Left Istanbul at 5:30am. 800km to go. Ended up in a dead end alley in Sultanahmet just after we left the hostel. Found the main road. Followed it into town. Realised we were a bit short on useful maps of Istanbul. Got stopped by the police. Followed our noses along more roads. Got stopped by the police again.
And then, presto, we were on a great big bridge, and crossing over to Asia. Mission accomplished. Watched the sun rise, preceded by a slender sliver of moon. The moon that was going to wane away until Wednesday, when it would have it's moment of glory, blocking out the sun for us.
Went through some pretty slummy areas between Gebze and Izmit, but we left the motorway at Izmit and headed south on some smaller roads. Got to properly immerse ourselves in the Turkish driving style. Lane markings are pretty decorations on the road, and traffic lights are for the weak. Headlights are flashed at you, not to say, "it's clear to pass" but "Watch out, I'm coming through" Good usage of the middle lane. (That invisible lane that separates the two lanes on a one lane each way road.)
Got a speeding ticket. Some sort of radar trap. Or something. Got to eat Boruk, a very tasty pastry dish, which we almost never saw again, unfortunately. A bunch of beautiful and ever changing scenery brought us eventually to Afyon, right about lunch time.
Now Afyon was a highlight.
It is a very unspoilt central Turkish town. No real major tourist attractions, no major religious capitals, just business as usual. It surrounds a very nice pinnacle of rock which soars up out of the old quarter of town, and has apparently had forts on it since the Hittites in 1200BC.
But first, lunch. We just parked the car on a side street, and walked down through town admiring the fresh food markets, and thinking we must come back and get some of this to take to the festival as camp food.
We eventually came to an obvious lunch spot, and wandered in. Eight whities including three women strolled into a lounge room full of men eating pide. At first they offered us a table there, but there really wasn't enough room, so we headed upstairs. Past a curtained off area of what seemed to be just women, and onto the third floor of what seemed to be families and mixed groups and a lot more casual. School kids on their lunch break eating at the next table. It might have been more casual, but it certainly didn't stop anyone from having a good stare :)
Beautiful food, Pide is pizza like, but a lot less greasy, and a lot more traditional. A nice view over most of the local rooftops, past the minarets of nearby mosques and into the cliffs of the citadel.
I guess the first day of new experiences is always more memorable, but we really did have a great experience in Afyon, (really! not just me!) so bear with me. We certainly don't go into this sort of detail for the entire trip :)
Back to the market for food. Jared shocked us all, and I think the bread salesmen as well, by buying a couple of chunks of fresh bread. Great big still hot rounds of bread, 16" diameter, and probably 3-4" thick. And being pushed around on a hard cart the size of a pool table.
Sausage from the sausage shop. Nothing but sausage, and only two types. And only one that you could actually buy. (Presumably the other type was still maturing?)
Fruit and veg from the fruit stalls. This was free. It wasn't really meant to be, but I think the kindly old men manning the stall were just so happy have two cute young western girls pointing and hand waving and speaking their best broken Turkish just impressed them so much that they flat out refused our money in the end. Very touching.
Cheese from the cheese woman sitting on the footpath, big hunks of fresh white cheese. (halfway from feta to normal cheese? Kaymak? (Clotted cream))
Provisioned up, we headed further into the old town looking for the track up the citadel. Found the track up behind an alley with some kids playing, and headed up. Quite an impressive place to stick a fortress. The new steps obviously take a much easier line than the original approaches, as you could see some pretty steep rock steps cut out. But it's pretty firmly established that people were hardcore in days of yore.
A good view of the town and surrounds from the top, showing it's a lot bigger than we really though.
And then on again. More delightful mountain scenery, some not quite so smooth roads, and back into the major civilisation as we came into Antalya, on the Mediterranean coast. Stopped along here to get some beer and wine for the festival, nicely complementing our sausage, cheese, bread and fruit/veg supplies from Afyon.
Arrived up at the entrance to the festival, to be greeted with a variety of bad news. A flat tire, A muddy, partially flooded festival site, with the main stage broken and collapsed into said mud. Manic Germans demanding to be let into the party now, and a blocked access road.
Desires to just quietly go about our business and fix the car tire first was soundly dashed. Lots and lots of helpful Turks came to do it for us, some of them filtering off after it was discovered that the tools were missing from the back of our car, and then later that the spare tire itself was flat.
Yuck. Jared and I sent the rest of the group in to the site on one of the tractors that was transporting people back and forth on the muddy road. Too many helping hands :) We rang our "24 hour road side support" number and got a Turkish speaker. Oh well, we hadn't really expected that one anyway. Having a flat spare was a bit of a bummer though. This was eventually solved however, and in fine Turkish style.
Me, the tire, and two Turkish dudes who'd been helping us so far drove off down to the nearest town (about 40k away) where they knew a guy who was a tire repair man. (Turkey is covered in these joints, they actually repair tires here, a lot, not just replace them) We picked this guy up half way along, outside his house, and proceeded to his little workshop.
He offered me a choice of different patches, but I was quite keen to let him just pick the best one. He was very proud of his big special patches too it seems. I took a couple of photos of him working, but he wanted me to make sure I got a picture of the patch. I obliged :) While we waited I offered them chocolate, they offered me cigarettes, and they had a good flick through Jared's rough guide to turkey. Quite and interesting half hour with some very limited Turkish and English all round.
Back to the car and Jared, and the tire back on, and all for only 90€ (60 for the taxiing back and forth) The road had been cleared at this stage, but they were only letting two cars in at a time, to try and prevent any more cars getting stuck, so we still had to wait another half hour or so for our turn.
Jared skillfully navigated the mud and we arrived at the festival site, ready to meet up with the crew. They'd been given one of the mobile phones to hold, but that was about it, none of us had been there to try and determine a meeting place in advance.
Of course, they didn't answer the phone. !. Jared and I wandered around in the muck for a bit, admiring the absolute carnage of mud in place, and wondering how much fun this was going to be for 5 days. Then, Jared blindly walked into Jesse as we were crossing the dance floor in front of the new main stage (originally the second stage) Hooray!
A long long day, but all's well that ends well.