Trip Journal
Turkey and the Total Solar Eclipse

Istanbul and the Turquoise Coast
March 23 - April 5, 2006

Click on the date to view photos

Prologue – Dave Moser

Back in 1996 while planning our Turkish eclipse trip of 1999, I discovered that the path of the 2006 eclipse would also pass through Turkey.

At the time I doubted that we would visit Turkey twice in seven years. But our 1999 trip was so spectacular that we couldn’t wait to return to this beautiful country with its friendly people, great food and fantastic historical sights.

Thus, after two and half years of planning, we are here again embarking on another journey with Meltem, our guide from 1999. VEE-GO!

Pre-Trip Activities -- Monday through Thursday afternoon, March 20-23, 2006 – Dave Moser

We arrived tired and jet-lagged on Monday afternoon. After a shower to rinse off the "airport grime" and a short nap, we joined others in the restaurant atop our hotel for drinks and a spectacular panoramic view of Istanbul. Meltem was there to greet us and we had dinner while watching the sun set over the city.

Tuesday we visited the Sabanci Museum where there was a Picasso exhibit. The museum also had a great collection of Ottoman calligraphy. We then had lunch at a small café in the Ortakoy district on the Bosphorus. We walked in the area and visited the beautiful Ortakoy Mosque. In the afternoon we visited the Sadberk Hanim Museum with its very rich collection of artifacts. Our last stop was a beautiful cemetery overlooking the Golden Horn.

Wednesday we toured the Summer Palace (Beylerbeyi Palace) on the Asian side of Istanbul. Then we drove to the top of Camlica Hill for a very picturesque view of the City. After lunch on the Asian side, we returned to Europe and walked through the Uskudar district along the very authentic local markets and visited the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque.

Thursday we visited the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum with it’s spectacular collection. Then we were off to the underground cistern (Basilica Cistern), the Chora Church, the ancient city walls and the Roman water aqueduct. Some of the group also visited the new Pera Museum. We returned to the hotel just in time to meet the rest of the group in the restaurant.

Thursday evening, March 23, 2006 – Nelson Copp

Iyi akşamlar (good evening)
It’s 5:00 PM – this must be Istanbul! Twenty-nine of us have gathered in the beautiful rooftop restaurant of the Anemon Galata Hotel. We are excited, some because they know what is coming and some because they don’t, but soon will. This is the beginning of the second Meltem and Dave Turkey Eclipse show.

We introduce ourselves and find common bonds that would cause us all to embark on this awesome adventure. Soon conversation turns to dinner and we start the first of many wonderful Turkish meals.

Meltem delivered a rousing introductory talk with expectations and information to start the trip off right. As dinner wound down several people went walking, a number went drinking (author included) and others to peer at their eyelids and dream about tomorrow’s adventures.

Friday morning, March 24, 2006 -- Nelson Copp

Today is our first full day to tour Istanbul. We walked down to where the bus was parked and drove to the Sultanamet area. We started at the Hippodrome, bracing ourselves from the cold wind and rain. The Egyptian Obelisk from 390 AD, The old Obelisk and the German fountain tantalized us.

Next was the famous Blue Mosque. We entered shoeless and learned about the details. It took 7 years to build starting in 1600. The beautiful flue and green Iznik tile were wonderful.

We then walked to St. Sophia built in Byzantine times in the 6th century. In 1453 it was converted to a mosque and all the beautiful mosaics were covered with white plaster. In 1933 they removed the plaster and the mosaics were well preserved and still beautiful today.

From there we walked to Topkapi Palace, the home of the Sultans. Construction started in 1453 and housed 36 sultans until the 19-8th century. We saw the kitchen area that had to serve 700-1600 people. Then we worked our way through the third gate where only the royal families could go – we felt quite special. Meltem explained all the sights and set us free. We all ran to the restaurant to warm up and relax.

Friday afternoon, March 24, 2006 -- Maggie McCracken

After a very welcome hot lunch, off to tour Topkapi Palace. The treasury truly was…the 84 karat spoon diamond (which had been discovered in a rubbish heap) and the famous Topkapi Dagger. The relics room with the skull and arm of John the Baptist and very sacred relics of M (tooth and hair). All accompanied by beautiful singing (chanting form the Koran). There was also the circumcision room, clothing of the sultans, and a room full of portraits of the sultans.

