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                                                                                                                                                                      Turkey     

Boats and bridges are essential to the  local transportation network

        

        

 


Rugs are for sale even on streets that are off the beaten path  This
fellow's clientele are strictly locals.


One man works above with no safety net.  ??? One wonders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


      Bridgeview from the Çengelköy İskele Restaurant.  

 Regular ferry service across the Sea of Marmara

 

 


Our guide Mehmet identifies the architectural features of the luxurious residences gracing the Bosphorus shoreline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We meet up with our friends Byron and Karen at a local sidewalk
cafe on Istaklal Cd.


Three hour sunset cruises offer memorable floating settings for dinner.


"Doner," lamb or beef shaved into ribbons

          

                   Family plays in fountain on hillside above Bursa

                        Lovers enjoy the hillside park as well


                          Street vendors are often children


   The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

       

A greeter  welcomes us into the highly recommended Boyacizade,
Konagi restaurant, Berrak Sokak No: 7/9, overlooking all of Ankara. Guest musical artists add to the delightful ambiance.

Trilye, Kuleli Sokak No.32, prepares mouthwatering seafood with
spectacular outdoor dining.  Develi on Nenhatum Cad. is one of the most breathtaking settings for dinner in Ankara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goreme Monastic Complex

Above and below:  A docent in Cappadocia, provides an insightful history of Goreme and Zelve.


 

Small group stops for a travel  break at the Agzikarahan Caravansary, as did trade merchants when it was competed in 1229.


 

 

 

 

 

 


Happy little guys offering balloons outside the Museum of Mervlana

Turkish women take great pride in their crocheted handicrafts.

 


Perhaps one of the best preserved archeological sites in Turkey, Aphrodisia sees relatively few visitors.  We are the only four with our guide Nurray Catalpinarlar on this sunny morning.


Aphrodisia Temple ruins, once the "City of Love" in honor of the Greek  goddess

Camels, the main mode of transportation along the Oriental Trade
Route for centuries, still appear here and there for the benefit of
curious tourists, such as the ones here at Pamukklale. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuray Catalpinatlar points to the configuration of the old town down in the valley.

The roadway to the Pergamon's center for healing in the lower valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ali Ergul coordinates a team of knowledgeable guides throughout the Selcuk/Izmir Province of Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ali and his effervescent team of licensed guides

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Turkey is a land where music is enjoyed everywhere. 
The Turkish Oud, played by this visiting artist, has a unique
bright sound.  These cherished instruments are usually
handmade with mahogany or spruce woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Photo courtesy of Ergul Turizm
Dondurma is "the ice cream that doesn't melt."  FYI...chilly as it may be, you still have to hold onto it! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recommendations:

Top Guide Istanbul: Mehmet Tekit   Turkey Travel Planner       http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/guides/tetik_m.html 
email guideturk@gmail.com


Guide to Ankara
https://www.facebook.com/izzet.conk

Our Guide and Ground Transportation Coordinator in Ephesus and Izmir:  Ali Ergul    http://www.kusadasitransfers.co.uk/ephesus-tours  email ali@ergulturizm.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography by Thomas Petersen
Text by John S. Mills
2017

email: telesisjournals@aol.com


 

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Grand Bazaar, Istanbul                                                                               July 2017

Shazam! I gotta rub my eyes and shake my head.  I feel bombarded by a meteor shower of eye-catching gadgets and gizmos, trinkets and treasures.   I'm bewildered!

Perhaps it's the intensity of all these bustling shoppers or the intoxicating fragrances or the twisting  kaleidoscope of peregrine colors or the disorienting cacophony of clashing languages-but I absolutely in love with  this place!  My wife Susan does too.  We freely surrender to being captured by the churning chaos of this international frenzy!

And we are certainly not alone.  We're here in the wacky Grand Bazaar of Istanbul-with some  76,000 other people, just a slice of the 400,000 voracious bargain hunters that will descend upon this retail hodgepodge today.  I've been told the staff alone orchestrating this mercantile entanglement numbers over 27,000 strong.  That's almost a half million people in this cramped market district squished between the mosques Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye.

