June 27 through July 5, 2000
$1 U.S. = 625,000 Turkish Lire
(Remember to click
on the thumbnails for enlargements of the photos)
June 27 through June 28 , 2000
(ccl) After suffering through yet
another cold shower on the last morning of our stay in Istanbul, we drug
ourselves down to the Turkish breakfast buffet one last time. We had
gotten to bed pretty late the night before, because the hotel's credit card
machine wasn't working and I went on a wild goose chase around the neighborhood
with the owner looking for one that did work. Add that to the
list of "issues" we'd encountered while staying at the Hotel Isak Pasa.
While we were getting a great deal on a nice, big room with a phone and TV, it
didn't get cleaned for several days (somehow due to the fact that the maid's
daughter was getting married), we had a never-ending procession of ants into and
out of our
bathroom, and out of eleven days there, I had maybe three hot showers.
At any rate, we were up and out of there by 6:45, because the Fez bus was
scheduled to depart at 7:00 sharp, and we knew that if we weren't on time,
they'd leave us.
Travel runs a unique service in Turkey. catering to budget travelers of all
ages. Every few days a Fez bus leaves Istanbul on a pre-defined route
around the country. They have a few packages to chose from, but the most
popular hugs the eastern and southern coastlines and then turns northward
towards the interior of the country and the Cappadocia region. Since we
are going to visit Cappadocia extensively with our cultural exchange group, Fez
worked a special deal for us so that we could get off the circuit and continue
to Ankara on our own. At any point along the circuit, you can hop off the
bus, spend a few days as you like, then hop back on the next bus when it comes
around, usually only two or three days later. Each bus, which are all
clean, air-conditioned mini-buses, has a staff member on board who's known as an
"off-sider". The off-sider's responsibilities include getting
everyone back on the bus after stops, sharing a little information about the
sites in the area, and booking accommodations for Fez travelers at Fez-approved
hostels and hotels, if you so desire. We were able to get a nice, clean,
double room for no more than 5 million lire per person at all of the locations Fez
recommended. Plus, the bus drops you off and picks you up at the door of
the hotel. It definitely beats public transportation. For
independent travelers it's a nice way to relax and let someone else worry about
the details for once. For females traveling by themselves, it provides a
level of safety and security that can't be had when going it alone.
Another benefit of traveling the Fez
way is that you meet lots of other travelers. Most Fez'ers were
Australian, with a few Americans, Brits, and South Africans thrown in.
Everyone is really friendly, and being budget travelers like us, they
all love to talk about the far-away lands they've visited. Our bus
left Istanbul with nine people - Darren, our off-sider, Murat, our driver,
Stephanie from New York, Di and Jade, mother and daughter from Australia,
Karen and Jane, also from Australia, and us. Our first stop: the
town of Canakkale and the World War I battlefield of Gallipoli.
At sunrise on March 18, 1915, a combined force of
soldiers from France and Great Britain, and its colonies of Australia, New
Zealand, India, and Newfoundland landed on a lonely stretch of beach on the
Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. Allied commanders, including Winston
Churchill, believed that by controlling Gallipoli and the body of water into
which it jutts, the Daranelle Straits, a potentially important supply
route for the Germans could be cut off. Shunned by the Allies previously
in the war, Turkey had sided with the Germans, and had built up a significant
force on the Gallipoli peninsula in anticipation of such an attack. The
Allies, expecting to quickly rout the inferior Turkish forces, got a lot more than they
bargained for, and a battle that was supposed to take the better part of a day
went on for nine months, ending in a complete Allied withdrawal.
When Great Britain put out the call to its colonies for men to enlist to fight
the Germans, young men from Australia and New Zealand responded en mass.
They were known as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC.
Not quite sure what to do with them, the Brits sent the men to Egypt for
training, where they languished for many months, waiting for action. Story
after story is told at Gallipoli of the bravery and valor of these men, who had
come thousands of miles to fight in a war that most of them probably didn't
fully understand. It is impossible to walk down the many rows of white
granite headstones and not feel heavy with tragedy and loss. The
sentiments of grief-stricken parents and wives are recorded there, such as
"Our only son, much loved", and "A man hath no greater gift to
give, than to lay down his life for a friend". The wind makes a
lonely and haunting noise as it blows through the pine trees, and as I stood
there, unable to speak, I thought of the oftentimes futile nature of war, and
the brutal waste of life and potential that accompanies it.
