Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I decided to do just a single post for our short stop in Germany since this blog site is hard to use.
   We made it to Frankfurt without issue and took a car. Michelle didn't realize she had mistakenly canceled our reservation with Avis by luckily Europcar was loaded with vehicles. We took a brand new VW Polo which was a real joy to drive.
   Our first stop was Michelle's Ringcon 2013 convention, which is basically dealing with Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and similar type stuff. We got our hotel in a town outside Bonn called Bad Godesberg, which gave us a straight 10 min train ride to the hotel the convention was being held at. The town was lovely and we strolled around, even finding a Woolworth's store which is basically a pic n save type thing now. It is fun looking in shops when in foreign lands. Michelke and I had a good time and the next day hit the convention. Michelle had already bought tickets and we picked them up, there were tons of people in costume. Every lord of the Ring character and all kinds of other things, manly local German shows or games we were not familiar with. I am familiar with gorgeous ladies in skimpy elf get-ups so even though not much of the show interested me I was we'll entertained. Michelle was like a little girl and really enjoyed the show, buying things from vendors and meeting some of the actors in her Game of Thrones show she likes. This was important for her and I am happy she got her dream.
    We next drove to Trier along the Mosel river and were treated to quite a sight. All the trees are turning with seas of yellow, gold, oranges and reds. Each vista was like a post card and it was one of the loveliest drives I have ever taken. We finally got to Trier and our hotel room looked out at the Porta Migra, the Roman gate. What a beautiful city Trier is with rich history. We spent a couple days soaking it in, visiting the Roman amphitheater, baths and the incredible Landesmuseum which had on display a huge hoard of Roman gold aurei (Nero to Septimius Severus) weighing forty pounds! What a great museum it was and we really really really liked Trier, really.
    We then drove back along the Mosel river and found our little hotel here near the Frankfurt airport. Five nights, six days and a perfect way to end a couple months of traveling.
   We had a great trip and are ready to come home to our babies (cats) and our friends. We are rested and reinvigorated and most importantly the princess is happy. Thanks to all you one or two people who took the time to read this rambling blog. Next trip I'll find a better blog site where pics could be added easier. Take car and see you or talk to you soon!

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Istanbul is one of the world's great cities, no doubt about it, European in every way. It is silly some consider Turkey part of the Middle East because the country has more in common with Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The city is vibrant and people walk everywhere. You can wander from district to district and continually be amazed by the history and culture.
    Each time we come to Istanbul we stay in Sultanahmet, where the Byzantine city was. All the famous landmarks and the Archeology museum is over here. We also went to the area around the Galatay tower with crowded streets with all kinds if shops. Michelle found a clothes store that sells the type of Turkish style clothes she likes. Everything was cheap and on sale and she had a ball. I have never scene her shop like that, but a girl needs clothes. We also visited the Pera museum which had a fantastic collection of scales and weights and some paintings, one, 'the Tortoise Trainer', especially famous. We also picked up a couple carpets and just enjoyed the place, buying bags if cat food and feeding cars everywhere. It was a super 2 1/2days in Istanbul and tomorrow morning we leave for Germany. We are flying to Frankfurt then taking a rental car to Bonn, where Michelle plans for us to attend a convention concerning Lord of the Rings and other stuff. Like Comicon if I understand it correctly. Will keep you posted.
   But that is all I have from Turkey for now, we had a super trip with nothing but great experiences!


The Troad is an interesting area to explore and I mean the Roman province of Troas. The T's don't use the term in the modern sense. We plan our trip around the in the context of how the Roman's roughly had it organized, which were basically provinces. We have combed this part of the T a few times in the past. Troy being in the northwest part. The town of Assos is in the southern portion and lies on the coast, the island of Lesbos seemingly a stone's throw away.
    We loved Assos the last time we came here and back we went, the drive into the down long and winding, with brief vistas of the Mediterranean. This time we decided to stay in the tiny harbor of Assos and what a perfect choice that turned out to be. It really is too small for cars so one has to park on the side of the windy road and walk down. This means the harbor is quiet and peaceful. Out hotel, called Assos Grand Hotel, gave us a room facing the harbor from two sides, it was really awesome and we just hung around the place enjoying the local cats and feeding the schools of fish. Our breakfast table was only inches from the water and the bread was a hit. Life slowed way down for us in this town. Eventually we did go up and visit the ruins of Assos itself, the theater a good place to spend the early evening and the acropolis and surrounding city the next afternoon. We decided to stay an extra day and just hated to leave but we had to.
   We then took of and visited a local site called Zeus Altar which was lame and we noticed there was all kinds of Local T's there and many places were closed. We finally realized it was a Turkish holiday  called Eid al Adha, which lasts four days.
    We then visited the ancient site of Antandros which offered a partially excavated villa with interesting paintings, then sped to Nicaea (Iznik). We ended up getting there past dark so we couldn't see all the original Roman walls which still surround much if the town. We did stay here in 2009 so at least saw them then. They were built in the early 4th century AD. Since we had to get up early to catch the ferry across the Bosporus at Yelova at 9:45am we had to leave at 7;30, so we saw what work they are doing to the theater and some of the walls and sped off to Yelova.
   The ferry was lightly attended and it was an easy and straightforward jump to Isranbul.
    Now taking the car back to the airport was the only loose end. When we drove off the ferry the car suddenly was having transmission issue and I was concerned it might not make it to the airport. A light came on on the dash saying the car needed service or repair. I was thinking " after 5,000+ miles you are going to give out on the final few kilometers to the airport! You're kidding right?". Well we stopped to to it off and when we started back up the issue seemed to vanish. Odd? When we turned it in the company forgot we were coming and the whole return took way too long. We had prepaid for it and the guys working for the car rental were shocked to find out this car (and us) originated in Diyarbaker! I guess our kind of traveling is not too common, but eventually they said all was well and didn't notice the few dents and such Michelle hid with mud. The car was so dirty it was hard to ascertain the color, but we were good to go. The other thing were the super hwy toll boths (all électronic) we had issues with. Supposedly we were ok to go through them but they sounded the violation noise each time we went through. We expected issues here but nothing said. We sighed with relief over that one.
  We then took a cab into Istanbul and looked forward to our last couple days in T-land.

