Day 235 | Entering Iran

Day 235 | Friday November 4

I ended the latest blog on this day before I crossed the border. As I’m out of Iran now I will share all my experiences so from here I pick it up again.

Border Crossing
Crossing the border was actually an easy process. To be honest, the easiest border I had ever passed when there was a check necessary. I arrived around 7pm and it was a little dark. I was afraid that they would got a little suspicious with all me gear and weird stuff (battery pack, cables) in my car. The guard was calling with one hand and smoking a cigarette in his other hand. He asked me to open the rear door, looked at it, closed the door and said it was ok. I had to go inside of the building for passport control and carnet de passage formalities. This was the first time I had to deal with this. A carnet is a document for which I made a deposit of 5000 euro. For the country this is a safety that the car will be exported from the country. If I would leave the car inside the country I will lose the deposit. I got an entry stamp on one form and if I leave I will get another stamp. When this was done I got a temporary car insurance and everything was good. The whole border crossing process took me about 45 minutes.

Into Iran
I’m in touch with Ali for a while. He’s the friend of Madelon, a woman who found me via social media. She had been giving me some tips about traveling through the Middle East and got me in touch with Ali who lives in Tehran. He had been looking for hosts around the country for me and helped when needed. A friend of Ali, Behrouz was waiting for me at the border with his son. We drove to their house in Maku which was just 15km away.

Maku
Behrouz is owner of a oven factory and apparently had been doing very good business. His house was stunning. I could park the car in the garage which had underfloor heating. My car was still full of ice and snow so perfect that it could melt here.

Behrouz’ house had 5 floors and with an elevator we went to my room, which was very impressive. The bed was lit by many colorful lights and I had a private bubble bath, impressive. With the elevator we went to the first floor were the living area was. On the third floor he had a swimming pool but I didn’t see it, unfortunately.

In the living room his wife, 2 daughters and cousin were waiting. I wanted to greet the woman by shaking their hands but they couldn’t do this. A bit uncomfortable situation but thats their religion.

They showed me how hospitable the Iranians are. I got treated with fruit, thee and more delicatessens.

PICTURES

Day 232 – 235 | Winter has come

Day 232 | Tuesday November 1

When I looked out the window of my hotelroom in the morning I was very surprised. The whole city had turned white, since the morning it had been snowing heavily. I thought it was very ironically as I had been in a rush the last 2 months to make it before the first of November into Iran because I was afraid of snow and exactly today it started snowing.

I opened my laptop and received some very good news. The company of which I thought had scammed me delivered the authorization code for the Iran visa! Strange but great experience. This means I could now pick up the visa in Erzurum, thats about 300km back. While it’s freezing though the car’s range will drop with 20-30% and while driving through the mountains it will get even less.

I headed back to Cafe Pera were the car was charging. I wanted to pick it up and drive to Agri were  I found a couchsurfing host. At the cafe they disconnected the cable during the night so it was not fully charged yet. Around 3pm the electricity in the entire city went out. I had 93% so I wanted to tame my chances, it was just a 100km drive.

It was hard to get out of the city with all that snow but once on the highway it was allright. Things changes when it got dark, it started snowing heavy. I couldn’t see much and it got so cold. I didn’t turn on the heater as that takes to much energy and I would get even less range, the windows got blurred and with a wiper I tried to keep visibility. The range dropped quickly and the next petrol station was 50km away. I have to say this drive was one of the scariest things in my life, not exaggerating. I had no winter tires and sometimes I slipped a bit. I was lucky to reach the petrol station and I could recharge there. At that moment it stopped snowing and after and one hour later I jumped back into the car and reached my host around 9pm. My host was Bora, a 22 year old PHD student. Nice guy with a nice clean house. A vlog about this day will come in the following days. 

Day 233 | Wednesday November 2

Bora needed to drive from Agri to Erzurum today. I thought this was perfect as I didnt need to drive to the snow and ice. It could also safe me a day as I could hitchhike back to Agri, pick up te car and drive straight to Dogubeyazit.

We reached Erzurum in the afternoon and the Iranian consulate just closed, so needed to come back in the morning. I contacted a guy on Couchsurfing, he couldn’t host me myself but contacted Ali, a friend of his and he was happy to welcome me. Ali was a English student and lived in an student apartment with 2 other guys, Ferhat and Mehmet. All really nice guys who made some Turkish food and played some traditional music on the guitar.

Day 234 | Thursday November 3

In the morning Ferhat and Mehmet helped me getting around in the city. We went to the consul and I showed them my papers, payed the visa and walked out the consulate happy. I told the guys that I wanted to hitchhike back to Agri but they wouldn’t let me. They were afraid something would happen and especially with the cold it was not the best timing. So they booked me a busticket. Around 6pm I got back to Agri and wanted to take the car. There was still snow next to the road but the roads self were ice-free and safe to drive.

