The big final

+++ Breaking News: The final ralley day! Unicamels picking oranges! No camel No cry! Farewell in three acts! +++

Unbelievable – it‘s the last day of the rallye. Three weeks went by so fast.
_MG_05016At 9 in the morning our final day started with an official announcement by the gouverneur. After that all the teams made their way over gravel roads to a mountain look out where we also broke the seal on Henry´s hood under the eyes of the organisation committee. Can you believe it? Henry made the three weeks without someone having to open the hood.
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_MG_4974After that everyone made their way down to an orange plantation in the valley. Obelix didn´t take the last bit of the route so well and we had to stop every 5 minutes to replace the entire coolant. We had to leave him behind at the side of the road and made our way to the plantation in Dr. Sox.
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_MG_5032Although we were the last on the road we managed to be one of the first cars to reach the destination with a little help by the local police. There we faced jet another challenge: Pick as many oranges as you can carry. We didn’t hesitate and filled our unicorn suits with over 400 oranges. After counting we got them all back with the task of distributing them in Dalyan.
_MG_5036On our way to Dalyan we picked up Obelix and then it was time to pack our bags as Judith and Oli were going to fly back home in a couple of hours. _MG_5060Dr. Sox and Henry went for a last joyride to reach our personal goal – 10,000 km and to donate our camping gear. At the end we had 10,092 km! The team with the most kilometres!
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_MG_5107Fortunately we found a captain at the Dalyan harbor that was happy to take our camping gear, mattresses, cooking equipment and 400 oranges. The rest of the Unicamels and Andrea and Marcus booked a boat trip to the beach for the next day._MG_5075

Now it was time for the final event. The musical challenge – playing Brother Jacob and Highway to hell on different instruments was more of a trial than something to be enjoyed and everyone was happy when it was finally time for the ceremony. _MG_5165More than 50 teams made it to the 4th place and the unicamels were one of them! _MG_5262The first place and the camel went to the Swiss team “No Camel No Cry” which are also the first team that are actually allowed to bring the camel back home. The European Union and Switzerland allow Turkish camels but not Jordanian camels to pass the boarder. _MG_5317They ensured us that they will find a good home for the camel. Congratulations to Team “No Camel No Cry”!

Nwo it was time to say goodbye. Obelix was the first car that was left at the drop of point. What a weird feeling leaving him there with keys inserted. Judith and Oli made their way to the airport while the rest of the unicamels celebrated the completion of the rallye.
The rest of the Unicamels and Andrea and Marcus enjoyed the boat trip.
_MG_5350After lunch it was time to say goodbye again. Henry already had a flat tyre. Precision landing!
_MG_5523Jana and Hauke decided to make one last trip with Dr. Sox to the north.
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Henry is not an easy man to deal with

+++Breaking News: Unicamels on the salt lake! Long drive with a lot of kilometres to go+++
We woke up with a nice view over the salt lake. In the night before we completed our roadbooks and were eager for the next challenge: a race around the embankment of the salt lake with a constant velocity of 40 km/h. In the middle we had two minutes time to grab exactly 777g of salt. In the end we had 838 g of wet salt…not too bad.
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While we were on the road to the drivers’ camp (500 km away) the first collateral damage occurred: Henry hit a bird at 120 km/h which tried to land on his bumper. That’s where we found the bird a couple of kilometres later. The Unicamels decided to make a Viking funeral on a lake.
_MG_4344We drove to the next lake on our way but due to swamp there was no possibility to get there we decided to bury the bird in the swamp.

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We continued driving and bought the best freshly picked cherries in the world and were invited for a cup of Chai the roadside vendors.
_MG_4432The day ended in a sheltered car par in the middle of Usak. We had dinner with Team Smile and when we came back to our camp things were crazy: locals and some of the other teams battled their cars with spinning wheels, a lot of noise and smog and quite a crowd.

