The land of many faces

After Ankara we drove south towards the Syrian border. Two weeks ago when we explored that area everything was safe but we had seen many checkpoints on the road by the Turkish army. The South-east part is Kurdish region and there are still political issues between the Kurdish people and the Turkish government. But the controls are also because of IS checks from Syria. With everything going on there at the moment I don’t think that we would explore that area now. The news is not daily for us due to not a lot of internet so we weren’t aware of the pressure already from Turkey. 

In the south we had to adjust our clothing to the standard of the region (long sleeves and trousers). In the beginning Lillian was still wearing shorts. The look on the faces of the people in the cities was extremely unfriendly. Old and young they all looked the same. Later we found out that the region we were in is one of the most strict in there believes but still it was a wake up call. Off course we adjusted without hesitation but it’s strange to see the differences by region. You also can start to see that drinking alcohol is rare (good practice for Iran 🙂 ) On the other side, a lot of people are smoking cigarettes. They find it’s strange that I say no when they offer – it’s almost an insult (No Jeffrey – no luck yet).

South-east Turkey was great! We visited some great historical/archaeological places. Globeklitepe – The oldest first Tempel/village found in the world. Archaeologists believe that agri culture started here. Harran – The first type of houses where build here about 3.000 years ago and people still use this prototype. We also drove up towards Mardin. The old centre felt like an open air museum and we meet very nice people. 

The last couple of weeks we had to fix some things in the camper and also did some paper work to get into Iran, Pakistan etc. It’s just incredible how people always trying to help us when you need it! Team Mercedes (8 people) stayed till 21:00 in the garage to help us out. And not for extra cash! When we needed some copies we were brought into a home of a friend. They ordered big plates of food only for us and we weren’t allowed to pay any extra’s. Just 2 euro’s for the copies. There are too may examples of kindness we experienced and it still overwhelms us. If you knock on somebodies door, they invite you straight away in for chai (tea) and food. I wish we could bring some of this culture back in the western part of the world. 

After being in the south we had to cross the country to go to Trabzon. We collected our Carnet De Passage and another package from DHL. That package gave us headache and because we weren’t Turkish citizen we couldn’t collect it. After 5 days of calling the Turkish government helped us out (big exception) because we where on a world-trip. Thanks again Virginia for all your help from your side! In the meantime we stayed in the mountains on a beautiful spot and could do a bit of school for Morgan, sporting for us and hike some nice paths – no punishment at all. 

After Trabzon, we drove towards Natural Parc Kackar Dagi. The northern part of Turkey is extremely green in comparison with the south-east part. It’s great to be in the mountains when autumn starts, the colour combinations of the threes are stunning. At the moment we are in Ani, close to Armenian border. Ani is an Armenian ruin city. In the 10th and 11th century this was the capital city of Armenia, Between 100.000 and 200.000 people where living in the city. The city was abandoned because of war and many earthquakes. This place was overwhelmed by churches and mosques. We were there for 2 days, with not a lot of tourist around. It felt as an adventure to walk around and explore.

In the next couple of days we will go into Iran. Final preparation are almost done. We are drinking more beer the last couple of days because of the ban in Iran 😉 and we bought 16 packages of espresso coffee. Yes, we have a problem with not drinking good coffee, especially in the morning…. 

We are already more than 6 months traveling and living in our new house but still enjoying our Nomad life’s to the max. We are all 3 very happy campers!

Love from the 3 of us!

The parking lot and us

At this moment we are heading towards Nemrut National Parc. The first long-distance trip with 900 km. Yesterday we did already 540 km and today we will do the rest. We usually don’t plan these long trips but due to the fact we had to go back to Ankara for our visa’s, we did a detour to Cappadocia. All for the good purpose of having a visa of IRAN! Yahoo!! We are allowed to enter the country

Already a month has past and we’re trying to keep up with the writing, sorry for the delay but we’re just to busy enjoying the world 😉 We had a fantastic time with our family and staid in the area of Borovets, Bulgaria. We did a couple of walks, enjoyed each other company and of course went to the 7 lakes and did a great hike. After saying good-bye we went straight away to the border of Turkey. Funny enough every time we cross a border it feels the trip is “ really” starting. 