Monday, October 14, 2013


Hello my faithful one or two readers, if you are still with me I appreciate your dedication. Let me know if anyone is actually reading this thing if you don't mind. At least I won't feel like I am always talking to myself.
   So, on Oct 10th we drove back to Seljuk, near Ephesus And Kusadasi, and stayed at our beloved Kayhan hotel. We visited Euromos again and showed up at the hotel at 11am and planned to toss our things down and head up the coast to hit some Ionian cities. The staff were happy to see us (we've stayed there many times and just 9-10 days ago, and they gave us one of the big rooms named Didyma (after the place). The room was so inviting we crashed until 2pm then decided to drive up the coast to Teos, exactly as Greg and I had done some five years ago. 
    It was a pleasant drive, weather just like LA for date, and found Teos, whose Greek coins always have a griffin. The T's have been up to no good as usual and more of the site has been excavated and better organized with pathways etc. It was a lovely hike around as we enjoyed the fall colors. The theater was a bit delapidated but the bouletarion was awesome. We had fun and the drove south and tried to find Lebedos, but the site seemed closed and there were tons of kids around the gate and we just got the heck out of there. 
   We decided to visit Claros and watched the sunset before having a nice meal at our hotel. Michelle loves this hotel and it was hard to leave the next day.
    We then drove north to Bergama, visiting the town if Alishar on the way (the town isn't really on the way) to see the ruins if Thyateura. I have like 20 coins from this city and saw some ruins existed from the Roman period. Well, what we found were a few tiny excavated areas in parks or closed off areas amidst the total hectic and chaotic modern town. It was very nerve wracking driving around. We think it was lunchtime market day or something. People just don't move out of the way. One guy I almost hit walked right in front of meas he texted. It is very hard with pedestrians here because they don't look and they barrel out in the street often texting. People are glued to their phones around here. We went through a traffic control point today where they create a traffic jam and funnel the cars into one Kane via cones. When we passed the cops one was having tea with some guy, chatting away behind his car, while the other one stared into his phone within the car, just wasting everyone's time!
   We were disappointed with Thyateira and just got the hell out of there. We then drove on to Bergama and found a comfortable hotel. We ate dinner in a restaurant that had a local business having a dinner and award ceremony. It was interesting, especially the part when we showed like desert wandering stragglers, especially me, and all the T's were dressed up nice. It was our hotel restaurant and when a group of French travelers showed up from a tour at least we didn't look so out of place.
    The next morning we visited the ancient city of Pergamon, a truly important classical city. I visited the place in 2003 with my friend Ross, (Michelle's ex-husband and still my good friend), and we had to hike a very long way up this extremely steep path to gain access to the acropolis. Well the T's went all out and completely pulled out all the stops for us this time, since they knew we were coming and they wanted to impress us. We drove to the normal parking place expecting to hike and low and behold the T'a has built a sky cable thing with little clear plastic cars hanging from a cable you sit in. These take you to the top like the thing in Palm Springs, which takes you up the mountain. We were like 200 feet up or so at the highest point and thought of our dear friend Barold Rightman, who loves things like this. We goofed around in the car and took pic of ourselves.
   Now the site was spectacular, google Pergamon to see for yourself. Not too many tour bus loads were there so we had the run of the place. There was this Jspanese guy, maybe closing in on sixty, who seemed to always wander into our group photos (where we set the timer and take pics of the two of us). Sometimes he noticed we were waiting for him but he seemingly just didn't care! I named him captain oblivious and we kept spotting him stumbling about.
   After visiting the acropolis we visited the Aesclepion, which was an ancient healing center dedicated to the god Aesclepios. It has a nice theater and we were really impressed by this place. Afterwards Michelle wanted to drive through part of the town were it is a small village kinda outside of the modern city where the ancient Roman town was. We found the lower theater and the remains of an amphitheater, which was alone and forgotten. Originally it seemed a small creek ran underneath it, the seats on the opposing banks. It was way cool and the princess was pleased. I noticed the villagers had noticed us and were preparing an assault with their bags of trinkets they always have for sale. Since I planned for this buy turning the car around before we parked it was just a simple task of driving over the first couple then speeding away. No we just declined their insistent offerings. If we capitulated every time we would have hundreds of scarves and dozens of wooden spoons! We then hit the museum which is rather underwhelming, but we did enjoy a nice lunch nearby where we were bombarded by the usual assortment if hungry cats. After sharing lunch with our feline friends we decided to head for the town of Assos as our looming date with Istanbul fast approaches. Michelle was delighted with her visit to Pergamon and I was happy because she has looked forward to it for a long time, the upper theater is just spectacular!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Gerga or bust!

