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Youth Beat

Busing the Byways of Turkey

June 14, 1998|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She can be reached at http://www.izon.com

As backpacker bus services continue to sprout up around the world, Fez Bus, a hop-on, hop-off service in Turkey operated by Fez Travel, heads into its second summer season.

Fez Bus covers a 2,175-mile circular route around Turkey linking Istanbul to many key sites, including the ancient ruins of Troy and Ephesus, and the famous underground cities of Cappadocia. Stops en route offer opportunities for shopping in bazaars, trekking, swimming, diving, mountain biking, white-water rafting or catching a ferry to Greece. The service offers some of the flexibility of independent travel with the assistance of a knowledgeable staff that will get you to the key sites and help you find a place to stay.

The buses are Mercedes, Isuzu and Mitsubishi vehicles with sound systems. Each one has a Turkish driver and an English-speaking host from New Zealand, Australia or another part of the world.

The English-speakers are not guides, but they are there to offer information, and help with seat reservations and accommodations at hostels along the route (hostels average $5 to $10; campsites are $3 to $7).

Buses run daily during the summer. You can start your trip from any point along the route.

The bus drops and picks up passengers at main hostels and central sites. For a confirmed seat, you should reserve 48 hours in advance; otherwise you'll be put on standby.

Tickets are being sold through student and youth travel agencies in London. A two-month travel pass, called the Turkish Delight, costs about $181, or $164 if you are under 28. A season pass is $214, or $197 if you are under 28. For those who need to move fast, the Flying Carpet Pass, valid for 12 consecutive days of travel, is $164, or $147 if you are under 28. Add $16 to any pass if you purchase it in Turkey.

London travel bureaus selling Fez Bus tickets include STA Travel, telephone 011-44-171-361-6161, and the Adventure Travel Centre, tel. 011-44-171-370-4555. To purchase tickets or for further information, contact Fez Travel at Akbiyik Cd. No. 15, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Turkey; tel. 011-90-212-516-9024, fax 011-90-212-518-5085.

Fez Travel also operates guided backpacker tours to some of the more adventurous places in Turkey throughout the summer and early fall. The 13-day Black Sea Coast program, visiting historic sites, small villages and hiking areas, is $429; a six-day Mt. Nemrut tour is $214.

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A special youth information office in Oslo is offering young visitors free sightseeing information and assistance with arranging economical accommodations in local private homes.

The Oslo "Use It" (Ungdomsinformasjonen i Oslo) office is located at Mollergt. 3, N0179 Oslo, Norway; tel. 011-47-2241-5132, fax 011-47-2242-6371. You can drop in for coffee and browse through its travel library, and pick up its annual backpacker guide, "Streetwise."

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A new youth hostel has been opened in Armagh City, Northern Ireland, which is known as the City of St. Patrick.

Armagh is 40 miles from Belfast and 80 miles from Dublin. The hostel features rooms with two to six beds. Twin rooms have televisions, and tea- and coffee-making facilities. Guests also have use of a kitchen, currency exchange office and a bicycle shed. The hostel is located beside the Queen's University Outreach Centre at 39 Abbey St., and is a short walk from many of the city's heritage sites. Contact the hostel at 011-44-1-861-511800.

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