DOLMUŞ DOS AND DON’TS
To the uninitiated, mastering this quintessentially Turkish mode of transportation can appear daunting. Travelers can avoid a dolmuş faux pas by following these suggestions.
Dolmuş flexibility and price is somewhere between those of taxis and buses. They run along set but unpublished routes, usually beginning from a secret hub somewhere in the city. Dolmuş post their final destinations in their front windows, but if you’re headed to an intermediate destination, you’ll probably need to ask locals which is the right one for you: “Bu dolmuş (destination) gidiyor mu?” (Does this dolmuş go to X?). If you’re at a hub, there should be a queue of people waiting to board a queue of dolmuş to your destination. Hop in line and exude savvy.
If you’ve just jumped on a dolmuş en route, don’t stand precariously and fish for your money as the driver pulls away-you’l! just make everybody nervous. There’s no rush. Take a seat. Keep in mind that you should generally sit next to somebody of the same sex, though as the dolmuş fills up the rule is inevitably broken.
Ask your neighbor or the driver how much it costs to go to your destination: “X kadar ne kadar?” (How much is it to X?). Then pass the cash up to someone in the next row, saying the name of your destination and adding “öğrenci” if you’re a student. The driver, while racing his stick-shift minibus through tricky traffic, will change your money and pass it back to you. If money is passed to you by somebody else, send it on its way with the same instructions you received.
The driver may remember your stated destination and stop there without any reminder on your part. Otherwise, clearly say “inecek var” (getting off) and, as the driver pulls to a stop, calmly squeeze out of your seat and hop off.
Ferries do not serve the west coast, but a Turkish Maritime Lines (TML) cruise ship sails between Istanbul and İzmir (21hr., 1 per week). A weekly boat connects Istanbul with destinations on the Black Sea Coast; for more information, see The Black Sea Ferry, İstanbul has frequent service to Bandırma and Yalova. Larger ports have ship offices; otherwise, just get on the boat and find the purser. Most Turkish ferries are comfortable and well-equipped; the cheapest fare class
tiinetimes includes a reclining chair or couchette where you can sleep. Avoid the often astronomically priced cafeteria cuisine by bringing your own food. Fares lump sharply in July and August. Student discounts are often available.
Despite low fares, trains within Turkey are no bargain, as they are slow and follow’ circuitous. The Turkish rail system is rivaled only by the Greek system as Europe’s most antiquated and least efficient. First-class gets you a slightly more padded seat, but most Turks travel second-class. Since couchettes are available, overnight train trips are preferable to overnight bus trips. Lock your compartment door and keep your valuables on your person. Make reservations at least a few hours in advance at the train station. There is no rail system in Cyprus.