The Ups and Downs of Travel

Trip Start Sep 12, 2005
Trip End Dec 12, 2005

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

When you're travelling, there lot of "ups" and "downs" that you experience. The trick is to keep things in perspective, come to terms with the less that desirable events that happen, keep your sense of humour and appreciate the small, yet memorable, experiences. Such was our trip from Olympos to Konya and the two days we spent in Konya.

Waiting, waiting, waiting: Because we didn't know what times buses ran from Olympos to Anatalya and then to Konya, we purposely got up extra early and missed breakfast to wait by the roadside for three-quarters of an hour - and one still hadn't appeared!

It pays to be patient: Our pension owner took pity on us and gave us a lift out to the main road. Then, a passing vehicle offered us a ride to Anatalya - we were in luck! It was two German men, originally from Hannover and now living in the area, and their dog, Lotto (who made quick friends with us). They had thought Martin was German (what's new???) and decided to offer us a lift. (They started chattering away to Martin and he asked, "Speak English?" - it really threw them!) One of the men had lived in Jordan for 15 years working in various jobs from truck driver to tour guide; he suggested that we hitchhike through Jordan. (Maybe because he thought that's what we were doing by the side of the road, but really we were just trying to flag down a bus.) They dropped us off at a bus stop in Anatalya and we were at the otogar in no time!

Not again!: It was another hot and stuffy ride from Anatalya to Konya - and we were right at the back of the bus.

It was better than the last trip: It was a regular sized bus and because we were at the back, Martin had extra leg room. (He rates buses on leg room.) You also have a better view from a big bus. The leaves on the deciduous trees have turned a brilliant yellow.

How are we ever going to get there?: The otogar in Konya was 14 km from the centre of town where we wanted to go.

Help is never far away: A Turkish man from Munich helped us find a taxi and instructed the driver where he should take us. He and his wife had come to Konya to pick up their two year old son who had been staying with his parents for six months because his wife had been sick. (He also apologized for not offering us a place to stay . . . !)

The best laid plans: When the taxi arrived at the hotel we'd planned to stay at, it was closed for painting!

There's always an alternative: We consulted our guidebook and found another hotel. Even though it was twice as expensive, we managed to bargain the price down a bit. (Bargaining for hotel rooms is quite acceptable here in low season.) Also, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful.

Oh, oh: No alcohol in sight! (Not that either of us are big drinkers or anything!)

But it's an interesting place to visit: Konya (population 760,000) is a very conservative city and many very religious people live here; alcohol is not sold in stores or restaurants. (Interestingly, Konya produces more beer than any city in Turkey - they just don't sell it here!) We saw lots of women (more than usual) wearing the traditional headscarves and men, women and children of all ages with worry beads wound around their hands. There is also a big university here and the contrast between the modern youth and those whose dress hasn't changed in 50 years is noteworthy. (We could also tell they weren't as used to seeing foreigners as in other places in Turkey - we were starred at quite a lot.)

Crap!: The ATM we used at a nearby bank shortchanged us 50 TL (about 45 CDN). The bank is closed tomorrow for the holiday and won't be open the next day (Sunday) either - and we move on that day!

Do what you can and forget it: I emailed the Teachers' Credit Union in Saskatoon to see what they could do. We'll have to find another branch of the same bank at our next destination. It could have been much more than 50 TL!

Repeat performance: We landed in Konya on another holiday! (It was the Turkish Independence Day.) How does this happen? What will it mean?

Look for the positive: We saw lots of families out on holiday visiting the Mevlana Tomb and Selimiye Camii (mosque). Photographers were mingling around as people got their photos taken. In the mosque, there were lots of people praying as they walked among the deities and tombs, holding their hands palm up in front of them as they chanted and then rubbing their hands on their faces as though washing. There were also lovely fireworks at night . . . .

Another wrench in the plans: A couple of the restaurants our guidebook recommended had disappeared/were closed for Ramazan (though it's very confusing here - you have to look at signs on the second and third floors as well as street level).

Flexibility is key: There were lots of other places to eat. They may not have been in the book, but the food was good at, at one, the waiter was particularly entertaining! (Joked with us the whole time, said he was from San Franciso, then changed his tune and said Las Vegas.)

Yikes!: The weather was cold the second day we were there - it felt like snow!

What can you do?: We're in Turkey and everyone else is at home working their butts off! The first day was nice . . . .

So much for that: We came here to see the whirling dervishes, men dressed in white who whirl around and around in a religious frenzy in a kind of dance. However, the dance isn't performed in Konya during Ramazan. I guess we should have gone to the dancing in Istanbul where it's performed year round, Ramazan or no Ramazan.

Accept defeat gracefully: Maybe next time . . . .

Not feeling 100%: Both Martin and I are fighting off colds. With the change in the weather, it seems like three-quarters of the population are sneezing or coughing.

Still standing: Could be worse! Neither of us has contracted any life-threatening illnesses and I've managed to, thus far, avoid vehicles! (I'm keeping my fingers crossed!) Luckily, I brought along cold medication (though I don't have Margo to minister cold remedies to me like Martin did!)
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