“Travels to a Different Time ” : August 18-21, 1970 : Last Days in Istanbul: War, Chickens at the Airport and Cholera: Beware of Hashish: Off to a Turkish Bath

August 18, 1970: Up early. Mom heard a vendor below selling fruit so she rushed down and bought monster peaches and some grapes. You must grab the fruit quick before the vendor replaced it with second quality fruit. Man, you must be sharp in Istanbul. It is becoming more of an enjoyable game in Istanbul to avoid being cheated. The Greeks may have occasionally put the finger on the scales but at least there was always pride on selling top quality produce. Turkish merchants have less scruples. The grapes were low quality but the monster peaches are heavenly. The water was off yet again for almost all day. Showerless, we headed out taking a bus to the Galata Bridge where the boats are. A very affable Turkish man showed us where to get a boat to reach a beach. We took a boat to one of the Prince’s Islands and then took a smaller boat to a beautiful beach overlooking Asia! We had a great day on a Turkish beach and returned home and had the most expensive meal we had in Istanbul but it definitely was not the best. Again upon returning to our hotel no water! Getting grubby and I don’t want to smell like a Turkish custom’s official.

August 19, 1970: Feeling very grubby we headed to the Turkish Bath in the hotel. I am used to roasting in Finnish saunas in our Montreal apartment so I found the Turkish bath a bit tame with its steam weak. But the feeling of clean finally revives you! We have had some concern about hostilities heightening amongst Turkey and Greece and war seems imminent so we got to get the hell out of here! On our way to the War Museum, we stopped in at the Olympic Airways office for an update and they said the flight out could be cancelled if hostilities escalated. We asked if our lack of cholera shots would prevent us from entering Greece and they said they would phone us if it was a problem. After our dinner we ran into some people from our hotel and went with them to see a Turkish Folk Dance which was incredibly beautiful.

Our hotel has many young people staying at it. There are signs everywhere warning about possession and smuggling hashish out of Turkey. Mere possession can be three years in prison and they may check you when you leave Turkey and if you are caught ask Billy Hays about what awaits you! Representatives from the American Embassy are at the hotel every few days with warnings. The reality as I hear it is a little bribe to Turkish police will get you out of any trouble unless it is a question of smuggling it out of Turkey.

August 21, 1970: Up at 05:30 to get ready for our departure. We had an early morning shower and grabbed a 7 a.m. bus to the airport. The airport was crowded and a zoo with men wearing their Fez and crates of chickens squawking. No war just yet so we thankfully boarded our flight to Athens with a sad Greek breakfast of which I am used to. How many mackerel, sardine and salami sandwiches can a boy endure? We landed safely in Athens with gratitude and for me a bit of sadness.3 months of adventure coming to an end. We met up with the Milagressi’s at a bus terminal from the airport. We had met them at Panormitis and they had insisted we stay with them before we returned to New York. We both had a bath before going out to a neighbourhood restaurant. The grime around the tub after my bath was disgusting. But I am clean! And I am disciplined enough to clean the tub after my soak. On this trip I have learnt a bit about responsibility.

August 22, 1970: Hardboiled eggs and toast for breakfast. We went shopping to a nearby Athenian market. Nicole bought fruit, veggies and fish for a nice lunch we had. After dinner we went to see the film “Battle of Britain” at an outdoor theatre. Totally dark with the night sky over your head. Incredible! We returned home for a late steak supper and another bath for me. I am happy to be back to the safety, honesty and warmth of Greece. I will never forget this wonderful country!

August 23, 1970: This is our last time here in Greece and after breakfast we went to a Kasserian monastery and spring. We came back and had a greasy meal and by 7 we were on an Overseas National Airways plane back to JFK airport in New York!

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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