Modern day Turkey


MAY 2004

Turkish Flag

click to go to Aphrodisias ruins

click to go to Ephesus ruins

click to go to memorials on Gallipoli

click to go to Istanbul

click to view ruins at Pergamum

click to see some sites around Selchuk

click to see the ruins of Troy









The first sights and smells leave a deep impression.  I remember getting off the plane in Ankara 40 years ago on a hot August afternoon.  Everything was dry and dirty, especially after leaving green Virginia.  The people looked like they had not bathed in a month, nor shaved, and there was a pungent odor in the air.   I was to find out later that the odor was the smell of their cigarettes.  It was refined with something like licorice and stunk so bad that it made you not want to breath. 

This trip when we landed in Istanbul to change planes for Izmir, I expected to be overwhelmed by that odor again.  But to my great surprise, there was none, although it seemed that everyone smoked.  Istanbul was a little confusing, changing planes without going thru customs, and being routed around the airport.  But with the traveling companion of Thomas, a serviceman being re-assigned to Izmir, the 3 of us made the 2 hour wait in Istanbul without getting lost in the shuffle.  When we did arrive in Izmir we each paid the $20.00 for our visas (I am sure the lady put one of those in her pocket), and we had arrived!!. 

We rented a car, said good-by to Thomas, and headed south to Kusadasi with Gloria navigating.  We were passing thru villages that were not on the map, so it was a little confusing, but we were taking it all in.  In May, the land is green, and along the western coast it is exclusively farm land.       

Western coast of Turkey

The traffic was sparse and the Turkish drivers were not all that bad.   As we drove thru the villages, I pointed things out to Gloria that I am sure she didn't see.  Such as the Ekmek (loaves of bread) in the little display cases, the once-a-month-crapper pants the women wore, the women that work in the fields all piled in the cart behind the tractor.  Some of the immediate things I noticed that were different: the ashaks (donkeys) and horses have been replaced with tractors, and there are no longer Chayi (tea) vendors on the streets.

We finally arrived at Kusadasi and found our hotel--very nice resort hotel facing the Aegean Sea.  I could not wait to find a place to eat, so we headed into town for our first meal.  Prior to now, all we had eaten for the past 24 hours was airplane food.  We stopped at a nice looking restaurant with an outdoor seating area overlooking the harbor.  Sama, our waiter, could speak English, as most of them can.  They must speak about 3 different languages to stay in the business of TOURISM.  English and German are the 2 primary followed by French.   But back to the food.  We ordered shish kabob.  That first bite was just as I remembered.  Tender and Juicy.  I just sat there and savored the first five bites, not wanting to interrupt my palate from the exquisite tastes.

We made some conversations with Sama, and enjoyed the Turkish evening and over dessert and Chayi, watched as the sun set into the Aegean Sea.  Our first evening was one to always remember.   We slept well that night but with jet lag, were awake and sat on the balcony watching cruise ships dock at the pier in Kusadasi.  

click to go to Ephesus ruins

The next morning we were off to Ephesus.   We were advised to tag along with a tour rather than paying for a guide, so we heeded that advise and it went well.  We learned that Ephesus used to be a port city and was abandoned after a few centuries because the silt from the river filled the bay.   Presently the ocean is a good 5 to 10 miles from the original city limits.   The wind also blows quite hard and pretty constantly, thus assisting in covering much of the ruins that we were there to see.      click photo to see Ephesus


click to see some sites around Selchuk

After leaving Ephesus, which took about 3 hours, we stopped in the little town of Selchuk.  This must have originally been where the people lived that were not Romans.  We found a good restaurant and had some lamb meatballs.  This was also excellent, in fact, we didn't have any bad food the entire time we were in Turkey.  We toured this town and became quite fond of it and it's people, as they were very friendly and hospitable.  This is where St. John is buried, and Jesus' mother, Mary, made her last home and we went and visited both sites.                                                     click photo to see Selchuk

That evening after a nap, we went off looking for another restaurant, and found one that was frequented by only Turks.  We knew we were in the right place.   They only served Shish Kabob but different varieties, so we had chicken.  It was one of those places where we were really treated like a local, and they gave us the salad and vegetable tray even before ordering.  We had to have been there for about 2 hours just enjoying the evening.  I am sure that you can tell that by now we really were looking forward to our meals. 

click to go to Aphrodisias ruins

The next morning was overcast but we headed inland about 200 Kms. to the ruins of Aphrodisias.  This was a fun drive, and not all that bad.  Most of the road was 4 lanes unless someone wanted to make it more, but that was not common.  It gave us the opportunity to see the countryside and other nice towns along the way.  We turned off the main road onto a paved single lane and went down that road for about 30 K before coming to the ruins of Aphrodisias.  On the return trip we took a "short cut" to Kusadasi,
and got some memorable photos of real small villages, and the photo of the couple with his wife on the ashak.  Of course we entered Kusadasi on the back side and took about an hour to find our way back to the hotel, but it gave us the opportunity to see some different parts of town.               click photo to see Aphrodisias

