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Thread: '95 Espace - Taking a 600€ car to Kurdistan and back

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    '95 Espace - Taking a 600€ car to Kurdistan and back

    Here are some pictures of my travels last year. Finally I found the time to sort through and write some notes.

    After driving an 850€ MX-5 around the Baltic Sea the year before and without any trouble except a blown headlight I had to push my luck a little further. A plan came together to drive down to Turkey, do one big loop through the whole country and then move homewards again, around 13000 kms.
    We would be up to six people and I didn’t have a car that would fit us all and our luggage.

    The Renault Espace MKII seemed suitable, but the first one I inspected was dirty, the fusebox was hanging loosely in the passenger compartment and the 2nd gear was crunching, all for 900€. I almost got a bit desperate, but then found another one for 800€ looking quite alright from the pictures at a dealer nearby. It still looked good in the flesh, apart from a few scratches and a broken wing mirror. The test-drive went well, even the aircon was working, so after some almost effortless haggling (I asked him what the price would be without a guarantee - he said there was no guarantee anyways – I remarked that it wasn’t mentioned in the advert – he admitted he wasn’t allowed to write it like that, but he would give me a 200€ discout, just like that) we got the Espace for 600€.

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    Car drove well, oil looked still seemed fresh enough too, so I did no maintenance at all except fixing that broken mirror. Instead I used the little time I had before our departure to build a basic structure that would take the luggage and the stuff we need from day to day as well as a simple kitchen and worktop.

    So on the day before our departure some road-tripping finalgearians stopped over on their way to the south of France.

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    The day after I left in the early evening to pick up the girls. First stop woul be our house in the Italian alps. We spent three days there hiking and relaxing.

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    And on we went southwards. We had a first breakdown on an uphill Autostrada stretch between Bologna and Firenze. It was the hottest day of the year so far and the car overheated and cut out. We were able to continue after a little cooling down. I later found out the connector of the radiator fan had melted, after I fixed that the car never got hot again.

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    Anyways, we still arrived in Firenze on time to enjoy the early evening light.

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    Here's a crappy picture of the beautiful coast at Argentario.

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    And just one of the shitloads of ancient theatres we visited, this is the one where Pink Floyd recorded Live in Pompeij.

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    After Tuscany we spent a day in Rome, then via the beautiful Amalfi coast and Pompeij we crossed the boot to catch our ferry in Bari on the eastern coast. The area between the coasts was eerily barren and covered in golden-brown dust. I almost took no pictures in Italy, at least of the placed I had already photographed before.

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    Matera, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, people where living in caves here from the Palaeolithic up to the 1950s.

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    That evening we had to catch the ferry so we moved towards Bari in time and spent a few minutes at the seaside...
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    ...and had the car broken into. We didn't leave anything valuable inside so nothing of importance was stolen, the most annoying thing was the broken window.


    Anyways, the ferry set off after sunset and into a thunderstorm. It was quite rough for a few minutes and very calm for the rest of the night. The rising sun greeted us into Dubrovnik's Harbour and after we were deemed harmless by the customs officer we found ourselves a small bay and a campground under the shadow of olive and fig trees and stayed there for a few days. I sourced a replacement window and a friend would take it to Greece, where we were going to meet him anyways.

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    Dubrovnik's old town was very beautiful and spotlessly renovated.

    Part 2 soon, proofpic follows!
    Last edited by Beni; March 6th, 2014 at 2:51 PM.
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    Mikko Oluenpanija public's Avatar
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    The word "Epic" is probably overused but so fitting here. The first photos won't show :/
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    Had to split the first post, pics should work now, too many attachments.
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    Thanks!
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    Well damn son.
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    After our days on the beach in Croatia and with two more friends we picked up from the local airport onboard we left Croatia towards north and into Bosnia. We wanted to be in Mostar by night and there wasn't much on the way except beautiful barren landscapes and a nicely improvised spot near a river we used for a picnic.
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    We arrived in the afternoon and our first stop was the local hardware store. We fixed the window with perspex in Croatia, but the shop only had a thin sheet and after some faster driving it cracked and almost flew off. They had thicker stuff in Mostar and after cutting and fitting it the difference to the other windows could hardly be noticed.
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    It really was a team effort.

    Mostar was pleasant and impressive. The bridge was completely destroyed in the war, as where the surrounding houses. I can imagine it might get very crowded during the day, the evening was very relaxing though.

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    Bosnian scenery.

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    A nice stopover and a Byrek in Trebinje in Bosnia.

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    And over into Montenegro and to the fjord-like bay of Kotor.

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    MK2 Golf, such a common car in Bosnia and Montenegro. On some intersections you have Golfs coming at you from every way possible.

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    After tenting at the bay we proceeded to Kotor itself in the morning.

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    Great, for a beetle.


