Sunday, 11 December 2011

Return to land of Baclava

Hello, hello. After my long online absence I have returned to a country where sanctions no longer restrict my Internet usage- I think the cafe in Tabriz may have had a sneaky proxy. SO three weeks of the most fantastic adventures in Iran to catch up on which I will do gradually but for now we are back in Turkey. The boarder crossing was a real pain, such a shame after such an amazing time in Iran but boarders are known for people out to make a buck. Annoyingly we got a bent person 'helping' us with our carnet this time- we managed to persuade him that we only had £20 on us which he considered until he found that we hadn't done all the paperwork we should have and he'd have to do extra and refused to do it for so little. Thankfully at this point, we tried the number of the super super nice and English speaking customs official that had made our way in so easy and he, luckily, was working that day and came and took charge and did it all for free, quickly and easily. At the Turkish boarder customs got us to empty the car so they could xray it and while the re-packing took some time there was never any question of bribes so that was fine if a little tedious.
By the time we were across (3 hours later) is was still early, especially as we had gained 1.5 hours on the clock moving into Turkish time so we took a look around a ruined palace nearby which, while not thrilling, was ok. We dithered about where to go next- there is an interesting complex of ruined Armenian churches to the north but I felt a bit done with places near boarders, (even closed ones) and Alex was feeling less into camping as the cold he had caught from me was beginning to set in properly today. We ended up driving over 300km to Erzurum, a town we hope to ski from and the first one with hotels in the guidebook. Looking around a smaller town for the possibility of a hotel just didn't appeal but it turned out to be a very long treck. About quarter of the road had packed snow and ice on it so we couldn't go faster
than 50kmph. Just like the Van road on the way out, it was scattered with queues of trucks in places stopping to put on their chains: one we saw had gone right over the edge, only half the load end visible, sticking almost straight up into the air. Alex was AMAZING, he not only did all the dealings at the boarder but drove this huge long way in ice and snow and dark and all while getting iller and iller. We found a nice hotel and then he crashed, having now developed a temperature. I dinned alone, bringing him back a take away and early this morning went through our kit, amazed to find neither of us had brought paracetamol. The hotel staff were really helpful at 7.30am, despite no common language, calling around to find a pharmacy open on a Sunday morning. One they sent me to was shut but had a helpful poster of open ones and they helped me get a taxi there. I'm glad to say the pills hit the spot and Alex now feels a lot better having spent the day in bed and will probably even ski tomorrow. I went and explored the town and it's cake shops. Not that exciting although some attractive Ottoman mosques and citadel, (and tasty cakes) and I got taken to tea by a nice, genuine old guy that runs hiking tours for foreigners.

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