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Türkiye

"Luck doesn't exist, it's called fate."

Alain Delon

Turkey is our real favorite of the trip. We have already discovered several countries where we have been very well received, but here, as in Iran, the tradition of hospitality is taken to a whole new level and breaks all records! We also loved the delicious desserts found in the country as well as the variety of landscapes that often take our breath away, but you will learn more about it in the paragraphs and photos below.

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Selimiye Cami Mosque

In the city of Edirne, we discover several mosques, that of Selimiye Cami (photo opposite), that of Uc Serefeli Camii, but the one that caught our attention the most is that of Eski Cami which is the oldest in 'between them. Inside the latter, with its nine domes, we discover huge mandalas of different colors and shapes that completely fascinate us.

 

The Selimiye Cami Mosque, due to its size, is the most impressive of the three mosques. It is unfortunately under construction and therefore we cannot visit it. It's a shame, because historically this mosque is one of the most important in Turkey. It is cited as one of the main buildings in Turkish-Ottoman architectural history. It also has an important place in the hearts of the Turks and is considered the masterpiece of the architect Sinan. In 2011, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hagia Sophia

Istanbul, this metropolis of more than 15 million inhabitants located on either side of the Bosphorus, with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia, is our gateway to the second continent of our trip.

 

We arrive in the cultural capital of Turkey in the early morning. We start our city tour with a “free walking tour”. This 3-hour guided tour gives us a quick overview of the history of Istanbul as well as the main attractions of the most touristic district of the city, among others, Hagia Sophia.

 

Hagia Sophia is the most famous monument in Istanbul and we have the chance to discover it by day, but also by night when very few people are there. Being almost alone in this monument of history is a privileged moment of which we savored every second. The name Hagia Sophia comes from the Greek Hagia Sophia, which means “Holy Wisdom”. In Turkish, Hagia Sophia is called Ayasofya. It is an ancient Christian basilica which was built during the time of Constantinople, in the 6th century.  In the 15th century, at the time of Sultan Mehmed II, Hagia Sophia was first transformed into a mosque before becoming a museum in 1934. Since 2020, it has again been considered a mosque and reopened to Muslim worship.

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Turkish Breakfast

The famous Turkish breakfasts are of great importance to the locals. They are also a big hit with tourists. This is an experience not to be missed if you too love breakfasts and are traveling to Turkey.

 

We have tasted several, in different places in the country, however, the one we highly recommend is the one we ate at the Velvet Café in Istanbul.

 

At the table, we are served a bit of everything, homemade jams, fruit, local savory specialties, local spreads with varied tastes and of course their homemade chai. This typical Turkish tea will be served to us everywhere and on any occasion in the country.

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Before our visit to the Istanbul Grand Bazaar, we had been warned that we would be accosted on all sides, that they would try to sell us lots of trinkets and that it would be unbearable. To our surprise, our experience is quite different. Upon our arrival in the Bazaar, we are certainly accosted by the sellers, but they are neither disturbing nor insistent. On the contrary, we really enjoyed discussing them and discovering the atmosphere of this mythical place in the city.

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The meeting with JB

In Demircili, near the city of Çeşme, there is a famous spot that many  "vanlifers" do not want to miss after their discovery of Istanbul. Arriving there, we discover a small almost island surrounded by turquoise water which makes the place heavenly. He has several vans, but they're not just tourists. There are also locals who come here with their camp or just to swim and enjoy the sunset.

 

On the spot, we see Jean-Baptiste disembarking with his dog Oli. We had already met them in the parking lot in Istanbul, but didn't necessarily expect to see them again. In the end, JB will become one of our closest friends on the road and one of the travelers with whom we will spend the most time.

 

Tonton JB, as he is nicknamed (in connection with Lucky), has already been on the road for 4 years and he has been able to combine business with pleasure. He works as a press photographer, a job that fits perfectly with his way of life.

 

When we love photography, there are a few encounters that can mark us. Sevan, he has 3. Roman who encouraged him to take an interest in the technique of photography and no longer just press the shutter stupidly. Jeremy with whom he liked to improve and finally JB who gave him, according to him, a new breath.

