2TeachersAtWork

Finally, we have got everything figured out. Nienke has worked at her new school for almost two weeks, which she enjoys very much. Tamara started at her new school this morning: she will work in 4th grade on Thursdays and Fridays. She also still works in 5th grade at her previous school for one day a week. We are both very happy to have useful things to do and to get out of the house a little more.

Both of us are also working online for a couple of hours a week. Teaching English or Dutch is something we really enjoy doing. Hopefully, we can extend our online work in the next couple of months, so we can keep it up when we get back on the road. This way, we can travel and work at the same time, without having to worry about money!

By now, we have started to get used to our house. We found a rhythm of working, enjoying our meals together, walking with Sparta and watching tv. We would love to hang out with friends some more, but the corona rules here in The Netherlands are pretty tight. So, we just cuddle up on the couch when it’s raining, or go for a walk or a run when the weather is good.

In our little autumn break we took Tiny out for a couple of days; we went to the North of our country, Friesland. We spent three nights at park-ups next to the sea, one night at our friends (@Easy_overland) and one night next to a former castle. We truly loved walking along the beaches and through lovely little towns. It somehow surprises us that we also have very nice places to go to in The Netherlands!

Autumn has almost finished and winter is coming. We hope that it won’t be a very wet one, so we can keep going outside all the time. Sparta doesn’t like rain either, but he definitely does love to run around in the foggy grass and in the water of the river! We only have to put on our waterproof boots and follow him.

 

Settling in during corona

First, we have to apologise for the missing blog last week. So far, we’ve always written a new blog each Thursday (or sometimes Friday), but last week we just couldn’t. We had wanted to show you our new home, so we’ll do that in this blog!

As the corona rules have been considerably tightened, this is probably going to be quite a boring autumn for us. We also have to get used to the cold and rainy days here; we didn’t have that last year (in Greece and Turkey) at all. However, we like to go on long walks with Sparta and we don’t mind to cuddle up on the couch to watch Netflix a little more. Moreover, we will both start working again soon! Nienke has found a position as a biology teacher for three days per week, starting in two weeks. Tamara has already started working on Tuesdays and will probably work on a school near our home soon too.

So, after one and a half month in the Netherlands, we are finally settling in. We will lay low for the next five months and we still have hope to leave again in April.

Finding our new life

When we came back to The Netherlands, we decided to stay for approximately seven months. We didn’t want to live on a campground again, like we did before we left in 2019: with Sparta, we want to have more room and warmth during the winter. Also, we both had to find a job, because houses here are pretty expensive and – of course – we didn’t want to spend all our travel money on it. All in all, we’ve had plenty of things to do!

First of all, we had to go to a mechanic for Tiny’s yearly check-up. We noticed that having only one car isn’t great for us, so we immediately went looking for another car. Tiny’s little brother is a Peugeot 206 and he’s silver as well. We’ve called him Big. Next, we had to register ourselves somewhere. Nienke’s sister offered to help us with that, because we still had to find our own place to live. Fortunately, it all went very smooth!

Meanwhile, we’ve been searching for a job. We don’t want to work full-time, because we have someone to care for now. One of us has to stay home for Sparta, so we’ll both work two or three days. For Tamara, finding something wasn’t very difficult, because there’s a huge lack of primary school teachers here. So far, she already worked 8 days. Nienke has two job interviews coming up, so that’s  probably going to be fine too.

Thanks to our Facebook contacts, finding a place to live was quite easy. A friend of the sister of an aunt has a little house next to her big house, which we can rent for 6 months. We went to check it out and told her right away that we were very excited to move in. It’s located North of Den Bosch, in between farms and farmland and close to a big river (the Maas). Our host has chicken, sheep and a pig and there are plenty of apple trees around the house. The house itself is small, but cosy: we have a modern kitchen, a toilet and a shower, a living room with many windows and a big attic with a double bed. We love it!

Now we are slowly settling in, we hope we can finally get some rest. From living on the road to living on different parkings in our rainy homecountry is quite a weird transition. Frankly, we don’t like it at all! Hopefully, we will get used to our new home soon and probably, we will like being back much better then.

(Next week, we’ll make a video of our house!)

 

Longing back to Turkey

It’s been almost four weeks since we arrived in The Netherlands. We found a place to live (near Den Bosch) for the next 6 months, but we still feel like our journey hasn’t ended. We already miss being outside all day and visiting many new places. But, most of all, we know that we still haven’t found our ‘pond’ (see one of our first blogs). Hopefully, if corona allows it, we will continue travelling in April 2021.

