When leaving from Istanbul I didn’t really go to a bus station. No, Harem is much better described as a bus bazaar. The three bus stations I am most familiar with are Binghamton, Syracuse, and Port Authority in New York City. Binghamton has Elsie’s Diner and a gift shop that never seems to be open. Syracuse has a shop with much more reasonable hours along with Subway and Dunkin Donuts. ‘Cuse is also 24/7 where Bingo opens and closes around nine. NYC has dozens of shop and food options and it is also right near Times Square so there is an abundance of activities going on at any hour.
Although the size, hours and amenities of the three stations vary widely, the sales principle for getting your ticket is the same. Most people will purchase their tickets online and then, if necessary, print them at the gate. If someone were to buy their fare at the door, they will have to pay a bit extra for the luxury of bothering that bored looking employee who will feel put out that they actually have to do some work.
At Harem there was a row of about 20-25 bus companies. Each of these has an employee standing at or near their door entrance calling out destinations like they have the hottest deal in town. By the time I walked ten feet down this row I had three different people shake my hand and ask, “nereyesin” (where are you going). The third one serviced Antalya and for a little more than half what it costs to ride Binghamton to NYC, I purchased myself a ticket for the twelve hour ride to Antalya.