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Welcome to AsiaWheeling, Ms. Heditsian

We arrived at the Adana bus station well after dark, and Scott and Claudia ran off to get some Turkish lira from an ATM, while I sat and watched our stuff. I took out the ukulele and began playing, soon becoming surrounded by a large crowd of people, some of whom were interested in the strange cover of Modest Mouse’s “The Good Times Are Killing Me” that I was playing, the rest of whom were interested in selling me stuff.

In the middle of a song, a man came up to me offering a cup of tea, which he expertly served up using one hand, flipping the saucer, which had been acting as a lid, and dropping two sugar cubes into the brew. In the true Arab style, I refused the drink a few times, explaining that I had no money just yet, and after some more insistence on his part, humbly thanked him and drank the tea down,  which was, of course, mighty sweet.

I was startled when he came back a few songs later and began demanding money from me. I, of course, had none, so I apologized and he grumbled, walking away. Eventually Scott and Claudia arrive back with the lira. We packed our things up and proceeded from there to haggle our way into a cab ride to the airport in one of the many bright yellow station wagon cabs that were scattered around the station.

At the airport, we were not waiting more than five minutes before Claudia and Diane emerged from the terminal. For having just traveled for something like 24 hours, Diane was looking quite put together and was in very high spirits.

We all piled into an even larger cab and proceeded from there to a certain kebab restaurant that had come very highly recommended by some friends of Diane’s back in Northern California. The place was, of course, amazing and we made sure to take a thorough tour of the facilities, as our food was being prepared.

When our food arrived it was truly stunning. Turkish food is delightfully unique compared to the Syrian, Lebanese, and Jordanian fare that we’d been consuming. We hungrily dug into some sizzling cheese dip, a giant parsley salad, a fresh wavy flatbread, much thicker and chewier than we had had in a while, a chopped tomato sauce, a plate of garlicky yoghurt sauce, grilled hot peppers and tomatoes, a giant plate of meat kebabs, and of course a little Effes, the new local brew.

Bellies full, we returned to the bus station, and climbed on a night bus to Istanbul.

We woke up the next morning on the bus, speeding along smooth Turkish highways traversing desert once again. The bus had advertised wifi on board, which was a futuristic treat that we were excited to take advantage of, but it was sadly not operational.

We stopped halfway through the ride at a strange tourist schlock and snack joint, where we all wandered off the bus and gawked at the bizarre assortment of products, not the least of which was giant piles of Turkish delight, a kind of jellied candy that aims to command the lion’s share of the tourist’s souvenir budget.

We finally arrived in Istanbul, and climbed gratefully off the bus. It had been quite a long ride, and it was good to stretch the limbs again.

We grabbed all our things and made our way across the lot to the subway, which took us into the city.

At the end of the line in the city, we parted ways, as Diane took a cab, and Claudia, Scott and I, on our Dahons, headed to the touristy hotel district that had been recommended to us by our special adviser for Turkey, Asher Kohn.

It was a place called Sultanamet, and it was just packed to the gills with white people, hotels, restaurants, and tourist shops. We wheeled along the cobblestone drive, scouting for places, and wandering around sticking our heads into one hotel after another.

Eventually, we settled on the Park Inn, a luxurious little place right next to the Four Seasons.

That night we headed out looking for food, and stumbled into a seaside restaurant, where we dined on many small dishes.

It was a kind of Turkish Tapas-style food called Meze. It was delicious, and we were able to have our first taste of Turkish wine, which we would like to hereby proclaim ourselves in support of, for it is not only delicious, but unlike most things so far in Turkey, also very inexpensive.

We then all headed back to the Park Inn, where we were quite happy to be, for the first time in some while, sleeping on clean white sheets.


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