Turkey, Land of Mystery
In 1992, Linda and I flew to Athens, Greece, for a history lesson before taking a bus to Istanbul, Turkey, to visit a Turkish student we had hosted while she was at USC. We checked into the Hotel Mystras then visited a few wonderful archeological sites. We arrived at the Vangelis Tavern at 6:30 p.m. for dinner only to find out the Greeks never eat before 8 p.m.
And never go to sleep before 2 a.m.
The noise at our hotel was unbelievable— cars, motorcycles, buses, trains, even barking dogs. Finally, at 3 a.m., Linda called the manager and demanded he remove the party-goers from our hallway. He hung up, and the party continued.
After a sleepy breakfast, we went to the bus station and asked for tickets to Istanbul, Turkey. We were told the bus left at 8 a.m. the next morning and would arrive in Istanbul at 8 p.m. Not bad! Just 12–hours, and we would see Mount Olympus along the way.
We arrived at the Turkish border at midnight. After an hour to clear customs and immigration, the bus, now packed full, took off for the final six-hour stretch to Istanbul.
At 3 p.m. the scene changed. The two-lane road through quaint villages and farms became a brightly lighted superhighway framed by high-rise apartments. The driver pulled off the highway, sipped from a steaming thermos, and relieved himself. The assistant driver and the other passengers snored away.
We arrived at the Istanbul bus terminal at dawn and were “welcomed” by a hoard of humanity I had never seen before.