So much for a three hour limit. What am I, your dancing monkey? My friend, my friend!

The Wandering Nerd November 28th, 2007


Ugh, that sucked. The train ride was to be 7 hours long. Planning ahead, I enjoyed one last happy hour at the hostel in Athens. Medicinally mind you. While waiting on the platform I met a couple of girls from Turkey - originally from Bulgaria - Emel and Bilginar (billionaire) who were kind enough to take me in and chaperon me all the way to Istanbul. This turned out marvelously, they were great - even bought me dinner and paid for my metro when I got there - and I would have been in trouble without them to translate. The train was painful. They refused to open the windows, as it ‘would disturb the other passengers’ all of whom were sweating like I was. The only place to get fresh air was the smoking coach. Ah, irony, we meet again. It was impossible to sleep, even medicated.

The second train that I was planning on taking from Thessoloniki to Istanbul was no longer running due to some tracks being washed out recently. The only way to get there was a bus ride…a ten hour bus ride. Another rule broken. It was quite comfortable, though I’m getting to a part of the world where an american is a true novelty. There was one kid on the bus that just kept staring at me the whole time and asking me where I was from, over, and over, and over….and over. I did get a quick education in Turkish though:

Hello - merhaba

Goodbye - güle güle

Yes - everet

No - hayir

Please - lütfen

Thank you - tesekkür ederim

Do you speak English? - inglizce biliyor musunuz?

Ocean (wait for it…) - okyanus

And the utility knife of words: tamam

Depending on context and intonation it can mean, OK, Got you!, Thank you, Enough, Complete, Finished, Cut it out!, ready, etc…

Stopping at the border for Turkey I was quietly herded away from the bus by some armed guy to get a Visa. I thought Turkey was pretty much just like any other EU country but apparently not. It was either $20 or €15. Good thing I still had the US money, $20 is a hell of a lot cheaper.

When the bus finally pulled into Istanbul I said my goodbyes and hopped a metro and tram to where I’d planned on staying I had to ask around a bit and couldn’t find anyone that spoke any english. One guy on the metro walked up to me as I got off the metro and said, “Sultanhamet” and motioned to follow. He then paid for me to get on the right tram and pointed out where I needed to stop. Turkish hospitality again! By the time I’d made it to the hostel I’d been awake for about 40 hours. Those of us who had been awake for almost two days were in no mood for Kaffee and Baklava, we wanted strong drink. We were the absolute cream of the traveling press. Nothing is as good as the first beer after walking halfway across a giant city…and the first Raki. :)

After a snooze I rolled over to the Grand Bazaar, where everyone is my friend, and I’m soooo lucky that they are offering to sell me whatever crap they are selling, and they are selling everything. From what you’d expect, rugs and silver, to chainsaws. Get that on the plane going back. I’m looking for a silver bracelet and it’s damn near impossible to comparison shop in a place like that. I came back and searched for the going price for silver in Lira per gram, as long as I get it for under that, I’ll be set. Heh, heh, these people must hate informed consumers. I stopped for a kebab and had some Shalgam. I’ve had some strange things since I’ve been traveling and, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed them. In this instance, not so much. It’s like someone made Tabasco Sauce into a drink…poorly. They say it’s a hangover remedy here, I can only agree with that in as much as if I had a hangover and drank that shit, I’d go all Jackson Pollock.

It’s actually pretty cool that I’m going to be here for so long, probably five days, before I bounce to India - where it’s 90 degrees *SMILE*. It’s much cheaper and I’m not feeling the normal rush to get to see certain things.

Here’s the start of the Istanbul gallery:

even old new york was once new amsterdam
why they changed it I can’t say
people just liked it better that way
-they might be giants

6 Responses to “So much for a three hour limit. What am I, your dancing monkey? My friend, my friend!”

  1. Hoshion 28 Nov 2007 at 3:31 pm

    Hopefully, the hospitality of your Ottoman friends holds out for you. It is cool that they are so willing to help you out in an unfamiliar land. Depending on which part of the US they landed in, I doubt some would reciprocate the hospitality to anyone whose skin was even remotely brown or was obviously not from mainland US of A. :(
    The Meershaum pipe…yes, the one shaped like a skulll. Stop with the stoopid questions already. Send that to me. I’ll deposit the fundage to cover the pipe and shipping back here into your account. No, seriously.
    I’ve been in South Cackalacky for a week and unable to read the blog, so I have some catching up to do. I am looking at some grad school myself. I needs a masters sos Is can becomes a prefessur and warp the mind of fyutur generashuns to come!!!! :P
    I hope all is well. Try not to hum “Rock the Cazbah” too loudly…
    The king called up his jet fighters
    He said you better earn your pay
    Drop your bombs between the minarets
    Down the casbah way

    I can’t take the wailing coming from mosques…in much the same way I can’t take Christmas/Gospel music being piped into the streets this time of year back home. Grrrrrrrrr.
    Anyway, if there’s anything you need from back home, gimme a shout and place your order. Being that Yule is close at hand, it might take considerably longer to get stuff to you than normal.
    As always, be safe, have fun and Mekka-lekka-hi, Mekka-hiney-ho!, :D

  2. The Wandering Nerdon 29 Nov 2007 at 9:29 am

    Am I now your dancing monkey too?!?! Do I look like Skymall? WTF?
    I’ll send you an email offline with some stuff and see what I can do.

  3. Hoshion 29 Nov 2007 at 10:06 am

    I don’t know WTF the stuff is about, but yes…everyone is my monkey, dancing or not. Wez is here for oneanotherz amuzesment. :P
    No email yet. You need me to resend you one so you have my addy again?

  4. Hoshion 29 Nov 2007 at 10:07 am

    Now, why did my single “em” code work and your set didn’t?
    Technology loves the idiots, I guess…

  5. DocBroion 29 Nov 2007 at 10:25 am

    Hey, man! Wow, keeping up with your globetrotting ass is hard. I myself am preparing to pack up and spend a week in the wilds of Nashville, after having successfully thrown life into a whirl of chaos. Wheeee!

    Sounds like the Turks have been treating you well. I take back everything I ever said about you and Turks. And on a personal note, thanks for avoiding the prisons there. I know I said I’m come break you out of a Turkish prison commando-style if need be, and I will, but thanks for not testing me on that. The bathhouses… you’re on your own.

    On a serious note, have you, by any small chance, managed to get hold of medications to prevent malaria? Heading to India as you are, it is something to think about. If you think you’ve felt like shite with the colds you’ve had, they’d be but a soft-toned and lilting overture compared to the full volume symphony that is a real case of malaria. Honestly, that mess can kill you. Might be worth bopping by an American Embassy (assuming your exploits in other countries to this point don’t make that a dangerous thing for you from a security standpoint) just to inquire.


  6. DocBroion 30 Nov 2007 at 3:05 pm

    All of you who’ve been up nights worrying about the WN perishing from malaria can relax. It seems he already has a prescription for chloroquine. From me. From before he left. It’s my crackerjack memory and attention to detail that led me to choose a career in medicine.

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