First of all let me apologise for the delay in writing these blogs. The excuses are numerous, however I will narrow them down to there being very few internet facilities in the (very) budget places we are staying, and we are having too much fun to find internet cafes.
So we had got to Istanbul after a very tiring week of driving and we were looking forward to getting to Antalya and settling into life on the road. Before we could relax however we needed to make the drive across Central Turkey via the little visited and utterly smoky town of Afyon (where Amy got turfed out of a hotel for appearing like a prostitute) and on to the much visited and considerably cleaner Pumukkale. Now, words cannot describe just how amazing Pumukkale is, so you'll just have to come and see it for yourselves. We relaxed that night in the living room of the lovely family whose room we were staying in while she made us a delicious Menemen for just 5 lira each - bargain.
We awoke on the following morning to discover that a lack of antifreeze had caused the wind-screen washer pipes to burst, and that something had torn through the vacuum tubes on the air filter. Neither a big deal but a reminder that we need to pay a bit more attention to the welfare of Brenda. We started the days driving and at the first large hill realised that the diesel we had put in was a cheaper lower octane diesel that was not delivering as much power - cue reminder two!
Anyway despite our best efforts to sabotage the trip we made it to Antalya where we found a beautiful campsite and some awesome climbing. However before we go into that a word on Turkey. Turkey is an amazingly beautiful country. To be honest I didn't know what to expect before we came here, and I hadn't really given it much thought, but I had never expected it to be so beautiful and varied. The mountains of central Turkey are covered in deep snow, and the high plateaus are spectacular at sunset. The people are probably the friendliest I have ever met, and will always stop and help if they can. We got ourselves into a tight spot at a toll when we got to the automated barrier to find we didn't have an Autocard to pay with. The guy behind us got out of his car, paid the fee for us, chatted for a while, told us where to pay for the card, and gave us a cheerful wave as we drove off. Next the food - simply amazing - Turkish kebabs (real Turkish kebabs) are so good….. A final word on Turkey - climbing potential - driving through central Turkey we saw countless crags, buttresses and escarpments that would make for exceptional climbing, and none of it developed for climbing. Really this place is going to be a full on climbing mecca in years to come.
Back to Antalya and its all sport climbing, which neither me or Amy had ever done outside before. We are both traditionalists and the idea of climbing and not placing your own protection seems a bit like cheating, however bomb proof protection means there is no excuse not to climb as hard as you can. We started off on some simple stuff to calibrate ourselves, and because someone had warned us that the routes are all under graded. The rock is awesome - super grippy, small crimpy holds, closely spaced runners (!) and stunning setting. Within a few days we had got up to the 5b/ 5c level which while not particularly impressive was a good achievement considering neither of us have climbed outdoors in 6 months, and certainly bodes well for Jordan in a few months.
It was also great to not drive for a few days and to get into the swing of being on the road. We've managed to do all the odd jobs around the truck that we hadn't managed to do before we left and were looking ship shape and Bristol fashion. We had spotted a decent looking garage in Antalya so we took the opportunity to take Brenda for her first service. While it was a bit on an inconvenience it actually turned into a fun day (it took 8 hours!) and we spent the whole time in the garage with the guys. The wonderful thing about it was that no one spoke English, we speak very limited Turkish and no one at the garage is used to dealing with tourists, therefore it is possible to have a very honest interaction with mechanics and other customers there who were intrigued with what we are doing.
All in all, a great start to the trip. Oh and I LOVE Turkish tea!