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Trip Start Feb 04, 2007
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Trip End Mar 09, 2008


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Flag of Turkey  ,
Monday, October 29, 2007

The bus out of Tehran - for two days - was far less painful than expected. In the general disorganisation of a bus ticketing system that seemingly sold everyone seats 27 and 28 Claude made an excellent executive decision to occupy seats 1 and 2 until someone told us to move elsewhere. This never came.

The strength of this choice cannot be overstated. The co-driver responded in Hour 1 (of 42) to Claude's hangdog look and proffered tea from the driver's constantly steaming thermos. So began a trend whereby those in seats 1 through 8 were fully serviced and catered but the remaining passengers only got a nice hot cup of go and get stuffed. This is no simple exaggeration - there was a fight in the rear as we neared Tabriz and we tell from the cuts under his eye that our co-driver was a key protagonist and possibly the instigator. But he returned straight from the melee to offer us more tea. That's service.

Indeed, we were in no risk of dehydration at any stop. Resting at a gravelly byway with a single lone refreshment shed another passenger shared to the proprietor that there were two Australian tourists here. It was 1am and we were a long way from anywhere, so this man's customer base and revenue opportunities must have been somewhat limited. We had currency no longer of any use to us that we wanted to be rid of. But do you think he would begin to allow foreign guests to pay...?

We have slotted straight back into Istanbul like its our old home town. We have old haunts for pide and iskender and have even struck gold by finding a new baklava house - necessitated after we were forced to abandon an old favorite after repeated shortchanging attempts and a genuine expression of affront each time I noted the proprietor's error simply made it all too tiring. We were amazed at how overtired we were after Iran and the commute back and have enjoyed the extended couple of days here (after being sure to secure a train ticket through to Athens of course).

There has even been the odd surprise for me here as we are now seeing the city outside Ramadan, and the crowds and the excitement have subsided and day to day business has returned. While still very much an enjoyable place, it has made it very clear to us how fortunate we were to come during the Ramadan period we had planned so effectively to avoid.
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