Day 213 & 214 | A special visit in Istanbul

Day 213 | Thursday October 13

From Hakan & Birge’s place we drove back to his school. We left the car there overnight to charge. Most people in Istanbul live in apartments so charging is an issue. The guys there wanted to get me a pass for the highway so I won’t get in trouble again, very convenient 🙂

Than I had to rush back to the European side for a meeting at the Consulate-General of the Netherlands. I met with Recep and Mr. Schuddeboom who is the Consul General. They also invited Mr. Berkan Bayram of the Turkey Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Plaftorm. Together we had an interesting conversation about electric cars and sustainability in Turkey. They gave me some tips about how to travel the country and the state of electric cars in Turkey. In Istanbul there are now many chargers placed but it’s hard to get outside of the city. There are some chargers spread throughout the country but it won’t be possible to reach Iran for example using only chargers. Luckily for me that’s no problem. In Turkey the Zoe, I3 and Fluence EV’s are being sold, this year they only sold 76 full electric cars, so there is still a lot of work to do.

From the consul I had to drive just 20 kilometers to my next stop but the traffic here is serious hard to get through. Traffic jams everywhere and a small distance can take you a few hours. I met with Osman from Esarj (pronounce Echarge). They are the developer of the country’s biggest charging network and they hooked me up with a card so I can use their network for free!

From there I had to do just another 20 kilometers and again it took me a few hours. I drove to the airport to pick up a special person… my mother! A few days ago she had the idea to come by and we made it work. She is a grade school teacher and in Holland the kids have autumn holiday so she has a week off to. Together we will drive to Samsun from where she will fly home. I am very happy to have her with me. It’s nice to meet so many new people but to have someone familiar with you and talk about other things is really great. Keep you updated.

Day 214 | Friday October 14

Traveling with my mom makes things a lot easier as she has a wallet 😉 Last night we stayed at a nice bed & breakfast in the old center of Istanbul. After breakfast we did some sightseeing. Istanbul is a very alive and interesting city. Our B&B was just a 5 minutes walk from the Blue Mosque. Unfortunately it was closed on Friday because of prayers but we could visit Hagia Sopia, this is a former cathedral and between 537 and 1453 the biggest in the world. Now it’s a museum. Lonely Planet listed the cathedral as one of the worlds most beautiful buildings and it’s on the UNESCO world heritage list.

After Hagia Sophia we visited Topkapi Palace which used to be the one of the residences of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years. It also contains important relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammed’s cloak and sword. The palace was also home to the harem of the Sultan. In more than 400 rooms his family which consists of many wives were living.

I was supposed to meet Baris Dogru today. He is the founder of EKOIQ, a printed magazine about sustainability so I was hoping to hear from him how sustainable Turkey is. Unfortunately we couldn’t meet but we will have a Skype session later and I will post the report about that.

It was time to leave Istanbul. We have only a few days to reach Samsun so we can’t loose much time. Outside of the city I payed a quick visit to Gersan, they produce EV chargers and install these at municipalities. Yesterday I told Berkan from the EV association that I had a few minors issues. One socket of my cable was loose and another one was a bit damaged. Berkan told me Serdar from Gersan could help me. He was very enthusiastic and fixed the cables in a few minutes, great job!

At night we arrived in Sakarya, about 160km from Istanbul. We didn’t had a place to stay yet so at a restaurant we opened the laptop and found a hotel in the middle of the city. It was no problem to put the charging cable through the main sliding door, the Turkish are very hospitable.

PICTURES

 

Day 208 & 209 | Soviet Headquarters & Turkey

Day 208 | Saturday October 8

After a few days of recovery I felt well enough to continue again. I want to thank Frank and Petra for the possibility to let me stay at their wonderful B&B for 4 nights and taking care of me. They sent me away with a bag full of hagelslag sandwiches, fruits, cookies and some pocket money.

Plan for today was to go to Plovdiv and do a stop in Buzludzha.

Buzludzha is the former headquarter of Bulgaria’s Communist Party. I had seen pictures of this place a few years ago and something attracted me to it, like most soviet constructions do. I didn’t know it was so close to Pchelishte until Frank showed me a picture of this place and said “don’t you want to visit this?”. A no-brainer.

The headquarter is build on top of a 1.441 meters high Balkan mountain and it looks like it comes straight out of a James Bond or Alien movie. It’s nicknamed the Bulgarian UFO for obvious reasons. The building is very symbolic to the Soviet times, it’s huge, ugly, a lot of concrete, hard to reach, powerful and yet it is beautiful. The entrance to the building is iconic, a long wide staircase leads to a big entrance were letters from metal are starting to fall from the walls. Many visitors left writings in graffiti on the wall mostly referring to the communist times, “never forget your past” and “enjoy communism” in Coca-Cola font can be seen.

The building is not being looked after or controlled so it’s starting to decay fast. The inside got very unsafe and unfortunately for me just 2 months ago they decided to close the building from entering. A shame because the pictures you can get there are unreal.

a-man-walks-inside-the-crumbling-skeleton-of-the-house-of-the-bulgarian-communist-party-on-mount-buzludzha-bulgaria-getty-images

This is from the inside (not by me)

Because I had to climb a lot I lost range and it was impossible to reach Plovdiv with the remaining energy I had left. I decided to go to Stara Zagora instead. This would safe me also time as this city was more towards Turkey. I got to Stara Zagora around 7 and during the trip didn’t feel well again. I didn’t had the energy to ask people for their help so I opened my laptop and saw there was a cheap motel which I could afford with the money I received from Frank and Petra. The place looked a bit dodgy, in the room next to me the guests were practicing animal sounds and taxi’s dropped off cheap dressed lady’s who left just an hour later every time. They probably didn’t feel comfortable in this place too…

Day 209 | Sunday October 9

After 209 days I would reach country number 20 this trip, Turkey. Before I got into the country I needed to print out my visa. With the money I collected via the new donation tool I could pay for this online, a very easy process which I did a few days ago but I forgot to print it out at the B&B, stupid because I lost some time with this. In a city close to the border I found a nice man who could print it for me.

Crossing the border was easy this time, not many questions asked and they didn’t take much time to check the car. In the afternoon I arrived in Edirne, just 20 kilometers from the border. On CouchSurfing I found Hasan who could host me. I thought it was better to have someone waiting for me as I always need some time to adjust to a new environment before I feel brave enough to go to a place where no-one has offered help.

Hasan welcomed me with traditional Turkish tea. After I slept an hour (I am still exhausted) we had dinner (Turkish pizza) and plugged the car in at his work. Hasan lives in an apartment on the 5th floor so at his place it was not possible. Unfortunately at his work the electricity-grid was not strong enough to power my car so I drove home and we decided to charge the car tomorrow as I only need to do 70km to the next place.

Turkish people seem very open and friendly. In two days I am going to reach Istanbul which means I will be in Asia! After 7 months I’m finally reaching the second continent!

Pictures