Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Tale of the Missing Train Engine

Getting to Istanbul from Izmir was a struggle. But I guess that is what makes travelling interesting. The plan was to catch the 6hr "fast" train to  Bandirma followed by a 2hr ferry ride across the Sea of Marmara. Things were going quite smoothly until it wasn't. The train stopped around 1.5hrs into the 6hr train journey for a total of 1.5hrs. At first I didn't really understand why we had stopped until I got off and looked down the carriages to realise that the engine carriage had disappeared. It was gone! No one seemed to know how long it would take, however not many people seemed too concerned either and were content sitting in the carriage. Though to be honest, even if they had made an announcement, I wouldn't have been able to understand. An old man started a conversation with me on the platform and despite not understanding him at all (spoke only Turkish), he was happy just having a one sided conservation. I still stand by the fact that Turkish people are super friendly.

A funny story was when I got off the train to buy some food from this small "convenience" store. I wasn't sure how much the total came to and handed him 10 lira note. He handed me 25c back in change (which meant that my purchase was ridiculously overpriced) and I walked away. I was halfway crossing the railway track before he ran after me with a 5 lira note. Whoops.

Finally, the train engine carriage was replaced and the journey resumed. It was very interesting seeing the landscape change. What was also quite odd was seeing quite poor residential areas and then having a brand new shopping mall/ outlet centre a mere 200m away. I had booked the ferry ticket in advance and due to the delayed train, I missed the ferry and had to pay for a brand new ticket. D'oh. It also meant that I had to wait for 2hrs for the next ferry.

Jaywalking is definitely a skill and I really felt like I was going to be run over on the streets. I also saw a small car with 5 adult passengers in the back seats. I find that when I am actively looking for food, I can never seem to find anything and that was precisely what happened. In the end, I settled for a börek store. The name escapes me, but it must be pretty popular/ famous since the wall had lots of photos with - presumably- celebrities. Once again, with my almost non existent knowledge of Turkish, I managed to order two meat böreks. I had a börek when I went to Melbourne but now in hindsight, I'm not really sure what I was eating in Melbourne. In Melbourne, the dough was similar to pide however at the store, it was more like puff pastry. It was very cool watching her make the börek fresh and the total came to a bargain of 4 lira ($2 AUD).

The ferry ride was interesting. I've never been on a long ferry ride before and it felt like being on an airplane. What was even more interesting was the manner of boarding. There wasn't a ramp or anything like that. Nope. Rather, you walked onto the ferry the same way that cars were being boarded. When it came to disembarking, a crowd of people were waiting for the ramp to open. It was kind of funny. I never thought that I would board and disembark from a ferry in that manner and standing in a crowd of 80 people waiting for the ramp to open was just so odd. What was even weirder was that people were in the cars ready to disembark too. Not entirely sure how since there was the crowd of people.

Turkey is one of my favourite countries that I have visited, but there were many instances where things didn't go according to plan. I don't write about these stories to complain, but simply to have a more complete and true story about travelling. because things don't always go according to plan and that is where interesting stories come from.

* Quality of the photos are not my usual as they were all taken on my phone.

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