Bilderverkauf aller 50 km / Pictures on Sale every 50 km

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Arabic and Most southern Part of Turkey

4th – 6th of December:

Actually we just want to check our e-mail and get some money in Antakya. Our destination was the Mediterranean sea. Buut, on my way to the ATM I meet some guys, which invite me to smoke a cigarette. Finally, they (Sina, Kubi, Mrs. Las Vegas) show us the town and we go to eat Koefte. On our walk through the town we always meet more of their friends. One friend his name is Marek has a house where we can stay overnight. It is just an empty apartment but nice for us since it is getting again rainy and cold outside. In the evening we go to one of Marek’s cosine who has a bar in a village not far from town.

(N 36.2233 °, E 36.16159 °)

We go together with Marek to his English lesson. It is quite funny for us and also for them. Quite young people, some policemans who want to work in the international police. The teacher is an amazing woman coming from the Philippines. She lives here already 15 years can speak English, Arabic, Turkish and some other languages that I forgot. After that we go again to the bar in the village and experience the Arabic live in this most south part of Turkey. Card playing, water pipe smoking man and young guys you see most. While talking with our new friends we find out that most of them are just here for holiday. They are working normally in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, that means basically in the Arabic countries. However, the older people mostly worked or are working in Germany. We also meet a couple from Germany which comes just back for holiday. They tell us 50% of the village is in Germany or has at least relatives there.

This time we are sleeping in the bar, since everybody was drinking beer.

Next day we visit again the English course in the afternoon. After that we go to Marek and finally to Alis house to eat Turkish pizza. Everybody has to dance and especially our new friends Ali and Memed are perfect in it. Smoking water pipe in the evening and sleeping again in the bar.

Jandarma being afraid of PKK

After Nemrut we want to escape to the warm mediteranian sea. That means we are going more south and coming close to the Syrian border. We get to eat our second Döner (:) on our way and have some nice pickles. Hot and sour chilli (:). To avoid the dark we find a nice sleeping place close to some olive grove. We put up our tent and start to make a fire to cook. Today’s meal is Plov. After it got dark, which happen these days very fast (around 4 a clock), 10 guys with their guns come out of the dark. I recognise it is the Turkish army called Jandarama. They try to explain us that this is a very dangerous place and we can not stay here. We finish cooking our Plov, I close our tent and then we go to the Jandarma station in Hassa. They tell us we should only stay in the centre of the city and show us a place behind a school where we could put our tent. Actually around there it is very dark and in cities I never feel save. In the cities you find often a few people which are the worst. In the TV we also saw that there are actually a lot of riots with burning cars and street fights around Turkey. E.g. in Agdara, Istanbul ..... i.e. big cities.

We wait until the Jandarama is away and then we go on and I ask a farmer if we can put the car in his yard. It is really funny, there is no common language anymore we can use. But somehow we can manage and stay there in our tent and have a dinner together with them. He, his two wife, his kids, and us.

Next morning we are having breakfast together with the family and once more we get to see how they make their fresh bread. It is in all countries a little bit different but always delicious.

(N 36.75023°, E 36.51343 °)


1st – 3rd of December:

Although visiting families is interesting it also takes a lot of power from us. We have to concentrate on all the people who want to the same time something from us. Normally, you there is no time to write Blog or anything like this, a lot of impressions and the need to understand although we do not understand their language. Therefore, it is always nice to have some day time to write down what you have seen. After Ergani our main direction is Nemrut Dagi, which is a grave of an ancient king on top of the mountains. It is also world heritage. But distances are not small here and we need 2 days to go there. We have to cross an anabranch of the Atatürk reservoir by ferry and decide to have our camp there. We do not want to go on to Nemrut since it is quite high and definitely colder than here.

(N 37.89359°, E 38.95756 °)

We are lucky the weather is still very nice and we drive up the serpentines to Nemrut Dagi. The air is freezing cold but the view in the blue sky is great. On top of the 50 m high grave hill, which is artificially made by tons of small stones, several statues can be seen. Nemrut Dagi was explored just in the last century and before this it was long time hidden in that height. Until now nobody could reach the inside or find out if there are some hidden chambers. Some weeks later this place will be closed and we are lucky to have the chance to see it. We met our first German tourist and feel that we are very close to home. To avoid the freezing cold night we go down and make our camp at a river. People always care about us when we just make a camp. They come to us ask if everything is ok, sometimes suggest a better place and ask if we need something. I really never feel unsafe in any of these Islamic countries.

