The border between Bulgaria and Turkey was our first crossing outside the EU and we were a little nervous about what to expect. It was a breeze. Quick check of the car and passports on the Bulgarian side, then on to the Turkish border where person no. 1 wanted to see what we have in the boot, no. 2 stamped our passports, no. 3 looked at our vehicle registration papers and green insurance document, and no. 4 wanted to see our passports again before he opened the final barrier into Turkey.
It all took less than 30 minutes.As Istanbul is only a short drive from the border we decided to drive there on the same day, picking up money, a Turkish Sim-card and an HGS sticker for the toll motorways on our way. It was a Sunday, and we thought that traffic should be better than on a weekday – we couldn’t have been more wrong. Our destination was a parking for campers right in the center of Istanbul, and the main roads into the city were all jammed packed. To avoid the worst traffic, a well known mapping app guided us from one multi-lane thoroughfare to narrow side streets to the the next artery and back again into one-way streets. We crawled, twisted and turned into the center and just as we thought that the end is near the road was blocked with concrete blocks. To make things worse, all the roads to the parking were closed because of some kind of political manifestation right there and then. Some time later the roads were open again and with relief we turned off the engine at our destination after having navigated the worst city traffic ever.
The two days we spent in Istanbul were very interesting despite masses of people – it was Easter weekend (lots of foreign tourists) and Turkish national holiday (lots of Turkish tourists). We visited the main sites in the center and the bazaar, crossed a bridge, walked up and down and around, and just let ourselves be overwhelmed by this mega-city.