Now there is a special site in Caria called Gerga, I wrote a few college papers on the place and have always desired to have a visit. Michelle and I tried three times to find it in the past and Greg and I also tried, all to no avail. There are no clear directions and the writer who wrote the most on Gerga, George Bean, seems to have given the wrong directions as well. If it wasn't for old images of the place we could have begun to believe the place didn't really exist but there is a sign for Gerga off the hwy so it must be there somewhere!
   Our trip this te began with some google Earth notes and maps and George Bean's directions. We tried to get a bead on the place but could not. We drove to the bridge Bean mentioned but nothing he said made sense like before so we decided beating our heads against the wall and expecting different results would be stupid. We then trashed our notes and just decided to ask every human being we could find in this rather lonely area. One guy pointed opposite of where we believed the site was and indicated we had to walk, but to where and from where? On illiterate old lady we asked clung to the car and continually declared Michelle her daughter and asked why she didn't speak Turkish. She was extremely vivacious and friendly but didn't seem to know what we were talking about when we mentioned Gerga. It took us ten minutes to extract her from the side of our car! Another guy just basically said 'forget it, you'll never find it.' Finally we stopped in front of a lonely house where a man walked with a wheelbarrow with apparently his mom. We asked him about Gerga, he pointed back the way we had come and gestured that we had to walk. We tried to find out more but we could see in his eyes the feeling that 'these two idiots don't have the slightest chance of finding the place on their own!" So he immediately dropped what he was doing and offered to lead us there. We were thrilled and he changed his shoes, grabbed some water, snacks and a hat and got in our car. We turned around and no where near where we were looking he had us stop at the side of the road, absolutely nothing around. We got out and walked down the embankment, then up and down for 4-5 kilometers, no trails just cow paths and gullies. Eventually we saw the hut-like stone structure and goodness we were there- Gerga at last! It was like a pilgrimage for us and we hugged each other with joy. Our guide, nice but very quiet, just lead us around to the various parts.
   See Gerga was either the name of the town or a local deity who was worshipped there. The name Gerga is oddly written in Greek in like 20 places, which is odd, but the style of much of the walls and such are obviously Carian. My studies have pointed to this place having aired than likely older Carian history but the structures visible belong to the 4th -3rd centuries BC to thé Roman périod. Part of a large statue, perhaps of Kybele, lay below the main terrace. It is such a remote place with a road or even a foot path leading to it. It is as if time has forgotten Gerga and it is rather sad this very curious place has been left to the elements. At least this remoteness also seems to protect the place from harm.
   We were so happy to finally find the place and this made the long hike to the car a lot better. I gave the guy 100 TL for taking us which seemed to shock him, but we truly appreciated him taking the time to lead us. He probably thought we were a comple of nuts, but who cares, we made it to Gerga!!!!
   We finally made it back to the hwy and saw that sign "Gerga16." First of all at the 16 km point you are past the closest point the road gets to Gerga (where we hiked from), second there are no further info signs or anything to aid someone turning off the hwy seeking the place or to tell them the site is 4-5 km from the road!!! Who the hell decided to put a sign there and why? What an odd thing to do and it has caused us repeated frustration but this time we prevailed! Michelle extensively documented and photographed the mileage, locale and hike so we can now go there on our own next time.
That was an awesome day!!'