The next morning we left Kusadasi heading north along the coast.  We passed thru Izmir and I was amazed at how large a port city it presently is, covering many of the hills, with some major manufacturing and other industries. 



click to view ruins at Pergamum

The city of Bergama is the Turkish name for Pergamum.   I think we should have spent the night in this town to give the ruins a proper tour, for all we did was go to the top of the hill to the citadel.  There was a lot more to see there and we should probably have gone back and spend some more time.  This is the birth place of medicine, and we didn't even stop at the museum.  Of course we are not sure that we ever found it after looking and getting lost for a couple of hours.                                                                                                                   click photo to see Pergamum


From there we continued heading north to the sea port of Canakkale.  Our room was right on the Dardanelles, the passage from the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara.  We spent some time just walking the water front and watching the ocean vessels go by.  The people were quite friendly and we enjoyed our stay there.  


click to see the ruins of Troy

The next morning we drove back the way we came for about 30 Kms to Troy.  Just as Ephesus, it is no longer near the Aegean Sea.   Now little more than an assortment of fragments, the site is most notable for being the birthplace of modern archaeology.  Heinrich Schleimann followed clues in Homer's tales, and in 1871, found the remains of an ancient city that seemed to fit the bill.  Troy was rebuilt on the same small site many times over, resulting in a thoroughly confusing mass of remains, with only a sturdy stone wall dating from about 1500 B.C. remains in one piece.  After leaving Troy,  I attempted to find a way over to the mouth of the Dardanells, but was stopped by military signs saying not to continue with the old Roman Road on which I was traveling.                        click photo to see Troy


After we got back to Canakkale and on the way back to the hotel we passed an open air market.  It had to be 5 blocks by 4 blocks in size.  We walked the whole thing.  Unfortunately, we were more interested in buying stuff than being a tourist, and left the cameras in the car, for it would have been some good photos.  We stopped at a little cafe' and Gloria had her first taste of lamb Doner.  She also learned how to navigate on foot the very crowded streets, with the horns honking, horse drawn carts off to the side, and any open space is good enough to park. It was really one of the memorable highlights. That evening we were just out walking and found a part of town where the locals do their shopping. It turned out to be another of the sites we just wished we had a little more time to stay and enjoy the local culture.


click to go to memorials on Gallipoli

The next morning we boarded a ferry to cross the Dardanells for Gallipoli.  This entire peninsula is a National Park, and dedicated to all who fought and died here, regardless of nationality.  It was quite moving as we visited various Australian and New Zealand Memorials.  At the Western end, toward the tip of the peninsula are big English and French Memorials which we didn't have the time to visit.  It was a moving experience, but knowing that they all died for nothing made it all that much more depressing.        click photo to see Gallipoli


click to go to Istanbul The rest of the afternoon was spend driving along on the toll highway to Istanbul.  At the airport exit, we merged with the local traffic heading toward the airport where we turned in our car.  Now this is where Gloria got quite nervous and learned about the famous Turkish drivers, as they turned a perfectly nice 6 lane road into a 10 lane traffic jam.  But the "City on Two Continents" has a lot to offer and see, and we enjoyed every minute of it.


click to see favorites I have to admit, it was the people that made Turkey a place to return to, and leaves a warm spot in our memories.  We have a few cherished photos of the people, most of which we took from along the side of the roads, but with permission from all except the guy that was too intent on looking at Gloria than where he was going, or me...      click photo to see favorites

These are our favorites.


In conclusion, we had a fantastic time and enjoyed every minute.  A couple of the negative aspects were the high fees to visit the ruins, museums, and other tourist sites.  At some, they even charged a camera fee.  And they don't take credit cards at these places, so cash was flying especially when visiting 3 sites in  a single day.  Also, most of the little cafe's don't take credit cards and that was another outlay which was an unexpected cash drain. 

I knew from being in Turkey in the past that barter was a way of life.  And when one lives there that is okay, as you become accustomed to what the normal prices for items are.   But as a tourist, it's a big "I GOTCHA".  At the open air farmers market in Canakkale 95% of the food didn't have a price, so couldn't tell what a banana cost, and had no clue where to start the bargaining.  And then finally, we found out from our guide in Istanbul, that there is a price for Turks and another price for all others on everything from the tourist sights to restaurant meals.  That left me a little unnerved.

With that being said, the question is, would we go back?  When is the next plane????

We thank you for stopping by and letting us share our Turkey vacation with you.

for making all the arrangements
to Can of Troy Tours                                                                                   
                Click to go to Troy Tours
Aphrodisias Ephesus Gallipoli Istanbul Pergamum Selchuk Troy