Day 225 | High mountains, low voltage

Day 225 | Tuesday October 25

Unfortunately it was time to leave my hosts Ali and Burak. I really appreciate how they took care of me and wish them all the best.

Range Excitement

The plan for today was uncertain. Erzurum is where I want to go to arrange the visa and I found some people on CouchSurfing who could host me. It is 260km away so not reachable on one charge but with a pitstop I could make it. Exact in the middle of the route is Bayburt, I tried to find a host there but no luck so I won’t have a place to stay. So time for some #RangeExcitement.

Hitting the road

The nature on the way from Trabzon to Bayburt was unbelievable beautiful. From my window I saw a lot of green, hills and water. Stunning to drive through. The hills became mountains though, which were also beautiful but it took a lot from the car. And it seemed they were reaching to the heaven as I kept rising. The temperatures didn’t rise sadly and even dropped very quick, after a while the meter on my dashboard told me it was 3.5C. Probably the coldest temperature I noticed so far. While Bayburt was 70km away my battery level reached 20% and in stead of trying to reach Erzurum it became already hard to reach Bayburt. I wanted to stop at the earliest convenience but it took a while before I found something. With 7% left and a lot of stress I came by a tunnel which was under construction. There were some containers and I was hoping to find electricity there. I saw it was there but no-one to ask if I could use it. I started to get a bit desperate and afraid as it got so cold (it was almost freezing) and there wasn’t anyone on the road. Luckily after 30 minutes some construction workers came out the tunnel and they were happy to help me. Like everyone in Turkey so far. They were interested in the car and thought it was a ridicules idea, they are probably right.

The guys invited me in their container, offered me some coffee, put me in front of the heater and took some selfies with me. When I had 30% battery I continued my way and after the tunnel the road only went down and I had no trouble to reach Bayburt. I decided that I couldn’t go farther today as I needed to charge a long time. I decided to book a cheap hotel with the money I had left from my mother. It might the easy way out but after all the stress I wanted to recover.

Carnet de Passage

The last weeks I have been very busy with preparing the trip through the Middle East and Asia. In these countries you can’t just appear at the border and enter the country. You need to request a Carnet de Passage. After you delivered a 5000 euro deposit you receive a document. For the country this is a guarantee that the car will be exported after your trip. When you decide to leave the car in the country you lose the bond. Now I borrowed the money from a friend of mine (Thanks L) and requested this document from the German Automobile Club (ADAC). On the application form you need to fill out a lot of details about the car and these need to match with your vehicle documents. Now that’s were some issues arose. On the Carnet form I needed to enter the capacity of the cilinder. Now an electric car doesn’t have a cilinder so thats n/a. However my vehicle document said there was a 1350 CM3 capacity. I contacted the RDW and they confirmed there had been a mistake. They sent a new card to my mother and luckily this arrived the day before she flew to Istanbul so she could take this with her. Now I could apply for the Carnet, problem was they need to sent it to Turkey and when you go to another address everyday, not knowing where you are in 2 days it’s hard to find a postbox. I thought the best possibility was to sent it to the guys in Trabzon and it arrived there last Friday. I had to pay another 57 euro for DHL express. Luckily I have some donation money now.

It’s not easy sometimes to arrange all these things while on the road and being on your own. A few weeks ago I was uncertain if I would manage to fix all this but I believe I got it under control now.

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Day 221 – 224 | Trabzon

Day 222 | Saturday October 22

Today I went with my host Ali, who is part of the Karadeniz Technical University Energy Technologies Team to the Uni. They organized a day for students who were interested in joining the team. All people who are interested in electric cars so of course they inspected my car from top to toe and I gave lots of explanations. When the students left I had some time to test drive their special car. With my 1.92 meters long body it was hard to get into this low vehicle but sitting so close to the grounds gives you a different feel. The car doesn’t have a pedal but with a turning knob on the dashboard you can control the velocity. It starts a bit slow but after a few meters it speeds up.

