Triumphant Tour of Turkey
How sweet it was. ECHO has just completed its autumn tour of Turkey with an intrepid group of 12 adventurers. We had a great time, with many sites visited and much deliciously prepared food consumed. The added bonus was that we blended beautifully as a group.
Most of us arrived a day early in Istanbul and thus had a chance to take a ferry over to the Asian side of the city, walk up a street packed with fresh fruit and vegetable stands, and finish at a restaurant called Ciya Sofrasi. There we had an adventure in eating foods of southeast Turkey--foods that were creatively presented and enthusiastically eaten.
The next two days were spent visiting the traditional sites of Istanbul, such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Topkapi Palace. Each was a marvel in its own right.
Beyond the typical tourists sites, Istanbul is such an amazing mix of old and new, Asian and European, techie and traditional. If we had not moved beyond Istanbul, the trip would still have been a success. But move on we did.
An hour-long flight brought us to Turkey’s second largest city, Izmir, which is near a huge archeological dig at Ephesus. The experts have been working on this project for over a hundred years, and they think they will need another two hundred years to complete the job. We say keep digging because what they have discovered so far was fascinating to see.
Down the road a bit from Ephesus is the Temple of Apollo near Didyma, and from an engineering point of view, to say nothing of the design-work, we were simply dazzled by what the ancient engineers did and how they did it. The scale of it all is humbling.
Next it was off to Marmaris to get on the yacht. Yes, it is a wet, thankless job, but someone had to do it. Gulets are broad beamed wooden boats built specifically for the Turkish coast. For five days, we swam, ate, snorkeled, ate, read, ate, hiked, ate, rested, and day-dreamed our way along the Turquoise Coast of southern Turkey.
All business problems went away.
After leaving the yacht, we drove to Antalya, which has a very Mediterranean climate and quite a few fancy hotels. Marble is plentiful in Turkey, and our modern hotel in Antalya was marble from top to bottom. Marble was also used thousands of years ago during the time the Romans controlled this area. The Antalya Museum houses many stunningly beautiful statues from that era.
After Antalya, a long day’s drive deposited us in Cappadocia in central Turkey, and what a contrast to Antalya. We went from green and lush to an arid, open region with remarkable rock and land formations. This place was a photographer’s dream come true, and since we had three professional photographers on the trip, the clicking sound of cameras was almost non-stop.
Of all the hikes and walks we took on this trip, people raved the most about the hikes in this region. Cappadocia was a very special place.
All too quickly we were entering the Kayseri Airport to head back to the Istanbul to connect with flights home. Reflecting on our time in Turkey, one comes away with a broader sense of history and a better understanding of where we stand in these times. One also has a deep sense of satisfaction of having had a special time with very good people.