+++ Breaking News: Happy Unicamels in the mountains! No more petrol! +++
After a long night and a few rides in the fairground we spotted a meerkat family – nearly as cute as Unicamels!
We continued our trip and headed up to the Ishak Pasa Palace to fulfil the daily challenge: look for the Harem and take a picture. No problem! Unicamels are naturally photogenic and with support from Josh (Team Fehlzündung) we shot our Harem picture:
Mount Ararat was hidden underneath large clouds so we reached the first stage quickly. In Erzurum, the north eastern centre of Anatolia, we had delicious lunch with traditional lentil soup (very yummy), kebab and salad.
We decided to take a small road instead the broad A-Road through the beautiful mountain region with small valleys, hardly any traffic, except a lot of sheep, muddy roads and a lot of potholes.
It was great! The only alarming thing was our fuel level. We were running low, one car was nearly empty. So we put all our hopes up for next bigger town (at least it looked big on the map). And there it was…small village but two petrol pumps! It just looked closed. Quickly a few locals surrounded us and one of them called the owner of the petrol station.
He appeared right away-but no petrol- only diesel… (Before we went on our trip we were told not to take a car running on diesel as this would be difficult to get…well we’ve only been to petrol stations who had run out of petrol so far…)
Next petrol station with petrol about 110 km away. No chance for our cars to make it. We must have looked quite perplex and the locals started a loud discussion with phone calls and were trying to organize petrol for us. So we sat down and had a cup of Chai. What else was there to do? And then we found out that we couldn’t continue on our road as there was a major accident after the village involving an overturned truck-road closed!
Our new best friend Harun had organized his mate Ferdi who went to pick up 100 l petrol!
We had a lovely time with the friendly locals and the children, talking about the rallye, playing soccer, signing our cars, learning to count in Turkish, sharing chocolate with the children.
Eventually our saviour Ferdi arrived and all the cars professionally fuelled. They even showed us a shortcut to the next town and escorted us until we were on the right way.
Once again we were treated with the great hospitality this country is famous for and are very grateful for the help we received! Thank you!
+++ Breaking News: Unicamels hand over medical equipment! Offroad! +++
After a cold and windy night at the beautifully situated lake, 2,000 m above sea level, we followed Burhan Buzun to the Aile Sagligi Merkezi hospital in Akyaka. The contact to the hospital, which is located just a few kilometres from the Armenian boarder, was organized by Nadir Serin.
We were greeted with chai and handed over our donated medical equipment, including the large and heavy box of surgical instruments, several syringes and injection needles, dressings, plasters, gloves, disposable scissors and clamps, X-Ray cassettes, a sensimeter and the two remaining X-Ray viewers, which found spots in an examination room right away. Unfortunately, due to an external audit, there was no time for a hospital tour.
We would like to thank all the generous donors, helpers and organizers. Your support was and is highly appreciated!
Afterwards we visited the ruins of the former prosperous Armenian capital next to the Silk Road Ani. To get there we chose to drive off-road over small roads, which don’t exist on the map.
The ground of Ani now belongs to Turkey and is located next to the Armenian border. The largeness of the city (formerly over 100.000 inhabitants), the great architecture and the partially very well obtained conditions of the remaining buildings impressed us a lot! The guys were happy and tried to climb all the roofs and towers.
After a little picnic on the car park we headed to the capital of cheese: Kars. We started with a nice view from the towering castle and were greeted in broad Bavarian dialect by two Turkish ladies. We received information about the Hamamm in Kars, it is open to public but the days for males and females change every day. They suggested the Grand Hotel Ani as they have their own mixed Hamamm.
We spend two nice relaxing hours in a Hamamm all by ourselves and were finally clean again.
The drivers’ camp was another 200 km away beneath the Ishak Pasa Palace on a campground which included a little fairground. Later Team Fehlzündung caught up with us again, unfortunately only with 2 cars.
+++ Breaking news: Unicamels searching for form sheet A38! When we actual want to go to Tiflis! +++
The drivers’ camp looked as miserable in daylight as the night before. So off we go! Together with Team Fehlzündung and Team Schwabenstahl we carefully entered the Georgian traffic – no car insurance yet – to look for an insurance Company.
We lost both teams in the chaotic traffic but thought we would catch up with them at the insurance company.
Later we found out that Team Fehlzündung had an accident on the way to the insurance company. They hit another car in one of the confusing and chaotic roundabouts. The car from Team Fehlzündung (nearly a total write-off) got immediately confiscated by Georgian police and the driver had to hand in his passport and wasn’t able to leave the country before all the damage was payed for.
Team Unicamel went on the mission “insurance policy”… We visited three insurance offices, each send us to another place as they couldn’t issue the policy immediately. At the end we had walked a few miles in a downpour, were soaking wet and finally found the office who issued the policy on the same day. But there were already a couple of other teams waiting.
We waited for 3 hours – during that time 4 consultants handed out insurance policies for 5 cars- to be told ( 2 hours before closing time) that we should come back in two days ( after the public holiday). We were guttered but with some dramatic sweet talk the consultants decided grumpily to start the process for our documents: We had to complete a questionnaire with our personal data and confirm that we are not the Georgian president.
After that the bizarre process started:
– Nearly no mistakes in copying and typing our data (took approximately 45 minutes)
– Taking black and white photocopies of our coloured photocopied documents (took approximately 25 minutes)
– Printing of the insurance documents and visual validation from another consultant (took approximately 60 minutes)
– Paying for the insurance policy (took approximately 20 minutes)
– Private phone calls and WhatsApp from the consultants (took approximately 30 minutes)
– One day of our two days in Georgia spend in an insurance office
– Policy covers damages up to 10.000 Euros concerning card
– Accidents concerning human beings are not included – apparently it’s your own fault in Georgia when you get run over!
Shortly after closing time (5.30 pm) we were on the road to Tiflis which we reached at 4 am in the morning.
After a short night we had a quick walk around the Georgian capital and did some walk through sight-seeing. Unfortunately we did not have much time as we were supposed to have the appointment with the hospital in Turkey in the afternoon.
The drive to the Turkish Border was beautiful! We crossed a mountain pass 2000 m above sea level and had the first own flat tire shortly before the border (nicely timed by Henry as we were able to change tires in sunshine and not the soaking rain we had half an hour earlier).
– Georgian cheese bread (Katchapouri) is a good bread as well as flat bread stuffed with potatoes and dill
– Cars with no front or back bumpers (most of time)
– One of the most beautiful mountain roads of the world – Top Gear 🙂
– Slowest consultants ever
– Worst style of driving in the world – probably the reason why no one wanted to insure us for Georgia beforehand
After a night on a pasture in the industrial part of Merzifon we were able to hit the road at 8.30 am.
Team Fehlzündung went their own way today and the Unicamels decided to have a lazy day starting with a nice Coffee in a Coffeshop in Unye to finally load up the video from the Le Mans race. Unicamel Mimo and Kevin went to a barbier shop. We now call them Murat and Kemal 🙂
Just out of town we found a TÜV TÜRK so we were able to fulfil our last Instanbul challenge: Wrote postcards to school children and leave them in a TÜV TÜRK station.
We bought everything for a picnic and spend lunch at the nicest white beach on the coast of the Black Sea (Lonley Planet) in Caka 🙂
On the way to Giresun we stopped in Ordu to take a ride up the mountain with a gondola.
For the night we stayed at Giresun at the waterfront and were treated with a nice sunset which turned the entire city into gold.