Bijelo Polje Montenegro
Kaliningrad Russia Federation
Las Vegas, Nevada USA
This is a continuation of the Kurdistan 2012 story and follows visits to northern Iraq and several notable central and eastern cities in Turkey during the past three months.
... The over night bus from Aydin arrived before dawn in the Istanbul otogar. At 05:00 nothing is open, not even the Metro subway. So, I walked around the area of bus agent offices inquiring about schedules for buses into Bulgaria. When the Metro underground started running at 06:00 I bought a 3TL jeton (token) and rode into Anksaray and then walked over to the Tram line to get down to the Serkeci stop near the Hotel Prince. I'd hoped one of the guys I'd met twelve years ago might still be working there, but no luck. I booked a room for two nights after negotiating a 130TL rate. The room I got was much smaller than what I remember from my earlier stay and the WiFi functioned poorly and the breakfast failed to meet my expectations.
During my hotel shopping exercise I found a cute little boutique hotel behind the Hagia Sophia and booked it for two nights at a negotiated rate of 105TL. The WiFi in the Hotel Valide Sultan Konagi is strong and works well, but the lobby computer is set up for Turkish users only and we were unable to get a QWERTY keyboard mapped. The top floor dining room where the breakfast buffet is served
On my third day in the city I realized my 90 day visa would soon expire so I dashed out to the airport for a consultation with the tourist police handling foreigner visas. They spoke on English and were no help at all. My original 90 day visa will expire on Tuesday, 29 January, so I must make plans to get into Bulgaria before then.
Tires rolling over cobble stones make a loud and distinctive sound clearly announcing a vehicle approaching from behind well in advance of it actually reaching where you are... usually. Yesterday during the 14:00 calls to prayer there was so much noise being made by all the holy yellers I failed to hear a yellow cab racing down a narrow street behind me. The sidewalk ahead of where I walked had a construction barrier blocking the exit from a tunnel like structure which I noticed just as I reached it. Stepping off the curb to walk around the obstruction the racing cab missed my foot by inches. Fortunately, my survival instinct created a reflex that bounced me back up on the sidewalk and out of harm's way, but it was close.
My stay in the Princess Hotel for the last night in Istanbul allowed me to be somewhat closer to the bus station. Previous scouting trips established the only company heading into Bulgaria would be the Metro Bus at 14:00 for a seven hour trip to Sofia... assuming no unexpected delays along the way. More in the next postcard from Bulgaria.
Fred L Bellomy