For a more text-y, storylike version of our adventures, check out Marissa’s blog! Mine’s rife with words and resplendent with scads of photos though, so don’t forget to cross-check our tales!
Two weeks ago, Marissa and Joanne arrived at my apartment and we began trying to burn cds and repack bags. Where on earth were we going? Well, dear, if you read the title of this post then you already know the answer. We were going to Turkey! We had eight days and a dream (and tickets and reservations) and we were leaving at 6:30 in the morning.
After a sleepless night of planning, getting ourselves to the airport, forgetting to exchange laris for liras, and soothing a plane-phobic Joanne during take-off (“What’s that sound??” “It’s the engines, Joanne! Here, hold our hands.”), we arrived in Turkey at Istanbul’s secondary airport.
Our plan consisted of a four day coastal roadtrip down to Bodrum on the Southern Aegean shore of Anatolia followed by four days in Istanbul, seeing the sights. We had been told that a man from our car rental agency would meet us at the airport at 7:30 for our reservation. He did not. In fact, he did not meet us until closer to 9 or 9:15. It was not a strong start.
By the time we got on the road, we were starving. Joanne and Marissa had bought some bagels, or bagel-like breakfast foods, and hand-fed me as I drove towards the random town of Pendick to pick up Pauli.
Miraculously, we stumbled across him walking the streets of Pendick immediately after parking! Pauli, you see, had taken a bus from Batumi. From the sound of it, it was quite a luxurious bus at that!
We bought some fresh-squeezed juices and an adaptor cable to plug in my iPod with its epic TURKEY ROADTRIP PLAYLIST and get our jams on. It was going to be an awesome trip.
First order of business was to drive north, skirting Istanbul and crossing the Bosporus to Europe. Marissa had passed out almost immediately after getting into the car. At our prompting, she looked through sleep-fogged, half-closed eyes as I excitedly drove from Asia to Europe.
I drove for a solid four hours (on maybe one hour of sleep) up through Thrace and along the Sea of Marmara, appropriately renamed El Mar del Marimar, after Marissa. Finally, the combination of energetic music, good conversation, and loud singing with Pauli lost its effectiveness and I needed to caffeinate. We pulled over and woke the sleeping girls to head into a shop.
Immediately, Marissa and I became aware of a pressing need to pee. With no bathrooms to be found, we decided to drive a bit further down the road and go pee in the sea. I stopped our brand new Renault Symbol under a pedestrian overpass and we crossed to a village on the side of the highway. Leaving our shame and senses of decency in the car, we went to pee in the sea.
The girls peed on shore behind a protective barrier of me and Pauli. Afterwards, he and I rushed into the water to squat and pee safely out of sight of any passersby. The water was frigidso the girls only went in up to their toes.
Pauli and I dashed out of the water and stood next to the seawall, sunning ourselves and drying our boxer shorts that we’d worn into the ocean. As we tanned (kind of) the girls were in such a loving mood that we decided to take a bunch of adorable hearts-on-the-beach photos.
Leaving the shoreline behind, we walked back through the residential neighborhood towards the highway. We’d not gone twenty feet before we found ourselves distracted once more, only this time it was by…
As we peeled out of the muddy pit we had parked by, zooming quite fast in reverse, a Turkish man stepped out of his house shouting at us to stop. Parked on a super-steep onramp to the highway in a stick-shift, we listened as the man explained to Pauli in German how we were supposed to get to Gallipoli. Though we didn’t need his help, his eagerness pleased us. Honestly, he probably would have hopped in the car and come with us the whole way if we’d let him—something we would basically experience later in our trip.
As Joanne quickly adapted to driving on the right side of the road and mine and Pauli’s boxers dried on the dashboard, I felt my sleep debt creeping up on me. I must have said something completely incoherent because Marissa looked at me, amused and said, “I think someone needs a snippy snap!” Her bastardization of “nippy nap” was both endearing and telling. We both took snippy snaps in the back seat for the next few hours—I only awoke for a half second; long enough to hear Joanne ask, “Should we wake Raughley up to ask him for directions?” and to answer, “Turn right,” before falling back asleep.
We arrived at the national park just before sunset. Pauli ate dirt and needed to be briefly patched up with his own first-aid kit (this was certainly not the last we saw of the kit!) and then we began our evening sojourn through the winding hilltops of the 95 year-old battlefield.
We left the battlefields behind and booked it over to the ferry boat (Turkish: feriboat) to take us across the Dardanelles that so frustrated the British all those years ago. As we waited in line in our car, starving and talking about magic, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Possibly the only thing that could excite Marissa almost as much as kitties:
Joanne responded by shooting pure magic out of her hand
To boat ride was pretty uneventful. At one point Pauli and I got up to explore, leaving the girls to their cookie and sausage sandwiches in the car. As we stood between Europe and Asia we marveled at the stars and the lights on the nearby coasts that were, at the same time, continents apart. Pretty soon, I spotted the Trojan Horse’s silhouette on the Asian side.
We checked in to our hostel where the night-duty guy was eating Domino’s Pizza and drinking Gatorade (Though we were definitely in Asia, in many ways we were actually in the West!!!!). He gave us the key to our sixteen-bed dorm room. Sounds bad, right? Not so bad when you’re the only four people in the entire room!
Though we were exhausted, we fought the urge to pass out in a heap and headed out to find the recommended Doner Kebap place. It was definitely worth the excursion!
We doubled back, picking up a few non-Georgian beers at a shop and some juice, so that we could visit the Trojan Horse in all its glory. The stroll took us along a pier and down a promenade. We marveled at the huge number of people milling about and enjoying the night air in this random small town—a phenomenon hardly seen at all in Georgia.
After a short walk past kitties and the tantalizing smell of roasting corn, we arrived at the Trojan Horse! A small plaque informed us that it was the very prop used in the Brad Pitt film from a few years back. I watched part of that movie once with my friend Justin as we worked on our model airplane. We’re still working on it. It’s taken us four years so far.
We returned to our hostel and crashed for real this time. Pauli was out in a heartbeat, while the girls took turns taking showers. We had slept a combined total of probably twelve hours in the previous thirty six and had had an exhausting but exhilarating first day in Turkey. The next morning we needed to wake up early because we wanted to be at the gates of Troy by dawn—a goal that ten thousand Greeks once shared.