Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Istanbul snow day

Around 4 p.m. yesterday, it started snowing. Of course, all of the city was at work, so getting home last night was complete and utter chaos - the trip usually takes me an hour and 10 minutes each way; last night, it took me 2.5 hours! Apparently, there were 1,107 traffic accidents in Istanbul alone last night, if you can believe it.

I take the Metrobus every day to work; it's a fairly new system, opened in 2007, and on the section I travel, has a dedicated lane in the middle of the highway. It's also a daily reminder of just how very crowded Istanbul is; in the morning, I get on at the first station so I usually can get a seat, but at night, it's just a massive crush of people. It's slowly eroding my will to live here. :)

So anyway, last night, I managed to get onto a very packed Metrobus, and we made our way fairly uneventfully - even though it was snowing - to the second-to-last stop. Then the Metrobus just stopped. The driver didn't really say anything though he periodically opened the doors for people who wanted to get out. After we sat there for about 15 minutes, I considered it (I could have walked to the subway station from there), but it was absolute gridlock on the stairs, so sitting on the bus seemed like a better option. Over the next hour, the Metrobus moved in fits and starts, a foot here, three feet there. No one couldn't really see what was going on, except that there was at least one other Metrobus in front of us; but then, little by little, I started to see people walking on the Metrobus track in the snow, apparently walking to the end station. The driver continued to open the doors every once in awhile; I considered getting out but it seemed like an easy way to get hit by a bus, considering you'd have to walk on an icy, narrow road between the two bus tracks. But I'd estimate by the time we got to the station, hundreds of people had passed us walking. I managed to snap a photo at the end...

Eventually, we got to the end station and it was absolute chaos. Once I was safely out of the station, I had a look down at the people who were trying to get on the Metrobuses, and they were not happy campers. Empty Metrobuses will often pass because they stagger the start points on the route, but last night, people were in the road, banging on the Metrobus windows trying to get the drivers to slow down and open the doors. It was just insane!

From the Metrobus station, I have to walk down a very large hill to get to the subway, and unfortunately, I slipped on the ice. :( This morning, it was still a winter wonderland in our area, with snow coating everything, but interestingly, in the neighborhood where I work, it was like it had never snowed at all. So it was a big surprise then tonight when my Metrobus-to-subway hill was still coated in ice, though I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised then when I fell again, this time right on my tookus. Apparently Istanbul has all these micro-climates because the water, and the weather in one part can be radically different than the weather in another part. All I have to say is: lesson learned.

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