Ulubey Canyon

We discover the Ulubey Canyon as a truly grandiose spectacle that nature offers us. A simply magnificent mix between the ochres of the earth, the green of the meadows and the blue of the sky.

 

The canyon offers a glass terrace that can give the impression of walking in a vacuum. However, we much prefer to discover the different hiking routes that can be found on site at this tourist infrastructure.

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The baby puppies

We are still at Ulubey canyon. During a hike, when returning to the top of the canyon, we came face to face with 5 little puppies, all cuter than each other. They are not afraid and come to us to play. Attracted by the noise of her puppies, the mother arrives and begins by scolding Lucky before sensing him and accepting his presence. The puppies are in great shape, but the mother is starving for food. We don't have any kibble with us so we decide to go get some from the van.

 

We are back very quickly, in the company of JB, with a few kilos of croquettes under our arms. We need a little time to find the mother, but she welcomes us (or rather the croquettes) with great joy. She is apparently very hungry, but after eating half of the kibble we give her, she goes to find her puppies to give them milk. Definitely, she really takes care of her little ones.

Pamukale

Near Denizli, we see, in the distance, the white hills of Pammukale. And no, it's not snow, nor a glacier, but as the Turks call it: "a cotton castle". These hills are covered with limestone deposited, over the centuries, by the waters coming from the mountains. Around.

We have an idea running through the minds of the three of us, Chloé, JB and me. We want to take our mountain bikes and ride those white hills. We are all very motivated to make beautiful images and videos. We do not hesitate long before equipping ourselves and going there.

 

It's really crazy, we spend a unique moment driving on this limestone and being taken on video by J-B who also enjoys his photo-video equipment.

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Limestone water basins

These white hills are also covered with many small terraces formed by travertine (it is the water that overflows and forms these different layers of limestone.) They are formed over millennia, by the infiltration of thermal waters into the limestone rocks.

 

These waters loaded with minerals and CO2, when they evaporate and reveal this solidified calcium, hence this bright whitish color. It is this process that gives rise to these natural pools.

Salda Golu

Salda Gölü Lake, located inland in Turkey, is considered the Maldives of Turkey. Upon our arrival in this idyllic setting, we discover transparent, turquoise water and fine white sand that would make the most beautiful beaches in the world pale. It is a perfect place for hiking, strolling on the beach and swimming.

 

Be careful though, in some places the sand is loose or even shifting. Sevan experienced it, at his expense, which, I readily admit, made me laugh.

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Incegiz Canyon

Taking the road towards Bodrum, we look for a halfway point where we could stop. On the map, by typing canyon, I come across the Kemer dam lake where we can go there without a big detour.

 

Once we arrive at the village of Incegiz, we continue on the road that takes us to the lake. From there, we have on one side this very impressive canyon in the shape of a serpentine with its large cliffs forming this narrow passage where the water passes. On the other side, we discover a superb panorama over the reservoir.

 

The place is just majestic and makes us want to spend a night there. We are rewarded with a superb sunset which ends the day wonderfully.

New Logo

In Turkey, many love to customize their vehicles of all kinds, especially their motorhome. There are many garages and companies that do all kinds of work.

 

Since our departure, we would like to put stickers on our van to personalize it. Throughout our first weeks of travel in Turkey, we came across several vans with great achievements. It was an owner of one of these vans who recommended an address, here in Bodrum, that we could ask about. So we will  take a look and see how much our project would cost us. We discuss with the boss who announces a price of 310 euros for half a day of work. In Switzerland, it would probably have cost us more than 1500.-. We gladly accept his offer and are delighted with the result.

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Work quickly done, well/poorly done?

The slides of our kitchen drawers have let us down and we absolutely have to find someone who can change them for us. In Izmir, we find super nice carpenters, including a grandpa who was still working then and must be over 70 years old. With Google Translate, we try to explain our problem to them as well as possible. They tell us they have it all figured out, but we're not sure that's really the case. During the works, some of their gestures and ideas frighten us. So we decide to stay with them to have an eye on what they are doing.

