Oh the wheels on the bus go round and round…
round and round…
round and round…presuming, of course, the bus actually starts.
But I’m jumping ahead, so let me rewind a bit. When April and I arrived in Istanbul, we were happily greeted at the airport and taken to our hotel. Everything in Istanbul went smoothly–more or less, I mean there were times when we were running a bit late, but there were a lot of us to wrangle and traffic and all that jazz. But then…then it came time to leave Istanbul and we were introduced to Turkish Time.
The morning we were set to leave, while we are waiting for our bus to arrive, our guide Osgur explained Turkish Time:
“In Turkey, things run on their own time–we are never in a hurry, so if we’re late, we’re late. And we’re not really late because meeting times are only suggestions–everyone knows that! You know, as long as you arrive within, let’s say, 3 hours, it’s good. It’s good…it’s good, it’s fine. Don’t worry, the bus will be here soon.”
So there we sat at our hotel in Istanbul and we waited…and we waited…and we waited some more. Now, I would just like to point out that the night before we had an information session where we went over the itinerary for the rest of the trip and Osgur explained to us it was very important that we were packed, had eaten breakfast and were ready to go at 8am because we had a full day of driving ahead. Osgur neglected to tell us about Turkish Time during this information session.
Finally around 9:30am, our bus arrives. Our teeny, tiny…uh, what? Osgur seemed to flip out a bit because they sent a bus that had just enough seats for everyone in our tour + Osgur and absolutely no room for luggage. NONE. ZIP. ZILCH. NADA. HIÇ.
After much talking, shouting, and gesticulating, we watched our bus drive away. And so we sat and sat and had a cup of tea and sat some more. Finally another bus arrived, which looked a lot more promising. And by promising, I mean it least it has an undercarriage for luggage. Or, rather, most of our luggage. You see, nearly half of our group were teenagers who each had several large bags and thus not all of the luggage fit underneath the bus. That’s okay because we can just stack it on the back seat and in the stairwell of the back door of the bus. Hopefully, we joked, the bus wouldn’t catch fire and we’d need to exit quickly.
Another fun fact about the bus: not all of the seat backs stayed in their upright position. And I will say they were definitely made worse by teenagers climbing (yes, climbing) over them (BIG SIGH and a slight prayer that I wasn’t that obnoxious when traveling Europe when I was a teenager…no, I feel certain I wasn’t…hopefully).
Another fun fact about the bus: it never went over 55 mph. I’m not sure if there was a governor on the speedometer (transmission?) that kept it from going faster–all I know is that grannies on mopeds were passing us. It seemed even the bus liked to work on Turkish Time. Not that I am complaining about that, mind you, especially once I found a seat that didn’t have me permanently reclining into the lap of the person behind me. The only time it got, well, annoying is when we would have full driving days without many pitstops. AND THEN, honestly, it had nothing to do with the speed of the bus, but rather being cooped up with hyperactive, whiny teenagers (I should interject that they weren’t all hyperactive and whiny…just most of them). But, I will admit that the slower pace did allow for better pictures of the countryside…and more time for…well, napping–at least for me–I feel like April got a minimum of 20 shots of me sleeping on the bus and I only caught her sleeping once and I was in such a state of shock, I didn’t even think to take a picture!
We did lose one bag, when the bus driver ran over it. Since it was dark when we got to that particular hotel and the bag was black, no one noticed it fell under the bus. Fortunately, the owner of the bag, Tom, just salvaged what he could, chalked the rest up to la vida loca, and within a day we were all laughing about it. Perhaps it was something about that hotel (The Hotel Albena) because that is also where the bus would not start.
I personally think the bus was tired and annoyed because the teenagers were begging to be taken to town (the hotel sat along the sea). The driver, who was also thoroughly annoyed at the teenagers, said that they only way they could get the bus started was, well, to push it. So they did (to the amazement of all!). The rest of us just sat back with a drink, cameras at the ready, and watched the spectacle!
The one great thing about the bus was the driver. Okay, the whole Tom’s bag incident aside, he was really nice–he always had a smile on his face. He tried teaching us some Turkish and never laughed too loudly at our horrible accents and mutilations of his language. One of our group members got sick and he made a special stop just to get her medicine. And he played the best music [sidebar: when in a foreign country you should definitely listen to the local radio!] By far the bus favorite was this:
At first everyone was enjoying the beat and trying to figure out where we heard it before and then she sang “something something jailhouse rock.” well, at that point we were all hooked and starting singing with the chorus!
Memories, that’s what this wonky bus and Turkish Time created. I know there was a lot of grumbling amongst the tour group about both, but trust me when I say these memories brought so much laughter and bonding within our group–and those are truly priceless!