We decided to spend three nights at our Szencir hotel but day by day as we added another night after the first. The owner didn't speak English and our Turkish is pretty bad. We thought we had everything settled after the first night to stay a second but she came to our car as we left in the morning (without our bags) thinking we were skipping out. A few pictionary rounds later from both sides settled it all amicably. Everyone wants the same things in life, the path just sometimes gets a bit clouded.
   Well this part if Turkey, the south west was ancient Caria in Greek and Roman times. I really like the coins from the various cities and we planned to comb a small (relatively) area contains the ancient cities if Stratonikeia, the sanctuary of Hekate at Lagina, Euromos, Myus, Amyzon, Alabanda, Alinda, the sanctuary of Zeus at Labranda, Mylasa (Milas) and Herakliea ad Latmos, which is actually considered an Ionian city for some reason. Gerga gets a post all to itself. To avoid boring my one or two readers I won't go in specific details about the visits to each of these ancient places. What I will do is give a general feeling of these three days.
   We have of course been to half or more of these places and due to the ongoing trend by the T's of continuing to develop many of the ancient site a repeat visit offered new insights and things to hop around on. At Lagina the newly uncovered streets and buildings, temples were amazing, with all kinds of neat graffiti carved into the steps. We had a great time here, our third or fourth visit. At Stratonikeia the T's tied the various monuments together so the visitor can walk around and get a sense of the place. The bad thing there is the 18th - 19th century village ruins that were there were wrecked in my opinion, though they are still a big part of the place as they present it. The old remaining houses were too tidied up compared to before and the fantastic dilapidated jami (mosque) with the earthquake split walls was restored to just looking like another old mosque, one of thousands in T-Land. I was pretty bumbed about that. Add to it there are now places you can't go and more people around means although a good site to visit Stratonikeia has lost some of her old charm.
   We decided to visit Alabanda, then drive down to Alinda then over to Labranda. These mountain roads really sucked five years ago and I was a bit hesitant but Michelle thought we would be ok as the roads seemed to have been improved. Sceptical still I went along with it. We reached Alabanda around noon (after Stratonikeia) and found this great Carian city was as unexplored and developed as before. We jumped around the theater, which is in bad shape, and as we were leaving a local T who was the ticket guy found us and asked for the 6 TL entrance fee. Really! For Alabanda? Geesh! I dug around and only had 5,70 TL. He had no change. I was 30 kurush short, like 15 cents and though extremely friendly wouldn't let us slide due to HIS lack of having change. So we had to go all the way back to his place to get change. He was a by the book kind of guy with obviously nothing else to do. We did see 6 tortoise, each with a partner. Alabanda is cool in as much there is a neat area next to the road where rows of columns protrude from the ground. In situ and in excavated, the ancient streets some 6-7 feet below.
   We left and drove toward Alinda, the mountain road extremely narrow and winding with steep drop-offs, no guard rails and often cows in the road. We meandered about, had a nice picnic pb&j sandwich and then realized we were lost. See the T's will have signs, but when you take your path the road often splits without a further sign to guide you. We often have to just choose and we did, the result was a nice drive right by Alananda a second time, but just about an hour or so later.
   Michelle would not be stopped and eventually we found Alinda right where I left her three years ago. We had great light at Alinda but unfortunately it is a site that closes now. We had to be out by five and the guy waited for us when we left at 5:15. That sucks, we slept there a few years ago! The frontier is being closed down by order and little gravel-lined parking lots.
   Now we had a 30  drive back to Mila, Labranda supposedly on the way. I knew the road was bad from before, but they are working on it now and it was just awful! It was first miles of loose gravel and deep mud. I luckily let a local bus pass me so I could use his experience to guide us over the safe parts, as a bad area could sent us into a tree or over the side. At one point a huge backhoe tractor thing was digging at the road and he just backed up and invited us to drive through the mud hole he was digging in. We drove right under the huge digging claw and barely slipped through, the buses tire tracks saving the day for our tiny Opel. They would never let cars on a road like that in the US. We has to put our front license plate back on as the fre got destroyed! After the gravel and mud our bus left us and we continued, one steep switchback was so steep that first gear barely got us up as the gravel was inches deep. The back fish tailed around and such. I am telling you that road was bad! We finally hit asphalt once again and it was full of pot holes and depressions. Anyone with dentures would have had to take them out, the bumpiness and all. Add to this groups of sheep and cows in the way which slowed us down. One other annoying thing is due to the amount of beekeeping in the area our car continually had unwanted passengers. What a trip down this 'road' we had. Eventually we found Labranda, as the light waned the nice caretaker allowed us to enjoy the lovely place way after closing, understanding I guess what we must have endured getting to the place.
  On the way back to Milas, there were gravel trucks speeding down the tiny windy mountain road and after nearly having one hit us head on and scaring the bejesus out of us I flashed the high beams until the road widened and we avoided any further incident.
   The trips to the other sites were enjoyable and we love Caria a lot, Michelle naming it as her favorite part of the T.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Iasos Mylasa

On Oct 7th we awoke early at our skeet pensyion across from Iasos (the village name is long and unattainable at the moment but is started with a K) and we hiked around the promontory of Iasos and then back for breakfast. It was nice he made us a Mediterranean breakfast but I don't fancy a pile of cucumbers and tomatoes in the morning and I don't like olives. The hard boiled egg was goopy and Michelle called me 'Goldilocks' and eaty egg. I did enjoy the dish of local honey and dipping bread into it.
   This reminds me of another thing. We've coveted by car over 7000 kilometers from Diyarbakir to presently Milas and basically the T's eat the same kind of bread. White loaf, it is usually shaped the same, sometimes a bit different but it is always the same. You can find maybe a few varieties and wheat at a supermarket but in the local places only this same bread always. Don't they ever tired of it? I saw a truck delivering bread as I waited for Michelle to use the bathroom or something. A truck pulled up and when he opened the back I saw plastic crates filled with plastic bags all containing the same oval shaped loaves of white bread! Geesh! I wrote with my finger in the dirt on the back of the truck but only Michelle knows what I wrote.
   Anyway, after breakfast we re-entered Iasos and found it to be lovely as we have never been there before. We then had to go and drove back out the windy narrow road back to the hwy and then proceeded on to Herakleia ad Latmos, which can't decide if it wants to be in Caria or Ionia.
   On the narrow road into Herakleia we were blocked by a huge group of sheep, gosts and cows. the shepard tried to get the animals to move to the side but one sheep would move back into the car than the whole damn lot of them would. i was afraid of hurting one of them and the situation was rathet unerving. The situation wasnt aided by some ahole who was glued to my bumper and pissed i wasnt forcing my way through. I finally got annoyed with h and brake checked him off, which he did. when he finally passes us he shouted at me and I gave him the finger, which he didnt seem to understand. Michelle and I decided he must have been the champion at driving on roads full of animals and therefore impatient with my lack of experience. Well excuse me!!
    Aholes aside, the ancient ruins are located on a rocky landscape bordering a lake, whose current level is obviously higher than it was on antiquity. It was fun to hike around and there were cows roaming the place as well. We sat down by the lake which was nice and I skipped stones and potsherds asichelle soaked her feet. Herakleia is a nice place but it got rather hot.
   Back in the car (and cleverly dodging the ladies selling scarves etc) we cruised back down the T-Way and visited Euromos, a place anyone would love. We rolled out the pb&j sandwiches and felt all proud of ourselves until a German couple pulled in with their custom jeep with every supply imaginable. How nice it would be to be able to drive from home to T-Land. But Euromos has a wonderful temple mostly still standing built during Roman emperor Hadrian's time (AD 117-138). We walked to the theater and other parts and could see the T's had spruced up the place as they obviously expected our return and wanted the place nice and spiffy. Coins from Euromos are very rare and we have   10 or so which is a lot! It is a place you always must visit while in the big T. We would easily miss Ephesus or Pamukkale just to visit Euromos under the olive trees.
    After saying our goodbyes to Euromos (and letting the air out of those German's tires) we looked for a decent hotel in Milas, which used to be hard to do. We stopped at one place advertising three stars but we felt like we were bothering the heavy smoking concierge with our visit and instead drove back down to the Zancir hotel we spotted down the street, modest and for the working class T. We checked in and decided to stay here three nights so we could explore Caria and search for elusive Gerga. We have tried 5 times to find Gerga and Greg and I failed as well. This time we had a new plan, a new approach, it had to work, so we thought...