Then back to our beautiful boutique hotel for a siesta and dinner. Then off to Istanbulin for a traditional Turkish show. Folk music and dancing and beautiful belly dancers. We all enjoyed Howard’s dance with her. Home late after a very full day.

Saturday morning, March 25, 2006 – Terry Bohun

Wonderful breakfast buffet in the terrace rooftop restaurant. Then off to the Grand Bazaar for shopping. Drove through the aqueducts from Byzantine Era and saw part of the old wall that is still standing and saw an archaeological dig from the bus. Spent 1/5 hours at the Grand Bazaar and then to the Spice Market (Egyptian Market) for Turkish Delight, apple tea and saffron. Then to Suleyman Mosque for lunch before our tour Had traditional Turkish lunch at the Soup Kitchen or Daruzziyafe. Suzme mercimeil corgasi, Potates salatasi. Dalyan kofte, sakizli muhallebi, su, serbet, ayran.

Now on the to the mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent.

Saturday afternoon, March 25, 2006 – Carolyn Moser

Suleymaniye Camii. “Inside, the mosque is breathtaking in its size and pleasing in its simplicity.” I can’t say it better. Built in the 16th century, it predates the Blue Mosque by a century. Its architect, Sinan the Great, truly the greatest of Turkey’s architects, is honors a Sultan who was conqueror, artist, poet and ruler. The dome is higher than the Blue Mosque’s. More red was used. Sinan called it his second best creation.

When I think of European cathedrals, narrow and dark in comparison to this open, airy mosque where the human spirit can soar, I feel more at home here.

We finished our visit with the tombs of the sultan, his beloved Haseki Husrren Sultan and the cemetery filled with royal family members and honored notables.

Sunday morning, March 26, 2006 – Dick Carlson

We woke to welcome sun: cool but clear. After the usual grand breakfast, we headed for the bus. First stop was Dolmabache Palace, named for its lovely gardens. The palace was very French. Its room went from grand to amazing to incredible. The crystal balustraded stairs led to the formal reception area. This room was decorated with massive Ming vases and a pair of elephant tusk lamps. The European governments were in a competition to see who could present the sultan with the most bizarre gifts. The opulence of the palace symbolized the decadence of the dying Ottoman Empire. The setting along the Bosporus outshone the palace. Flocks of black-headed gulls and rafts of crested grebes were lovelier than all the jewels in the palace.

Sunday evening, March 26, 2006 – Pat Carlson

After surviving a treacherous trek to the top with our trays of food at the Pudding Shop, we had only a few minutes to eat before “vee-go” was called out! On our way again, at a brisk pace, past the Aya Sophia, through the first gate of the Topkapi Palace, bear right down the hill finally arriving at the Archaeology Museum. The museum is housed in 3 buildings, all spectacular. Alexander the Great’s sarcophagus lies in the main building, but does not contain Alexander! Magnificent carved figures, some with a tinge of color remaining, surround the sarcophagus. Four floors of antiquities.

The 2nd building included the Hittite artifacts (2600BC-1000BC). Several from our group recharged their batteries in the lounge.

To walk to the third building you will climb a short set of stairs, guarded by the black and white “museum cat”. This cat is undoubtedly the most photographed cat in Turkey (everyone passing by took its picture!

To cap off a spectacular, crisp clear day, we boarded our boat for a ride on the Bosphorus from the Golden Horn to Bridge 2. Photo ops of Galata tower, mosques, palaces, wooden houses, bridges and old forts were plentiful. A spectacular way to end our sightseeing in Istanbul.
Wake-up call 5:30 AM tomorrow!

Monday, March 27, 2006 – Arne and Kay Martin

Our 0900 flight necessitated a wake-up call at 0530 and breakfast in the dark… Meltem guided us expertly through the ordeal of check-in and airport security. At the end of the one-hour flight, the passengers on the left side of the aircraft observed a spectacular waterfall as the plane approached the landing strip. After we collected our baggage and left the terminal, our drive Mustafa was waiting at the bus to meet us. The third largest industry in Turkey is agriculture. Leaving the Airport, we observed many greenhouses and garden plots.

The first stop was the ancient city of Perge, which lies outside the city of Antalya. Perge, mentioned in the bible, was visited by S. Paul and St. Barabas. The theater, currently undergoing restoration and the stadium are located outside the city walls. The site is dominated by the impressive Hellenistic gates, dating back to 2300 BC and lies inside the later Roman gates. Between the 2 gates, a fountain was built. On the left lies a bath with a hypocaust system.

