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.

 

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.

What’s next?

A question we ask ourselves almost weekly. If it wasn’t for Corona, we would have been in Kirgistan by now. But we are not, we are actually driving in the opposite direction.

So, what’s next I hear you think. Well, we wish we knew! There really aren’t many options at the moment. Our car was only allowed in Georgia until September, so we couldn’t stay there for much longer. Georgia has many bordering countries (Armenia, Azerbeidzjan, Russia and Turkey) but because of Corona, Turkey was the only country we could enter. So we did, since we really enjoyed our previous months in Turkey. There is still a big part of Turkey that we haven’t seen yet, thus, this seemed like the best option for us now.

We are now in a part of the country called Anatolia, in the South East. It’s very different than what we have seen before. We love being back in Turkey! There are very good roads, delicious foods and friendly and welcoming people.

At the moment, we are doing a Workaway close to a city called Dogubayazit. We’re working at a huge cow farm. It’s the biggest in the South East and it’s working according to EU standards. We get up pretty early in the morning and start the day with some weeding. The farm has a big vegetable garden, but it’s really overgrown. We usually work for 2 to 3 hours and then we enjoy a warm lunch, cooked by the staff. After lunch, we relax, go for a walk, look around on the farm and sometimes water some of the fruit trees. It’s over 30 degrees every day, so it’s usually too hot to work during the afternoon.

At night, we help feeding the calves, definitely our favourite job here! There are about 40 of them. The older ones drink from a bottle themselves, but we feed the younger ones by hand. So cute! Every day, we look forward to this moment! A couple of days ago we witnessed a new calf being born, this was very special.

We will leave this place on Saturday and explore the South East of the country a little more. After that, we will slowly drive up to Antalya to meet some of the people we met 8 months ago and to (hopefully) get the radiator fixed. After that, it’s really all still up in the air. We only have a 3-month visa for Turkey, so we need to think about our next destination, but Corona makes that almost impossible. We could try to go back into Europe, but because of some Dutch ‘car rules’, this is a very tough thing to do. Besides, Sparta’s test results really weren’t sufficient. Another option would be to go back into Georgia, but with a mandatory, very expensive quarantine and us having seen most of the country, this doesn’t sound very appealing. So, to be honest, we can’t really answer the question of what’s next. We will just wait and see and live in the moment.

Where do we sleep at night?

We hardly experience any stress while travelling. Or maybe it’s just a different kind of stress. It’s certainly not like we lay awake at night worrying about the next day or things that are still on our to-do list. This feeling has been really nice and quite different than what we sometimes experienced at home in our busy everyday life. Of course, there are little things to stress about, like who goes first on an intersection with no signs or will Tiny make it up this bumpy hill. But our biggest ‘worry’ these days is ‘where do we sleep tonight’.

There are days that we feel adventurous and we decide to look for a spot ourselves. We drive off the main road and just start looking for a spot that looks suitable for wild camping. We prefer a spot that is a little bit off the street, on its own, but not too remote. Usually we look for a spot close to a river, lake or the sea. This is because we often find good spots there, we like the view and for hygienic purposes: it means we can take a ‘shower’!

We do want to feel safe in a spot and sometimes this means that we will be looking for a few hours. Last night we felt adventurous too, but we didn’t have much luck. There are a lot of bars, hotels and restaurants on the seaside on Lefkas, the Island where we are now. Beside this, there are a lot of signs saying no camping is allowed. That’s why we followed some other vans. They led us to a restaurant with a private parking and that’s where we are now. We had pita Giros and Tzatziki at the restaurant and they let us spend the night for free (and use the toilet and showers). So last night we slept in a private parking, with five other campers, overlooking the beach and the Ionian Sea with a beautiful sunset. Nienke has just made us a cappuccino at the restaurant. Technically they aren’t open yet, but the guy cleaning the place told us (or we think he did, because it was all in Greek) to make our own coffee. Parking on a “P” is definitely a great option from now on!

When we don’t feel like looking for a camping spot ourselves, we use an app. There are a lot of those. Our top 3 is Park4Night, iOverlander and Campercontact.

 

These apps are really helpful for Overlanders! They show payed camper places, campgrounds, and free places to camp or park. Other travellers have made a pretty good description of places and the apps will also tell you what kind of amenities there are (like water, shower, toilet etc.). Travellers like us send in new reviews all the time, so you get a pretty good idea of what the place will look like at the moment. We always read the latest reviews, because sometimes things will change. Sometimes reviews tell you to ‘don’t go there, because the road is in really bad shape’. These reviews are super helpful and so we always try to add a review after we have been somewhere. Most of the places even show you pictures and some of our pictures or in the app as well. We even added some new ones, like the amazing place we found in Karlovac, Croatia. It’s on Campercontact and hopefully a lot of travellers are enjoying that wonderful place now.

Some people are not enthusiastic about wild camping and tell us to find a campground. But we don’t really understand the hassle. We don’t leave any trash and just park our van at a spot in nature for one night to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Why shouldn’t we?

We don’t always have to look for a place, since we’ve been using Workaway too. Last Tuesday we arrived in Paleros, Greece. We parked our van at a cottage, a bit up the hill and of course with a scary road again. Tiny barely made it; it really seems like these roads are our thing before getting to a new Workaway address. The place was cute, but a little outdated. The view was magnificent, the people we worked for where friendly and the animals we took care of were really cute. But the work wasn’t really what we expected and didn’t really make us happy. One night both of us were lying awake and we realised that we were actually worrying, or even a little stressed for the first time in two months. That’s why we decided to leave early. So now again, the question is: where do we sleep tonight?

