Charging in Cayeli, Turkey

The first hotel between Trabzon and Batumi that we were heading for was charging for the room far more than expected. Also, a gas station in front of the hotel with a three-phase socket, didn’t want to let us charge there (unfortunately their English was too bad as that we could have convinced them or understood their reasoning). Benedikt and I got already used to denials and a recurrent hotel and electricity search every night that we are in a new city. Usually it takes two to three trials to find a place that offers us electricity and a nice hotel room. I took me some time to get more relaxed with this fact and to not get frustrated.

There was no reason to get frustrated that night, since we found a few kilometers further east, in Cayeli, a small and friendly hotel that not only offered us a nice triple room with breakfast, but also three-phase electricity in their basement garage. We charged with 11kW overnight and left Cayeli with a 100% charged battery the next morning.

Cayeli is a nice little town in the very east of Turkey. Cay means tea in Turkish and the hills around Cayeli are covered with tea plantations. We liked the atmosphere of this town. After staying for more than 10 days in Turkey it was time to say goodbye to that country and cross the border to Georgia. A country that couldn’t be much more different to Turkey.

Before we left Turkey though, the country where we had mysteriously internet connection, an extremely nice surprise happened to us. One day earlier our Autopilot stopped working (see this post). Benedikt and I were worried that we will have to be driving the next 20.000km without Autopilot. Mysteriously and from close to scratch, about 5 km before the Georgian border, Benedikt noticed the camera lines on the screen behind the steering wheel. We stopped on the right shoulder, restarted the car and … the Autopilot worked again! You can’t believe how relieved Benedikt and I were. Till now, we don’t know how this happened. It is very unlikely that the problem solved itself. Our theory is, that it was a Tesla technician in Switzerland who helped us out with a distant repair work. Luckily we were still in Turkey and the car was online when that person was doing this. We are definitely saying a big thank you to this unknown hero!

Charging in Trabzon, Turkey

In the evening, we reached Trabzon and drove a little more eastward towards a Novotel situated right at the Black Sea. Unfortunately, the hotel did not have any room available. With a bit of research, we found in the hills above Trabzon, all covered with hazelnut bushes, a small hotel. The hotel seemed newly constructed, but kind of abandoned. We observed since almost the beginning of our journey that people somehow like to start constructing buildings and often never finish. Like many, many real estate projects, also this one must have been a good idea at some point, but clearly not thought through all the way (who needs a big, impersonal hotel in the middle of nowhere?).

Besides all of this, we found a good, cheap and clean place to sleep there and the owner could offer us a Schuko socket/outlet in the non-public garage of the hotel. Since we planned to stay for two nights in Trabzon, Schuko should have been fine. We didn’t know what would happen later that evening though…

The problem that appeared was in relation to a nice dinner we had in a small, just opened restaurant not far from the hotel. The owner of the restaurant took very well care of us, we liked the food and felt comfortable in the small restaurant. It seems like they still need to work on their kitchen hygiene though, since Benedikt did not feel good after we returned and threw up during the whole upcoming night.

He was knocked out the day after. Since the small hotel really did not feel like the place where Benedikt could get well again (too cold, too foggy, too strange…), we moved to the Novotel at the Black Sea (they had free rooms that night). The car was at about 70% charged and we knew of a charging station, again at a Renault Dealership (check out this post for our previous experience with charging at Renault), close to the Novotel. After lots of sleep, Benedikt felt better the upcoming day.

That Sunday, we picked up Nici, a friend of ours, at the airport. He would accompany us the upcoming week. On the way towards the airport our Autopilot suddenly turned off and an error message, saying that we should go to a Tesla Service Center if this problem continues, appeared in the Tesla display. We had the same problem in Zurich only one month before we left. Back in Switzerland, the Tesla service center took a whole morning to fix it. Benedikt and I were nervous that we wouldn’t have Autopilot on the rest of our trip (that would be awful! We use it so much).

While we charged at the Renault in Trabzon, Benedikt talked to a Tesla Service person for about 20 minutes, explaining our problem. He promised that some Tesla mechanics will work on our problem the next day, but he didn’t make us too much hope that it can be fixed from distance. Continue reading the next post, to see what happened the next day.

At the Renault place, we let the car charge for about one hour (unfortunately only one phase was working – Turkish electricity is sometimes a bit confusing). We left with about 75% of the battery charged. To be on the safe side, we knew that we should better find a hotel with three-phase electricity that night. Luckily we did so (see this post).

Charging in Ordu, Turkey

In the evening, we reached Ordu. It’s a small town right at the black sea. Tourists are mainly Turkish or Arabian. The city just seemed to rebuild every road there was in the city and so it took us a while to reach a small hotel close to the sea front.

The hotel’s manager was very helpful, even though it needed some time convincing him, that we could charge at his place (otherwise we would have not stayed there). He found a Turkish three-phase outlet in the hotel’s kitchen. Benedikt built the adapter for the plug and about one hour after we arrived, the Tesla was ready to start charging. We arranged that we could charge overnight, after the kitchen stopped working, so our cable wouldn’t be in their way.

We left the hotel with a fully charged car the next morning to head further east towards Trabzon.

Charging in Samsun, Turkey

After having two super relaxing nights in the Ilgaz Mountain Resort, we had to keep on going. With a battery charged at 100%, we left the hotel parking garage and started heading south-east towards the black sea. The plan was to make a road day, drive 300km until Samsun. Samsun is an industrial city and little to offer, even for only a stay overnight. Therefore, the plan was to continue later the day, after charging, to Ordu, a city about 150km east of Samsun.