Here’s a little throwback to our last weeks in hot, beautiful and friendly Turkey.

Driving all the way back

Leaving Turkey, we drove along the coast, all the way from the South East to the North West. We weren’t in a hurry, because the wedding we wanted to attend in The Netherlands was still a couple of weeks away. However, because of the summer heat, we didn’t feel like staying too long. The last place we visited, was the city Edirne. The big mosque was beautiful, but as we slept next to it, quite loud! We only stayed for one night and we arrived at the Bulgarian border on August 23. People had told us that it was a busy border crossing, but that it was easy to get through. We kept our thumbs up!

In between Dutch, German, Austrian and British cars (packed with Turkish families), we waited to get into Bulgaria. As we got closer to customs, we got more scared: many people had to open their trunks and the officers were even opening suitcases. We didn’t bring any illegal stuff with us, but we did have a dog without the right papers! Luckily, we got through in a jiffy; Sparta was in Europe! The only problem was that we got a Bulgarian vignette for just one day. We had to hurry to the Romanian border.

After a long day of driving, getting into Romania was easy. We spent the night next to a monastery and continued North the next day. Fortunately, our friends from @Easy_overland were in the same area, so we met them in an old quarry, and we spent two nights together. It’s so great to spend time with amazing people with the same way of life! The dogs played and found many bones, we made campfires and we talked about going back. We all agreed, that going back was the best thing to do, for now.

On Wednesday morning, we said goodbye and drove a beautiful (and unfinished) road to Oradea. Here, Nienke worked as a volunteer in 2009, so it was really great to catch up with the founder of the organization. The border crossing to Hungary the next day was very easy. From now on, we would drive to The Netherlands in a straight line. Still, nobody knew we were heading home!

We passed Hungary and arrived at the Austrian border, where we had to wait for a long time. Apparently, many families came back from their summer vacation and wanted to go home as fast as possible. When we finally got to customs, the guy asked where we were going. ‘Only a transit, ok!’ he said. He handed us a form and we could go. However, the form said that we had to options: we could either drive through Austria and leave on the same day, or we had to go in quarantine for 10 days.

Actually, we had planned to stay in the mountains one day and go for a hike, but that was no option now. Driving to Germany right away was no option either, because it was already late, and we were tired from crossing Hungary. So, we decided to spend the night at a TIR parking, with lots of trucks, but also a nice shower, and continue the next day. Getting into Germany was no problem at all; apart from the signs that said we needed to get tested or go in self-quarantine, everything was normal. We spent our last night on the road next to the Concorde factory, where they make these huge motorhomes. Luckily, we weren’t the only home on wheels that was a little smaller!

Finally, on Saturday the 29th of August, we arrived in The Netherlands. A little sooner than expected, because corona kept us from enjoying more time in Austria. In the following days, we surprised our families and some friends by just showing up at their doors. Peek-a-boo! They were all flabbergasted, but very happy to see us again. After the people we are closest to knew we were back for a while, we could also tell everybody through social media.

So, we are back in The Netherlands. We have driven through a big part of the country to see our friends and family, but we have also been very busy with finding a house and a job. Besides, we had to arrange registration, health insurance and sim cards, which all took a while. It seems like we got everything under control now, although we are still job-hunting.

We’ll keep you posted!

The reasons why

We are back in The Netherlands! That means that we already drove through a big part of the country to see many friends and both our families. Also, we took Tiny to the mechanic for a check-up: he got his APK/TUV! We have to get two (quite big) things fixed in the next couple of months, but other than that he is still perfect.

So, about why we came back. It certainly wasn’t easy to make the decision to end our trip, but once we had decided, we felt relieved. In spring, we had been stuck in Georgia, which was actually not that bad at all. Georgia is a beautiful country and we were able to visit all the sites we wanted to see. Still, we didn’t like the fact that making new plans was impossible, as things around corona changed every day.

Once it was clear that only the border to Turkey – and definitely not the one to Azerbaijan or Russia – would open, we decided to leave Georgia. We were hoping to be able to cross the border to Iran, but it became clear that this wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. We worked on a farm for one week, but we wanted to know what was next. It was then that we decided to go back to Europe, if we could.

We have to tell you that we really LOVE Turkey, though. Staying there for another few months would have been great, if we weren’t hoping to continue our journey to the East. It felt like we would have had to wait it out, without anything to do. If you are waiting, even the prettiest place would get boring at some point. Working in Turkey as English teachers would also have been an option, but the wages in Turkey are very low. So, we figured that while we were waiting anyway, we could also drive back to The Netherlands!