Excavations were started in 1965 and continue until this day. A large columnated Agora (market) stands to the right. The Agora specialized in dried fruit and fish. A water channel, fed by a fountain on the Acropolis above the city bisects the main street of the city to form the first known one-way streets.

Antalya is a premier resort, located on the Mediterranean coast. The Taurus Mountain, around 300 meters high, coastal cliffs and beaches are the focus of the city.

After a short walk on the waterfront, we ate lunch a Mer Merli Restaurant, overlooking the Mediterranean and the cliffs. The most important ruins are the Roman city walls and Hadrian’s Gate. The old wooden houses in the old town are 135 years old. We walked through old town to the bus. We are staying in a five star hotel a short walk from the beach.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 – David McLean (link to his website)

7AM wakeup to a very clear day with sun rising from the Mediterranean. The sea was as calm as a mill pond. The buffet breakfast was overwhelming as usual – fruit, olives, bread, pastries, cereals, juice, coffee. After breakfast we looked toward the Taurus Mountains to the West and were delighted to see them clear of cloud and capped with snow.

The bus took us east along the public beaches with a few brave swimmers enjoying the refreshing exercise. Our words for the day: evet = yes, hayir =no.

The entrance to the Archaeology Museum of Antalya included a sarcophagus in ancient style. The museum was awarded the European Museum of the Year in 1988. Meltem gave us an overview of the museum, including pointing out various regions on a large map of the Pompedea area whre most of the artifacts were found. The area west of our hotel is known as the Lycia penninsula.

The displays in the museum started with 3 exhibits of fossils from ~345 million years ago found near the Karain Cave area, 10-12K north of Antalya. This cave is one of the longest continuously inhabited areas of the world, starting ~100,000 BC. It was used until Hellenistic times.

Let’s talk chronology now:
Late Neolithic 6500 BC
Stone and copper 5000 BC
Hittite 1900-1300 BC
Geometric 900-700BC
Archaic 700-500BC
Classical 500-400BC
Hellenistic 330-30BC
Byzantine 500-1500AD

Among the earliest artifacts is a fertility goddess (Sibele) made of clay – stone age. The folded arms of this effigy have become part of the late geometric art and symbolic of fertility.

Then there was the beautifully preserved spindle whorls, used to spin wool and the huge burial pots of the stone age people. Soon other artifacts of personal interest were:

Askos: Roman oil container


Perge glassware found within the last 5 years:

Phaselis glassware (we will be going there)

All from Perge excavations: Then there were the statues: rooms of them!
A wealthy woman named Plauch Magnk
2 roman emperors
Statues from the theater at Perge
Hermes, Apollo, etc.

There were also tile and sarcophagi of great variation. The most impressive of the sarcophagi was tone with a detailed sculpture of Hermaphrodite.

Nest stop, the waterfalls of Kursunlu. The falls are ~20 meters high and spill over limestone cliffs into travertine. Pools. Above the falls is a quiet Red Pine picnic area. We enjoyed fresh squeezed orange juice and gozleme -–a flour tortilla-like wrap with tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cheese and spinach.

Notes from the mind of Meltem along the way:
26% of Turkey is forested
The Toros Mountains have cedar trees 800-900 years old.
Various plants include scotch broom, mustard, vineyards, sesame, cotton, wheat, citrus trees, fava beans.
Turkish language evolved from Ural Altah and Hungarian and Finish languages also evolved from the same root. French, Arabic, Persian from English also influenced the language. There are many English tech words, like TV. However, the word for computer is “bilgisayar”, meaning knowledge counter (sounds lik an AI definition). There is a language Institute that is responsible for officially adding words to the Turkish language.

Our next stop is a bridge built by the Selcuk Turks on the Aspendos river in 1100 AD. We had lunch near the river. After lunch I took pictures of a woman spinning wool near our bus. “Vee-go now” – time to continue.

Next stop a Roman aqueduct built ~0 BC that extends 8-9 miles toward the mountains. Clay pipes were used to transport the water on top of the structure. Then there was the theater of Aspendos. It is in beautiful condition because the Selcuk Turks used it as a Karavansarai (inn for people and animals). It has a capacity for 16,000 people and was built in ~200 AD. The seats were carved from a marble cliff. Terra cotta theater tickets have been found in the area. It was also noted that the seats go all the way to ground level because no messy gladiator fights took place there. The theater is still used today for special performances.

