Turkey: Adventurous Country
Years ago, there was a song called “America, adventurous country” in Turkey. When I came to Turkey for my vacation 2 weeks ago, I pondered whether this title fits to my home country better: “Turkey, adventurous country”.
I try to visit Turkey once a year. It’s a long trip.. Oh boy, the flight lasts at least 13 hours, plus lay over, plus sleeplessness. I could not sleep during the flight at all as usual but I found a way to feel better. On the second flight, I asked for some coffee although I am not a coffee person. This helped me stay awake when we landed.
I was shocked when I saw the huge line in front of the passport control point. Apparently they stern the controls after the unrest in Turkey. (Oh my beautiful country! What happened to you in a decade?) In the meanwhile, coffee was still helping. When it was my turn, I gave my passport and ID to the police officer. He asked me to look at the camera and I obeyed but I told him that I did not smile. He smiled and told he had to take another picture of me. He was joking of course. He also made some compliments. J It was a good beginning as I entered the country.
I went to the baggage claim to take my luggage. Luckily, I did not wait long. I was planning to find a cab to get my hotel. At that moment a guy approached me and helped to carry my luggage to the cab and placed it in the trunk. I thanked him but he wanted more. Huh! I didn’t know this trick. I tucked $2 in his palm.
Istanbul was very hot and humid. The driver opened his window. I could hear some music coming from the other vehicles but mostly Arabic, oriental melodies. There were some guys in the middle of the high way, standing on the road and selling bottles of water. I felt like I was in Beirut or somewhere in the Middle East. (I have never been to Beirut but for some reason that name came to my mind immediately)
When I arrived to the hotel, a young bellboy greeted me and asked how my vacation was in Paris. When he saw “FRA” abbreviation on the sticker of my baggage, he thought I was coming from FRAnce. J I explained him that I was coming from USA with Frankfurt connection. He was very talkative and told me about his near-future plans.
My hotel room was very big and comfy. It was on 21st floor and I could see not all the city of course but a large view of that. I took a shower and went to the lobby to meet my niece. We drank lemonades with mint and had some appetizers as well. I was so tired that night and fell asleep easily on my soft pillows.
The next day I put on a t-shirt and short and went out to get a bus ticket to Ankara. The traffic was awful and it was scary to cross the street but I could survive. When I saw a fresh produce booth, I got more than happy. I had missed all fresh fruits and vegetables, yum yum!! I bought some figs and grapes.
I was going to meet my friends in college that night. I took a screenshot of the address and gave it to the cab driver. He took a very quick look and said he knew the address. He took me to the wrong place although I checked with him a few times. I had to walk with my heels unfortunately. Sigh! We could meet at last.
Next morning, I left from the hotel and headed to the shuttle stop. I was told that there would be wifi on the bus, what a ridiculous question was that, all buses have wifi nowadays. That was great because internet was going to keep me busy during my 6-hour trip. When I got on the bus, I was shocked. It was not a good conditioned one and USB ports looked destroyed. I sat on my seat and asked the driver if they had wifi. He smiled sarcastically and said “No”. There is also no co-driver nor a service attendant,” he added. I did some crossword puzzles and looked around. There were only seven people on the bus. When we entered Ankara, some soldiers stopped the bus. They asked our IDs to check if we were suspicious people or not. This control and check lasted about 15 minutes. I recalled my childhood. I was 14 and there has been a military coup. It was a real, important coup and I still remember how scary it was. 5 minutes later, our bus stopped for the second time. This time it was the police. They told the same thing and collected the IDs. It lasted just as long. I jokingly told people on the bus to hold their IDs nearby. I know, it sounds funny but it happened for the third time. 5 minutes later (yes, again), special security guys stopped the bus. We gave our IDs without them asking us to do so. For the third time they checked our information. Finally, we arrived to Ankara main bus station. I only stayed 2 days in Ankara. It was short but pleasing. My next destination: Bodrum..
My sister had already booked the hotel in Bodrum. I purchased the bus ticket but I chose a better company this time. My seat was very comfortable and there was Internet connection. Yay! That was a 10-hour trip from Ankara to Bodrum. Just like my flight from US but that’s fine. I had something to eat, drink and Internet connection, what else can I ask for? The bus left from the stop at 10pm. In the beginning it was a smooth trip, the interior lights have been faded, most people seemed ready to sleep soon. Suddenly, I saw color changes in the sky. It was deep dark but thunder lightening had begun accompanying severe rain and hails. The road was empty, only our bus. I was frightened. Was this place Turkey or Oklahoma? Fortunately, this craziness disappeared about 3 hours later. Such a relief! There weren’t any other interesting incidents during the trip. The hotel was in Turkbuku location. The sea and the beach was awesome. I had a great 3 days with my sister and my little, smart and adorable nephew, Ates.
Now, I’m in Gulbahce. We have a summerhouse here. It has been constantly windy for 3 days, I push myself to swim but I cannot say it’s so pleasurable. In this season, most of the people already moved to Izmir and the hosts are stray dogs. Yesterday, I was going to sunbath on the beach if that big white dog allowed me to. He also followed me into the sea. When I was struggling with the waves, he laid down next to my towel and flip-flops. Thanks to my dad, I got my stuff back.
I have more than 2 weeks to go. I have a feeling that’s not all. We’ll see it together. J