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As seen in Transitions Abroad Magazine January/February 2005
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Independent Travel

From Greece to Turkey

With a history of struggles going back to the Trojan War and with fragile relations now, crossing the borders of Greece and Asia Minor can test the nerves of any traveler. If you take the conventional routes, such as the interminable Athens-Istanbul bus, it's a 3-hour border check. The Aegean Sea offers an alternative: the ferry from the Greek island of Samos, birthplace of Pythagoras, to Kusadasi. The passage takes two hours with customs and immigration at both ends.

Tickets for the trip into Turkey are best bought when you book your tickets to Samos. Mykonos town (on Mykonos) is a good place to start. It has a wide range of helpful agencies crowded around the ferry terminal that can connect you to agencies on Samos. Ship Travel, for example, will handle your connecting ticket as well as your visa. With your ticket to Samos you will receive a voucher or confirmation number for the ticket into Turkey, which you must then redeem at the port of departure on Samos, most likely the ferry terminal at Vathi.

Several large vessels make the trip, but a Turkish company, Diana Travel, operates the small, quiet Samos Sun and Samos Sky. They leave at 8:30 a.m. after a brief, non-intrusive customs check and a fee of 8.80 euros. The crew will likely speak only Turkish, so it is important to keep your eyes open for signals to board.

After about an hour the mainland heaves into view: Kusadasi, the first sight of Asia Minor. Classical Athens lost the Aegean coast of Asia Minor when its empire broke up in the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC). Alexander the Great swept eastward from Macedon in 334 BC and after him Romans in 130 BC (ruling from nearby Ephesus), whose Byzantine descendants held on at Constantinople until 1453 when the Ottoman Turks took the city.

After about 90 minutes the ferry is in the terminal at Kusadasi. The captain backs in and travelers file ashore, directly to immigration with an entry fee of 10 euros. You've entered ancient lands by the same means as the ancients, at no extra cost. Current fare: 35 euros. Agent: (at Samos Port); Tel. 02730-22116; www.diavlos.gr/samos/by-ship.

Diana Travel in Kusadasi: Tel. +90 - 0 256 618 18 00, fax +90 - 0 256 618 16 61; infokusadasi@dianatravel.com.tr.