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Discovering Cappadocia

+++ Breaking News: Unicamels have fun in Love Valley! Power sightseeing and salt lake! +++

We managed to get up at 4.30 am and headed to the Love Valley View Point. We expected to find a place full of tourists and other rallye teams, but we had the view point completely by ourselves! Six Unicamels had the nicest view over the valley with the sunrise!
_MG_3781_MG_3758_MG_3769Afterwards we decided to head to Sword Valley to have breakfast. We drove up a quad track and tested how far the cars are able to go.
_MG_3878_MG_3890_MG_3921After a while a few tourist quad groups with their tour guides drove on the track and seemed to be speechless while cars were drifting on their quad track. Unicamel Kevin was spontaneously invited for a ride on one of the quads and the locals showed off their skills.
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Results of the little drift event:
Dr. Sox: lost some undercoating
Obelix: lost most of his undercoating and the heat coverings
Henry: no loss, probably because he never had any undercoating

_MG_4031 We visited the Open-Air-Museum in Göreme where we were able to visit the cave monastery, a lot of cave churches and living caves. It was very impressive to see the over thousand year old frescoes on the walls.
We headed to the Uchisar castle afterwards but only had some chai while having a nice look at the castle.

_MG_4065The region of Cappadocia is not only famous for its bizarre rock formations and the caves, but also for its underground cities. So the Unicamels went underground: we visited one of the famous underground cities in Kaymakli. 8 levels underneath the ground housed thousands of people. Most of the cities had been founded years before Christi. Very impressive!
_MG_4111_MG_4116We finished our Power-Sightseeing with the Ihlara-Valley. A nice canyon with nice hiking tracks and also a lot of cave churches. We’ve never visited so many churches in our life before…
_MG_4146_MG_4156_MG_4179The trip continued to drivers’ camp close to a salt lake. We didn’t know the exact location so we stopped in front of the local police station. They were very friendly, had no idea what kind of camp we were talking about, offered us some Chai and escorted us on to the right track in the end.
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Unicamels enroll in primary school

+++ Breaking News: Unicamels enroll in primary school! #Thermomixer is so yesterday’s trend! Cappadocia here we come! +++
_MG_3546Despite a short night -we arrived at drivers’ camp at 4 am -the Unicamels continued their road trip early. On today’s agenda were a lot of kilometres, the enrollment and handing over our prepared satchel with a personal letter for our pupil in Düzyayla. First stop was Sivas for sightseeing and lunch.
_MG_3519 _MG_3522 Afterwards we headed to Düzyayla for the enrollment. Our satchel was originally sponsored by the company Scout. Every team received one before departure in Oberstaufen and the satchel was assigned for one of 3 schools in Turkey,
When we arrived there 3 of us wore the Unicamel Team wear and had to pose for a few pictures. The women and girls wore tradition clothing! Very pretty! We handed over our satchel and had a cup of chai.
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_MG_3555Unicamel Jana was spontaneously invited for a tractor ride around the soccer court.
_MG_3583We visited the cereal grinder of the village which is still in use. First thought; who needs a Thermomixer or a KitchenAid when you have such a reliable technology. Together with the kids we tried the grinder. Conclusion: works perfectly, but no chance to take it back home in our hand luggage.
_MG_3598In the early evening we arrived at driver’s camp in Cappadocia. It was a car park in front of a supermarket – our enthusiasm was immeasurable!
We took the last rays of sunshine to look at the old part of town with the famous cave flats.
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_MG_3614 We ended the day with a lovely dinner and went to bed on the car park with the plan to get up early in the morning to see the sunrise over Cappadocia.

Stranded in the mountains

+++ Breaking News: Happy Unicamels in the mountains! No more petrol! +++

After a long night and a few rides in the fairground we spotted a meerkat family – nearly as cute as Unicamels!
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We continued our trip and headed up to the Ishak Pasa Palace to fulfil the daily challenge: look for the Harem and take a picture. No problem! Unicamels are naturally photogenic and with support from Josh (Team Fehlzündung) we shot our Harem picture:
_MG_3243 Mount Ararat was hidden underneath large clouds so we reached the first stage quickly. In Erzurum, the north eastern centre of Anatolia, we had delicious lunch with traditional lentil soup (very yummy), kebab and salad.