Going back seemed like the best option: we would see all of our friends and families again and we could try to find a temporary job and a place to stay. However, we had a problem: if we would take Sparta to Europe, we needed the right documents for him. That would mean that we needed to get another rabies vaccination and redo the test (the one that wasn’t good enough when we did it in Tbilisi). Because this test is quite expensive and because other travellers had told us that they don’t even check it at the border, we decided to just try to cross the border without the test. If they wouldn’t let us through, we could always do the test again after all.

Just to say it again; it was a very difficult decision to pause our trip for a while. We had planned to be on the road for two or three years, but only one year had passed. For us, this is therefore just a temporary solution to this situation we found ourselves in. It’s not the end of our journey, it’s only a short break. A couple of months in which we will settle down, spend time with our loved ones, find a job, a house and earn some money to live from. Then, in spring, we will hopefully return to our travelling way of life and continue our trip. In the meantime: will we see you in The Netherlands?

Surprise!

While everybody thought we were lying in the sun in Turkey, we were actually driving to The Netherlands last week. Surprise! Next week, we’ll tell you all about it. First, we’re enjoying time with family and friends and finding a place to live for the next couple of months. Please contact us if you know a place somewhere in the South of The Netherlands!

The Western coast of Turkey

Driving, driving, driving… We did a lot of it! Even though we don’t like to be in the car so much, we wanted to go to the coast, where we could cool down in the sea. We have started to love Turkey, but being here in the middle of summer is a little too warm for us!

Finding a place to sleep in this season is not easy either. Many spots on Park4Night aren’t available anymore and other places are full of locals. Still, we found a nice bay with a pretty boulevard, where we could park close to the sea. Sparta played with some stray dogs and Nienke went running along the beach. Lovely!

Then, we went to Çanakkale, one of the most famous places in Turkey. During WWI, this was the location of a great battle between England, France and the Turks. Because the (much smaller) Turkish army could stand her ground for a long time until she fell, it was an important moment in Turkish history. After this huge battle, the Ottoman empire crumbled down and Turkey became independent.

We first visited the city of Çanakkale itself, with its long boulevard and modern city center. As food in Turkey is very cheap, we hardly ever cook ourselves and we enjoyed lunch in one of the small streets. Next, we went back to the car and got onto the ferry to the peninsula across the water. It was the first time on this trip that Tiny was on a boat! We loved it. Next to one of the little cafes on the coast, we found a place to spend the night. If it wasn’t for corona, this part of Turkey had probably been filled with international tourists, but now there were only some Turkish tourists. And us, of course!

The next day, we explored the peninsula. Whereas other parts of the Turkish coast are very crowded with resorts and restaurants, this part was very quiet. We saw sunflowers all around us and every now and then, there was a war cemetery or a monument. During the war, 22.000 soldiers died here. Although many of them are unknown, they are all honored on the numerous cemeteries. All in all, we learnt a lot about the battle of 1915, which we both found very interesting.

After this long day of driving and visiting monuments, we were happy to find a great place to sleep. We parked the car on top of the rocks, with a lighthouse at the end. Below us, there was a small beach with the most beautiful water we had seen in a long time. Some people were already there, but this spot was so amazing that we climbed down anyway. Compared to the sea in the South, where the water was warm, this part of the sea was freezing cold! What a relief, after so many hot days.

Now the question is, what do we do next? For now, we’ll just stay here for a while, to think about our next destination. Please let us know if you have any tips!

Visiting friends and looking for Sparta’s family

The past week was all about visiting friends.

First, we visited our friends Mustafa and Sibel in Kemer. We met them in December, when Tamara’s family was visiting. They were so welcoming in December and it was exactly the same now. We stayed longer than we had planned, enjoying their lovely company. We also swam in their pool, ate some delicious food and explored Kemer a bit more. I think we could have stayed here for another week. And we might have, if it wasn’t so hot! Even at night, it would still be over 25 degrees, which made it pretty hard to sleep. Luckily, we could keep our windows open, since we parked next to Mustafa’s house. When we go wild camping, it doesn’t always feel safe to do this. Especially in this area, where there aren’t many off grid places. There are houses and hotels everywhere!