Back in the T

So I left off during our trip back to Samos on Oct 6th, a Sunday. Kusadasi was quite as the main harbor street was closed temp for a triathlon. We decided to sit in a Starbucks for awhile which was nice, we needed coffee anyway. Eventuallyichelle drug me out of there and we rolled our matching rust-colored suitcases a few blocks down the harbor street and to the otopark, the friendly operator waving to us and offering a car wash we respectfully declined. It was 30 TL (like $15) to leave our Opel for three days. Not bad!
   We next flew out of there and headed to the ancient city of Magnesia, which was in Ionia. I have tons of coins from here and we enjoyed the ruins as always and noted the new excavations since our last visit. We wandered around and then found the odd 'Theatron' on a nearby hill. It is sort of a theater crossed with an odeon and the princess was very happy as was I. The theater located about 1/2 km away was cleared a bit but rather unchanged since our 2009 visit. We then went back to our car and played with a friendly dog owned by the lone ticket guy we dubbed 'Magnesia dog' and left. It is weird having the road run right through the city but that is the situation at Magnesia. What a truly huge city this once was, rivaling Rphesus herself surely.
   We then drove on towards Priene, the site Michelle and became engaged at in 2005. We drove along and saw a group of stores called 'Priene Outlet' and stopped st the supermarket there for some odds and ends. I love looking in the markets and stores at all the various products and stuff which are different than our own. I like to see what different tastes people on other places have. For instance there is quite a selection of various small muffins or cakes, mostly sweet, bagged like chips that I haven't the taste for. They aren't like the muffins in the US but more of a snack food. Another thing I noticed is the lack of peanut related products. While peanuts (fistik) are available shelled and unshelled peanut butter is very hard to find and like $5 a small jar. None of the candy or anything I could find is with peanuts or peanut flavored. It is just not a popular thing here in T-Land. In their place however is the pistachio (antep fistik) or the hazelnut, with hazelnut flavored creams and spreads all popular. Candy and chocolate has either almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts in them. I have only found peanut in chocolate in tourist markets. Another food difference is that it seems the T's don't favor eating meat with cheese. Only in mixed dishes like tavas or pide (like Turkish pizza) do you see it. Never have we found it cheeseburger-like, not even on what the T's call a cheeseburger! I always remind Michelle "remember Stimpy, we must respect all cultures no matter how foreign or hideous they may seem to us."
    Anyway, Michelle always rushes me at stores and discourages me from buying too much but finally we visited the ancient city of Priene. It was my 8th visit and Michelle's 7th. This is a gorgeous place and we had a ball as always. Google Priene to see pics of the place.
   We then left and Michelle had her heart set on finding this small fishing village next to the ancient city of Iasos. So we made our way down into Caria and the turn-off was hardly noticeable. The tiny road wound around, we made wrong turns into people's dirt driveways and eventually drove over this steep mountain and eventually found this tiny village and low and behold there was Iasos, sitting atop a small promontory with still, lake-like coves on either side. Idyllic and charming we tried to follow the Loney Planet book's suggestion and drove up a horribly steep road full of potholes looking for a pair of pensyion a and finally we were too tired and losing the light so we went back to the village and stayed in the pensyion which faced the cove and the beautiful ruins.
   The place was nice and better than a regular pensyion as it possessed a bathroom and shower in the room, but lacked hot water, but Luke warm is still better than cold!!! The gentleman owner and his dad made us a nice chicken and fish dinner which turned out to be as expensive as the room but we had a nice room and full bellies for like $75. We did have a skeet (mosquito) issue so Michelle had us sleep under the net she brought.
   All in all it was a great day and everything turned out awesome!!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Samos is an Island

