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After a little more than a week in Istanbul catching up on work and seeing some of the sights, we were ready for something a bit different. So, on to Ankara we went to visit a friend of Boris.’ Getting to Ankara from Istanbul is easy and cheap. There are a multitude of buses going to and from the two biggest cities in Turkey, so all we needed to do was show up at the Otogar (Bus station) and buy a ticket.

Look how many buses! So many buses! Leaving the Istanbul otogar…

We took the 83O bus from Taksim Square, and after about an hour ended up at the main bus station for Istanbul, which services the entire country and then some. I had done some research on Turkey Travel Planner (a really helpful website if you ever plan to travel or live in Turkey), and Boris’ friend recommended the bus company, Pamukkale. The cost was 50 TL apiece, which is on the higher end of things, but is only $27 with the exchange and we were looking at a 6-7 hour bus ride (remember: Turkey is BIG). Not bad, considering a Greyhound bus of the same duration is WAY less comfortable/reliable and more expensive.

Boris had told me about the buses he rode in Turkey a few years ago, but his description did not match the awesome reality that I would experience.

Sign #1 that this would be much different from my trips on the Greyhound in southern Oregon was when I got a luggage tag for my bag. Perhaps in the northeast they do this, but on none of the buses I’ve been on in the States, or in Spain, or in Italy, or in Greece, have I gotten a luggage tag with a claim number and everything.

Sign #2 (and this is a biggie): there was a bus attendant. Yes, much like a flight attendant, only there was only one. A young man, in a dapper red bow tie and pressed white button-down long-sleeve with immaculate slacks–very reminiscent of a barkeep from the 1920’s at a fancy hotel–came around multiple times to offer snacks, water, tea & coffee, and soft drinks. This was awesome, and the bow tie really made my day.

Sign #3: each seat had its own LCD mini-screen, just like on airplanes. There were movies, TV, INTERNET (albeit a slow connection, but whatever), loads of music, and a virtual map to show where we were.

The only disadvantage was that there was no bathroom on the bus. Although, come to think of it, having used bus bathrooms, it’s probably a lot more sanitary not to have one…they really stink.

Ever ridden a sweet bus? Where was it and what made it comfy?

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