After our wonderful stay in Kemer, we drove up North, towards Isparta. Since we had some trouble finding a good place to park for the night, we decided to drive up Davraz mountain. This was the place we went skiing for one day in December. We found a great and quiet place for the night and the next morning, we were planning on driving to Isparta. Before we did, we decided to drive to the little town where we had found Sparta! We hoped to see his mom there, or maybe his siblings. Unfortunately, we had no luck. We did take Sparta out of the car and walked around his birthplace for a while. No idea if he still remembered any of it, but he always enjoys a walk!

In Isparta, we stayed with our friend Farzane. It was fun to be back in the city where we worked in December. We got a haircut (our last one was here as well, over 7 months ago), did some shopping and went for drinks in the places we liked. After 2 days we said goodbye again, to head towards the West. We want to explore the coast above Izmir a little more and we will also visit Canakkele. We have heard that it’s a really fun city.

Beach days

The past week, we have been living near the sea. First, we found a great spot with no other people around and where Sparta could run around freely. We love Turkey, but we really don’t like the way people treat nature: after a picknick they just leave their trash behind, either in a plastic bag or all over the place. That means that in most places we want to stop and stay for the night, there’s garbage everywhere. Sparta loves it, because there are a lot of chicken bones and nice-smelling tissues he likes to eat… but also a lot of glass and plastic. So, in those places, we have to keep him on the leash. He really doesn’t like that! And we don’t either.

Fortunately, we found this great place on the beach, without much garbage. Of course, there were tissues and empty bottles around, but not everywhere we looked. Besides, it was so far from the main road, that only now and then another car showed up. And there was enough space for Sparta to run around! We therefore decided to stay for three nights, to enjoy the quiet and to relax a little.

As we were the only ones on the beach, we spent the entire first morning there. Sparta went swimming for the very first time! (And the only time, so far.) The sea was very clear and beautifully blue. The sun was burning, so we had to use a lot of suntan lotion and stay in the shade as much as we could. However, the lotion we had bought in Georgia turned us into snowmen and apparently, it didn’t work at all! At night, we both had a bad sunburn on our backs.

The days flew by and we finished almost all our food. Since we don’t use our fridge (it’s on gas and it uses a lot of it, especially in summer), we hadn’t brought much fresh food. Thus, we ate pancakes, rice crackers and canned food from The Netherlands that was still in the back of our cupboard. We had been using our shower to get rid of all the salt and sand on our bodies, so we were almost out of water too. It was time to get back to the real world!

We drove the beautiful coastal route, approximately 200 kilometers to our next spot. On the way, we filled our water bottles and bought some food. The weather was still very hot, so we were happy to arrive at the parking of an ancient site, 400 meters above sea level. It was a little windy and had a great view over the sea. As the sun went down, we walked through the old buildings and enjoyed being back in this part of Turkey.

The next morning, we said goodbye to the new friend we made and started driving. We passed many huge holiday resorts in Alanya and Manavgat; some of them closed because of corona. Then, we arrived in the little town of Side, next to Manavgat. It’s also very touristic, but it has a different vibe: no big hotels, but only small B&B’s and cute restaurants. We parked on the beach, next to a restaurant where we were allowed to use the shower and the toilet. We had lunch there, went swimming and in the early evening we walked to the center. We were amazed by the way people had used ancient ruins in the new buildings and streets: walls, columns, a theater and a temple were scattered all across town. We loved it!

On Tuesday, we left Side and drove to a restaurant to have breakfast. Have we told you about Turkish kahvalti before? Well, if you’re ever here, don’t miss it! It’s definitely our favourite meal in this country. Afterwards, we continued our way to Antalya, to meet up with Deniz and Ada, where we stayed for a week in December. It was great to see them again! They also let us (and Sparta) sleep in their apartment, because it was too warm in the car to be able to sleep.

Another stop we wanted to make in Antalya was the mechanic. Although the radiator hasn’t been leaking anymore, we wanted to make sure everything was fine. We met with a Turkish man who used to live in The Netherlands. As a retired car mechanic, he wanted to help us by looking at Tiny. He told us that now the radiator isn’t leaking, it should be no problem to keep driving with it. On top of that, he assured us that the other little things we had noticed, were no problem either. So, no garage retreat for us!

After we had used their pool and we had had lunch together, we left the mechanic and his wife. We were very proud of Sparta that he had been such a good boy in both the apartments and with both of the families! At this moment, we are in Kemer, meeting with another family that we met in December. Even though we hadn’t planned to go back to Turkey, it’s very nice to see all of them again. And Sparta loves all the attention too!