Taking a 600 euro minivan to Kurdistan and back: Beni drives a Renault Espace from Germany to the Middle East

Beni drives a Renault Espace from Germany to the Middle East



Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan used car lot Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Humble beginnings for this 1995 Renault Espace MkII, which was obtained for 600 Euros. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Italy night Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Comforting, someplace in Italy. There was a great deal of calming on this journey. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Florence Italy Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Searching in excess of the Duomo of Florence. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan replacing wind Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Changing a broken window in Croatia. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Mostar Bosnia Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Mostar, Bosnia. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Montenegro Gul Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

In Montenegro, overlooking the fjord-like Gulf of Kotor. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Montenegro Baj Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Cool Baja Bug spotted in the town of Kotor. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Albania Americ Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

The ruins of an American plane in Albania. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Greece Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Lost in Greece! Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Delphi theater Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

The popular theatre at Delphi, seeking for an oracle. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Metéora valley Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Metéora valley, in Greece. Not a Linkin Park album. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Athens Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

In Athens, on the way to catch the ferry. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Fiat 131 in Tu Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Beni has a soft spot for the Fiat 131. Who doesn’;t? Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renautl Espace Germany to Kurdistan off roading in Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

The Espace did a bit of off-roading. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan repairs in Tur Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Small and inevitable repairs. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Tuz Gölü Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

At Tuz Gölü, a dried lake bed. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Attatürk Baraj Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

The bridge at Attatürk Baraji was not finished. So, ferry it was. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Şanlı Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

A bazaar in Şanlıurfa. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan Şanlı Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Şanlıurfa’;s Pool of Sacred Fish, in which the prophet Abraham was when practically executed. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan harran ancient Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

A camel in front of Harran’;s ancient university, 15 kilometers north of the Syrian border. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan traditional ho Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

Traditional houses like this stay comparatively cool in the summertime. Photograph by Beniamino Calchera.

Renault Espace Germany to Kurdistan dirty Photo by: Beniamino Calchera

By the time Beni and friends created it to Kurdistan, the Espace was due for a wash. Photo by Beniamino Calchera.

Beniamino Calchera, a 32-yr-outdated architect from Frankfurt, had just quit his task and bought a modest car: a 1995 Renault Espace, in that teal color worn by every car of the mid-’;90s. The seller reduce him a deal: 600 euros, or close to $ 831 — it is really worth noting that the good quality of sub-$ 1000 autos in Europe is far a lot more elevated than right here in the States. The humble minivan on aftermarket 5-spoke wheels didn’;t leak oil, it match loads of luggage and its air conditioning worked. Calchera fixed a side mirror and outfitted the rig with a sizzling plate. Halfway to a Westfalia!

“Summer in Germany is generally not as it is written in the dictionary,” Calchera said. We envision that translates to something along the lines of humid, cloudy and miserable. So Calchera, with some pals and a group of Turkish women he knew from his earlier job, made the decision to drive in search of sunnier weather. (Consider the following a condensed edition of the journey all of his photographs and commentary can be discovered at this website link.)

1st they traveled to northern Italy, where they invested 3 days hiking before wandering farther south. In between Bologna and Florence, the Espace had its 1st breakdown — on the Autostrada, naturally, on the hottest day of the year. “The connector of the radiator fan had melted,” he stated. “Right after I fixed that, the auto by no means received sizzling yet again.” Then it was down by way of Rome and along the Amalfi Coast, stopping in Pompeii to examine out the amphitheater (of, between other folks, Pink Floyd fame). “The location among the coasts was eerily barren and covered in golden-brown dust,” he mentioned. Sailing across the Adriatic Sea through a thunderstorm and into Dubrovnik, Croatia, they produced camp for a number of days amongst the fig and olive trees.

After rolling into Bosnia, Calchera — his group swelling soon after meeting up with 2 neighborhood friends — essential to arrive at the city of Mostar by nightfall. Despite stopping for a picnic by a river, the group manufactured it into town by afternoon. They drove into the chaos of Montenegro, exactly where, “On some intersections, you have Golfs coming at you from each way possible.” Into Macedonia, by means of Albania, past Enver Hoxha’;s bunkers and toward the occasional opportunity campground, “With fresh trout and outdoor seating amidst the ponds.” Calchera, apparently a man of couple of phrases, describes it as “great.”

In Greece, they stopped for a hike in the deepest gorge in the planet, which completely wiped them out. They boarded the ferry in Athens, which delivered them to Turkey and, ultimately, into Kurdistan.

Every morning in Cappadocia, Turkey, scorching-air balloons rise over the rock formations that resemble minarets shooting up into the sky. For 150 euros, a balloon will consider you up above the valley, a UNESCO Globe Heritage Web site, its remnants of the Byzantine Empire nestled within the caves. The location has attracted scorching-air balloonists given that the 1700s the wind — the all-natural force that wears down the rocks — makes it excellent for catching the sunrise from one,000 feet up.

Outdoors Cappadocia, they had honey straight from the beehive, and a local presented to place them up for the night. In Asia Small, they identified ancient mosaics and frescoes, some of which had been flooded by close by Atatürk Dam. In Şanlıurfa, awfully near to the Syrian border, the legend goes that the prophet Abraham was born in a cave the biblical king Nimrod attempted to sacrifice Abraham by burning him at the stake, but God intervened by turning the fire into water and the coals into fish. The Balikli Göl, or “Pool of Sacred Fish,” is the consequence. By the banks of the river Tigris, in the cradle of civilization, they came across the Turkish city of Batman. Underneath Mount Ararat, they discovered a puppy, freezing in the cold, and they brought it along, a welcome companion.

Calchera started out driving on the very first of August by the time he had reached northern Turkey, it was Nov. 10. The Espace survived the journey, but it did not make it unscathed. Someplace in Bari, Italy, on the way to the ferry across the Adriatic Sea, the Espace had a window smashed nothing at all was stolen. Near the ruins of Knidos in Turkey, a spring gave way inside an hour, a dedicated garage sourced one thing to fit it. The Espace did a bit of off-roading in Turkey, all the better to pay a visit to the otherworldly caves dug via reliable rock. Roads that were paved on the map weren’;t in actuality. The windshield washers stopped doing work. The puppy peed on the carpets.

“Getting able to just get in a automobile and at some point ending up in Kurdistan and Mesopotamia or at the Iranian and Armenian boarder is almost thoughts-blowing,” Calchera said. “Even so when it really is a 600 euro French car you just bought a handful of days prior to and which had to carry 6 people and luggage above appalling pavements and gravel roads.”

The place to following? Anyplace, Calchera muses: possibly India or Nepal. “Yes, a bit mad,” he says of his exploits, “But if I had the money, I would just start off all in excess of again this evening.”

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