September 20th, 2007 – by: chrisrae
At a Bosa bar (fermented grain drink kind of like drinking smoother apple sauce)
I finally made my way out of Istanbul and into the Asia part of Turkey. It wasn't easy as even my hostel travel agency would not just sell me a bus ticket without trying to sell me a tour. I found out from other female travelers that this was a common occurence. They want to make you think traveling in Turkey is difficult and that you need their services. I insisted I was fine on my own and only wanted a bus ticket, which I finally got and got out of Istanbul. I ran into a gal going the opposite route as me, and she said travel was easy and I was definitely saving money in the long run by cancelling that tour.
The bus ride to Canakkale was an adventure in itself.
Istanbul rooftop dinner with Blue Mosque for a view
The bus was really nice and included beverage service, but I experienced my first personal brush with the Muslim culture. I took my assigned seat at a window and waited for departure. A fellow got on and was standing near my aisle and motioned to the gentlemen running the bus and they all engaged in conversation a while. They asked for my ticket and then the man finally sat down next to me. I went back to my book and then a few minutes later they asked me to move one row back to an aisle seat. I did without protest but wondered why I had to move. I thought to myself that he wanted the window seat or was expecting someone to join him or something, all the usual things that may require me to move back home, but the bus pulled away and he had not moved to the window and no one joined him.
Inside mosque with American diplomat
I asked the Aussie gal I met in the aisle across what was up and she thought they must not want a man and woman sitting next to each other. It was obvious at that point, especially when I looked around and noticed it was either two women or two men in the seats next to each other. I accepted this but I still was a little angry because I saw empty seats near other men and thought why did I have to move then, but I just had to let it go. We started off and I got some coffee and a snack, setting both on the fold out tray. Next thing you know the woman in the seat in front of me slammed her head back on the seat a few times, sending coffee into my lap. The attendant quickly came to my rescue and she apologized (I assume anyway), but the Aussie gal laughed that my bus trip was not going so well.
Close call with a cruise ship as we ferried over to Canakkale (tour bus and all)
Then they slipped in this depressing Turkish movie (English subtitles) that left me with a big lump in my throat. However, the gal next to me shared her cookies and the views were beautiful.
So much for the difficulty in navigating around without the travel agencies' assistance. We arrived in Canakkale and had about a five minute walk to a hostel. Today I went out to Troy for a morning tour before heading onto the bus again tonight for an overnight trip to Selcuk. Troy is about 9 layers of cities beginning in about 3000 B.C. and was discovered by a German in the 1970s. Excavations have been halted until better excavating techniques are developed wherein top layers won't be destroyed in order to reach the bottom layers.
Trojan horse from stupid movie now lives seaside in Canakkale
Some of the treasures found there are currently being battled over as they are in Russian hands following WWII, but Turkey, Greece and Germany want to gain custody. For now you can check them out at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Our guide for the tour was a little rough around the edges, getting angry with slower tourists and then put a dig into the Americans, commenting on Troy how they learned from previous building techniques how to build more stable houses with each new city built on site, but followed that up by saying those **** politicians should learn from the past as 65 civilians were just killed yesterday by U.S. helicopters. I'm in the dark on that one.
Speaking of politicians, my last afternoon in Istanbul I hung with an Aussie and a gal from MN and we checked out a Mosque.
Remains of Troy, east entrance around the corner
I find travel in groups, even if all females, is the best way to go in Istanbul by the way. As we were in there a group of reporters came in surrounding some folks, one of which was this guy in a suit and looking very American. Turns out he is some Secretary of Foreign Policy or something for the U.S. Never heard of him, but he was making news there for sure. I tried to lean in to hear what dumb things he might be saying but there were too many reporters around them.
So I think things will improve for me now that I've left Istanbul. Many women have shared similar stories about the difficulties there, but I think the road ahead will be much better.