Our ferry to Samos was fun, we sat on the back and had a lovely view. The ride is only 1.5 hours and it got cooler and cooler as we approached Pythagorion, the smaller town on Samos. It was like a postcard (well kinda sorta) and we had to go through a little customs box in the freezing wind. Luckily Michelle booked our hotel just 200 meters from the tiny dock so we were greeted by our host for three night George and had a nice meal in his restaurant. I was happy, pig at last! Since Muslims don't eat pork T-land is pig less in terms of meat. While settling into our room we suddenly heard a large thump against our door and some scratching. I opened the door to find a local feline had come calling so we let her in. She quickly became our little friend and we called her Pumpkin. Pumpkin slept in the room with us, snuggling under the blankets and we bought food for her but she favored tuna best of all. She learned quickly to wait be the tiny refrigerator door when she was hungry. Pumpkin obviously knew when that door opened magic happened and the tuna she loved appeared. We just loved that cat!
   Anyway the town had a nice little shopping area and the first day we layed low and just enjoyed not having to drive around. We also went to the museum which displayed, among other things, a hoard of Greek silver coins which contained many coins from Priene. It was a nice museum, small but quaint with a few imperial busts.
   The next day we rented a car and drove all over the place. We visited the Heraion, dedicated to Hera, a famous temple sanctuary and then a monastery and then the theater, which was extremely disappointing. We then tried to find a village Michelle wanted to see but the road in the mountains became some horribly hideous that our small tiny itty Hyndai car couldn't pass. I had to do a 175 point turn to get us going back down the hill. We then visited the larger town, Samos Town, (it has another name which eludes me), and visited the museum there which was awesome with finds from Heraion that were incredible, things we've never seen before. The princess was happy!
   On the way back to our town Pythagoreion we saw a sign, well Michelle did anyway, a small oval sign reading Animal Care Center Samos. Let me backtrack a moment. The first morning at Samis Michelle found an injured kitten. It upset us greatly and she continually returned and cared for it as she could. Upon seeing the sign she requested we seek the place out and after a windy partially unpaved road we found the care center behind the island dump, behind chain link gates with dogs everywhere. Michelle told them, all Germans and very nice, about the kitten she had named Sammy because he looks like our Sammy Bochaine at home. The agreed to take in and help the kitten and we then raced back to Pythagoreion and found the beast. The kitten purred instantly the moment he entered the car and clung to Michelle. He was dirty and exhausted and so appreciative of Michelle's warm lap. He paid no mind at all to the fact he was in a car, something we have never seen before and he purred loudly the whole time. We arrived at the care center and the kitty was now in good hands and Michelle gave them a monetary donation and we thanked them profusely, Michelke then crying nearly the whole way home. We stopped and had fun in a Greek supermarket than returned the car and enjoyed a nice meal at our restaurant. We had a great time on Samos and were so relieved the kitten was safe. Michelle learned through correspondence with Fraida at the care center the kitten had a broken leg and jaw, both healing properly. He'll be fine, maybe with a bit of a limp. Why is it people neglect the needs off animals? This is why Michelle and I only give to animal charities.
  Anyway we had to leave Samis and our cat Pumpkin but it friend Maria who runs the hotel restaurant loves cats (she has a troop of fat ones she looks after) and she promised us Pumpkin would be well and always cared for.
   The next morning we boarded our ferry and off we went back to T-Land.

Monday, October 7, 2013

In Seljuk

We made it Seljuk, which is near Ephesus, and stayed at a hotel we like called Hotel Kayhan. It is an Ottoman-style place with good food and lovely grounds. We decided to relax in the hotel for the first part of the following day, playing with their baby tortoises and enjoying ourselves. Road life can be tough and punctuating it with relaxation rounds things out. We then actually shopped in town a bit then spent the rest of the day at Ephesus, which was packed to the gills owing to not only being on the tour bus circuit but also those damn cruise ships, who pump the bodies into Kusadasi port like a factory filling cans!
  Ephesus is a cool site, but after what we've experienced and seen it really ranks pretty low on our list. I could go into it but you get the picture. At least they didn't have the cheesy gladiator show we saw last time!
   When we arrived at Jayhan hotel it was dark and Michelle found an injured kitten which instantly took the smiles off our faces. We bought her food and tried to help as we're the staff of this animal friendly hotel. While leaving Ephesus a German org was at the gates preparing to capture some of the many cats roaming the site and fix and care for them. They're called Sunnydays and they are a volunteer group I believe. Anyway Michelle told them about the kitten at the hotel and they have us a cage to bring her back on as they had agreed to take her and fix her up. We sped back to our hotel and found that the staff had already taken the kitten to a vet and were doing whatever had to be done to make the animal well. This was great so we brought the cage back to Ephesus and everyone was happy!
   The next day we stopped again at a local shop and chatted with this interesting Kurdish fellow, whose face looked like a pugilist.
   We then visited the temple of Artemis and then the museum, which was closed, then off we went toward Kusadasi and our ferry across to the Greek island of Samos. While in Kusadasi we walked around and ate lunch waiting for our 5pm ferry. The bazaars and whatnot are not to fun in this town aggressive vendors who basically all have one of ten types of shop. We were glad to get on the ferry and head off to Samos for awhile.

