We made to Istanbul despite our sadistic GPS

We’ve just arrived at our newest home, an Istanbul otopark (or carpark) at the very edge of Europe where the Bosphorus meets the Sea of Marmara, just outside the old Roman walls and steps from the Blue Mosque.

The Blue Mosque & Roman wall


That’s the Bosphorus


And from the other direction, the Sea of Marmara.

OK, yes it’s a parking lot. There’s no electricity or water (or internet), and we’re parked within feet of other RVs (lots of Italian rigs here).

But we’re also adjacent to a large park where we can set out our camp chairs under the trees and enjoy the breeze and the view. As I write this, the Blue Mosque’s call to prayer is warbling overhead. Dozens of Muslim families are spreading out blankets and starting to get rowdy (in a volleyball and dinner-after-a-day-of-fasting kind of way). The security guard kindly charged Scout’s camera battery in his little booth, and Scout has discovered that the RV across from us is (inexplicably) home to five Golden Retriever puppies.

I’m really excited to have found out about this place. When we were researching Istanbul, no mention of any kind of in-city camping came up and I was wondering where in the hell we were going to park an RV. Fortunately I stumbled across a reference to this lot while reading some random RV travel blog, and Mark then used Google earth to get the coordinates. Thank God. The nearest campground is quite a distance out of the city. And we’ve learned from bitter experience that city visits suck when we can’t park close by.

Though Istanbul is notoriously trafficky, getting here from Kilyos, about 20 km away, wasn’t as bad as I thought, at least for the first part of the drive. We followed our GPS route fairly easily, chugging slowly through the business district and past the old spice market. In fact it was pretty successful right up until the end, when our GPS inexplicably turned us into the heart of the city, with it’s winding, narrow, crowded lanes, rather than letting us continue around the tip of the peninsula, which was a very straightforward (not to mention beautiful) drive along the Bosphorus.

We should have overridden the stupid device, but by the time we realized what was happening, it was too late to escape the turn lane.

Instead of this way…


the damn GPS sent our camper this way.

It was a nightmare. As we climbed steep, narrow, cobblestoned little lanes, trucks ahead of us kept stopping in the middle of the road for deliveries. This is not a good scenario for us. Because our camper has no power at all, once we are forced to stop on a hill, we can’t get going again. Mark puts the rig into first gear and jams the pedal to the floor, but for a few seconds the camper doesn’t move at all and even threatens to start rolling backwards. It’s pretty nerve-wracking. Eventually we pick up steam and start inching forward (slowly) but it’s impossible to regain our initial momentum.

Anyway, after thirty or so increasingly stressful minutes we managed to turn ourselves around and get back to the Bosphorus. From there it was a quick drive to the otopark, where we were greeted by a friendly security guard who quickly tucked us into the shadiest spot in the lot.

So here we are in Istanbul, during Ramazan no less. All three of us were totally burnt out where we arrived in Turkey, but ten days in little Kilyos re-energized us completely and we’re ready hit the city.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Clélie August 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Sounds and looks fantastic. This is the part of your trip that I am the most envious of. Yes! Florence, yes! Jungfrau, yes! Rome. But ISTANBUL! How wonderful. Hope you continue to have a great time. I shall go and read a Yashim mystery (Jason Goodwin) and imagine myself there with you all.


2 Renee August 29, 2011 at 5:48 am

Istanbul is a glorious city and I’m ready to move here. I don’t think the rest of the team will need much persuading either.

I’ve never read a Yashim mystery but am heading over to my Kindle to check them out. Is it appropriate for Scout? She reads adults material, just not anything racy or romantic.

Have you ever read “Portrait of a Turkish Family” by Irfan Orga? I discovered it in a local bookshop here, but was surprised to find it in the Kindle bookstore so that’s where I bought it. (Did patronize the overpriced local store as well). It’s a memoir of a Turkish man from a wealthy family thrown into turmoil by World War I. Fascinating accounts of the good life before the war, the effects of the war on Turkey, the roles of women throughout, and the societal changes instituted by Atatürk. Great read. Scout and I both tore through it in a day or two.


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