We finally arrive at our beautiful hotel ~4:30 PM. Meltem worked her magic and got us in our rooms in front of the huge line that snaked from the entrance.

Editor’s note: After checking into the hotel, a scouting party left in our bus to find a good spot to watch the eclipse the next day. We drove around and hiked to the top of several hills until we found “our place”.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 ECLIPSE DAY! – Stuart Ryder, Trip Astronomer

Here we are again on the centerline in Turkey, 6 years, 6 months and 18 days after that marvelous event in Tokat. As is traditional, a group of us were out scouting the day before for the perfect viewing location and we found it. A small hill, 38 meters above sea level located at Lat 36o 42.88’N, Long 31o 34.35’E according to Stefan’s GPS. It affords us a view across the main highway out to sea where the shadow will arrive from, together with a clear view across to the Taurus Mountains where the shadow will depart. The only question is, would this hill be unoccupied on E-Day? We christened it “Mustafa’s Hill”, in honour of our bus driver’s skillful reversing of the bus up the narrow access lane.

Sunrise on E-Day revealed only a few thin wisps of cirrus low in the east; clear elsewhere – perfect!

Following breakfast, which was not quite as hectic as dinner the night before, I stopped by the amphitheatre at the front of the hotel to see where the early birds of the Omega Tours party were setting up their equipment. There was even a TV crew making preparations. They’re welcome to take over the hotel, but they’ll miss the shadow crossing the mountains.

At 9 AM the bus set off with an advance party of 9 – Stuart, Vince, Becky, Jim Nelson, Debra, Stefan Markus and Kay R to take and hold Mustafa’s Hill. From any invading ANZACs. Dave and Meltem drove on to Manavgat for lunch supplies, then back to the hotel to pick up the rest of the group. On ascending Mustafa’s Hill, we found it still unoccupied, so claimed it (temporarily) in the name of the USA, NZ, Italy and Switzerland. Within minutes a local man wandered up to investigate. We wondered if he was the local farmer, upset at us trampling through his wheat field. But he was just curious. Thanks to our designated interpreter, Deb, we found out that he had seen a total eclipse here in 1940 and was aware of today’s event. We gave him a couple of spare eclipse glasses and off he went.

The landowners also paid us a visit and were happy to accept a pair of eclipse shades each in compensation for our use of the land.

So with 36 minutes left until First Contact, it’s time to turn the journal over to an eclipse newbie. The excitement builds, the weather is perfect; let the show begin….!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006, E-Day, Part II, Bryan Williams, Age 11

Mustafa, the greatest bus driver in the world backed us up a rocky dirt road. On top of the grassy hill, we could see a perfect view of other smaller hills and the Mediterranean Sea. It was 72 degrees and it was getting hotter. In 5 minutes we would get First Contact!

12:35 First Contact, the moon started to go over the sun.
12:45 66 degrees
1:00 66 degrees, It was very windy and everybody was trying different experiments to see the crescent. It was almost 30% totality. Everyone was on the edge of their rock.
1:10 64 degrees and 30% totality
1:20 64 degrees and 45% totality
1:30 64 degrees and 50% totality; 20 minutes to totality
1:40 62 degrees and 75% totality: 10 minutes until totality
1:50 60 degrees and 90% totality and 5 minutes until totality

Finally we have totality! The eclipse was fantastic! The corona was huge. There were no clouds! It was perfect. It got very dark, very fast. The only star that we saw was Venus. The cars were just driving along on the road with their headlights on. I don’t think any of them even knew! During the eclipse the temperature dropped from 72 degrees to 60 degrees!

After the eclipse it raised from 60 degrees to 72 degrees in 5 minutes! During the totality everyone screamed and almost half of everyone cried. It was definitely worth coming all this way. Where do we sign up for China?!

Thursday morning, March 30, 2006 – Kathy Williams

Day after E-Day! Awoke to cloudy skies and that’s ok! 9:00 AM departure from our hotel. We passed our eclipse spot and drove through Antalya, stopping for a quick shopping spree. A little rain during the drive as we passed farmland, cows and greenhouses. General talk from Meltem on Turkish cuisine which varies by region. Aegean and Mediterranean based on vegetables, Black Sea area based on fish dishes with a lot of anchovy-based recipes. Eastern and Central Turkey rely on animal farming with kebap (meat) dishes such as shish kebap (skewered meat) paper and pottery kebaps. Greek and turkey originally one country – Ottoman Empire. Many similarities between the cuisines. Asure pudding (Noah’s pudding) is a traditional pudding made to give away and share with friends and neighbors.

