Five days in - Istanbul (2002-04-27)
Most of the Anglophone group spent five days at Londra camping in the suburbs of Istanbul. A fairly basic camp site but nearer to the centre of Istanbul than any other camp site and with extensive garage facilities next door.
Because of the difficulties of both finding Londra camping and getting to it when you do find it, here is my recommended method. Londra camping is situated on the right (South) of the D100 dual carriageway heading into Istanbul near the Airport.
Follow the D100 signs to Istanbul, do not get siphoned off onto the better toll road (the D100 has blue signs to Istanbul, the toll road has green signs) Running parallel to the D100 and to its right is a two way service road. Londra camping is accessed from this service road, not directly from the D100. The trick is to get from the D100 to the service road before you see the Londra camping signs!
As you approach the airport get into the right hand lane, as soon as you pass the exit to the airport (not well signed) take the next turning onto the service road (there is a large "P" sign for truck parking, follow this). Once on the service road you will see the Londra camping signs, the entrance to the camp site is through the Shell garage. For those with a GPS the coordinates of the camp site are N 40 59.487 E 028 49.986.
The main reason for spending so long in Istanbul was to collect our visas for Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Georgia. The procedure each time was similar. Arrive at the embassy in the morning, present our letters of invitation, fill in a form and then pay the fee ($60, $71 to a nominated local bank, $70 in cash respectively) and return to collect our passports and visas later in the afternoon. Carl also had to get his Chinese visa, this should have been for 90 days but he could only extract a 30 day visa from them.
The other activity that delayed us at Londra camping was running repairs and improvements to the vans. Adjacent to the camp site is a large TIR truck park with a selection of workshops that are much used by the overland companies.
Bigfoot had a Jerry can rack attached, an oil change, additional locks and a CB radio fitted (don't mention the window). Womble had head light guards fitted. K-Nine had additional dead locks fitted and Kon-Tiki had a diesel leak "fixed".
Some sight seeing was fitted in between these jobs and the vans were generally cleaned up in preparation for the next leg of the trip.
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