Istanbul-Köln: An amazing bus-journey back to Europe!

21. June 2013    Erbil, Kurdistan/Iraq

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Last night in Erbil in a Kurdish “Biergarten”. The two friends of mine and I are one of the very few women in this place. It is the last night in the very hot (40-44 degree Celsius every day for the last weeks) Kurdish capital with a very conservative society (few women work and their role is behind the kitchen with the kids, marriages are arranged and a patriarch decides for the entire family).

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The next morning I am already in Istanbul, in the Harem Park close to the Blue Mosque. After the hot temperatures in Erbil, it is very nice to enjoy the lower temperatures in Istanbul.

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Taksim Square on Friday, the 22nd of June. It was another afternoon of the “Silent Protest”. The next day the police intervened again. I also experienced the change of rules in Istanbul. The supermarket next to my hostel didn’t sell any alkohol anymore. In April when I went to the same supermarket, we still could buy beer there. In June they didn’t have it anymore.

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The area around the Gezi-Park.

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The Gezi-Park. The tents are already removed.

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Many people are still standing at the huge square.

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Police officers are sitting and watching the entrance to the Gezi-Park. Red roses are laying on the stairs.

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The next day I take a Bosphorus-tour by boat.

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Sight of Istanbul from the Bosphorus.

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The Hagia Sophia.

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The Harem Park once more.

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My bus-ticket from Istanbul to Thessaloniki in Greece. It is a 9 1/2 hours bus-trip at night. The next morning at 7 am I arrive in Thessaloniki.

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The White Tower in Thessaloniki. This Greek town was a perfect place to come back to Europe where I finally could dress as I wanted to and didn’t have to cover up anylonger 🙂 (as I had to do in Erbil, no matter how hot is was).

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The port in Thessaloniki. It was so very nice to see as many as women as men walking freely around, at any time of the day!

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Thessaloniki, there I realized what kind of material wealth alone most countries in Europe enjoy. Before, I wasn’t aware of the fact that alone the material resources make us in Europe extremely rich (not to mention the living conditions with drinkable water and the social standards and its freedoms we enjoy).

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The streets of Thessaloniki.

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Everywhere in Thessaloniki there are ruins from the ancient Greek culture.

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An ancient gate.

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The old town of Thessaloniki.

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The view of the sea from the old twon in Thessaloniki.

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An awesome party-boat in the port.

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I take a tour on the boat and can’t believe it, because it is so nice!

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Happy me!

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The White Tower from the boat!

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The next day, I take the bus to the beach outside of Thessaloniki. And after weeks in the heat in Erbil, where it was almost impossible to swim (due to the lack of pools and/or the permission to swim as a woman), I finally can enjoy the Greek beach and sea!!!

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The way to the beach chairs.

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And the AMAZING, cristal clear water of the beach! I just can’t believe that I get to swim in the WONDERFUL water. A dream comes true!

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I had to pay 3€ in order to use the sun lounger or I could order a drink for 3€. I took the drink-option 😉

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It was sooo perfect!!! Thank you Greece for a beach like this!

And thank you Europe that I am allowed to go to the beach alone (as a woman) and swim in the water (only dressed) with a bikini, even though there are men around! Thank you sooo much for this cultural tolerance!!

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An unforgetable beachday ends and I take the bus back to Thessaloniki.

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The next day my 2-day-bus-journey from Thessaloniki to Köln starts.  This is the bus that brings me back to Germany. The journey starts, the 26th of June at 13:00 during the day.

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We drive through the mountains and I get to see the impressive country-side of the Greek landscape.

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After two hours the bus stops for the first time, or is it already the second bus-stop? Well, we made a lot of bus-stops…

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This is the view of yet another bus-stop.

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On the road…

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The view into a valley.

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This sign was put in the front-window of the bus.

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Next bus-stop…

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The final stop in Greece. It is in Igoumenitsa. From there we continue the journey by ferry to Ancona in Italy. The trip on the ferry took 16 hours, from 23:30 at night until 15:30 on the next day.

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We wait next to our bus for our ferry.

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On a ferry liek this I left Greece.

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Sunset while I am waiting for our ferry.

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After spending the night (even with some sleep) on a bench on the deck of the ferry, I saw the sunrise the next morning outside the ferry.

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Sunrise on the sea.

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I eat breakfast while I’m watching the sunrise.

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The ferry on its way.

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Some vehicles on the ferry. One of the cars is from Münster as its sign says.

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The air-seats are a very nice place to enjoy the sun and the open sea.

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The sun reflects its lights on the sea.

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We arrive in Ancona in Italy.

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A big sailing-ship lays in the port of Ancona.

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The country-side in Italy.

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As soon as we reach the border to Austria, it starts to rain. Weeks after I saw rain for the last time, I kind of enjoy seeing rain dropping on the window of the bus.

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Two days later, at 11 in the morning, I arrive in Köln. I am tired from the trip, but at the same time I am very happy I made this journey. Like this I saved a lot of CO2-emissions from flying and got to see so many nice places and countries I haven’t been before!

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