I woke up at 10:20 today, showered, dressed, packed my bags, and checked out at 11:00. I then hung out in the common area and researched the next leg of my journey in Greece (I rearranged my schedule and came up with a nearly solid plan – akin to a hard gelatin) before exiting the hostel and walking to a nearby Metro Bus Company store, where I bought my ticket for tonight to Thessaloniki, Greece (departure time from outside the store: 20:00; departure time from Istanbul: 22:00). I then walked to the local market and bought some juice and snacks before returning to the hostel. Back at the hostel, I munched on my food, drank my juice, and typed some journal entries and updated the website. I considered possibly going to Rumeli Fortress today (to make up for yesterday), but decided against it since I was feeling very tired and exhausted (I think traveling and walking around everywhere for nearly a year, coupled with excessive drinking, has caught up with me – I think I’ll take it easier in Greece). I then worked until 17:00, at which time I left the hostel again to eat dinner. I walked to a restaurant recommended by the hostel receptionist and had an iced tea and İskender kebap with a salad, bread, minced spices, and yogurt (when all ingredients are combined, it can taste quite delicious!). After dinner, I walked back to the hostel, read some news, and typed out a portion of today’s journal entry while waiting until it was time to grab my bags and head to the Metro Bus Company store. At 19:40, I departed the hostel and walked to the Metro Bus Company; I then waited at the store until 20:10, when a bus came and picked up some passengers and I. The bus then drove to another location (near Taksim Square) and picked up more passengers. We then drove on past the square and to Otogar Bus Station (the main bus hub in Istanbul, where I had arrived four days ago), arriving there around 21:00. Then, with time to spend and money to kill, I walked around and ended up at a restaurant in the bus station where I had an iced tea and a Turkish faux-peperoni pizza that was shaped like this: (). After eating that meal, I bought some snacks and water, and walked to where the bus to Thessaloniki was parked. Once there, I loaded my bags inside and eventually myself as well. At 22:00, the bus departed the station and drove westward to Greece. At 23:48, the bus quickly picked up an additional passenger at a bus station and continued on her journey (die Bus ist eine Mädchen!). At 00:30, we stopped for a twenty minute rest stop; at 00:50, we continued onward and drove straight on to the border, which we entered in to at 01:45, when we entered the Turkish passport control. At this point, my heart started to beat very quickly and I began to sweat and breathe heavily; I was sooo worried that the Turkish police at the border checkpoint would discover the two kilograms of hashish I was smuggling in to Greece; luckily, they were inept and I made it through okay; I received my exit stamp from Turkey and I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized I wouldn’t have to suffer time in a Turkish “rape-you-in-the-ass” prison (a la ‘Midnight Express’), nor be sentenced to watch ‘Turkish Star Wars’ over and over again whilst in jail (I think the latter fear is much worse than the former). [NOTE: at times, I am what you would call an –reliable narrator – so, believe everything I type . . .] Anyway, at 02:05, we loaded back up on the bus and drove to the Customs checkpoint.
Then, at 02:16 – after passing through Customs -, we drove on and passed over the line in the road, marking the international border, at 02:17. At 02:20, we entered Greek passport control, where all of our passports were collected and we then waited outside the bus for a while, before reentering the bus. Then, at 03:18, we received our passports back and drove on. At this point (shortly before 04:00), I began to fall asleep, but I do remember us entering in to a city that looked an awful lot like Cyprus (no big surprise there, given their shared history) and dropping some passengers off. Around this point of my journal’s narrative (04:00) I did fall asleep and would remain that way for approximately two hours.