I had not originally planned to visit Turkey. When I got to Bulgaria I had to decide between a left turn into Turkey or a right turn into Greece. I hung a left. Actually, I got on a bus in Plovdiv that drove all night into Istanbul. I could have traveled by rail on the famous Istanbul Express, but both my guidebook and two Bulgarians told me it had gone way down hill. The Istanbul Express is now known for poor service, running late, and theft of luggage. As much as I hated it, I took another overnight bus.
I have now traveled on overnight buses in Thailand, the Baltics, Bulgaria and Turkey. They are all remarkably similar. They all are billed as luxury buses and never are. They all have air vents and controls over the seats that are strictly for show; they don't do anything. The shocks are always bad. The luxury seats are of the same dimensions but lesser quality than the ergonomically incorrect seats in the economy class of airplanes. And they are always filled to capacity. But they are relatively cheap and can get you places you might not be able to reach any other way.
My bus left Plovdiv at 8:00 in the evening on Monday, 8 November. It was crowded with Turkish and Bulgarian passengers and lots of luggage. They were a surly group, jostling and arguing over seats for themselves and their luggage. The ride to Istanbul was uneventful other than it's unpleasantness. It took about three hours to get through the border, where I purchased my "visa" by showing my passport and paying $45. Most visas are used to control entry into a country; in Turkey visas are simply an entry fee. I arrived in Istanbul at 5:00 in the morning, nine hours after leaving Plovdiv. About half that time was spent at the border crossing and pit stops.
In flipping through my guidebook on Turkey I found many places I wanted to see. Too many. I still had lots of Europe left to see and had to eventually get back to the U.S. I regretfully passed on visiting the Gallipoli battlefields and headed from Istanbul to the small town of Bergama, location of the once great city of Pergamon.
From Bergama I took an afternoon bus to Selcuk, a small town to the south near the Aegean Sea. It is best known for its proximity to the ruins of Ephesus.
I used Selcuk as my home base while touring what remains of the cities of Ephesus, Pamukkale, Aphrodisias, and, in a one day tour, Priene, Miletos, and Didyma.
I arrived in Turkey on the seventh of November and left on the twentysixth. I kept moving and saw a lot, but missed much more. There is a lot to see and do in Turkey, and if you use a good guidebook it is cheap. I need to go back. But I'll watch those Istanbul taxi drivers.
My final view of Turkey.