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On to Greece!

12 June 2011

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It takes a good two hours to get out of Istanbul—not because of traffic (though that can be bad too) but because the city sprawls out for miles and miles beyond your wildest dreams. Where you are two hours after you leave the nucleus of the city has it’s own name, like all areas of Istanbul, but is still considered part of Turkey’s biggest city.

The drive out of the city was hot and tiring and we felt like we might never see nature again. Diego fell asleep in the back (see our lack of sleep in the last post), and when he woke up said, “We must be almost in Greece?” “Good try,” was Molly’s reply, “We are still in Istanbul!”

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We were all a little nervous about crossing into Greece, our first country part of the EU. What would they think of our Afghan papers written only in Dari? What about our Afghan plate that says “AFG 158” in badly hand painted black letters?

But the response we received from the border police when we finally got to the Greek/Turkish border was pretty much the standard welcome we get everywhere. Everyone stopped what they were doing and gathered round, asking questions about how the heck we got this far, did we have any problems, how old the bus was. We had the luck of rolling in with no one in front of us so more than 10 free border guards enjoyed taking a good look at the bus. They didn’t seem to mind the long line of cars that accumulated behind us while they marveled at the 45 year old VW that had made it across Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey.

The atmosphere was light and jovial; we stood around for awhile answering questions and then explained the reasons why our Afghan papers for the car were written only in Dari, while our plates that Aurel had had made specially were written in Latin numbers. We had to remove every item that we had packed so carefully in the night before so that all our things and the bus could be checked by a German Shepherd. When we pulled out the camera, everyone gathered round again. They were interested in how it worked and to see some examples of photos we had taken. We pulled out our laptop and showed them the negatives and positives of the portraits we had taken in Turkey.

We would have loved to take their picture with the camera, and a few of them would have loved to have their picture taken, but the strict no photos rule at the border applied to 100 year old pin hole cameras as well as modern ones.

After giving every compartment the once over with his keen nose, the dog deemed us clean the border patrol sent us and our Afghan papers on our way!

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The side of Greece that met us was beautiful and totally empty of people or houses. We drove along a very long stretch of beautifully paved road (Thank you, Greece) without even a gas station for miles and miles.

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The scenery was calming and green with mountains and fields all around. We decided to find a nice spot to park the bus for the night and enjoyed preparing dinner with our newly recovered cooking supplies.

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In the same section


In the same country - Greece