Daily Archives: November 24, 2023

Day 9 – Turkey II


One of the Turks woke-up very early. I stayed in bed until 08:15 and was the second to get up. The night was a night in a train. Could be better but was not bad.

I go to the restaurant with computer to transcribe my notes and get something to drink. Maria is already there with her computer. I get a coffee and a juice to go with my olive bread bought in Mont Athos. My Turkish cabin mates join to look from the window. We are following Euphrates River in a nice landscape. Then Mesopotamia history comes to mind (with help from Maria) and I want to come back, cycle here. I drink some Turkish tea and enjoy.


Time goes thru, we are always in the restaurant car. The ones from my cabin, the english woman, a family of 4 australians. We are still traveling along the Euphrates river, now at a bit more than 1000 meters high. There is snow now and then in the fields, always in the mountains. I update the blog, reserve the hotel for tonight at Erzurum and make plans B in case the boat is late. People read, play cards, look at the phone. The other train passengers do not come to the restaurant because you need to consume. But the view is much better than in the cabins.

Following the Euphrates river
Longer stop, time to get some fresh air
Snowy fields along the trip


The train arrives to Erzurum. I say goodbye to my travel companions. There is snow on the streets, it snowed maybe 10/15cm yesterday. Erzurum is at 1900m. For once I’m incognito in a city, there are no tourists here. Erzurum is big, with university and airport and very close to a ski resort. I feel good. It was good to speak with people.

It was my train for 23 hours.
Want some onion?

In the hotel the receptionist speaks a mixture of french and english. I’ve a huge nice room for 22 €.


After speaking with Eva I go discover the city at twilight. There is a Madrasa – school – from the XVI century, with a museum, which I quickly visit. The castle is closed, the main mosque has the service going on and I should not disturb. I’m talking with my mom on the phone and wander in the city, between the people getting out of their jobs.

Madrasa from XVI c. in Erzurum


There are already quite some people in the restaurants eating and I look for one where I can eat something other than meat. A soup restaurant. I choose by their look, there is no menu. I found out later it is Ezogelin soup, made of lentils, onions, tomato, rice, bulgur and mint. Quite good. I try a small portion of another soup, which is a bit too oily. To finish I get a tea and go back to the hotel.

Ezogelin soup

Next stop: Georgia

[Extra post] Navigating Gender Lines: Turkey’s Quirky Public Transport Rules

Note: Text “improved” using ChatGPT.

Hey travelers! Ever booked a seat on public transport and had to specify your gender? Well, welcome to Turkey! In this unique travel experience, seating next to someone of the opposite sex is a bit of a no-no, unless you book together.

Trains: Clear as Day

Turkey’s train system doesn’t beat around the bush. Try booking seats next to someone of the opposite sex, and bam! You’re hit with a clear message saying, “Not allowed.” They’re serious about keeping guys and gals in their separate travel lanes.

Not sex mixture in train ticket

Buses: No Mix and Match

Now, buses take it up a notch. Most systems won’t even let you book seats next to the opposite sex. No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s a full-on restriction. Talk about keeping things strictly platonic on the road!

Bus reservation in Turkey

Why the Fuss?

Sure, some argue it’s about passenger comfort and safety. But seems not everyone’s on board with this gender-segregated journey. Critics say it’s a buzzkill for personal freedom. Solo travelers, especially those outside traditional gender norms, might find it a tad awkward or downright frustrating.

In a Nutshell

Turkey’s public transport rules add a unique twist to your travel tale. All aboard! 🚂✨

Day 8 – Turkey I


The bus arrives to Istanbul. I almost did not sleep. The trip was under very heavy rain. On the first stop, we were 4 passengers, the bus disappears while we are in the toilet. A little moment of panic before it comes back 5 minutes later.

On the border they ask where I go, if I’ve an hotel reserved in Istanbul. My answers were accepted.

I decide to take an earlier train to Ankara. After some complication buying the metro ticket – luckily, I had some Liras – I arrive to the train station where the train depart. There is nothing in the station. No tickets, no café. I go through the security and ask a young guy for help changing my ticket on the phone. I feel an old person. Fifteen minutes later they open the access to the platform and check the ticket. In my first class seat I try to sleep a bit more.


In Ankara I put the backpack in a locker and go explore the city. First, I walk to the monument dedicated to Atatürk the founder of Turkey. The city is big but there is space and it is easy to walk and get coordinates. The monument is a huge space, protected by armed guards. There are school groups and many Turkish tourists visiting, with Turkish flags and carfs. Exposed are the 3 redone cars that Atatürk used. There is his tomb and a museum. And a view over the gigantic Turkey capital.

I go further to the other side of the town. I find the bazaar, still with streets having each its speciality – men clothes, women clothes, big appliances, small appliances, heaters, pans, silver…


I found an hammam. I do not remember well anymore the ritual when I’ve been in Istanbul years back. There are two prices for tourists: entry + scrub + foam massage for 280 Liras and with oil-massage add on for 300 Liras more – about 10 €. I only have left money for the small program. They point to what I’ve to go and do. First sauna to sweat. The other client leaves the hammam soon after I get in. The hammam is all for myself, but I’ve no one to copy. I do some steam bath and then comes the masseur that points me where to lay down for the exfoliation. Turn, seat, shower, then back for the foam massage. He creates foam by dipping a pillow cover in soapy water, some air inside and then removing the air over me, creating huge amount of foam. The massage is short but hard. I do some more sauna and steam before going to rest in my cabin. I give 30 Liras tip to the masseur, for a work priced at 80. His face seems that is less than what tourist give, but I find it is quite good percentage of the price.


I look for a bank to get money without extra fee and a döner to eat. I feel I’m tight in time and decide to take the döner as take away, but I would like to seat in the restaurant in the middle of the market. I end up start eating in a park and finishing in the train station. My train is ready for boarding.

My train for tonight


Two retired Turks (55 and 57 years old) from Istanbul that go spent 3 days in Kars and a 31 year-old young from Wales – Tom –  that visits Istanbul and Georgia. With Google Translate I speak a bit with the Turks and much more with Tom, I miss speaking with anyone. We go all for tea in the wagon-restaurant. There are other tourists speaking English in the train.

One of my Turks cabinmate gets out the electrical extension and multiple sockets from the bag. The other gets a Bluetooth speaker and puts music. I take from my bag a Toblerone chocolate and offer. Two times he asks me if I don’t want to go to bed, I look tired.

Our cabin.


I return to the restaurant to write and a woman – Maria – from London asks about my trip. She is doing the Silk Road and is about 65 or 70 years old. It will be a nice trip. When I return to the cabin, they prepared their beds and are lay down. I do my bed, brush the teeth and follow them.

Next stop: Turkey (part II)