Turkey for us is the country of the parking lots (and crazy drivers). We are sleeping a lot on secured parking lots. Half of the population of Turkey is doing the same by the way. In Istanbul the parking lot had many purposes like being a club, hang out, drivers license practise, secret meeting spot etc. We never feel unsafe but we found out that sleeping is soooooo 2018. Istanbul is enormous but much fun. If you didn’t decide on your city trip this year, GO TO ISTANBUL 😉 What a city….. chaotic with so many different faces. We loved every bit of it. Normally we don’t like big cities that much when we are travelling but Istanbul was great. We stayed for 4 days to explore and have seen only 25% of the city. After the crowded city, we thought of having some nice and slow time on the Black Sea. Unfortunately, it still was holiday, weekend and also a national day off in Turkey…… we ended up on the busiest parking lot of Amasra. The sea was nice but too many people!. We drove to Sanfranbolu and Stephen went to a real Turkish hammam. Clean but extremly red he came back. Morgan had two “ playing days” where she was playing with everything and anything. All her toys had to come out and she made up some brilliant shows for us. She is a great entertainer and like she says herself, “ she is a clown” 

In Ankara we just had 1 goal, getting the visa of Iran. We learned that embassies are special places. You just sit and wait….. after 2 hours of waiting we could request our visa. The guy behind the desk asked us if we had some prints but we missed our e-visa we already applied for. We were sent to another guy and had to wait 1,5 hours before he could help us. He printed some documents and we went back to the embassy. After another 1,5 hour we were able to apply for the visa. They told us the visa was ready after 1 week… shoot 1 week…. We were expecting 1 day. We decided to go to Cappadocie National Parc and drive back to Ankara the week after. When we came back after 1 week we had good faith the pick up wouldn’t take that long…. Wrong assumption. We arrived early and just had to wait for 10 minutes (the start was great). The week before we checked how the payment of the visa would go but the guy said “ come back when you pick up your visa”. We ended up going back to a bank. Wait, get money, back into the embassy and wait, wait, wait…. After 4 hours we got our visa. Finaly! In Iran, we are not able to get any money from the ATM. So after going into several banks, money exchange offices and western union ( including a lot of waiting) we found out we just have to collect the money we need in Turkish Lira, change this into Dollars and then exchange the Dollars into Iranian money. And that’s the easiest way….After spending the whole day waiting we went back to our parking lot and decided to stay for the night and drive in 2 days to Nemrut. 

In the week we had to wait we went to Cappadocia National Parc. A walhalla of tourism but worth every penny. What an amazing place. For the first time in weeks, we were on a campground. We thought of getting back some lost hours of sleep but with all the beautiful sunrises and balloon flights it did not quite work out. We first decided to not do a balloon flight because it’s just too expensive but after a conversation with one of the balloon owners (thanks to Stephen who talks to everybody, always) we got an offer we couldn’t refuse. The fact you’re going up with 150 balloons is just the coolest thing ever. The area is also really great for walks and even with Morgan, we walk 2 days for at least 15 km.. poor Morgan….. For the first time in months, we also had to wear long pants and jackets in the morning and evening. We normally wear them because we get eaten alive by mosquitoes but this was because of the temperature. It’s getting chilly. We liked the national Parc. Just try to get as far away of Göreme (the city which is in the national Parc) as possible. It’s packed with tourism and to much touristic shops.

The next coming weeks we will go to Mardin ( Syrian border), Lake Van and some National Parks. We will have to make another long drive to Trabzon ( 700 KM). Due to the mountains and because Ella (our camper) doesn’t go above 100 Km per hour (we take it slow) it will take us at least 11 hours. In Trabzon, we hope to collect our Carnet de Passage. This is a little booklet we had to get through the ADAC (German ANWB) for all the Middle East, Australia and some Asian countries. This booklet makes sure you don’t leave or sell your car in these countries. We had to pay an enormous amount of money as a deposit to the ADAC. If we don’t have all the right stamps when we come back to Europe we don’t get any money back. So let the games begin for getting all the correct stamps. 

With every step/ drive closer to the Middle East the driving of the other road users is getting worse. They told us Bulgaria was bad (we felt it was OK) but we feel that the Turkish drivers are mental. They just go, whenever they feel like it. In the big cities they have some decency towards tourists but for the rest they just don’t care. It’s just like being on our motorbikes again. Check, check double check. As long as we don’t get any accidents it’s good practice for India. Besides the driving the Turkeys people are fantastic. Every day we get invited for chai (tea) and everybody is willing to help whenever necessary. The more we drive to the east the more we also are being a tourist attraction ourselves. Not only Ella but also we (as dutch as we are). Large families are entering our camper and even the police is interested to have a look. We have so much fun!

We promise we will write more often and big kisses from us. 

