Turkey – May 2015

Overview

We spent  2 weeks in Turkey from May 3 – 16. The first week was all spent seeing Istanbul. We had done some research and knew some of what we wanted to see and Pat was able to book our hotel right in the middle of the Sirkeci District where we could walk to all the major attractions in about 15 minutes. And on two of the days we had booked Istanbul tours through Mediterra and these helped us cover a lot of ground.

The second week was a tour, with Mediterra Tours, of some of the main sites of across west and southwest Turkey including the capital city Ankara, the Cappadocia region, Pamukkale, Hieropolis and Ephesus with lots of other sights along the way.

I’m trying to review our trip in two parts, the first covering our week in Istanbul by subject. So I’ll try to relate our experiences on Eating, Culture, Street Life, The Grand Bazaar, etc.

Then I’ll cover our second week, the Mediterra Turkish countryside tour by date.

 

The Metadata – Overall Observations

Turkey is safe, safe,safe.  Safe as Ottawa. I don’t think the Turkish Tourism folks understand they have a real problem. Hyperbolic media reporting has created a personal safety fear that I believe is curtailing North American tourist traffic to Turkey. Our 24 hour news is constantly showing us pictures of North Africa and the Middle East in flames ….. and guess where Turkey is located on the world map? The world is a big place and there are many great travel choices … and a surprising number of our friends urged us not to go to Turkey right now! But happily, we found that Turkey was perfectly safe, without exception, wherever we went.

The Turkish people are great! They are friendly, hard working and naturally seem to be open to interaction with tourists/strangers. I was greatly impressed by the innate qualities of the Turks we dealt with. Pat and I think the 1923 revolution that formed Turkey out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire had a great effect in forming the persona of the Turkish people. They’ve been taught a pride in their country from childhood; that their grandparents had to fight for their freedom (close in history – bad times a very recent memory)  and they don’t take what they’ve got for granted .

Turkey is a fully developed country. We were shocked at the modern Turkey we experienced versus our expectations. The roads and infrastructure are just as good, maybe better, than what we have here in Canada. Everyone has a mobile device, WIFI coverage seems ubiquitous and the whole place seems orderly and well run. We booked a tour on the last week because we were uncertain we could drive ourselves around as we’ve done everywhere else in Europe. Ha! … the Turkish roads and signage were excellent; better than what I’ve driven through in many areas of Ireland and France. I’d avoid the cities where the traffic is a pure mob scene … I’ve driven in Paris at rush hour and can do it … but why stress yourself? But we definitely could have rented a car and driven ourselves with Brunhilda (our GPS) piloting the way. No regrets though; the Mediterra tour got us to many more places than we could have done by ourselves in the same timeframe.

Lifestyles are changing dramatically in Turkey. I talked to all sorts of Turkish folks including our various tour guides, waiters, hotel clerks, convenience store owners and people sitting beside me on park benches. Some of the points they all seemed to agree on:

  • Turkey will not be joining the EU any time soon. They said that although their elites and political leaders continued to promote it, the ordinary Turk thinks it will be very bad financially for them. They saw the EU as a sinking ship and why would they want to join that?
  • Young people are leaving the rural landscape in droves for work in the cities. There are lots of jobs in the cities. They may not be high paying jobs but they are attached to the modern urban lifestyle that young people want. One comment from a restaurant manager was interesting; he said that the young Turk wants an office job these days. They are not as happy to work in the Service industry like he does … they want office jobs and careers.
  • The Islamic/Eastern view of the world is much different than our Western view. When discussing Turkey’s potential membership in the EU one of our guides brought up the Crusades as an example of the way the Christian/Western societies have brutalized and subjugated the Muslim world throughout history. The cultural and belief gaps between ourselves in the Western World and the Restof World are vast and will not be bridged soon. Everything that exposes us to them, and vice versa, will advance the understanding and acceptance that will close the gap … but I can’t see this situation changing soon. Will it take 100 years to make real progress?

 

Turkey is a stunningly beautiful country. We hot-air ballooned above the hills of Cappadoccia, rode across endless fertile plains on the way to Konya and saw snow capped mountains rise as we neared Pamukkale. Everywhere we were surrounded by a handsome countryside that was green and clean. The only problem was too many fantastic picture opportunities!

