Crossing the bridge

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April 20th 2007
Published: April 20th 2007
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As promised I write you this time from Asia....

I am in Sinop, a city which is located on a small peninsula in the Black Sea in Northern Turkey. Since the last entry a lot of things happened and I try to give you a quite detailed insight in what happened, and which adventures I went through!

After the great time ı still had with Vasili in Peristera, I continued my way, with many thoughts in my mind about the way he thinks and lives towards Kavala, which Zoran (the Macedonian) recommanded me to see. After an easy hitchhike without changing cars (it's only about 160 km) I arrived in Kavala, where I met Patrick, a German who is currently on his way to India by bike....I did some sightseeing with him and had a look on the old fortress before I met my hosts Calypso and Dimitri (again from
With them and their friends I spent a hard night promoting my idea of the EU...and failed :-) But it was very interesting to hear their opinion on many matters such as the already mentioned Macedonia-argument and about upcoming Turkey.
Also they made me want to go back there, especially in summer when they live in a beautiful house on Thassos. Furthermore they made me really anxious about experiencing Eastern in Greece by showing me videos of their x-rated Easter parties among neighbours!

But I went on the next morning and it took the whole day to reach Istanbul (which is still named Konstantinoupolis in Greece...another controvers question we discussed the night before. To state my case: I agree to the words of a famous song which goes like that:

Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

sorry my Greek friends, 0:2 after the Macedonian discussion...but what does a silly German know about your feelings....maybe I'm just too rational and certainly I am without a Greek soul :-)
But just let me add one more word to this discussion: Byzantium (you forgot that, didn't could you?!?)

On my way to the Turkish border I was taken by a strange Greek Neonazi who was SO happy to meet a German and didn't stop asking me about my ancestors, whether I am a real Arian or not. After him, Yusuf, an Eastern Turkish truck driver who taught me the first words of Turkish (köy = village, köprü = bridge etc.) made my mind troubles after I nearly accepted the Nazi's way of judging by race...and brought me back on the right way :-)

After the border another very interesting guy took me to Istanbul, Vasili (a quite common Greek name I assume :-), who was living in America and imported his caddillac from I made my first encounter with the Turkish roads in an American car, speeding with 80mph to reach Istanbul (or Constantinople for my driver ;-) before the rush hour. And all that with Amercian number plates...what a joy!!! Imagine me smiling at the peasants who crossed the street to the noise of Vasili's horn and the slow trucks forced to the right side of the road by the mere appearance of "our" cadillac ("damn these American bastards" must have been their thoughts...haha).
On the way Vasili told me about his 3 girlfriends and his tight timetable (no wonder) and also about the "Population Exchange"
in 1923 which might not be known to some of you, so click the link to get some more info about it
We made it in time...and I was back in my beloved Istanbul after two years...and this time I intended to go deeply inside the city, not just scrap on the surface...
First I stayed with Deniz and his parents, a very modern Turkish family who introduced me to the Turkish breakfast (I love it!) and made me a great time. The days passed by drinking tea (I love it, too), strolling around, taking pictures, getting the Iranian Visa (yes....I have it....and I am looking forward to see this country which suffers of so many stereotypes) and last but not least meeting people :-)
I changed my host twice, once I lived in the Asian part, then in the historical centre at Cemal's place (he puts up a one man theatre about Byzantium, ah Constantinople, ah Istanbul) then in a quiet part, next to Theodosian's walls.

These walls made a stronghold out of the city for nearly 1000 years and were only overcome by Fatih Sultan Mehmed II on the 29th May of 1453, which marks the end of the Middle Ages in history.

This time with Yeşim, a Turkish banker and very modern woman who did everything to make my stay pleasant.
Everyone of this hosts made me see Istanbul through his/her eyes and I really enjoyed the 10 days I stayed in Istanbul, seeing declined Ottoman style houses populated by Roma and Sinti and wonderful
restaurated villas overlooking the Bosporus as well as conservative and religious neighbourhoods (e.g. Üsküdar) and thrilling nightlife in Taksim...what a city of contrasts and differences! Not to mention all the historical sights everywhere in the this matter there is only one comparable city for me in Europe...Rome.
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Sultanahmet mosque, Suleymaniye mosque, Galata tower to name just some of them (my favorites so far)
Well, to make it short, I enjoyed every minute I spent in this wonderful city and had parties as well as museum visits or discussions with Döner sellers....a perfect start in Turkey!