Lycian people lived along the Turquoise coast from 900 BC until 400 BC. Gulets are wooden boats for charter tours of the coast for access to areas where there are no reads to the shore.

Red pines along the way with many campgrounds and “piknik” areas.

Phaselis, ancient city along the Mediterranean Sea with 3 harbors. Not much has been excavated do to the trees. Alexander the Great was 26 years old and loved this city and stayed 2 years. 4th century BC Hellenistic Era 1sth century BC began Roman era.

Roman rule continued for 500 years. Local indigenous people built the cities, influenced by Roman and Lycian styles. Main street began from second harbor and continued to third harbor. Roman baths at the entrance for travelers entering the city to clean themselves. Agora was the marketplace. Very grand and beautiful street with many statues on marble blocks. Marble was brought in from other places as there was no marble quarry here. The city eventually faded away due to malaria, pirates and large neighboring cities taking over.

Thursday afternoon, March 30, 2006 – Debra Copp

Kengal – A Turkish dog only in Turkey – a very good sheep dog. The highlight of our lunch stop along the flowing water (su). Climbing up a winding road in these cok guzel (very beautiful) mountains with a spectacular view of the beach of Olympus. In Pagan faith called the mountains Olimpos mountains and they worshipped them. You could see spring enveloping the mountains. Flowers everywhere. Loved the original homes of the regions. Mostly goats raised here. Lots of beehives. This is the area of the tree houses! Sharp curves as our bus makes its way down the hill! This is the area where no high rises are allowed. A conservation area. Ancient city of Olympus like Phaselis. Arriving at the bottom of the hill with a closer view of the tree house village – locals and many international travelers drinking in the ancient city of Olympos. A short rocky walk with a few stream crossings lead us to a closer view of two sarcophagi. There were only excavated about eight years ago. They had to have been very important people because they were so buried close to the ocean. A very lovely poem was placed by one of the tombs*. The blocks from the Roman times were cut square, whereas the rocks covering these blocks to make a wall were just from the area. There were two watchtowers built into the cliff sides to help protect the harbor and city from pirates. But that didn’t always work as they were attacked often. The turtles come May to September to lay eggs and birth their young.

After dinner we climbed to the top of Olympus Mt. To view the flames of Olympos (Chimarea)**. Difficult climb in the dark with flashlights but worth the effort! Another packed day is finally done.

*The ship sailed into the last harbor
And anchored to leave no more.
There was no longer hope from wind or daylight
After the light carried by the dawn had left Captain Eudemos
There buried the ship with a life as short as a day
Like a broken wave.

**The Chimarea takes its name from the myth of Bellerophon. The Lycian King, Lobates, sent Bellerophon to kill the fire-breathing monster, part lion, goat and serpent. With the aid of the winged horse Pegasus, he succeeded, and returned, after completing other tasks set by Lobates, to Xanthus where he married the king’s daughter and became heir of the Lycian throne. Carried away by his success, Bellerophon tried to ride Pegasus up to Mount Olympus; for his presumption, he earned a great thunderbolt from Zeus.

Friday morning, March 31, 2006 – Vince McIntyre

After the workout last night getting to the flames of the Chimera, we all enjoyed a slower start to the day, Meltem scheduling our departure for 10:30 AM.

Breakfast brought a new discovery – grape molasses – definitely a molasses-like tang, but a lot milder than the usual can molasses we are familiar with. Half a dozen or so of us assembled at 9 for a walk along the beach in the cool grey morning. As we set off we had another treat – the clouds parted and revealed a snow-clad peak right behind the hotel, its foothills barely a kilometer away. Lots of interesting pebbles on the beach, and interesting sounds from the waves as they drew back over the areas where the beach was mainly large pebbles.

On our return we found Meltem and Debra in an impromptu yoga class; I joined in and caused a lot of laughter.

Happily Mustafa was feeling better (after a headache and other aches last night) so we set off on time for Demre. Demre stands on top of the old city of Myra. The buildings of the town are mostly greenhouses, it seems, with tomatoes, chilies, cucumbers growing. Unfortunately this means much of ancient Myra’s story may never be told because excavating would disrupt the life of the town too much. At the edge of town, near (and in) the cliff walls a fraction of Myra remains visible and Meltem brought us there to explore. Along the way to Demre she recounted a bit of the religious history of the region and pointed out the significance of Myra – it was a major port in Asia Minor, and became a bishopric. One of the bishops was St. Nicholas (in 5th C AD) who we know today as Father Christmas via a series of reinterpretations and misinterpretations. But more of him in the next entry.

