Sunday, 2 August 2015

To Uzbekistan

Well dear reader here we are nearly two months into our Journey and we have passed through three more countries and reached Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan where the next stage of our adventure begins.

As you may recall (then again maybe not) we decided to re-plan our route because our Iranian Authorisation Code was not forthcoming.  Because we couldn't enter Uzbekistan before the date on the visa (3rd August) we opted to drive to Uzbekistan through Georgia, Russia and Kazakhstan.

We spent some more time in Turkey after leaving Istanbul and crossing the Bosphorus into Asia by Ferry from Eceabat.

ANZAC Memorial in Eceabat

After a night in Canakkale where we had an amazing meal at a traditional Turkish cafeteria we left to visit Troy on our way to Ephesus where we spent a day looking around the ruins and in particular the library which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.



St John's Basilica in Selcuk

From Ephesus we drove along the coast and through Izmir to Oludeniz where we undertook a bit more R&R by doing a tandem paraglide.  This was amazing but for 'safety' reasons we couldn't take our own photos and the extortionate price asked for the photos the pilot took (surprise that) means we don't have any from the flight itself.

We left Oludeniz with Albert having to stay in second gear due to the steepness of the hill but he managed it with no problem.  From Oludeniz we spent a couple of days simply driving to Goreme in Cappadocia to see the Troglodye dwellings carved out of limestone and to do a balloon ride over the area which was fantastic.  The roads were variable but nothing Albert couldn't handle so we made good time arriving at our campsite in Goreme just after lunch.

Now that we had completed pretty much all our things to do in Turkey we headed up into Georgia. The drive to Georgia wasn't too demanding although that could be considered to be more luck than judgement.  The route we chose was to go from Goreme to Bayburt and from there to Of where we would follow the coast road to Georgia.  When we were leaving the hotel at Bayburt we asked the way to the Of road were told this was a very bad road and we should go via Trabzon.

I decided to check this out and discovered that the Bayburt-Of road also known as the D915 is listed as one of the most dangerous roads in the world and would seem to make the Pamir highway look fairly straightforward. If you want to get an idea of what we decided not to do you can follow this link.  These are some photos of what we missed - Luckily!

We left Turkey crossing the border with no problems and drove into Georgia where we didn't need a visa so it was relatively straight forward although the customs officer was interested in Albert and also wondered if I had a pistol.  We drove to Tbilisi where we stayed a few days while Albert had a service and we looked around finalising our route through Russia and Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan.

Anyway after leaving Tbilisi we headed off towards the Russian border spending a day walking in the hills of Stepantsminda and visiting the Holy Trinity Church.  The hike up to the church passed through some spectacular countryside and while it was fairly tough going in places was definitely worth the effort.

From Georgia the next 10 days were spent travelling to Shymkent in Kazakhstan from where we cross into Uzbekistan.  We made good time and so arrived in Shymkent on the 30th July and had to spend a couple of days waiting until we could use our Uzbekistan visa on the 3rd August.  There's nothing much to say about these 10 days as most of the driving is through wide expanses of nothing and other than Independence Park Shymkent doesn't have much going for it.

The next stage of our adventure is exploring Uzbekistan while we make our way to Tajikistan and the Pamir Highway

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