Now it's Friday and I left Istanbul on Tuesday morning...and I can tell you it was hard to get out of there by hitchhiking...!
First the police didn't let me to hitchhike over the Fatih bridge, then they took me to a truck driver who just payed 2000 € fine because his truck was 4 tons too heavy...he wanted to take me some km, but his boss send another man to come with us...and he didn't come for hours...
So I sneeked to the toll gate when the police didn't watch and got a ride right away...finally crossing the bridge to Asia!
But it took me 4 more people to take me in order to really leave this monster of a I let off my plan to reach Kastamonu on the same day, where Kayahan and his family were awaiting me.
I finished the strenious day in a small village called Kargeli Hambaba next to the freeway. A typical Turkish style village, cut in two halfs by a 4 lane highway (don't let the children play on the street!) and at least 4km long with 1000 inhabitants. There I found to my surprise an internetcafe and some decent places to stock up my food. After asking for a place to set up my tent, a helpful 14 year old boy, who lived 12 years of his short live in Bregenz brought me to a nice lawn where I quickly installed myself (for the first time I actually used my tent, what a pleasure :-).
Then it was up to me to be more and more astonished what happened: Not more than 4 people in the neighbourhood spoke perfect German and lived there for 5-20 years!!! Wow...they invited me to dinner and tea and Efes beer and we had a great time derusting their German...and I thought I am going to spend a quiet evening writing the next blog entry in the internetcafe before eating my bread and some other stuff...haha, silly me! I am in Turkey and life doesn't give you a rest here! Everybody is keen on helping you and wants to spend time with you, yes, that's my life in the moment!
Next day I proceeded after a great breakfast and some teas my journey to Kastamonu.

Some words abot hitchhiking in remote areas in Turkey:
Forget what you learned about it in Western Europe, forget signs, petrol stations, bus stops, etc. :-)
it is a f****** hitchhiker paradise here! Of course you can't make the same distances as on Germany's highways, but that's the only inconvenience! Imagine me standing in the middle of nowhere next to the highway where cars and trucks pass with 80 - 120 km/h and all I have to do is holding out my thumb, maybe showing off my backpack a little and at least the second car is making a full stop and certainly the first truck and takes me and at the end of a decent hitchhike, there will be at least an invitation to a tea or also quite common to eat sth. on his costs in a restaurant on the way (today I refused 5 times this invitation, because I wasn't hungry anymore!!!)
Well, this was to show you my growing enthusiasm about my way of travelling...let the others cycle or take the train/ bus :-)

After some hours of Turkish conversation (ok, I advance very slowly, but I advance) and rides over snowy mountains and endless plains, I finally arived in Kastamonu where a welcome comitee was fast established by the numerous family of Kayahan. We had a great Turkish dinner in this town in the mountains, overlooked by a mighty fortress and King graves from ancient times.
Next day I went exploring this lovely town which unfortunately sufferes of declining traditional houses and upcoming megastores and blocks which already dominate the city's image.
Kayahan took a day off (from school, he's 15 ;-) and showed me museums, the fortress, the clock tower and all there is to see...and then we went to the school where his father works as a teacher.
"my" English class"my" English class"my" English class's the one with the most beautiful teacher in Turkey
was going to be a great new experience for me! I met the most beautiful English teacher I have ever seen who took me to her classroom where I was treated as a superstar by the pupils, they even wanted me to sign their books :-) It was so nice to see the shining eyes of them listening me speaking English! Kayahan took a pıicture of me and the class which I had developped after eating Etli ekmek, a traditional meal of the region with him and Günlur, the teacher. I gave one copy to the class who was very happy and intended to send on e copy home to my family...but first, the post man refused to send it, because of the impudence to even think of taking a picture like that, not to mention our intentipn to spread it in the world!!!
And here it comes: If you have a close look on it, you'll find it among the other 62 images :-), you see the bust without head on the wall is nobody else than Mr.Mustafa Kemal Atatürk himself who is shown there without head......what an insult to the modern Turkish people!
We got it throught the censorship after Kayahan vowed that he didn't do it on purpose...and I have to tell you sth. about the Turkish identity

