After ten chilly days aboard our catamaran in Viaport Marina, Istanbul, I can confirm that a yacht isn’t the best place to be when the temperatures are literally around freezing! Nevertheless, we were counting our lucky stars that we had managed to get there at all because at the end of last year it looked touch and go as to whether we would be allowed back into Turkey again.
We had started the application process to renew our Turkish residency way back in July but come October we were still waiting to hear if we had been successful. We had already booked our flights back to Australia in November assuming the process would be all done and dusted well before the time we were due to leave.
Just weeks before we were leaving we finally heard that our applications had been successful. That was all well and good but the regulations state that you cannot leave Turkey until you have obtained your physical residency card and we certainly wouldn’t be allowed back into the country without one!
As the time of our departure grew nearer we became very concerned and soon it became apparent that we would need some assistance. We contacted a local Immigration agent and after much signing and stamping of documents it was finally arranged that the agent could pick up our residency cards at the post office on our behalf. The agent promised that they would courier our cards to us in Australia once they had arrived.
So we left Turkey still not a hundred per cent sure whether our dodgy (and probably rule-breaking) strategy would work and just a little nervous that the post office wouldn’t release the cards or that they would get lost en route to Australia. In the end, they arrived in Brisbane early in December – to our great relief!
After Istanbul our next destination was The Netherlands where we were staying with our daughter Hannah and son-in-law Pieter for a week and a half.
We had an uneventful flight from Istanbul to Amsterdam and had no problems meeting up with Pieter (Hannah was at work).
Fortunately the following day was the weekend and Pieter and Hannah decided to take us to Kasteel (Castle) Duivenvoorde just a short drive away from where they live in Pijnacker, near Delft.
The original castle was built in 1226 and until relatively recently, had been lived in by many generations of the same family for centuries.
Unfortunately, the house was closed for a private function so we weren’t able to go round it but we did have a lovely walk in the grounds and a coffee and pie in the stylish cafe.
On the way home we took a small diversion to Stompwijk to look at a row of three 17th Century windmills originally built (with a fourth one) to keep the nearby polder (reclaimed land) drained.
In 1951 electric pumps were installed to take over this job and the three windmills were decommissioned and gradually restored to their full glory. Now they are all used as dwellings and as a tourist destination.
Even though the weather was really cold there were definitely signs that spring was on its way in the Netherlands – lots of snow drops, colourful primulas and vibrant narcissi on display.
Over the rest of the weekend we had a great catch-up with all Pieter’s immediate family at his niece and nephew’s 4th birthday celebration which was good fun.
During the following week we went walking in the open spaces near Hannah and Pieter’s, wandered around beautiful Delft and discovered a new mosaic depicting the a historic city, had a relaxing time at home and prepared the van for our departure.
Then suddenly it was the weekend again and we were off on our next adventure – heading for Montenegro to check out marinas for the winter months of 2023/24.
Our first stop was Cologne – our first time there – and we were fortunate enough to find a great camper stop right on the mighty Rhine.
It was fun being so close to the barges that were making their way up and down this, the second longest river in Central and Western Europe and one of the world’s busiest inland waterways.
We noticed that most of the barges were from the Netherlands which is hardly surprising as the Dutch have roughly 6,000 ships sailing on its inland waterways at any one time and the Dutch inland waterways account for nearly 80 per cent of all the vessels that sail inland within Europe.
The day after we arrived we decided to go for a walk along the river side in the morning and then ride our e-bikes into Cologne in the afternoon. However, we were enjoying the walk so much that we decided to keep going all the way into the city.
Once there, we had a delightful stroll around the reconstructed old town – the 2,000 year old city centre was almost completely obliterated by allied bombing in World War II but select buildings were reconstructed due to their historical importance.
We heard a band was playing not far away and like the Pied Piper the music drew us towards the town’s main square (Alter Markt) where there was some kind of gathering. We soon realised that it was actually a union demonstration.
Minutes later we were at the entrance to the cathedral – the tallest twin-spired church in the world and the second tallest church in Europe. Unlike the rest of the city it was fortunately spared from major damage during the bombing raids despite suffering 14 hits.
Viewed from the outside, it looks as though the Cathedral needs a darned good clean. It’s once beautiful, translucent, exterior is now streaked with black. Apparently this is caused by the sandstone reacting with sulphuric acid which is contained in polluted rain. I’m not sure if this discolouration can be treated or if it is permanent but it is such a shame that it has happened.
When we entered the Cathedral our eyes were immediately drawn upwards towards the phenomenally high vaulted ceiling. As I gazed up above I had a dizzying touch of vertigo – that cathedral ceiling really is immensely tall!
One of the treasures of the cathedral is the high altar, which was installed in 1322. This dramatic and eye catching piece is constructed from black marble, with a solid slab 4.6 metres (15 feet) long forming the top. The front and sides are overlaid with white marble niches into which figures are set.
Behind the altar is the most celebrated work of art in the cathedral – a massive golden shrine. Created towards the end of the 12th Century, it is traditionally believed to hold the remains of the Three Wise Men.
There were many sculptures and other treasures and of course some stunning stained glass windows that were dismantled before aerial bombing began and then reassembled after the war.
After visiting the Cathedral we were thinking of visiting the Museum Ludwig – apparently an excellent modern art museum – but we still had a couple of items to buy at a supermarket and a long hike back so we decided to give it a miss.
Our trip to the supermarket took us through a pretty park and past some interesting sights including an old city gate complete with portcullis.
Back at the van we settled in for the evening with a glass of wine and an easy to make pasta.
It felt so great to be on the road again and we were really looking forward to all the new places and experiences that were in store for us.
2 thoughts on “Close call with resident’s card, The Netherlands and on the road again”
Dot l have started reading Richard Fidler,s book on the history of Constantinople now instanbul reminds me of the song it’s lnstanbul not Constantinople by the we may be kings hope the modern day Kings enjoyed the city
Ah, I love listening to Richard Fidler, I must get his book! Yes the Kings love it in Istanbul x