Intrepid prefers to use local transport when possible, because as well as being an environmentally responsible way to travel, it’s a great opportunity to interact and feel less like a tourist. Christine Larsen explains why she loved bussing about in Turkey…
“The bus system in Turkey is run like a well-oiled machine and as a mode of public transport, it is magnificent. On arriving at the bus station (Otogar) you are confronted with a huge departure hall containing countless booths and workers offering destinations all over Turkey and beyond. The ‘touts’ are frenetic and offer the unsuspecting traveller a multitude of opportunities to secure a safe passage to their desired destination.
After an agonising decision, your ticket in hand, you are directed to a peron. This is where you load your luggage onto the bus and struggle through teeming masses to find your reserved seat.
Once on board and the journey begins, you are usually offered cold water. Sometime later you are served coffee, tea, soft drink and cake and once snacks are consumed the bus attendant arrives with a bottle of scented cologne, which is liberally sprinkled over your hands.
Turkish buses are regulated and it is compulsory for drivers to have breaks, this gives passengers time to grab a bite to eat and for the bus to be scrubbed – we all refer to this as ‘The Bus Hamam’.
Depending on the predilection of the bus staff, either Turkish pop music or videos are used to entertain passengers. In between this, Turkish nationals engage in conversation and pass around sweets and nuts. Their welcoming gestures encourage us to join in and it’s a whole lot of fun trying to find a common language with our new friends.
At the completion of your journey you can only marvel at the adherance of the Turkish bus system to run according to a strict timetable. As a frequent user of bus services I am astounded by the punctuality, courtesy and efficiency of this very popular mode of transport!”
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* photo by Zoltan Bazogh – Intrepid Photography Competition