The antiquities are amazing. You’re walking through 10,000 years of history every day as you tour Turkey. We had done some research (Wikkipedia, Lonely Planet, etc.) and that really paid off. I’d printed and brought quite a bit of the material and we reviewed it before we got to each site of the day so we were able to understand and appreciate much more with the context provided by the advance reading.

More thoughts as they are formed…….

 

 

Traveling in a temporal void

We took off on May 3 at about 3 pm from Montreal – flew to Toronto – took off on Turkish Airways at 10:45 pm, then landed at 3:15 pm (local time – they are 7 hours ahead of Toronto) on May 4 in Constantinople ….. got to our hotel about 5 pm and sat down to a nice meal at a street side table at 8 pm.

And the flight here was remarkably easy.

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It was a 9 hour flight…….but to me it seemed only about 2 hours.

Credit goes to my brother David who has been doing a fair amount of world travel recently. He told me “I can turn a coach seating flight into first class for only $1.20″.  He had gotten hold of some powerful sleeping pills left over from someone’s long ago prescription; he takes one as soon as the flight begins and says 6 to 8 hours just disappears ….. you wouldn’t know if your were in coach or first class.

It works! Someone in the family had some old pills called Oxazepam. I googled them and they are supposedly for “anxiety” but I was told they were originally prescribed as sleeping pills and would totally knock you out.

I was planning for a full coma experience so I put in ear plugs and wore a sleeping mask then took the pill soon after take off, we were barely over Kingston.

It was like falling down a well ……. that tiny pill creates a 6 to 8 hour temporal void in your life. When I recovered consciousness we were over Germany with only about 2 hours of flight time left.

Evidently there was a full dinner meal served, with all the attendant noise and hostesses bustling up and down the aisle beside me shortly after take off but I was perfectly senseless through all of it. There was no debilitating whoosiness or gross after effects. Amazing …..  I’ll definitely be using this trick again for future long distance flights.

 

Traveling on May 3 – Leaving Ottawa and Arriving in Istanbul

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I wonder if someone is going to write a book titled “The Unconscious Tourist” or perhaps “The Full Coma Traveler? They might spell out all the tricks and tips for the best drug shortened journey experience.

Usually our goals for Day 1 are just to navigate the airports and transfers successfully. There’s always some built up pre-flight anxiety/uncertainty and so you’re happy when you can just work through the travel agenda according to your expectations.

We flew out of Montreal at about 3 pm so it was easy to have Brunhilda guide us to the PET Airport. Pat and I have always agreed that the road signage in Quebec is awful. Just so frustrating. And there is one spot on the trip to PET Airport where you have to depend on Brunhilda. As you loop back over the main highway there is no signage at all to distinguish the route to the airport vs entry to a service road. Quebec’s road signage is so bad.

There’s always a discount coupon online for Park and Fly and Pat found it and printed it so we’d save $50 on 2 weeks of parking. I could have had Valet P&F for the same price but no way; I do not trust I’d get my car delivered to me in a timely manner when I return at midnight and am tired and want to go right now. And I might feel I need to tip the valet? I’d much rather park it myself and count on the always circling minibuses to get me to and fro efficiently. Worked great.

We traveled on points and Turkish Airlines did a fine job. They also didn’t charge us the rip off taxes that Air Canada does.

The flight to Turkey looked like this:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157652795742419

 

The Grand Bazaar

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“Excuse me pretty lady …. I need your money”.  That was the opening line of one of the vendors. When you go into the bazaar you have to be ready to deal with the vendors who see everyone as a walking wallet that they can entice in whatever way works. With the right attitude its no big deal and can actually be a bit of fun.

I have no sense at all if its a good idea to buy things there or not. I had no idea what things were really worth and could have been fooled with knock offs or poor quality. So that along with the fact that we didn’t have any sort of “want list” constrained our buying. But Pat knows more and likes fabrics; she saw some pestemal towels and pillow cases with eastern designs she liked and bought them.

Its a surprise to find there are hills and valleys inside the building. I guess these just reflect the landscape the bazaar was built on starting in 1455.

Its like a mini Las Vegas inside and it must use a huge amount of electric power.

The place is really clean and neatly kept…….but its hard to find a garbage can?

Most of the vendors spoke reasonable English so it was easy to get around and enjoy yourself.

