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Posts tagged ‘bus travel’

Getting to Gallipoli

To get to Gallipoli we were taking the bus; to take the bus we needed to get to the main bus station servicing destinations outside the city. The day before I learned that this was not walking distance. There was a tram line, but we would need to change and having seen how crammed the trams were, and with our bags, it sounded like public transport hell.

So, taxi it was. After another hotel breakfast we checked out and waited. In typical Istanbul traffic fashion, the taxi that arrived was then hemmed in between a bus and a couple of trucks so some manoeuvring was necessary before we could go anywhere.

Otogar Esenler was further out than I realised – the taxi ride must’ve lasted about half an hour. (No, not really walking distance.) While dad snapped photos out the window, I was wondering if we weren’t just going on a joy ride and worrying a little about what the fare would be.

We did drive past part of the massive old Constantinople city wall though, which was amazing to see. Big and long.

With some relief we made it to the bus station, having to go through a ticket gate which whacked another 5TL onto the price – 50TL in total thank you. Oh well at least we were there.

The otogar was a big centre of maybe 50 bus companies and there was only one which had regular hourly departures to where we wanted to go. Thank gawd I had worked out with a guy at the hotel which company this was. We went there and bought two tickets to Eceabat (Eh-chah-bat) at 45TL each. Due to magic pixies at work in the universe, the next bus was getting ready to depart so on we hopped and found our allocated seats.

I’d heard the buses were comfortable and this was the case, big Mercedes coaches with not-too-bad legroom. It was a five hour journey and I wanted dad to be reasonably comfortable. They provided refreshments which was a nice bonus.

Time ticked by ok. I was keen to see the landscape and managed this in and around tiredness and the lingering headache. With the often bumpy road it was difficult to sleep anyway.

More rapeseed crops – that stuff is everywhere!

Lunch stop somewhere along the way

The driver had an interesting thingy dangling from his rear view mirror

The bus destination was Canakkale, the last stretch of a journey requiring a ferry ride across the Dardanelles from the village of Eceabat. But Eceabat was as far as dad and I would go.

The bus let dad and I and bags out then boarded the ferry to Canakkale

War monument on the Eceabat waterfront

I left dad in charge of bags while I scoped out ATM, snacks (which would have to do us for dinner), and taxi.

We trudged over toward where I’d seen taxies and gave a driver heading toward us a bit of a raised-eyebrow-nod which I hoped conveyed yes we wouldn’t mind a lift thanks. Expecting some basic stilted communication we were instead greeted with “hello, can I help you?” You certainly can. After explaining where we wanted to go he said oh yes the proprietor was his friend. The ride was about 10 minutes and we got some local information on the way. Possibly we paid for this knowledge as the fare at 40TL was almost as much as the longer ride that morning. Ah well.

We arrived in the village of Kocadere, home to the Gallipoli Houses accommodation. I had found this place while conducting research and it sounded great, not to mention based on the back door of the battlefields.

And it exceeded my expectations – after the journey it had been to get there it was like finding an oasis. A really well thought out site with nicely presented units and fantastic outlook to the third ridge of the battlefields where the Anzacs were largely based. And wifi!! In fact I was buzzing so much about everything it was a few hours before I realised there was no television. Which was fine by me – dad, not so sure!

I had been excited to see from the bus wild poppies growing on the sides of the road. And the final perfect touch with the accommodation were its own poppy bushes.

Taken just outside our units. I was looking forward very much to two nights here!

I got settled in and went to investigate the village in the warm afternoon sun.

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In the mouth of T-Rex

I was looking forward to a decent sleep but alas this did not eventuate due to a combination of inconsiderate room mates and unexplained ‘things that go bump in the night’. So it was back into it fairly early in the morning. I planned to leave Calgary later that day but not before fitting in a group tour over to Drumheller.

The main theme of the day was the area’s dinosaur history. We stopped by viewing points of more badlands terrain, similar to where I visited a few days before.

Our longest stop was at the excellent Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. The large complex is built in complementary fashion to its surroundings.

Dinosaurs of course feature heavily and this chap is a bit of a star attraction.

In the town of Drumheller they embrace their prehistoric heritage. That’s me waving from the mouth of T-Rex, apparently the world’s largest dinosaur…

The tour bus (actually just a peoplemover on account of the small group) dropped me off at the bus terminal and a few hours later I was on the tedious 1300km journey to Winnipeg. Through the prairies of Saskatchewan and Manitoba you soon run out of interesting things to look at.

I initially had just a quick overnight stop in Winnipeg and would return for a few more days later to visit a friend. But the immediate priority was to take the train to the subarctic north. I was off to see polar bears!

