A few weeks ago I decided I needed to get out of town; I haven't been out of Istanbul since I arrived last August. So, armed with a detailed itinerary supplied by a knowledgeable Turkish friend ("First, you have breakfast in your hotel. Then, go out of your hotel and walk to the Muradiye Complex and look at..."), I took the ferry and the bus to Bursa which is famous for it's healing hot springs.
It wasn't the quiet getaway I envisioned, but I did have a good trip and found that the hospitality I've come to rely on extends beyond the confines of Istanbul.
One day I decided to take the bus into the center of town. Unfortunately, once on board I found you can't pay with cash and was confused because I didn’t know how or where to buy a token and anyway the bus was already moving. The driver waved me in and he and a passenger tried to explain something to me but I didn’t understand. There are many tourists in Bursa, it’s very crowded in fact, but they are all Turkish, and I was one of very few foreigners. Not many people speak English and those who do don’t know much so I was something of an anomaly there.
Eventually the passenger handed me his wallet and after he gestured several times I understood that I was supposed to take it to the front of the bus. So I did, and stood, still a bit confused, as the driver (still driving) took the wallet, passed it in front of a reader, something beeped, and apparently my bus fare was paid by the nice passenger. He refused reimbursement and I took a seat behind him, happy to step out of the center front of the bus, and happy, once again, for the seemingly limitless Turkish patience, generosity and hospitality.
Above are some photos from a parade that took place while I was in Bursa. I never found anyone who spoke enough English to explain to me what it was for, but since I was one of the few foreigners standing at the roadside with a camera I was able to get some shots of parade participants staring at me.
In the first photo I'm pretty sure the man in the red tie waving at the camera is the mayor of Bursa (I guess a politicial is a politician, no matter where he is from). The second shows a participant who would seem to be less concerned with her public persona.