View from our sixth floor apartment patio in Pogradec, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania .

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Gjyrokaster, Albania on October 6th.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

April Expenses

Not a bad month. Considering we started the month in Turkiye near the Syria border, and ended up in Craiova, Romania I think we did okay. 

Plus, we splurged a couple of times!

Time to move on

We've been here three nights now, and although it's a nice spot and it would be easy to stay another night, we're thinking we'll move on today. We want to be up in the mountains to visit with friends on Monday, and it's still 350 kms (217 miles) or so away. 

Friday, April 29, 2022

Just one family's story

There is a refugee family from Ukraine staying in the guesthouse here where Max is parked. The guesthouse does meals as well, and we decided to have dinner yesterday. We were asked if we wanted to sit at the same table together, and we did.

So yesterday afternoon our host Gabriel grilled a whole bunch of meat over an open fire... sausage, chicken, and beef... and we had a feast!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Welcome to Romania!

Romania is not a new country for us. We were in Romania for the month of November, 2016. We liked it so much at the time, we knew we would return some day. It's unfortunate that we're only going to be here for about two weeks, but that's the way it goes.

We got on the road just before 10:00am and headed for the border crossing bridge. But as we got close to the traffic circle before the bridge, things slowed down and there were police blocking traffic. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Can't ask for much better than that!

Just an all around nice day! Sunshine and blue sky with a high around 25C (77F). Can't ask for much better than that!

So we got the bikes off in the morning and went for a ride. For a small city, Ruse has some nice bike routes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

At the Danube River on the Romania border

Our quick trip through Bulgaria is almost over. We're on a deadline now to get to the northern tip of Denmark in time for our ferry booking to Norway on June 1st. So we're not doing many detours... we are sightseeing when appropriate along our chosen route.

But, there are quite a few things we want to see and do along the way. And, people to see!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Max went on an adventure! And the city of Veliko Tarnovo

When we had driven up into the mountains behind the city of Slevin, we were surprised at the good condition of the road. In Bulgaria, the roads are in overall poor shape. Lots of potholes, even on major highways. But this road had been not bad.

So when we left and headed towards Veliko Tarnovo, we carried on, on the same road.

Not a good idea!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

12 km hike on a beautiful day

One of the nicest days we've had in a while, so we decided to stay put. We were overdue for a good hike, so we set off on one of the many trails here at the Blue Rocks Nature Park near Sliven, Bulgaria.

Because we were parked up at the antenna tower, we were already at the top of the mountain! So it was a little different to be doing the downhill section first and having to climb back up at the end.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Blue Rocks Nature Park near Sliven, Bulgaria

They had been calling for a decent day on Friday, but we woke up to raindrops and they continued on and off until after lunch. At least it's warming up though, with an afternoon high near 20C (68F). And today it's supposed to be sunny and 24C (75F). That's almost shorts and t-shirt weather!

We decided to drive up into the mountains in behind the city of Sliven. 

Friday, April 22, 2022

First impressions of Bulgaria

We've only been in Bulgaria for a day and a half, but there are some things we've noticed already. One of the first things is that the roads are not in very good condition! We missed a pothole yesterday that would have done some serious damage. It was a crater! And this is on a major two lane road that is part of the vignette toll system with a lot of truck traffic.

Also, the roads we've been on so far have no shoulder. But there are pulloffs every few kilometers.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Welcome to Bulgaria. Country #51 for us!

It was chilly on our last night in Turkiye. The temperature was 1C (34F) when we woke up and there was frost on the windshield. So we got up and drove right away to warm things up.

It was only about 100 kms (62 miles) or so to the border, but we needed to stop and top up the fuel tank one last time, as well as fill one propane tank.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Through Istanbul and our last night in Turkiye

I had our route all planned out to get through Istanbul. We would take the tunnel, the entrance to which was only a couple of kms from where Max had been parked. And we set off at about 10:10am, when we figured "rush hour" (if there is a such a thing in Istanbul) might be over.

We got to the turn off to the tunnel and I saw the height restriction sign that said maximum 2.8 meters. Well, Max is 2.8 meters! I hadn't even thought there might be a height restriction, but apparently this tunnel isn't used by heavy trucks.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Speeding ticket!

Turkiye has both toll roads and free roads, and so far we've managed to spend our entire time here on the free roads. The toll roads have a tag system only, so if we wanted to use them we would have had to register Max at the post office and have an account with some credit on it. 

But here in Istanbul, we are going to have to cross the Bosporus Straight either by bridge or tunnel and they also operate on a toll system that would normally be charged to the same highway pass that we don't have. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

A dreary day in Istanbul

Unfortunately the weather isn't cooperating for our visit to Istanbul. Cool, wet, and windy seems to be the narrative for the balance of our time here. We're still getting out and seeing things, although it will give us a reason to return when we can explore under better conditions.

Oh... we got some good news today!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Day one in Istanbul. It never hurts to splurge once in a while.

In the morning, Cheryl took us for a walk around the neighborhood and she showed us how the Istanbul transit cards work so that we could use the metro and ferry services.

The day started off really hazy... or maybe smoggy. We could hardly see across the bay.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Arrived in Istanbul

I had myself well prepared for yesterday's busy drive into Istanbul traffic. Expecting the worst. Fortunately, although it was congested at times, it wasn't overly crazy. Definitely not what you would call a scenic drive though!

It took us just over two and a half hours to do 138 kms (86 miles).

Friday, April 15, 2022

Max is in the shop

We had overnighted at the Cehennemağzı Caves parking lot, so just after they opened, we went for a visit. It was only 12.50 lira ($1.10 CAD, $0.85 USD) entrance fee, so we didn't have high expectations. 

