Monday, August 2, 2010

"All the way down the line, let's go. All the way down the line together"

In Turkey, I have travelled by long distance buses, dolumuses and city buses, tram, train and plane, car, taxi, ferry and shuttle, all of which prove to be interesting experiences in their own right, but usually having something to do with the way Turks drive. There's a certain order to their chaos, and surprisingly I've only seen one accident, and that involved a parking and a parked car. Except for a subway, I believe I have taken every form of public transportation in Turkey. I should take the time to describe the experience of all of them, but the long distance buses hold a particularly special place in my heart.

First off, you must understand that these buses are nothing what you think of when you picture bus travel in North America, especially since in recent years our minds are drawn to the horrible Greyhound incident which won't be forgotten for a long time. It's more along the lines of travelling by plane, except with an always friendly attendant and better snacks

I have travelled with Pammukale, Nilüfer and one called something like Lüks Amasya. The later bus company wasn't too fancy, but I wasn't going to a very popular place (Amasya). The former two have had personal tvs in each seat, a lovely feature. Mind you, it's all in Turkish, but that didn't stop me from watching Night at the Museum 2 and Henry Poole is Here on separate occasions. As I said, the snacks are pretty great, and have included a cake bread, pretzels, a bun, mango, and orange and pomegranate juices, tea and coffee, water, cookies and ice cream. Yeah, the ice cream has been a highlight twice. That should definitely happen more often. When you consider how relatively cheap a bus ticket is, they certainly treat you well.

The buses makes stops every two hours for bathroom breaks (and smoking breaks for all the Turks that smoke) and even the rest stops are catered to large crowds. You'll usually find several buses (each holding around 40 to 50 people) stopped and all can easily be accommodated. Often they have a restaurant, and snacky things to buy as well. Some places even wash the stopped buses. Very slick.

You've got a fair bit of room on the buses, more than when flying anyways. Even with the chair in front of you pushed back, the comfort is still there. This overnight bus I'm currently on seems to have a form of black lights serving as low lights for the bus while people try to sleep.

This is a very popular way to travel for Turks. Gas is so expensive that it's hard to go on a roadtrip. The first night bus I took, I was surprised at how many people were on the road through the middle of the night and how many huge busloads of people would be at the rest spots.

I'm happy to be travelling this way. The only downside is I tend to get a pain in my bad left knee, the condition of the highways can be really poor, and I don't sleep very well on them, especially when I get stuck with an aisle seat.

Well, my eyelids are getting heavy so I think I'll try to sleep for a bit. We may reach a rest stop within the hour, in which case it may be a very short sleep; they flash the lights on to get everyone prepared for the stop.



  1. Great overview of public transport in Turkey. Hope you are able to get some sleep!

  2. I hope you took some pictures? It is so amazing that the buses have wifi AND ice cream...gotta include that ice cream! Thanks for sharing Kathryn and so well written. Perhaps a journalism as a secondary career option!?