Monthly Archives: December 2014


Climbing to the mouth of the valley

Climbing to the mouth of the valley

Our original plan after Greece was to skirt along the coast of the Adriatic Sea via the Balkans. As it was late November and coming into winter we decided to have another look at the map. Both our fellow travellers Simon and Georgia, Nic and Tim had decided on a different route through Bulgaria and Romania. The reports we heard back from them were enough to entice us. Rather than heading for the coast in gloomy cold weather we geared up for the snowy mountains and the less travelled road. From northern Greece we planned on visiting a group of lakes that lie on the border of Greece, Albania and Macedonia. Making Albania the next country on our itinerary. We only needed to cross the north eastern corner of Albania to reach the lakes. A UNESCO heritage listed town called Gjirokastra was a short drive from where we were crossing the border so seemed like a logical next stop. Continue reading

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Northern Greece

Chopping wood with a great view

Chopping wood with a great view

Athens had ended exceedingly badly with a robbery and minor car accident. To be honest we were both on edge. We were stressed about Jerome’s health, the security of the car and now we felt vulnerable on the roads!
It was coming into winter so we decided to shun the coast of Greece and the many Islands that would now perhaps be rather bleak and cold. Instead we drove North West to Metoria. One of the most scenic inland drives in Greece starts at Metoria, passes through Metsovo and ends at Ioannina. Along this asphalted, windy drive you get the chance to see many feats of architecture and examples of natural beauty. Continue reading

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Greece – heading South to Athens

Coming in at the end of a beautiful Autumn

Coming in at the end of a beautiful Autumn

We left Turkey and entered Greece via the road leading to Alexandroupolis. Turkey had ended on a down note for us because of Jeromes stay in yet another hospital, this time in Istanbul. It felt like every time we hit a city things went South. We were becoming health tourists, pure and simple.
Jerome and I are all about finding the great drives and fantastic natural beauty that every country has to offer; so for Greece we decided to skip all of the cities and man-made attractions until we hit Athens.
We crossed the border and hugged the coast with the next way point of Mount Olympus in mind. There were some fantastic National Parks and Lakes bordering Albania and Macedonia to the North West of us so perhaps we could use those as our exit point from Greece in a week or so. Continue reading

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Turkey – Istanbul

The Blue Mosque by night.

The Blue Mosque by night.

Istanbul was almost like a milestone for us as we had been looking forward to it for so long. It was also to be our gateway back into Europe after spending so many months traipsing across Central Asia.
We had learned that there are 6.5 million cars registered in Istanbul alone. This became apparent on our approach with a maze of freeway systems with very confusing spaghetti like on/off ramps. One wrong turn and you could end up anywhere. Naturally we messed one up before even hitting the outskirts which put us on a freeway in the opposite direction without a single exit for 47km. Buy the time we had finished our 100km detour we were finally headed in the right direction. Continue reading

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Turkey – Pamukkale to Efes

The "cotton castles" or Pamukkale in Turkish

The “cotton castles” or Pamukkale in Turkish

Pamukkale meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a surreal formation of terraces created by the carbonated minerals left behind from flowing water. I watched a documentary about geology years back and the host spent some time here. I was stunned by the beauty and thought to myself, I’ve gotta go there one day.
The Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built above the cotton castle and has been very well reconstructed around some beautiful gardens. Continue reading

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