The first site we visited in Myra was the remains of the old city. It had been formed during the Lycean age (~5the C BC) and joined the Roman Empire in ~1st C BC. The first things we could see were Lycean-era tombs of important people carved into the rock. These are the “house-type” (the others are sarcophagi, such as in the museum at Antalya, and “pillar” type, which we haven’t yet encountered).

All the tombs had been robbed of grave goods in Byzantine times.
Below the necropolis, partly covering it and partly built into the cliff, was a large Roman-era theatre. The seats face the sea 9and sea breeze), with room enough for 10,000 people. Meltem chose this setting to explain a little about the development of theatre, which started so from spring festivals in honour of Dionysus (whom the Romans call Bacchus).

Most of that was quite new information to me, for example the importance of the mask motif in theatres. The early theatrical productions had only a single player (male) who used masks to indicate the character being portrayed.

The theatre dates to 2nd C AD and is in remarkable conditions. Some of the tall hallways around the sides are held together with turnbuckles but it seemed quite sound as we clambered all over it. I took a moment to sit in one of the “A-reserve” freestanding seats (with and armrest at floor level in front of the rest of the seats) and try to imagine a tragedy being played.

Marcus and I took a brief look at one of the tombs, noting the size and the ‘beds’ – flat benches hewn into the side walls, and admired the decorative carving on the outside. We couldn’t see any unambiguous trace of the colour decoration Meltem had mentioned might be visible.

All to soon we heard the call to prayer ring out – time to go. However for us it was the call to lunch – to feast in honour of Dionysus perhaps?

Friday afternoon, March 31, 2006 – Markus Heuer

In Demre (alies Myra) we had another one of these delicious Turkish meals, for a late lunch: rice chickpeas, eggplant, tomatoes. Thus having regained our strength, we visited the St. Nikolas church. What at first sight looked like a provisional plastic shelter, turned out to be a nicely renovated church from the 4th century AD. Although St. Nikolas was known for his friendliness and generosity, the details of his metamorphosis to Father Christmas and of his journey from the Mediterranean region to Scandinavia (where his typically located nowadays) remain unknown. After a thorough look at the mosaics and frescoes in the church, our tour bus took us to our hotel in Kas. The ride went through the typically Mediterranean landscape: rocks, shrubs and yellow flowers (the latter are only seen in spring- in summer everything dries out here), and a few flocks of goats, hill/mountainous terrain.

Quite in contrast to Manavgat, we were the first (and almost only tourists in the hotel at the seaside. The buffed dinner was crowned by a spectacular sunset.

Saturday, April 1, 2006 – Denise and Stefan Bedo

After a spotty sleepless night killing mosquitoes we were pleasantly surprised to awake to blue skies and sunshine. SUNSHINE!! And day 3 after E-Day and two days of clouds and scattered showers.

Breakfast started with a freshly pressed very expensive orange juice.

9AM WE gathered in front of the reception area for our anticipated boat trip! Step by step by step by step we made our way to the bus where Mustafa was waiting.

Meltem pointed out various sights along the way including a burned boat that must have occurred overnight, watering cisterns from the Ottoman period, Taurus mountains 3000 meters high were snow capped, goat alert and cattle.

Moving on to the harbor where young Turkish girls insisted on selling their handcrafts. We survived crossing the water. Getting on the boat appeared to be treacherous, keeping in mind the uneven wooden planks, but our guide pointed out Lycean tombs dating back to 4000 BC.

Arriving at Kekova, we ventured through the city once again. Turkish women selling scarves young girls pleading with us to purchase their wares again. Climbing to the top of the Lycian theatre carved into the rocks Stefan and I imagined wheat it must have been like in those times.

Some brave souls climbed to the very top close to the flagpole to get a better view. It was pointed out where the word carat originated, when Meltem plucked a carob bean from a tree.

Returning to the boat to continue our journey along the coastline. Gliding along the ruins in the crystal clear water sunken by an earthquake. Some folks swam, Howard being the bravest, others followed.

Stefan’s childhood dream came true where he was able to snorkel over the ruins in beautiful turquoise water.

