The morning we left Istanbul, we were chatting with our Air BnB host’s girlfriend. We had a hilarious conversation with her about our onward travel plans to Bursa.
Air BnB GF: Where are you going?
Dave and Kat:Bursa
Air BnB GF: (thinking for a minute)…. AAHHHHHH! Joo mean BOOOOURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRsa
Thus begins our comedy of errors in pronunciation, geography and expectation. We took the ferry to Bursa. It was 2 hours and felt like you were on an airplane on the water. I slept for nearly the entire thing because it was flying without the emotional stress of takeoff and landing. Flying makes my palms sweat. Taking the ferry lulled me to sleep.
We then hopped on a bus to the metro and promptly got VERY lost. Not just lost, ask-for-directions lost. Like 14 kilometers in the wrong direction needed a taxi, lost. In summary: Google maps lied. BIG TIME. Also, I might add, we did a VERY good job at not being furious with each other. We spent the 15 turkish lira and had a chuckle. #Travelwinning
We stayed at a brand new Sheraton on points. By brand new, I mean we were probably the first American guests there since it had been open for six weeks. We were greeted like royalty as SPG Gold members by a man in a morning coat who looked twice at our backpacks. We were upgraded to a corner suite.
Dave bristles with glee every time we walk into a Starwood property looking rough, with a small amount of luggage, and then promptly decline housekeeping to earn more points and wash our undies in the bathtub. Because we wash our unmentionables in an upgraded suite with a note from the manager which is so hilarious.
The hotel was so empty we had a whole floor to ourselves. We enjoyed the hotel immensely because Bursa was … boring? But there was an awesome shower. A comfy bed. Fast, free wifi. Nearby supermarket for hotel room picnic dinners. We spent half a day doing nothing and it was awesome.
Bursa is Turkey’s third largest city. We were expecting it to be a THING. WITH STUFF.
It was not a thing. There were few things to do.
We walked around and saw some mosques.
We ate an Iskander kebab where it was rumored to be created. This is a fancy kebab you can sample all over turkey and is glorious, rich and not-your-average-kebab. This is a plate of cubed bread with thinly sliced, roasted kebab meat over spicy peppers, tomatoes and yogurt. THEN, they drizzle brown butter over it. It was glorious.
We did a lot of walking. We walked through a nice park? We took a nice tram?
But mostly, we embarrassed the crap out of ourselves by asking for a variety of things of the hotel:
1.) Club access so we could eat free breakfast because we were BROKE! TEE HEE! Turks take breakfast VERY seriously and they apologized for the continental-type breakfast available in the club lounge. It was MORE than enough and awesome. We were the only people in the club each day. Bonus tip: make 3 cappuccinos in a drip coffee mug.
2.) Help buying bus tickets. Because of various hilarious technical difficulties / websites being broken / not speaking Turkish / hearing that the Bursa bus station was a total nightmare we insisted on booking tickets in advance. This took an hour or so and they were SO CONFUSED. Not a private car.they looked into that for us but it was 500 euros. OOPS!
3.) Where the subway was. It was a 10 minute walk from our hotel. They insisted it was too far and we should take a taxi into town. Once we realized how close it was we just had to laugh.
4.) How to get to the bus station. They by this point figured out we didn’t want a taxi. A kind, kind woman who worked at the hotel figured us out and told us to take the bus. Yet again Dave and I found ourselves standing on the side of a highway, flagging down buses to ask if it stopped by the station. Here is where Turks are awesome. We realized it was certain buses who do. An old man tried to trace numbers on his hand through a window. A woman called out “the yellow ones” to us from a green bus. Later did we realize any yellow bus that started with 9.
By the way, this was the nightmare of a bus station we had read horror stories about.
Yeah– it’s empty. And we could have bought bus tickets before walking on the bus. Oh well!
Also — we could visit a city in Turkey named “Batman”. TRUTH!
All in all, Bursa was not quite worth a trip but shout outs to the Sheraton staff for treating us with dignity when we didn’t really deserve it.