We rented a Turkish bus to take us to Turkey years ago.
Our group of many kids, teens and a few adults got off the train in Bucharest, Romania and got on the bus to Turkey. The two bus drivers were over friendly and promised us that we would get a Mc Donald’s meal at the departure time in addition to the fun of the trip.
We were all tired and hungry after a night spent on the train.
Well, it seemed that the friendly drivers changed their mind about the meal when they bestowed our money in their pockets. After minutes of loud reasoning on their side and blunt astonishment on our side, we made a compromise and settled to a hamburger.
Then one of the drivers turned on the engine and we took off.
It was going to be a long ride, crossing the Danube River to Bulgaria, strolling Bulgaria from North to South during the night, getting on the water again and then stepping on the Turkish soil. But we all were so happy to go on this trip and visit dear friends on an exotic land.
The children slept most of the night. I was napping on and off, holding to my chair and marveling at the way the Turkish drivers would change seats while the bus was speeding with 80 miles/hour.
When we stopped right before the border between Bulgaria and Turkey, the bus drivers went and bought bottles of alcohol and placed them under every seat in the bus. They got the liquor at a cheap price and using us to carry it in Turkey where the law didn’t let people in their country with loads of alcohol. Our leader was alarmed to see what was going on and she strongly asked them to take away the bags with bottles, but we were on a strange land and they didn’t care. It was awful to be used like that, but the drivers looked dangerous now that they counted on this kind of business.
Most of the children were still sleeping and had no idea that they were “assigned” bottles of liquor under their seats. It was crazy. The drivers warned us not to talk to the border officers about this, but we couldn’t just go along with it. When the officers from both countries came to search the bus and saw the alcohol under every seat, they smirked. They had been already “paid” to see nothing. We talked to them in English, but the bus drivers knew Bulgarian and of course, Turkish, and the conversation moved on without us.
Our long ride continued with us watching the angry drivers and they watching us.
We crossed the Aegean Sea and headed to Istanbul. When we stopped at the travel agency office for an hour or so, the sun was up and hot.
There were many miles ahead to our destination, and the whole road I felt unsafe.
When we finally got off the bus in Izmir, the children were happy and well, and that was the most important thing. Coming back home was another story.