A great lunch at the dock and then we returned to the harbor (Kas) after our 3 hour adventure where we were able to shop for souvenirs. Another beautiful sunset dinner, good conversation and a surprise birthday cake for Richard.

Sunday April 2, 2006 – Chuck and Jo Hower

This is a beautiful, clear morning. We have a little time to enjoy the views from walkways of Hotel Aqua Park, then at 9:00 we give ourselves to the bus. We drive along a cliffside road in limestone country. Stop at Kaputas beach for photos but do not descend the 200 steps to the white sand.

Small villages cling to the bare limestone. There is the occasional small valley green with grain. Most villages have much newer constructions as foreigners are building vacations homes. Costs have increased so much that local people are having trouble living here. Sounds familiar.

Closer to Patara we are back in red pine country and approach a broad river valley with snow capped mountain on both sides. Patara is an ancient Lycian city, a large city with a busy port, only very little excavation and restoration. It was the birthplace of St. Nikolas. The city gate, dating from the Roam period, stands in a field of daisies and provides such a rich photographic opportunity, Meltem has trouble getting us back on the bus. A large theater is in the distance.

Patara beach is an 18 km long sand beach, very fine sand. Mimosa trees in full bloom cover the plain behind the beach. Sea turtles nest here so the beach is closed at night.

A hoopoe bird is seen and the birders are ecstatic.

We approach Fethiye through a green broad valley. The Greek name for this city was Telmessos. It was the western most Lycian city. WE see rock tombs here. One is a very large “temple” tomb from 5th C BC. There is a large, partially excavated theater near the harbor. We stroll a pleasant, wide quay with gulets on one side and restaurants on the other. We have an excellent lunch and much sea breem and calamari is consumed. How soon we must go.

The Lycians had a distinct language and alphabet unrelated to their neighbors. The Lycian period was 700 to 300 BC.

Beyond Fethiye we find pine-covered hills and many offshore islands. Gocek is a center for yachts and gulets. We stop for a photo of the Bay of Gokova and Datca penninsula in the background. We are now in the ancient land of Caria. The Carians were contemporaries of the Lycians. Their capitol was Halicarnasas, now Bodrum, our destination.

We finally arrive at Bodrum at 6:15, very weary of the road. Beer on the terrace restores us, or perhaps it is the magical sunset over the city. In any case, we are ready for the six course dinner that is served. No buffet tonight.

Meltem mini-lectures

Olive oil:
Trees may be very old
Harvest very labor intensive
5kg of olive yield 1 liter of oil
1st press is virgin olive oil
2nd and 3rd presses use hot water extraction
Turkey has trouble exporting oil because of protective tariffs imposed by EU

Education in Turkey:
Compulsory from age 7 to 15
After age 15 there are 3 years of “lise”
A state-administered exam determines who may go to universities
Universities are not free, but tuition is moderate.
Only 25% of Lise graduates go to universities because of limited availability.

Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal)
Nation established in 1923
He himself created the new Turkish alphabet
New alphabet established in 3 months
Made school compulsory
Gave women equal rights with men including education and the vote
Prohibited wearing of the fez

Note on Bodrum. This was the home of Herodotus, the (western) world’s first historian. He wrote in Greek, but was probably not a Greek. Greek was the written language at that time over all of the eastern Mediterranean

Monday morning, April 3, 2006 – Marilena Salvo

Bodrum, Halikarnassos! It’s very exciting to be in the town where one of the seven wonders of the ancient world was located. On the other hand, the imposing Mausoleum, huge marble tomb of the Carian King Mausoleus (hence the modern word to indicate a monumental house-like tomb) is no more on the slope below the theater to indicated the way into town to the sailors coming on their ships…Very sad. The Crusaders used most of the basement marble slabs of the Mausoleum to build their castle, still standing and in very good shape on a high peninsula in the Bodrum Bay. We have walked there this morning – almost rolling downhill on the steep streets surrounding our hotel and then along the marina. Not as long a walk as I thought it would be and besides the view we enjoy from the hotel makes it worthwhile to live on a hill. In the castle, we were able to see how some of the stones were recycled from the ancient city of Halicarnassos, which suffered enormous damage from the advent of the crusaders. I don’t even know whether there is a proper archaeological zone as we saw in the other sites, apart from the theater. Maybe there is, under the expanding whitewashed suburbs of Bodrum. The archaeological treasures we saw here were in the Castle itself. Meltem has managed, with her 17-year-old experience as a guide, to persuade the Museum staff to open it for us, even it is a Monday! So we were able to see the items found on a number of ancient ships wrecked off the Turkish coast. We saw some amazing glass bottles and jars from the 1st and 2nd century AD, and the cargo of a ship wrecked about 2 millennium BCE among other things. We didn’t see the golden artifacts found in the latter ship, as they did not open that room for us, but we all enjoyed the visit. During the season the Castle has a cafeteria working and they also serve drinks in the English Tower, where you can sit in the window alcoves, with the walls covered by inscriptions of the Crusaders. It must be charming but I am glad we didn’t come when Bodrum becomes the trendy beach of Turkey. We have such a trendy beach in Italy – well, quite a few trendy seaside places such a Rimini, for example (the Americans in the group have mentioned Miami as an equivalent) but I personally prefer to spend my holidays in more secluded spots. And I find that most people in our group share this kind of preferences., which is one of the things that make this trip so enjoyable.

