Bulgaria & Turkey, November 2001 Travelogue
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Sunday, Dec. 2nd, 2001

Selcuk and Efes tour with the Koreans
In the morning I was relieved to find that there WAS hot water, you just had to wait awhile for it to emerge.
I came downstairs and had breakfast and as I finished, my tour guide came in, saying the van was waiting on me. I figured he meant he was waiting on me, but he was early, so I leisurely made my way outside.

I was happy and embarrassed to see that there were a bunch of Koreans in the tour van, waiting for me. Hooray!

We drove to the ancient city of Efes, or Esephus. They introduced themselves. There were three couples and one of their daughters. Lee Youn Chan invited me to Korea, and even offered to cook me breakfast. I should probably change the title of this journal to "I can't remember anyone's name". They were Christians, on tour, hitting a few biblical spots in town. One couple lived in Korea, another in Brazil, and the third, their host, had recently moved to Istanbul.
Our guide was happy to hear that I was from California, and asked if I thought he looked like Hido Turkoglu, star forward of the Sacramento Kings. Indeed, he did! He said his friends called him "Hido"!

I assure anyone from Sacramento that they will receive a warm welcome in Turkey as long as Hido plays on our team. Hell, wear a Kings jersey, get the royal treatment.

Efes dates from about the 3rd Century B.C., enjoying Greek, then Roman rule and construction. Ok, I wasn't paying that close of attention to the tour. The city had been made mostly of marble, and was in great shape. It seems that when cities start to crumble, all of the small, easy-to-break-off-and-carry ornamentation disappears, and all the stuff that is integrated into something huge gets left behind. Another factor is whether something new nearby needs chunks of marble.
Anyhow, the city was about half-ruined, with streets lined with half of the columns and half the buildings standing, with half the ornamentation left. This had been a big city, well laid-out.

It was nice not being the only one listening to the tour-guide. I could fall back and take photos if I wanted, or stand up close and pay attention. This city was populated with a good number of cats and dogs.
The tour took about two and a half hours, rain falling throughout. The theatre was giant and well preserved, reportedly holding 15,000 people. The guide had my ear for a moment & asked me what the name of the raised stage behind the regular stage was called in English. I had no idea.
We ate lunch at my hotel, which turned out to be their hotel also. The chef brought us some tiny shish-kabobs and then a beautiful carved apple and orange desert.

Back on the road we first visited a leather coat factory, which turned out to be a leather coat factory outlet. We were assured that this was THE lowest price these coats were available, and that we got a special 30% discount for getting them here.
I couldn't figure out what the price tags said, but I wasn't in a coat-buying mood anyway.

One of the other tourists announced, "these are very expensive". He told me that when you buy a package tour, you have to expect to get a few sales-pitches thrown at you. I enjoyed the free coffee and looked around at the different styles. I asked one of them to take my photo, as if it was an exciting tour. I hope they got the joke.
Next it was the pilgrimage part of our tour, as we visited the house where the virgin Mary spent the end of her life under the care of the Apostle John. It was small, but nice. Converted to a church on the order of the Pope, reconstructed nicely. It was a simple house, and you weren't supposed to take any photos.

Next we visited the ruins of a temple from the time of Constantinople. Only two 30-foot columns remained from what was more than a hundred. Apparently this was the first temple that employed two rows of columns around the border. It had made it look massive.

On the hill behind the Roman temple was a Mosque, the church of Saint John, and a Jewish Temple, making for an excellent photo of multiple faiths.

At the ceramics "factory", my co-tourists complained that they had already been subjected to a ceramics shop in the last town and refused to get out of the bus.

I thought that was pretty great, but I was genuinely interested in seeing if they had any info or displays on Turkish technique, so I went in, quickly taking some photos and looking at the wares. My father has been making ceramics for about 25 years, so I HAD to go in. It was alright, nothing earth-shattering to report, dad.

The next stop was supposed to be the mosque in town, but the Koreans rallied for the Church of St. John instead. I was game for anything. The guide was annoyed, but he relented. Unfortunately this meant that he had very little information for us. It was the remains of a marble church, shaped like a cross, with the tomb of Saint John, the Apostle. Neat.

With that, the tour ended, and we drove back to the hotel. The others asked if I would like to go to the museum and have dinner with them, and I excitedly agreed. The museum was closed, but dinner was fantastic turkish cuisine, keenly negotiated by our Turkish-Korean host.

I tried to keep their daughter entertained & they picked up my Check!

