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Wednesday, 13 January 2010 08:11

Turkey to UK - Kalkan to Çanakkale

Day 1.

Left a dark and rainy Kalkan at 6.50am on Wednesday 13th January 2010.  Temperature 10c.

The aim today, is to reach Çanakkale, which we reckon is about 750km - about ten and a half hours driving.

We are looking forward to the trip, and to seeing family and friends in the UK, but we can't help feeling sad as we drive up the new road, overlooking a shadowy Kalkan Bay.  

It looks like the coast guard is leaving too.  One of the last things we see of Kalkan, is his wake as he heads off towards Mouse & Snake islands.

Initially at least, the route is familiar.  We set off in the direction of Dalaman - a journey we have done on quite a few occasions.

The previous night, I had gone to the petrol station to fill up, but they were out of unleaded 97RON fuel, so I decided I would fill up en route in the morning.  The tank is low, but there are lots of petrol stations on the way, aren't there?

Well yes there are, but unfortunately, they all appear to be closed as we drive by, so early in the morning.  Not wishing to waste time, I drove on thinking that eventually we will find one that is open.  The low fuel light comes on, and the on board computer is counting down our range - how many miles we have left in the tank.  

It gets to 4 miles, and I am starting to feel a bit nervous, when round the corner appears a petrol station.  It is in darkness, but a solitary Turk is inside watching TV.  Is it the night watchman?  No - the petrol station is open.  Relief.

And on we go - past Fethiye, past Dalaman, and heading in the direction of Muğla.  The roads are clear - traffic is light, but the rain is coming down and there is a lot of standing water on the roads.  

We pass many Turkish men on scooters, who must be absolutely soaked to the skin.  Some appear to be wrapped in sheets of plastic - maybe cut-offs from their greenhouse, which flap wildly in the wind as they speed along.

Close to Marmaris is the small town of Akyaka, a lovely place to stop off if you have time - we don't.  At this point you go up a steep and winding mountain, passing a number of stuffed sheep as you wind your way up.  In Spain they have donkey souvenirs, in this part of Turkey it's sheep.

On we go, past Aydın, Izmir, Menemen (which must be the cauliflower capital of Turkey, from the number of lorries we saw stacked with them), and Aliağa.

Before we get to Edremit, we stop off in the small coastal village of Çandarlı.  It has a sweeping bay and a lovely castle, which dates from around 1300AD.  The castle looks remarkably English.  We buy fruit from the market, and simit from the baker, for our lunch.

Below: Çandarlı bay and shoreline.


Below: Çandarlı castle from around 1300AD.

Çandarlı castle

Onwards, past Edremit, past Troy, which incidentally, has a naff, Ronsealed, wooden horse, which must be all of 30 years old!  Then we get to Çanakkale, our destination.

Below:A view of Küçükkuyu, not far from Edremit.

View of Küçükkuyu

Below: Local produce on sale, not far from Troy.

not far from Troy

We took advice from Murat, a friend of ours in Kalkan, and he suggested driving a little further to Lapseki to catch the ferry to Gelibolu (Galipoli).  So we did.  We arrived at 5.20pm and got straight on to the 6pm ferry to Gelibolu.

We decided to make the journey across the water now, just in case there is a change in the weather overnight.  It takes about half an hour to cross.  And it's bloody freezing.  Well, it's actually 4c, but it feels cold to us.

We quickly find the Öztürk Hotel and settle in for the night.  Just 100TL for bed and breakfast.  We are slightly ahead of schedule.  We reflect on the day.

The weather today was wet in the morning, warm and sunny in the afternoon, then overcast as it began to get dark.

The scenery was brilliant.  From Aliağa onwards the road to Çanakkale hugs the coast and if you look to your left you can see the Aegean Sea, and Greek islands in the distance.  It's a busy shipping lane and you can see plenty of activity, with many vessels probably on their way to or coming from the Bosphorus.

You forget how green Turkey is.  For mile after mile there are tree covered mountains, some of them topped with a fresh sprinkling of snow.  You also drive past a number of plains, with all manner of crops growing.

The roads are not bad.  You always need to be on alert for the occasional pothole that jumps out to make your bones rattle, but at least the traffic flows freely - there are no hold ups at all.

Start: 06.50.
Stop: 19.00
Miles: 498 (802km)
Missed turns: 1
Directions asked: 1
Bags of maltesers eaten: 1
Snow encountered: none.
CD of the day: Gabriel - Greatest Hits.

Tomorrow it's the border, and then Greece.

Read about the next day