Conde Nast Traveler
Greece, STUNTS, Turkey

Train to Greece

Traintogreece_80days Can't sleep. It is two in the morning and I am on a train lying a bed that is three inches shorter than I would like it to be. We are somewhere between Istanbul and Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece, where, in a few hours, I will be setting off on a five-hour drive across mountains. The air smells of sewage and rotten fish. I hope it is the fecund aroma of the sea and not actual sewage and rotten fish. I drank too much coffee today. I had grown too used to the mild stimulation of tea-drinking culture. The coffee is hitting me hard.

STUNTS, Turkey

How I Dropped a Wad of Cash in Istanbul

The author settles down after a harrowing
experience with his credit card

The trip to Istanbul aboard the Yuzhnaya Palmyra costs something along the lines of $650 and is worth every penny, not because of the disco, the food or the magician--which I value collectively at $23--but thanks to a body of water called the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is a narrow channel connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean Ocean, and when it comes to epic nautical moments, few can match the experience of sailing into the Bosphorus. It looks at first like shore--hilly, far-off shore. You stand on deck and see that your ship seems to have joined a fleet of container ships all headed, apparently, towards that same stretch of hilly, far-off shore. In the distance, your eyes come to make out an opening in the land. A town appears on your right, plunked ever so cutely on the rising shore, and you see a lighthouse that looks like it's been there a very long time. In front of you, the Bosphorus opens before you as though the earth had been torn in two just last week. It is not a river but a channel of true ocean, riven through the hills. On one side, Asia. On the other, Europe. A mighty bridge presents itself, then another, and it dawns on you that you've traveled into the throbbing, beeping heart of an enormous city, one that spans two continents, and all by boat.

Continue reading "How I Dropped a Wad of Cash in Istanbul" »

STUNTS, Turkey, Ukraine

Crossing the Black Sea to a Disco Beat


If you're at all like me and one day, in the midst of plotting your path around the world, you stumble across the problem of the Black Sea and learn that there is a ferry that travels from the Ukrainian port of Odessa to the great city of Istanbul, then like me, you become misty-eyed at the thought of the journey. You imagine Jason and his Argonauts rowing its dark waters to claim the golden fleece, you read a Wikipedia article that states certain scholars believe the Black Sea is the setting for Noah's flood, and you then fire up Google Earth, zoom in on the Black Sea and, with the aid of this heady combination of satellite photography and broadband, become lost in thoughts of its ancientness. The idea of crossing the Black Sea in no time seems very romantic.

Continue reading "Crossing the Black Sea to a Disco Beat" »

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