Today wasn't the day we had planned for due to complications finding a hotel halfway between Istanbul and Samsun. We got some locals to call a few hotels but unfortunately none of them would accept dogs no matter how cute we explained Summer is. One offered to take us as long as Summer stayed in a kennel outside, but we didn't think that was an acceptable compromise! Therefore in the end our only option was to make the full journey to Samsun in one day, which was around 450 miles and approximately 8 hours of driving plus stops; not ideal with an electric car and a baby.
As a result there isn't too much to report other than to comment on the roads and scenery we passed on the way. We started by leaving Istanbul city centre via the Eurasia Tunnel, an impressive motorway tunnel under the Bosporus which opened in 2016. The motorway continued from the tunnel as we travelled through the Asian-side suburbs of Istanbul, until we hit to O-7 motorway which is an impressive toll road with four-lanes on each side passing through the rolling hills East of Istanbul. The speed limit on the toll road was 140km/h (about 90mph), which is the highest signposted speed limit I've ever seen other than the unlimited speed limits found in Germany, though we chose not to take advantage of it due to the huge effect this would have had on the car's battery range (anything over 110km/h and we pay the price in range). Talking of speed limits, in the dual carriageway sections after the motorway we often saw a speed limit of precisely 82km/h which was amusing. I've had a look online to see if I can find an explanation this evening, and the best I can find is that they allow a tolerance of 10% on the speed limits here, so this is their way of saying you can do up to 90km/h in these areas without getting a ticket.
There wasn't much of note for the next few hours as we passed the city of Bolu, until the landscape got increasingly rocky. This wasn't the type of mountainous landscape we've been seeing through the Balkans and Greece (though there were low-lying mountains), but closer to the type of landscape I've seen previously in Badlands National Park or the south of Spain near Murcia. There were however a good number of trees covering the rocks, which made it quite a unique sight to see. This isn't a touristic route to drive though, so there weren't any good places to stop on the sides of the road to take photos - a shame since this landscape could be drawing a lot of European tourists in if developed!
The final hour of the drive was our first time driving cross-country in the dark for the whole trip. Driving at night wasn't a problem at all, though we did have quite a bumpy and dark road on the way to our hotel on the outskirts of Samsun. First impressions of Samsun are that it is another much larger city than we had imagined. We'll explore a bit more in the morning, but having finally made it to our hotel after all that driving and charging, we are going to bed now!
Aside: as we get deeper into Turkey the licence plates we are seeing are changing a lot. Since crossing the border we've only seen one lorry from the EU, but today we saw lorries from places such as Iran (oil carriers), Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and even Uzbekistan. I just looked up how far the drive from here to Uzbekistan is and coincidentally it is about 40 hours, roughly the same distance we are from London, and I do occasionally see Turkish lorries in the UK so I suppose that distance is still commercially viable. Will keep a look out for other exotic plates as we venture further.
With all the driving today we had to be strategic with our charging stops. We started the day with about 25% battery left so drove to a mall on the outskirts of Istanbul with a DC charger, then onwards to another DC, before entering the DC wilderness and only having AC access the rest of the way to Samsun.
- ZES 60KW charger at Metropol Mall Istanbul. The mall was closed when we arrive at 8am but the guards were kind enough to let us into the car park to charge.
- ZES 60KW charger at Bolu Highway Outlet. Right by the entrance as you come off the motorway.
- ZES AC charger at Andinata Otel
- ZES AC charger outside Tost Gowleme Yoresel Urunler
- ZES AC charger at Opet petrol station just before Havza. Convenient restaurant right next door to the charger for dinner.
- Finally we rolled into Samsun with just enough battery left to reach the charger at the B&C Otel, just down the road from ours. The car park attendants asked if I was staying, and when I said I wasn't they still let me in anyway to use the chargers. They all then made a big (helpful) fuss about me, first moving the non-EV in the EV space out of the way, and then eagerly helping me plug in the cable like it was the first EV they had ever seen.