A SHERIFF, A TURKISH PUZZLE AND A STICKY (CAKE) SITUATION – ISTANBUL, 1976

Yeni Cami (New Mosque), Istanbul

SUNDAY 17TH OCTOBER, 1976

Part Two:
‘Walked through market, reached Yeni Mosque, flocks of pigeons around the place.

At the quayside we bought fish and bread from a little bobbing boat, with a charcoal fire (looked hightly dangerous!)  Lined up by the rails were salt cellars and a bowl of garlic to be taken with the fish.

A Turk spotted Rob’s sheriff badge and got talking.  He took us to a cay shop up the hill from the Blue Mosque and we had another sticky cake on the way back!

Di, Jan and Rob eating fish at Galata Bridge

Then we went to St Sophia, a museum now so didn’t have to take off our shoes.  Tehran (a medical student) came back to the camp with us, we went up to the bar for a bit.  After supper I went to do some washing and Rob came and told me that Tehran wanted to see me.  Unfortunately he was sweet on me and wanted me for his girlfriend.  Gave me his Turkish puzzle ring!  He fixed for us all to go to a fish restaurant the next day.

Went back to bus eventually – had a little session; initiated the driver of the Encountertruck.’

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ATHENS – ACROPOLIS AT DUSK, FLYING SHISHKEBAB AND TAMLA MOTOWN, 1976

TUESDAY 12TH OCTOBER, 1976

” Late morning – 8.0!  Wrote pcs and lazed around in sun during morning.  Snooped round other Swagman bus and played Tamla Motown – they’ve much better selection than us.  Few of us left, had omelette and beans for lunch.

Lift in with Magic Bus.  Tried to get Nanette [girl we gave lift to from Methoni] away on the bus to London, but got there too late.  Chased round square to contact Geoff and get her luggage back to camp.  By late afternoon finally started sightseeing!

Made way up narrow lanes to Acropolis, kept losing everybody.  While at Acropolis most tourists were leaving and sun going down between the pillars of the Parthenon, hazy view out to sea.  View of Temple of Zeus and other hill (Athens not an attractive city – much of it dug up and half built, very dirty).  Guards and band appeared and played while flag lowered.  Men blew whistles frantically when anyone tried to go inside Parthenon.  One attendant gave us a pollo; another called Jan Athena, me Aphrodite and Rob Zeus!  All seem very friendly.

We wandered down small streets, little leather shops etc, till came to restaurant with tables in street, waiter just about dragged us off street and sat us in front of menu.  Presumed this was where we were to meet Fred.  Had Demestica while waited then ordered meal.  Had disappointing shishkebab and greasy cheese salad – flung half on floor trying to get off skewer – dogs ate it!  Loads of cats too.  Nanette came across us – had been lost in area.  Eventually Fred and other Swagman driver Steve found us.

At 9.0 we went up to see Son et Lumiere looking across at Acropolis.  Thought it over dramatic, some of it quite hilarious. “Thwack, wack, build and build” and mad dash of running feet, like something out of the Goons! Afterwards several of us went for a coffee down from Acropolis in big empty restaurant with carpets and bags on the wall.  Got lift home with other Swagman bus.”

FUSINA CAMPSITE, VENICE – fog, fleas, foamies and fun! 1976

OFF TO VENICE AND FUSINA CAMPSITE …

SATURDAY 2ND OCTOBER, 1976

“Up early.  Rolled the foamies!!
The foamies are explained in a letter home: “we’re quite efficient at getting up, fed and tents packed etc in 1 and a half hours (up at 6 every travelling day!)  The worst job in the morning is rolling the foamies (that go under our sleeping bags) and squeezing them all in between 2 sets of seats; they are rather temperamental things and tend to spring out and flow into the gangway if not given their due attention.”

Left for Venice.  Good card games at the back.  Scenery of hills, trees and picturesque houses – tunnels etc (hopeless to try and read!)  Then fog descended and saw nothing.

Got to Fusina after lunch – cabins not tents!!  Seems nice campsite but lots of mosquitoes.
My letter home says: “The campsite was really rather luxurious – hot showers and what’s more we managed to book into cabins and so got a bed!  It may have been rather flea infested but it was real high living.”

Run into Venice briefly in afternoon and saw gondolas tied up by canals, lovely bridges; not time to see much else (apart from station).

Evening spent in the bar of camp – Fusina is rather famous for rowdy evenings in the bar because the camp is always full of bus tours!  Graffiti on walls, exuberant barmen etc.  Eventually only Julie, Paul, Mark and me left, retired to bus – few others there.  Sat at back listening to Supertramp.

We’ve had t-shirts designed with Asian Greyhound on – the design is a bus inside a large carafe of wine! ”

More photos on Facebook Page, Overlanders: http://bit.ly/bEVp5V

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This campsite was used as the setting in my novel THE VANISHING OF RUTH to introduce one of the key characters – the charismatic Marcus.