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the most present face/man/statue in Turkey and certainly the most important one!
You will find his face on every coin and banknote as well as in every house and on every official building. In parks, you will meet his statues and even in internetcafes you will see the walls and screensavers covered with pictures of his glorious life!
He is everywhere...and I guess there is only one symbol overweighing his presence in public...the Turkish flag which was introduced Of course, who else :-)
I met people who thouroughly stood to the fact that they love him more than their father...believe it or not...that's daily life and I DO acknowledge the great achievement of his political work concerning the way of Turkey towards a laical republic (one week ago 300000 people went on the street for
protecting this principle as far as I understood). But of course, I haven't seen this overwhelming presence by one person in public before (only in history books and some remains of it in Russia....goodbye Lenin) that's one of the reasons why I still struggle to be happy with him around me all the time, I hope the Turkish will forgive me for that. That's all I have to say for the moment :-)

So we sent the picture and went to a traditional Hamam which was built long before Atatürk came to this 1506! It was such a great experience to be treated by the Keseçe, the guy who rubbs your body with a rough tissue (kese) until you are red and then breaks your spine by applying all his force on his ellbow on your back.....but I ensure you, it was a pleasure and I really enjoyed it and will certainly do it again here in Turkey!!!
After this d(e/i)str(a/u)ction we went home for a final dinner with nearly all members of the family and it was sooooo enjoyable!!! Dönde baptised me Mehmed and I was officially adopted (as far as I understood :-) and I was improving my Turkish skills thanks to my Drill-instructor, Kayahan's small sister :-) (çatal = fork! Evet yavrum!) I also introduced them to my way of travelling (see the pictures), maybe they try to hitchhike to Germany, they are highly welcome in my home!
It was very hard to leave them and go to bed and go for Sinop this morning, so Kayahan stayed home again to accompany me to his uncles house where we had breakfast and who brought me to the highway later.
Today hitchhiking was fast and easy and nothing special happenend, just some teas, a bunch of old guys discussing money problems and a Turkish truck driver whose heart broke over a cheesy love song in the radio (he just missed his girl in Izmir...:-)
So that's it for now folks...was quite a piece of work to bring it down "on paper", but I am happy that I can show you that the world outside (y)our range is not full of monsters and people who want to harm some people still think and do not cease to warn me from this or cautious but don't
mistrust people too easily either!
Thanks for reading, good night...tomorrow has new adventures to offer!

Additional photos below
Photos: 64, Displayed: 32


20th April 2007

21st April 2007

It is a pleasure to read your adventure on internet. The time where we were at school seems so far now. But what an incredible travel you make. It is true, behind the boarders of our countries, there are a lot of interessant people to meet. I read that you get your Iran visa. Don't forget to give us some news about this part of your journey. I am sure we will learn a lot of things. HitchHike is really an interessant way of travelling. Soon I will try. First to go to the market, after to go to the railway station (perhaps it is too far?). Bye
23rd April 2007

hi, matthias, as always, you open another window of the world infornt of us, thanks, I will read your blogs later when i have May holidays, hehe. but you can come to here first: :P
23rd April 2007

Immer interessant!
Hi, haven't got time to read your blog detailed, buy soon, I will have May holiday, and can read them then, but your photoes are very interesting, and no doubt, what you wrote must be even attractive, hehe. so, please see here: :P
23rd April 2007

Great answer...
thanks a lot for your nice answer Jun! I am really looking forward to see you again...but it'll be not before take care till then!
1st May 2007

Hey, man!! I justed wanted to thank you for this invaluable travel guide and window to the eastern world. It is amazing all things you are going through. I gotta do something like that in some point (I told you one million times). Take care

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