(N 37.90783°, E 38.60995 °)

We go on in the direction of Syria and hopefully some last warm and sunny days. We do some shopping and buy our first Turkish Döner. An noisy place beside the main road is our shelter for this night.

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A Special Day and Turkish Hospitality vs. European Hospitality

27th – 30th of November:

We could not see so much the night before since it was already dark but the street from the Black Sea to Erzurum is amazing. It is sunny and we are driving through a huge canyon in the far east of Turkey. I never imagined that Turkey has such a nature. The sheer rock walls have structured but artistic patterns. As in other valleys on our journey the people live at the bottom having there farms and animals. Further up everything is dry. We leave this canyon and go up in the mountains. It is sparse populated but from time to time there is a village or a military check point. The houses look quite new, which means they are build in this “concrete style”. The “concrete style” is the same everywhere in the world. Just some steel and concrete is casted in a form. Ready is the house. Traditional house construction methods are already lost in here and also later we will make this experience in other parts of Turkey. This is a big difference to the countries in Central Asia where in some areas the people still build in the traditional way. Old style houses are hardly to find, maybe 30 years ago or in some hidden villages in the mountains.

(N 39.11313°, E 40.84087 °)

For two days we are driving through the mountain side. It is cold but sunny; we are often above 2000 m. As in Central Asia this landscape is used for the sheep and cow herds. The night is quite cold but we are happy to see the sun in the morning. We are driving down from the mountains and it is getting warmer. We decide to warm up and to stay a day at a warm place with a spring. The first contact to a Turkish guy is funny. We are used to communicate in Russian or English. Now we only have hands and feet to “speak”. Again the people are very friendly invite us for self-made cigarette and also to stay in there house. But for this day we decide to stay here: N 38.31786°, E 39.99798 °. It is a really nice ancient looking warm place; a small cave, a spring and the water floating through a pond into the rocky valley below us.

Next day we are washing all our clothing. Meanwhile people stop by and we get again invited by two nice guys with their two small boys to visit a wedding party. We just wait until our clothing is dry and then we drive to their village Koey, which is just 2 km away. First they prepare a lunch for us in their family’s house. Half of the village visits and most of them are family. A lot of kids, but first we always have to say hello to the elderly and most respected persons. We make a short visit at the wedding but then they say lets go to Ergnani. There we visit another uncle. It seems all the family is gathered around. Veysel just visits his family from Istanbul. He stays most of the time there studying. His English is very good and we have the chance to understand more. He explain us that today is a very special day. This is a time the whole family comes together. So why it such a important day I ask. He tells me the story: “Allah asked in ancient a man to kill and sacrifice his son for him. Asking this was just a test if the man really would do it. The man takes the knife and tries to cut the neck of his son but it seems it is impossible to cut. Allah sends a sheep to him and tells him he should kill the sheep instead and share it with the poor people. That is what the people do this day.”
We saw a lot of people killing a cow or sheep beside the street. For the rich it is obligatory to share this with the poor and they do it.

All people sitting in one room, in case an older or respected person enters the room everybody stands up to greet him or her. Just after he/she finds a place everybody else is sitting down. The elderly are much respected. Mostly the kids or the young woman are sitting on the carpet and only a few are sitting on something like a sofa that is above the others. We eat; we drink and talk a lot. Veysel makes always kidding with the people. He tells them that Kotomi can speak Kurdish. Some women start to talk to Kotomi in fast Kurdish happy to know that she will understand. Finally everybody recognises and we are laughing all together. Actually they all can speak Kurdish but they are not fanatic PKK fighters. Veysel explains that most of them living in peace with the Turkish. For him it does not matter if somebody is Turkish or Kurdish.