Pressureless

Often, we feel so privileged to be able to do this trip. Traveling, surrounding by nature, having a run whenever we feel like it, meditating, listening to music (Morgan likes electronic music the best), meeting new people (learning about different cultures) and spending time with the three of us… it’s incredible and just the beginning. I think it really took us 3 months to get into this way of living. Our new living strategy is including: planning on a daily basis, not even 1 week in advance, almost no internet (WIFI in cafes is our connection) and being ok with that and the best feeling you can have, no pressure. 

The daily jobs are divided in a prober way (in Stephen his thoughts): Morgan is responsible for the dishes and cleaning the inside (floor) and outside of the camper. Lillian is the cook and laundry lady and Stephen, is doing other things in life…….

A couple of weeks ago we received very sad news that an old friend of ours passed away. We met each other often in our previous life and we had amazing conversations . Our thoughts are with his family and friends and we wish them strength during this hard and sad time….Dear friend, we hope you found your freedom. When we drive through this beautiful world and listen to Joep we think about you. You will be always in our hearts. 

The last three weeks we travelled through Macedonia. The amount of space this country has to offer and the differences in beautiful landscapes is unbelievable. We visited some tiny villages: Zovich, Galicnik & Lazaropole (last 2 part of National Parc Mavrovo) and stayed a couple of days in each village. Places were you just fall in love with the surroundings, nature, people and their culture. In the past, people were living their all year round and earning money with farming. Nowhere days the villages are “sleeping villages” which means they are only inhabited in the summer. In wintertime, there are a hand-full of people in de village and they are almost cut off from the “real” world. There is too much snow to get in and out of the area. 

We have met so many amazing people and we are starting to learn to drink Rakija at breakfast and enjoying Turkish coffee (in the beginning we couldn’t drink it!). In a lot of places in Macedonia, people are very friendly towards us. In Lazaropole we were lucky because we arrived on the day the village festival started. That means; traditional music, dance and much fun the whole weekend. The next morning, we also joined an orthodox christen ceremony in the local church. 

We start to learn more about Balkan history. In the Balkan countries we visited people say the “Yugoslav time” was “better”. Mr. Jozib Tito was their leader.  When he died (1980) it all fell apart. It is said that Tito’s period was a socialism period. The economic situation was better in his days and people had more respect for each other. Now there is a lot of corruption in the governments and the average wages are low. Family is very important in all the countries we have visit. A lot of people take care of their parents when they get older. Also, the time with friends is important. It’s based on quality time together. Maybe it’s just a more relaxing way of living against the western part of Europa. Here they say its capitalism versus socialism which makes the difference… 

My arm is completely healed from the burnings. Nothing visible anymore so that’s really great. Morgan is very happy and we don’t have the feeling she’s missing our old house or the way we lived.  She still likes this house (camper) better.  In Lazaropole she was adopted by the kids of the village and she was dancing two nights with them. On the 11th of August Morgan turns five years and she is very excited about that! Home schooling is not started, and this will take some more months before we will start (we need the break also before turning into a teacher ;-)) Next week we will receive the books for home schooling for the first year. Normally the books are as of six years but Morgan can’t wait to start. For now, we are enjoying seeing here growing up. We have a lot of fun, laughs and sometimes stubborn discussions together. Luckily with us discussions only last for 2 minutes. Morgan is also into our travel vibe. In the morning she often wakes up and opening the curtains with the comment: “oh I forget were we put the camper” … It’s always a surprise where we end up. 

We just arrived in Bulgaria where we will meet up with family. We don’t stay long in Bulgaria because we want to spend more time in Turkey and Iran. We hope to stay 4 months in Turkey and Iran, depending on visas and travel advisories. Next chapter will soon be starting. We are looking forwarded to it!

We hope everybody is doing well!

Lots of love from us

As the Dutch saying go’s; “ Some accidents are sitting in a small corner”…….. ;-)

The first months are a fact and we are “ already” or “ just” in Albania. After our last blog we moved from Croatia into Bosnia and Herzegovina. We loved it all the way. To be in Europe but it feels like Asia. The warmth, the smells.. it’s feels connected. The locals are super friendly. They want to show there is more in their country than only war. Mostar was too touristy for us but to feel and see all that’s happened around Sarajevo was very impressive. The impact is still visible and the complexity of politics nowadays is still incomprehensible for us. Three presidents taking turns to rule… Feels like poker. 

