We’ve now decided that many Turkish men – at least those in the tourist or selling industry – don’t tell the truth, giving much credence to the adage about Turkish carpet sellers. I bought a Turkish carpet a few years ago so now find myself wondering how badly I was duped. On this trip we’ve met a couple of Turks who we think told us the truth, but too many have been full of BS.
I wonder why they do it. Is it a deliberate deception? Do they just lie to tourists or do they lie to everyone? Do they think it’s an acceptable way to do business? Whatever the answers are, our experiences are such that if a Turkish man tells me the sun is shining, I’ll put on my raincoat. When a Turkish man suggests one restaurant, I will go to another.
So why, when a Turkish train ticket-seller at the Selçuk train station tells us a train trip will take one hour and twenty minutes and that there will be plenty of time to change trains, would we believe him?
Scenario is this: We need to take a train from Selçuk to Izmir, change trains and take another train on to Bandirma.
The ticket guy has already sold us a train ticket from Izmir to Bandirma which departs at 0830 hrs, having led us to believe he was selling us a ticket from Selçuk to Bandirma. This is what we asked him for. He’s then told us we can catch the 6:50 train from Selçuk to İzmir. He’s a bit too flippant and we don’t believe him. So instead, we catch the earlier 0500 hrs train from Selçuk to Izmir and guess how long it takes? Just over two hours. Yes indeed, had we fallen for his shtick, and taken the later train we’d have missed the onward train for which he’d sold us tickets. Another lie. Another Turkish guy.
Four hours into the advertised six hour train trip from Izmir to Bandirma and we are a little more than a quarter of the way tour destination. That’s what gazing out the window at passing olive groves, snoozing – because 0400 hrs was very early to be rising and shinning, blogging and reading is for. Passing the time is as much a part of the journey as exploring ruins and enjoying cafes. Amazingly, the train picks up speed and we arrive in Bandirma on time.
Our hotel is within spitting distance of the train station but getting across the road to it is not for the faint of heart. I’ll not get into what I think of Turkish drivers. The hotel is a beautifully maintained classic old building with nearly six metre high ceilings. While it’s lovely, what we see of the busy charmless town doesn’t impress us but we’re only here overnight.
It’s another early morning as our ferry to Istanbul leaves at 0745. The hotel staff kindly ensure we get an early breakfast then we walk the short distance to the terminal. Crossing the road is less traumatic in the early hours.
Unlike B.C. ferries, these have designated seat numbers. Of course we have to move our seats as we don’t realized this when we first board. We’ve decided that arriving in Istanbul by ferry across the Sea of Marmara is a suitable way to wind up our Silk Road journey. The trip only takes a couple of hours and lunch time finds us having walked to our Ottoman era hotel in Istanbul, checked in, and walked back to a busy street completely given over to restaurants.
We spend the afternoon trying to find a hammam we went to three years ago. So far without success but we have another lead. We’ve avoided interacting with several persistent carpet sellers but have done some shopping – also a suitable activity for travellers of the Silk Road. Bargaining of course for hopefully realistic prices. We’ve met with Helen and enjoyed an excellent dinner. Now we’re sipping wine in our room and planning on sleeping in tomorrow.