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Pole to Pole

Day 45: Istanbul to Selcuk

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleUp at 6 a.m. to get down to Sirkeci station to buy a rail ticket for Izmir. Fraser is becoming more Cassandra-like each day. This morning he's heard news that a British businessman has been killed in Istanbul and British travellers are advised to be on their guard. Unfortunately no one's told us what to be on our guard against.

On the concourse of this station at the very end of Europe, where the Orient Express used to terminate, there is a large bas-relief of the head of Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. His presence is as ubiquitous as Lenin's was in the Soviet Union, but unlike Lenin he is still widely revered and respected fifty years after his death. Even the cheerfully cynical Sevim, while telling us that he died of cirrhosis of the liver and had a prodigious sexual appetite, declares: 'This was a great man'.

We leave Istanbul at nine o'clock on the ferry MV Bandirma which takes four and a half hours to cross to the town of Bandirma on the north coast of what my school atlas used to refer to as Asia Minor. She is carrying nearly a thousand passengers - a mixture of Turkish students, businessmen clutching laptops, veiled Muslim women and foreign backpackers. The bars and cafÚs are already open and salesmen with drinks and sandwiches are working their way through the crowds.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 45
  • Country/sea: Turkey
  • Place: Bandirma
  • Book page no: 100

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