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2022 Eastern Europe

We wanted to check the area around Bursa because there is one of the bigger skiareas of Turkey in the Uludağ National Park. In goed years the ski season already starts mid of December.
Perhaps a chance for us for a snowboard season opening in Turkey… Bursa is a World Heritage Area as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and now a modern city. A Teleferik reaches the skiarea Uludağ from middle in the city.

Until now there is only snow at the top and no Paragliding allowed up there.
We decide to snowboard there when we’ll back in February. Therefore we search for another place where we can fly in Gürsu. Here we also want to do some little maintenance at the Unimog and get it washed again. The road s here – some screws loosen – fantastic how Vincent always tries to fix or repair everything and never gives up.

Finally we also find somebody who upholster the passage to our cabine with us. So great: somebody trying and finding or knowing somebody who can help, we have to drink a couple cups of çay and coffee and at the end we get invited to a local restaurant. It’s unbelievable how hospitable and friendly the Türkish people are.
More than once a car just tried to stop us while we were driving. They were so enthousiast that they invited us immediately to visit their city or homes and stay for çay (tea).

Again we are lucky – really accidentally we meet a local tandem pilot – he joined us with flying and his wife wants to bring us back to the truck.

We spend two nights up on 800 m with again a great view over Gürsu, the valley and on the mountain-tops of the Uludag NP, and with only some goats 🐐 and sheeps around us.

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We are taking some more little roads up to Bursa and crossing a canyon. It’s a National Park… the Sadagi Kanyoni National Park.

After a foggy morning the sun surprises us – perfect for a 4 km walk/hike through this little wonderland between rock walls. A slippery rocky canyon hike with a bit of climbing and water crossing.

Hmmmmm 😊 wet shoes, wet dog but absolutely worth.

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If possible we stop for all the invitations we get for çay – a little glas of strong black tea, mostly you have to add sugar.
Such a great experience to meet local people- trying to talk with hand and feet, sometimes without words and sometimes with the translation app… “çay için teşekkürler”

Some farmers invited us this time in a poor little village – so friendly, their eyes, smile and laughter….
We are deeply greatful for encounters like this.

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After our cultural, archeological and city trips the last days we are happy to be back in nature.
We are stopping bij some flyabable sites of the Paragliding Map app. People marking launch and landing places in there – but in Turkey it is so far always an adventure what they mean with a rated ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ place to fly. Sometimes the landing is in the middle of a city, or in a riverbed. Sometimes it’s impossible to reach with the truck.
But sometimes we get a little present as place.

In Halitpasa we are at the right place at the right time. Meeting coincidentally a very funny groep of local pilots who took us (all together, 8 pilots with gear!!!!) in and on their only pick-up car up to the launch. Happy after an hour soaring flight in great late evening light and a lot of fun with these guys.

We reach another launch in Merkez the next day. Marked with a huge banner over the road. Haha The landing is a little rocky flield between some farms at the boarder of a very little village (some houses), the launch a grasfield with probably a beautiful view over the lake…. If it wouldn’t be this foggy.
One pilot just wants to start and even with the fog we decide to fligh also…. He offered us to bring us back up afterwards.

Sometimes we are over-enthusiastic: Vincent’s glider get stocked on one of these plants and one of the lines get cut.
The gliders are wet from the fog and muddy from this landing-field …. 😬

But… some of our favorite places for the night are exactly these take off places up on the mountains.

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We arrive in Ìzmir with a grey sky.
Even when we get a perfect parking spot at the pier we take the bikes to explore the city. But our bicycle tour only gets very short… we don’t come further than to the Kemeralti bazaar.

Passing Konak Meydani with the famous clock tower, the symbol of Ìzmir, and the very small Konak moskee we park the bikes to dive into the labyrint of the browsing Kemeralti bazaar.

We are spending the whole afternoon in these uncountable narrow people-filled streets, where the juice and nut vendors just form the first front of the great maze of shops modern and traditional – accurately described as the true heart and soul of the city.

Izmir, or Smyrna in ancient Greek, has always been an important Aegean sea port, and as such, a city where people from all over the place lived and traded, mostly harmoniously.

YOU FIND EVERYTHING IN A TURKISH BAZAAR Getting lost in these crowded and colorful streets is gorgeous… unexpected treasures everywhere. No tourists here at all – no one bothered us to buy, unlike we heart of some touristic parts of Turkey. I love to buy some spices, herbs, vinegar soaked vegetables and fish, to sit in one of the little tea corners for çay and just watching the locals. People are dressed modern and we see almost non women with hidchab (headscarf).

As a lot of you know me I want to try almost everything especially in the shops with sweets: Turkish honey, nougat nuts…. Hmmmm.

Back at the Mog it starts to rain again. We search a city campsite (only third night at a campsite in our 3 month road-trip now) and spending there a sleepless night because of a Turkish wedding next to the campsite, barking dogs and trucks…..

We leave early for a run at Ìzmir’s iconic seafront promenade Kordon. Walking and bicycle paths, grassed stretches, surrounded with bars, cafes and restaurants and the iconic sea on the other side.
It’s a great morning run with beautiful sun and 18 degrees warm temperature.

Leaving the growing city with the view on the skyline from modern Ìzmir and the amazing city quarters along and up the hill.

