A simple day today. We only want to go over the border to Turkey. Experience has shown this can be anything but simple though. We are unprepared and it is a Sunday to top it all off!
Going down for breakfast we were a little let down. It was a continental breakfast which was fine. There were condiments such as honey, apricot jam and nutella on offer, along side some ham, eggs and cheese. Just no bread to put it on! When the bread eventually turned up there was nothing left to put on it. The coffee was a large urn of instant, and the juice had more in common with cordial than the fruit it should resemble. We wonder why we usually try to skip breakfasts at hotels!
The guy at the front desk helped make up for it though, as he tried to call one of the tour companies that do buses to Turkey. This was a spectacular failure, as we were told there is metro bus, but no details. We walked over to where their office is, knowing it would be closed to check. It was, so back to the hotel to look up the other agency. Finding it online, we set out. Already planning another expensive day here. Grey and gloomy but not raining at least. We got a bit lost looking for this place and couldn’t even find the street it was on, however a friendly man asked if we needed help. We explained what was happening, and he said he knew it, but it was closed. It is Sunday after all. Still, he also knew about the bus, and we ended up walking with him all the way back to the first tour office, where he rang them on his mobile for us. This was a bit more beneficial. He found out the times for us, and where it departed. The only issue was whether we could buy a ticket on the bus or not.
The bus would leave from Kamasar or somewhere similar in less than an hour. We raced back to the hotel, told the concierge that we had had success and hurriedly packed our bags.
The concierge gave us directions to walk, but on the way the bag broke again, so we ended up catching a taxi. The guy was fine, and seemed to know where we wanted to go, although he gave us a bit of a scare after we got going, but we sorted it out. The metre even went on!
It turns out that the bus leaves from directly under the aqueduct. If we had known that, we probably would have walked and missed the bus!
The fare ended up being just under 2 Euro, and when we tried to pay he went off at us. He wanted 4.50! This got into a heated debate, and I almost lost it when he grabbed the bags again. We paid 4 and he left hurling abuse at us all the way. Even after he did a u turn, he headed back our way to yell out the window some more at us. I don’t know why he was upset, as he got more than twice what the metre was showing! Still, it makes us not regret leaving Greece. Considering we were having our doubts from meeting the very nice guy earlier.
The bus came, and it was not a problem for us to get on without a ticket, and we set out. It was supposed to stop at a number of other towns along the way, but apparently no one had booked tickets so it cruised straight along the highway, making excellent time as it passed tobacco plantations and cotton fields. We were just lucky that others in Kavala had pre booked tickets.
At the border there was no issue getting visas and stamped. The whole thing was very efficient. Granted the entire process took about an hour, but most of this was just spent sitting on the bus, and the customs check. This seemed to be done just because they need to fill some quotas. It was only three bags and none of them was ours.
A few things we forgot to mention: Just outside of Greece at the Hellenic Duty Free shop was interesting. We were happily stretching our legs when the driver and assistant came out with large shopping bags that clinked as they walked. The clinking sound was fairly familiar and could have been glass bottles filled with liquid. They went back in and came out with another load which was stashed somewhere in the depths of the bus! Grog must be expensive in Turkey.
Then the road between the two border posts is worth mentioning. It is only one way each, and the other side is backed up with trucks. The cars were getting impatient and drove up along the side. Our lane ended with a steep drop, and the driver was not sure he could make it along without going over the edge. This created some merriment for a while, and eventually he tried to scrape past. This was interesting, if we had not just read about a bus going off a cliff in Peru killing fifty odd people. Still, bus drivers here have some real skill, and it was a blessing we made it. Over a narrow bridge marking the border and then it widened up again. I would not like to be going the other way driving myself!
The cue for the trucks finally ended about 5km from the border post, and it looked as if some of the drivers had set themselves up for a long wait.
So, one of thee most stress free borders we have had in a while! A good start to the country. The bus then made its way to Kesan where we would disembark. The bus company excelled here. Not only had they provided us with Tea, Coffee, soft drinks and biscuits during the trip, they had also organised a taxi for us. Needless to say that when it pulled up at a service station way out of town we were a bit worried. There was the said taxi here,and we were not sure if we wanted to take it, but we had no choice, our bags came out of the bus, loaded into the taxi and the driver told where to take us. Before we could object to any of this. Where Metro (the bus company) made it for us was when they paid for it! We were taken to the bus station in Kesan. Straight to the metro office where tickets to Canakkale were organised for us. The bus was even meant to arrive in the next 5 minutes. OK, so it was about 15minutes late, but they are still doing really well. Again we got food and drinks served to us, which is very nice. Metro even has little screens embedded in the chairs the same as aeroplanes where you can watch TV or a movie or even play a game or two. It was just unfortunate that the TV stations and movies were all in Turkish!
On arriving at Canakkale we found the catch to the charmed day. The bus station is way out of town. In Kesan we had not thought too much about it, but here the lights of the city were way off in the distance. How do we get there? Metro to the rescue again! They provided a mini bus for their customers to get into town. This was great. We got a few tips from someone sitting besides us on where to stay and around the area. A few others on the bus had great interest in my hair. Yep, we are back in a Muslim country! (Not used to dreads)
Getting off in the main square we were spoilt with choice for accommodation, finding one almost within our price bracket, we settled down. The guy here is fantastic, nice and helpful and full of ways to occupy a day or a month! We could end up here for a while! A walk around town and a bite to eat. There was a feeling over us as we walked around. We instantly preferred this to Kevala or Thessaloniki, and even though the town is over 100,000 people we still liked it. Finally pinning down why we liked it so much was a relief. There is no traffic on the central streets. Just the occasional scooter. Not the double or triple parking that is everywhere in Greece. Not the mad cars and bikes zooming around with beefed up mufflers. Not the hordes of people pushing you this way or that making you move with the flow. Sure there are lots of people here, but it is just different. It is a lot more relaxed and quieter. Just Perfect!