· Cappadocia ·
Selçuk · Ku_adas1
Tuesday so it must be Istanbul
Aya Sofya ·
The Blue Mosque · Obelisk of Theodosius ·
Frank and Kevin suffered through
the upgrade to business class
on the flight to Munich as best they could. After a hearty Turkish breakfast of bread,
hard boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, olives and lots of coffee
we're off to Aya Sofya museum
(Hagia Sofia, Justinian's great 6th century church). The mihrab is a popular tourist
photo stop and once gave the Muslim faithful the direction of
Mecca for prayer. Just a few minutes' walk away is Sultan Ahmet's
Blue Mosque, his 17th century
answer to Justinian's impressive architecture. In addition to
the beautiful tile in the walls that gives the mosque its name,
light filters in through stained
glass windows high above the carpet covered floor.
The park beside the Blue Mosque
was a hippodrome in Roman times, an elongated racetrack for chariot
racing. Only a few monuments have survived those days of the
Roman Empire, the most famous being the granite Obelisk
of Theodosius. Carved in Egypt in 1500 BC, it once stood
in Heliopolis to commemorate the victories of pharaoh Thutmose
III. Theodosius brought it to town in 390 AD. The Topkap1
Palace was home to the Ottoman sultans from 1453-1839. In
addition to impressive architecture, the palace grounds include
the nearly deserted Arkeoloji Müzesi (archaeology museum).
This is an excellent museum housing exhibits from Troy,
Roman times, and the Byzantine period. The most interesting part
of the palace visit came when a group
of girls struck up a conversation with Frank and Kevin, though
Kevin quickly retreated.
No trip to 0stanbul is complete
without a visit to the Grand
Bazaar, whether you buy anything or not. With more than 4500
shops the bazaar dates back to the 15th century. Fun as it's
been, it's time to pack and bid farewell to 0stanbul. The Orient
Express no longer runs but we tried the modern equivalent, taking
the sleeper train to Ankara.
The ride takes us through the ancient steppes of Anatolia, an
area barren of forests but rich in cultivated land.
Amazingly, we were able to drive
our rental car out of Ankara during morning rush hour in about
15 minutes. A few hours later we were in Göreme
in the heart of Cappadocia. You have probably seen pictures of
this area of Turkey and not realized it. Tunnels,
rooms, and churches
were carved from from volcanic tuff to create extensive underground
Ephesus is the best preserved classical city
in the eastern Mediterranean. As early as 800 BC the nearby sanctuary
of Cybele, a fertility goddess, was a place of pilgrimage. Cybele
became Artemis and the Temple of Artemis was one the 7 wonders
of the ancient world. Like most of these wonders, little remains
of the temple (one column to be exact). In Roman times Ephesus
was the capital of Asia Minor and a rich sea port. Initially
a cult center, Ephesus developed a Christian presence and the
Virgin Mary settled here. St.
John and St. Paul are reputed to have lived here for a time,
too. Unfortunately, the river silted up and the coastline moved
seaward, leaving Ephesus behind. By the 6th century the city
center was moved to Selçuk. Ephesus has regained most
of its glory as tourists from the world over travel here to walk
the ancient streets.
We made it to the beach
and our first real tourist town. Ku_adas1 is the cruise ship
gateway to Ephesus. The bazaar is much more upscale than others
we've seen and the prices have increased accordingly. Restaurant
fare is less Turkish and the prices are more continental. So
far in our trip prices have been near what they were when Frank
was last here several years ago. In other words, a bargain. Not
so in the Ku_adas1 bazaar district. Frank was looking forward
to a wonderful meal until he found that the price of his favorite
dish had increased from 6 to more than 20 million lira. Fortunately,
the Bül Bül Restaurant across from the cemetery
was still there with its tasty lamb, reasonable prices, and excellent
service. Expect a few stares if you go; this is a local hangout
and well worth the walk. If you get the chance, stay at the Club Caravanserail, a hotel
in a restored karvansaray. Karvansaray were built by the Ottoman
Turks along trade routes like the Silk Road. Caravans could stop,
stay the night, trade, get a bath, and take care of their stock.
We've seen several ruins along the road but this one's in downtown
Ku_adas1 and certainly a step up from the Ottoman days. The rooms
are named, not numbered. We're staying in Çabuk. I don't
know what it means but it sounds exotic.
We're in Marmaris to visit Frank's
friends at the Marmaris
Yacht-Marina, do laundry, and catch the ferry to Rodos. Sunburned
tourists traveling the Turquoise Coast stroll along the waterfront
where colorful goulets and restaurants vie for their attention.
Despite the lack of cruise ships and inland destinations the
streets are busy with visitors. The rug, watch, and porcelain
vendors Frank knows are still selling their wares in the bazaar.
Kevin is tempted by the affordable Rolex watches but wisely decides
to save his money. The early morning ferry carries us Rodos (Rhodes),
our first stop in Greece.
· The Tour