Here we go! After four days of driving, we finally arrive in Istanbul – the gate to Asia. In Taksim,which is located in the European district of Instanbul, we reach the first meeting point in the middle of the night and the first thing we do is firing up our E-Class-BBQ. Many of the other teams already arrived and all of them brought unique story to tell from their adventure. The next two days we have some time to explore Istanbul and visit places like the famous “Blue Mosque” before leaving for Asia.
After crossing the Bosporus and leaving Europe, we need to cross the country from Istanbul to Mersin, a Turkish city, near the Syrian border. From here, our cars will be shipped to Israel. Our first night camp on the Asian side of Turkey comes with a beautiful view on the suburbs of Istanbul. We use the time for a check-up because the A-Class has been having performance problems. Rather fast, we realize that at least one of the four cylinders isn’t working so we need to find a workshop sooner or later…
Since it is forbidden to use freeways, we always try to find the smallest roads on the map to reach our destination, which can be amazing. It’s so much more fun and you’ll see so much more of country and people by passing through small villages. Sometimes it’s hard and we need to rebuild the track to pass, but come on – a rally should be adventurous. The next stop was in Bogazkale in the province of Çorum and close to Ankara. We arrive at night and get a very warm welcome by the locals.
On the next day, we arrive in Ankara, where all the teams meet once again. Here we get to enjoy a very special game. On an old race track, somewhere in the middle of Ankara, we drive a race with a Le Mans-style start. That means when the start flag drops, the drivers have to run across the track to their cars, parked opposite to them, climb in, start the car, and drive away to begin the race. Awesome!
After the race, we move south but don’t get too far because of the v-belt which has torn itself apart, meaning we would have to replace it. Unfortunately, everything is closed already so we are stranded in the suburbs of Ankara. In a restaurant close to our night camp, we ask for help and thanks to all the highly motivated locals we are able to organize a workshop the next day. Early in the morning, we drive to a workshop in Ankara where we spend all day to get the part replaced and the faulty cylinder fixed. We even fire up our E-Class BBQ once more and have some delicious köfte (Turkish lamb meatballs) with the workshop crew. After everything is fixed we leave Ankara so we can catch up with the other teams. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, we stop for another beautiful night camp.
On the way to the Mediterranean Sea, we pass by Ulubey which has got the second longest canyon in the world, after the grand canyon. We decided to pass it by driving through the canyon. Awesome off-road track with beautiful nature for around four hours. The A-Class goes all in and thanks to the new working cylinder we make it by the dusk.
We arrive in Dalyan, a rather touristy place on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. There, we finally catch up with the other teams again. From now on, we just need to follow the coast towards Syria to ship our cars to Israel. On our way, we pass well-known tourist places like Antalya and Side. Beautiful places which are very different to all the others we saw before. Tourism really changes everything. Early in the evening, we reach the harbor of Mersin. Luckily we are one of the first teams at the loading of the ferry, while others need will have to wait for hours and hours…
Second stage completed, one more to go! While our cars are on their way to Israel, we need to catch a flight for the crossing. Stay tuned for Israel and Jordan, two of the most beautiful and interesting countries I’ve ever been to…
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Photos and Text by Jonas Eiden
Special Thanks to Mercedes-Benz Classic for having us!