The Gallipoli battle produced heroes on both sides, most notably a Turkish
commander named Mustafa Kemal. Defying direct orders from superior
officers, Kemal planned and executed a surprise attack on the Allied forces
while suffering from malaria. Defying death several times, once when a
piece of shrapnel hit his pocket watch instead of his heart, Kemal led the Turks to a
glorious victory that day, which ultimately resulted in the Allied
withdrawal. Acts like these, and words like, "I am not asking you to
fight for your country I am asking you to die for your country."
catapulted Kemal to military prominence and, ultimately, to the office of the
presidency of the new republic, which he founded. Taking the name of "Attaturk", which means,
"father of the Turks", Kemal instituted numerous reforms, including
abolishing polygamy, adopting a constitution, and removing Islam as the state
religion. He even changed the style of dress, outlawing the wearing of the
fez for men and forcing women to uncover their heads. Truly, Turkey bears little resemblance to its Middle Eastern
neighbors. His life story is taught repeatedly to Turkish school children,
and it is against the law to defame him in any way.
During the intense fighting at
Gallipoli, the ANZAC forces became admirers of the brave Turkish soldiers, and
vice versa. There are many anecdotes related at Gallipoli about friendship
between Turks and ANZACs - sharing water and cigarettes, caring for the wounded,
even giving a few cricket lessons. Thousands of Aussies and Kiwis come to
Turkey for ANZAC day on April 25th each year, when the bravery and heroism of
each of the armies involved are remembered. The following words are from
Attaturk, and they sum up the intense feeling that the Turks have for the ANZACs:
who shed their blood and lost their lives,
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they
lay Side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
To the mothers
Who sent their sons from far away countries,
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
We were the only Americans in our tour group, and
the usually jovial folks from "down under" were somber and
reflective. Gallipoli is a great source of pride for them, and the battle
represents the beginning of the movement for Australian and New Zealand
nationalism. Ataturk's words are proof that people of all nations honor
those who lay down their lives for their countries, regardless of which nation
they die fighting for.
June 28 through June 29, 2000
After a night in a bare bones budget hotel in Canakkale, we were off on the bus
again early the next morning. Our first stop was the ruins of the ancient
civilization of Pergamum. Every time I visit Roman or Greek ruins, I
always come away feeling that those guys had an uncanny knack for picking the
coolest places to set up housekeeping. Pergamum is no exception.
Situated high on a hillside the city affords a commanding view of the surrounding
valley, which was no doubt a military consideration. Founded by Philetarus
in 281 B.C., Pergamum was an important city to the Greeks, because they needed
yet another place to showcase the many spoils of war that had come their way
during the many successful campaigns of Alexander the Great (who was, by this
time, dead). The library at Pergamum was said to be the largest in the
world at that time, and when the Egyptians found that out, they were jealous, so
they cut off the supply of papyrus to the Greeks. No papyrus, no
books. But the Greeks outsmarted them by inventing a way to thinly slice
animal skins, thus inventing parchment. The Egyptians got the last laugh,
however, when Marc Anthony pillaged the library at Pergamum in order to give the
books as gifts to his beloved Cleopatra.
After another couple hours ride, we
arrived in our destination for the night, Kusadasi. Kusadasi is a favorite stop for the
cruise ships, so the town is filled with jewelry and leather stores, and sales
guys trying hard just to get you to, "Take a look! No charge for
looking!". We managed to avoid them, but the local restaurateurs
competed just as hard for the right to serve us dinner. Promises of
"First drink free!" and "10% off, just for you!" both
confused and enticed us, but we finally sat down to dinner at an outdoor cafe,
sharing a table with a nice couple from England who explained how the Euro 2000
soccer tournament worked. In case you've been living on the moon and don't
know, soccer (football) is big, big, big, in Europe, Africa, and South America -
just about everywhere but the States, where it's slowly gaining in
popularity. When we were in Morocco, a guy made a sneering comment to me
about how bad our soccer team was, and when I pointed out that we were the
reigning WORLD CHAMPIONS of women's soccer, he looked at me as if I had
just finished speaking in a rare Polynesian dialect. Women don't play any
sports in Morocco, and it will be a long time before there are any soccer teams
for women there, I imagine.
we arrived in Kusadasi we noticed banners advertising some type of festival, and
being drawn like iron filings to a magnet to any type of outdoor musical event,
we followed the locals down to the water front, where a large stage was set
up. We saw a free performance of Ayna, whom were were later told was the
number one band in Turkey. The music was good, and had something of a rock
beat that sounded halfway normal to western ears. We were virtually the
only tourists in a crowd of about 10,000 people, and everyone knew the words to
EVERY song. Everyone except us, that is. The crowd ranged in age from 7
months to 70, and whole families danced and enjoyed the show. Little girls
sat on their dad's shoulders, and teenage boys clowned around and shared
Ancient Ruins of
June 29 through June 30, 2000
I had been looking forward to visiting Ephesus for quite some time.
