2017-12-22 / Travel

Memories of Ukraine

Part 1: Istanbul
by Warner M. Montgomery, Ph.D.


This is how Istanbul looked when we arrived at dawn after a 12-hour bus ride from Athens. This is how Istanbul looked when we arrived at dawn after a 12-hour bus ride from Athens. This is the story of our memorable trip to Odessa, Ukraine, in 1992 to visit Andrew, a Ukrainian English teacher Linda met in Moscow in 1987 and had corresponded with ever since...and still does.

To make our trip a real adventure, we planned to fly to Athens, Greece; take a train to Varna, Bulgaria, for their first American Independence Day celebration on July 4; continue on through Moldova to Odessa, where we would meet Andrew and continue on with him to the Crimea to experience its famous spas; and, finally, return to Athens in time for the flight home, four weeks later.

Well, my dear reader, plans are made to be broken, and adventure travelers must be masters of change. We got as far as Athens, then Greek railway workers went on strike, war broke out in Moldova, and our plans fell apart. So... remembering a former Turkish exchange student (Fulya) we had hosted lived in Istanbul, we hopped on what we thought was a 12-hour bus to Istanbul. Twenty- four hours later we arrived thirsty, hungry, and sleepless in the huge chaotic Istanbul bus station.


We hosted Fulya (l) when she was a student at USC. She graciously put us up when we arrived unannounced in Istanbul. We hosted Fulya (l) when she was a student at USC. She graciously put us up when we arrived unannounced in Istanbul. We were able to contact Fulya, and several hours later we collapsed into arms of sympathy. Over the next two days we enjoyed a cruise up the Bosporus to a little fishing village, guided tours of the Aya Sofia Mosque and the Topkapi Palace; and wonderful Turkish meals.

We still had a problem, though. How to get to Odessa? Fulya suggested sailing across the Black Sea.

At the Bumarang Shipping Company a brusque little agent informed us, “If you come here tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock, I can get you on a ship to Odessa. $ 81 American each. It will return two weeks later.”


Dur ing our stay in Istanbul, Fulya took us on a cruise on the Bosporus where we ate shrimp right off the boat. Dur ing our stay in Istanbul, Fulya took us on a cruise on the Bosporus where we ate shrimp right off the boat. I responded, “But we must be back in one week?”

“Aeroflot flies from Odessa to Istanbul every Friday, but you have to buy the ticket there,” he chuckled.

We had a plan. Little did we know we would soon be Sleeping with the Enemy.

Continued next week

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