I tried to find internet for a while, which I found, but was frustrated by the lack of ftp connectivity. I headed back to the hotel, played one hand of UNO with my new friends and then saw them off to the airport. I have an invitation to Korea, Brazil, and Istanbul, all from one day!
After saying goodbye, I fell for a new marketing scheme at a carpet shop: Internet access. I couldn't FTP from here either, but I sat through an informative and heavy-handed carpet sales pitch I had been avoiding like the plague. Oh well. I got out of there alive. The carpets are about US$300.

Nike relief at Efes

One of the gates of the city

The toilet was a great place
to hang out and gossip

The famous entrance to the Library at Efes

Apple-carving exhibition ovation


Posing outside the house
of the Virgin Mary

Best food of the trip

Monday, Dec. 3rd, 2001

Heracles and Pammukkale On Monday morning I packed up and went downstairs for breakfast. The power seemed to be out downstairs, but they managed to put my breakfast together without a problem.
I was alone in the van & we were bound for Pammukale, a beautiful site with a unique geological phenomenon. Hot water, rich with dissolved Calcuim Bicarbonate, cools and gives off COČ, dropping Calcium carbonate, which hardens and makes little dams and rivulets for the continuing flow of expulsion. It looks weird, and I will pretty much let the photos speak for themselves.

First, however, we arrived at Hieropolis.

Hieropolis stands out among the ancient cities that I visited because it was built out of locally-quarried stone instead of marble. This means that it has a darker, more worn look to it, but it also means that most of the city remains instead of being carted away to other cities. This demonstrates the paradox that gold and marble, most physically able to withstand the march of time, are the most attractive to thieves, and therefore poorly qualified to survive.

Since 129 B.C., with some slow parts included, Hieropolis has been a tourist attraction, playing host to 3 different Roman emperors and Cleopatra herself. It was pretty deserted while I was there though.

My guide explained that "sarcophagus" was Latin for "meat-eater", which he had to explain, was the apparent effect when you put a dead body in one for a couple of months.

Nearby the ruins, there is a medium size pool of warm water from the spring, filled with broken arches and columns, surrounded by tourist amenities like any hotel pool on MTV. I didn't have a swimsuit, and I didn't see any for sale, or I would have gone in for a dip. I already regret not working something out, because from what I hear, the place is usually wall-to-wall with people. There were about a dozen "watch out for the marble ruins in the pool" signs, undoubtedly a real pain to inadvertently kick or dive into.

Having seen the pool, we next walked to the travertine calcium terraces. I took my shoes off and walked down them to where the white deposits disappeared, about 200 yards. My guide, named Zafer Bozoglu, by the way, drove around, and met me at the bottom with the van. The water was warm at the top, but halfway down, it was cold. By the time I got back into the van, I was losing feeling in my feet.

I had a little food at a nearby buffet (with 393 German tourists) and then drove on to a town called Denizli. Denizli was full of Rooster and Cock sculptures and statues, but I couldn't get a SINGLE decent photo of one because we were trying to catch a bus. At least we caught the bus...a 4-hour trip to Turkey's South coast...Antalya. When we drove through the mountains, there was snow on the ground.

I was worried about my hotel before I got there because of the name: Lazer Hotel. You and I know, there is no way a hotel called "Lazer" is going to be any good.

Zafer saw that on my itinerary and chuckled, "Let's hope your hotel is as modern as it's name".

Night had fallen when the guy from Lazer picked me up at the bus station in his flexible-fuel propane/gasoline car. It was raining. He was very friendly, with decent English but excellent Turkish and Japanese. He had lived in Japan for 8 years and had brought back a wife.

As we neared his hotel, he rolled through a red-light making a right turn, and some nearby policemen saw him and flagged him down. He saw my concern and said, "friends, friends". The three cops got in back with many words of thanks and offered me an orange. I accepted. We were dropping them off near the hotel, so we made light conversation about the Sacramento Kings & Hidoyet Turkoglu.

His hotel catered to Japanese-speaking guests, and it wasn't half-bad except for the room's temperature. I bet the garden courtyard is awesome during the spring. There were little Japanese lanterns hanging everywhere, with compact fluorescent bulbs. Turkey has fully embraced compact-fluorescent technology, by the way.

I threw my bag in a corner, opened my umbrella, and went for my "brand new city" exploratory walk.

I got wet quickly and came back. I could see my breath in my room.

The necropolis at Herapolis

Heropolis ruins

The monumental gates

Cleopatra's pool at Pamukkale

The Chemical Analysis of
Cleopatra's pool

Preparing to walk down the terraces of calcium

tiny veins and pools at Pamukkale

Like flowing snow, or cotton candy,
but hard

Surprise, there are mushrooms in here!

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Read my other travelogues: Minneapolis 2001 | Burning Man 2001 | Europe 1999 | Costa Rica 2000

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