Here’s the link to the pics with comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653218403222

And here’s a couple of movies I uploaded to YouTube, GrandBazaar1 and GrandBazaar2 . They’re about  2 minutes each:

 

 

 

Dining in Istanbul

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There are thousands of restaurants in Istanbul, many of them are squirreled away on little side streets that are closed to auto traffic and the tables are right out under the open sky. Very nice. We had looked over the restaurant recommendations on TripAdvisor and as we walked around town we frequently would stop to review the menu outside restaurants. Any approach keys the restaurant manager into action trying everything he can to get you to sit down and eat right away. The omnipresent phrase was “if you don’t like the food then you don’t pay”. Hmmm, I wonder how that would turn out?

Every menu we saw had pictures of the dishes accompanying the descriptions. Smart for tourists. Unfortunately all the menus were virtually the same … there was very little variety … you had to eat Turkish whether you wanted to or not. We remarked to ourselves that there is probably a great opportunity for some restaurants offering different cuisines like Italian, Indian or Asian. I would have loved a big Indian curry feast.

Never drink the tap water. We got this same advice from every hotel manager we talked to. The water might be potable … or maybe not; who wants to take that chance when bottled water is available everywhere? The hygiene standards we saw in every place with food looked really good. We were never nervous about eating the food there.

The food is much less spicy than I expected and hoped for. With all the piles of spices you see in every market I was thinking we get some wonderfully spiced meals … some new taste sensations. In fact the food was pretty bland … good and wholesome … we just didn’t experience anything with zip or unique flavors.

The tea is warm apple cider; served in the tall, thin shot glasses with a cube of sugar on the side. And they drink a lot of it.

They served beer and wine at every tourist restaurant. One bit of disappointment was the price gouging applied to their wine lists. I would have been happy to try some of the vaunted Turkish wines but the restaurant pricing was ridiculous. I wonder if they know how much more business and profits they’d make if they backed down the price curve some ways to increase demand. Pat and I agreed that if we were the restaurateur we’d try some pricing experiments to find the best volume/profit zone.  I can buy the Turkish wines here in Ontario for a small fraction of what they wanted at the table. Their pricing is hurting their business.

Here’s the pics related to dining in Istanbul with comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157650944525113

And here’s two movies. Note – knowing that most folks in today’s hyper-connected world have some degree of ADHD syndrome I keep all my videos to less than 150 seconds.

 

 

 

 

The Street Life

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There are 15 million people in Istanbul; 20% of the entire Turkish population of 77 million. And they all seemed to be on the streets around the Grand Bazaar when we were there. The locals shop the streets around the Bazaar more than inside where I guess prices are higher? Its great to walk along and see the life of the city, feel the pulse, and hear the calls to prayer wailing from several mosques simultaneously. You know you’re in a strange new place.

The Turkish people are generally more fit than North Americans. Perhaps they haven’t yet been convinced to adopt our edible poison dietary habits of eating mostly carbs and sugar. I asked many cultural questions … both a waiter and hotel clerk both told me they go the gym regularly so exercise and fitness may be valued.

Their streets are relatively clean for a city with extremely high foot traffic. Men with homemade brooms – tied bundles of twigs – were out sweeping the streets and gutters in the core areas of town early every day.  We also saw recycling garbage men sorting the material out of the street cans into recycling piles of paper, plastic and metal. They had these HUGE bag like things – 2 meters or more on all 3 sides – attached to their dolly. They would sort out their target material, paper for example, and pack it into their bag and leave the rest … and then leap up onto the dolly handles to get the leverage to tip the weight forward and start pulling the dolly to the next can. I suspect jobs and work structures are heavily influenced by the availability of cheap labor in Turkey. This garbage recycling system only works with cheap labor. And we saw men carrying loads – acting as human mules – rather than using a truck. We never saw our hotels using disposable plates or utensils – its cheaper to hire labor to wash up.

Turkey seems to be undergoing a massive modernization program everywhere. There is construction underway everywhere. Its not noisy or intrusive … you just notice the hoarding walls and the scaffolding that’s up around many buildings as you walk the streets. They are doing a good job of renovating and saving their meaningful old structures in town. New buildings seem to be built to fit in. There are no sky scrapers or tall structures out of place with the architecture of the old city. I suspect they want to achieve what Paris has, that is, a living, working museum of a city. Good for them! It will really pay off in tourist draw.

