This past weekend I bus journeyed to Northwestern Turkey – first time traveling long distance by bus in Turkey and I must say that I am quite thankful that it is much better service than the notorious companies in the US. I will sum up my weekend through ten lessons learned – other things happened also to include the realization that open containers are legal (I am of age across the globe), breakfast included with your hostel stay is always a plus, don’t do lunges the day before a long bus ride and Turkish buses know whats up with drink and snack service – no shafting in this country with the goodies (:
1) Try all methods
I am super prone to motion sickness to the point of not being able to even read a map for more than 2 minutes. With the advent of electronic advancements like E-Readers those days are behind me! Happy Dance! Yes, I can in fact read a Kindle on a bus – am so happy because it made and will continue to make long bus rides a lot more bearable. A gal can only sleep and listen to music or podcasts for so long.
2) A stadium full of oil covered men smells like … oil
When hundreds of olive oil wrestlers cover their bodies with olive oil, the air will in fact begin to smell like olive oil. I guess there could be worse things to be smelling
(; Some of us in our festive gear for the festival – if you can’t tell the hats were super small – didn’t even fit my head and I think I have a relatively small head
3) Can Two Wrongs Make a Right?
I’ve eaten some weird things in my day and granted usually I am pretty open minded. One thing I am not open minded about is intestines as per my SE Turkey experience, but NW Turkey offers the local specialty of Tava Ciğer – Fried Liver and I will say that I would probably eat it again – not a big fan of fried foods or organs but hey maybe two wrongs can in fact make a right.
4) You won’t die, just pass out…
35 Celsius is super hot and when sitting on an airless bus it pretty much amounts to suffocation conditions. However, you will just pass out from the heat and when you arrive at your destination you will be grateful for the short pass out because it did somehow make the journey a little bit more bareable.
5) Do a little dance and pray to the light gods
Turkey is all aboard the saving of electricity with sensor lights super common in public places – specifically bathrooms. However, they have a few glitches in their system – specifically the placement of said light sensors. On two different occasions I ran into the issue of being in a pitch black bathroom.
- The first time – just picture the awkward stance one takes to use a squatter toilet and then having the lights go out in a windowless stall – so there you are with your pants down, praying you don’t slip on the wet floors when you are confronted with the issue of no light. Well just frantically wave your hand above your head while you are “doing your business” and hopefully it will come back on (for 10 seconds before going out again) – did I mention it smells bad too??
- The second time was while showering at the hostel – too bad the sensor doesn’t reach to the shower thus leaving you with the predicament of having to do a little dance half in and half out of the shower every minute to get light back – hey at least on the one side you are having a little solo dance party – jams would totally make this situation more appropriate (:
6) Take on a dare – even if you only have one stomach
One is always forewarned about street food – but if I am going to be in a country for multiple months (heck months are not even needed) than you better believe I am gonna partake in some of the street food fanfare. Some of the best and cheapest food you can get while traveling – of course with the chance of getting sick – maybe this is why I carry the Cartwright Curse of always getting sick or injured on vacation. I shall remind myself to dedicate a blog just to my travel mishaps – I may make it look easy at times but that is a complete and utter cover up. Anyways, run down of street food – go!
- Mussels – aka mide dolma (stuffed stomach) are quite possibly one of the best foods I have eaten – and not just in Turkey. You definitely gotta like seafood though. Highly recommended. Probably a good thing that it took a good month before I tried these for the first time – because I will definitely be dropping a nice sum on these in the future – super addictive!
- Corn on the Cob – Illinois knows how to do it right. This was a fail of a food try – I don’t recommend. The whole time I’ve been in Turkey I’ve imagined how good the corn must be because so many Turks eat it. Well they might think its good, but that is only because they haven’t had sweet corn from Illinois. Ohhh did I mention that I’m 85% sure that it is feed corn they sell – a gal I was traveling with informed me of this intriguing fact…
- Gelato – never can you go wrong when the situation involves gelato and at 1am – even better.
- Cherries and other fruit – if they look good buy them – just don’t (well do) let the fruit man sell you more than you want. I wanted a small bag – 200g of cherries and while the man thought I should have gone for a good 500g I worked my Turkish and made sure that I wouldn’t be stuffing my face with cherries all day – although would you say you were stuffing your face with something when its healthy???
- Döner Kebap from Taksim Square – need I say more? It’s even the type of Döner where they sneak a few fries into it – please and thank you sir!
7) Curly Hair + Humidity = Personality of it’s own
I just need to accept the fact that I have curly hair (I do love my curls). Granted I have straightened my hair a max of three times since I have been in Turkey and I don’t expect that number to increase exponentially anytime, especially with my future home being Istanbul. The humidity was unreal – as was told by my hair’s extreme curling reaction to the air. Note to hair dresser – don’t chop too much of my hair off next week because it got really short in Istanbul (:
8) I finally get it
I “finally” get the attraction of going to a school on water. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that campuses that sit on bodies of water usually have great views, but not until you can actually say that you were, are, or will be on a campus that has such a prized location can you fully grasp the beauty of it. Yes – Boğaziçi Univeristy with your pristine location on the Bosphorus with breathtaking views – I am coming soon!
9) 24 hour Clock
I’m a military kid, my phone is in 24 hour mode and I can be known to say times in 24 hour mode – oh yeah its 15:00. Well I guess with sleep deprivation setting in from the weekend of travels, booking a bus at 2:30 didn’t at first click that the bus ticket guy meant 2:30 in the morning. Doesn’t help matters that it was almost 2:30pm (14:30) and I asked in Turkish the bus goes now and he said yes – well at least I thought that is what I asked. Oh well translation and clock misunderstandings will land you on a bus just a couple hours later than wanted. So instead of a 3pm (15:00) departure I didn’t get out of Istanbul till about 5. Maalesef.
10) Have Faith
Now the bus ride from Istanbul to Ankara should be 5-6 hours. Well, sadly it took us 7 1/2 hours because we hit really bad traffic with construction/an accident outside of Ankara. Sometimes that is just the way the cookie crumbles. Nonetheless I was able to jump onto the second to last metro to get me home – cutting it super close. The difference of paying about $1 to get home vs. $15. I will definitely take the former. And, getting in later than expected led to me running into a daughter and her mom who were from Northern California and are currently traveling through Turkey. Meeting fellow Americans in the least likely of places and exchanging contact info – seems like a gal with a super interesting story that begins with her working on her Masters at ACU – American Cairo University.