There are actually three separate caves, all very small, but all very different. None of them very exciting though!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Good thing Max is small!

It was definitely a good move to come down to the coast. It's not warm by any means, but it's comfortable. At least we haven't had to put the furnace on! We had spent Tuesday night in Kozlu, which is a western suburb of Zonguldak.

We felt comfortable leaving Max alone, so we went for a walk back towards Zonguldak before leaving the area and heading further west towards Istanbul.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Slight detour!

It was chilly when we woke up Tuesday morning. Glad to have had the electric heat on overnight! But outside, it was only about 2C (35F) and windy. Not nice.

We got all of our chores done and filled Max's water tank and hit the road. We weren't planning on a long drive... only about 80 kms (50 miles) to another campground with electricity. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Our time in Turkiye is almost up

We have to be out of Turkiye by April 21st at the latest, however we will likely make a run for the Bulgaria border either the 19th or 20th.  So, just over a week to go. 

That will give us about five and a half weeks to make our way from the Turkiye/Bulgaria border to the northern tip of Denmark where we get on the ferry June 1st for the trip to Norway. A distance of about 3,100 kms (1,900 miles).

Monday, April 11, 2022

The big city of Ankara, Turkiye

We got up at 6:00am and did the 25 km drive into the center of Ankara. 

Ankara is a big busy city with a population of about 5 million people. That's exactly why we got up at 6:00am on a Sunday morning. And still, there was a fair bit of bus traffic. But once we got onto the side streets it was actually fairly quiet. 

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Morning hike and afternoon drive

We wanted to do one more hike in the Ihlara Valley before doing the fairly long drive to the big city of Ankara (pop 5 million).

So after breakfast we left Max at his spot overlooking the valley and hiked into the northern part of the valley.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The cave churches of Ihlara Valley

Ihlara Valley is more of a canyon than a valley. The Melendi River runs about 14 kms (9 miles) through the gorge. The valley was a significant religious center from the 4th to the 11th century and contains 105 different churches carved into the stone walls. 

There are three different paid entrances to the gorge, with walking paths running the entire length, often on both sides of the river.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Cappadocia to Ihlara Valley

But before we left Cappadocia there was one last thing we wanted to do. Go for a bike ride! I had seen that there is a bike path running between Goreme and Avanos.

It turned out to be just a marked off section of the main road, not really a bike path. But it was still a good ride and we got some more photos of an area we hadn't been to yet.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Our last hike at Cappadocia

There are a lot of hikes around Cappadocia and we will return to the region someday to compete the ones that we missed. This is the second post of today... if you missed it, you might want to check out The Balloons of Cappadocia.

On Wednesday, we did the Sword Valley and Rose Valley hikes. We walked from where Max was parked, so we ended up doing a total of about 15 kms (9.3 miles).

The Balloons of Cappadocia, Turkiye

It had been four or five days that the balloons hadn't been allowed to fly due to weather conditions, but yesterday morning we could hear the burners while lying in bed. So we got up right away to find several flying overhead. It wasn't the nicest morning with a lot of haze in the sky, but we went out to take some photos anyhow.

Then this morning, we heard them again. We got up right away, and it was a much nicer morning with a clear blue sky and no wind to speak of at all.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

More weird rock formations around Cappadocia, Turkiye

Yesterday we hiked Love Valley and White Valley. They kind of run into each other, and it was about a 10 km (6.2 mile) circuit from where Max was parked. Lots of ups and downs, so it was a good workout. 

The temperature was a pleasant 22C (72F), but there was no sun at all. There was just a drab haze, which doesn't really make for the best photos, but I took lots of them anyhow! The scenery is so odd, but I finally got them whittled down to a reasonable number.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

It's a big money business!

But some news to tell you before we get to that. 

Yesterday, I booked our ferry tickets from Denmark to Norway. I booked us return tickets for €192 ($263 CAD, $211 USD) each way. The further in advance you book, the cheaper the tickets are so I wanted to get that done as soon as we were comfortable with the dates.

We depart June 1st, so now we are on another time schedule! 

Monday, April 4, 2022

The ghost town of Karain, and arrived in Cappadocia

We had stayed overnight at the parking lot of the ski resort, but we didn't sleep well. It was really windy, and so we got up at 6:30am and started driving right away. By the time we got down to lower elevations, it wasn't windy at all!

We stopped for breakfast at a pretty little roadside park with a pond and picnic sites. The Turkish people love their picnics!

Sunday, April 3, 2022

We had a blast skiing at Erciyes Mountain Resort, Turkiye

The last time we went skiing was almost exactly nine years ago at Colorado's Winter Park Resort. We had a great time then, with almost perfect powder conditions.

And the time before that was eleven years prior. So this was only our third time skiing in the last twenty years or so! 

But, it's just like riding a bicycle.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

We're going skiing!

We're actually headed to our next stop which is the popular Turkish tourist area of Cappadocia. But along our route is the big ski resort at Ercİyes Mountain. 

Turkiye is one of the cheapest places in the world to go skiing. And the mountain has spring conditions available right up until the end of April. So we figured, let's go skiing!

Friday, April 1, 2022

More beautiful views, and a nice lunch out

A perfect day to go hiking in the mountains. We set our sights on a nearby antenna tower that was about 4.5 kms (2.8 miles) one way with a 477 meters (1,565') altitude gain.

Blue sky and sunshine and no wind to speak of. Just a nice spring day. You can almost watch the snow melt!