We rocked up at the Turkish border post of Ipsala completely unprepared. The queue for passport control inched slowly forward. This was to be our first ‘real‘ non-schengen border.When we arrived at The Window with our passorts & driving licences at the ready the man barely glanced at them and waved us through.
“Wow! That was easy!”
We drove over a river bridge and past huge signs saying “Welcome to Turkey” We whooped, we sang, we high-fived and smiled at the soldiers on the roadside who nodded their approval.
100m later we arrived at Turkish Passport Control.
The Man in ‘Booth A’ laboriously typed the important details into his ageing computer. “Passports?” We handed them over.
“Where are your visa’s?”
“Err…sorry we didnt realise that we needed a visa for Turkey.”
The man in ‘Booth A’ rolled his eyes and pointed us at a special parking area marked in red paint.”You park there. You walk to the far office. You buy a visa”, he looked at me closely assessing my mental acuity “Two visa’s – one each – then you come back to me!”
We walked to the far office and presented our passports to a very pleasant man who smiled expansively and charged us 25 Euro each to stick a postage stamp in. We returned to the man in ‘Booth A’ where The Man retyped all the important details into his ageing computer and our passports were photographed, scanned, and stamped. He then signalled that we must proceed to ‘Booth B’ we followed the queue and duly presented our newly stamped passports, our driving licences, vehicle registration document & our Carnet (just in case). The Man started typing the details into his equally aged computer.
“Where is your Green Card?
“Err…E.H.I.C. health card..?”
“No, no! You must have a Green Card.”
“I am sorry, but I dont understand what the green card is for?”
“You must park in the Red Area. You walk to the far office, through it to the other side. You go all the way back to duty free and you buy a Green Card. Then you come back to me here.”
We followed the directions and ended up in the duty free shop. It sold watches, cigarettes and perfume but no Green Card. We also found the cafe and the barbers shop but, you guessed it, they didn’t sell Green Cards either.Eventually a cleaning lady led us to a non-descript, shabby office which was empty apart from a corner desk arrangement comprised of two standard desks joined in an L-shape by a quadrant counter. Presently a bored irritated man appeared from behind some broken, dusty venetian blinds.
“Err…Green Card… here?”
“Lira or Euro?”
“Oh good, Euros please”
He started to type into his computer. I placed my wallet and paperword onto the quadrant section which promptly separated from the rest of his desk. It keeled slowly over and in a bizarre Inspector Clouseau-like moment, as I tried to stop it, the chrome leg fell off and the pile of boxes and a printer cartridge that had been holding it up all fell over. I sheepishly tried to pick up the bits and put them back together…
“Leave it, LEAVE IT!”
“Sorry, Err…can I paid by card?”
“No, only cash.”
“Ahh, I will have to go back to my vehicle and get some more Euros then…sorry!”
The Irritated Man rolled his eyes and I walked all the way back past the duty free, through the Far Office and back out out to the Red Parking Area.
When we finally had our green card (which is apparently a vehicle insurance document) we returned to ‘Booth B’ where a line of saloon cars were having their boots turned out and examined. The Man at Booth B glanced at our paperwork and asked:
“Why you come to Turkey, Is this this a trip?”
” I need to check you vehicle, please unlock it.”
Now The Cobar is capable & The Cobar is mighty but The Cobar is also packed to the roof with our stuff & we dont always use the Dewi Decimal System when we repack it…
The Man from Booth B opened the R/H Rear passenger door and peered in to see an untidy pile of kitbags, jumpers, coats and carrier bags of laundry piled up to the roofnet which was also full with bedding, high-viz jackets and roadmaps. He shut the door again and I think I detected a shudder. He walked around the other side and opened the L/H Rear passenger door.
“What is in this large blue chest?”
“Err…Thats our fridge.”
He glanced at the large signs attached to his booth, depicting pale cheeses and dodgy looking sausages all firmly crossed out in bright red, he shrugged and shut the door. He opened the back door to be presented with 3 layers. A locked steel drawer, then a layer of gas cooker, tent panels, & camping chairs topped off with a layer of large black plastic crates. He glanced at his watch…”OK, Good Bye”
We had arrived in Turkey!