From Bosnia we drove into Montenegro on one of the most beautiful roads we have ever seen. Luckily we get more and more used to driving on very small and steep roads but on this road we were happy there wasn’t a lot of oncoming traffic. We ended up in Durmitor National Park which was really stunning. After every turn the scenery completely changed and we slept between the sheep in the middle of nowhere. Aldo we have seen a lot of churches in our lives the one in Montenegro ( graved into a mountain) was very beautiful. We tried to explain Morgan what the meaning of a church is but I think we will be better in math 🙂 After being in the mountains for more than a month we decide it was time to move to the coast. Some ocean and sun is always a good combination! Montenegro has got a fantastic coast line with clear blue water. Finally Morgan could take here “ crocodile” out!

After 2 amazing months, bad luck happened. After not being able to fix our petrol cooker ( for outdoors) we decided to buy cheap ass cookers with gas bottles you can find anywhere. The diesel cooker inside works perfect but sometimes it’s nice to just cook outside when it’s 35 degrees. When changing one of the gas bottles gas came out. Unfortunately Stephen stood too close to another bottle already on with some vegetables. The gas came in contact with the fire and the bottle exploded in Stephen his hands. He was completely on fire. Luckily Stephen was waring a t-shirt so “ only” his arms ended up with first and second degree burnings. He  got a free “wax” from his hair on his legs and he had some small burnings on his face. We decided we needed to be on a good campground were Stephen could heal and get better and Morgan still was able to play and swim. The best we could found was just across the border in Albania at Lake Shkoder. We ended up being there for almost 1,5 week. Every day Stephen said “ tomorrow I will be better again” but it really took a long time (for him) before he felt a bit ok again. Not only the arms but his whole body needed to recover from the burns. We feel that we still had a lot of luck. I turn mad if I think on the what if’s….

We left the Lake and slept in the garden of a nice Albanian family. We were swimming in a river and we asked the parking attendant if we could sleep on the parking lot. Instead of leaving us there he took us with him to his home. The whole family was there,  his wife, mother, father and 6 kids! To say thanks whenever this happens we already decided that we are baking “ Dutch” pancakes to say thanks to people who are helping us. We did it once in Mostar were we could sleep on the top of the mountain next to a little cafe.  Here we had to bake pancakes for 9 people. Maybe we will check next time how big the family is before offering 🙂 Morgan had a lot of fun with all the kids. She is getting more and more relaxed about playing with other kids who are not speaking dutch. In the beginning she didn’t feel comfortable at all but now she is just walking up to new kid, ask “ play?” and takes here toys with here to show. Life couldn’t be more easier. 

Albania is still a country we find odd. On the one hand the locals are unbelievable friendly everywhere and some spot of the coastlines are incredible. On the other hand the garbage is everywhere and nobody cares. Even in nature parks there are large piles of waste. At the moment we moved inland and are slowly moving toward North Macedonia. Our first “ deadline” is the 15th of August as we need to be in Bulgaria were we meet up with family and celebrate Morgan’s Bday

We sometimes can’t  believe the fact that we are still in Europe but on the other hand we are not. The EU says NO, the Payment in Euro in a lot of countries says YES, Our phones says NO, Our map says YES. The surroundings is a def. NO and also the salaries of the locals. In old Yugoslavia the average salaries is around 350 euro a month. The living ( supermarkets) are just as expensive as in the rest of Europe. Only the Espresso is very cheap (0.70) and good!! Heaven 🙂

Big kiss and for everybody who finally is able to go on holidays….

ENJOY!!!!!!

Morgan’s Story

After our blogs Morgan said to us that she really wanted to write also to everybody. Unfortunately our teaching is not going that quick and we are still with the letter ” A “. Morgan decided to show an ” ordinary day” through photo’s she took herself.

Eleonora

The last two weeks we were in Croatia. We went down south a bit quicker than expected but we needed some vitamin D, flipflops & beach. In the last couple of weeks, the weather was most of the time cloudy and we were still wearing gloves and winter jackets. Finally, we have sun and our flipflops is footwear number 1. We want to stay longer in Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania. Austria and Slovenia were both beautiful and great nature. We were surprised how green Slovenia is, the government of this country is very keen with their nature environment. Only 2 million people life in Slovenia and we have never seen a country with so many curves in the road. There are many very small cute villages. The churches are always on the best spot in town. We didn’t really know what to expect about the economic situation but the country is doing very well.  We only stayed for 1,5 weeks in Slovenia but we will come back in the future for sure. Slovenia was also a good test for our camper, enough high mountains and steep roads. We are very happy with our camper Eleonora, (yes, we gave her a name again). It’s self-sufficient and mechanically it’s performs perfect. We only had a small issue with a tube from the turbo and we couldn’t find the problem. After 2 Mercedes dealer and two days of waiting they found the issue. The power came back.