We talk a lot with him and Veysel tells me that he experienced already in Europe that the hospitality we experience now he could not receive in there. Unfortunately, I have to agree and I tell him that I am always ashamed about this. I hope he can visit us one day and I could give him shelter and show that he can also find hospitality in Europe. I guess most people are afraid to invite a foreigner, they are not able to trust the people. Nevertheless, later on we experience that the Turkish do not trust other Turkish/Kurdish/Arabic or other way around. It is strange they trust us but they wouldn’t trust their own people in some cases.

Later we sleep at Veysel’s cousin’s house in the town. There we meet his father and the rest of the family. I have to say that I got in trouble with all the names, it was like 50 names this day and I am sorry for that but it is just to much names in the short time L.

(N 38.26583°, E 39.77236 °)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We will come back to Georgia!

24th – 26th of November:

In the morning we visit the Stalin museum in Gori. Actually visiting this museum was the only reason to go to Gori, but we met such nice people there that we almost forgot about the museum. It is always like that, we have a main direction and are open for everything what happen. Finally, the monument to visit gives us just a direction. However, before we leave we wanted to see the museum. Unfortunately, the museum shows basically the heroic parts of Stalin’s live. Most interesting is for me the house he was born in. It stands in the a park and as protection they build something like a hall with antique columns over it.

We would like to see more of Georgia, its people and nature. Unfortunately, now it is not really the time for our kind of travel. In the mountains is already snow and the streets are difficult to go. In the lowlands you have rain coming from the Black Sea. We decide to definitely come back to Georgia another time. The street in the South through the mountains sounds nice, but all suggest just to go to Batumi as the road in the mountains are closed because of snow. I am not sure and with the broken spring of the car I am not in the mood for an Off-road adventure. Somewhere in the mountains between Gori and Batumi we find a sleeping place in the mountains. Again people come and invite us to there home to drink some wine and stay there. We have to refuse since we need some rest from the drinking in the last days (:).

(N 42.09221°, E 42.3084°)

When we arrive in Batumi it is already afternoon. We decide to do some shopping and I bring my shoes to a shoemaker for repair. It is to late to cross the border to Turkey that day and anyway I have to pick up my shoes next day. We eat some Katchapuri (cheese pie) and drive back to the scenic bluff at the black sea. From the street it is going down very steep to the sea but all the way down you have mandarin trees and some houses from time to time. Everything seems to be private area. I drive a small road down to such a house. I can see some people and ask if we could park our car behind the house and open our tent. The lady, her name is Valentina, offers us a place in her house to stay. She, her son and the grandmother are living there. In the moment we are there they just sell their harvest of mandarins to an Armenian guy who will sell it later in Armenia. Around half a ton they harvested and are tiered from the hard day. In the evening we are chatting and I recognise that her Russian is very good and also with her son she speaks Russian. Actually she has Georgian passport but is Russian Nationality. In this part of Georgia still a lot of Russians are living, although a lot of them left already because of the bad economic situation. She tells us a lot of Georgians work in Russia and especially at the universities. The other way round it is not like this anymore. She prefers to speak Russian and is not really used to the Georgian language. The old Russian times she likes and a lot of things seemed to be better. In former times this area around the Black Sea was very touristic. Nowadays there is almost no more tourism. She complains that everything is too expensive here and most Russian will go to Turkey for holiday instead of Georgia. But she do not want to go to Russia. It seems she has a hard but satisfied live in something which looks for me like paradise. She has her own cow, potatoes and all kinds of vegetable. From the mandarins she has a small income which helps her family to buy the things she can not crow. But she starts dreaming and telling us how nice it is here in spring and summer. A lot of flowers and a smell in the air you never forget. We have to come back in these seasons she says and we really think once more that this was not the last time we visit this cultural and natural rich country.

(N 41.7634 °, E 41.75167 °)

In the morning we start for Turkey and say Good Bye to Valentine such a warm hearted and strong lady. We hope that we will see her again.