I'd be completely mesmerized, but as we set foot through the Beyazit Gate I snatched  a color-coded guide to these 4000 plus stalls and cubbies, scrunched together in this unique setting of 61 covered streets for the past 550 years.  I'm holding tightly onto this crumpled guide, though Susan and I wrestle over occasionally as if it were a coveted map to a buried chest on a desert island.

Although some might call this the stickiest of tourist traps, prudent buyers ferret out outrageously good deals on silk scarves, leather goods, hand woven rugs, stained-glass lamps, dazzling jewelry, hammered brass plates, imported teas and scented soaps- simply anything and everything imaginable. 

Haggling is just part of the fun.  (An amusing see-saw wrangling concluding with a handshake agreement of 60% of the asking price is a showdown that will make both the buyer and seller both smile.) But we're not limiting the  quest for a bon marche just to the Bazaar.  The side streets and out of the way neighborhoods like Cukurcuma, Tophane and Nişantaşi are hidden harbors offering antique furniture, European designer apparel and classic quality artwork.

Here, just as in the other parts of this seductive country, we  feast our eyes upon the cataclysmic collisions of Eastern and Western cultures and of old and new ways. In this seemingly enigmatic land there exists a treasure trove of history, dating back from the very dawn of civilization to the commitments to NATO alliances in the Middle East.  Greek, Roman, Eastern Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Chinese and western cultures are juxtaposed everywhere we roam.  How mind-boggling to think that modern day Turkey once embraced the territories of Mesopotamia, the ancient sites of Greek mythology, the battlegrounds of the Trojan war, the bloodstained routes of the Crusades and even the remains of Noah's ark!  And here we'll retrace the footsteps of King Midas, Alexander the Great, St. Paul the Apostle, Genghis Khan, the Virgin Mary, Marco Polo, Vlad Tepes and even Napoleon Bonaparte. The land has seen more than its share of conflict, even up until the past couple of years.  But all is calm and safe for travelers now.

Istanbul is the only city in the world straddling two continents; Europe and Asia.  Home to fifteen million residents, this megalopolis virtually rumbles with the madness of traffic, commerce and tourism.  Perched on jagged hills rising above the waterways of the Bosporus and Sea of Marmara, the historic towers, mosques, cathedrals and gleaming new high-rises dominate the city's distinctive skyline. 

The Blue Mosque, Santa Sophia Museum Dormice Palace, Topkapl Palace and the Galata Tower, in themselves, make the effort to come here well worthwhile.  These fascinating sites have their own assigned docents. Taxis can easily whisk us directly to one of them individually, but there's an efficiency to opt for any one of a multitude of traditional city tours.  Legal guides are licensed by the state throughout Turkey and wear their official identification in plain view.

                               
                    Mehmet Tetik, professional guide in Istanbul.      Irresistible personal shopping near the Blue Mosque

    
                                                         Above: Street scenes in the old town of Istanbul
 

Numerous half day trips by either land or water to neighboring hamlets along the Bosphorus are available at reasonable costs.  The coastline hosts an unbelievable string of gorgeous mansions and opulent palaces of past Sultans, Pashas and millionaires.  Susan and I get a kick from a bouncy ferry ride to the nearby Princes Islands zigzagging through Istanbul's curious jambalayas of maritime traffic.  We disembark on an oasis of the once elusive hideaways of Turkey's aristocracy.  Viewing these magnificent estates is only possible by horse drawn carriages.


                                              View of water entrance to the Golden Horn


                                                                        Arrival at Buyukada Island


               Except for service vehicles at night, horse drawn carriages are the only transportation on the island

Dining choices are overwhelming with most 12,000 restaurants scattered throughout Istanbul's city limits and nearby hamlets.  We found ourselves returning to Peykhane Caddesi., Kadir Has Caddesi  and Haci Adil Caddesi.   Locals relish Konak on Sakip Sabanci 23 and Hayvore at Turnacibast Sokak 14.  A truly great fish seafood restaurant is the ever popular Sultanahmet Fish House on Gurkan Caddesi, as well as the romantic Çengelköy İskele Restaurant  at Meydani #10.