Pamukkale to Seljuk

Sorry this blog thing is a bit behind. I will not use it again as it is difficult to use with itermittent wifi.
   When we left Pamukkale we spent the morning enjoying the ancient city of Hierapolis, which sits right on the travertine cliffs and beyond. A nice place but thronged with tourists due to the buses that schlep them all in. The pools were filled with swimmers, many who probably haven't domed a swimsuit in decades, and the place was a general madhouse. The cost is also extraordinarily high because the place is on the tour bus circuit, like $32 to get in the site and swim, but less for us since we don't do the pools (did once or twice in the past).
   We left Pamukkale and drove to ancient Antioch on the Meander, since I have lots of coins from this place, then on to Aphrodisias.
    During our drive to Aphrodisias the sky foretold potential horrors for the foolhardy so of course Michelle and I go into the site seconds ahead of a huge storm with thunder, lightning and the whole mine yards. The place was deserted of humans, save for the souls who worked there who had retreated into some kind of shelter as Kelly and Michelle walked on in and the skies opened up.
    Now anyone who has ever been to this gorgeous ancient city will know there are only paths which wind through the site and these were now rivers and mud. The short of it is I got completely soaked and muddy, Michelle planned ahead with a rain poncho and was better off. We were pinned against walls and trapped for awhile in the theater. We then went into the museum there on site as I became cold and shivery but eventually the lights shorted out because of the water (this is the T after all) and we left. At the gate the guard told us the tractor-shuttle-thing was finished for the day but we had paid  for its service, great, a kilometer walk in the driving rain but an archaeologist leaving for the day sheparded us into his old Renault and on three cylinders he drove to our car, such a gracious and friendly young Turkish student.
   Now back at the car the lazy tractor-shuttle-thing guys felt bad and drive into the site in case there were any other survivors.
  Michelle and headed out and found a gas station where I could change clothes and we found hot water for coffee.
   We then decided to press on to Seljuk and we followed the storm west, which happened to be the first big storm of fall.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Laodikeia and Tripolis

Now on the morning of Sept 30, mom's birthday, we rose and enjoyed our breakfast. We have kind of slowed down a bit as the weariness of the road catches up with us. Also paying $9.20 on average for petrol takes the edge off any snap compulsions to drive a long distance on a hunch there will be something to see (unless of course Michelle gets a whiff there might be a seated structure!).
    We decided to visit the ancient city of Laodikeia, where continuous excavations and restoration make each visit a new experience. This was our 5th visit and the T's sure have been up to no good, opening up new streets where one can stroll along the ancient stones and various buildings have been re-assembled to one degree or another. There are two theaters and we watched some great performances put on by the local lizards. We had a great time then relaxed with a cold drink and had pb&j sandwiches at small shop by our car. There is absolutely no shade at Laodiceia, so it can be hot at times.
  We then drove to the Phrygian city of Tripolis, remembering three years ago there wasn't much to see. This time the T's were milling around and up to something which means they are excavating and probably doing like what is at Laodiceia.
   After visiting 100+ sites it has become apparent the T's are upgrading and making the sites more presentable and accessible. That's good I suppose, though the roads to some suck and it is rather insulting at times to pay an entrance fee after driving up an almost impassible road!
   Anyway, after an easy day enjoying two sites and local scenery the two of us actually went back to our room and slept three hours before rising and walking around the small lake at Pamukkale and finally finding a place to eat.
It was an enjoyable but low key day and the princess (as well as her husband) was happy!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lycia to Phrygia

Now Fethiye was the old Lycian city of Telmissos and some ruins pop up here and there, especially the theater which is lined at to by houses with narrow alleyways and stairs, like a mini Athenian Plaka but the comparison stops there. We enjoyed a nice morning walk through the old part of the town then the shops by the harbor, which were truly beautiful at night and quite inviting though the shopkeepers and restaurant people were rather aggressive. We enjoyed our walk but had to press on and left Fethiye to find the Lycian city of Tlos, which turned out to be a spectacular place to stomp around, though the theater was closed which made Michelle rather unhappy.
   Next we headed to Oinoanda, the northernmost Lycian town. We got horribly lost and turned around and when we found the place we were told we had to hike a couple miles into the place. Michelle didn't want to go and the guys there were creepy so we saved Oinoanda for next time, driving north toward Pamukkale until we found another of my fav stops, the ancient Phrygian town of Kibyra, a city I have like 20 coins from.
     We immediately noticed the T's had been up to no good, building a new road to the site where we used to just park next to the stadium. You can tell a pay site is in the future for Kibyra. Anyway the stadium was fan as always and new excavations brought to light all kinds of neat new things to look at, many right underneath where my car was parked last time! But what blew us away was an area where they cleared a Roman city street with colns and a fountain. Unbelievable in its beauty and the light was perfect for b&w film. Next the theater was charming as always and then we saw another new place, the odeon! It was extremely well preserved including the mosaic floor in front containing the entire inscription pertaining to who built it, why and exactly when because it was dated!!! Awesome is not coming close to describe it and what a fabulous place, preserved up to like 30 feet with all the seats and all the walls. Michelle's fascination for ancient seated structures was overwhelmed - not only a theater but a odeon and stadium too! The hat trick of ancient seated structures.
   We then left as the sun set and drove to Pamukkale. We missed a turn off due to construction and had to pass through the cf which is Denizli, one traffic jam was just terrible but Michelle recovered our bearings safely guided us to the Venus Hotel in Pamukkale village, where a nice hotel owner greeted us and we relaxed in our very comfortable room. What a cool day that was!!!!!!

