This blog was ripped off directly from Jan's blog. Perfect for the lazy writer - she already posted this so...why not......? Pics are mine.
A bit wistful leaving Istanbul as it was, IS such a great city, but Deb & I were very much looking forward to what else Turkey had to offer us. On to the ferry (with revised travel plans in hand) and we scored primo outdoor seats on a VERY fancy boat. The very fancy boat is actually a normal, everyday, transportation ferry but come on people, I've been living in Africa. I’ve become so used to ragamuffin, ancient, deadly modes of travel that I find myself getting super excited over functioning and attached doors and windows, no animals or strange smelling produce on board, and enough room for me AND my stuff to fit quite comfortably. My boats usually have plastic bags plugging up random holes here and there with an extra stash of petrol in an old, plastic Coke bottle. This was SUCH luxury! Exciting times, my friends, very exciting times.
Travel in Turkey is completely modern and very, very easy. This country is a fascinating combination of Europe and the Middle East; the laid back nature of a European travel destination with the cultural and historical allure of an Arabic adventure. As neither Deb nor I had really planned to come to Turkey, we had no idea where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see, or what the country had to offer. Lucky for us, Turkey is HUGE and everyone we’ve met so far has loaded us up with suggestions of "must sees". And lucky for ME, the bus stations seem to be close enough to hostels, hotels, and ferry ports. The looks I get stumbling along with my oversized hunchback backpack are evidence enough that this girl needs to settle down sometime soon. Deb, the expert traveler, trots efficiently along with her dainty little roller pack as I sweat and snort behind her refusing any offer of help. Stubborn mule. She tries to make me feel better by reminding me that I have my life in my bag and am looking to move to a new country, not just travelling, but really, we both know that I’m simply ridiculous. Thanks for trying, Deb.
Ferry and mini bus brings us to Chanakkale. After some stumbling through what looks like an interesting, non-touristy small waterfront town, we find our hostel. The road in front of the place is a construction site, completely torn up with a digger parked square and sure just outside the door with mounds of dirt, ripped up concrete and piles of bricks stacked here and there. Hmmm… not sure this is gonna be a good one. We’re greeted warmly by a Paul Newman look alike owner if Paul Newman had the misfortune of being slightly inbred, had fallen down on his face once or twice, and forgotten to shower for a few weeks. But SO happy to see us and literally tripping over himself to get us settled in and comfortable. Not the swiftest rat in the race but so very nice and the place was warm and homey. Yep, we’ll stay.
Great little town with some of the best people watching spots on the planet. Deb and I (thankfully) share an almost obsessive fascination with sitting and watching the local life pass by. We also (even more thankfully) share the same sense of humor when it comes to the accompanying commentary on those fascinating creatures that happen to pass by. Turkey seems to have more than its fair share of individuals with a wildly unusual amount of thick, black hair, round babushkas with their plain, functional kerchiefs tossed loosely over their heads, and quirky clothing choices that often left us speechless. Now, it’s very clear that WE’RE not top notch fashionistas ourselves by any stretch of the imagination and we both know that being nice Canadians in someone else’s country is top priority so our commentary and our amusement is good-hearted and discreet. We have been thoroughly, thoroughly entertained so far.
A quick and comfy ferry visit to the island of Gallipoli, learning more about the ANZAC significance and the incredible feats of the Turkish military of WWII. Had no clue. Unfortunately, Gallipoli isn’t really set up as random traveler friendly so if you’ve arrived not being part of a pre-arranged bus tour, (which of course we didn’t. We just wing everything) you had to pay a small fortune to a half-interested taxi driver to get to any of the memorial sites. Hmmm… no thanks. We were quite happy hanging out at the water front and perplexing the local minibus drivers as we wanted to just ride the bus from one ferry port to another to at least get to see some of the landscape. They weren’t quite sure what to do with us but we’re both pretty used to that reaction by now so we smile and nod and carry on. Good times in Turkey.
Our attempts to leave Chanakkale proved to be bizarre and eventually downright annoying. We spoke to several different travel companies who appeared to be able to book tickets for various bus companies but were getting absolutely nowhere so we walked to the main bus station where 1., acknowledging our existence as we stood at the counter was a HUGE inconvenience to them and 2., we had the word “FULL!” shouted at us before we even had a chance to finish our request. *sigh* But you don’t even know where we want to go yet. FULL! Wait a minute, what’s full? BUS! FULL! Which bus? All these buses? To all these cities? FULL! We want to go to Kusadasi. FULL! Oh my gosh. You’ve got to be kidding me. After lots of back and forth to all of the different bus companies, we found one that had seats left for late the following afternoon. No seats in the morning? FULL!!!! Okay, okay, afternoon is fine. *sigh* Funny now, not so much in the moment. Gong show.
Our remaining time in Chanakkale included some more people watching on a busy waterfront indulging in some yummy ice-cream and my new addiction, Turkish coffee, shopping for the ever essential bus snacks, and repacking the incredibly durable pack that seems to explode like confetti poppers each time I even touch the zipper. We were looking forward to our next destination, apparently along with the entire population of Chanakkale, by the time our afternoon bus finally arrived. Nice little town. Amusement rating… SOLID! Thanks Chanakkale!