“You can check in any time you like but you can never leave….”
It’s a very warm day today and started out well enough: a nice breakfast at the hotel, catching a couple of city buses, seeing the small and elegant Taksim Mosque, then discovered that my bus pass was out of funds. The bus cards need topping off to continue a journey and you have to do that at the various kiosks near the bus stops. I tried my ticket, it didn’t work, and a young man saved me from having to jump off, top up and wait for the next bus by offering to use his card and I simply gave him the equivalent fare cash. All good so far and an early experience of gratitude for this day.
Next I had a soothing ferry ride to the spice bazaar. The water is a deep green with whitecaps with cormorants flying just above the water. The air in the bazaar is incredibly fragrant from all the tea and spice mixes on display. There is considerable product duplication among merchant booths so you pick one instinctively or get invited in for a look around. A friendly man (too friendly, really) had me sit down, poured a cup of tea and wanted to assist me with whatever I might be interested in, especially if I was staying in Istanbul tonight (yes, there is innuendo here). I bought a few minor things and departed as quickly as possible.
From there I started looking for the train station whose location is hard to discover if you are a non-Turkish speaker. I had walked across the bay bridge thinking that the train station was on the other side only to find that I was going in the wrong direction and had to go back. The tram is the quickest way across but I am very low on funds at the moment. A couple from Sweden helped me out by topping up one of their cards with my small amount of cash so that I did not have to pay the 25 Turkish Lira just for the card before I could infuse it with transportation funds. His card had more funds than I gave him yet he insisted I take it. I am carrying around a few small gifts for such a moment, and I happily offered it to them. It is such a relief to experience kindness, especially under duress. An extreme gratitude moment!
I have been directed to several official metro outlets and they each give me directions that just don’t jive with what my eyes can see on the platform display of Turkish stations. I spent about an hour and a half wandering around Arkasay looking for a supposed regional bus station and gave up; I could not find it. The metro card from the Swedish couple helped me again as I decided to just get out of Istanbul – no matter what!
I am writing this in the waiting room at a tram station called Halkali where I intend to board a train to Sofia, Bulgaria to make my way toward Greece. I got my ticket, stood in line for the security check and was pulled aside at the checkpoint, being told that I should wait in the lounge. Apparently their check point is for boarding, not getting into a terminal as in our airports. Because I have faith that I no longer need the metro pass, I offered it to an elderly woman who refused my free offer, but the woman next to her had a surprised and delighted smile on her facer and took the card.
My dinner tonight is an apple from this morning’s hotel and some chocolate I brought with me from the states. More gratitude! Just trying to breathe through the tension and frustrations of the day. I was able to board the train to Sofia and am writing from Ceviche passport checkpoint. Much more gratitude and relief!
Sending this the next day from Ramada Sophia as my hotspot is not working. Thank you Ramada!