After resting up for some time in the hotel after a long, leisurely walk around the many mosques and pokey streets of the town, we felt a drive was in order. I felt a drive was in order. Sharon would rather I didn’t drive for any other reason than to get from A to B.
“I’ll put the GPS on,” she said.
I don’t usually get lost as that magnet in my pigeon brain seems to find a way home again.
“Don’t bother. Why don’t we just make it up as we go along? We’ve got a map in the book if we need it.” I said.
She gave me that look that is accompanied with a slow intake of breath and a stiffening of the shoulders. We drove for some time, retraced our path a few times and crossed one of the many stone bridges over the river in Edirne as the sun began to set.
Map in her lap, and eyes glued to the road we set off again into the city for our drive, into narrow roads of taxis, horses and carts, trucks, small buses, coaches, motor scooters, men pushing carts of scrap metal or fruit or bags of firewood and pedestrians willing to take us all on.
“I’ll just drive up this road, see what’s up there, do a u-turn and we’ll head back to the hotel,” I said.
She gave me the look that meant, “It’s about time you stopped playing dodgem cars and came to your senses.”
The road was busy, peak hour in Edirne, and this skinny street turned into the main arterial to Istanbul and didn’t allow u-turns for some kilometres but the scenery was good. Lots of small buses, big buses, trucks, cars and taxis. We’d left the horses and carts far behind.
In the interests of marital harmony and to avoid an early trip to the approaching capital, I said, “Why don’t we just punch the hotel in the GPS and we’ll go home?”
Our paper map of the town is small and shows major roads, not like a GPS which is a mighty beast and has every motorway, arterial road, highway, street, bush track and cobbled lane you’d ever need to negotiate. Before long, we had missed our turn and the all-knowing navigator recalculated us onto an alternative route.
In the interests of marital harmony I should clarify that the all-knowing navigator is the one on the dash, not the one sitting next to me. Before anyone takes offence at that last remark, I had better…Oh, on with the story.
My pigeon brain told me we were headed in the general direction of home and so I ignored the external warnings that with hindsight, I might have otherwise heeded. The sealed road skirted the edges of the city but soon narrowed and the cobbles became potholed. Rubbish piles began to appear and smoke came from recently lit fires beside the road. Horses were tethered to posts beside the road, their carts nearby.
“In 50 metres, turn left,” one female voice on the dash said.
In a more strident tone, another female voice said, “I don’t think we should!”
Pigeon brain said to himself, “This is the right way,” so it was onward and somewhat upward along the cobbled street that might had benefited from one of those gradient signs we see in the mountains.
The cobbles led up a narrowing residential street, past a small gathering of women who were discussing their day. They looked somewhat surprised at our passing and all stopped and gaped as if we were the first car they seen in their street!
The engine was labouring as the French Alp incline increased and I dropped it down a gear to round the curve in the lane, narrowly missing the stone wall of a house. In the distance, an old man in a cap sat on his step and he leaned back, pulling his feet in to avoid them being run over as we passed.
“Continue for 100 metres, then turn left,” the calm voice on the dash said.
Can you imagine beginning a drive into a giant ice-cream cone? Start at the big opening and continue driving till you reach the other end. This residential street was that ice-cream cone.
“Stop Bill! We’ll never get through!” she said rehearsing for a role with Garmin.
I have to admit, the gap was narrow. The horse would fit through but the carts were down the bottom of the hill for a reason.
The old man began to wave his cap before we reversed down beside his lifted feet. He spoke in tones not suited to the kind Turks we’d met, but I gave him my best Mr Bean wave and grin and backed by, my nose on the back window.
The women had reached the funny parts of their day’s recollections and were all laughing happily as we reversed downhill past them. I was finally able to nudge past the horse chewing on his cut grass, manoeuvre around the parked cart, turn the car in its normal running direction, and go home.
“You have reached your destination, on the right,” the steady voice on the dash spoke.
As I swung into the drive, I scattered a flock of birds on the drive.
“Stupid pigeons!” the other voice said.