Ephesus: "Quite a Group!"

06 November 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

The "usual suspects" and several "unusual" ones are associated with the ancient seaport known as Ephesus:

Anatolians, Ioanians, Lydians, Persians, and Romans, and historical figures Androclus, Croesus, Herostratus, Alexander, Nero, Hadrian, St John, Virgin Mary, St Paul (Letter to the Ephesians) and Emperor Justinian. Quite a group!

I don't know how many tens of thousands of tourists visit Ephesus each year. I assume that many come for the day from a cruise ship docked at Kuşadasi. They come in groups with a guide who points out the many historical influences on what the guidebook calls "the best preserved classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean." Greeks, Romans, Christians, Jews, Muslims - all played a role in the history here.

I do not dare to describe the ruins of Ephesus. They are extensive and of course include all the "usual suspects" to be found in a classical city: walkways, columns, gates, fountains, temples, a gymnasium and baths, and a grand theatre that seats 25,000 people: each successive range of seating up from the stage is pitched more steeply than the one below, thereby improving the view and acoustics for spectators in the upper seats.


Pamukkale: "Travertines and Sculptures and Sarcophagi"

6 November 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

I had a wonderful stay in Pamukkale.

The Travertines are unique.* And while I was climbing up the slightly treacherous hillside and wading through the pools, I met a young Japanese woman. She encouraged me to keep climbing and when we reached the top we strolled around the ruins of the Hierapolis together. ** Finally we visited the Hierapolis Archeological Museum. ***

On my own the next day, a rainy day, I traveled to Afrodisias.**** The site is splendid, but I spent much of the time juggling my umbrella and my camera while trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, to keep the lens dry.

Fethiye: "Drop Anchor"

Western Mediterranean

29 October 2009

My Dear Capitan David, Capitano Giovanni, καπετάνιος Πέτρος, and एडमिरल सिंह *

cc: Family and Friends

On your next sailing cruise to the eastern Mediterranean, I recommend you explore Fethiye Bay (Fethiye Körfezi). Drop anchor astride any number of idyllic islands: Yassicalar ( Flat Island ), Tersane Island , or Kizil Ada ( Red Island ). Swim and snorkel in the clear turquoise waters of Cennet Köyü ( Paradise Bay ) or Klopatra Hamami (Cleopatra’s Bath ). #

If your cook has a day off, sail into Fethiye Harbor and dock at the marina. Sea-side and cliff-side restaurants serve delightful Turkish dishes featuring fresh fish and sea food. ##

Steady your sea legs and wander around Fethiye (ancient Telmessos). The Tomb of Amyntas (350 BCE) is a Doric style Lycian temple cut into the rock wall of the cliff facing the sea. Close to the harbor is a Roman theatre.

Is your crew busy scraping the algae off the hull? Take a short ride into the mountains to the sorrowful site of Kayaköy (Karmylassos).

Antalya: "Miserable"

Antalya, Turkey
26 October 2009

12:30 pm

Mehmet: Please come in. Have a tea with me.

Jan: Thank you. I was just admiring your carpetsI am thinking: Tea sounds good. I am tired wandering around the cobbled streets of this hilly old town. Actually, Antalya is quite lovely, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Mehmet: Are you interested in hand woven carpets?

Jan: Yes. But I am not considering buying one now.  Stay strong, Jan. This guy's a Turkish carpet salesman.

Mehmet: Please let me show you a few. Do you prefer hot tea?

Jan: Yes. It's chilly and I'm a bit wet from the rain.  My water absorbent Old Navy jacket is not helping at all.

Mehmet: Since it's now the end of the season, I can give you a special price and ship the carpets at no additional cost.

Jan: Thank you Mehmet. Your carpets are beautiful. Please let me think about it.  They really are. I am tempted, but....

Mehmet. Perhaps you will come back after lunch?

Jan: I was thinking about visiting the mountain ruins of Termessos this afternoon. Do you know a reliable driver? Jan deftly changes the subject to the Termessians, a Pisidian people who were fierce warriors. They fought off Alexander in 330 BCE. The Romans accepted Termessos as an independent ally in 70 BCE.

Mehmet: I will call Nezi. He is known as "the doctor." But Jan, I recommend that you visit Termessos tomorrow morning. It will rain this afternoon. You will be miserable walking in the rain on the mountain.

Sanliurfa: "Mount Nemrut & Heads of State"



October 24, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

The bus ride form Mardin to Şanlıurfa (178 km - 110 mi) was a straight shot from east to west across the agricultural plain of Upper Mesopotamia. Olive trees, pistachio trees, apricot trees, cotton and corn fields are all irrigated with the river waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. As I travel across "the land between the waters," my university course, Ancient History 101, comes alive.

The area around the city of Urfa (pop 463,000) has been a battleground for more than three thousand years: first the Hittites in c.1370 BCE, then the Assyrians, Alexander and the Macedonians, Aramaeans, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Armenians, Byzantines, Crusaders, Seljuk Turks, Saladin and the Kurdish Ayyubids, Mamluks, and finally the Ottoman Turks. Urfa was renamed Şanlıurfa (glorious Urfa) in 1984.

Mardin: "Hasankeyf on the Tigris"

Southeastern Anatolia
21 October 2009

Dear Family and Friends,

Talk about last minute decision making:

On the bus from Tatvan, I re-read my guidebook for the entry for Diyarbakir (pop 665,000): mostly city walls and gates. Haven't I seen enough of them for the moment? Besides, I am avoiding the big cities. I looked at my map and explained to the bus driver's assistant (yes, there is always extra staff on an intercity bus - they serve drinks and snacks and help with luggage and tickets) -- I explained that I want to go to Mardin.