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Interesting Albania

Crossing the border into Albania meant crossing the border into a non EU country. We have noticed that this always takes some time. Border crossing has been really easy so far and we are pretty sure it will be a lot worse when we get to Asia, since we need Visas for all the places we visit. Entering Albania only took 1 hour and after crossing the border we had a lot of guys shouting to us in Albanian. They were probably telling us to exchange money. We didn’t want to stop, but now we know that we should have done that! The next three days we couldn’t spend any money, because we only had euros…

So it took us three days to find a working ATM that would give us Leke, but luckily the people in Albania also except Euro’s! They make up their own exchange rate and tell you 100 Leke is 1 euro. Some inside information: it’s not! 80 Leke is 1 euro, so paying in Euros really is a ripoff! But since we didn’t have any Leke for 3 days we had no choice but to pay in Euro’s.

On our first day in Albania we already noticed how different the country was. Driving in some parts of the Balkan has already been scary sometimes, but it was nothing compared to Albania! The first big city we passed was Skhoder and it was so crowded and hectic that we decided to keep driving. In all the other smaller villages we passed, we hardly saw any women on the streets, just men and kids. As two women driving a foreign van, we felt stared at a lot of times. That’s why we decided to leave the cities and head into the countryside. We drove towards a village called Koman to visit the Komani Lake. The view on this road was gorgeous, but the road itself was absolutely horrible. There were potholes everywhere and we could only drive 20 km/h for about 1 hour! Time flew by on this shitty road and it was getting late, so we decided to drive the last part of the shitty road in the morning. We found a spot just beside the road with a view over the lake and mountains, it was stunning! What we didn’t think of was the fact that we were standing on a kind of unprotected cliff, the wind was hauling all night and we didn’t sleep much because Tiny kept shaking. Both of us were scared that we would end up down in the lake at some point… Don’t worry moms, dads, family and friends; when we are parked in a scary spot we always put some big rocks in front of the wheels!

 

After a short night we continued our journey on the most horrible road so far. After 45 minutes we got to Koman, but there was nothing there! We were disappointed and decided to continue our drive to the Komani Port to see if that was ‘the place to be.’ On maps.me we could see that we were really close to the port and all we had to pass was a sketchy, 1 lane tunnel, so we did. We got to the port; it was just not what we had imagined…

At the end of the tunnel two guys were selling tickets for the ferry. We could drive Tiny on the ferry, backwards, on a steep dirt road. It would cost 90 euros and lead us to the north, into the mountains. It looked so scary that we really wanted to run and leave, but there was no possibility of turning and heading back out. The guys working at the ferry weren’t very pleased with us in our big van wanting to get out, but at least they were helpful, and they offered us a place to park. We would just get on the ferry ourselves and let Tiny be at the port for the day. There was no other option since the ‘port’ was filling up and cars were honking everywhere so we decided to just spend a day on a ferry. It was a very pretty boat ride of approximately 3 hours to another city and 2 and a half hours back. Since all the workers knew us from our great entrance, we got some privileges. First, the captain invited us to have lunch with him and the crew. Then, on the way back, Tamara sat behind the steering wheel fore almost 20 minutes! It wasn’t very difficult to be in charge of a big ferry, but you definitely need strong arm muscles! When we got back to the port, we were really happy to see that Tiny was still there and no one had damaged him! The road back was really bad again, but fortunately Tiny did really good.

 

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Our next stop was Tirana, the capital. Nienke was really brave and maneuvered Tiny through the crazy traffic all the way to our hotel. It was our first time in a bed that’s not on wheels and we slept really well! We had never used hotels on this trip before. We found a campground in the Tirana area, but it was still 15 km away and wild camping is always really hard in big cities. So this time it was gonna be a hotel! Tirana itself wasn’t our favorite capital. It definitely has some pretty spots, like the main square and the pedestrian street, but a lot of the city is still under construction. We think it will look a lot better in 5 to 10 years. In the morning we did a free walking tour, which was really interesting and the tour guide Eri really did a great job. He told us all about history of Albania and that it had been under communism until 1991. No wonder there is so much that still needs work! Just before we wanted to leave Tirana one of our bikes got stolen, so we spent our last hours at a police office. Luckily, we have insurance. Hopefully someone is really happy with our bike now, because we already miss it!

 

 

Our last days in Albania were the best! We really liked the south of the country. Our first stop heading south was the city of Berat. This city is on the Unesco list and is also called the city of 1000 windows. It’s was a great place to visit! The houses are all built in the same style and together really have 1000 windows! We parked Tiny on a 24-hour parking lot with a very friendly men who didn’t speak English. He used Google translate to tell us there would be a guard at night. In the morning we hiked up to the castle on the hill with a whole little village hidden inside. We absolutely loved the place and would really recommend it if you ever go to Albania!

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Last on our Albania ‘tour’ was the ‘Albanian riviera’. We had to pass a mountain to get there and simultaneously the landscape changed a lot. From high up in the mountain we could see the turquoise ocean and the wide sandy beaches. It felt like we were back in the Western world when we finally got to the Riviera! Little boulevards, cute and clean towns and women on the streets. (Off course there were a lot of women in Tirana too). On a small beach, we found one of our top wild camping spots so far. We were there with two other campers. Being with other vans actually makes us feel a little safer. It was a parking lot right next to the beach. We opened our backdoors and from our bed the ocean was only 20 meters away, with just some sand and a few stretchers and pretty umbrellas in between.  We had such a relaxing day there and I am sure we could have stayed for a couple more, but we had to leave for Greece!

Right now, we’re about to start our next Workaway. Let’s see what we’ll do for the next couple of weeks.