A long way to Istanbul

Athens to Istanbul by bus [YQrtw Day 46 May 23]

Location: Mykonos -> Athens -> Istanbul

When I was planning my journey from Greece to Turkey, I didn’t think of doing a bus trip. I wanted to take the train or even a ferry to reach Istanbul from Athens.

But I found out that there is no direct train from Greece to Turkey. I will need to take two ferries to reach Turkey and take another bus ride to Istanbul.

In the end, I chose to buy a bus ticket from Athens to Istanbul.

Figuring out how to get the tickets was a pain in the buttocks. The web page for Crazy Holidays’s Athens to Istanbul was a jumble and there was no way to figure out how to get the tickets.

In the end, I found out how to get tickets from Athens when I stumbled upon this page. Silver Star Agency’s location was easy to find with Google Maps.

How to get to Al Travel Metro

The directions to the bus terminal was a little confusing since Google Maps couldn’t interpret the full address that was given to me.

The right address to search on Google Maps is Leoforos Athinon 222.

From Larissa station and Metaxougnio, there are buses A15 and B15 which stop at ΠΑΛΙΑΤΖΙΔΙΚΑ‎. Walk with the direction of the traffic and you will reach Al Travel Metro.

Being the scatterbrain that I am, I was too excited about the bus ticket spot check that I did not stop at the right stop.

Instead, I got off at one stop after. I had to walk on a overhead bridge that was parallel to the huge highway. The journey felt a lot longer than it was as the sun was hot and my bag was heavy.

I reached at 4:00pm. My bus was to leave at 5:00pm. I hung out at the stuffy lobby until the departure time.

At Al Travel Metro, there is a toilet behind the lobby. It’s in a warehouse and looks dark and creepy–you never know what you’ll step into.

The 14 hour bus ride

Long way from Athens to Istanbul
Long way from Athens to Istanbul

According to Google Maps, my journey was about 1,000km.

Thank goodness the seats were comfortable and I didn’t have anyone sitting beside me.

Throughout the night, I experimented with different sleeping positions. I was a pretzel, The Thinker with knees to my chin, a cushion with my head on the seat.

I never figured out what was the best position for sleeping. The position I want to experiment was hanging my legs out the aisle having my whole upper body on the two seats.

Bad backseat mates

Turkish shows on the bus
Turkish shows on the bus

I am blessed with a magical ability to attract the worst behind-seat mates. Last trip from KL to Singapore, I had a lady who crossed her legs through out the journey and whined loudly when my seat even reclined that just little bit.

This time, it was a pair of Brazillian buddies. They could not stop talking from across the aisle!

The only time I realized that there was no sound coming from them was at 11:00pm. I peeked at them and found that they were trying to sleep.

Rest stops along the way

Greek rest stop
Greek rest stop

The rest stops in Greece looked more like nice coffee shops that are generous with their toilet.

In Turkey, however, it cost 1 euro to use the toilet. Just as bad as it was in Italy.

Land border crossing and the smuggler

I’ve only entered another country through the borders in two places: Malaysia-Singapore and Malaysia-Thailand.

I was curious how the border crossing was for Greece and Turkey.

Leaving Greece, everyone had to get off the bus, pass their passport to the customer officer who was at the bus lane. The officer asked a few questions to suspicious people (like someone with a Malaysian passport). Those who have suspicious baggage had to take things out and unwrap them.

The passports were later passed back when we all got back on the bus.

For Turkey, the inspection was a bit worse. My luggage inspection was fast since I only had a backpack. The officer still put his hand into my bag and felt around.

There was a man who brought two tall boxes wrapped with newspaper and taped with brown tape, inside which was cognac, at least according to him.

The Turkish customs folks tore open the wrapping. In one of the boxes was a tall alcohol bottle that was about the height of my knee.

The man was detained and our bus left without him. It’s pretty scary to be him.

I drifted in and out of sleep on the bus. Most of the time I had my feet on the other seat and rested my head on the my seat. (Later I took a 2 hour nap when I got to Istanbul).

The bus was surprisingly on time and we all made it to Istanbul at 8:00am.

What was the longest bus ride you have taken?

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

6 Comments

    1. Wow 14 hrs! That’s crazy. I did a 8 hr ride in Egypt and I couldn’t wait for it to end.

    1. Are u Malaysian passport holder? I’m just assuming. I’m planning to take a bus from athens to istanbul by myself, holding Indonesian pasport, I think it will be unconfortable to have my baggage checked out. What about the visa on arrival, could we just show them the e-visa?

      I checked the schedule and it will be an overnight trip, good thing is i dont have to book a hotel/hostel for one night, but i will miss the views along the journey. Still figure out how to get to istanbul, by bus or cheap flight.

      Thanks

      1. I do have a Malaysian passport. I printed out the page from the Turkish embassy about how Malaysians do not need a visa to Turkey.
        Luggage check is just like at the airport in the old days. There’s not many people around so there won’t be thieves.
        The view from Greece to Turkey is good enough. The night scenes are good too.
        I chose bus because I have more time than money.

        1. Hey, so i’m planning to take the bus instead, but, how much does it cost and what time does the bus depart? Do we need online reserve or just buy the ticket on site?

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