Turkmenistan visa issues in Turkey force a change in game plan

We were told by a reliable source, namely the company organising our visas, that with our pre-arranged letter of invitation we would be able to apply for our Turkmenistan visa in Istanbul. Upon arrival at the embassy and joining the shove to get to the front, we’re informed that for the next 10 days it’s simply not possible to get the visa here in Istanbul.

We’re told though that it would be no problem to organise the visa in the capital, Ankara, or in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.  Allegedly it’s also possible to obtain as we exit the ferry in Turkmenistan but the thought of boarding the ferry without a visa sounds like the worst plan ever.

It was not the embassy chap’s problem and so he washes his hands and says it will be no problem to organise elsewhere. The definition of no problem then? It’s not my problem.

Given that we’d heard this exact same thing in London only with Istanbul as the location, this sounds rather all too convenient and we were not convinced. At least he was sending us east and not back to London though!

Regardless, there was nothing we could do and we needed a game plan, and quick. Boarding the ferry was definitely out while Baku didn’t seem possible given that we were planning to get there on the weekend. That left is with only 1 option – Ankara it was!

Rather than dwell on things, though, we decided very quickly to make the most of the rest of our day before heading east some 400kms to Ankara. With the roads as they were, driving at night was definitely possible, which allowed us to spend a few hours in Istanbul.

Enjoying Baklava in the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

Aside from visiting the beautiful Blue Mosque, the afternoon was spent wandering about and eating with Turkish delight to start in the spice bazaar, a divine street-side lamb kebab for mains and some pistachios, hazelnut and pomegranate Baklava to round off our Turkish meal. Istanbul seems like a great city and I look forward to going back at some point with more time.

As it turns out, it was in fact no problem and we happily ate humble pie. We were at the embassy an hour before opening and some 90 minutes after the gate opened; we were back on the road with Turkmenistan visas in hand. I think the word is gob-smacked and I cannot explain the huge sense of relief we felt with this final visa now secured. Next up we’re heading through Georgia and Azerbaijan before the shenanigans of the ferry to Turkmenistan. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Scenes in Istanbul


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