                    
             Turkish meals often feature lamb, goat or chicken with garnishes of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions.

It's when we cross the majestic Bosphorus Suspension Bridge leading out of Istanbul we have actually set foot the continent of Asia.  More and more our eyes are filled with glimpses of lifestyles before the westernization of Turkey in 1923.  Conservative Muslims wearing traditional Arabic apparel are not uncommon here.

  Worshipers at the Green Mosque in Bursa, the capitol of the Ottoman Empire until Constantinople was
   captured in 1453.

We venture by coach first to Bursa, then onward to Turkey's capitol Ankara.   History buffs, like me, find the Museum of the Anatolian Civilizations to be totally captivating -  a showplace of artifacts dating from the very beginning of mankind to the occupation of the Roman Empire.  Some of the first coins ever minted are on display.   Marvels  include Palaeolithic ( pre 8000  B.C.) stone tools, Chalcolithic bronze figures (5500 -  3000 B.C.) and sunken trophies from the Greek and Roman occupations.

Ankara also has an atmospheric old section with narrow alleys, timeworn fortifications, intimate cafes, tea houses and an aromatic spice market. 

A visit here would not be complete without lingering at the Kemal Ataturk Mausoleum, an impressive, almost surreal monument.  Under Ataturk's direction  ruler ship of the sultans was dissolved, giving Turkey the democracy and freedom it enjoys today.

                                                                         Ataturk Mausoleum and Museum

                
With a population of nearly 5 million Ankara boasts hundreds and hundreds of memorable dining places for every
meal.   Above: some plates photographed at different eating establishments, each typical of Turkish cuisine.

The most mind-boggling region we visit is Cappadocia.  Here the spectacular Ihlara Valley is deeply entrenched within a high central plateau. The rock formations-all natural- are perplexing, remnants of the violent eruption of Mt. Erciyes some two and a half million years ago.  

Both the valley and surrounding hillsides have been filled with a bazillion of volcanic ash cones, some towering over 100 feet from their circular base.  These inconceivable geologic formations were once homes for several centuries.  Their cramped interiors were hand carved into multi-story honeycomb-like dwellings, seen below behind a local vendor.

Nearby are the disturbing, subterranean cities such as Kaymakli, Mazi Derinkuyu and Ozkomak.  Living areas were gouged out of solid stone as many as eight levels below ground and then connected by treacherous secret passageways. 

One of several rock wheel doors used strategically for defense

For hundreds of years during the early part of the first millennium these underground labyrinths were shelter to early Christians, hunted by both the Romans and Arabs.  Nearby in Goreme we toured the remarkable Karanlik Christian churches (4th to 9 century). Hewn within cliff caves, their ceilings are completely adorned in vibrant, detailed frescoes.  At one time there were 365 such churches, one for every day of the year, of which 30 are still open to the public.

Further inland in Central Anatolia is Konya, home now  to over a million residents, but more notably a perplexing religious center.   Said to have been originally inhabited in  500 B.C., Konya is best known for the mystic named Mevlana(1207 - 1272).  Early in the twelfth century he inspired a Sufi Muslim cult, whose priests spawned a ritual of spinning around in circles in their long robes as a form of prayer.  The practice of the priest twirling around until he was dizzy, disoriented and introspective led to what we now know as "Whirling Dervishes."  This eccentric form of dance is performed for the public every Saturday night.   Not to be missed here is Melvana's Mosque and his elaborately decorated mausoleum, a destination for thousands of tourists and pilgrims each year. 


Fragrant, but crowded garden entrance to the  Mervlana Museum... and the  Mausoleum of the great mystic born in 1207

Heading even deeper eastward toward inland Turkey we are awestruck by the spectacular remains of former urban centers, such as Aphrodisia (5th century B.C.) and Heirapolis (190 B.C.) with their substantial museums of locally unearthed statuary, precious jewelry and other miraculous finds. 


