It has been about a week since I’ve been able to do any updates about my trip, and I am so happy to finally be able to do one now. I’ve spent the past week out in the boonies of Turkey, and although it was beautiful and fascinating, the internet situation was a no-go.
So when I left off I was on my way to Bergama. We arrived late that night and the next day we had two stops. The first was a Rug Weaver’s center where we learned about how they make those beautiful Turkish rugs. It was so interesting….one rug can take anywhere from 4 months to 2 years to make depending on the type. We also had the option to buy, but the cheapest rug I could find was still miles out of my price point, plus while Turkish rugs are beautiful, they really aren’t my style.
Our next stop was the acropolis of Pergamon. You are supposed to be able to take a cable car to the top, however it was too windy, so we took little taxis. It was a gorgeous acropolis, with a stunning view and a very steep theater. It was also mother’s day, so I ended up calling my mother from the acropolis of Pergamon….a very dramatic setting for that phone call.
The next day was one of the longest days I’ve had here. First we went to the Asclepion close to Pergamon. This is the second biggest Asclepion in the ancient Greek world. If you didn’t know, and Asclepion was a place of healing. They had doctors and “hospitals” too, but Asclepions were for long term healing, or unusual illnesses. It was mostly religious cures, but often just the rest and good food would allow healing to take place.
Two hours later, our next stop was the tomb of Alyattes, which is essentially just a hill in the middle of nowhere. Most people decided to hike to the top of the hill (about an hour) but me and one friend just weren’t feeling it, so we walked to the base of the hill, then turned and walked back to the bus. On the way back though, we were kidnapped by farmers, who didn’t speak english but were really excited to take pictures with us and introduce themselves. After this, it was back on the bus for two hours to Sardis, which is an impressive site full of awesome ruins. Then back on the bus for 15 minutes until we arrived at the Temple of Artemis…one of the wonders of the ancient world. Not a ton is left today, but what is there is very impressive. Then it was back on the bus for 2 more hours before arriving at the hotel in Selcuk and collapsing of exhaustion.
The next morning was the castle and basilica of St John. Even if you aren’t religious, to stand near the tomb of St John is pretty amazing. I also ran into a mother cat and her kittens, which was adorable. We were given free time to wander at this site, but unfortunately me and a friend got distracted and the group left without us! We couldn’t find them anywhere….we went around the 2 block radius close to the site, back to the hotel, then to every site that was on the itinerary for the rest of the day (it turns out they had decided to add something that wasn’t on the itinerary, so that’s why we couldn’t find them). We eventually managed to reach our guide by phone, and we met up with our profs for lunch. We then revisited the rest of the sites on the itinerary in the afternoon! These were one museum, then the Artemision…of which only one pillar remains, and the rest is covered by marsh.
The next day we drove for about an hour before coming to Ephesus. Ephesus is one of the best preserved ancient cities we have. We even have houses of the upper classes almost perfectly preserved in the hillside. However, as such a well preserved city, it is a tourist trap. I don’t have one photo that isn’t filled with people, and being in that crowd made me feel so sick that I just left the site early and went and had a cold drink in the shade. It’s sad too that most of the people that were there didn’t know what they were seeing. I heard one swearing that this was a french settlement (what?) and I heard another walk into the brothel and rave about “the incredible ancient temple.” The afternoon of this day was just a 3 hour bus ride to Pamukkale.
Pamukkale was incredible. Specifically, we were visiting Hierapolis, which is on a pure white cliff that is in fact a huge calcium deposit. There are also hot springs lined with soft white clay all the way up the hill, which we soaked in almost the entire morning. This was also a fairly touristy spot, but the town wasn’t exciting enough for it to be too bad. What I found funniest is that this spot was “ancient Florida” as this is where all the wealthy would send their elders to relax for their last years back in ancient Greece.
The next day we had a 2 hour bus ride to Aphrodisias, which is a huge site, and really quite beautiful. It was always a religious place…first to the great goddess, then to Aphrodite, then Venus, then a christian church. There was at times a small town here, but primarily it was always religious. We then bused 3 hours to our hotel in Aydin.
Aydin is the one place I really didn’t like. It was basically the middle of nowhere….so much so that we walked 15 minutes just to eat dinner at a restaurant in a gas station. All week had been spent out in small places, but this was absolutely the smallest.
I’m going to skip over the next day, as although it was fascinating, it doesn’t hold tons of interest if you’re not really into classics. We visited Priene, Miletus, and Didyma, including the Temple of Apollo. We then bused it to Bodrum.
I loved Bodrum. All the places we had been for the past week had been small and poor, but Bodrum was big and loud and fun. It was definitely one of those “spring break party” type cities….filled with pop music and scantily-clad young people. After a week in the country side though, this actually made for a pleasant change. We went out for an expensive meal to celebrate, and I got the best grilled vegetables ever.
Finally that takes me to today. I went to the mausoleum and the museum of maritime archaeology in Bodrum, and both were absolutely amazing. The mausoleum was another wonder of the ancient world, although little remains of it now (the crusaders used it as a source of building materials to build their castle in Bodrum). The museum was gorgeous and really interesting. We had about 4 hours to wander, then we hopped on the bus for Kusadasi, which is where I am now.
Tonight is my last night in Turkey as I am off to Greece in the morning. Turkey has been insane. I have to be honest…I never really thought about it as one of those places I would end up travelling in my life. I really didn’t know a lot about it before I came here. But now I love it, and I really want to return and explore more in detail. I’m really looking forward to Greece, but I’m sad to leave a country I’ve only discovered so recently.
I feel like I rushed through a lot of my stay here, and I hope nothing of what I said went over your head. Here’s a few more updates of the personal kind I just didn’t put in earlier:
-I have broken both the pair of sandals I brought. I had to buy a pair here for cheap as soon as I could, but I still managed to end up with cute ones.
-I broke my phone screen:(
-One guy on the trip got a tattoo while we were here. It was actually a design found on a Mycenaean dagger. I absolutely love it and think it’s one of the cooler tattoos I’ve seen.