XV - The long road journey from Kas, Turkey back to the UK.
To view our previous log entries please use the following link:
XIV - Visitors on the Lycian Coast.
To view our next log entries please use the following link:
XVI - Life in Kas Marina.
Addition links from our touring the areas mentioned in this log earlier this year:
IV - The road journey through Slovenia continues. (8th - 14th May 2013)
V - The road journey into Croatia continues. (14th - 18th May 2013).
VI - The road journey continues into Bosnia & Herzegovina, then back into Croatia. (18th - 22nd May 2013)
Log Entry Monday 7th October - Back in the UK, almost 2,800 miles covered in the week, I definitely will not be driving for a couple of days at least!
We start the day with an extended breakfast, our last opportunity to exchange views and opinions on many subjects? I pack my gear into the car for the last leg of the journey, I bid my farewells and leave with a prepared lunch, I feel almost like a child being packed off to school for the day! The last couple of days have passed so quickly, we have debated many topics, discussed and exchanged views, a very interesting couple of days. I check the possible routes north to Calais, with my vehicle profile programmed into the satnav there is no time or fuel differences between toll and non-toll roads, apart from the toll costs of coarse - I opt for the non-toll route, both being a distance of just over 500 miles to Calais, my road journey from Dover a little over 200 miles. It is still raining and appears to have been raining most of the night, checking the weather, it should brighten up a little later, hopefully? The non-toll route will take me from Germany, into France, Luxemburg, Belgium and then back into France to pick up the ferry at Calais.
There was nothing of real interest to report on the drive, just long. We did pass through a rather picturesque area of France, the heavy rain and extremely low cloud made safe photography almost impossible. A positive aspect was that the rain did clear up by early afternoon which made the drive a little easier, dual carriageway all the way except for a break of 15 around miles. I arrived in Calais in darkness and was able to shift my booking to an earlier sailing without any additional cost.
The ferry left on time at 2300 hours, I was able to meet up with Ann again after three weeks apart, about 0300am, a long day.
Log Entry Saturday 5th October - A lazy day looking around the area, the final drive to Calais and the ferry to the UK tomorrow.
The day begins with a trip town to the town to pick up fresh pastries, the chatter starts immediately, after breakfast we take a short drive into the nearby, local surroundings. Our friends are extremely lucky, they live in beautiful surroundings, everything is so green, especially to me after so many months in "scorched surroundings".
We first visit a local peak over looking there village, a well preserved picnic area not a spot of graffiti or discarded waste - perfect.
I am then taken for a further drive around the local lanes, mostly single track, but very little traffic to cause any issues.
The wildlife is quite amazing, we pull up as we spot a hawk, it checks us out and takes off!
We climb high to a local pub in one of the small hamlets, we sample their posted "new wine", wine been made locally in the early stages of fermentation, sweet but seems very potent from the conversation that follows.
It is then time to head back to their house for dinner, unfortunately the rain begins to fall and becomes very heavy indeed. It is early evening already, we spend the rest of the evening chatting, I retire early with a long day ahead tomorrow.
Log Entry Friday 4th October - A short hop across Germany, into Switzerland for an hour or so then onto Lörrach, Germany, 186 easy miles.
Wangen im Allgäu is a picturesque, interesting place, I only wish that I had taken some photographs last night as I arrived as this morning it is raining?
Described as a Mediaeval city it certainly has it's appeal, on such a short stay it was impossible to learn any thing locally, from the internet:
"The city was first mentioned in 815 under the name "Wangun"
in a monastery document. In 1217, Emperor Fredrick II declared in a document
that Wangen should remain in royal hands. In 1286, King Rudolph I granted Wangen
the status of free imperial city. During the late Middle Ages, the city's growth
was amplified by its central location at the crossroads between Ravensburg,
Lindau, Leutkirch, and Isny and the growing trade through the Alps. Wangen's
production and export of manufactured goods, particularly scythes and canvas,
gave the city a tremendous positive trade balance. This surplus money was used
to acquire lands outside of the city walls, thus giving Wangen a safeguard against
economic fluctuations. During the German Mediatisation, in 1802, Wangen lost
its status as a Free City and was incorporated into the Kingdom of Bavaria;
it later changed hands in 1810 to the Kingdom of Württemberg. In 1936,
the city was officially named "Wangen in Allgäu" From 1938 up
unto its dissolution and integration into the Ravensburg district in 1972, Wangen
was the capital of the Wangen rural district. In 1973, Wangen was officially
designated by the Baden-Württemberg state government to Großen Kreisstadt
(large district town) due to its population having reached 20,000. In 1999,
the largest flood in the most recent 50 years of Wangen's history completely
flooded the lower city. The city was again flooded in 2006 by the upper Argen
I arrived at the house just after lunch time, the car is about 600 miles over a due oil change. After lunch our friends guide me towards a local garage for an oil and oil filter change. As the car was lifted up on a ramp to complete the service I asked if I could look underneath. My attention was drawn to both front tyres, both tyres had a split about 7cm long on the inside wall - I felt I had been very lucky and had them fit two new tyres too?