Morgan is doing great, she said last week that she likes our new home better than our old home in UtrechtJShe is complaining when we are hiking up-hill on mountains but that’s just like here mother. She doesn’t mind walking and is not afraid of heights (that’s different comparing to her dad…) We walked in Austria the longest hanging bridge of the world 480 meters long – 180-meter-high and she didn’t give a crimp. It’s also funny to see here character, in some parts totally me and that can give good discussions. A bit stubborn if I may say so… But we also have a lot of fun together and its great seeing her growing up like this. 

We are very happy that we have mountain bikes with us, it makes life so much easier for us to see places like Salzburg and Graz (both great places!). We only need to practice on our uphill skills. When we are arriving somewhere, I always get on the bike to explore the surrounding. The best way to quickly see the area.

The last couple of days we have been on an Island cold Dugi Otok in Croatia. It’s long and small and not many tourists go there. It’s not pact with hotels because of the fact there are no water facilities from the mainland. We stayed for 4 night on a camping and 2 nights wild camping on the beach. Yesterday on the boat from Dugi Otok to the mainland, Lillian and I were looking at each other and we were thinking: “the holiday would be finished normally now, but not for us! We just left” we felt like the happiest persons on the boat.

Croatia was nice but it’s pretty expensive and there is a big economy on tourism. To be honest, that’s not what we had in mind when we went on this trip. So, we drove off into Bosnia – Herzegovina. We are very interested/curious in this country. There is a big history and a lot to see. 

Hope everybody is doing well at home! 

Lots of love ,

 Morgan, Lillian & Stephen

PS: Press logo Polarsteps on homepage to see were we are in real-life. Great app/site!

Soft landing

And so here it is… blog nr. 1 🙂 finally of already, that’s the question. Curious how many it’s going to be. Maybe one, or a hundred, ( hopefully you will not gone by then 😉 ) who knows. Time will tell but for now a little catch up of the last month. 

And what a ride it has been the last month! From packing and leaving our old house in Utrecht to exploring and getting awake at 4 am from all kind of * bleebs* in our new house on wheels. (Luckily we found all the unknown noise and we are super happy with our new house. Everything works for now and we are completely self-sustained). To the surprise we had for everybody just before leaving. Getting married  and turning into Mr. And Mrs. Wise 🙂 . Like almost everybody knows we don’t wanted to be married. But after looking at our route for the next coming years and entering some countries were the married states becomes sometimes very “ handy”  we thought that it would be a smart idea.  And what is not better to get married  ( if you have to ) in front of everybody we love! It couldn’t be more perfect. The sun was shining, it was a big chaos but so fantastic. From the bottoms of our harts thank you all for being there with us. We will never forget! 

The last days in Holland we spend with family to say goodbye. After a year of  preparation we left on the 16th of April. Easter we celebrated with friends on their wine-fields. Not a bad way to start. We had beautiful weather and cooked on the campfire . We helped out with ( unfortunately ) killing some wine plants due to age and getting some young ones grow again. After a couple of extra days in the black forrest we moved to Austria. 

Our daily routines are slowly created. Stephen is THE coffee man in the morning, which takes approx. 15 minutes and after our morning coffee we both do some running or training. In the afternoon we are driving or biking, depending if we are moving or staying on our spot. Due to the size of the camper we learn our ways in the camper. We can’t be all at once in the bathroom so communication is the key. Which is quite interesting stil 🙂 We stayed once at a ” real” camping but normally we are just somewhere in the middle of the forrest. This go’s perfectly well but sometimes you are in the wrong spot and you will need to move your fan. At 6.30 am, not so nice. 

Morgan is exploring outside ( when it not raining 😦 ) or playing in the camper. She is enjoying everything to the max and is constantly telling us what a fantastic live we have when we are travelling like this. Unbelievable how relaxed she is. The only thing she really dislike is the driving, which is a “ small” part of our travel. We found some “ jip & Janneke” on spotify so as of now she is with here headphone ( we definitely can’t handle that for hours) when we are driving to our next stop. The next couple of weeks will still be in Austria to meet an old friend we haven’t seen for a long time. Somewhere beginning of June we hope to move to Slovenia.

Unfortunately the weather is not really good ( say the least) but he, our house is dry, warm and cozy and there is enough wine for Mr. & Mrs. Wise. 

So how soft can you land…….

Big Kisses form the Family Wise