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 //Route
Route
‘Discover the world - drivetheplanet.com’
The route we are following is also known as the Silk route and goes from the Netherlands all the way to China. Hereby we step into the footprints of the famous explorer Marco Polo, this time by VW camper!

The journey will be in total around 35000 kilometers. Planned duration of the journey is 6 to 8 months taking weather and road conditions into account. If we cannot drive through a certain area, for what reasons possible, we will deviate from the planned route, but not before we notify you!

A journey like this guarantees adventure. From the vineyards in Italy to the Chinese wall in Beijing. From the heat of the desert of Iran to the chilled height of the Himalaya.

Click on the map for more details!


 Country info Turkey
Turkey

Money
Turkish Lira, ATM's can be found in all major cities. We did not use traveller cheques. We exchanged money at the first petrol station and had a reasonable exchange rate. Always check the bills as you get easily the wrong change. The bills are in Millions which can be easily confusing.

Visa& Customs
Visa's can be bought at the border (check your local embassy first). We paid 10 euro per person. We had our car registered in our passport and had to sign a declaration form. It all took us half an hour to cross the border.

Driving in Turkey

Petrol prices:
Outrageously expensive at around 1.833 000 lira per liter. (even more expensive then holland and germany!)

Speedlimits:
Speedlimits are regularly checked outside villages were the speedlimit is 90 km/hr or otherwise signposted. Check for cars alongside the road. A policeman will report speeding cars to a police roadblock sometimes a few kilometres further. Also check opposite traffic signalling for these checks but better stick to the limits.

The average speed we drove was around 55 to 60 k an hour due to difficult roads. This might help you planning your road trip through Turkey.

The rules are:
Highway 120 km/hr
Outside villages 90 km/hr
Village 50 km/hr

Roadconditions
Roads can differ every few hundred meters and it can’t be said which roads are good or bad. Some highways are in excellent condition, some not. The little of the beaten track roads will definetely provide a bumpy ride. If there is a signpost for bumpy roads believe us, its going to be bumpy. Good shockabsorbers are a necessity if you want to keep your car in one piece. Our advise is not to drive at night. Two reasons, locals tend to blind you with their lights and there is no way you can check roads for holes in it. If you have to drive at night, stick behind a local driving at the same speed and see what he is doing!

Parking
Parking in cities is advised on ‘oto parks’. These are secured car parks where its safe to leave your car. Never leave valuables inside your car or else hide them from view as forreign car registrations plates makes it an easy target.

Places to stay

Istanbul.
Please do not stay on the campsites near the city centre. They are overpriced at 18 Euro per camper, extremely dirty and the sea of marmare smelled (when we were there) like a toilet which made our clothes and the car smell the same. Better options is staying in a guesthouse below the blue mosque in Sultanamet. This safes you a lot of money on taxi's as there are no busses after 9 in the evening to the campsite and it's safe to park your car!

Dogubuyazit (Iran border)
Underneath the Ishak Pasa Palace is a perfect campsite where all overlanders meet up and exchange information. Fresh water available and a beautiful spot to stay!

Other
Live stock (cows, goats) and dogs wonder the roads feely in little towns. Adjust your speed accordingly. Trucks can be a pain in the .... as they are very polluting and slow on hills. Allways question yourself how much you are in a hurry before overtaking, especially on blind curbs.

Every now and then you see huge water streams coming from pipes beside the road. These can be used to drive underneath to get rid of dust. Problem can be that these water stream flood the road making it extremely dangerous to drive through at high speed, as we encounterd.

 Country info Greece
Greece
Money
In greece they use the Euro. ATM available in every major town or city

Customs
Greece is part of the European Union so we had no difficulties entering or leaving greece with our car.

Driving in Greece

Petrol prices:
These seem to change every few hundred meters but calculate around 60 eurocents per liter. When heading for Turkey, prices will increase the further you get to the border. There are no petrol stations on the highway. Our advise: fill up your tank as fuel is very expensive in Turkey.

Speedlimits:
Speedlimits are regularly checked outside villages were the speedlimit is 90 km/hr or otherwise signposted. Check for cars alongside the road. A policeman will report speeding cars to a police roadblock sometimes a few kilometres further. Also check opposite traffic signalling for these checks but better stick to the limits. We were stopped once and denied speeding friendly. The policeman gave us a warning and let us go!

The average speed we drove was around 70 k an hour due to reasonable roads. This might help you planning your road trip through Greece.

