I took a ferry to the island of Buyukada, which is in the Sea of Marmara. The ferry ride was so pleasant as I had a lovely conversation with an Armenian woman. After four stops, I arrived at Buyukada, which is a lovely Victorian island.
There were no cars allowed so I took a fayton (horse and carriage) ride around the island.
The next day I had planned to take a ferry to Eyup but couldn’t seem to find it. So instead, I walked across the Galeta Bridge and took a taxi to Taksim Square in the main part of the new city. I walked, ate, photo-ed and walked, finally coming to the Galeta Tower, a landmark on the other side of the Bosporus. The iron Galeta Bridge was built in 1910 and there was talk of replacing it.
On Wednesday I took a taxi to the Taksim area where the day before I had reserved a rental car to drive out into the more rural parts of Turkey. Even though the car had a four-on-the-floor shift, I didn’t have any trouble leaving Istanbul and finding my road toward Iznik.
I drove to Nicea, located on Lake Iznik, which was the place where the early Christians held the First and the Seventh Ecumenical Councils of the Christian Church in the 4th and 8th centuries, and where they composed the Nicean Creed, still used in some Christian churches today.
On the way back from the tomb, I stopped at an apple orchard where women were picking apples. They gave me one to eat. Back at the lake, I ate a marvelous fish kebab for lunch, sitting at a café overlooking beautiful Lake Iznik that has water so clear that you can see fish swimming all around.
There was a pair of honeymooners at the lake. The young man was wearing shorts and a shirt—appropriate clothing for the very warm weather, but the young woman was totally covered in a black burka, which must have been very hot!
That night when I went to bed at my hotel, I was entertained by beautiful live music, coming from next door. But since the mosquitoes were ferocious, I couldn’t get to sleep until 3:00 AM!
I was going to drive to Bursa early the next morning, but at 7:00 AM I had lots of trouble awakening the night clerk sleeping behind the desk so that he could unlock the door. Eventually I got rolling and had a beautiful drive to Bursa, then on to Canakkale, which is a seaside town on the Dardanelles. I had a sea view, and later as I walked around I could see the Gallipolli Peninsula on the opposite side of the water, the site of the bloody World War I battle, that was led by Winston Churchhill. I also explored a fort called Canak Kale built by Mehmet the Conquorer in the 1450s.
My next stop was Troy. This site, of course, was discovered by the amateur archeologist, Heinrich Schliemann, much to the consternation of the professionals, who said the battle of Troy was a myth, and no such place existed. There wasn’t a great deal to see, but still since the story is so dramatic, it was worthwhile to take a look at those old stones, now reconstructed a little too much to look authentic. There was a Disney-like wooden horse there that probably would have held about four soldiers (!) that really didn’t add much to the ambiance!
Continuing south, my next stop was Selcuk, the town nearest Ephesus. The great Ephesus is where St. Paul preached to the Ephesians in about 60 AD, and to whom his “Letter to the Ephesians” in the Bible is addressed. Most of the ruins (and they’re in a pretty good state of repair) that one sees now are from Roman times, although the city was already prosperous in 600 BC. At that time it was a seaport, but the sea is a good distance away nowadays.
Starting at the Great Theatre, reconstructed by the Romans in 41 AD, one walks up the Sacred Way past the Agora, ending at the Library of Celsus, a remarkable building that is quite well preserved.Throughout the city, there are gateways, toilets, temples and fountains to admire, and many tourists admiring it all.
Next was Kusadasi, the Acapulco of Turkey. There are scores of (full) hotels with Turkish and European vacationers, enjoying the beaches and other attractions of the area. I enjoyed dinner at a very good restaurant—what else but lamb? I’m really loving the lamb in Turkey.
In the morning, I left Kusadasi to head for three archeological sites, the first of which was Priene. This was an important city in 300 BC and there were many impressive ruins of buildings spread around the area. The Temple of Athena is considered to be an excellent example of an Ionian temple. The theatre, which could seat 6500 people had special seats in the front rows for VIPs.
Miletus was 22 km south of Priene, and its heyday was from 700 BC to 700 AD. It had a theater even more impressive than Priene’s, which would seat 15,000 people. From the top of the theater I could see other ruins; the harbor remains, the stadium, three agoras, and the Baths of Faustina.
Didyma was the third site that I saw. It boasted the second largest temple in the world in its time, and had an oracle, second in importance only to the Oracle of Delphi. There were wonderful carvings on stone of the head of Medusa with her snaky hair, and all around were sections of beautifully carved huge columns.
After all that culture, I headed to Altinkum Beach, a lovely place to kick back and rest a bit at the Golden Sands Hotel. I spent the remains of the day under an umbrella in my swimsuit reading and taking a few dips in the water. I also studied the Turkish cookbook that I had bought.
I’ll spend another day here, and then head back north, stopping to see a few sites that I didn’t see on my way south.