Country file: Turkey

Apr 22, 2020 | Articles, Asia, Turkey

Read here all insight info we have collected from Turkey in three months of travel, from December 2019 to March 2020. 

  • A new, grandiose, station has been built at Kipi – Ipsala border of Turkey with Greece. 
  • At the border, we were obliged to buy local car insurance because the green card issued by Genialloyd of Italy didn’t cover the country. We paid 590 TLY (90 euros at the time) for a three month essential coverage. Insurance for a passenger car cost 350 TLY if I remember well.  
  • Diesel price per litre was, 6,6 TLY in the end of 2019, equivalent to 1 euros. In several low profile stations, price was 5,85 – 5,9 Turkish liras. 
  • Three months later, the price reduced to 5,6—5,8 TL.Y/Litre while the Euro:TLY exchange was 1:7,1. Due to the covid-19 outbreak, international oil prices had plunged under 20USD/barrel.  
  • At the entry/exit of every small town or city, there is a camera surveillance system (EDS). Nearby there is often a Polis road block. You can’t miss it because most times they divert traffic to a single lane in order to slow down the cars. 
  • The road system in Turkey is excellent. You can travel on a state-of-the art motorway (otoyol) all the way from Istanbul to Izmir and Aydin – check the green signs. Pay tolls are cheap except the one for the suspension Osman Gazi bridge, which cuts through Marmara sea saving 100-120 kms of travel. 
  • Tolls may prove a trap in Turkey. For example you can drive freely on the suspended bridges over Bosphorus, in Istanbul, where there are no pay stations but only a camera system looking for the electronic device in your car. If you don’t have it, you may be asked to pay a fine at the exit from the country. We were not. The electronic payment card is available at the PTT – postal offices.
  • But modern green tagged motorways are not a neccessity given that the parallel network is also a motorway with 2+2 lanes for each direction. It’s actually difficult to find a smaller road in Turkey.
  • The only time we paid tolls was on the Ozman Gazi bridge and it was pretty expensive: 180 TLY, around 30 euros for the 2,5 kms over Marmara for a tall camper like our Iveco. Passenger cars should pay 2/3 of this price. There is a station at the exit of the majestic bridge.
  • In every town, probably at the central square, you will always see a statue of Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turkish nation. Atatourk is everywhere actually, on billboards, walls, even on bumper stickers.
  • President Rezep Tayip Erdogan probably wants to be the 21st century Ataturk and his figure is frequently desplayed next to him. We have seem Bulvari Erfogan (Erdogan avenue) in Anatolia, as well as a University named after him between Samsun and Trabzon.
  • Is nationalism an issue in Turkey? If we count the flags you encounter everywhere in the country, it probably is. Flags are everywhere and some of huge as buildings. You mostly see them on balconies, shops, car dealers, even outside hotels. And on cars of course.
  • Development is the word that can descibe Turkey at its best and you can see it in every kilometre you make: roads, bridges, tunnels, hospitals, university campuses as well as real estate are impressive. Turkey is getting built fast but not always for good. Most cities have lost their character, especially in Asia Minor. Turks seem to love residential building complexes more than anybody else. Just take a look on a picturesque hill and what you will see is a new multi-floor residence.
  • Development has almost killed the environment in Turkey. There is too much concrete, cables and iron everywhere in the country. There is always a dam for a river. And a concrete block in every canyon.
  • Turkish cities a relatively clean and tidy. Izmir is better than Istanbul and by far the most European city in the country. Samsun is also impressive for its seafront development – parks, roads, green and playgrounds.
  • But if you give a better look on remote areas, on the road network or even in vallges, you will see a lot of plastic garbage, even next to rivers. Most of the  times where the tourists don’t approach.
  • Bread is bloody cheap in Turkey (1-2 TLY). It’s almost everywhere a flyffy white that gets very soft during the day. You’d rather find a local bakery early morning to buy it hot.
  • You mostly find bread in “bakal” (local food stores), mini markets or large supermarkets.
  • Black sea coast and Cappadocia are the only regions of the country where you find a lot of “Firin” (bakeries) selling good quality bread. There are hundreds from Samsun to Trabzon.
  • If you want to buy food, look for the main chain supermarkets: Migros (orange sign), Sok (red/yellow), 101 (light blue) or BIM. 

Police (Polis with wihite/stripped cars) and military police (Jendarma – blue vehicles) is omnipresent in the country. Road blocks are frequent (look for the cones that divert the traffic as you approach the block) but you will hardly be stopped if you don’t race. 

Traffic in Istanbul is notorious. If you want to find its streets relatively calm, you need to wake up very early. After 10 am it gets frenzy and stays like this till late night. We were lucky to drive in Istanbul during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Food is plenty, spicy, delicious and pretty cheap in Turkey. Except Istanbul, where prices are double. 

Foreign men and women can enter mosques only outside prayin hours. 

Star and crescent, the symbol of Islam is almost everywhere. Maybe the most impressive structure is at the entrance of Nigde, in Cappadocia

TRIP ID

  • ENTRY: 30 DECEMBER 2019
  • EXIT: 24 MARCH 2020
  • DAY: 86
  • KMS: 7.200
  • DIESEL LITRES: 1.213
  • DIESEL COST: 986 ευρώ
  • AVG CONSUMPTION: 16,8 litres/100 km.

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