Day 31 Sun 10th Oct – Abant Lake to Istanbul (Turkey) – 320 km

Day 31   Sun 10th Oct – Abant Lake to Istanbul   (Turkey)  – 320 km

UPDATE 20.31 11/11/10 via email form Julie: “Will definitely not be chalked up as a rest day!  We left just before 10.00 and arrived at 6:30 pm. 3 punctures and 4 inner tube changes. Most of our colleagues had spent the day at the resort or exploring Istanbul. Anyway we are now equipped with two new inner tubes courtesy of William and John – thank you!

Crossing into Europe – what a feeling. I whooped my way across the bridge, punching the air and clapping.  Based on that reaction, I would advise those meeting us in Paris to look away as we cross the finishing line.

The classic motor car club hosted a cocktail party for us. Whilst Tim fitted one of the new inner tubes I thought it best that I attend on our behalf.  After a couple of vodkas the Turkish dancing act looked so good I videoed it and I’m sure that will be well watched footage.

Fortunately Tim agreed to eat separately from the rally. It has been a buffet nearly ever night for a month. I  feel like going along those lines of tepid limp vegetables, grey meats,  cold cuts, hard bread, congealed gloop and tipping each onto the floor where it belongs.  A good old stamp in it wouldn’t go amiss either”.

A rest day even though there are 350kms to cover (still considered a rest day as no time trials etc). As they opted for the motorway yesterday they chose the scenic route today. Absolutely stunningly beautiful and looks a little like Switzerland. They called when they were about 200kms from Istanbul and were looking forward to crossing the bridge into Europe after a month of driving through Asia.

In the 1960’s Julie’s father Jim drove with 3 friends from Istanbul to London in a 1943 Ford Woodie camping all the way. Although Julie is unsure of his exact route it feels like they are following in his footsteps for this final leg of journey. Cheers Jim.

Quick update on what was in fact three accidents on Friday. Many people are feeling that the time trials should have been cancelled because of the rain.

The other Wilkinsons were approaching a sharp left hand bend at speed and there was mud on the road. There was a 70ft drop ahead but there was no way that they could safely make the bend. Mike made the incredibly brave and smart move that the drop was by far the better bet. Whilst the car is sadly a write-off they happily were not badly hurt. General consensus was that attempting to take the bend would have risked the car rolling and a much more serious outcome. We wish them all the best – so gutting to have got so close.

David Aires has been able to fix his car and they are now back on the road with minor injuries. Another car, the Pink Lady, suffered a 360 degree spin on the motorway but luckily no one was hurt.

Another reality check – you can get up in the morning and everything is fine and by the end of the day it is a completely different story.

Email from Julie 09.59 UK time: “Another puncture. Just got off the motorway in time. This is happening all the time now”.

Yes - it's another puncture folks
Yes - it's another puncture folks
Puncture repair crew
Puncture repair crew

Email from Julie 11.43 UK time: “At the side of the road for the second time today. Unfortunately we do not have any completely set up wheels left so resolving this is a long painful process as we have to replace the inner tubes. The wheels are split rim which is fiddly and laborious to change. We pulled over the first time because we noticed that the pressure was falling in a wheel. Only 45 minutes later having put in our last inner tube, the pressure is falling again already. So here we are, no inner tubes that work and 170kms to our destination ON OUR REST DAY”!

Same old same old .....
Same old same old

Email from Julie at 12.42 UK time: “On the move again having put the original inner tube they removed back in again We think we identified the hole – fingers crossed. 80kms and we are in Europe. Roll on next Saturday. Fruit de mer, Champagne and steak frites. Think I will be crying” (sounds great Julie and really pleased that I’m joining you both for this particular dinner)!

Text at 14.18 UK time: WE ARE IN EUROPE !!!!!!!!

Bosphorus Bridge - spans two continents
Bosphorus Bridge - spans two continents

It’s a hat trick – third puncture of the day – oy – you in the checked shirt – lend a hand!

An unwanted hat trick of *$=+£!^" punctures
An unwanted hat trick of *$=+£!^" punctures