Pamela MacNaughtan

Leaving Istanbul behind was bittersweet, but the thought of the Black Sea Coast was invigorating. I felt like I should have tried to squeeze out more energy; or something (in Istanbul). I had such high hopes for Istanbul, and they kind of crashed; along with my energy, when I was there. This seems to be a running theme.

Our next destination is Georgia (the country, not the state. I know, I had no idea it existed either!). As we drove through Turkey Charlie and I looked at the map and decided to avoid driving through Ankara; which meant we would be driving along the Black Sea Coast instead. Why avoid Ankara? I’ve heard it’s a nightmare, and after driving through Istanbul, I would rather go somewhere a wee bit quieter.

We left Istanbul early. Charlie drove for a little while, then pulled over and let me drive.

It was a shock to my system. I haven’t driven the car since Prague. I had said I could drive a few times, but she wanted to drive, saying she was better at driving, and I was better at navigating. I didn’t push the issue as I wanted to avoid an argument. Now, I was driving, and I was like a kid on Christmas morning.

I eased the car off the side of the road and onto the highway. It was fabulous. I had a couple of gear mistakes, but not many, and soon I felt like a natural behind the wheel. Driving is so much better than being a passenger all the time. I can actually focus on something other than staying awake to read a map or road signs. I also have some sort of control, which has been lacking since the beginning of the Mongol Rally.

Ah yes, I’m driving again. It’s like one of my road trips in North America, except it’s not. I’m in Turkey. I’m doing the Mongol Rally. I have deadlines looming over my head 24/7. I can’t just pull off and snap some photos, then get back on the road. No, we have a schedule. We need to reach borders by certain dates. We need to get from point A to point B (Am I completely demystifying this whole Mongol Rally business for you? Sorry. It’s not all like this, I promise).

We drove through the brown and hilly countryside of Turkey, heading for the coast. When we reached the coastline at Samsun, Turkey, my heart skipped a beat. There it is, the Black Sea. I could smell is it, and see it. It was glorious. Ah, the sea!

There are two things I love on a road trip, the sea/or ocean, and mountains. If I have one of those things I’m a very happy girl.

We drove along the coast, trying to decide where to stop for the night. For some odd reason, I felt the urge to listen to Latin music. It’s weird, I know. I’m in Turkey, I should listen to Turkish music. I just wanted to listen to Gotan Project and lose myself in the lyrics, and the beat of the music as it flowed from our car speakers; crappy as they may be.

Our route along the Black Sea took us onto the old coastal highway, and as the sun was setting I was driving (a tad fast) around mountains as Charlie tried to snap photos of the sunset from the backseat.

Our destination for the evening was Persembe, a town along the coast on the way to the Georgia border. Charlie and I decided to splurge on a hotel room (80 Turkish Lira) with a view of the Black Sea, a shower, and comfortable beds. Sure, I felt like I was being a tad soft, but I didn’t care. I wanted comfort, I wasn’t ready to rough it, yet.

The next morning we set off once again and drove on the same coastal highway to the Turkey-Georgia border.

My time in Turkey was short, but I loved it. The people were friendly, and the kebab was pretty good as well. I’m sad that I didn’t find good hummus though. So far Budapest is holding the title for best hummus on this trip.

Let me tell you, the Mongol Rally is not a trip, it’s an adventure. It’s fast paced, there are challenges and problems along the way, and you make a lot of sacrifices. Is it worth it? Well, you’ll have to keep following along and figure that out for yourself.



  • October 19, 2016

    Great post Pamela!! I’ve just come back from the Black Sea coast of Turkey and I have to say that it was really interesting due to the large cultural differences in very small areas… Especially in the eastern coast, conservative cities followed open-minded ones and vice-versa! Really great!


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