Monday afternoon, April 3, 2006 – Jim Pollard

This afternoon we had free time. A vacation from the vacation. Terry and I saw many of the group out and about Bodrum as we wandered the narrow streets around the city’s twin bays and had lunch at a small restaurant near the water. Later on in the afternoon we met up with ten or so others from the group seeking the “authentic” Turkish experience at the Turkish bath across from the bus stations. Having never been to a Turkish bath before, my expectations ranged from a Shangri-La of free flowing wine and scantily clad women to a large loofah wielding Turkish man skinning me alive in a dark subterranean chamber. However upon arrival, a pleasant English woman greeted us and described a much more sedate process. The men were separated from the women and led to small changing rooms to don sarongs and begin the experience. Next came 15-20 minutes of “pore opening” activities including bathing and time in the sauna. So far, so good. Stepping out of the sauna however caught the attention of the attendant who clapped his hands and slapped a large marble slab indicating that it was my turn. I lay down and prepared for the worst. How bad could it be? The soap will lubricated my skin and keep it from peeling off in large sheets. Then he started. No soap. This was the exfoliation phase and survival of this phase earned you the privilege of taking a cool shower followed by a soothing massage (with soap) and then another shower. At this point we were reunited with the women in our group to enjoy a cool drink and relax before leaving the bath. Overall, a very good experience. The remainder of the afternoon was spent enjoying a glass of wine of the terrace of our hotel (the Manastir) with sweeping views of the city and the Castle of St. Peter.

Tuesday morning, April 4, 2006 – Kay Rencken

Up and out early so that we can have more time in Didyma and Ephesus. We had a long ride and Meltem shared a great deal of information about a variety of topics.  And before we knew it, the two large columns of Didyma popped into view.  Medusa heads are there to protect the sanctuary.  There were columns everywhere – plain, fluted, decorated bases, upright and fallen. The Temple of Apollo was a center for oracles in the 4th century BC.  The female oracle was sequestered inside and gave vague answers.  We all wandered around for what seemed a very short time.  I was in awe of this site and reluctant to leave.

We drove on to Ephesus and Meltem gave us a history lesson.  I am sure you all took copious notes!  We arrived amidst ooohs and aaahs and comments about how much had changed from folks who had visited before.  This site took my breath away as I thought of the hundreds of years that people great and small had walked these same paths. We stopped at many spots to read information or have Meltem tell us interesting facts about the walls, who occupied it and when, important  folks who have statues, housing, baths, (there was plumbing here!) and yet another Hadrian’s Arch. I could have spent hours at the library just gazing and contemplating what was in this building.  Another agora but no shopping!  And an amphitheatre that is still being used for concerts today.  David McLean did a solo performance that was appreciated! All too quickly it was time to leave this awesome place.  No wonder folks keep returning to it…..I am hopeful that I too will return someday.

Tuesday afternoon, April 4, 2006 – Becky Williams (age 14)

Last day! After an excellent morning at Ephesus, we headed over to the Ephesus Museum to “fill in the blanks”. After seeing where all this would have been, it is so easy to imagine what it was like…. In the museum, there were rooms filled with original artifacts excavated at Ephesus. Things like backgammon boards, coins, sarcophagi, utensils, toys, mosaics, glassware, jewelry and statues; all used by people in the Hellenistic and roman periods. In the museum, there was even a room on gladiators that my dad and brother liked. Next stop: carpet depot!

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