Unfortunately the car didn’t start, probably because of the low temperatures, it was -13 (!!!). This was the first time it happened and didn’t know what to do. At a nearby hotel I asked if I could use wifi to contact Wim, the car-specialist from Custom Cars. When I explained the problem to the owner of the hotel he immediately offered me a room. I told him I really wanted to reach Dogubeyazit but he insisted and gave me a small tour, the hotel had a hamman, swimming pool fitness room and more so it started to get tempting. I couldn’t reach Wim at that moment so decided to take the offer.

A few hours later I went back to the car and it started somehow. Wim told me it was wise to connect it to the grid so the batteries would warm up.

I went for a dive in the Grand Cenas Hotel and relaxed a bit in the Haman. Deniz, the owner of the hotel invited me for dinner, introduced me to his friends and gave me a short tour through town.

Day 235 | Friday November 4

After a delicious breakfast and morning swim it was hard to leave, and it got very hard as I found out the temperature was still -14, by day! Deniz advised me to leave around 2pm, which I did. It was interesting to see how fast it got warmer, every 10km about 1 u, degree more. Today I wanted to reach Maku, just 15km after the Iranian border were Ali found me a place to stay. Still it was exciting if I could reach that. I need one recharge to get to Dogubeyazit were I met the guys from the cafe again and after a short stop I reached the Iranian border. I expected a thorough search through the car but they only opened the rear door and it was oke. It took some time to handle the documents needed to get into the country and in total the border crossing took one hour.

So now I am in Iran. The country has a strict policy when it comes to blogging and as I respect that I won’t write anything about the country. I do will post regular pictures and stories on all my social media pages so be sure to follow!

PICTURES

Day 231 | To Iran?

Day 231 | Monday October 31

After early breakfast I went into to city to make the final arrangements before entering Iran. I needed to exchange euro’s to Rial (the currency in Iran) but no banks or exchange offices could do this. There was no other option than hoping that they would accept euro’s at the border.

From Dogubeyazit it was only 25km to the border. There was at least an 8km line for trucks and it didn’t seem to be moving. Luckily passenger cars could pass the que. At the exit of Turkey they raised some eyebrows because I didn’t had the Iranian visa in my passport. I told them I heard it was possible to get it at the border but they all said it wasn’t. They would let me try. At the gate a Turkish man warned me again and he talked to a Iranian official on the other side. They confirmed that it was not possible to get a visa on arrival at this border. Damn!

It was a big let down but what can I do? I knew it was not sure and I took the risk. No other option than head back to Dogu and research the possibilities. I went back to Cafe Pera were Murat took me yesterday. They had a decent internet connection so I contacted Ali. He has been helping me a lot, planning the route and connecting me with people on the way. He asked me to send my documents and he would try to arrange a letter of invitation. He also told me that the weather won’t be a problem in the coming weeks and when I will go down from Teheran it will be hot so no problems at all from there.

I spend all day at the cafe and met some of the people who worked there. All very kind people. Mostly young people who had married when they were already 15 years of age and now all had big families, which was hard for me to understand. For them it was hard to understand that I was 29 and single.

They introduced me to a guy who is a poet and theater maker. He spoke fluent English so the guys used him as a translator but later we would have an interesting conversation. He stayed for a few months in Holland were he performed the Kurdish version of Hamlet which he translated. He told me a lot about the history of Kurdistan, the oppression they faced and how it will be in the future. Everyone lost a lot of friends and family in the last years. Even today there is a war going on in the southern part of Kurdistan. They have hope that within 5 years the Kurds will get their territory back and it will be separated from Turkey.

My host Murat from yesterday couldn’t host me today but the guys from the cafe had a friend at a hotel and I could stay there. Great how everyone is helping me here.

PICTURES

Day 229 – 230 | To Kurdistan

Day 229 | Saturday October 29

As I had arranged most things it was time to leave Erzurum. Some days I already found a place to stay with CouchSurfing in Dogubeyazit, which is the last town before the border with Iran. Now this is 270km from Erzurum. There have been days that I would make a distance like this with recharging on the way but on Google Maps I saw that I had to pass mountains and the temperatures were very low. With my experience on the way to Erzurum I learned it would be a tough challenge. On the way to Dogubeyazit were 3 cities. The first one Horasan, just 80km away, the second one Eleskirt 150km away, which was already a risk and the last one Agri 180km.

When I reached Horasan I used just 30% (which is less than average) and the conditions were ok. I could have the risk that I needed to climb a lot in the next stage but wanted to take my chances.

