January 14, 2009

Busing to Bursa
Bursa, Turkey

Istanbul to Bursa

The number of transport jumps I had to take to get to Bursa today made me thankful that I didn't have the family in tow. Travel is significantly simpler and less stressful when I'm back to a single backpack and only have my feeding schedule to think of.

A useful subway connects Istanbul's principle international airport with the city's big bus terminal. It was amazing how different it seemed alone in the daylight, compared to our confusing arrival a little over three weeks ago.

Buses run frequently to Bursa and beyond, and I quickly picked up some very comfortable transport for 20 lira (US$12.50, about 4 hours). The only problem encountered was with the bow-tie wearing teenager (uniform) serving as the attendant who tried to insist I stow my pack under the bus. Not gonna happen little man—get that claim slip outta my face.

Crossing the Sea of Marmara

The interesting quirk to today's journey that I wanted to share was the vehicle ferry that shuttled us across the Sea of Marmara. Instead of taking the long way around, buses and cars jump on these large ferries, taking 40-something minutes to make the crossing.

These aren't small vessels—just look at the size of boats compared to that of the already massive buses. They can take the width of four passenger buses, with at least another four buses deep.

Our boat had a mixture of buses, cars, and trucks. Teenagers on a fieldtrip tossed bread to a frenzy of seagulls clipping the perimeter of the boat, while men and women sipped on tea that they'd purchased within. Lightly frosted mountains in the distance made the scene quite beautiful… but the pollution certainly detracted from the vista.

The entire shoreline—every visible piece of it, and then some—was saturated in a ring of sulfur-yellow pollution. …Just foul.

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