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Turkey Was Nuts

TURKEY | Tuesday, 18 June 2013 | Views [278]

Immediately upon hitting the ground I was headed out with two new friends I'd met on the plane. Two Aussies, one of whom was headed to a festival in Izmir. He even offered to let me tag along as his plus-one.

So in short order, having never even made it into the city, we booked a bus from Istanbul to Izmir. For ten hours. I had done long bus rides before. I'd ridden the bus back and forth between DC and NYC for a year every few weeks, I'd even taken not one but two night buses in Vietnam, curled up fetal in a bed/couch/seat designed for someone a foot shorter than me.

It's only when you spend 9 hours or more on a bus you really start getting cabin fever. Now don't get me wrong, this bus was fantastic. I'd never been on a bus with regular drinks service. Every couple of hours the second-in-command would come around offering tea, crackers, juice, candy bars; morsels to sake an increasingly restless clientele.

I'm convinced if we all hadn't been able to get out for an hour on the ferry we would have revolted and steered the bus into the foothills to become roaming road pirates, living off the fat of tour buses and shipping trucks.

However, we made it into town and then via taxi up and out to the foothills surrounding this city, wrapped tightly around an enormous mountain. Up and up, weaving through hairpin turns, the lights of the city always twinkling behind one shoulder or another, we made it to a small lake nestled in an elevated valley.

It was the sixth day of this seven day festival, and of the previous five days it had rained three. There were still people, dancing, eating, milling about, but the crowds were thin, the spirit somewhat crumpled.

I watched my new friend play his set, even danced a little bit. Wrapping up at 2, he hopped off stage, tried to shake the frustration of the circumstances he'd been dropped in to, and led me off to show me life among the party people.

The next morning, sore, tired and more than a little sleep deprived, we tried to take a shuttle back to the bus terminal but wound up at the airport instead. The crook of a shuttle driver wanted another $10 apiece to take us to the train station (which we'd gotten off of one shuttle and onto this one under the assurances that we'd be heading to) Rolling with the punches, we flew back in to Istanbul.

One day later, again having slept little to none the previous night, again dirty and ragged, we attempted to make it in to Istanbul once more. This time we were successful, and I spent my night in one of the most magical settings I've been in since the start of my trip. In my quest to find a cheap bed in Istanbul I'd found a hostel that rented its roof out - five beds on a balcony with a clear line of sight to the sea, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia and the palace. The heat of the streets was mitigated by the cool zephyrs further up, the city lights bleeding amber into the dark blue evening sky.

I slept well that night, and woke to a crow perched not three feet from my head, in one of the more sudden awakenings I've had in my life.

I left Istanbul that day, after briefly walking it's streets and seeing the sights. While more time in this unique city with its enormous, ancient history would have been nice, I just couldn't wait.

This was the departure - from here I slid into the European part of my trip. I couldn't have stayed put if I tried.

Tags: bus, change of plans, festival, plane

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