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We decided to take a small road instead the broad A-Road through the beautiful mountain region with small valleys, hardly any traffic, except a lot of sheep, muddy roads and a lot of potholes.

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_MG_3407 It was great! The only alarming thing was our fuel level. We were running low, one car was nearly empty. So we put all our hopes up for next bigger town (at least it looked big on the map). And there it was…small village but two petrol pumps! It just looked closed. Quickly a few locals surrounded us and one of them called the owner of the petrol station.
He appeared right away-but no petrol- only diesel… (Before we went on our trip we were told not to take a car running on diesel as this would be difficult to get…well we’ve only been to petrol stations who had run out of petrol so far…)
Next petrol station with petrol about 110 km away. No chance for our cars to make it. We must have looked quite perplex and the locals started a loud discussion with phone calls and were trying to organize petrol for us. So we sat down and had a cup of Chai. What else was there to do? And then we found out that we couldn’t continue on our road as there was a major accident after the village involving an overturned truck-road closed!
_MG_3464 Our new best friend Harun had organized his mate Ferdi who went to pick up 100 l petrol!
We had a lovely time with the friendly locals and the children, talking about the rallye, playing soccer, signing our cars, learning to count in Turkish, sharing chocolate with the children.
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_MG_3461 Eventually our saviour Ferdi arrived and all the cars professionally fuelled. They even showed us a shortcut to the next town and escorted us until we were on the right way.
222809580_34436 Once again we were treated with the great hospitality this country is famous for and are very grateful for the help we received! Thank you!

Unicamel Charity Project

+++ Breaking News: Unicamels hand over medical equipment! Offroad! +++

After a cold and windy night at the beautifully situated lake, 2,000 m above sea level, we followed Burhan Buzun to the Aile Sagligi Merkezi hospital in Akyaka. The contact to the hospital, which is located just a few kilometres from the Armenian boarder, was organized by Nadir Serin.
_MG_2655_MG_2616 We were greeted with chai and handed over our donated medical equipment, including the large and heavy box of surgical instruments, several syringes and injection needles, dressings, plasters, gloves, disposable scissors and clamps, X-Ray cassettes, a sensimeter and the two remaining X-Ray viewers, which found spots in an examination room right away. Unfortunately, due to an external audit, there was no time for a hospital tour.
_MG_2634_MG_2639 We would like to thank all the generous donors, helpers and organizers. Your support was and is highly appreciated!

Afterwards we visited the ruins of the former prosperous Armenian capital next to the Silk Road Ani. To get there we chose to drive off-road over small roads, which don’t exist on the map.

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The ground of Ani now belongs to Turkey and is located next to the Armenian border. The largeness of the city (formerly over 100.000 inhabitants), the great architecture and the partially very well obtained conditions of the remaining buildings impressed us a lot! The guys were happy and tried to climb all the roofs and towers.
_MG_2872_MG_2926_MG_2886_MG_2799_MG_2819_MG_2828_MG_2831 After a little picnic on the car park we headed to the capital of cheese: Kars. We started with a nice view from the towering castle and were greeted in broad Bavarian dialect by two Turkish ladies. We received information about the Hamamm in Kars, it is open to public but the days for males and females change every day. They suggested the Grand Hotel Ani as they have their own mixed Hamamm.
_MG_2979_MG_2978_MG_2974 We spend two nice relaxing hours in a Hamamm all by ourselves and were finally clean again.
_MG_3014 The drivers’ camp was another 200 km away beneath the Ishak Pasa Palace on a campground which included a little fairground. Later Team Fehlzündung caught up with us again, unfortunately only with 2 cars.