    And on we went to Albania. I have no pics of the north-western part sadly, the Highways looked just like the italian ones, but there are people crossing and horse carriages coming the other way regularly.
    The first night we stayed in Elbasan. The town looked a bit rough but the mood was relaxed, people just strolled up and down the main road after dark and we found a nice family restaurant and with a bit of luck also a hotel.

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    Core of Elbasan was a former roman castle.

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    The view from the comfortable Hotel.

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    Renault 6 spotted on a short trip we took to Macedonia.

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    One of the main roads in Albania.

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    And a picnic on said main road.

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    Lot's of space and raw nature with just basic infrastructure. We were planning on driving 300kms before night the day before but the roads were 50kph max with parts were more than walking speed was impossible in the fully laden espace. So we ended up seemingly in the middle of nowhere when night fell. And then, all of a sudden, in a corner just like any other, there lay a small campground with fresh trouts and outdoor seating amidst the ponds. Great.

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    The 2nd osmanian bridge after Mostar. This one is just out in the nothing, but there are some hot springs with natural bassins nearby where lots of people spent their day.

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    Just a few metres away one of Albania's many bunkers. The former dictator Enver Hoxha was paranoid about a foreign invasion, the whole country is cluttered with small concrete bunkers, sometimes used as sheds, sometimes broken.

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    The castle in Gjirokastra where Hoxha resided and kept political prisoners. Sinister place, but the plateau offers a superb view over the large valley.

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    A captured american plane.

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    The interieur of the castle. There's more captured stuff there like tanks and cannons.

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    And another one from the plateau in sunset.


    All in all Albania was so serene and quirky compared to the more crowded and touristy-streamlined places before. I am glad we visited it and I'm planning to go back there soonish, possibly visit Tirana, which we just rushed through.
    A lot is happening there construction wise, roads are becoming much better and the cities more developed. People were very friendly everywhere, food was good, and it was unpredictable and cheap.



    Part two ends here, the next part is soon to follow.
    Last edited by Beni; March 6th, 2014 at 2:53 PM.
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    47
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    Cool!! When were you in Mostar anyway? I have family there and we spent a few nights there last summer, just before we went home and then to the Ringmeet

    The whole trip sounds like an epic adventure!
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    Well, ain't that bloody awesome. A real sense of adventure in this post.

    Also, Beni with an Espace full of girls?
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    I approve

    In fact, every European who owns a car should go for a roadtrip to Turkey at least once in his life. I've already done it twice, most recently in December last year, with some skiing in Bursa. Still thinking of taking it a step further next time, and do a skiing road trip to Iran. Let's see if that ever materialises. Still not sure if I can live with alcohol-free apres-ski.

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    Awesome, properly awesome!
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    Quite epic! Can't wait for the next installment.
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    The trip continues in Greece. Coming from Albania with it's bare mountains the scenery changed abruptly with the greek boarder. Suddenly trees everywhere.

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    First stop at some crater lake.

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    We spent the day on an exhausting hike through the Vikos gorge, one of the deepest in the world ever apparently.

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    The next day we took a look at the Meteora monasteries of James Bond fame. There were eleven or so, all quite crowded.

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    Next major stop was Delphi of oracle fame. Interesting site and spectacular landscape.

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    We then proceeded to the Peleponnese peninsular where we were going to visit a friend whose parents live there. We rented a beautiful house with this view from the balcony.

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    After a week we left Mo and the little town near Kalamata to drive towards Athens, where we were going to catch the ferry to Turkey.

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    Nafplio

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    Epidauros Amphitheatre

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    Korinth Canal

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    Athens

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    Acropolis

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    Piraeus

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    Lancia Trevi

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    Olympic Stadium

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    And the ferry to Chios island near the turkish coast.


    End of part three and Greece, Turkey next!
    Last edited by Beni; March 6th, 2014 at 2:49 PM.
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    Beni's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's been adventurous and epic, but also strenous at times being the only guy on most of the trip. Wouldn't do it again in a group like this either.

    47, we've been to Mostar on August 14th!

    H0nzik, I want to go skiing in Iran as well, good idea!
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    This is awesome! I wonder how feasible it would be for an American to buy a cheap car in Germany and do a trip like yours?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScarFace88 View Post
    This is awesome! I wonder how feasible it would be for an American to buy a cheap car in Germany and do a trip like yours?
    Not sure how easy it is to register a car in various European countries for non-residents and I also wouldn't rely that the Turks would settle for temp plates. They are still quite fussy when it comes to entering Turkey with a foreign registered car. Probably because locally registered cars are quite heavily taxed. It either needs to be registered in your own name, or you need an offically endorsed letter that states that you are allowed to drive it to Turkey. The first time I drove to Turkey, I had a car that was not in my name, and they really wanted to see it at the border. Luckily, I had done my research beforehand and I had one. Also, you get a stamp in your passport with a date until which the car must either leave the country or go through the import procedure. I think I read that you are not even allowed to leave Turkey without the car. I never tried though. I guess you could always get a car registered in some European's name and get him to sign the authorisation to drive it to Turkey for you.