As everywhere, there are beggars on the streets. I asked our hotel manager about it and he grew really agitated as he told me his opinion. “There are 2 million Syrians now living in Turkey and they are all just lazy!” he said. He said there are lots of jobs available – maybe not high paying – but lots of jobs, and these folks would rather beg on the street. He urged me not to give them any money. I have no idea what the truth is … but I listened to his opinion. Pat noticed they use their children as bait and its crazy but they have their 4 – 6 year old kids wandering around in dense traffic begging at car windows. It just looks so dangerous?

We saw dogs roaming around and thought they might be feral at first? But closer inspection shows they all have ear tags … so someone must own them. Their life spans must be limited; we saw them wandering across roads in front of high speed traffic. Our bus driver managed to dodge them all but I’m sure he didn’t want the hassle of a canine carcass wedged into the front bumper and all that blood flying up all over the windshield … it upsets the tourists and is hard to clean after it dries.

You have to be aware of your situation on the streets. The sidewalks can be narrow and the traffic passes right beside you. The trams are quite unnerving at first. They pass just inches from you at the edge of the sidewalk. You cannot afford to step off the sidewalk anywhere without first scanning for traffic danger. Complicating the situation is the way cars are parked – everywhere and anywhere and layers deep. You have wind your way through the gangs of parked cars then judge the traffic and boldly step out to cross … hoping the local drivers will let you live (even though they can see you’re an Infidel).  It was fine but takes a bit to get the rhythm.

Here’s the pics with comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653277802371

Here’s a one minute movie showing how close the tram rides to pedestrians on the sidewalk:

 

 

Cruising the Bosphorus

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We arranged this through Mediterra Tours and we found them to be a terrific organization to deal with … we would recommend them. We dealt with Mr. Celal Akgul    Email:  [email protected]

Here’s the pics with the comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653344998575

 

 

The Blue Mosque

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Everyone going to Istanbul has to see the Blue Mosque. Here’s the pics with commentary:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157652923346049

 

 

Holy Wisdom Mosque aka  The Hagia Sophia

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From the start of construction in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. After Constantinople fell on May 29, 1453 it was converted to a mosque by Sultan Mehmed II. It was opened as a museum on February 1, 1935.

Famous for its massive dome and considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture it changed the history of architecture. It remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

Here’s my pics and commentary:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653338589441

 

 

The Basilica Cistern

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This huge, incredibly beautiful structure was lost in time. Locals actually “forgot” that it existed. Rediscoverd in the 1500’s by a visiting Frenchman this has become one of the top tourist attractions in Istanbul. And when you visit – you’ll know why. No pics can really capture the immensity … but here’s mine with commentary.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653372785135

 

 

Touring Gear

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Pat carried our Pacsafe safety bag and I carried the Deuter RaceX backpack. We were trying to travel as lightly as possible and this combo worked great for us. Pat likes to have our valuables protected and the Pacsafe bag does that. The strap and body of the bag are slash resistant and it takes a very deliberate effort to get into … impossible to pick pocket. The RaceX pack is only 1 lb 5 oz and just holds 12 liters … we’re forced to carry no more than what we really need. And I figured out how to attach carabiners onto the pack in a way that lets them clip onto the cap retainer strap of the water bottles so they’re safely leashed to the pack and won’t be lost … or maybe those smart designers planned it that way.

The tripod is a ZipShot and was great to have. Small, short when folded, weighs nothing and unfolds its tent pole legs in 2 seconds. I also figured out its perfect as a selfie stick … I was very pleased with the pic perspective it give you as an SS. Just enough remove for my lens that the whole scene behind Pat and I is now available with us just nicely positioned in front, but not blocking.

I bought a pair of convertible pants at the Price Club for $20 and they were great! The many cargo pockets were velcroed and provided some security for my pocket items like my camera. Better yet – one of the pockets was zippered and that’s where I always kept my wallet. I would be wearing proper long pants for visits to the mosques and later, when it got warm, I zipped the legs off and I was in shorts – brilliant technology!

 

 

The Turkish Bath and Massage

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We’ve always heard that the Turkish Bath and massage is supposed to be sort of special so we went to get the works. The pics with the story about it are here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157652991079378

 

 

The Galata Tower

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We decided to try using the tram to get to the Galata Tower which was a kilometer or so away across the Golden Horn. So we talked to the hotel desk and they told us how to use the system. We bought our passes OK and got on fine – then we sort of got a bit lost because we didn’t really understand the transfer system – but its a simple system and we figured it out soon enough.