 

They announce us a price defying all competition and a deadline more than fast. However, we have heard from other travelers that the Turks are certainly super available and accommodating, but that they tend to do a bit of a do-it-yourself job. In the end, they fixed our drawers well for us, but if we weren't behind them to check their work and give them feedback, then we don't know in what state we would have found our van.

Kitesurfing in Akyaka

The small town of Akyaka is one of the corners of Turkey that offers the best wind conditions in the country. Indeed, the thermals that go up the Gulf of Gökova accelerate before arriving at the kite spot. So, from May to September, when it is sunny, the wind is almost guaranteed.

 

Sevan finds a kite school with a famous spot for beginners. We pay our entrance for the beach 200 TL (+/- CHF 13.-). It's expensive though. I understand the idea of wanting to reserve a part of the beach for kiting to avoid accidents between bathers and kiters, but to charge the equivalent of a restaurant for 4 is a bit exaggerated. In addition to this, when taking kite lessons, this entrance fee is not deducted. After 2 years without getting back on a board, I am nevertheless very excited to be able to kite again.

 

A few days later, we discover that barely further (literally the beach next door) there is another spot with the same wind conditions and where we can kite. We decide to go there so that I can make further progress. Today, Sevan is my coach. He has an eye on me while giving me advice.  After a while of practice, I finally manage to tack while going upwind, I'm so happy!!!

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Meetings and travel

In Gökbel, we go up on a hill which overhangs the sea. We find there J-B and Oli who are not alone. On the spot, there are a few other vans. So we go around the travelers to get to know them.

 

Among them, there are two Spaniards, the 2 manchegos: Luisa and Rosse. They are super funny and caught the travel bug a few years ago and never want to stop. Their goal is to go around the world and they have already crossed all of America, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.

 

There are also two Swiss, Particia and Filipe. Yes, these are the first French-speaking Swiss that we meet on the road. (And who, to our greatest disappointment, don't know how to play yass.) They travel for 2 and a half months, because they have kept everything in Switzerland. As a result, they travel ultra fast, they have done more than 20,000 km and more countries than us since the beginning of our trip.

 

After a presentation of our respective houses on wheels, we will all admire the breathtaking view. We also share a moment together the next morning, we talk about our very similar backgrounds and lives. These meetings are always moments rich in sharing. Sometimes it lasts for an evening and sometimes they last more than 3 months (right JB?).

Kayakoy

Before 1914, the village of Kayaköy was mainly inhabited by Orthodox Christians (also called the Greeks of Asia Minor because of their religion). Following the First Great War, the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), the village lost most of its population. Despite an unsuccessful attempt to relocate the Muslim populations from Greece, who are afraid of the ghosts of the former inhabitants who were massacred there, the accommodation remains mostly empty. The 1957 earthquake definitively sealed the fate of the village which became a ghost town. Today, only the plain, located downstream from the village, is inhabited.

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Climbing in Türkiye

Geyikbayiri is a small village 25 km west of Antalya and it is one of the top places for climbing in Turkey. While this sport is very little developed in the country, the spot that we discover in this region leaves us speechless.

 

Already a little before arriving in the village, we quickly understand what motivated all these climbers to come and equip routes here. The village is located in a valley traversed by a beautiful abundant river which is surrounded on each side by large and beautiful cliffs.

 

If we drew a parallel with cheese, then here the cliffs would look like Emmental. You know this cheese with its famous holes that we confuse with Gruyère.

The cliffs are covered with dozens and dozens of caves and they are supported by extremely elegant pillars. As a climber, we don't need more to make our mouths water!

 

At the foot of the cliffs, we discover a slightly weathered pebble, but not to the point of being disturbing. The routes are really beautiful.

Konya, the worst event

In our journey, we experience intense moments of joy, love, but also fear. We worry a lot when our animal is not well for x or y reason, but that evening, this happiness turned against us.

 

Can we go back?

It all happened too fast. We stopped for 2 minutes at a gas station while I took some medicine. Knowing that this day was not the one where Lucky had his dose of release, he escaped us, he ran towards the road and there it was too late to catch up with him.

 

At that point, we don't know what could be worse than seeing him running towards that road where cars are going 110 km per hour and not being able to catch up to him and hear being rammed. We don't have the words.  At that moment, it is as if everything around us stopped. We can no longer breathe.

