw from the sea of Marmara. The view was fantastic and Kirsten upon demanding the price heard 18 from the hotel worker. unfortunately the common error of turning “80 to 18” or “15 to 50” for non-English speakers transformed quite a desirable price into a wallet washer. We weren’t so fazed though as we were able to take a nice hot shower, sleep in a comfortable, soft bed and devour a delectable Turkish breakfast. Breakfast consisted tomato slices, cucumber, goats cheese, black olives, bread with olive oil, yoghurt, a hard-boiled egg each and of course all the Turkish tea we could drink. It was indeed satisfying!!!

We then headed for Istanbul where we were to meet Niko and Jasa. We wrestled through the traffic and eventually met up with our CS host, a very nice, French-speaking Turkish law student. That night he introduced us to Turkish “pizza” and Ayran. Turkish pizza is a flat bit of elongated bread with a thin spreading of tomatoes, onions, peppers and ground meat with copious amounts of spice (though not hot). You then roll your pizza up with lettuce, parsley and other greenery and then chomp away at it in one whole piece. Ayran is essentially yoghurt, water and salt mixed together to make a spice defying drink. Kirsten enjoyed it quite a bit. I didn’t really like it as my one taste aversion is milk/yoghurt. The next day we ventured into old Istanbul via boat taxi and foot.  We explored one or two of the various mosques in the area but the highlight for us was the old cistern under the city, built by the Romans to supply the city with water. It was fed by an aqueduct with  a  water source about 9 kilometers away. The Muslim tradition of praying 5 times a day creates a city-wide “clock” as the speakers of mosques all blare their prayer to the masses at a fixed time. We finally met Niko and Jasa and made a plan of where to meet the next day outside of Istanbul. We had different pursuits ahead of us (they went to a drinking contest and we got a good nights rest).

Because of time constraints I fear we must now provide only the highlights of Turkey. We were hard-pressed to find internet cafes along the way as this country is still in the process of modernizing.

So over the next 2 weeks we traveled across Turkey. Niko and Jasa by bike and we by car (who was dubbed “The Red Hornet” and nicknamed “Horny” for short). Little Horny has served us well thus far having clambered up many a muddy mountain trail full of pot-holes, rivers and other obstacles. We ate our weight in kebabs, drank buckets of tea and were welcomed by all villagers and town folk alike. The children were most fascinated by our inability to speak their language, the bikes and my tattoos (marking of the body is forbidden in Islam and though Turkey is quite a liberal Muslim country it is still culturally taboo).

The main points of interest we visited were:

Cappadocia- this is a region of Turkey which has been inhabited by people 2000 years BCE (before common era, the believed birth of Christ). The landscape is covered in beautifully shaped rock structures which have been carved from the inside out to form the homes of these people.

The Cave of Seven Sleepers- this is a cave thought to be sacred by both Christians and Muslims. It became a place of refuge and a holy site for believers of both religions.

Mount Nemrut- this is a common reference point for the image of Turkey. It is a mountain top at 2200 meters of which the last 50 meters was created by King Antiochus and is composed of crushed rock. King Antiochus wanted to honor the gods of both the east and the west (of this time) and so created numerous, giant statues of himself seated next to the gods. The heads have toppled to the ground but are displayed around the peak.

We must now go take a Georgian lunch so we will continue the saga at the next opportunity.

From Lobster to Bread and Cheese. Minus the cheese.

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My last days in India were spent sleeping, eating, searching for the post office, and just roaming the streets of Bangalore in general. I walked through the entire mall in one day, there were some really nice shops there. I found an interesting street market the one day. There were so many different things on offer. From clothes to food to jewelry. I also ate a whole bunch of watermelon. They prepare it in the most delicious way. Chopping some up for you on a piece of magazine paper,the man then sprinkles it with a chilly seasoning. The combination of sweet and hot works wonders on your taste buds. And for about R1 its a cheap and delicious snack. I was also great full for about  5 English channels on Tv. There was always a good movie or series on.

I left at 12am for the airport seeing as my flight was at 4am. I slept through most of the flight because I had been up all night. I arrived in Dubai, waited there for about 3 hours (for the third time in four months), then flew to Athens. I was really excited to be landing in Greece. I had wanted to come to this beautiful country for some time. As we started our decent I could see many little islands with white villages scattered along the coast. This made me even more excited. But as I stepped off the plane I realised it was definitely not summer here yet. It was only about 15 degrees and cloudy. There goes my plan of lying on white pebble beaches for a week while I waited for William. After my third flight of the day I arrived in Thessaloniki. Sadly the weather was the same here. I took a bus ride for 1 euro into town and met my couch surfing host.

I stayed with a very nice couple for the first 3 nights. The students of Thessaloniki are about to start exams so it is a bit of a bad time to be staying here. I therefore spent most of my days out in the city walking and exploring. There are beautiful old buildings, churches and ruins around every corner. I imagine the rest of Greece has a similar pattern. Thessaloniki is also a bit of a hilly city, so one day I walked all the way up the biggest hill I could find. After about 2 hours of navigating through the tiny streets and alley ways I found myself looking out over the entire city. I could see the harbor, the bigger churches and the famous Aristotelous Square I had just been in a few hours ago. It was a stunning view. At the top of this hill I also discovered the ruins of a giant wall that used to surround the city along with a very castle-like tower. Similar to the one at the waterfront (The White Tower).

Because my hosts had to study I moved to another set of couch surfers after my first 4 days here. I’m now staying with Maria and Kosmas, along with Huma, another couch surfer in town from Istanbul. We have had some great times together. Last night we went to an open air concert on the waterfront. Thessaloniki is campaigning to be voted as the youth capital of Europe and I believe this was an event to promote that. I think they deserve it. It feels like this whole city is only populated by youth. There is such a great vibe. But I can’t help but notice how different the European people, especially the younger crowd, carry and dress themselves. 90% of the kids here have some kind of facial piercing or pink/blue/black hair. There is very punky feel to the fashion here. While the older generation are always dressed so smartly and sexily, especially the women. I am also yet to see a girl or woman who is not beautifully stunning in my books.

William is yet to arrive in Greece. He has had to deal with a few speed bumps on our road to getting our European leg officially started. The bike he had to fetch in England is giving him some major insurance issues. It is apparently only insured for the EU. Which means we can’t take it to Turkey or Georgia. They say bad luck comes in threes. Well after my camera and stitches let’s hope this is number three. William has now bought a car for us to drive to Turkey and is on a ferry from Venice to Greece as I write this. I will reserve my opinion on these decisions he’s made. Let’s just say I wasn’t planning on buying a car in Europe.

So here I am, still waiting in Thessaloniki. It’s been a week now. We had beautiful weather here yesterday though. Blue skies all around. But today it’s returned back to the cloudy weather of before. Will says he’ll arrive late tonight so I have the whole day to myself again. Huma is leaving for Istanbul today aswell so not sure what my plans are gonna be. Wonder what color my new car is?