In my previous blog I wrote that the route to Erzurum was the most beautiful route I had taken so far, today I can say that again. The sights here are unbelievable. While I had to climd some mountains I was surprised that I arrived in Eleskirt with 30% left, while I did 160km. I regained energy when going down the hills. I could reach Agri but this city was smaller and thought I would have more chance of finding something here.

Now the challenge was to find a place to stay and some food, I didn’t eat anything since breakfast yesterday morning. Eleskirt is tiny, around 10.000 citizens and when I stopped the car immediately some guys welcomed me and offered me some Chai (traditional Turkish tea). They didn’t speak English but with some sign language they understood I was looking for a place to stay and charge. They showed me where I could find hotels but I couldn’t make them clear that I was hoping to find a local. I walked around the town and started peaking to people and every time I made the sleeping sign they pointed at the hotel. For the next time I need to find another approach. It was getting late and as I had some money from my mother left I decided to check what the hotel would cost me. It was 60 Lire and that was exactly the amount I had left. As I didn’t expect to make other expenses I thought it was a good way to spend it. Dinner was not included but I was not really hungry. I have been taken some Flinndal supplements lately, maybe that’s the reason.

Day 230 | Sunday October 30

From Eleskirt it was 30km to Agri, the last city before Iran and I wanted to go there to withdraw the other 300 euro. I went looking for an ATM which offered euro’s but couldn’t find any. In Erzurum it was possible at Tep Bank and on Google I already saw that they had one here but they told me it had been closed permanently. After an hour searching I decided I would withdraw the amount in Lire and exchange it to Rial in Dogubeyazit tomorrow as today (Sunday) the banks were closed.

Than I drove to Dogubeyazit. My CouchSurfing host Murat told me I had to come to Isha Pasha Place, I had no idea where or what this was and when I arrived in the city I asked a local. He was pointing at a hill and signed me he would drive with me to take me there, so nice the people here. We drove outside  the city and climbed some mountains. After some minutes we stopped at a castle/ mosque/ church. The sights from there were unbelievable pretty again but I had the feeling I was in the wrong place as I expected a square in the city were he woud live.

I showed the guy who was with me the picture of Murat on whatsapp and he laughed, he told me to come with me and at the entrance Murat was there. Apparently he was a guide here and this place was called Ishak Pasha Palace, a typo.

The Ishak Pasha palace is an Ottoman-period palace whose construction was started in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey of Beyazit province, continued by his son İshak Pasha and completed by his grandson Mehmet Pasha. According to the inscription on its door, the Harem Section of the palace was completed by his grandson Ishak (Isaac) Pasha in 1784. The Ishak Pasha Palace is a rare example of the historical Turkish palaces and was depicted on the 100 Turkish Lire Note from 2005-2009.

When it got dark Murat’s job was finished and we had some dinner at the security center. First meal since breakfast yesterday morning. We drove to house, a room on the 5th floor and I was afraid we couldn’t charge the car. Luckily my extension cables reached my car and this was the longest distance every to cover!

Since Erzurum I am in the Kurdistan region. Kurd’s are people with their own culture and traditions and they would rather be independent from Turkey. Many people warned me as their could be trouble in this region but so far I noticed no problems at all, only friendliness, like always.

PICTURES

Day 228 | Erzurum Pt. II

Day 228 | Friday October 28

When I woke up I was surprised that I was the only one in the room, while we were with 5 when we went to bed. I thought I was alone in the house but later I would find out that Merih went to her sisters rooms as the floor was to hard for her. Fatma & Okan went to work, I was sleeping so tight that I didn’t hear them leave.

During this journey I really learn about all the cultures in different countries as I stay with locals all the time. Some things like interests and hobbies are similar in all countries but breakfast is something typical everywhere. In Turkey they start the day with a lot of Ekmek (bread), commonly mixed with french fries, yoghurt and some vegetables. They say that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day and apparently the consider french fries and bread as healthy & nutritious.

My host Merih and friend Fatma would fly to their hometown near Antalya today so we went looking for a ticket for them. I started looking for another place to stay in Erzurum. I still needed to arrange some things for the entry to Iran.

Costs

The coming period I’m going to have some expensive costs.  A visa for Iran which costs between 75 and 105 euro (on every blog I read different amounts), a temporary cas insurance as my own insurance only covers the countries on the green card and Turkey is the last one for the countries to follow, price is unknown. Than I would need to take a ferry from Bandar Abbas to the Emirates, which costs around 400 USD and get a visa for this country which could be free or costs around 30 USD, I will find out at the border I guess. From the UAE I wold need to ship the car to India and this is the most expensive post: 2350 USD.