We’re at 170 feet here and the views of the city are fantastic. Worth the climb up the hill to the Tower and then the climb up the stairs. ..  but really, If we’re so lazy we can’t climb some hills and stairs to see the sights then we’re really done for.

Here’s the pics and commentary:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653429585825

 

 

Rustempasa Camii – aka – Little Blue Mosque

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This mosque was arguably a better tourist experience than the much larger and more famous “Blue Mosque”. A much smaller mosque, it is beautifully decorated with the same sort of blue tiles but everything seems more accessible. The walls, arched support columns and ceiling domes are all close enough that you can more easily see and appreciate the architecture and the artistry of the finishes.

I asked our guide “Why is the Blue Mosque blue? Why are all the mosques we’re seeing in Turkey predominately decorated with blue?” He said that before Islam was introduced the Turks worshiped a Sky God, and blue, the color of the sky, was the color of their divinity. When they were converted to Islam they retained their preference for blue as a remnant of their original belief in the Sky God. I looked it up and maybe its true? Wikkipedia says:   The chief deity was Tengri, a sky god, worshipped by the upper classes of early Turkic society until Manichaeism was introduced as the official religion of the Uyghur Empire in 763.    … Its a good story anyway …

Here’s the pics with commentary:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653441379501

 

 

Topkapi Palace

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The Asian concept of a palace was a complex of many separate buildings.  The Topkapi Palace, the various Ottoman sultan’s palace for 400 years (about 1450 to 1850), consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. At its peak, the palace was home to as many as 4,000 people and covered a large area with a long shoreline. It contained mosques, a hospital, bakeries, and a mint.

There’s a great Wikkipedia write up … but here’s my pics and comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157651126182433

 

 

The Archaeology Museum in Istanbul

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Overwhelming … here’s the pics and comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157651134776263

This is the end of the Istanbul section. Countryside travel with Mediterra Tours is next.

 

 

May 10 – Flight to Ankara, capital city of Turkey and visit to the Anatolian Museum

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The Anatolian Museum in Ankara has an overwhelming amount of materials. Some are from the late Neolithic period which they calibrate as 5,000 to 10,000 BC. And the stuff seems so advanced in terms of its beauty and artistic expression. Makes you think we haven’t advanced much in that area … their artists were as good as ours today.

Here’s the pics and comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653091926810

 

May 10 – Mustafa Kemal Museum

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Following the defeat of Germany in WW1 the Ottoman Empire was in the process of being carved up by the winners as a war prize.  Kemal, as a very successful military leader, stood forward and led the Turkish National Movement in their War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies. His military campaigns led to total victory in the Turkish War of Independence.

In the 15 years starting from the birth of Turkey in 1923 until his death in 1938 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern and secular nation-state. Under his leadership, thousands of new schools were built, primary education was made free and compulsory, and women were given equal civil and political rights. He dragged Turkey into the modern world.

There are no other 20th century leaders I can think of that did so much to create and lead a nation into the modern era. Here’s my pics and comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157651245556883

And here’s a short movie that helps show the huge size of this museum:

 

 

May 10 – The Salt Lake Experience

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On the way from Ankara to Cappadoccia we stopped at a inland salt lake to wade for a bit.

My pics and comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157651247392603

 

 

May 11 – Ballooning over Cappadocia

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We had originally said no to this when planning our trip in 2014 before Pat’s knife accident. The price was $250 each and at the time that just seemed too much. But this year the price was 150 Euros each and we said yes … and we’re glad we did.

What a great experience! Very hard to capture with still pics alone so I’ve got pics and two movies; the first movie shows the balloon team getting ready for flight in the predawn darkness and the second shows us flying over Cappadocia.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653181458080

 

May 11 – Fairy Castles and Hidden Churches

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Devrent valley, also known as Imagination valley or the Pink valley, is famous for its red colour lunar landscape with the best-formed and most thickly clustered different rock formations. The valley looks like a lunar landscape and has never been inhabited. You go there to see the rock formations … its a bit like the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

My pics and comments are here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653233878709

 

May 11 – Monk’s Valley

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The site is called Monks Valley. The name was derived from some cones carved in tufta stones which stand apart. Currently, there is a vineyard and a number of Tufta cones standing right next to the road.

This place was the cradle of the early Christian church. Without the protection that the caves offered to Christians who were escaping the persecution of the pagans it is uncertain if Christianity would have survived.

