[Roadtrip] Where East Meets West - Part 5

January 14, 2015

Where East Meets West

approximately 560km (6 hours - non stop driving)
ETA - 9pm Wednesday

As I mentioned in previous post, most places in Bulgaria are named with their alphabets which made the journey more difficult. With no coverage of car's GPS for Turkey, what we did was, try to get to Svilengrad (one of the nearest town to the border of Bulgaria and Turkey).

From Svilengrad, we need to continue driving to Kapitan (this is the town for entry into Turkey). I just knew both Bulgaria and Turkey are neighbours with Greece. Excuse my Geography. T_T  

Where East Meets West
Glad to see the word Istanbul. :) Image - credit to my friend's Instagram :D

Still in Bulgaria, if I'm not mistaken, while heading to Svilengrad, we nearly got ourselves into accidents. Twice. T_T It was nobody's fault actually. The weather was very bad. There was a sudden heavy snow, the road was icy (with melt snow) but still covered with fresh snow. Emm, I hope you can imagine. 

Where East Meets West
Before the snow storm. Can still see previous cars' marks of tires.  

Walking / driving on fresh snow is not as bad as on old snow (when it becomes ice). People usually fall down when walk on slippery ice while fresh snow gives more grip.

The first incident was when a car in front of us suddenly brake and gave emergency light. So, my friend slowed down and gave emergency light too. While there was another car behind us, it looked like the driver also try to reduce the speed. But the car started to slide to the right and left. Fortunately he managed to stop the car without hitting the back of our car T_T 

That was so close.

Another incident was, this time our car slide left and right; nearly fall from the road (the road is higher than sidewalk, at least half a meter) There was a tree too. Alhamdulillah, my friend didn't get panicked and she tried her best to stop the car. The car was not speeding before, but I think maybe because of a small hole on the road that cause the car to be imbalance after that. 

That was also so close. Really. 


Where East Meets West
Assalamualaikum Turkey!

We continued the journey until we arrived at the border! Alhamdulillah, we got closer to Istanbul. 

But, the challenge didn't stop yet. T_T

I just read somewhere; the border between Bulgaria and Turkey has the largest road customs in Europe! Entry into Turkey was not as simple as we thought. We needed to pass at least 3 officers - passport control > car control > final booth. 

Unfortunately, most of cars who pass through the customs that night was stranded there for almost 2 hours. Including us. They said, our problem was because we use rented car. I don't understand how that can be a problem. We already showed them the car's identity card, car's insurance, prove of car rental. 

The memorable thing of what we did there was....

Car X-RAY! 

I really cannot brain this. :O

X-ray was okay for us to follow. But, when they told us to remove most of our stuffs from the car, it felt like something heavy dropped on you. It was really cold outside with strong wind, that was really painful. Most of our bags were checked too. 

All procedures went well. And they found nothing was wrong. 

I don't really understand how tolls work in Turkey. They don't have vignette but they have these systems - HGS / OGS. HGS means Hızlı Geçiş Sistemi (Fast Transit System) - in which you will have electronic toll-payment device on the car screen. We cannot pay the toll cash or by credit card at the toll booth. Difference between HGS and OGS is that for HGS, you can pass the booth with normal highway speed limit, but OGS you need to slow your car. 

I hope, we didn't get any traffic fine. As we stopped at almost all petrol stations (RnR) looking for ways to pay for it, but they keep saying we can do so at next 10km. The same sentences was answered when we stop at the next RnR. Suddenly we realised we were already at the toll booth T__T What to do.... we just pass through it as the booths have no gates. 

We arrived Istanbul after midnight.

Where East Meets West
Take this picture so that we don't get lost finding way home T_T It helped! There was actually another line between red and green - Kucuk Ayasofia.
Another problem was when we do not know how to get to the hostel. Roads in Istanbul was so complicated for us, but finally we managed to arrive near Blue Mosque. But still, where can we find the hostel? There was misunderstanding with the hostel owner as we don't really know how to describe our location. 

Where East Meets West
The narrow road to the hostel.

The roads near the hostel were mostly one-way. And Turkish drivers really got on my nerves when they keep honking horns when we drive slowly. When we arrived at the hostel, it was already 3am. Since the area is not flat, we find problem too on how to park the car. We, the drivers strongly feel not good to park on a hilly, narrow road. The hand brake was not that strong. We can't imagine the next morning to see our car 'kissing' another car. 

While two of us went to look for the hostel, the drivers decided to park somewhere far-but-not-that-far, on flat road. :) Unfortunately, we didn't know how to get back to the hostel T___T. The roaming rate in Turkey for our Czech phone numbers was really high. And we almost lost contact with each other at the time. 

Where East Meets West
Where ever you go while travelling, make sure to bring your hostel/hotel/accomodation card. Even though you don't understand the map, local people can help you :) 

The place where we stay that night was not actually the one we booked online. Some misunderstandings happen but the person we deal with; offer us another place. Alhamdulillah. It was still nice, I think; actually it was better. But, it was big enough for us with 3 bedrooms of 2 beds in each rooms, a big living room and a kitchen. We were afraid if they charged us more. After discussing, alhamdulillah, we don't have to pay extra. 

The price is 19 Euro per person per night. I guess, the price was okay as the place is located close to Ayasofea and Blue Mosque :)

Where East Meets West
One of the rooms :)

Where East Meets West
The common area for all guests :)

We had a very good sleep after 2 days sleeping in the car. :) 

Walk around Istanbul on the next day. Excited. :D

Till then,

v Khaulah

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