On August 22nd 1972 I was in Alexandroupolis in north-western Greece. After a month lazing around Greece we were now driving to Istanbul.
We had stopped in Kavalla to buy food in the stalls around the harbour and drove on through the increasingly Turkish looking towns and villages of Thrace. We stopped for a coffee in Alexandroupolis, a modern town on the coast, did some shopping and drove back a few miles to find an empty spot by the sea to pitch our tent.
Everyone in Greece who knew we were heading for Turkey implored us to be careful and take better security. One thing which bothered them was the fact that the Land-Rover had no lock on the bonnet so you could easily get in and steal things or change the settings and so on and so forth. So in Alexandroupolis we found a padlock in a general store and the next morning went to a garage to get it fitted. The garage owner absolutely refused to let us pay anything for this, arguing that it was his duty as a Greek to ensure that we were not robbed by any of those Turks.
We carried on across the border at the Evros river and into the empty barren hills of European Turkey. After an hour we saw our first camels and drove on to the Londra Campsite in the western suburbs of Istanbul. We quickly discovered that Turks were every bit as friendly and helpful as Greeks. They were amazed that we had managed to spend a month in Greece without having all our belongings stolen.
|Road in European Turkey, 2008: Picture by Dimitirs Kilimis, CC|