From plugshare we knew that there should be a Renault car shop in Ordu, providing a Type 2 wall box. The car shop was easy to find and we were happy leaving the car after a 4-hour drive. A girl in the car shop showed us how to turn the wall box on (turn fuse on the box on). We plugged in and the Tesla started charging at 22kW. Plug and Play. That’s how we love it!

Benedikt and I used the charging break for a little stroll around the industrial quarter of Samsun. It is not particularly nice, but since the city is right at the black sea, we had a chance to just relax a bit watching the waves and the (dirty) water.

After about 1.5 hours we returned to a nicely charging car, even though in the end one phase broke away (again). We guess that this is more or less normal and left Samsun with about 90% fully charged.

Charging in Ilgaz, Turkey

Ilgaz Mountains have a cute little skiing resort. Since the skiing season just ended, there was almost nobody in the hotel we stayed at. To find out where to charge our car, we showed the receptionist our cheat sheet (we have a paper for each country we pass, with pictures and short explanation of who we are, what we need (three-phase electricity) and what that means (hours it needs to charge, kWh we will charge…)) . It helped her to understand that she needs to ask the hotel’s electrician. He would be the one who could help us. This person, accompanied of two of his colleagues, who were curious to see a Tesla, brought us to the abandoned garage at the backside of the hotel where we parked close to a modern three-phase outlet. Next to the modern red outlet a black, Turkish-style outlet was hanging. We did not build the adapter for that kind of outlet yet (but we bought that plug already, check out this post). Thankfully, the electrician rewired the modern red outlet so it would also have electricity on it.

Only a few minutes later we pluged in our NRGkick and started charging. I wish hotels would always be that cooperative and helpful as this hotel was. Benedikt and I already tried to find out some regularities on what kind of hotel is better to ask and what the best procedures are to receive three-phase electricity. So far, we probably got intuitively better to find the right places to ask. But since every country is a bit different, we don’t have the “most successful way” to ask for electricity yet.

Charging in Bolu, Turkey

After four days in Istanbul, we had to leave this wonderful city eventually. Our plan was to head towards south-east, to the mountains between Ankara and Samsun. There is a small national park where we thought staying and going for a hike could be nice. Since the distance between the national park and Istanbul is more than 500km, we were planning to charge the car at a charging station at a shopping mall, outside of Bolu.

Turkey has charging network named “Esarj”. This company behind the network is working on setting up more and more charging stations. It already has an interesting net of charging stations along the busy routes of Turkey. As mentioned before, Esarj has a charging station (with 22kW) in front of the shopping center of Bolu.

Like many charging systems, also esarj requires a sign up. Benedikt tried to do this for us. he did not succeed, since the sign-up process requires a Turkish identification number. Because we obviously do not have one, we arranged with Osman from Esarj that we get a charging-card anyways, we would call him when we are about to charge and he would unblock the charging station from the distance. This worked perfectly and thanks for the charge, Osman and esarj!

The only problem we had (and the problem recurred a few times after that in Turkey) that the charging station or the car lost at first one phase and later all of them before having finished the charging process. Our theory is that sometimes the electricity network is not very stable or too much traffic is only on one phase. If one phase is overused, the Tesla or NRG-Kick pulls themselves out and charging therefore slows down or stops. Luckily, every time it happened, we noticed it quickly and started the charging process again (this helped sometimes, sometimes not).

After we charged at Bolu the battery to about 85% we left for the Ilgaz Mountain National Park and arrived there later that evening at around 08:30 p.m.. The roads in Turkey are really good. That way it is not a problem to be driving at night.

Charging in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul is packed with charging stations. We ended up charging in the garage of the hotel we stayed at. The garage has several modern Typ 2 outlets that we just plugged in and charged. We were totally impressed by the service level of that hotel. Not did we have a great room in the 17th floor with a view over parts of Istanbul. But also did we enjoy the SPA facilities and the parking garage. All of this cost us about 70€ per night. Due to the lack of tourists in Istanbul, one is able to make quite a good deal there.

In Istanbul we met Emir, an absolute EV-enthusiast (find out more about him and the meeting with him on his blog). He was so helpful and is such an inspiring personality. We are so happy that we met!

Emir showed us what kind of plugs could be helpful to us in Turkey. We bought the most common one in a large “technician mall”. That plug was used several times throughout our journey through Turkey. The red “normal” Typ 2 plug is not very common anywhere outside of western Europe.

Charging in Edirne, Turkey

The first bigger town that we reached after the Bulgarian/Turkish border was Edirne. It was already early in the evening and again, we needed a hotel to stay at. The plan was to drive very early the next day to Istanbul. We wanted to be at the Uzbek Consulate in Istanbul before 10 a.m. to apply for our visa. Since our car was still pretty good charged and because we knew that charging should be easy in Istanbul, we stayed in Edirne in an very simple hotel that only offered us Schuko on their parking lot.

We bought that night two tourist SIM-cards for our phones. We thought that we need them to simplify our navigation through Turkey. The Tesla still had internet connection in Edirne, even though the city is already about 50km far from the border. What we didn’t expect that day, was that we would never loose internet connection till we left Turkey to Georgia more than a week later. We have a Tesla-roaming SIM-card with which we are supposed to be online all throughout the European Union (and Switzerland, of course). When we left Croatia, as the last European Country, we immediately lost the signal after the border. When we entered Bulgaria as the first European country after the Balkan countries, we immediately got the internet reception back (what made us quite excited 😉). Back to our SIM-cards: since we had internet in the Tesla, the urgent need wasn’t there anymore. But that these SIM-cards (by Vodafone) never started working (somehow the activation did not work) annoyed us. Two visits to Vodafone stores and lot of discussions and waiting didn’t help either. One cannot always be lucky…