Posted by: lindsaygoes | May 14, 2010

More Turkey adventures

I’ve had kind of limited internet access so this might be a bit of a long email – well longer than usual anyway!

So, after my last email I hung around the hostel for a while waiting for Jolene, the friend I’m travelling around Turkey with. Turns out that she got detained for two hours at the airport because they didn’t like the fact that she had a Maltese passport. However everything was fine once she finally reached the hostel.

The next day we went to the Blue Mosque in the morning. Really gorgeous and a lot bigger than I expected. I was a bit surprised though because I thought that most of the women there would be wearing headscarves, but hardly anyone was. Then we went to the Aya Sofya (Church of Holy Wisdom) where we ended up getting this bizzare guide. He claimed to be 89, but looked more in his 60s. He made us push through crowds, was constantly yelling at us to ‘March!’, would push in front of other groups to show us stuff and throw his hat at the board to point out things. He also claimed Attaturk was his brother, the Virgin Mary was his grandmother and touching a big urn thing would mean we would have twins (he told us that after we touched it!). Then we had our first (but definitely not last) kebab/kebap in Turkey and then had a walk around the Galata Bridge and fish market before doing a boat tour on the Bosphorus. The boat left about half an hour after it was supposed to but it was still fun, until it dropped us off at some random point and then we had to walk back to the bridge. That night one of the guys running the hostel took us and an Italian guy staying at the hostel out to dinner and then to a Turkish club which had amazing live music. Everyone was dancing and the lead singer was so into it, such a great night!

The next morning we had our first experience with buying Turkish bus tickets. More challenging than we wanted! After that ordeal w went to Dolmabahçe Palace but first had lunch overlooking the water. Then we went into the palace which included a guided tour (unfortunately not as crazy as the one at Aya Sofya), but the palace itself was amazing. Really designed to impress and demonstrate power and wealth. That kind of took most of the day but we did go to a Whirling Dervish performance that night. It was a bit more sedate than I was expecting but the rippling skirts were quite mesmerising. On the way back to our hostel we were discussing that we just wanted something small for dinner when a guy in a restaurant yelled out ‘Small! You want small! I have small!’. We did end up going there and getting a delicious mezze platter and a bonus belly dancing performance.

The next morning was a VERY early start as we had to get a 5am taxi to catch the 5:30am bus, but we made it! We caught the bus to Çannakale and then walked past our hostel (dodgy directions from the tourist office) but managed to get there eventually just in time for our Gallipoli tour. I hadn’t realised the peninsula would be so picturesque and our guide was very good and told us some very moving stories. Some of the exhibits in the museum were pretty interesting too. They had some bullets which had hit each other and fused together in flight and some letters from soldiers on both sides.

The next morning we had a tour of Troy. I think if we had gone by ourselves we wouldn’t have got as much out of it, but it was interesting to see some of the sites from The Iliad (alright, maybe the movie Troy because I haven’t actually read the Iliad). The place itself was gorgeous with loads of poppies and other wildflowers and I hadn’t realised there had been nine cities of Troy layered on top of one another. Once we’d finished in Troy it was back to Çannakale where we had the afternoon free so we had a bit of a wander, saw the horse from the movie and watched the film Gallipoli. Then we had an overnight bus to Selçuk. I love overnight buses.

So anyway, we arrived in Selçuk nice and early after a pretty sleepless night, but luckily we could check into our room straight away. We went into town and went to the ruined temple of Artemis. There wasn’t much left unfortunately, but we took some photos and had a guy selling books invite us to the beach the next day. Then we went to the Isa Bey Mosque and St John’s Basilica, which was a really lovely spot. You could really imagine what it must have looked like before it was all ruined. After lunch we went to the museum which had some amazing sculptures and then we spent the rest of the afternoon hanging around the hostel pool.

The next day we went to Ephesus, which is a huge complex of ruins, some of them really well preserved. However, it was pretty hot and crowded and my audio guide started playing up pretty much half way through – and then started working just before I got to the booth to exchange it! Apart from that though I really enjoyed Ephesus and I even managed to get to some weird angles to get photos with minimal numbers of people in them! Once we’d finished at Ephesus we walked to the Seven Sleepers, a site where seven saints had gone to sleep for 200 years. We were told that we had to walk 150m, turn right and walk 500m and we’d be there. There was some weird kind of measuring going on there because the 150m was more like 300m and the 500 was over a km. And it was hot! But we got there eventually and then this guy had to let us in for two minutes, but that ws really all we needed.

And then, because it’s me, I got sick again, but I’m fine now – except that they gave me drugs that I’m allergic too. But now we’re in Pamukkale and hopefully everything will be smooth sailing from now!

Lindsay

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