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Forgotten Pleasures: Boat, Train Travels – Essay

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There is nothing I enjoy more than traveling on the Cityline ferries between Bostancı Büyükada or Büyükada Kabataş in Istanbul. You sit on a secluded wooden bench on the back deck, you take a cup of tea from the buffet, you have a solid sweater or coat on, you have a warm hat on your head, the wind blows light breeze, the sun warms you, you have a very pleasant time.

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When I was in high school, we made a family ferry trip between Istanbul and Amasra with the Black Sea ferry. At that time, the ship stopped at the ports of Samsun, Ordu, Trabzon, and then went to Hopa, the farthest port. Now there are no longer those ferry services, people go everywhere by plane.

In February 1973, Metu Mechanical Engineering education ended with a one-semester extension. I had to repeat the Dynamics course that I failed in the second year in the extension semester, so I studied one more semester, got good grades and passed. With the limited pocket money we received from our fathers, we wanted to make a long journey that we had never done before. Three close friends from the same school, even from the same AAL high school, we first took the train from Ankara to Istanbul at night. The next morning, we bought a third class cabin ticket on the passenger boat from Galata dock to Iskenderun. In the afternoon, the boat left the dock, we sat on the deck and watched the sea with pleasure.

Each of us had dreams to do in the future. In the evening, we ate the food and sandwiches we brought with us in the cabin. We passed the Dardanelles at night. When We came to the Aegean Sea, a storm broke out in the sea. The steamer swayed like a walnut shell. Passengers with weak stomachs were trying to regain their senses on the deck. We got dressed and went on deck. Storm intensity was up to Beafort seven, we didn’t know what this scale was, we learned it here. The sailors passing by were always speaking in code, saying “three Beaufort, five”.

The night has passed, the storm was over. We arrived at the port of Izmir. After the storm that we spent at night, we didn’t feel like going ashore, we continued towards Kuşadası, we put on our swimsuits and sunbathed on the deck. The next day, the ferry arrived in Bodrum. Since there was no suitable pier to berth, it anchored in the open sea. The sea voyage was now over for us. We did not want to continue to Iskenderun, we took our suitcases and went ashore by boat.

In February 1973, Bodrum was empty. It was not as popular as it is today. We found a suitable hostel in the center. We were eating at a local restaurant nearby. We were walking on the beach all day. There were other university students who came to Bodrum like us, and we were chatting with them in the coastal tea gardens. The weather was mild and relatively warm, but there was no such thing as swimming in the sea.

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After the holiday ended, we returned to Ankara by bus. Each of us went his own way. I got a job in a public factory. When I look back, I say I’m glad I made this boat trip. I always wanted to make long-term ferry trips to distant ports, but the opportunity did not come. Greek islands, Mediterranean tour, Piraeus, Naples, Marseille, Barcelona.

It always crosses my mind to make an Atlantic crossing by boat. You will take the ferry from South Hampton port, you will go on the open sea for three nights and three days to New York port, you will see the Liberty statue on Ellis Island while entering New York port. You don’t necessarily need to travel in a luxury cabin. A second class ticket with decent food with deck pass is enough for me.

Until now, all my Atlantic crossings have always been by plane. I took the longest flight from Istanbul to Houston, it was a very long flight over Frankfurt and Dallas, as if it will never end.

I would also like to take a long train journey eith sleeping cabinet. I have always traveled by train to Ankara- Istanbul and Ankara- Izmir. I would also plan to cross between Ankara and Kars by train. I plan to travel to stay in Sivas for a while after the YHT high speed train Ankara Sivas line construction ends.

In 1976, while in Russia, the Moscow Vladivostok Trans Siberia Railway was being built. It’s now already over and it’s a very popular. .There are other long rail trips. The most popular is the voyage that starts from Cairo and reaches Dakar from the North African coastline. Then, in America, one should take a central American train journey from one coast to the other ocean coast between Washington and Losangeles. Another is in India. Also keep in mind train in Australia from Sydney to Perth, Sydney to Darwin.

These are all in dreams for a while during the covid19 process. Even YHT high speed train which takes a little more than four hours between Ankara and Istanbul, travel tickets are not easy to purchase. There are almost no tickets in the first week, but you can find tickets for the second week. There are already tickets for the next two weeks at most. Business tickets are sold out immediately.

This summer, there is the possibility of unlimited train travel within Germany with a ticket for only 9€. Those living in Germany should make the most of this opportunity.

Traveling is a good thing. Especially if you don’t have to drive. Air travel is a necessity for business, but if you have the opportunity, take a train or ferry to travel.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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