We got cancelled by Turkey

Our plan had been to drive through Turkey along the Mediterranean coast and then through central Anatolia to Georgia. That plan just got cancelled by Turkey. Here’s where it all went wrong…

We were stopped at the border! We were stopped for so long I was really starting to get worried but eventually it transpired that, although we had the car registration, insurance, green card and the contract from the car rental company.. We also needed a document from the Macedonian government. It’s much more complicated if you don’t own the vehicle. The border guys were friendly enough, despite us giving them extra work to do, so we had “CANCELLED” stamped in big letters across the Turkey entry in our passports and were sent on our way.

As it was a Saturday, we knew that there was no chance of talking to someone from the Macedonian government until Monday, if at all. We figured that sorting out a document for a foreign tourist to take a car into Turkey would be fairly low on their list of priorities, probably belonging in someone’s trash can. So, we archived our travel plans for Turkey/Georgia, cancelled a lot of reservations and re-entered Greece with our tails in-between our legs. The low mood didn’t last too long though as, despite the disappointment, the beautiful weather and the blooming poppies all over in north-eastern Greece cheered us up.

Sometimes fate shows its sense of humour… We rocked up in Alexandroupolis feeling disoriented and looked for somewhere to eat so we could make a plan for tonight and the next 3 months. Walking along the seafront, the deep blue of the sea and occasional fluffy white clouds emulated the colours of the Greek flag which was strung across every possible point. We were eagerly welcomed into a restaurant by two friendly, gregarious women who said the pizza was the best they’d had in Alexandroupolis. “Don’t listen to her, she’s the owner” said the waitress. One of the women winked at us.

Sitting down, they engaged straight away in conversation and we explained our story. “WE are Georgian!!!” said one of the women and begun to serenade me in Georgian with the most beautiful, deep voice. They explained that it was a holiday that weekend; all the flags were up for a local holiday celebrating the area’s liberation from the Ottoman empire. Something I could definitely give an extra cheer for that day!

We ate a delicious pizza and salad – apparently Georgian-Greek fusion cuisine (sorry Italy) and made a decision to head off west into the Greek countryside. We left feeling warmed by the incredible welcome but slightly more sad that we were not heading to the country where these wonderful people came from.

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