The engineers also saw that the profile on my front tires was too low. I already heard this yesterday so we had to do something. The guys knew a good tireman (that’s probably not a word) who might be able to help. He could offer me two second hand tires for the price of 70 lire. That’s about 20 Euro. My mom left me 300 Lire and I thought this would be a good investment.

At night we went to one of the guys to have some drinks. Raki is the national liquor and of course I had to try this. It looks like it’s colorless but when mixed with water it becomes white, magical. When mixed with your body it becomes even more interesting. It was a fun night and the guys laughed a lot when I said some Turkish words. Sikter being their favorite one, you can google what it means.

Day 223 | Sunday October 23

We went back to the Uni and the team spend all day with me to explain their electrical car. I shot a new movie which explains the background of the project and all technical details about the car and I will edit it soon.

Day 224 | Monday October 24

In Trabzon is a Consul of Iran. I wanted to go there to gain some information about how to apply for a visa for the country. Blogs and websites give different information so I wanted to be sure. I already found out that I need an authorization code. I applied for this a few days ago and it takes 7-10 days before I receive it. The experience with the website were I ordered it (I payed 40 pound for it with the donation money) was not so good. I didn’t receive a confirmation mail and the communication was not so smooth. I got a bit suspicious and started googling about this website. I found out that there were many people who had problems with this company. Some people reported that it was a scam, not receiving their codes. Others found the company unprofessional and reported they delivered the code after 2-3 weeks. Some people said they delivered in time.

A few blogs wrote that citizens of some countries (including the Netherlands) don’t need this code and could just pick up the visa, time to find out. At the gate of the consul they already asked for the code and I couldn’t enter without it. Case clear. I am worried now that this company won’t deliver and I need to get it from another company which could cost me 2 weeks more and another 40 pound! Not a nice feeling.

Today I wanted to go to Bayburt to reach Erzurum tomorrow were there is also a consul and apply for the visa. Now I learned it was not necessary anymore and because it was already getting late I decided to stay one more night in Trabzon and go to Bayburt tomorrow.

The boys gathered some press today so I gave some interviews, or well the guys did most of the interviews as they already knew everything. Than they took me to the top of a hill with a nice view over Trabzon and we had some Chai (local thea) at a restaurant there. Than back to the Uni to say goodbye to the team.

I really enjoyed being with them and they did too. Some of the things I heard the last days were touching. One guy said that the group felt really good and happy being with me. Another guy told me it was the first time he had the opportunity to speak English with someone, very special.

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Day 220 & 221| Hello Goodbye

Day 220 | Thursday October 20

At 5 in the morning our alarm rang and it was time to head to the airport. One week I spent with my mother, I didn’t know how it would go as we never traveled together but I found out we have many similar ideas about things we like to see and like to do. It was really a pleasure to travel with her. The last seven months I have been traveling alone  for most of the time. Everyday I stay at new people which is very interesting and exciting but it can be exhausting as well. This week everything was arranged, no stress about were I would spend the night and if I would make it. Less small-talk and more good conversations. It was hard to be alone again after we said goodbye but this week gave me more energy to continue the trip. And with the hardest part starting now I definitely need that.

Last week we started our adventure together. From Istanbul we drove all the way to Samsun. I had no idea how it would be…

Posted by Plug Me In on Donnerstag, 20. Oktober 2016

Around noon I left to Unye. In Istanbul I met Turgut and he had family in this city were I could stay. I was welcomed by Ayse and Cevdet. To my surprise Ayse spoke Dutch. She lived in the Netherlands for 12 years and left 30 years ago and she didn’t spoke the language ever since but she still could understand everything I said.

They took me for a little tour. We visited a museum which showed how the Turkish people lived traditionally. They showed me how they used to entertain people with hand shadow puppets and how a house was shared by 4 different families. Interesting detail is that woman and man had their own door knocker. Each with their own distinctive sound so they could recognize who was knocking on the door. Later we visited the grave of Yunus Emre, he is one of the most important poets and lived from 1230 – 1321. He had a huge influence on the Turkish literature and was also a prominent philosopher.

