We greeted dawn on the Turkish border. It is the most crowded checkpoint so far, but it’s quite amazing how swiftly the line proceeds with so many cars wishing to get from Bulgaria to Turkey. Turkey met us with an unbelievable dawn. We haven’t seen anything like this before: the ascending sun painted the sky soft pink. In a few minutes the sun rose above the city, and the romantic dawning sky shone in bright sunlight.
We got to Istanbul in several hours. Standing on the Bosporus, this city strikes you with its contrasts. Historical buildings and huge markets where you can find anything you want, from cheap things to antiquities and traditional Turkish sweets, spread on the European side. Crowds of tourists scurry around here, dozens of fishers sit on the bridges, and muezzins call to prayer from hundreds of minarets. The rhythm is different in the Asian part of the city: business quarters, fashionable malls, office clerks minding their business... It’s as if a time machine takes you from one era to another when you cross the strait. Though it’s not easy because of enormous traffic jams. Enterprising Istanbulites are energetically selling their goods right there, mostly cold drinking water and hot bagels.
The weather changed greatly in the evening! I would even say it did so dramatically. Menacing clouds creeped into the sky, and Istanbul was plunged into darkness. Terrible wind arose and hail almost as big as golf balls started falling down. It was terrifying. People ran for the closest shelter, to houses and underground crossings, all cars suddenly stopped: the city froze. We were scared that the hail would break the windows in our Tiguan, but thankfully they withstood it. It went on for fifteen minutes, and then heavy rain fell down and flooded all of the city’s lowlands. But the one who was probably the most scared was Peter Bakanov, another member of our team who was to drive from Istanbul to Tashkent instead of Rodion Baranov. His plane was just trying to land at the Istanbul airport right that moment. It was delayed for about two hours due to the foul weather: the pilots attempted landing several times in this storm. Luckily, it all went well, and we are happy to meet our new team member! We are saying goodbye to Rodion flying back to Moscow – and thank you for taking part in this project! Now, making our way through Istanbul traffic jams with Peter, we are heading for the Iranian border. We are going to cross all Turkey from West to East like this!
Author: Rodin Baranov/Peter Bakanov