Memories from the Aegean Coast

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So, these photos pretty much sum-up my experiences traveling via plane from Istanbul to Izmir (or Izmirstanbul, as we jokingly called it) and returning via bus, along the Aegean Sea, stopping first at Canakkale and branching off to the mesmerizing Ephesus and the mythical Troy. Any questions?

1) Is that a DOUBLE rainbow?

Yes, in fact, it is — although you can hardly see it from this photo. My American friend Nate and Fati can attest to it. This was basically my reaction. If you haven’t heard the song yet, you definitely should watch it after the previous link (it will come up on YouTube as a recommended video once you click). This was the only good thing about how rainy it was when we first got there.

2) Who is that beautiful woman next to you? And why is she with YOU?

It’s hard for me to comment on such things due to the public nature of blogs, but suffice it to say we are in love and very happy. I didn’t know I was capable of such award-winning, toothy grins.

3) What’s Izmir like?

Izmir is rainy. This is the first thing I noticed about this major Turkish city and provincial capital (the first four photos were taken there). It was also stressful as hell getting there. I didn’t think we would make our flight, even though we left a full 5 HOURS ahead of time, and we were not going very far (that’s Istanbul traffic for you). Besides the rain, I found it to be lovely. It’s quite large with nice views, and it’s very important historically as a major battlefront in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) that led to the ascension of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the founding of the Republic of Turkey.

4) What’s with those ruins? Is it an amphitheater from Roman times or something?

Yes, the next few photos (except the one of the little stone cottage, which is actually where the Virgin Mary herself took refuge following the Crucifixion…I attended mass there) are of Ephesus, or Efes, which is the same name as the local Turkish beer. It’s a magical place and invaluable if you want to understand the Roman Empire and all its glory. The ruins are very well preserved. The only thing I regret is not remembering more of the facts about it…but who remembers all those details? Even if I could remember them all, it would probably bore most people. I say, look it up yourself — or, better yet, go there yourself!

5) You look good holding that beer. Have you been working out?

No. Next question.

6) Are you wearing a veil?

No. It was a blanket. We were at an outdoor restaurant, and I was cold. The woman to my right is from Guinea, by the way. I got in this long and embarrassing debate with Fati about whether there was another Guinea besides Equatorial-Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. It turns out there is — a country called the Republic of Guinea or just plain Guinea. I felt pretty stupid, but in my defense, how many Americans know about Equatorial Guinea or Guinea-Bissau? How many even know that there are Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa or that Africa is a continent and not a country? I am hard on my people I know.

7) Is that the Trojan Horse? Not the condom, but the REAL THING?

It’s a replica that stands at the entrance to Troy. It was probably my favorite part of the whole experience (except the giant dog pictured next to my friend Nate who kept scaring the shit out of us — we called him Cujo, but fortunately he was friendly). You can go up inside of it and poke your head out. Hence the photo.

8) Did the Trojan War really happen that way or was Homer a big bullshitter? 

I don’t know. That’s a tough question. If you ask me, Homer was probably more than one person. From what I gathered, there was a war that happened around the time Homer said it did but the details are hard to sort out. Troy nonetheless maintains its significance. The Romans consider the Trojans their ancestors, and archaeologists and historians continue to obsess about the details. The site itself, though, is far less impressive than the story. It’s nothing like Ephesus, although it is interesting to trace the evolution of Troy from its early roots to a large and heavily fortified Bronze Age city. The Archaeological Museum of Istanbul contains many of the artifacts salvaged from the site and classifies them according to which period they belonged to. The layout of the site is along the same lines. But unless you’re a wannabe archaeologist, you might not want to visit except to say you’ve been there…

9) What’s with the cat?

I forgot to mention that, along with Cujo, we were followed by a meowing, scrawny-little cat for much of our journey through the ruins of ancient Troy. It became obvious after a while that it wanted food, so we fed it (I’ve never seen a hungrier cat in my life!), and then hurried off before it could find another excuse to follow us.

10) How does your new love put up with your sloppy storytelling and bizarre sense of humor?

No comment.  🙂

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