Back to Turkey – the best border control in the world

+++ Breaking News: Unicamels have a new job: passport please! BBQ 2,000 m above sea level! +++

Getting back into Turkey was no problem after we passed the grumpy looking Georgian officers and drove on to the Turkish border control. There we met friendly, curious and really nice officers who wanted to know everything about our cars and the rallye. They asked us, if they could take pictures with us which came in quite handy (one of the challenges is to have a border picture with the entire team and a border officer and you are usually not allowed to take pictures at the border).
_MG_2330 So we took the picture and after signing our cars we drove on to take the obligatory Unicamel pictures after the border. The officers couldn’t believe their eyes when suddenly 6 pink Unicamels posed in front of them. Now they wanted even more pictures. How convenient that one of the guys hanging out with the officers turned out to be a professional photographer.
Even the bosses of the officers wanted a picture with the Unicamels – best shot ever!
_MG_2334 But it even got better. We got invited for chai in the border office while other cars were controlled. Unicamel Hauke received an offer for an internship, no pay check but food and chai. Despite the great offer we had to move on our way to win the camel.
_MG_2344 _MG_2347 After the game border the Unicamels followed the suggestion of the officer to visit an old castle around the corner. But coffee first! Our coffee break turned into a photo shooting with a class of schoolgirls who finally were courageous enough to talk to us.
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After the photo shooting we conquered Seytsn Kalesi and took some really nice pictures!

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A successful day for the Unicamels! Even drivers’ camp looked nice! A perfect place for a barbecue next to the lake 2017 m above sea level we thought. So Unicamel Jana and Mimo went shopping. Three hours later at five degrees Celsius dinner was ready.
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The frustrating part of the day:

The appointment with the hospital to hand over the donations didn’t work out 🙁 We could have had a longer stay in Tiflis as the only reason we drove back was the appointment. Shortly after passing the border we received the first call from Nadir (the organizer) that the afternoon appointment would turn into an evening appointment. No worries – so we had time for the castle. Half an hour before the appointment another call: It’s going to be late and we will meet at the campground.
Great! Handing over medical equipment worth a couple of thousand Euros on a camp ground. But in the end no one showed up at the appointed time and at 8.30 pm we were told to drive to the hospital. We were very disappointed and frustrated. Eventually we came to an agreement, an appointment in the morning.

We value your time – 40 hours in Georgia

+++ Breaking news: Unicamels searching for form sheet A38! When we actual want to go to Tiflis! +++

The drivers’ camp looked as miserable in daylight as the night before. So off we go! Together with Team Fehlzündung and Team Schwabenstahl we carefully entered the Georgian traffic – no car insurance yet – to look for an insurance Company.
We lost both teams in the chaotic traffic but thought we would catch up with them at the insurance company.

Later we found out that Team Fehlzündung had an accident on the way to the insurance company. They hit another car in one of the confusing and chaotic roundabouts. The car from Team Fehlzündung (nearly a total write-off) got immediately confiscated by Georgian police and the driver had to hand in his passport and wasn’t able to leave the country before all the damage was payed for.

Team Unicamel went on the mission “insurance policy”… We visited three insurance offices, each send us to another place as they couldn’t issue the policy immediately. At the end we had walked a few miles in a downpour, were soaking wet and finally found the office who issued the policy on the same day. But there were already a couple of other teams waiting.

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We waited for 3 hours – during that time 4 consultants handed out insurance policies for 5 cars- to be told ( 2 hours before closing time) that we should come back in two days ( after the public holiday). We were guttered but with some dramatic sweet talk the consultants decided grumpily to start the process for our documents: We had to complete a questionnaire with our personal data and confirm that we are not the Georgian president. IMG_20160515_101326 _MG_1946

After that the bizarre process started:
– Nearly no mistakes in copying and typing our data (took approximately 45 minutes)
– Taking black and white photocopies of our coloured photocopied documents (took approximately 25 minutes)
– Printing of the insurance documents and visual validation from another consultant (took approximately 60 minutes)
– Paying for the insurance policy (took approximately 20 minutes)
– Private phone calls and WhatsApp from the consultants (took approximately 30 minutes)

Result:
– One day of our two days in Georgia spend in an insurance office
– Policy covers damages up to 10.000 Euros concerning card
– Accidents concerning human beings are not included – apparently it’s your own fault in Georgia when you get run over!

