Tag Archives: trabzon

Otogar to Otogar

It’s a big, ol’ country, Turkey. In contrast to much of the mashrutka-hopping I engaged in for the last couple of months, I seem to be spending considerable periods of my day on the road – 5 hours to Trabzon, 8 hours to Samsun, 7 hours to Ankara tomorrow – which leaves little scope for general hilarity on the road.

I can’t even complain about the state of the roads, my offensive mashrutka-mates or questionable cuisine. I’m in Turkey and the livin’ is easy, my friends. Find the otogar, jump on a clean, new, streamlined vessel replete with air-con, coffee machines and wireless internet, zoom down the motorways until you reach your destination. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Fine – so one bus had a few issues somewhere between Trabzon and Sinop, necessitating a pause of an hour or so, during which we were fed, watered, and encouraged to have a stroll along the beach. Slightly more convenient than this series of multiple breakdowns in Kazakhstan.

The realities of the Turkish road network mean that I’ve now peeled myself away from the Black Sea coast which I have been following since crossing the border from Georgia. It’s a wonderful drive – dropping in and out of small seaside resorts where old men sit under pines in the parks drinking tea looking out to the sea. If you lived in one of these places you’d be drip-fed ice cream and no doubt feel that life was one non-stop holiday. Fantastic.

With the “utilitarian” city of Samsun behind me, I head on towards the Turkish capital, and finally across the Bosphorus to Istanbul.

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Avoiding Natasha

I always know how to sniff out classy venues. Indeed, for my Turkish debut, I was determined to locate a real bona fide hotel, with running water, lockable doors and walls made of more than papier mache. The barbaric lands were behind me, I thought, and having crossed yet another border – marking the end of the old Soviet Union –  it was time to celebrate with a victorious doner kebab.

Here, Russki nyet – we’re back into the Turkic lands of long verb-endings and bizarre concepts of vowel harmony.

One of the gadzillion mini-buses lurking around the bus station ferried me to the main square where the driver eventually motioned for me to get out. Plenty of hotels by the mosque, the tout at the bus station had told me. You can’t miss them.

He wasn’t wrong. A blistering array of cheap-looking hotels assaulted me as I rounded the corner, withering under the weight of my pack. Some dry wafers had accompanied me from Batumi but I was ravenous – the sight of glorious hunks of lamb and chicken whirring around in front of a log fire looked devine. Tonight, gentlemen, we feast.

Almost by accident, I wandered into Hotel Evri. The poor boy on the desk looked astonished to see me in my big-haired, unshaven glory, and dashed out the back to summon assistance.

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