Hippodrome at Aphrodisia
The stadium here deservingly holds the title for the largest of its kind in ancient Greek times. Amazingly it was only recently excavated- an effort of Turkish archeology professor Kenan Erim spanning over thirty five years during the last century.  In the silence of the morning it seems strange to put my hands on the gritty, scabrous stone underneath where I'm sitting. I realize it was once a single place in the twenty two rows surrounding this stadium where 30,000 toga clad citizens raucously enjoyed the all-to-frequent gruesome Roman games.

A quirky highlight of this area is a puzzling geological wonder, the Pamukkale or "Cotton Fortress."  Gleaming white cliffs, some over 300 feet high, form a series of calcified terraces with pools of hot mineral water-all supported by giant crystal-like stalactites.  Within a stone's throw at the top are  conventional spa-like swimming pools, taunted for the healing benefits of their sulfur-laden liquid contents.


Pamukkale pools

Pergamon  (Bergama) was the capital city this area in 281 - 133 B.C.   Just beyond the outskirts of  outside present day Izmir, it's a site with tumultuous history. 


Ruins of Pergamon Acropolis, an ancient Greek dating to 281–133 B.C., lies 16 miles from the Aegean Sea.

The Acropolis, seen above, featured an impressive theater hugging its steep hillside- a venue that once accommodated 10,000 residents.

Not too far away the ever popular site of Ephesus (Efes), practically a stone's throw from the Aegean coast, attracts thousands of visitors each year.  Its first inhabitants resided here some 6000 years ago.  It came a metropolis during the Greek occupation, but flourished during the Roman occupation.  Despite its share of conflicts and a disastrous earthquake in 614, I stand in amazement of the integrity of  the two story facade of the Library.

Christianity holds deep roots in this city, once the home of the Apostle Paul.  Indeed, Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia identified in the Biblical Book of Revelation.  The Virgin Mary lived close by after Jesus' resurrection. The Book of John is said to have been written here in the latter part of the first century. 

We're thankful we're wearing rubber soled shoes as the granite blocks of the street are smooth and slippery from the foot traffic of 1.5 million people a year.

The famous Library of Celsus in Ephesus.

Magnificent amphitheater (Odeon) at Ephesus


The remains of the Temple of Artemis, constructed 550 B.C.  It was once one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The 102 degree heat has given Susan and I a hankering for one of those refreshing Turkish ice cream cones we spotted in one of booths that pepper Kusadasi's Ataturk Bulvari.  But it's no ordinary ice cream they serve here; it's a near subzero concoction they call "Dondurma."  It's insane!  It seemingly not only refuses to melt but also defies gravity.  Yep, I can literally turn my sugar cone upside down and everything stays in place.  Dondurma's astonishing property is the result of two special ingredients, salep and mastic. Salep is somehow magically extracted from orchid tubers and mastic is strangely harvested from the gum resin of Pistachio-like trees.   All the flavors have a unique nutty aftertaste.  Whatever the formula, this is a gooey, refreshing treat we savor as we meander back past the quiet harbor up the gentle roadway to our hotel.


Photo courtesy of Ergul Turizm
Above: Vendor takes request for a Dondurma flavor.

I look out of our room's window at the water shimmering below in the late afternoon sun.  I ask Susan, who's already kicked off her shoes and sprawled herself out on the bed, if she'd mind if I'd take a little dip.  With her nod of approval, lickety-split I'm  on my way.

View of our hotel pool and the adjacent Aegean Sea from my room at the Korumar

I scamper past the tempting Olympic size pool and scoot down to the little sandy beach.  The calm azure cove beckons me to plunge in without hesitation.  Whoosh! The cool Aegean tingles as it gurgles around me during this briny plunge. The water is crystal clear and teaming with hundreds of seemingly florescent squiggly fish- Clownfish, the Dottybacks, the Damselfish and countless more...  It's like being in an endless designer aquarium! How I wish I had my S.C.U.B.A paraphernalia that's sitting back home!  In a flash I promise myself that Susan and I will  return and expand our Turkish adventure from land to sea.

Here in Turkey we've discovered the richness of diverse cultures and the monuments of times past- a vast variety of experiences rarely found within the boundaries of a single country.  Turkey- a land of intrigue- is a must-see destination for any world traveler.