Again I risk filling up my entire additional canister. Again 140 Litre illegal Diesel are inside the car. From Azerbaijan to Georgia the Diesel price doubled from 30 EUR Cent to around 60 EURO Cent and now from 60 Cent to 1.2 EUR. The border check point is located just between the black sea and the steep rocks of the fast ascending mountains. It is an incredible place. The street is blocked by a fence and after entering the neutral zone you drive through scanners and a big gate is closed behind you. We are trapped and I am always hoping they won’t find the Diesel. Georgian’s check this time is no problem as we just leave the country. In Turkey everything feels already European; the custom guy is not really interested. He looks inside sees all the “garbage” and he let us go. Just get car insurance for 20 USD for 3 month and we are in Turkey. It is dark, heavy rain, and no cheap place to stay. We go to the South into the mountains and after 100 km of amazing good streets it clears up and we make our camp.

(N 40.84494°, E 41.68151 °)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Great Time with Micha in Gori

19th-23rd of November:

A short visit to Tbilisi an old and interesting town is all we planed for the day. It is not like Baku, the houses are not perfectly renovated. For me this town has more charm than Baku. Nevertheless, in the evening we go on to Gori and want to make a camp somewhere on the way. We can not find a good place, it is cold and windy and suddenly we are already in Gori. The homestay from Kotomi's guide book is not easy to find. But father destiny helps us again. When asking for the street where the homestay should be, we get invited by Micha and his friends. Micha is director of an Alpine club and also of World Vision Gori. In the evening we celebrate together with him and his co-workers (friends) the coming day (:). After travelling almost 4 month in Islamic countries we are back in the world of wine and beer. All of them doing their own wine and brought it that evening in 30 litre tanks. It is first time for Kotomi to drink such a wine. We really enjoy the wine, the food and the company of Micha and his friends. We learn how to drink in Georgia. There is no drink without a toast. We drink for peace in the world, health, woman, kids, ….., ….., ….., ….. until the 30 litre are finished (:).

Friday: In the next morning Micha invites us to a very special Georgian breakfast. We are driving to a shop of his friend. It is a small cafeteria from a butcher. The special food which is necessary after heavy drinking consists basically of milk and bowels of the cow. It is called Xas and you have to drink 3 class of Vodka with it. For us drinking Vodka in the morning is quite hard but we give our best. Coming back to his office the training or conference already started. The guys who already participated in the training several times before are drinking beside. Tschatscha is the stuff with 75% alcohol called. I kindly refuse but Kotomi is very brave and stands 6 more of this dangerous stuff. Meanwhile we are disturbing their conference when we are walking through the conference room to come to Michas “royal” office. There we use the internet and from time to time we chat with the great and interesting people from World Vision. World Vision organizes and supports the help for the refugees from the last years war with Russia. Almost everybody lost somebody in the war but still they do not hate the Russians. Although for them it is partially hard to understand the reasons of this war. Along the highway from Tbilisi to Gori we saw a lot of this huge refugee camps. That is all which we can see from the war. Gori itself was also bombed but it can not be seen so much. Almost everything is renovated.

Saturday: We go on a trip to Kakheti region with all the workers of World Vision. I am a little bit scared in the bus, since the driver seems to make a rally. Fortunately we arrive safe at the monastery but with a quite high adrenalin level. The monastery is located just in front of the snow covered Caucasian mountains and the day is clear and sunny. The monastery was used as storage room in the communistic times and almost all paintings were destroyed. Now around 20 years after independence they still have to renovate and to bring back the beauty of this monastery. All together we have a picnic and of course with Tschatscha (:). After being almost drunken, we visit an old kings palace that also includes a gallery of old and new art. In the night the guys from World Vision Tbilisi join us in a restaurant where we enjoy full course Georgian food and experience the great Georgian dancing.

Sunday: That is the day before the Saint Georges day. We are drinking all the day, I stick with wine but Kotomi can not refuse the 75 % Tschatscha. She is already drunk in the morning and has to sleep all the afternoon. In the evening we are again invited to a restaurant with all kinds of Georgian food and a lot of dancing. Enjoying live with food and dancing is great and I enjoy the time with these people and their Georgian soul. Kotomi is very moved by this emotional dancing and is almost crying.

Monday: It is cold outside and raining, it is Saint Georges day, the day of Georgia. Kotomi can not do anything, sleeping all day, recovering from all the alcohol. In the evening we visit together with Micha and his friends a village and are drinking, eating again.

(N 42.01383°, E 44.13831 °)