Todays blog is going to be a little different, merely to show you how busy every. single. one. of our days is and how they are filled to the brim!
I know a few people think that all we do is drive around, chilling out, drinking wine and waiting for our next wedding to ‘crop up’…so welcome to 2 weeks in the life of 2people1life!
To set the scene and so you know where we are up to before the diary entries begin, after the wedding we had a few days relaxing with the team, packing up our shoes (!!), getting Peggy cleaned and her brakes replaced ready for our next big schlep to Athens for a TV appearance all about our Corfiot wedding.
I have literally copied my diary entries, no edits, just raw memories!
Monday 4th November
Day started beautifully waking up to a stunning view over the Gulf. We were so organised, we put the name of our prearranged (by the TV station) hotel into the GPS and planned to arrive in plenty of time to visit Athens. As we drove we chatted happily about how well this had all gone with Corfu Exclusive and Corfu Wedding Planner and looked forward to a shower after 3 nights on the
We decided to stop for lunch in the sun in an olive grove just off the road. I had a new recipe and wanted to make aubergine and lentil curry which fast turned into a nightmare. It took FOREVER to cook, when it was finally done Alex tasted it and said it needs salt then proceeded to drop the whole bowl all over himself, Peggy’s newly valeted seat and carpet and everywhere in sight.
We cleared up, laughed, tried what was left and then threw it away anyway, it was horrible. Had a salad wrap instead and set off again to the hotel…late.
Arriving in Athens we got lost and stuck in asshole traffic, a cyclist banged on the side of Peggy and Alex wanted to get out and beat him to death with his own helmet but he had bare feet (thank god). Next kick in the balls was that we didn’t even need to be in Athens, but on the coast an hour away. We got to our hotel after being lost for another hour and it was a dive.
Water was poring from the ceiling, mosquitoes were breeding in the shower and magic trees hung everywhere trying (and failing) to disguise the smell of damp rot. We left after having an arguement with the TV producer and booked into a clean hotel 15 minutes away. Ate shitty pizza for tea, all in all a shit day, regardless of the amazing scenery!
Tuesday 5th November
Worked all day trying to claim back the money we had wasted driving across the country 1000km out of our way to Athens when we had no intention of doing so and staying in hotels for no bloody reason. Even though the original TV company backed out we managed to bag another interview at the hotel at 6pm, so all was not lost!
Interview went smoothly and as it should be, just 1 hour and done.
Wednesday 6th November
Hit the road to Turkey, had enough of Greek TV BS and enquired with a solicitor about a claiming money back from the original TV company. It was the principle of the matter, they had dragged us off track and then dropped us at the last minute. A waste of everyone’s time and our money and effort.
Drove 400km to just outside of Thessaloniki and wild camped on the beach in a small seaside summer town. Hit the shops for wine and got a little tipsy.
Talked about getting a gopro, doing more filming and being pro-active with social media and maybe even getting a phone!
Thursday 7th November
Drove into Thessaloniki as supposed to be doing another interview with yet another TV company. We looked for somewhere to park in the town and have never seen anything like it. Cars parked EVERYWHERE, not a space to be seen, they were parked on central reservations, on footpaths, against roundabouts, literally everywhere!
We gave up and left and finally got online at a gas station to ask producers where we should go for the interview and it was cancelled anyway! Aarrghhh!
Drove another 300km towards Turkey and stopped again at a small seaside town. Parked up, got our comfies on and started cooking lemon chicken and within 15 minutes sirens and flashing lights surrounded us. We opened the door to the pitch black outside and 5 huge plain clothed men who instantly began quizzing us in our pants about where we are from. 2 passports each, looks weird (we had gotten new ones whilst in the UK as our original ones were full). They asked where we have been and Alex kept saying Croatia instead of Corfu. They asked where are we going and where is our entry stamp for Greece. Its all getting a bit fraught when we pointed out that we are from the EU so don’t get a stamp.
They visibly relaxed and stopped shouting over one another to explain to us that we are near the border and that they have issues with illegal immigrants coming from Iran, Pakistan and Syria and they were concerned as they didn’t recognize the vehicle.
Then they left as fast as they came. We had been swooped by border patrol.
We ate dinner and got snuggled in bed to watch a Homeland. 20 minutes in, the entire van rocked.
We sat bolt upright, put the lights on, paused the show and listened for footsteps or voices. Alex got dressed and made sure the pepper spray was handy.
Then we heard something on the roof.
I was listening so hard I could hear my heat beating, I looked out of the window but could only see black and then the van rocked again!
We decided to just leave and find somewhere else to stay. It must have been a raccoon or something, a big animal but it had shaken us so we drove away.
Further up the beach we found a street light outside a house that was being built. We stopped underneath it for a while so that we could see outside and listened but we just couldn’t relax let alone sleep. We decided that a beach patrolled by officials for desperate refugees was not the best place to stay.
We drove nearer to the town and parked by the road outside a well lit house stood alone in a big garden, watched our show and finally started to calm down. Eventually we felt comfortable enough to sleep and switched off the lights and instantly a scooter pulled up with its lights shining into the van window.
Alex got dressed again and went to look out of the window. 5 army men were stood there with torches and shouted “this is military base, you have to leave” we didn’t argue we just left and drove away for the third time. We found a beach car park eventually, well lit and collapsed exhausted into sleep (with one eye open).
It didn’t look at all scary the next day, see the pictures!
Friday 8th November
Woken up by the fishermen arriving and desperate to find a campsite for the night after very little sleep! We set of to Turkey, the Frontier!
The border crossing was relatively simple and painless and we drove into Turkey with no idea what to expect.
