Compared to mainland Europe, Turkey is huge. It is even quite large compared to a monster like Kazakhstan. Foolishly, to meet our next rendezvous, we had committed to crossing Turkey in 3 days.
This was quickly downgraded from being an impossibly arduous task and became just a daily slog. Suddenly the roads were vast and smooth and afforded speed limits that surpassed our own capabilities. As we snaked our way round the south of the Black Sea, enjoying the views and the food, we realised we’d made a grave mistake. We should have spent 3 months in Turkey, not 3 days.
All was not lost however. We were going to spend nearly a week in Istanbul, which was a place neither of us had ever seen. And what a treat it was! Not only did we have a secret Turkish mission involving cultural landmarks to complete, but we had to explore the water, the bazaars, the towers, the churches, the mosques and speak to all the street dogs in just those few days.
Being in such a critical location and bordering Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria and Greece, has made Turkey an often contested and much desired kingdom. For us travellers, it was also a pivotal moment. Entering Istanbul marked the end of our Asian adventures. We were now in the smothering clutches of Europe.
All that remained was for us to steal the infamous Topkapi dagger from the palace and watch the awful film in which they did the same.