 

Is it just a bad dream, will we wake up?

Well no, unfortunately it really happened and we have to react quickly. We recover our cushy under the car. HE IS ALIVE, it's a real miracle. The person who hit Lucky gives us the address of a vet in Konya 25 minutes away.

There, three women were waiting for us. They take care of our Loulou, give him an injection and an infusion for the night. This night, Lucky spends it with us in the van, in a cage so that he does not move too much and to let the infusion take effect.

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The worst ordeal, continued

We couldn't imagine going through something so painful on our trip. But the best thing about this story is that Lucky comes out alive. During this accident, he was accompanied by his guardian angels, that's for sure. It's very hard because we see him in pain and we can't do anything more for him than give him painkillers and lots of love.

 

The best news  ?

Our grandpa is nothing serious. Neither the head was hit nor the organs and nothing is broken, just cracked. We spend nearly a month, with a short break, with these vets. Lucky's wounds are on joints and they keep opening up. It's difficult for little Loulou, because he had to go through complete anesthesia three times to be sewn up. We see him strong and calm. We see him beating and brave.

 

What do we take from this?

Staying strong and staying positive, our dog needs that and our dog is alive, he will get over it.

 

To talk about the TrioVet clinic that took care of Lucky, they are three young women our age,  Dilara, Tuğçe Bas and Cansu Istim who opened their practice in March 2022.  After only a few months, they are already renowned in the region and even admired. Three independent women in Turkey who open their own business is something not very common.

 

To describe them in three words, they are professional, attentive and caring. They did everything to get Lucky back on their feet and we can only thank them for that. How lucky we were to come across a firm with such a quality and kind team.

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Welcome with a capital W

Following the accident with Lucky, we have never been better surrounded than by the people here. There was not a single day without someone coming to offer us something. It is not the fact of bringing us gifts that brings us comfort, but just to receive love and sympathy when we need it most.

In this photo, it's a family who lives 5 minutes from TrioVet. One morning, a woman knocked at the van to ask us to come and settle in her place. We've never spoken to him, so we can't accept. She really insists, so we agree to come and have a coffee with her the next morning.

When we arrive in front of this big house, we

see that they cook us a lot of good things for breakfast. There is so much food lying on the table that we don't know where to start and it's all a real treat.

 

Ali, their son, works in IT, his mum works at university in science and his dad is a university professor to teach animal nutrition.

You will have understood, they are ravaged by animals.

 

Before we leave, the mother offers us to stay at their place to sleep, to shower and to enjoy as long as we wish. It is of such generosity that we are not used to it and were embarrassed. No matter how hard we tried to refuse, even more than 3 times. But, after a while, you have to know how to say yes.

They will have cooked us delicious meals and we will have been spoiled like never before. We were really lucky to meet this great family.

Lake Tuz

Lake Tuz is one of the largest lakes in the country. The latter has the particularity of being very shallow, you can walk for several kilometers without the water reaching you higher than your knees, and of being salty. With its white background, when there is little or no wind, it almost feels like walking on a mirror.

 

It is in front of this magical landscape that we find a semblance of the routine of the trip. Admittedly, we can't take Lucky on long walks, let alone go on one of our sporting adventures, but we're back on the road and it's heartwarming.

 

The next morning, we woke up at dawn to make the most of the beautiful colors of the sunrise. These fabulous landscapes that mix the white/pink of the salt and the blue of the sky transport us to waking dreams. What a pleasure to be there all three.

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Selime Katedrali

The second stage, of the road that leads us to Cappadocia, makes us stop at Ihlara. Over 1000 years ago, many Christians came to the area for refuge and dug cave houses into the surrounding mountains to hide from oppressors. These are real cities that they dug in this way and that can still be found today.

 

It is with a certain fascination that we discover the remains of this underground city. We can still easily recognize what was once the church, the cathedral, the sheepfolds, the houses or the monastery.

Cappadocia

In Turkey, Cappadocia is the place that will have most marked our memories. We are in the Göreme region and every morning hundreds of balloons take off at sunrise. There are different valleys from where we can admire this spectacle, the Love Valley, the Rose Valley and the Pigeon Valley.

