By the time we reached Turkey we had been on the road for three weeks, yet this was the first stop where we could pick up mail from home. Imagine being out of contact with family and friends for that length of time in the 21st century – inconceivable! Letters were like lottery wins and home entertainment rolled into one!
SATURDAY 16TH OCTOBER, 1976
“Early start – dark when got up – no one looked very bright!
Countryside fairly poor, flattish fields, lots of cart and oxen, dirty muddy rivers, mostly dried up; low hills in the distance. Stopped at grotty town – spent last drachma on biscuits – funny blend of Turkish and European clothing – most women enveloped in black. Little kids came after us for money – boys pushing smaller kids in prams – pathetic sight; came as quite a shock when felt a little tug at my elbow.
Stopped at border for a bit – some buses were made to empty completely – at Turkish side, bedding and things spread all around.
Long drive for most of the day. Stopped for a cay stop in town on the coast. Got a welcome in the cake shop (me and Neva needless to say!) everyone very friendly. Had an eclair!
Eventually reached the Esso Campsite outside Istanbul – dark by that time, so haven’t seen anything yet. Kitchen facilities – all ate in the dinning room area – Encounter [Overland] group singing away at other end of room.
Hot showers here too!!! Windy and cold tonight. 1st mail stop. Letters from Mum and Dad.”
EXTRACTS FROM LETTER HOME, WRITTEN IN FLORENCE, ITALY, 1976
” … refrained from spending small fortunes on leather goods (and of course the pink inflatable pocket size statue of David – thought you’d like it for the new mantelpiece at Suardal!) However we treated ourselves to real Italian pizzas and ice cream (water melon flavour)
… the rain has caught up with us again I think we’re cursed. Tonight we’re going into a disco – the Red Garter.
By the way we’re not going to Tehran which is a bit of a shame, so don’t write there. Geoff the driver (a Scot) said that writing on p.cs or aerogrammes to Asia is advisable so no one will break into them. (It takes about 4 days for a letter to get to Istanbul).
We’re a day ahead of schedule if you’re following on the map! The group we met in Paris were a month overdue from Kathmandu, so I may be spending Xmas in the Khyber Pass! Half their group were struck by hypertytus [sic] and flown home!
Well, signing off – got to tidy the bus! At the moment all the packs are down, washing is strewn from railings and there’s a body sleeping in the aisle (Fred who appeared in Paris and makes himself useful cleaning windows etc – done the trip before).