Living in a van not only gives Emily and Dennis from near.so.far the opportunity to discover new places of the heart without being tied down, but also to reschedule plans at short notice. Thus, the two set off from Greece on their way to Turkey. Often the best moments are hidden exactly where you don't expect them and the most beautiful experiences are usually spontaneous. In addition to many unforgettable impressions, it also becomes clear that life in a van is not a vacation, but a challenge and a conscious decision to continue on the chosen path.
We have been toying with the idea of throwing our original travel plans overboard and going to the Asian part of Turkey for quite some time. The idea came up through very dear travel acquaintances who highly recommended Turkey to us. That's the nice thing about a not completely planned long-term trip. Always have the freedom to throw his plans over the heap and to follow the feeling. Exactly with it we already made very good experiences and were allowed to determine that the most beautiful experiences are mostly the spontaneous ones.
After several weeks on the road, every day in a different place, every day driving, living on 6m2, new countries, new language, new culture - all this costs more energy than we thought and so we felt a certain travel fatigue after almost 3 months.
So the plan was to go to a spot where we can stay a little longer longer time to recharge our batteries. So we came to Raches. A small town with a headland that reaches far into the ocean and thus offers super climatic conditions in high summer and is also a great place for kitesurfing. We finally spent 10 days there and stood with our camper in the middle of the the headland.
Coordinates of the parking place at the Kite beach: 38.8690183, 22.7578803
We paid 10 euros a day incl. water, shower, beach bar and toilets
After this short break we went further north to a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Meteora Monasteries. A place you have to see. Breathtaking hundreds of meters high rock formations on which like floating built the monasteries of Meteora, which there is so only once in this world. There are several viewing platforms that can be reached by car. In addition, you can visit several buildings from the inside. We recommend to find a parking place a little bit away because free camping is forbidden in the whole area. We spent the night before at a natural campground about 30 minutes away by car and then drove to the monasteries in the morning.
Facts Meteora Monasteries:
- Meaning: Meteora = floating in the air
- the monasteries are built on high sandstone rocks and seem to float in hazy air
- the area was originally settled by monks who lived in caves in the rocks in the 11th century
Coordinates of the campsite at Meteora: 39.6746553, 21.7281980
The last days in Greece
The area Chalkidiki showed us once again what Greece has to offer. We spent another 2 days at this wonderful place. Who has planned the route to Turkey like us has to know that from the area Chalkidiki direction Turkey the pitches become meager. We had to determine exactly that and so the search for the last pitch in Greece shortly before the border in Turkey was more than just nerve-racking.
We drove several pitches to which we have selected in the Park for Night app. However, these represented all in reality no option. So after we drove several hours just before the border we had to realize that we simply find nothing in this area. It must be said that we were there in the high season.
After absolute despair, we then headed for a pitch on the off chance and then actually had this before missing luck. Basically, we would try in the future especially in the high season from Chalkidiki directly to Turkey to drive. to Turkey.
Coordinates of the fantastic campsite near Chalkidiki: 38.3386312, 21.8502909
Coordinates of the last pitch in Greece: 40.2359341, 23.5552920
Conclusion about Greece
What you often don't see in social media
There is a certain tension in the air and not only because of the military heavily guarded intensive border crossing into Turkey which lasted as long as all 7 other border crossings together. The tension also comes from the last weeks, the effort of traveling, the many kilometers on the road, the hours of searching for a place, the life in this confined space, etc.
Unfortunately, the first kilometers in Turkey went exactly the same way. Our plan was to find a parking place about 2 hours after the border in the direction of Istanbul to drive into the city the next day. But we made the calculation without the holidays in Turkey.
Catchword bad timing: we went exactly to the sacrifice festival in Turkey which had the consequence that the campsite we visited was full of locals who spent the holidays there. Since there are especially in the part of Turkey from the border to Istanbul only very few pitches we decided short hand tired and stressed after a long day on the road again to drive the 1.5 hours to Istanbul to spend the night on an official RV site. This is also part of this type of travel and is definitely not for everyone. We had already dealt with this issue before the trip and knew that this trip will not be a vacation and can be extremely exhausting.
After these exhausting days we decided to rent an apartment for the days in Istanbul to be directly in the Kadiköy district. Istanbul is a metropolis that is beyond all European imagination and seems overwhelming in the first impression. But after a short acclimatization, we were quickly able to focus on the volume, the speed, the diversity and the impressive size. The neighborhood Kadiköy is a hip alternative neighborhood that is super relaxed and not as crowded as the touristy much higher frequented part on the European side. Super interesting we also found how colorful and diverse Istanbul and especially Kadiköy is.
On the 2nd day in Istanbul we visited the bazaar and the big mosques. The Egyptian as well as the big bazaar are super impressive. However, if you expect the usual prices in the country, you will be disappointed. Overall, we found Istanbul worth seeing and culturally very interesting. We can definitely recommend the city for a visit.
To be continued...
It goes deeper into Turkey.