 

We get up almost every morning at 4:30 a.m. to watch the hot air balloons take off and it's definitely worth it. At the end of the third morning, we must admit that we are delighted to sleep a little more.

 

It is a place where you automatically meet travelers, because no one wants to miss this region. It is indeed a tourist place, but fortunately at the time when we are there it is not filled with worlds.

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mountain biking under hot air balloons

This morning, the alarm clock goes off at 3:45. Suffice to say, it's not easy not to just roll over and go back to sleep. Instead, we take our courage in both hands and prepare our mountain bikes and set off to attack the pink valley with, on our backs, our drone and our camera. It is still dark, but we want to be in the valley before the hot air balloons take off and the sun rises.

 

On the spot, we will run a little from left to right to fill our eyes with as much as possible and take the most beautiful images possible. The show is just gorgeous!

Winery culture

We enjoy drinking chai with the locals. No matter where we are in the country, there will always be a Turk, with his teapot and his cups, ready to offer us a cup of this hot beverage. It's not much, but it makes all the difference and as soon as we leave the country we miss this little attention.

 

In the small village of Yaylacilar above the city of Trabzon, while we are in the middle of green and beautiful fields, we find ourselves, without knowing it, in the heart of a tea culture. A little further on, we see people harvesting leaves that they put in huge bags. We try to guess what they are doing, but we have to resign ourselves to asking them the question. They explain to us that they grow tea. They collect large quantities which they then sell to companies or individuals.

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The night under the stars

Arriving in the small mountain village of Yukari Kavrun which is located in the Rize region in northeastern Turkey, at an altitude of 2300 m, our goal is to do a two-day trek. This takes us to the shores of several mountain lakes. When we start the climb, the fog is there, but we nevertheless have a lot of fun, especially because it is the first big outing since Lucky's accident.

 

Once we arrive at the camp, we still do not see much, we guess the lakes which hide just behind the clouds. It is that a few moments later, that all of a sudden, the fog, like a tide descending in the plain, raises the curtain on a landscape to be cut  breath.

 

It is a moonless night and as we are almost an hour away from the first town, there is very little light pollution. The stars and the black cohosh sail shine brightly. The conditions are perfect to capture some photos of the stars.

Turkish Kurdistan

“Happiness is within you, at home, around you, and below you.”

Alain Delon

 After 8 months of traveling without having seen Turkey again and after everything we have experienced in this country, crossing the Kurdish border, we have the feeling of coming home. Furthermore, as we suddenly find ourselves in a country partially located in Europe, we suddenly feel very close to our real home, Switzerland.

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5 years of love

On April 1st, we celebrate our 5th anniversary. For the occasion, we are going to explore the Botan çayi canyon. The detour is totally worth it. We are having a wonderful birthday day.

Nemrut Crater

The Nemrut volcano, located in the national park of the same name, peaks at 2,800 m. Already from a distance, we see it enthroned in the middle of the landscape covered by a layer of white gold. Faced with this spectacle, we only want to get closer to the volcano and climb it.

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Magic spot

Lately we have done a lot of driving in a short time. Driving along the shores of Lake Van, we discover a small peninsula on which we find the ideal spot to stop. The place is more beautiful than anything we could have hoped to find.

Lake Van

Around Van Lake, there is no shortage of heavenly spots. Here, we arrive at the end of a road and find ourselves facing an island with an Armenian church and a pretty pontoon. From here we can admire some high snow-capped peaks in the background of the lake.

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İshak Paşa Sarayı

We find a small spot upstream of the Ishak Pasa Sarayi palace which we admire from afar before going to visit it.

 

This palace and its mosque are from the Ottoman period, but we can see the influence of Persian, Armenian and Georgian architecture. The Palace also has a caravanserai to meet the needs of merchants traveling on the Silk Road. Recently renovated, we liked this place a lot and we don't regret stopping there.

Colorful mountains

When we discover the Tuzluca Rainbow Mountains, it is the first time we have discovered formations of this kind. The different colors of the soil, due to different successive layers of sediment, fascinate us. We enjoy walking up and down it, because each new place offers a new, unique point of view on this magnificent picture of nature.

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