    Renting is not really an option as I don't think any rental company would let you drive into all of the countries you need to cross.

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    Amazing!
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    The ferry from Chios/Greece to Çeşme/Turkey was a lot smaller, they had a lift to bring the cars down into the belly. Nonetheless, the one hour ride cost the same as the 8 hour one from Athens.

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    Ephesus, or Efes in turkish.

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    And yet another amphitheatre, also Ephesus.

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    And another one, Pamukkale. The romans had the usual amenities there, but the main attraction of the place were the travertine terraces, overflown and formed by hot water from nearby springs.

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    Either you just walk down with the water flowing over your feet or you can bathe in the bassins.

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    On the way to Denizli.

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    I always had a soft spot for the Fiat 131, but when do you ever see on the road?
    After production in Italy ended they sold their tools to the turks (they had the 124 as well, and the 126), first it became the Tofaş Murat 131, looking almost identical to the Fiat, then a slightly modified version, visually mainly different rear lights, and then the Şahin (which is the grey car in front in the picture above) produced up until 2002. They then sold those tools to Egypt and Ethiopia, where it was further produced until 2010.

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    Another one is the Renault 12, which was made in Turkey until 1999 and which still is a vital part of the scenery. I like the old ones...

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    And Transits of course, also made in Turkey by Otokar.

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    On most roads you'll find a significant construction site every 15 to 20 kms.

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    Driving down to the beach near Knidos.

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    Some more...the ruins of ancient Knidos.

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    Tombs in Dalyan

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    Due to the heavy load, the bad roads and corrosion a spring broke. As there are no Espaces in Turkey something almost identical was sourced and within an hour we were back on track. Garages usually aren't on their own but in dedicated quarters where there's just one beside the other. Checking for parts is easy that way.

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    The coast near Ölüdeniz.

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    Patara, yeah, ruins.

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    This apparently was the first democratic Parliament in the world, ever.


    End of this part, the best yet to come...
    Last edited by Beni; March 6th, 2014 at 2:48 PM.
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  18. #18
    Beni's Avatar
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    The last amphitheatre, I swear...Selge.

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    Through the Taurus mountains.

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    Resting for Gözleme

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    Sultanhanı, a caravanserai where travellers could rest and trade.

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    Tuz Gölü, a partly dried out salt lake.

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    You can observe the earth's curvature. The mountain on the horizon vanished when I crouched.

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    Kappadokya, many of the hills have man-made caves where people used to live.

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    The underground city of Kaymaklı, early christians used to hide and live here completely blocked from the outer world, the cave is much older though.

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    Everywhere you go there are caves in the rocks and hillsides. The material is quite soft and only hardens in the air. This inhabited natural arch with a small river running through was the most beautiful.

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    Kappadokya is not just famous for the rocks and caves, but also for ballooning, every morning before dawn hundreds start in bulks, our campground was a good vantage point.

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    Next time more ballooning...
    Last edited by Beni; March 6th, 2014 at 2:47 PM.
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  19. #19
    Yes, as in the airport. Heathrow's Avatar
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    What a great trip to do by car and a 600 euro Espace at that!

    Lots of excellent pictures, thanks for posting & writing the narrative too.

    Delphi and Ephesus, wow - so famous in Classic Greek stories and myths. They regularly appear on BBC TV documentaries.

    .. and I had to look up the plane, didn't I?

    It's a Lockheed T-33

    Quote Originally Posted by T-33 Wiki
    Albania
    On display RT-33A 51-4413 of the USAF was forced to land in December 1957 at Rinas Airport (Albania) by a squadron of 2 Albanian MiG-15bis - on display at Gjirokastra Museum
    Does this look like the correct location?
    (It's the only one listed for Albania. I just wonder what the story was and when the pilot got home.)


  20. #20
    Beni's Avatar
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    Yes, that's the plane. The pilot was released a few weeks later, the plane was slightly damaged during landing, don't really know much more. On pics from a few years earlier it looks a lot more intact. On display in a museum is probably the wrong term here.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by ScarFace88 View Post
    This is awesome! I wonder how feasible it would be for an American to buy a cheap car in Germany and do a trip like yours?
    I think H0nzik is correct in most aspects, but what should be possible is to register a car with export plates in Germany (you don't need a residence for that) and then drive the car through Turkey and leave it in Georgia. If I remember correctly the Georgians don't mind if you leave your old car there whilst the Turks won't let you leave the country unless you leave the car with customs until you come back. If you need more info I can check!
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