I walked the short distance to the Sirkeci train station hoping to buy a train ticket to Thessalonica in Greece on the Turkish Railway and, from there, to Athens on the Greek system. However the taciturn Turkish railway clerks simply said, “no train Greece.” But here’s a route pamphlet showing a route to Greece, I wheedled. “No train. Problems.” But I don’t want to leave until Saturday, won’t the problems be ironed out by then? “No, beeg problems.”
I tried for a sleeper on the Bosfor Express to Sofia in Bulgaria and, from there, to Belgrade. No sleeper, only passenger seats. But here is a pamphlet that says sleepers are available the whole way? “No sleeper, seat only.” A posting on the ticket window backed him up on this. It’s a 22 hour trip and really I want Greece anyway, not Belgrade.
At this point the bus is looking like as the only option, which feels like a defeat. I am going to see about a ferry and then, when that falls through as it must given how my luck is running, surrender to flying or to the dreaded bus.
At the train station is this noteworthy monument to Kemal Atatürk, regarded as the father of modern Turkey. The inscription – NE MUTLU TÜRKÜM DIYENE – translates, according to Google, as “The Turkish Hacker.” More plausibly, others suggest that it means something like “How happy is he who calls himself a Turk.”
Turkish law forbids “insulting the memory” of the great man, on pain of up to three years imprisonment. Anyone who breaks or pollutes his statues, busts, monuments or tomb faces up to five years in prison. According to Wikipedia, the law has been relied on in Turkish courts in recent years to block YouTube broadcasts and certain blogs found in violation.
So let me just say I think it is a lovely monument, and nothing at all like this movie prop poster from the 1956 film version of 1984.