Log Entry Thursday 3rd October - Out of Slovenia, across Austria into Germany, 1850 miles covered in total, two thirds of the way home!
I have chosen what I believe to be the best route, I continue northeast from Ljubljana in Slovenia up to the Austrian Boarder, crossing through the Austrian Alps into Germany and then west towards Calais. In the distance the mountainous region comes into view and approaches in good time, the roads are relatively quiet and of coarse now of good standard. It became clear to me that now the hold ups were down to road works, repairs now creating delays as opposed to the lack of them? Still I know what I would rather be delayed/slowed down with - roadwork's, I had never appreciated them before? (think about that statement?)
Now on toll roads and a vignette required for Austria progress is as fast as you want it to be, legally or not? I stopped at a service station for fuel, the scenery is lovely, there is a booking office here for ski trips, not yet open yet obviously.
I approach The Karawanks Tunnel (German: Karawankentunnel, in Slovene: Predor Karavanke or Karavanški Predor) in the Alpine Karawanks mountain range between Austria and Slovenia, with a total length of 7,864 meters (25,801 ft), It's construction began in 1986 and it opened on June 1, 1991 a fantastic achievement. The interesting point is that throughout it's length the radio never lost it's station and the Satnav never lost satellite tracking - how does that work, or had I nodded off?
Once in Austria the scenery kept my mind occupied, quaint little hamlets of traditional style housing, predominately stone and wooden build.
I pulled into a second service area to stretch my legs and grab some lunch and was able to take in my first view of snow on the north facing slopes on the mountain tops - I must try harder with my socks, my bare feet are now freezing?
The road and it's roadwork's went on, mile after mile steadily clocked up, now an easy drive with a different problem - boredom!
We crossed into Germany and the motorist seemed to me to go nuts! Whether it was physiological or not 30-40% of motorist now were doing around 200km/hour, my boredom disappeared as I managed the traffic - my speed was no where near that! I will pass close to the Swiss Boarder to meet up with friends tomorrow, I pull over into the Luftkurort area for accommodation in a town call Wangen im Allgäu, a lovely traditional German town.
Log Entry Wednesday 2nd October - Today, through Serbia & Croatia, now at Ljubljana, half way across Slovenia (545 miles), now half way to the UK!
As I checked out of my B&B there was no need to pay the bill, they insisted that I did last night - must be my appearance? I must confess I turned up, in 12C at the door shivering, dressed in shorts, sandals and a large woolen sweater I had grabbed out of my bag. This morning I have long trousers, tee shirt, sweater, and shoes, no socks I could not stand that transformation too in one day! I am pleased that I changed my dress code, as I started the car the outside temperature read 5C.
The reasonable dual carriage way dropped to single road for the last 8 miles or so, work ongoing on it's completion to the boarder. It allowed me to appreciate the autumn colours springing up all around. Eventually I reached the Bulgarian/Serbian Boarder and passed through with no incident.
Serbia was completely different, the quality of the road fell between the two boarder controls, the villages are tired, existence must be pretty harsh in the majority of cases? We did not stop at all in Serbia during our trip in May, I have no intension to do so now, I will drive straight through. It was a little sad to see people walking along this busy roadway, carrying shopping bags, the same could be seen walking through fields, from where and to where ever?
The positive aspect is that there is the investment on infrastructure ongoing as we saw in May, a continuous section of motor way being cut through the countryside, running parallel to the minor road all traffic are forced to use. It must be one of the biggest sources of income (employer) to the people in the country? Very little "industry" was visible off the highway, where if it existed, one would expect to see it, perhaps I am being unfair? The majority of road was single carriage way, however they have opened a relatively new toll rode between Nis and Belgrade, however that is already in need of repair in whole sections. The rain eventually caught up with me however on the toll road I was able to keep going, usually in the fast lane as it was less damaged by the heavy good vehicles using predominantly the inner lane. The carriageway took me most of the way to the boarder, however it's condition seemed to worsen, perhaps an older section, building the roadway from north to south?
Crossing into Croatia was completely different, both from the road condition,, buildings, both industrial and private dwellings, the journey became now very boring. The only interesting thing going on was the surroundings and the great birds of pray, hawks and such like, feeding from the roadside kill, sitting on fence posts watching the humans pass at speed? Traveling on the carriageway a high proportion of the vehicles were Italian and German, saw no British?
Crossing over into Slovenia was a step up in standards again all round, better roads, habitat and more modern industrial buildings. A vignette/tax (€15) had to be paid to use the highways and even scanner stations to detect/confirm you are complying, a completely automated toll system. I carried on to Ljubljana, half way across heading toward Austria and sort a bed for the night.
Log Entry Tuesday 1st October - 499 miles covered today in 13 hours, I rest 10 miles south of the Serbian Boarder
As I pack the car there is light rain, more, much heavier forecast ahead which could be problematic, my intension is to try and stay ahead of the rain and clearly get as far as possible today. On the road by 0700, the sky certainly full of some thing - in fact today I do not wear my sun glasses at all, the first day for many months. As I make my way we have the odd light shower comes across from the west, but nothing of any significance.
