Diary Day
ashley's Diary
Date 03 Jan 2006
Country Turkey (Bodrum)
Weather Cloudy
Diary We are heading nearer towards Syria today. Kids have been in pool everyday here - locals clearly think they are mad - we watch in fleeces with much same view. It is beginning to be warm enough to walk around in jumper and no jacket during day so hopefully we will be able to camp soon if anything is open. Bodrum has developed a lot since we were last here over 22 years ago but is still a nice place to spend a few days - lots of estate agencies selling property developments to the Brits etc - the new costa del sol. Pretty trouble free trip so far. We spent first two nights near Rennes with friends and then drove to Moulins en route to Lyon and stayed in one of those fantastically easy French motorway chains. Much the same for second night in Chambery where we found that pass (think it is St Bernard) was obviously closed. Expect everyone knows that but we thought it might be open so from there best option was Mt Blanc tunnel. We went off roading in deep snow - but quite unbelievable what the LR can do - We then drove all across that northern part of Italy which is a long and tiring drive - all motorway with very narrow lanes and lots of trucks - LR rumbled on at a steady 60-70mph. There didn't seem much point in hanging around since weather cold and city sightseeing not very easy for us. We got to Udine which is on border with Slovenia after dark and had night in only hotel we could find, - expensive for us and very 'posh' according to kids. Nye encountered a bidet -'what's that for? washing your feet? a baby bath?' He has since encountered a toilet that he rejected as a shower and is learning not to remark on differences in facilities so loudly! Had to let down the tyres to get into the hotel parking as LR too tall. Onboard compressor works well. From Italy drove through a bit of Slovenia to arrive in Croatia. Very pretty coastline which we have travelled down before -it is wonderfully quiet in winter but no doubt packed in the summer. We managed to find a bed in a tiny place near Karlobag -freezing cold at night and we were obviously the only tourists at this time of year. As I expected we attract quite a bit of attention with children - everyone wants to talk to them and they are remarkably good at speaking up for themselves and confident enough to shop and generally look after themselves. I don't know if they will be as confident when they are somewhere less European or what they will think when they encounter real poverty - judging by the tears that are shed over hungry looking stray dogs it will be heart wrenching. We stayed a second night in Croatia in Dubrovnik - We were also here 20+ years ago and it has changed little apart from being shelled and then reconstructed after the war. The old city inside the fort is fantastic. It is a hard place to find accommodation with parking - in the end the LR slept in the Hilton underground carpark and we stayed in a very nice apartment overlooking the city walls. We like getting apartments whenever we can it is just much easier to get our own breakfast and fill flasks and always means we get bedrooms where kids and us are within easy reach. Most nights in hotels we end up in 2 triple rooms which is a drag. We would have stayed longer in Dubrovnik but had decided to try and get to Greece for the Xmas holiday so then had very long drive through Bosnia/serbia/Kososvo and Macedonia. Really felt the need to understand more about the outcome of the war and how they drew up the borders. We tried to detour to Albania but turned back at the border when 'taxes' were demanded so that added an hour or two onto our trip. We had no guide books so it was all a bit hit and miss really since last time it was just Yugoslavia. We took same road around Albania. It is a very impressive gorge but by the time we were part way up it was getting dark. We decided to push on since the prospect of Xmas in Bosnia not very appealing. Then it started snowing and road still climbing higher and lorries stopping to put on snow chains. Stopped by police to be informed that the road was closed, but decided to continue anyway. It was same last time we came with lots of lorries stuck, but it was a lot harder on the motorcycle. Roads ended up compacted snow and ice but not a problem for the LR so eventually we arrived in Kosovo - controlled byUN peacekeepers so have to have special entry card to 'transit'. We had German and Kenyan soldiers (who made huge fuss of Nye) on way in and it all took ages since they had to return to base for more transit cards - clearly not many pass through here. Kosovo in the dark wasn't very inviting - it's divided into zones controlled by French, Brits etc has lots of barracks and occasional pizza places with armoured personnel carriers pulled up with all the UN soldiers scoffing pizzas inside. We needed diesel, attendant cleaned all our windows -which by now could not see out so covered in icey sludge- and would not accept a tip - told us he loved us Brits so I guess our soldiers are doing something right. We thought about stopping the night but only hotels were pretty near barracks and we were dubious about for obvious reasons! So pushed on to Macedonia and eventually Greece where we stopped in motel about 2am totally knackered and all very uncomfortable from so long in LR. Having said that kids sleep pretty well in there with their pillows. Xmas eve we found our 'studio apartment' in Kalithea south of Thessalonki. Quite a nice bit of coast but very much off season and the whole place had a very unkempt air to it and needed a major clean up for the season. Our flat was pristine though and run by a lovely lady who took kids and Clare off to meet her mother and appeared each day with some other delicacy for kids to try. We visited local market watched DVDs, ate well, slept in till 10am. Kids went in sea of course, I fished unsuccessfully and only managed to catch my finger with a very effective barbed hook which took minor surgery with my Swiss army knife to remove. Kids all impressed with amount of blood and offered to phone an ambulance, but I think I would have been too embarassed to turn up at casualty with a fishing hook in my hand. Since then we have covered some miles in Turkey spending first night at top of Gallipoli peninsula which we explored following day and then took ferry across to Asian side and to Troy. Turkey has developed a lot since we were here, but people still as friendly. Ephesus was as impressive as ever and when the kids could take their eyes of the endless stray cats, kittens they were suitably impressed. So there you have it 2 weeks in a nutshell. On balance I think the kids are enjoying themselves but it hasn't been too challenging for them yet - more like a holiday - they have eaten well and no dodgy tummies. They are remarkably good about the long stretches in the car and argue very little, are very creative in their play - it is good having a gang - they are always able to create a game and don't really seem to need anyone else. I expect this is the easy bit really so we will have to see how we fare over the next few weeks! Not much interest shown in 'school' we have had the books out a few times and they have all read the books they brought already - they read in the car and spend hours completing the travel journals - full of interesting facts like when they went to the toilet and what they had for breakfast - could be anywhere! LR has averaged 23.8 mpg over the first 3190 miles, not too bad considering the conditions. (In UK it averaged about 24mpg over first 5000 miles) Diesel has cost from about 55p per litre in Bosnia to a very British like 95p in Turkey. Roads have mostly been fine. LR hasn't used any oil and I've now done my mods on mudflaps so we can see out of the windows.
 
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