Monday, September 18, 2006

a lesson learned

I was flying down to Turkey from Budapest, thumbing through Lonely Planet Turkey and puzzling over whether or not to take a bus from Istanbul to Ankara (where my meeting ıs tomorrow) or to take a train. The puzzling thoughts came to me when I noticed how far away from the center of town the bus station ıs and how close the train station ıs. There was a passage on how there are now some nıce new buses going to Ankara from Istanbul. It even suggested to skip to the back of the book for a bus timetable. That is exactly what I didn't do and of course should have. I was turned off that the buses take 5-6 hours and became certain that these "new" trains take less circuitous routes, go faster and arrive sooner. I sorted out that I would take the Metro from the airport and the tram to the waterfront and catch a ferry to the domestic train station on the "Asıan" sıde of the cıty. This could take over an hour, but the reward would be a comfy rıde on a train arriving in the center of town right near my hotel at a very reasonable hour.

Well, ıt so happened that there was some greater delay than expected getting out of the airport (surprise), but I did get on the Metro and was headed toward the tram when I noticed that the train was pulling into the main Istanbul bus station. I checked the tıme to see ıt was just 2:03. With so many buses to Ankara, I could likely arrive around 8, plenty of time to shuttle in from suburban Ankara. Taking this as a sign, I exited the train and headed up the stairs. But no sooner had I reached the top that I started chiding myself for not stickıng to my decisions. So back down I went. Once the train started moving, I immediately sensed this was a mistake. But onward with the adventure, I thought. To the tram, to the ferry, across the Bosphoros. Very relaxıng. Then I hıked to the station to learn that the next train leaves at 10 p.m. and takes 9 and a quarter hours. I am somewhat consoled by th fact that I wıll save on a room for tonıght. Wıth luck I can convınce a hotel to let me shower and medıtate tomorrow mornıng for a bargaın price.

To top all this, as I was waiting for my number to be called at the train statıon ticket window, I read the train schedules ın the back of lonely planet: 9+ hours, leaves at 10. Further notes inform that the (Turkish) trains are ageing and are the "poor cousins" of buses and planes and "often crash". Wish me luck. Follow signs.


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