Founded over 3000 years ago by the legendary race of the Amazons, it has played
host to many civilizations. We again got an early start on the bus, having
picked up Andrew from New York, and Katie, Alyssa, Christie, and Craig from
Australia, and left behind Jane and Karen.
We all agreed that we wanted to get a
guide at Ephesus, and Darren had told us that we shouldn't have to pay more than
20 million lire for a two hour tour. The bus dropped us off at the
entrance, and would pick us up at the exit around three hours later. Upon
entering the turnstiles, we were approached by one of the official guides, who
told us that he would give us a two hour tour for 40 million. When we
expressed shock and told him that we couldn't pay that, instead of either
walking away or negotiating with us, the man proceeded to get rude and
confrontational, telling us that a cheaper guide would give us a bad tour and
wouldn't speak English very well. He kept this up for a good ten minutes
while we tried to discuss what to do, and we were getting very annoyed.
Finally Wiley walked over to the group of guides milling about the entrance, and came
back less than 30 seconds later with the news that he had procured a two hour, guided
tour for 20 million lire. After talking to some other Fez'ers, we found
out that they had all encountered this rude man, and had been so turned off that
they wandered through the ruins by themselves. Nail (pronounced
"Nile", like the river) turned out to be one of the best guides I have
had anywhere, and the lesson we learned here is not to do business with someone
you're not comfortable with.
To start the tour, which turned out
to be an extensive education on Ephesus, Nail led us over to a shady spot and
gave us a lecture about the history and culture of the place. Having
degrees in both archeology and history, and having guided tours at Ephesus since
1968 as well as having worked on the excavation of the site, he was well-qualified to speak on the
subject. Founded almost 3000 years ago by the Greek Androclus, the site
was chosen after an oracle cryptically told Androclus to chose the site
indicated by the fish and the boar. As Androclus grilled fish for lunch
one day, one of them jumped from the pan and caused a burning coal to ignite
some nearby brush. A frightened wild boar ran from the bush, and Androclus,
satisfied that this was the site the oracle had meant, founded the city.
Playing host to several civilizations, Ephesus prospered, partly because of the
fertile lands around it, and partly because of its excellent location as a
trading port. When the Romans occupied Ephesus, they boasted that as many
as 250,000 people lived there. As an archeological site, it is an
outstanding example of the amazing results of a careful and loving
restoration. The Library of Celsus, which is the centerpiece of Ephesus,
was reconstructed of more than 85% of the original components - a number
practically unmatched in archeological restorations. In addition, the
restoration is able to withstand an earthquake - a very real threat in Turkey -
of up to 7.8 on the Richter scale. Celsus was once the
Roman governor of Asia Minor, and upon his death his son, Tiberius Julius Aquila,
built the library to house his sarcophagus. The library was built with a
system of natural air conditioning to keep the interior cool and protect the
books from the damaging humidity of the nearby ocean. The building is
double-walled, with approximately two to three feet of space between each of the
walls. Even today, standing in that space, you feel a remarkably cool, dry
breeze, despite the heat of the day.
It is possible to look down from a small outcropping of rock above the Library
of Celsus at the main square of Ephesus and imagine toga-clad people, bustling
around the main market or agora, visiting the public baths and toilets (which
are extremely well-preserved, at in ancient times even had running water), and
filing into the Great Theatre (seating for 25,000) to watch a play or hear St.
Paul speak. In fact, it was Paul who was the cause of a near-riot in
Ephesus in the Great Theatre. It seems that his efforts to convert the
Ephesians to Christianity were so successful that the business of making gold,
silver, and bronze statues of the goddess Artemis hit a pretty big slump.
A mob gathered, taking with it several of Paul's traveling companions.
Eventually the Christians were released, and Paul made his way on to Macedonia,
choosing to communicate with the Ephesians via the mails from that point on.
If you've ever wondered why people say that prostitution is the world's oldest
profession, it's because of discoveries that archeologists have made at places
like Ephesus. The rock in the picture at the beginning of this paragraph contains a kind
of "advertisement" for the services of one of the professional ladies
in Ephesus, of which archeologists estimate there were about 2000 of at one
time. At the lower right hand corner of the rock, you can see a carving of
the face of a women. Above that, and unfortunately you are unable to make
it out in the picture, is something of a road map, showing where to turn to get
to the town brothel. Finally, you can see the outline of a foot, which
serves as something of a deterrent to the minor male population of
Ephesus. Archeologists believe that the carving is of a woman's foot, and
that males whose foot wasn't bigger than the woman's weren't old enough to
purchase services at the brothel!
