After replacing the oil in the Landrover we set off early from Varna and headed for the Turkish border. Missing a turning, we decided to carry on down the coast road instead of turning back, and ended up weaving our way through a forest near the border. The roads were bumpy, windy and extremely slow, and so we were pleased when we finally got the frontier.
After getting our first Visas of the trip, and sorting out our vehicle insurance with the help of a customs inspector who’s voice was so high only dogs could understand him, we were allowed through the final barrier and onto Turkish Tarmac. Compared to the Bulgarian roads, it was heaven. The Turks had just completed a new dual carriageway from the border to meet up with their main motorway heading to Istanbul, and it was as smooth as driving on plate glass.
We arrived in Istanbul during rush hour. This was a mistake. The whole city was awash with vehicles of all size racing around its narrow streets trying to avoid the pedestrians. When we eventually found and arrived at the hostel we had booked, we were pleased to enjoy a beer in the rooftop bar overlooking the Hagia Sophia in one direction, and the Mamara Sea in the other direction.
We awoke at 05:30am to the sound of the morning call to prayer from the nearby mosques. Just as we thought they had stopped, another call one sounded from an even closer mosque, which was twice as loud. We got an early breakfast and headed out.
With the Landrover parked up for the day, we went for a walk in the sunshine to visit a few of the local tourist hot spots. The Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque were each a five minute walk away from the hostel and were the obvious first port of call. I could have spent all day composing photographs of the Blue Mosque, but I could tell Nathan was getting bored of standing around as I took multiple photos trying to get the perfect exposure.
After visiting the Blue Mosque we headed through the Grand Bazaar and took a walk over the bridge to the other side of the Bosphorus to arrive in Asia, our second continent. This was the gateway to the rest of Turkey, and although we found Istanbul a fascinating place full of friendly people, we were still looking forward to more warmth, and cheaper food.
- David Jennings & Nathan Topham
- Wrexham, Wales, United Kingdom
- For the past 5 years, me and my best friend Nathan have talked about the possibility of travelling around the world by land and sea, and so finally we have a route, savings and time to set off around the world. What we are doing is living out a dream, a dream we share with many people worldwide, a dream of travelling this vast, diverse, beautiful and interesting planet, but unlike the many others who keep it as a dream, we have the tenacity to make this dream a reality.