I can pay for the Iranian visa with the money I received from donations. I want to thank everyone who made a donation and I am surprised that even people who I don’t know sponsored me. At the moment I received €350,- Which is a lot of money. So far I spend €19 on the visa for Turkey, €57 to deliver the Carnet de Passage with DHL to Trabzon and 40 pound for the authorization code for the Iranian visa, which was a scam unfortunately. There is still a chance that I would get this money back as I payed with PayPal and they have a protection program.

New sponsor

Now because I knew about the costs of the shipping of the car and other costs I started looking for a sponsor already a few months ago. I am happy to announce that I found one: Detroit Electric. They are sponsoring me financials and get a logo on the car. With the money of the donations and new sponsor I would be able to reach UAE and have a bit left for the shipment to India, but not enough. That’s a headache for later though, I can stay up to 3 months in Dubai so I hope to find a nice oil sheik or fix another solution.

The deal with Detroit Electric became definitive today and that was a blessing. In Iran it’s not possible to withdraw money from ATM’s or to use a credit card. This is because of international sanctions. So today in Erzurum I withdrew €500 (which is my banks daily max) and would need to take another 300 tomorrow. This is more as I expect to expend but because of the regulations here it’s better to have some extra.

I am sharing this information as I want to be transparant about the money you (my followers) are donating me and about the costs I need to make occasionally.

Today
Back to today. I needed to find a new place to stay and my host Refik from last Thursday told me that I could come back anytime. I contacted him and he told me he would be back home around 20.30. When I got there he took me the house in the apartment, the one of the owner of the place. He (I forgot his name) used to live with his girlfriend in France but because he needed to join the Turkish army they were ripped apart and never saw each other again. His room is filled with paintings of their time together. Apparently they recently got in touch and in two months they are going to meet each other again, after 40 years! What a touching story.

Day 226 & 227 | Erzurum

Day 226 | Wednesday October 26

The road from Bayburt to Erzurum was probably one of the most scenic routes I have taken so far. Mountain passes took me through small typical Turkish villages, I wish I had a drone to capture the beauty of it. Around 2pm I arrived at the address my CouchSurfing host gave me. As there were no houses on this street I assumed I probably was not in the right place. In the city center I found a wifi spot and checked the location Refik gave me, it was on the totally other side of the city. Refik didn’t let me know from what time I could arrive or how I would contact him when I got there. As I expected he lived in an apartment so I didn’t know which bell to ring. I went back to the center and contacted him, did a little walk through the city and logged back in. No reply. I spoke to some locals and they told me the internet connection had been blocked by the government.

It was getting late and I got a bit desperate as I thought I might have not a place to stay tonight, normally sleeping in the car is a solution but with temperatures around 0, not so convenient. Finally around 9pm he responded. Indeed he couldn’t contact me because of a problem with internet. He went to a friend which had internet so he could contact me and that is where we met.

We had some coffee and talks and than went to his house. He lived on the 4th floor on the backside of the building but luckily with some extension cables we could reach the car to charge.

Day 227 | Thursday October 27

Today was a lot of arranging stuff for Iran. In a previous blog I mentioned that you need to obtain a visa authorization code to be able to pick up the visa at the consul. Now I had doubts that this company were I requested the code was a scam, today my doubts became true. I would not receive this code. To request another code would take me at least 10 days and this would be a problem as “winter is coming” in Iran. I did some research and found out it’s possible to get a visa at the border, in contrary to what almost all blogs and websites about Iran told me. I went to the consul in Erzurum to gain more information and also here they told me its not possible to get a visa at the border. Now in the blog I found there are 2 guys mentioning it was no problem, the last note came from yesterday actually so it’s very recent. It’s my only possibility so I try to reach the border soon and find out. If it’s not possible I don’t know what to do.

For today I had another CouchSurfing host, Merih. There was still a problem with internet and as we didn’t arrange where and when to meet that was a problem again. After 3pm the internet went back online and we got in touch. A friend of Merih, Okan, picked me up in the city and together we drove to Merih’s house just outside of the city. Okan laughed very hard when I told them Turks are “crazy people” when they drive car.

With Merih we drove back to the city for some food and drinks. Merih is a 24 year old English student at the Uni and has been living here for 6 years, she is from Antalya originally. I was the first CouchSurfing guest for her this year and she accepted me because English was my second language. Later we would meet with Okan’s girlfriend Fatma who is also a classmate of Merih. Okan is a doctor and drives pretty normal compared to the other people here. We all slept together in the same room at Fatma’s house, where her sister also lives. Very funny and interesting experience to sleep in a tiny room with so many people.

PICTURES

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.

PICTURES

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.

PICTURES

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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