Everyone in our group loved Nail, and
was fascinated with everything he told us. There is something so
compelling about someone who enjoys their work, and Nail truly loves the ruins
at Ephesus and the history contained there. He wanted so much to tell us everything he could about the
place, that he ran between locations, and we ran after him. He raised his
voice for emphasis, and at other times spoke in a revered whisper that drew us
to him. He made Ephesus come alive for all of us, and I think we would not
have enjoyed it half as much if we had had another guide. Instead of our
agreed-upon two hour tour, he kept us for two and a half hours, and we loved
every minute. At the end he told Wiley, who was the only guy in our group,
that he was a very lucky man, because he had a beautiful harem! If you
ever go to Ephesus, search Nail out, or one of his seven children, whom he
promised us would be guiding tours there for many years to come.
Back on the bus, we continued our trek on to the quiet village of Koycegiz on
Koycegiz Golu Lake. We stopped along the way for a short dip in a
really nice swimming hole. Wiley and a few others climbed to the top of
the waterfall for a plunge into the chilly water. That's one of the really
nice things about travel on the Fez bus - it's not all about seeing the
sights. They take you to some out of the way places, where you can relax
and enjoy some time with new friends.
and Fethiye, Turkey
June 30 through July 3, 2000
Back on the bus the next morning, we
headed for a lunch stop and hike in Saklikent Gorge. More than 18
kilometers long, Saklikent is a deep and extremely narrow gorge through which
runs a beautiful river of milky green water. Several restaurants have
built platforms out over the icy water, and we reclined on pillows and ate
gozleme for lunch, which is a delicious Turkish pancake filled with your choice
of meat, cheese, potatoes, or spinach.
Lots of people who come to Saklikent
stay at the restaurants close to the mouth of the gorge, and never venture back
into it. Our goal was to take the whole Fez group, which now totaled about
20 people, back into the gorge as far as the third waterfall. Darren had
warned us not to bring anything into the gorge that we didn't mind getting
wet. This included cameras, so unfortunately, I don't have any pictures,
so I'll just have to try to describe what it looked like.
There are a couple of water sources
that come together to make up the river. One is icy cold and the other is
slightly warm. When you enter the gorge, you cross the icy cold stream,
and just about the time your feet are turning blue, you get across the cold
water and into the more temperate water. Wiley and I had worn our leather sandals, and the restaurant we ate lunch at (conveniently) rented
attractive plastic shoes. There were no ladies shoes big enough for me, so
I got a snappy pair of black pseudo-wing tips, complete with molded fake
laces. About five minutes into the walk, a blister showed up on my left
heel. Just the first of much pain to come...
As our walk up the gorge continued,
the opening at the top became narrower and narrower. The rocks took on the
look of marshmallow creme, and at some points the gorge closed up completely
over our heads. Pretty soon we were tramping through knee-deep water, and
at some points it got waist deep. At this point, it became obvious why you
wouldn't want to have your camera back there. Most of the hike involved
scrambling over the slippery white rocks, but eventually we came to the really
tough part of the climb: the waterfalls. In a experience that reminded me
of those corporate challenge retreats, our whole bus came together with a strong
teamwork showing to get everyone up and over the waterfalls. It was a
little scary at first, as you had to swim under the waterfall and come up under
the rope, with the water from the eight-foot drop pounding on your head.
Once I had a grip on the rope, one of the guys in the group helped me get onto
the rope, and helped me to navigate the various foot and hand holds on the way
up. As soon as I could get my hand up to the top rock, another guy was
waiting to pull me over the top. It was an exhausting experience, but it
was really cool to stand at the top and look down and think, "Wow! I
got up here!". Everyone in our group made it over the first
waterfall, but several of the women fell back at the sight of the next rope and
the next waterfall. An exercise like this really highlights the
differences in physical strength between men and women. But several of us
charged on, and made it as far as any of us could go. The last waterfall
we got to had no rope and would have required everyone to squeeze between two
huge, slippery boulders, so we started the trip back down. Once again,
proving that the trip down is just as hard or harder than the trip up, we all
struggled and fell a few times getting back to the mouth of the gorge. The
really great part was that a lot of the rocks we had scrambled up had become
slides on the way down! We were really glad to get down, because we had
begun to shiver from being in the cold water for so long, but it felt like a
great physical accomplishment and an excellent display of teamwork.
Once out of the gorge, we headed on to our destination for the night, Fethiye.
