Dropping Friends at the Syrian Border
Sunday, May 23rd, 200: Sanliurfa to Istanbul, Turkey
N 40 °
E 029 °
We leave Sanliurfa about 9 a.m. – this will be a long day on buses for Greg and me. The first part, which takes 4 ½ hours (including a quick stop for lunch) takes us to the Syrian border, where we say our goodbyes to Jan, Sarah, Frank and Matt, under the careful watch of the well-armed Turkish border guards. Those goodbyes are quick, heartfelt, and with choked-back tears. We drive away before they exit the Turkish border station and begin their 80 metre walk across no-man’s land to the Syrian border station.
Our second stage takes another 6 ½ hour, with only a pit stop, to get us to Aksaray, close to Cappadocia. This drive takes us from Upper Mesopotamia into the Taurus Mountains, where we have some really beautiful vistas, and then back into the Central Anatolian Plateau. At Aksaray, we say goodbye to Erin, who is heading back to Cappadocia for the night before going tomorrow to Ankara and a couple of days of touring around Turkey before she heads to New York for a few days stopover on her way home to Manly Beach in Australia. We leave Erin entrusted to our wonderful driver who takes her right to her pension. Night, night, Erin!
On the Midnight Bus to Istanbul
After an hour in Aksaray, Greg, Haluk and I board the overnight bus back to Istanbul. Completely full, the bus is ½ hour late because there are a number of guys starting their military service aboard, and there were such large family send-offs at the station that the bus couldn’t leave. After a night of disturbed sleep, I wake at about 5:00 a.m. We are in the far suburbs of Istanbul, driving along the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara. It seems to take forever to make our way across the Bosphorus to the European side and the bus station. Finally, about 8:30, we arrive at the hotel, after which we sleep.