Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Driving Turkey

Crossing from Europe to Asia at the Dardanelles

Next stop was the ancient ruins at Troy and the Trojan Horse of course

Our hotel in Bergama was having construction problems. We had to find another one!

The Church of the Devil (Red Basilica) in Bergama

Captain Steve looking for the legend at the Red Basilica (Church of the Devil). It seemed like such a quiet neighborhood...

Just a typical road sign on a major road. We somehow managed not to go into the water here.

So this is Ephesus!!!

Ephesus in the early morning - Truly amazing!

Typical harbor street in Ephesus. The water is now about 3 miles away!

The Ephesus ruins are really well preserved

My new haircut at Ephesus. I wanted to look like the ancient warrior carved into the column.

1,200 year old mosaic at the Terrace Houses in Ephesus

Ephesus temple with Maria admiring the stone work

The throngs of tour groups at Ephesus arrive later in the morning

Posing at the Ephesus library

The huge theater at Ephesus. It had seating for 25,000 people not including the gladiators, lions and other nasty creatures.

The famous latrines (bathroom) at Ephesus

Ephesus brothel rooms with the doorways just the right height for Maria.

The Virgin Mary's house that is heavily guarded by Turkish soldiers

Statue of the Virgin Mary high above Ephesus

Tomb of the Apostle John

Having a feast after walking for hours around Ephesus!

Crossing the river and going to the Tombs and ancient Kaunous

The ancient Lycian Tombs carved into the granite walls at Dalyan

The view of the Tombs from our hotel

Ancient temple at 3,000 year old Kaunous

Closeup of the ancient cult temple with Maria at the center of this magical place

Climbing high above Kaunous

More Lycian tombs high above Fethiye

Captain Steve climbing into one of the tombs

The spectacular view that the ghosts from the past had from their tombs high above Fethiye

This is my 'office' in Fethiye. I re-configure the internet connections at the hotel and things work just fine!

We did it - we managed to navigate our rental car out of Istanbul! Whew, that only took about 2.5 hours. We had these nice directions from the internet printed out with distances and street names but it seems that the Turks don't like to mark the streets or highways very well. We kept getting in the wrong lane and traveling across the Bosphorus from one Bridge to another, seeing Europe then Asia then Europe then back to Asia and finally back to Europe again.

Thinking quickly, Captain Steve pulled out his iPhone and touched the Locate feature. Instantly we saw our position on Google Maps as a nice blinking blue dot! Then Admiral Maria typed in our destination and a bold solid blue line appeared routing us to the place we wanted to go.

The next hour or so we just tried to keep the blue dot on the blue line without much success but still making progress. Finally we got out of town and onto the correct highway (going illegally through a couple of automatic toll booths along the way - nobody told us about getting a toll card before getting on the highway).

We then traveled through the WWI battle fields alongside the Dardanelles where the Allied Forces of England, New Zealand and France fought and lost to the Turkish Forces. There are remnants scattered everywhere from the fighting in the fields and on the sea. Monuments mark so many places that echo in our history books detailing those who fought and died on land and on the water.

We took a car ferry over to Asia, crossing the infamous Dardanelles. The ride lasted a total of about 10 minutes and we were in a small town called Canakkale where we went aboard a mine-sweeper from WWI before spending the night.

Now that we were in Asia we started driving further south and away from the rain, snow and cold of Istanbul. Troy, where the trojan horse was used, was a fantastic stop along the way. The ruins here are incredibly old and date from 3,000 BC. We climbed a replica Trojan horse, walked among the ancient ruins and gazed out at the plains of the Troy battlefield, never once seeing Brad Pitt.

At our next stop, Bergama, we walked inside the Church of the Devil (the Red Basilica), one of the 7 churches of the Apocalypse. History was at our feet as we wondered how these ancient stories emerged and endured throughout time. Ghosts from a time so ancient literally lay upon the walls of this monumental ruined temple.

We continued on to Ephesus, the ancient city that seems to be on everyone's bucket list of places to see. We arrived at 8:20 AM and were the only ones walking through this once thriving metropolis of 250,000 people. The preservation of the temples, city and monuments is one of the wonders that we can see today. But the tour buses arrived within the hour, giving a sense to what a throbbing city this must have been with the modern day throngs making their way along the marble streets, sitting in the immense outdoor theaters, library and wandering through the old latrine and brothel area. The city was once next to a harbor but today the Aegean Sea is now almost 3 miles away. So much for global warming and rising sea level!

In the pine forest high above Ephesus is where the Virgin Mary lived during the remainder of her life. Her house is considered sacred, having been visited by no less than 3 Catholic Popes. The Turkish military keeps an incredibly heavy guard around the house day and night. We managed to visit the very small house alone without any tour groups around. That is a true miracle in itself!

Ephesus and the surrounding area seemed very biblical to us. We stood at the tombs of the apostles St. John (the divine) and St. Luke, walked in the footsteps of St. Paul at Ephesus and finally stood inside the house of the Virgin Mary. These were very mystical places for us to visit.

Still going south we visited yet another ancient city called Kaunos that was built by the Lycian people around 3,000 BC. This is also the location of the famous rock tombs that were carved into the granite walls that overlook the Dalyan River and our hotel for the night.

The port city of Fethiye is where we are now. The skies have opened up with the March rains and it might be 60 degrees outside. We are looking out over 12 Islands Bay adjacent to the Aegean Sea while Maria enjoys grazing her way through breakfast. Breakfast for her consists of fresh arugula, cilantro, salads, black olives, green olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheeses, yogurt, nuts, fruit, figs, several types of bread, fresh squeezed orange juice, tea and even a hard boiled egg. Captain Steve has a little cheese, some bread and a couple pieces of strange lunch meat since he doesn't like to graze.

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen…

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