The rules are:
Highway 120 km/hr
Outside villages 90 km/hr
Village 50 km/hr

Roadconditions
Roads are generally in a good condition although worse then the rest of Europe. Some highways are in excellent condition, some ok. The little of the beaten track roads will sometimes provide a bumpy ride.

Parking
Parking in cities is generally safe. There are secured car parks where its safe to leave your car. Never leave valuables inside your car or else hide them from view as forreign car registrations plates makes it an easy target.

Other
Live stock (cows, goats) and dogs wonder the roads feely in little towns off the beaten track. Adjust your speed accordingly. Trucks can be a pain in the .... as they are very polluting and slow on hills. Allways question yourself how much you are in a hurry before overtaking, especially on blind curbs.

 Country Info Iran
Iran
Money
- Iranian Rial. Although the notes are in Rial, everybody deals in Tomam. (This is not a seperate currency) This can be a bit confusing in the beginning but its actually quite easy. When a price is quoted, 90 % of the time its in Tomam. Multiply this by ten or simply ad another zero and you have the price in Rial. So the currency is in Rial. When a price is quoted in Rial, shopkeepers or so will tell you. When in doubt, just ask. The exchange rate (aug 2003) was 1 dollar to 8250 rial.

Important:
There are no ATM’s in Iran and the easiest way the get rial is to change dollars. You can change at several banks but not all of them. There are also moneychangers on the street giving you a somewhat lesser rate. So bring plenty of dollars, in case you have to get something fixed. Some Top Hotels may accept creditcards and some carpet shops in Esfahan as well.

Visa& Customs
Obtaining an Iranian visa can be quite a hassle. Its best to check your local embassy first about conditions as some countries are not given visa’s. On arrival in Istanbul, we went to the consulate and reguested a visa with the posssibility to pick it up in Erzurum. This is possible although you have to wait 10 (working days). Ask for the number and and the name of the person who helpes you as you may have to call her for assistance when picking up the visa in Erzurum, Bring two colour passport pictures (women in veil) and two copies of your passport.

When in Erzurum, again we had to fill in an application form and hand in two passport pictures, After calling the consulate in Istanbul, an okay was given to hand out the visa. First we had to pay an amount of 50 dollars per head into a bank account. The adress will be given to you. When we had done this we were asked to wait another two days but negotiated this down till the next morning. Patience is required as well as a big smile.

Driving in Iran

Driving in Iran is not compared to driving at home. When coming from Turkey you are a bit used to some crazy driving situations. Multiply this by ten when driving into major cities as Tehran. We called it a roadwar. In Tehran we saw many many accidents and escaped a couple of them by an inch. So consider not to go there if not necessary.

Petrol prices: Incredibly cheap at around 650 tomam per liter. (even cheaper then water!)

Speedlimits:

We never came across speedchecks. Speedchecks are mostly aimed at bus and truckdrivers who have their tachograph checked. You will come across regular militairy or policestops, especially in border area’s so have your passport ready. Women should wear a veil at all times.

The average speed we drove was around 70 k an hour cause Iran has perfect roads. The road from Tabriz to Zanjan is horrible due to a lot of truck traffic. From Zanjan to Tehran its best to take the completely empty toll/highway) This might help you planning your road trip through Iran.

The rules are:
Highway 120 km/hr
Outside villages 90 km/hr
Village 50 km/hr

Roads

Roads are perfect in Iran, even between little villages. Due to mountaines areas, your average speed can drop making it long driving days between the major cities. Bring plenty (read a lot) of water in summertime as temperatures easily rise above 37 to 40 degrees. Also take enough salt to keep you awake!

Parking

Parking in cities is advised in safe carparks. These are secured car parks where its safe to leave your car. Never leave valuables inside your car or else hide them from view as forreign car registrations plates makes it an easy target. In tehran there is a good one on Amir Kabirstreet near the hostel Mashaad and in esfahan near the Amir Kabir Hotel.

Other

Live stock (cows, goats) and dogs wonder the roads freely in little towns. Adjust your speed accordingly. Trucks can be a pain in the .... as they are very polluting and slow on hills. Allways question yourself how much you are in a hurry before overtaking, especially on blind curbs.

Bogus police

Apparently there are Bogus Police men who do not wear a uniform. Never give your passport but give a copy. Demand to be driven to a policestation first before handing over any valuable documents.


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