If you’re staying at the new part of Mardin or – like me – I chose to base myself in Midyat. Along the main highway in Mardin, wait for the blue minibuses at any bus stop. When you see Bilem Hotel, cross the main road and wait at the other side for the bus.
Fare is TL1.30 and the trip going up the old town in the mountain is only about 10 minutes.
Since I was staying in Midyat, I walked to the bus station at the old part of town, couple of minutes from the town centrum. The small van (dolmush) fare to Mardin is TL4. The trip is about 1 hour although it stopped for some minutes at the bus station in the new part of the town to pick up some more passengers before proceeding to Mardin. It dropped us all along the main highway in Mardin near the Bilem Hotel. From there, crossed the highway to the other side where there’s a bus stop and waited for the blue minibus that goes up the old town of Mardin which is on top of the mountain.
Fare is only TL1.30, get off at the Mardin Museum before it goes down back again to the new town below.
Travelling from Mardin, Istanbul is a good 22 hour journey, costing anything between 60 and 85 YTL depending on the company. Metro is the most expensive, but their bus left too early for me...i had plans to spend the day in Mardin then board a night bus, so I bought a ticket for the Mardin Seyahat bus leaving that evening at 7pm. All was well until we stopped at a service station in the middle of the night, when I was transferred over to another bus with four other passengers, as my bus was apparently only going as far as Ankara. the second bus was already full, with just a few places at the back of the bus (the worst seats). So off we went, arriving in Ankara around midday the following day to more confusion. The five of us had tickets for Mardin Seyahat, so no seat reservation for the second bus, which belonged to a different company anyway, Cizre Nuh. Nobody got off at Ankara, but five new passengers got on the bus at Ankara to find we were in their seats. Arguments, scuffles in the aisles, an angry conducter shouting at anyone and everyone...all the while we just sat there, tired. Where were our tickets? But those tickets are for Mardin Seyahat, not Cizre Nuh, why are you all on this bus?! I left the arguments for the loud Turkish lady with the three equally loud kids who were squashed into two seats on the back row...she knew how to argue, and eventually the conducter gave up, putting the new passengers onto a different bus...but it was something i could have done without. Check that your bus is actually going all the way before buying the ticket!
The buses passed through Diyarbakir, Sanli Urfa and Gaziantep to pick up more passengers heading west, so if you have time, I would recommend breaking the journey in one of those fascinating cities, rather than put yourself through 22+ hours of cramp and no sleep.
In the opposite direction, Cizre Nuh continues through Nusaybin (handy for Syrian border) and Cizre, ending eventually in Silopi, last town before the Iraqi border. Silopi is known for its taxi cartel, so try to arrange a taxi with fellow passengers from Cizre if you are headed to Iraq...it'll probably work out similar in price.
Most donkeys I saw in Turkey were in the southeast part of the country. This donkey was standing along the road between Midyat and Mardin. It belonged to a man who was selling vegetables by the road.
Around the market in the Bazaar area I saw several donkeys, but I have no photos from there.
Just next to Otel Bilen there is a bus company office and there I bought the ticket to Sanliurfa for 10 000 000 TL. The bus left at eight in the morning from just outside the office. It was very convenient to be so close at the hotel.
The bus ride to Sanliurfa otogar (bus station) took about 3 hours. It was the first time on the buses I took, that not only coffee, tea or coke/fanta was served, but also a cake. From the otogar the local bus was 500 000 TL and the boy working on the bus pointed at Hotel Ipek Palas when we passed and off I went at the next bus stop.
When I said at Otel Balkar, in Diyarbakir, that I was going to Mardin they called the dolmush and it picked me up at the hotel. Before leaving Diyarbakir the minibus was going around the city for another 30 – 40 minutes, to the university, to the minibus terminal etc.
When we left the city the bus ride took another 1,5 hours to Mardin. Arriving in Mardin we first came to the new part, below the hill. I saw the hotel I had planed to stay at (Otel Bilen) and asked the driver to stop.
The bus ticket was 4 500 000 TL.