Highlight of a looong bus trip

The Greyhound service to Edmonton ran only three times a week which meant departure needed to be planned ahead. Andrea stayed on in Whitehorse so I joined what became a full bus. Space is a godsend on these long journeys but it wasn’t to be this time.

At Watson Lake we could get off and wander around for a while. I was really keen to stop here but on the way up we passed through in darkness. This time it was late afternoon.

Watson Lake is famous for its signpost forest – a massive collection of signs which grows with the contributions of passing tourists, in much the same way as the jandal fence does which I recently passed on a drive up to Auckland, and the bra fence a few years ago near Cardrona.

It was boggling how many signs there were. Today there is over 60,000.

The first sign was placed there in 1942 by an army engineer during construction of the Alaska Highway, which was built primarily to provide a supply route during WWII.

When we got back on the bus there was still a daunting number hours to go. Eventually we made it to Edmonton where another brief hostel stay was followed by another bus ride, this time over to Calgary. There another box-like rental car was waiting to transport me around rural Alberta for a few days.

What you don’t want on a 2000km bus ride

…Breakdowns.

It was another long couple of days sitting down. From Jasper I bussed the few hours over to Edmonton, filling in time until the next departure at quarter past midnight. A shame that the rather large West Edmonton Mall wasn’t close by… though at 5.3 million square feet there’s every chance I may have missed my bus and could still be there now.

While it was very late at night, the scheduled stops meant sleep was a rather scrappy affair. We climbed off at Dawson Creek to have breakfast, then joined the Alaska Highway which begins there.

Over the next few hours it became clear the bus had mechanical issues. We had our first unscheduled stop, but got going again after half an hour. Soon after we stopped for lunch at the small restaurant at Buckinghorse River.

Alas not long after getting underway again, the bus again gave up the ghost. The stoppage that time was over an hour.

We got going again and had a meal stop (courtesy of Greyhound) at Prophet River. There was only about 10 of us so the tab wasn’t huge. Eventually a replacement bus turned up and we continued on our way, with only 1500km left to go…

FINALLY, 5 hours late, we reached our destination: Whitehorse in the Yukon.

Another Indianapolis must-see

So I caught the bus from Mississippi, where I had earlier abandoned the evacuation flight with my cousin. My travel diary makes special mention of the many strange people I waited with in that bus terminal – though on my Greyhound travels, this was not unusual.

Indianapolis was the eventual destination, foremost because I had a date to see exceedingly quick and noisy cars as mentioned in my last post.

And in a similar vein, since I was going to be in the neighbourhood there was another big sight to go and see.

I booked a rental car which was my first driving experience of the trip. Had the usual dose of nerves about driving on the other side of the car and road but after deftly negotiating a couple of laps of the Budget carpark I deemed myself ready.

Like Daytona, no event was scheduled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway but it is such a prominent place in motorsport that it was a highlight to go there all the same.

It may have been open for tours, but you could not get close to the actual track without making the security staff antsy.

Also on site is the I.M.S Hall of Fame Museum. I’m not normally a fan of museums but this was more my cup of tea.

Afterward there was still a few hours in the day and a full tank of gas that I’d prepaid, so I got in the car and drove. Which happened to be about 60 miles in essentially a straight line. I chanced upon the Grissom Air Museum.

Another museum, I was doing well! This was a great bonus to the day. One of the elderly gentlemen at the counter picked up that I was a Kiwi, said he was a PoW in WWII and had been imprisoned with a New Zealander.

Drag racing the following day and that was the end of my visit to Indianapolis.

Quick stop-off at Ground Zero

This wasn’t where I started my North American odyssey but is where I will start this collection of retrospectives!

After Niagara Falls I took the bus to Washington, DC. The route was via New York City so I planned a couple of hours on the ground there to go and see the former site of the World Trade Centre.

I had visited Manhattan before and therefore didn’t make it a big feature this time. But I was keen to see Ground Zero, almost three years after it became known as such. On my previous visit the twin towers were still well and truly there but low cloud thwarted the full experience.

After arriving in Manhattan I embarked on a routine I would become very familiar with – navigating solo while humping around a heavy pack. Somehow I managed to catch a subway train and popped up not far away from the site. It was early morning and there weren’t many people around.

It was still very evidently a place of major upheaval and some works were also underway on neighbouring buildings. The honour roll was as you might expect: long.

The rebuilt subway station.

View of the site from the station.

Before heading back to catch the next Greyhound I wandered over to Battery Park to eat a sandwich. While I was enjoying views across to the Statue of LIberty, a bold squirrel seemed quite keen that I share my breakfast.

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