Set off to Galibolu for what turned out to be a phantom campsite and a dire little town for the night.
Saturday 9th November
After an arguement, a quick choke fix for Peggy and a failed map purchase we carried on on the road to nowhere. The fields all around us were devoid of crops and what would have been a dreary brown outlook was rinsed with the with the glow of the evening sun.
We drove through a perfect autumn palette of yellow ocre and burnt umber with flashes of vivid orange and green until the blue skies gave up and turned into dark dusk. We found a place to stay for the night in the car park of a restaurant, still no shower but LOTS of rabbits and a very large vocal dog.
Sunday 10th November
Got online and planned our assault on Istanbul and the embassies, our diplomatic mission. We also found a carpark near the city that would allow us to stay overnight inside Peggy. Once again, we were organised!
We arrived at lunch time and without too much drama at our car-park which was right on the waters edge and the guards were happy for us to sleep there.Several other camper vans were parked up and we felt that Peggy would be safe while we went to explore Istanbul.
We wandered the grounds of Higher Sofia, strolled up to the gates of the blue mosque and got our bearings in the beautiful and rather peaceful city.
With it being a Sunday there were a lot of things closed so we decided to make the most of the quiet streets and locate the Iranian embassy so that we could head straight there in the morning. By this point my hips were agony, I had stupidly worn my flip flops and after walking around 10km I was done. I struggled on, we found the embassy and hobbled slowly back to Peggy. Our first
night was uneventful and we slept surprisingly well!
Monday 11th November
Woken at 5am by the call to prayer, the tower is directly outside the van!
Had a lazy morning and were at the Iranian embassy for its opening time of 9.30. We were given a ticket and told to wait. We sat in the stifling room, me in my compulsory headscarf and Alex dressed for a hike and waited…and waited. After an hour the room was packed. A girl asked us how far along with the process we were, today was her 4th visit. We explained that we had just come for information and she told us we would need a reference number before they would even speak to us so we left and got everything together that we would need for our visit to the Indian Embassy appointment the next day.
Odd sized passport pictures, copies of everything in the world and with my hips hurting again we made our way slowly back to Peggy.
We are absolutely no further on with our visas but we had seen more of beautiful Istanbul.
Tuesday 12th November
I woke up in excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. I writhed in agony as Alex woke up and we immediately started to panic. The only thing we could think that it could be was trapped wind so I moved around trying to dislodge the pain. It just didn’t work, for an hour I writhed around bringing myself to tears. I took Motilium and neurofen and Alex made me a hot water bottle as we
considered what else it could be. The pain didn’t change and Alex kept asking me questions about how it felt and decided that I had severely pulled my abs in my sleep.
My hips had been hurting so much that I had been using my stomach to turn over in the night. I was a mess and the pain showed no signs of stopping. BUT, we had an appointment at the Indian Embassy for visas that we could not miss. We had spent days compiling the papers needed, filling in online forms and jumping through hoops to even get an appointment so we had to go.
We got there and parked Peggy as close as we could but I got a knife in the stomach with every step I made. We got there early, collected our ticket and waited for our number to be called. After 1 hour they called our number, went to the window to have a list of information that we needed thrust at us.
We didn’t have bank statements, a route plan or a date of entry and exit.
We hurried my crippled self 1km to the nearest internet cafe to print statements, we wrote our itinerary and our dates and went back to try again. We got a ticket, waited and hour, she called us up and told us we needed more details in our itinerary including Peggy’s information.
Did that, got a ticket, waited, went up and were told after all that this office only issues 6 month visas which would start today and would therefore expire before we even arrived.
Again, another day wasted and all in agony.
We left Istanbul there and then having failed dramatically on all visa fronts. We headed south towards our planned home for one month on the coast.
Disheartened, in pain and royally fed up.
Wednesday 13th November
Completed the 700km drive to Pamukkale in just two days. Wild camped just outside of the town in a deserted valley where a river must have once rushed along. Reduced to rubble and a trickle it was a perfect camping spot for the night.
Thursday 14th November
Arrived at Pamukkale and Hierapolis around lunch time excited to see the World Heritage site. We had driven through the cotton fields which had just been farmed and the pretty white fluff floated on the air.
We spent the entire day walking around the ruins and the limestone waterfalls. Such a magical place!
Pamukkale, which translates to “cotton Castle”, is fed by a mineral rich fresh water spring which flows down from a higher plateau. As the water cascades down the valley it deposits a mineral film on the rocks, which, over millions of years has become over several meters thick, creating a beautiful, other-worldly travertine waterfall.
Though people have bathed in its pools for as long as time, it was the Romans who first exploited the warm waters, building a thermal spa around the spring, which still stands today. The Romans soon built a settlement around these ‘healing’ waters which became the Holy City, or Hierapolis.
The ruins of the Roman city are dotted along the top of the cotton castle, there is a 2nd Century Theatre and a necropolis of more than 1200 scattered tombs, one of the largest contemporary burial sites in Asia Minor.
We had such an amazing day paddling in the warm spring fed pools, gaping into tombs and looking in awe at the natural beauty of the formations and the stress of the past week slipped away. As we strolled back to Peggy the wind picked up around us whipping up the sand and settled cotton, we picked up the pace and made it back in time for the heavens to split open with an incredible electrical storm.
We sat and watched the lightening turn into rain and talked about how thankful we are that we can experience so many natural wonders on this trip. They make us feel small and insignificant and all of our silly worries disappear.
Things that seemed so important yesterday like the money wasted driving to Athens, the fact that we had gone so far off our planned route and being disturbed in the night by police and raccoons seemed to vanish into thin air.
We were reminded that everything happens for a reason.