Monday, June 13, 2005


I was in Istanbul once before. Just after Christmas in December of maybe 1991. A modern airport and a new streetcar line and a metro line makes the city seem much more modern. Buses go everywhere, but the rail public transportation is still limited. There's only one line of each the metro and the streetcar. And the metro line isn't complete yet and runs in two sections. But the streetcar does now cross the bridge over the Golden Horn, which was always a pain to cross. And the ferry system is great, if you're going somewhere it goes.

But having a nice way to get around out of the traffic makes the city so much better. And of course it's a wonderful way to explore the city if you don't care where you go.

Meanwhile the old commuter trains still glide along their 19th-century tracks with a few of the doors broken and wide open. I think Turkey is only allowed to join the EU when the train doors close and people can't jump on and off the ferry before it docks.

There's even a nice metrocard-like system called Akril (I'm sure it stands for something) that involves a little metal button doohicky that's about the size of a very big watch battery. You place it on the turnstyle and it beeps and deducts your fare. You get one with a $5 deposit. Normal fare is 1.1 million (old) Lira. With Akril, you get a 100,000 discount. Not that I rode 50 times to make it cost-saving, but it was still $5 I was very happy pay.

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