Day 221 | Friday October 21

I woke up in the hotel Ayse and and Cevdet arranged for me. Ayse’s husband Eren picked me up and brought me to their house were I left the car to charge. After Turkish coffee I hit the road again.
Today I had to do 250km to Trabzon. I knew that there was one EV charger in Ordu, however my car doesn’t always communicate with chargers so it is always a surprise if it’s possible to charge or not. If it’s not possible I would have a really long day as I need to find another spot were I can charge on 220V slow speed, if it does work it would save me a lot of time. The charger was part of the Esarj network of which I received a card to make use of it. On the app I saw that the charger was also only available for Renault customers, which was another problem but I gave it a try. I arrived at the Renault dealer and while they didn’t spoke English they were eager to help me. And best of all the charger worked with my car! The people at Renault were very excited that a Dutch guy came to charge here and they invited me have lunch with them. One of the mechanics looked at car and he saw that the profile on the front tires was not so good anymore. He warned me about going through Iran with this.

After two hours of charging, the car was full again and few hours later I arrived in Trabzon. I was invited by the Karadeniz Technical University. They saw Plug Me In on Facebook and as they are building their own electric vehicle they were very enthusiastic to invite me.

Their EV is a sports car and they just competed in the Shell Eco Marathon with this. I was very surprised to learn that it has only a 3 kWh battery and a range of 300km! For comparison my car has a 37 kWh battery but 200km range. The reason is the very lightweight carbon fibre structure. It weights only 200kg while my car is 1.700kg unloaded. Tomorrow I’m going to make a movie and hear more about the technical details.

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Day 217 – 219 | Reaching Turkey’s Black Sea

Day 217 | Monday October 17

Destination for today: Osmancik. Right in the middle of the city was a mountain, like really in the middle of the city. All the houses were build around it so from the top we had a beautiful 360° view. It’s a mountain with history, story goes that Trojan war hero Achilles is buried on this mountain.

We did a lot of practical stuff in Osmancik. Mom bought me some new pants and we fixed old ones. The service here is very good. They fix it within an hour and it looks like brand new.

Day 218 | Tuesday October 18

We are flexible as my mother flies back home on Thursday from Samsun and that’s only 170km from Osmancik. So we did a little detour to Amasya, we googled a bit and thought this might be a cool city. We used AirBNB this time and found a nice apartment. The owner mailed us that she lived on the 4th floor and charging might be a problem. It was not, I have 40 meters extension cable with me and we managed to connect the car from the street to the 4th floor, really hight voltage.

Amasya was completely different than the city we visited yesterday and the day before. It’s interesting how it can change so fast. Amasya is an old city with many mosques and narrow streets. Nice to walk through. We eat a lot in Turkey. They have a lot of dishes with meat and bread. For my mother it’s hard to find a good meal as she is vegetarian. I like meat and bread so for me it’s heaven but not good for the belly.

Day 219 | Wednesday October 19

Just before five in the morning I woke up for my weekly radio call, you can listen it back here (in Dutch). I have to confess that sometimes I’m a bit sleepy during the radio interviews which doesn’t really improve the level of conversation, this time I was awake and we had a good talk.

We reached Samsun, unfortunately ‘our’ final destination, luckily we had one more full day together. This time we checked in at a Hilton Hotel close to the airport. Not a bad way to end. Samsun is a big city on the Black Sea and capital of the region with the same name. 565.000 people live here which makes it the biggest city on the Black Sea and it’s harbor is the most important one on the coast.

We decided to walk around the beach. The beach was very polluted by plastic bottles and other garbage. A problem in Turkey is that they don’t have clean water from the tap. Having that and a deposit on PET-bottles will solve a lot of problems.

In Samsun everything is huge: the squares, the apartments and the statues. Mom was very impressed by the opera but as I passed it by too quick I couldn’t see it. We didn’t feel really comfortable in this big buzzing city so decided to go back to the hotel and have our Last Supper there, on the way back though we passed a cute little restaurant which suited us more. Tonight I have to bring mom to the airport and than our holiday is over…

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