We spent our rest day nosing around Istanbul just like typical tourists. Visited the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapi Palace, the waterfront and discovered Istanbul’s answer to Hampstead. There is an area of boutique hotels, bars, and restaurants. It comprises mainly of restored buildings so it is clean and very, laid back for Istanbul.
As finding accommodation had taken four hours and resulted in budget breaking costs we only stayed for one rest day before moving on. Late change of mind meant we took the coast route south from Istanbul, along the coast opposite the Gallipoli Peninsula. After a hot days driving of just over 300 miles we stopped at Canakkale. This town is opposite the main battlefields, and now cemeteries, of the World War 1 action, so poignant for Australians and New Zealanders.
We quickly found a hotel close to the ferry terminal and tried to check in. Having checked, with a rather beautiful receptionist, that they had rooms available, the Manager suggested we park our cars in-front of the hotel doors and then complete the registration. As we moved the cars into position a small group of interested people gathered to look at Bridget and Dorothy. They started to ask all the usual questions; “Where are you from?”, “Is this a Porsche?”, “How old is the car?” etc. etc. The gathering increased into a small crowd all jostling to take photos. Chris and I managed to extradite ourselves after about fifteen minutes and went into reception. Whilst Chris explained things to the hotel Manager, I chatted to Kübra, the receptionist.
When things outside quietened down a little, that is no more than six or seven amateur models posing for their loved ones with our cars, the hotel staff then wanted their photos taken with the cars. This started the whole thing over again. It must have taken a total of an hour just to get to our rooms. The interest in the cars continued throughout the evening and even started again at 8:00 the next morning when we were preparing to leave. I have to say that, personally speaking, I found the Turkish culture here very much to my liking.
Reluctantly leaving Canakkale we headed south, making for Izmir and beyond. There is an unbelievably large road building program going on across Turkey and roads which three years ago were just acceptable, but not good, are now excellent dual carriage-way or motorway standard. After approximately 150 miles I became aware that Bridget’s quietly purring engine was developing a distinct growl. At first trying to ignore it, eventually I had to pull onto a garage forecourt and pop the bonnet. I had a suspicion that an old problem was recurring and quickly established that that was the case. One of the exhaust pipe fixing bolts had lost a nut and the exhaust was loose. This was a persistent problem on Bridget’s world run and although I ensure they are tightly done up they still fall off. Perhaps someone can suggest a cure, short of welding them in place.
Bridget also has an electrical problem affecting her rear lights. The obvious answer is that there is a bad earth connection causing one of the indicator lights to be dimmer than the other. However, according to the manual it is a common earth with the other rear light clusters and the effect is sometimes on the left indicator, sometimes on the right one, and in one instance affected all the rear lights. I will try to fix this during our next rest day.
Including the time to repair Bridget we were travelling for nine hours. We stopped in a small pretty coastal village called Antayaka. We have now covered a little over two thousand, three hundred miles since leaving Abingdon. Other than the minor problem mentioned, the cars have performed excellently, even in the mid-thirties temperatures. We are currently running over budget, but that was expected on the first leg of the trip. What was not expected was the appalling cost of fuel in every country so far visited. It is constantly the equivalent of £1.60 per litre, even in Turkey. The only positive factor is that we have been regularly recording consumption of 40 miles to the galleon. This is far more than Bridget has ever done previously.
I fixed the electrical fault which was caused by spares in the boot crushing the wires and disturbing the connectors. However, I also discovered another problem, almost certainly caused by the heat. A plastic connector into the rear carburettor, for connecting a breather pipe, has snapped. This is not a spare that we have and so a call to Moss Europe was required. Whilst talking with them I also asked if they could send some exhaust to manifold nuts and a set of brake pads. Moss called within the hour to confirm the spares would arrive at an address in Kenya which we supplied, now that’s service.
The following day, Monday, was a rest day and I decided to check Bridget over thoroughly and am glad I did so. With the engine cold I was able to access the two remaining exhaust to manifold bolts to find that one was very loose and the other, the most difficult to reach, had lost its nut. Having replaced that I have decided I will have to find a garage that will fit a bracket around the exhaust and attach it to the engine’s bell housing to reduce the vibration. I suggested that Chris might also want to check his exhaust as the standard mounting was the same. Sure enough he too had the problem, so we will need two fixes.
We now followed the D400 towards Fethiye where we originally planned to stop overnight but things were going so well we decided to continue further. Along the route I spied a tyre fitting depot and decided to stop and see if they could fit the exhaust bracket for me. It took just half an hour and we were on our way. We passed Fethiye and the road from Yesikoy to Kas is fantastic. The first indication was when we were suddenly presented with one of the most beautiful coastal views that I can remember. Then for the next mile 15 miles we followed a terrific mounting hugging coastal road, passing off-shore islands, delving into deep clefts in the cliff and riding a roller coaster of a road. This is a route to experience whilst it is still available because an AutoRoute is being driven through the mountains as part of the national road building programme and some of the old route will disappear forever.
We were in such high spirits we stopped in Kas where several passing British couples paused to admire the cars. We also met an Australian couple from Brisbane and a Danish MG enthusiast. All but the Australians had homes in the area and the Aussies are sailing around the world.
Eventually we prised ourselves away and drove on to Silifke for an overnight and then to Antakya arriving a day earlier than planned. This is the jumping off point for Syria and I want to be able to select the day of travel and crossing point rather than leaving it to fate.
Dorothy, currently, is experiencing some fuel issues which Chris is addressing and hoping for remote diagnostic assistance from Debbie Evans and/or Rachel MacB.
Finally, the word on Syria is very positive and we are going on Sunday. We will traverse the country in one day reducing the perceived risks. We will communicate again, hopefully, from Jordan.