You would think that travelling by bus in Turkey would be easier than in Iran, right? Yeah, I thought so too. I do get fairly cocky that because I’ve travelled in Iran, I can travel anywhere, but I almost ran into problems in Turkey.
I hadn’t set a schedule further than spending two nights in Istanbul and eventually making it to my friend’s house in Mersin because I didn’t want to restrict myself, but of course, I found the decision extremely agonising. I finally made a plan though–I added a night in Istanbul, I would spend a night in Izmir, I would spend a night in Dalyan, and I would take an overnight bus to Mersin.
So I booked a hostel in Izmir and a hotel in Dalyan and bought bus tickets. I asked the lady how long Izmir to Dalyan would take, and she said 2 hours. Sign #1. I queried her further–since Istanbul to Izmir was going to be nine hours and was the same distance, this didn’t make sense, but she explained that there was a ferry on the Istanbul-Izmir trip that took a while. Okay, I thought. Whatever. The ticket was 20 lira–sign #2. The other two tickets were each 70 lira. There were no tickets from Dalyan to Mersin, or even from Dalyan to Adana or, it seemed, Dalyan to anywhere on that day. Sign #3. But there were tickets from nearby Fethiye, so I didn’t worry.
The ride from Istanbul to Izmir was long and tedious, but easy, and I enjoyed the ferry ride because I got to see a lot of cool seagulls.
My ticket the next day read “From: Izmir. To: Dalyan.” All seemed in order, until 3:30 came and my bus still hadn’t appeared. I approached one of the bus hosts and showed him my ticket. He looked at the sign on the bus and shrugged. Another conductor came up to me, and I showed him my ticket. He hurried me onto the bus, and I shrugged. I was happily snuggled in my blanket with my earphones in reading my book and abusing the free WiFi when the host came and told me to get off–we were in Dalyan. That didn’t seem right to me. I opened my map, as I’d been following where I was there, and checked–nope, we were still at least five hours from Dalyan. I showed the guy my map as he tried to pull off my suitcase. This was not Dalyan! He pointed across the parking lot: “Dalyan Cafe,” a sign read. Nope, I was not having that. I got back on the bus.
Thankfully, that was the one bus trip that had WiFi (though I would have loved for the fifteen hour Fethiye to Mersin trip to have had it) so I was able to contact one of my Turkish friends and get advice, check the bus schedule for that night and the next day, and book a hostel in Bodrum.
Of course, then at the next major city, they tried to shepherd me off. And of course, no one on the bus spoke fluent English. SoI ended up having to get them to call my Turkish friend and have her explain to them that yes I understood the bus was going to Bodrum and no I did not want to get off at a random town I’d never heard of.
But I made it out alive and I got to spend half a day in a really cool town. Though I’m sad that I didn’t make it to Dalyan to see the sea turtles, it just means I’ll have to come back to Turkey one day.
Later, I realized my flight from Adana to Istanbul on my way out of Turkey had only cost 50 lira. So next time I’m in Turkey, I’ll probably skip the buses altogether and just fly!