My pics and comments are here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157651401403564

 

 

May 12 – Caravanserai on the Silk Road

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The sultans of the 12th century wanted encourage traders to stay in their domain as they traveled back and forth along the Silk Road from Persia to Istanbul … so they built overnight accommodations for them. The traders could stay, free of charge, for up to three days. These caravanserai were built 9 hours walk apart so that the traders would be able to make their Silk Road journey knowing they had safe accommodations each night.

This fortified structure was built in 1229 along the portion of the trade route leading from Konya to Aksaray and continuing into Persia. After it was partially destroyed by a fire, it was restored and extended in 1278. This monumental caravanserai is the largest in Turkey. It is one of the best examples of Anatolian Seljuk architecture. My pics and a movie I think you’ll appreciate:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653349019399

 

 

 

May 12 – Mevlana Museum – Home of the Whirling Dervishes

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The Mevleni order is a muslim sect that was founded in the early 1200’s by Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian Sufimystic also known as Mevlâna or Rumi. They are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous practice of whirling as a form of dhikr (remembrance of God). Dervish is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi path; the whirling is part of the formal Sama ceremony.

The purpose of the whirling dance action is described as: turning towards the truth, the follower grows through love, deserts his ego, finds the truth, and arrives at the “Perfect”. He then returns from this spiritual journey as a man who has reached maturity and a greater perfection, able to love and to be of service to the whole of creation.

I was interested to note that the tenets of the Mevleni order seem more open, forgiving, inclusive and accepting of other religions than the more conservative muslim sects we hear more about. My pics and commentary:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653709881136

 

 

May 13 – Pamukkale – means Cotton Castle in Turkish

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The city contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. The ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white “castle” of the mineral flow.  The white crust covers a huge area that can be seen from 20 Km away. This area has drawn people to bathe in its pools for thousands of years.

My pics and movie:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653786773815

 

 

May 13 – Hierapolis

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Its ruins are adjacent to modern Pamukkale in Turkey and currently comprise an archaeological museum designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BC and became a healing centre where doctors used the thermal springs as a treatment for their patients.

My pics and comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653724360206

 

 

May 13 – Aphrodisias

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Aphrodisias was a small ancient Greek city in western Anatolia, Turkey. It is located near the modern village of Geyre. Aphrodisias was named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, who had here her unique cult image, the Aphrodite of Aphrodisias.

The location of quarries that produced highly desirable stone were extremely important in the ancient world. Because white and blue grey Carian marble was extensively quarried from adjacent slopes in the Hellenistic and Roman periods Aphrodisias became an important place and many sculptures moved there to be close to their raw material.  Some became famous in the Roman world.

My pics:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653803040505

 

 

May 14 – Ephesus

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Ephesus was an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia. It was built in the 10th century BC by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. According to estimates Ephesus had a population of 33,600 to 56,000 people in the Roman period, making it the third largest city of Roman Asia Minor. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia that are cited in the Book of Revelation. The Gospel of John may have been written here. The city was the site of several 5th century Christian Councils. It is also the site of a large gladiators’ graveyard.

What most tourist recognize is the Library of Celsus, seen here behind Pat and I. Its an ancient Roman structure built in honour of the Roman Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus and completed in 135 AD. The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a mausoleum for Celsus, who is buried in a crypt beneath the library.

The interior of the library was destroyed, supposedly by an earthquake in 262 A.D. and the façade by another earthquake in the tenth or eleventh century A.D. It lay in ruins for centuries, until the façade was re-erected by archaeologists between 1970 and 1978.

My pics:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157651474623563

 

 

May 14 – House of Mary (near Ephesus)

HouseOfMaryReduced

The House of the Virgin Mary  is a Catholic and Muslim shrine located on Mt. Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus. The house was discovered in the 19th century by following the descriptions in the reported visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich , a Roman Catholic nun and visionary. The Catholic Church has never pronounced in favour or against the authenticity of the house, but there has been a steady flow of pilgrimage since its discovery.

My pics and comments:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653540131998

 

May 15 – Rugs and  May 16 – Flying Home

We went to a rug place that spins its own silk and has weavers on the floor making rugs. It was really interesting to see how the whole process works. The movies explain a lot.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/donsylvester/sets/72157653736079526

 

OK our 2015 Turkey trip is over and now we’re planning the next one.

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