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It take us some days to figure out how Turkey feels for us. The rain wasn’t a good welcome-weather, the streets are muddy.

Today we stopped by in Ayvalik and felt a little bit in love with this city, especially the little streets, passages and the bazaar in its Old Town. It was more an old Greece village, but after the Turkey’s Independence War the Greece inhabitants had to leave to Levbos and it became Turkey 🇹🇷.

We try to figure out what the different meals on the menu are…. just to order and try… and also how much sugar we like in our çay (tea).

After this sunny day in Ayvalik the rain is back. In Pergamon we want to take the cable car up to the Acropolis, but because of the stormy rain it doesn’t work. We join a guided tourist group from Singapore up there. Even with the rain it stays an exciting site.

Cold and wet we are looking for a Hamam and find a little very old traditional one – also for woman with a separate treatment. 2 hours of sauna, scrubbing en an oily massage (12 Euro). Hmmmm great experience – haha and so we are looking forward to another rainy day like this…

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We were looking forward to enter Turkey. While Greece was more a mixed between West and Middle East we are now diving in another culture. The boarder crossing was easy… a lot of turks flags all over, pictures of Atatürk on walls and flags and buildings, the logo of the national road construction company next tothere are three kind of roads… the highway/national road with very goed asphalt, a little road, asphalt with huge potholes and a lot of sandy gravel roads in all different sizes.

We want to stay on the mid-sea site of Turkey first, the climate is better now in December, we expect still kind of warm temperature.
We driving from Gallipoli (battlefield of Gallipoli, where the Turkeys won agains the Alliance in World War I) to Canakkale.

While it’s pouring rain I can convince Vincent to watch some more stones in Troja. The wooden horse is only a myth from Homer but the archeological site of the layers of the old city is interesting. Due the hyper inflation of the Turkish lira they raised the entry tickets of the archeological sides for tourists. (100TL~5Euro).

Otherwise for us life in Turkey is cheap. Food, grocery (1 bread 30 cent, coca cola 50 cent in the restaurant, diesel (1,01 Euro/l)

The next day is sunny again. After our first Turkeys coffee in Assos I walk up to the Temple of Athene on my own. Beautiful site up on the top of the hill with a view on the Greek Island Levbos. Nobody’s up there, some time to enjoy the mythical scene and try to “understand the stones”.

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So yes, we enter Turkey.
We spent our last days in the Northeast of Greece and we liked it a lot.
We are driving along the Nastor river. Xanthi is a browsing little city and really worth to visit. In the sun during the day it’s still about 18 degrees and the cafe terraces in the Old City are full of hip people.

We are always awake very early and after this freezing night (-5) on a nice place in the middle of somewhere we enjoy our sunrise coffee outside in the cold white nature. 😊

A local pilot, Petros invited us for tea and offered us some typical Greece Christmas sweets. Hmmmm.

Over Alexandropolis we arrive at the boarder between Greece and Turkey in Ipsala.
Welcome in Turkey 🇹🇷. Curious

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The weather stays good and back on sea level, close to Lichora I even take a bath in the sea – probably for the last time this year
After driving around Mt Olympus to Lichora and visiting the Sanctuary of Zeus in Dion we are crossing Thessaloniki and hitting north-east to Drama. Most of the tourist only travel through this area as transfer to enter Turkey. We love this route across the mountains, along a National Park. Beautiful nature and colours now in the autumn.

And there are opportunities enough to fly. Yesterday I was lucky to get a evening flight while Vincent was driving up and the truck back down.

Because we are both pilots it’s always a challenge to figure out how to get on the mountain to the launch or after landing up again to get the truck. Sometimes it works with local pilots, sometimes with taxi, sometimes only one of us is flying or sometimes Vincent is picking it up again with the bike or by running.

In Drama we get in contact to the local Airclub. Two incredible friendly pilots advising, informing, driving, laughing and flying with us for two days. What a nice contact and three flights over the city of Drama.

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We would love to fly 🪂 somehow around or of the Mount Olympus. The launch and landing place lays in Kalyvia,, more in the southwest of the mountain. Most visitors are reaching the National Park from out the tourist village Litochoro. We reach him from out Skopia. It’s majestic to see him but – like most of the time – with the top in the clouds.

Mount Olympus is the highest mountain of Greece, and the area around is since 1939 National Park. In the Greece’s mythology the highest peak, the Mytikas Peak (2917m) was/is home and meeting point of the 12 most important Greece gods and especially from Zeus.

Wind and weather forecast for paraglide is not best, so we decide to drive up the mountain. A little steep gravel/rocky road going up from this side.
Before we reach the cloud base we stop. Beautiful astounding view from 2100 m into the valley. Time enough for a hike before it’s getting too cold and dark. Wilde horses around us.

After a freezing night we wake up with a almost clear sky – even over the Olympus. Our chance to see the top when we drive further. The weather is already turning again. We were lucky: the rocky, icy and snowy 4×4 track leads us to a refuge with a perfect view on the peak.

One moment we thought about taking our split-snowboards out of the trunk and walk up but it was only an ice layer on the hill and pretty cold wind.

No flying at Mount Olympus but a little bit of great 4×4 adventure.

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