The bus dropped us at a hotel called the Boathouse, where for 10 million lire a
night we had a great room with a huge king-size bed and a pool. Di, Jade,
and Stephanie all stayed at the Boathouse for the next three nights with us, and
the rest of the Fez crew went on to the nearby town of Oludeniz. We spent
the next few days relaxing and sunning, and exploring the quaint town of Fethiye.
There was some type of festival going on in town (it seems to be festival season
in Turkey), and one afternoon we watched local boys participate in races and
games, including "Chase the Frightened Duck Across the Harbor!", and
"Try to Walk to the End of the Greased Pole Without Falling Into the
Water!". We spent one night exploring the local nightlife, and even
did a little boogying to Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb". How old is this
July 3 through July 5, 2000
One more time, back on the Fez bus,
for our last ride. This time our destination was Olimpos, on the Mediterranean.
On the way we stopped off for a swim at a beautiful spot, where the water was so
clear and blue it was amazing. While the Mediterranean beaches are too
rocky for my taste, the water is so full of salt that you float like a cork, so
you can just sort of hang out in deep water for quite some time. Despite
the beauty of the Med, Wiley and I both still prefer the beaches of the Gulf
Coast, especially those of Orange Beach, Alabama.
To call Olimpos a "town"
would be a huge overstatement of the truth. There is a beach there (again, very
rocky - if you go to the Mediterranean, bring your water-proof sandals), and
seven or eight little places to stay. The Fez bus stopped at Kadir's Tree
Houses for the evening, so that's where we got off, more than a little swayed by
the free welcome beer they dangled in front of our noses.
The big attraction at Kadir's Tree
Houses is pretty obvious: the tree houses. Literally, much of the accommodation
there is high above the ground, in little shacks resembling something you might
have built as a child with some scrap lumber your dad gave you. Certainly,
however, you would probably never have considered turning this rickety shed into
a business, but Mr. Kadir did, and he was making a healthy living at it, from
the looks of things. One of the employees, who was giving us our check-in
briefing, pointed to one of the tree houses and told us that it had twelve bunks
in it. Upon hearing this, and seeing that the place he was pointing to was
no bigger than the average American walk-in closet, Wiley and I decided to opt
for the double bungalow. Each place had a name at Kadir's, and our shack
was called the "Love Shack", apparently because it was only slightly
bigger than the double bed that it contained. I like to think of myself as
one of those people who believes that which does not kill you will make you
stronger, so we settled in for a couple nights roughing it at Kadir's.
Besides the beach, the other attraction in Olimpos is The Chimaera. Those
of you who either know your Greek mythology or have seen "Mission
Impossible 2" know the story; for the others I'll give you a brief
rundown. It seems that Chimaera, son of a volcano, was a ferocious flaming
monster that lived on Mt. Olimpos. The Lycian king ordered the hero
Bellerophon to kill the monster, and he gladly obliged by flying over the
mountain on Pegasus, the winged horse, and pouring molten lead into the
monster's mouth. In reality, not much is known about the source of the
flames. A gas of unknown composition still seeps from the rocky sides of
the mountain, bursts into flame when it hits air, and causes many small fires to
burn continuously, making the mountain resemble the site of a Boy Scout
Jamboree. You can cover the flames with dirt and they will go out, only to
re-ignite themselves sometime later. In ancient times the flames where
much larger, and ships could see them from the sea many miles away. If
you've clicked on the thumbnail at the beginning of the paragraph and examined
it at closer range you've noticed that Wiley has his hand in a water
bottle. This is because he attempted to move a rock away from one of the
flames to "get a better view of the flame". Not a good idea, as
the rock was not much cooler than the flame itself, but thanks to my prompt and
caring medical attention, we were able to avoid any involved medical incidents.
The next day was our last in Olimpos, and was also the Fourth of July.
Since we were in Turkey and surrounded by people from Australia, we were pretty
much the only ones who noticed. No barbeque, no watermelon, and no
fireworks, but we did manage to sing every patriotic song we could think of
while walking down the road at night. The next day we were up early to
catch the mini-bus for a ride to the bus stop, because we had an all-day journey
ahead of us to Ankara to meet up with the group of Americans that we would be
participating in a cultural exchange program with. We had to say goodbye
to our new friends, who were continuing on to the Cappadocia region (we are
scheduled to be there in a few days) the next day. They didn't seem too
thrilled about staying another night at Kadir's, as both the water and
electricity had gone out right before we left. We really enjoyed spending
time with some lovely people and making new friends, and hope our paths cross
again at some point.
here to continue in Turkey with "Cultural Differences"