I was amazed as I headed north just how many trucks were carrying cattle, you do not really see cattle on the south coast of Turkey. It is a shame to see how they are transported? The trucks are simple open top trucks, with a wooden platform secured over the cattle's head to carry feed etc. Each beast has a halter tied tightly to the side of the truck, for two reasons I guess, firstly to keep them upright, on their feet, they can get more in? Secondly, possibly to stop them making any attempt to jump out which would be disastrous! It is not visible through the blurred photograph but the look in the beasts eyes appear quite alarming, they must be transported in the forced standing position for some time considering the amount of feed the trucks also carry. I did actually see one truck pulled over on the hard shoulder, the driver was beating one of the beasts with a length of rope with a knot it - very alarming I thought?
As I get within fifty miles of Istanbul it becomes very clear as to exactly where the majority of Turks must be, seemed strange after hundreds of miles of very light if not no density of population at all, then all of a sudden, this mass density!
It took me nearly two hours to make my way around Istanbul, to the north and south of the city there were barricades of armed police and military, slowing the three lanes of traffic down, both north and south bound at each point to allow them to walk amongst the traffic and inspect the traffic - looking for some one or some thing, it was chaos to describe it lightly. I saw the same at Sofia in Bulgaria?
In time I made the Turkish/Bulgarian Boarder, I moved quite quickly through the Turkish side initially, through "no mans land" and pulled up at the Bulgarian Boarder, my papers were inspected. I was then told that I had to return to kiosk number 64 on the Turkish Boarder, they had a problem with myself that would not allow me into Bulgaria. I waved the queue of cars behind me back to allow me to return to the Turkish Control. I did not want to fight against the traffic in the car, so I parked the car up in the Duty Free area and walked to kiosk 64. I explained that I had been sent back by the Bulgarians and was eventually told that the problem was with Customs on the inwards control, I was standing on the outward, if that makes sense? I again walked over to kiosk 104 on the inwards control booths and explained my situation. I have to say they seemed confused and made a number telephone calls and enquiries on the computer? I was told eventually all was now clear I would be able to pass into Bulgaria. I returned to the Bulgarian passport control in the car, and passed that checkpoint with no issue this time. As I left the kiosk, the gent (Bulgarian) who had been dealing with me shouted some thing to the gents at the the nearby kiosk, they were Customs. I was checked out alright, I was taken over to one side, my story checked 2/3 times and every thing inspected closely, eventually I was let through! One strange thing I did notice was that a lot of the Bulgaria vehicles were packed with disposable nappies, one van appeared full of them?
It took me about an hour and a half to pass through, the cause I was not told, even through I asked - always best to treat these guys with respect, you never know? As it was problem with the inward control it must have been something like an error in the initial processing of our entrance into Turkey back in May?
Bulgaria was as I remembered it, minor, poor roads and clear signs of hardship, it was about 240 miles to the Serbian Border, most of it to be on single carriage way?
The time passed reasonably well, and the forecast thunder storms held off, however I could make out lightening over the mountains to the west as I approached Sofia. As darkness fell I pushed on as far as I could, the crossing of the Bulgarian/Serbian Boarder would be a task for tomorrow and daylight, so I pulled over for the night at a place call Dragoman, 10 miles south of the boarder.
Log Entry Monday 30th September - The first day I make Pamukova in the north, 276 miles south of the Turkish/Bulgarian boarder.
Went out last night to one of the restaurants, "Jimmy Jokers" and had a few beers with friends before I started the trip in the morning. It was never going to be an easy start as I knew I would not get much sleep that night as the trip was completely occupying my mind - a shame it was not over, let alone just about to begin?
I was right about the poor nights sleep, three to four hours best guess? Still, I was up, showered and on the road by about 0715 hours. I stopped at one of the scenic points to take a last look of the area for a few weeks.
My route takes me first east along the coast to Finike, then turning north following the coastline of Altanya Körfezi north to Altanya then across central Turkey through the mountains, a trip of 720 miles to the Bulgarian boarder. With an average speed of around 50 MPH with style of roads and traffic a mere 14 hours plus stops, driving in the darkness is difficult on these roads so I had come to terms with the trip to the boarder taking two days.
Without my navigator and photographer (Ann) pictures are few and far between as goats, tractors and a few other things that you would not expect to see on the road demand your concentration.
The traffic is in time brought to a standstill, a truck has flipped over and shed it's load of salad and vegetables, the stuff is every where. I watch as people actual get out of there cars and pick it up, one van gains two or three crates of cue cumbers and tomatoes. I sit and take in the scenery, for the hour or so we are held up, as expected there are several members of the public giving the recovery team working on the overturned truck guidance?
The overturned truck is eventually rolled back over onto it's wheels and we are allowed to pass slowly. It was then just a case of churning up the miles, I pull over to find accommodation around 1800 hours, 439 miles covered in just over eleven hours, I am very happy with my first day, I will make the boarder easily tomorrow.
There is heavy rain ahead, moving across Bulgaria and Serbia I am hoping to let it pass ahead of me as the rain obscures the potholes in the road. From the trip over from the UK, experience tells me not to drive on those roads with either rain or in the hours of darkness - the holes can be sizable and could easily damage the car?