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5th September
written by Hazel

We weren’t able to get a seat on the overnight train from Sofia to Istanbul, so we decided to try the overnight bus. We had read on the internet that many people prefer the bus anyway, and the bus we went for (Metro) was supposed to be pretty nice. Turns out we had been completely spoiled as far as buses go by the deluxe buses in South America. The timing of the trip also turned out to be pretty awful.

We left Sofia at something like 11:45 pm, and tried to get some sleep. Around 1:30 am we pulled into the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. About two hours later we finished all the border business and were able to get back on the bus. We fought to get back to sleep, but had a pretty restless trip and arrived in Istanbul shortly after sunrise at 6:30 am. Of course, this was way too early to check into our hostel and we were exhausted from a very disturbed night and had a pretty daunting task ahead of us in navigating a new, huge, chaotic city to navigate.

We were saved by a very kind local who had been on the bus with us. He saw that we were looking a bit lost and not only explained how to get where we were going, but walked us to the correct tram, and insisted on buying our ticket so that we didn’t have to use the bus station ATM. This immediately put us in a state of mind to love Istanbul, and we were not at all disappointed. We made it to our hostel after a fairly long, but very scenic tram ride and a short walk, dropped off our bags and headed back out into the city for a few hours until it was late enough to check in.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with the bus (except that the entertainment system they advertised didn’t work), but it was nothing like the overnight buses we got used to in South America. Those have big, comfortable seats, movies, snacks, and a fairly quiet, undisturbed night. In fact, those you can count as a night saved on accommodation. This experience was much more like staying up all night traveling, but missing all of the scenery.

All I can say is that the bacon I had at our pricey breakfast near the Blue Mosque while we were hanging out waiting to check in to the hostel was one of the best things I have ever tasted.

Istanbul in the early morning

Istanbul in the early morning


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