Off to Iran

Quick update from the Hotel Grand Derya in Dogbiscuit, Turkey.

We've done over 4k miles now! We covered some distance from Istanbul, Cappadocia, all the way here to this Iranian border town.

Ballooning @ Cappadocia

Cappadocia, although a tourist trap, was actually pretty good. Through the power of my twitter network, we probably had the best hotel in Cappadocia at a good price. It had a pool, the host Hassan arranged a balloon flight the next morning. Fantastic stuff.

Kaymaklı Underground CityCappadociaNext after checking cave after cave (btw, I hate caves now) [they were not caves, but hollowed out rock. First the massive underground city and then the Göreme Open Air Museum - Jamie], we drove till dusk and "wild camped" in a nice spot. The Turkish countryside has been stunning.

Today we are quickly going to check out Ishak Pasha Palace and then try the Iranian border. Hopefully we'll be over by lunch and then get a 4-5hr drive to Tabriz to check out another UNESCO site on the way to Tehran.

Our "Interneting", i.e. our internet connectivity, twitter updates, blogs and video uploads might come to a crashing halt. However we do have a SPOT messenger, with map updates however it is limited to only 41 characters. So if you wondering why my tweets are so short in Iran. That's why.

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Bulgaria to Turkey

Bulgaria was surprisingly OK. For me it's a strange mix of Russian (they understand it, unlike the Romanians seemingly) and France (cute rustic buildings and amazing countryside). Food is pretty bad and I'm totally unconvinced on Bulgarian's sense of taste and style.

Varna and resorts to the south seemed popular for the English tourists and to be honest the prices and women are quite attractive. Ahem.

So we quickly did the UNESCO tourist trap of Nessebar and headed into Turkey. Border crossing was great... friendly staff and an initial hiccup with their computer failing. What a super drive. The scenery was stunning and dropping into Turkey was like entering another world. Fantastic scenery. Awesome sunset. Incredible.

Turkish roads and infrastructure seem amazingly good. We were a little worried we forgot the Vignette, though we picked up a KSG Auto-bahn card at a petrol station. We were easily averaging 100km/h and we made it into Istanbul with the help of Google maps... without incident. Nuts. [Good driving, huh? - Jamie]

The 50EUR per night twin room hostel in Istanbul's Sultanahmet is a bit poor value for money to say the least. There seems to be a chasm between "hostel" and "hotel" and it's really hard to bridge it. I am not interested really in talking with tourists from UK and the West [unless they're good looking]. I'm more keen to chat with locals. A decent wifi Internet connection would be nice too!

Today the weather is pretty hot, though I've got the Blue Mosque, the bath and the Sofia Mosque out the way and I'm feeling pretty weak and dazed. There is a lot of history here which makes me feel a little depressed tbh. Life is incredibly short in the scheme of things and I worry a bit how I fit in...

Frustratingly Google Maps does not work (very strange) and we don't have a map of Iran*. Can't help but feel our lack of planning ahead is catching up with us. And finding information with a shit internet connection in Istanbul is crazy hard compared to London.

Must thank Ruth who I contacted to help find some accommodation in Turkey for us. I did another shout out for help tomorrow, wonder if anyone gets it (Folks did!! Thank you ). I guess we should just chance it, but it could easily cost us a lot of time. I'm keen to spend 2-3 days in Tehran.

I've had the epiphany that Istanbul is well... the centre of the world. They way it bridges continents and the understated Black and Aegean sea. It's just insanely strategic. I want Turkey in the EU. :)

* Jamie: After going to multiple bookshops and drawing a complete blank on Iranian maps I was advised by a tourist agency to try the Iranian Consulate. I pictured an office block, but arriving I found a gated community. Nervous I asked the Turkish policeman on guard whether it was alright to bother them, he said yes and upon entering I found a small man, who understood enough English to give me a map of attractions. It doesn't have any roads on it but it's better than nothing.