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My first impressions after Greece was grey overpopulated, over industrialised and dirty. An impression accentuated by our troubled first night where there was outrageously load music and drunks in a small port outside Istanbul…it is perhaps for this that the next day, Istanbul surprised me with its exoticness, cleanliness, and unusual mix of old and new. It seemed to me surprisingly ‘Turkish’ – yes touristy (as all capitals) but pulsing with its own strong identity … tulips and outdoor exercise machines, tea drank at every street corner, cartons collected by young boys in huge bags on wheels and silent colourful side roads just a step away from the main arteries with underground workshops producing shoes, dresses and anything and everything else.

Our highlights were..getting to know our stable neighbours in the central parking where we spent 10 days (two Spanish students Ester and Toni living in camper for 6 months on an Erasmus course, and Memdu our other stable Turkish neighbour and dedicated owner of a pet shop looking for a simpler existence) and of course, taking Lusira to the ‘blue Mosque’ and a fifteenth century old Turkish bath on her birthday, where she solemnly washed and foamed me with soap in a perfect imitation of her larger Turkish colleges.

The lowlights were loosing Giulio for 3 to 4 horrible minutes before we found him heading for the park alone, and taking (again Giulio) to the city hospital after he was knocked out by a swing (again) in the park.

After our prolonged and pleasant stay in the capital, we headed east on small tracks into central Turkey heading for Cappodocia. Unluckily it was again the weather that dictated our rhythm and movements, but between the showers, we saw unexpected glimpses of small traditional villages with grass roofed houses, small cultivated fields, shepherds and. dung collected and dried in the fields for the bitter winters. In the morning we were bought fresh milk in a plastic soapbox still warm from the cows udders… But all is not always so bucolic and idyllic. After the enthusiastic reception of the previous evening, we become more forward and decide to ask directly if we can stay the night in someone’s field….we are unexpectedly and very rudely shooed away by a droopy faced woman in high orange wellies who clenched her fist in angry gestures much to Lusira’s indignation…the world is beautiful because it is varied!!

We reached Cappodocia under a grey sky and were again later rewarded with dramatically surreal landscapes when the sun finally graced us with its presence. The vastness of the area allowed us to choose some quiet sites where we freely roamed undisturbed to try and imagine ancient landscapes and to enjoy the change in colours and styles of the various caves . When the time came to leave, we felt a little cheated. It would have been nice to spend more time roaming the area…but i think at some time, everyone travelling overland has these dilemmas…it’s raining, we have been refused our Pakistani visas in Italy, Istanbul and Ankara due to a policy change…Friday is in a few days and we feel our only chance to go east is in fact to go west first….Syria?

….I’m updating in the next few days, but didn’t want anyone to worry, so just to say that we are safely in Jordan and enjoying great weather and Jordanian hospitality…new pictures and full story in the next few days .