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Shortly after closing time (5.30 pm) we were on the road to Tiflis which we reached at 4 am in the morning.
After a short night we had a quick walk around the Georgian capital and did some walk through sight-seeing. Unfortunately we did not have much time as we were supposed to have the appointment with the hospital in Turkey in the afternoon.
_MG_2156 _MG_2224 The drive to the Turkish Border was beautiful! We crossed a mountain pass 2000 m above sea level and had the first own flat tire shortly before the border (nicely timed by Henry as we were able to change tires in sunshine and not the soaking rain we had half an hour earlier).
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Facts
– Georgian cheese bread (Katchapouri) is a good bread as well as flat bread stuffed with potatoes and dill
– Cars with no front or back bumpers (most of time)
– One of the most beautiful mountain roads of the world – Top Gear 🙂
– Slowest consultants ever
– Worst style of driving in the world – probably the reason why no one wanted to insure us for Georgia beforehand

Goodbye Turkey – Hello Georgia

+++ Breaking News: Unicamels discovering Turkish backcountry! On the way to Georgia! +++

When we woke up this morning we had the nicest view out of our trunks: the ocean!
After an early morning workout all Unicamels were awake and ready for action.
_MG_1614 _MG_1604 We decided to take a small road through the backcountry and visit the famous Greek Sumela Monestary. After approximately 20 kilometres on narrow and winding roads we had to stop in a small town to ask for directions. The locals and the police advised us not to continue driving as they thought we would wreck our cars. So we drove back down until the pink unicorn mountain which we’ve passed already on our way up. _MG_1685 A couple and their neighbour came out of their house and laughed at the Unicamel jumping up and down. We offered them some German chocolate and got invited for Chai. We talked with a few words in French, English, German and Turkish and felt very welcome. It was a beautiful spot, tea and hazelnut plantations and a view of the sea.
_MG_1698 _MG_1701 When we left, the neighbour’s wife ran after us to wish us luck and offered us a beautiful pink rose: #PinkforPeace
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We continued driving up the mountains to over 1,500 m above sea level.
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The monestary itself was closed for renovations but we were able to drive quite close and walk through the forest to have a closer look! Very impressive. Due to the heavy rainfalls in the last week there were a lot of waterfalls in the forest. Beautiful! _MG_1727 _MG_1784 _MG_1854
We entered Georgia. Custom check took two hours and we figured when we were finally in Georgia that there was no insurance company at the border to get the car insurance for Georgia – you can’t get the insurance over Internet and no insurance company in Germany will insure you for Georgia. We will tell you why later.
Our trip ended on a car park in a dodgy area in Batumi.

Unicamels on solotour

After a night on a pasture in the industrial part of Merzifon we were able to hit the road at 8.30 am.
Team Fehlzündung went their own way today and the Unicamels decided to have a lazy day starting with a nice Coffee in a Coffeshop in Unye to finally load up the video from the Le Mans race. Unicamel Mimo and Kevin went to a barbier shop. We now call them Murat and Kemal 🙂

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Just out of town we found a TÜV TÜRK so we were able to fulfil our last Instanbul challenge: Wrote postcards to school children and leave them in a TÜV TÜRK station.
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We bought everything for a picnic and spend lunch at the nicest white beach on the coast of the Black Sea (Lonley Planet) in Caka 🙂
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On the way to Giresun we stopped in Ordu to take a ride up the mountain with a gondola.

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For the night we stayed at Giresun at the waterfront and were treated with a nice sunset which turned the entire city into gold.