Kas is nice but our hotel stunk

Now we stay at Kas a lot and try the various hotels on the same street as the theater, after all this was the ancient Lycian town of Antiphellos. We enjoyed a fab fish dinner, Michelle held and fed a kitten and we walked through the pretty buildings and shops.
   When we got back to our room we realized our room stank, like stale water. It also was tiny, but we kept the bathroom door shut and survived the night.
    The next morn we had coffee just after sunrise in the ancient theater and were joined by a local German Shepard i dubbed 'Theater Dog.' We then wandered a bit around the beautiful town, like it was on a Greek island, lovely,
   We then headed out to the Lycian site of Xanthos, gorgeous as always with her well preserved theater. It was photogenic and I shot some film. We then got a bit lost but found Letoon, a Lycian sanctuary with temples a short distance away. It also had the raised groundwater thing going on and was pretty to photo, with turtles and frogs in the water for Michelle to play with. A good time was had by all.
   We then drove through the beautiful rolling hills inland and tried to find the Lycian site is Sidyma. It is located in and around a village with little walkways and such. We walked around and got lost, the theater was never found as the heat made us tired. We then headed to our car, bummed hot water off a local villager and had a nice cup of joe using an ancient column as my coffee bar!
   Next we drove to the ancient Lycian town of Pinara. It was several km up this absolutely hideous road but we got there. The ruins are spread along the side of the mountain amidst the pine trees. We walked and explored and found the place truly wonderous and amazing. The theater was located down below and the vista was truly incredible! We spent hours here until we knew we had to leave to make it to Fethiye before dark. As we prepared to depart Michelle noticed a small goat which had been left behind by the herd as it moved past. It was crying and though the creature would have eventually gone home she had to intervene. Michelle first tried to tie a rope around its neck and lead it home but the goat was having none of this. Finally we walked and called for it and slowly led the beast at least halfway home until it became distracted by something tasty as ignored us. We tried.
   We then drove into Fethiye and found the harbor and our nice hotel looking over the boats etc.
Michelle noticed when I am driving in a city or chaotic mess I humm the music for the old video game Frogger, which involved getting a frog acrossed the street safely amidst all the cars. I wasn't aware I was doing this, people do the dam best things I guess.
   Our hotel was awesome and we found a gorgeous seaside restaurant and our great day of adventure was complete.

Lycia III

I must apologize for the lack of post my dear one or two readers as this blog site is just crap and I am finding it difficult to get it to work properly. In fact my last post I am about to redo is no where to be found and it is hard to type on this tiny phone keypad.
    Any way, I will pick up where I left off and attempt to enlightened you as to what transpired these past few days.
    After our charming stay in a local T-hotel we decided to try and find the Lycian city of Rhodiapolis, as I have a nice coin of  Tranquillina from this place. Well we did find it and evidently a lot of excavating has been taking place as it was a phenomenal site, well-preserved with a lovely theater and a sweeping vista of the valley below. Some of the aisles in the theater had lipn feet to either side! see facebook fir pics. Michelle was pleased and that is always a good thing.
   We left Rhodiapolis and headed west to the Lycian town of Limyra where a local guy tried to get us to pay him to watch our car. I told him I can watch it myself just fine and we walked a bit around the place. There was a part of the ruins which had been flooded by probably a rise in the water table and it produced a pretty pic. We stomped around a bit then visited the theater of course, which was in great shape. We got back to our car which was fine and left to find Arykanda, another Lycian town.
    Arykanda is located inland around 40 mild and the drive was lovely. The site is being heavily worked by the T's and we spent ours traipsing about the extremely well preserved buildings and Michelle was determined to locate the theater. She led us on a hike via a photo she took of the local map. Now I reluctantly followed but the direction didn't feel right to me. But she is the navigator so we walked and walked around the hill until she realized the theater could not be in the direction we were heading . Suddenly up the hill aways above us a small herd of antelope cautiously passed us as they worked their way up the hill. They were neat to see and the princess was happy. We then went back into the ruins and had a lovely picnic with, you guessed it, pb&j sandwiches and local apples. It was so relaxing and nice.
  A footnote here is regarding the Turkish jams, jellies and preserves. Now we have visited all the different markets and stores and it seems the T's don't make a distinction in this department. Since they don't eat pb&j sandwiches they don't realize their jams or whatever are way to runny and drip all over the place. This is an annoying thing for the pb&j connesiour and something which is frustratingly annoying when you find sticky jelly on your pants!!!
   Anyway, Arykanda us just awesome with a fantastic Thayer, odeon and partial stadium. A nice Welshman we ran into at the stadium sang their national anthem which was quite beautiful. His wife was with him and we applauded his good singing voice, especially for a guy in his seventies!
    We left Arykanda (yes I have a coin of Gordisn III from here) quite impressed and happy and headed west along the coast heading toward Kas, a town we usually stay in. We eventually saw the sign for the ancient site of Myra and contemplated coming back the next day but ultimately turned right and visited the famous Lycian site (I have 2 Greek and 4 Roman coins from this city, yay!). Michelle was not happy they charged like 15$ for us to get in and it is a small site (the area you can visit) with the famous gorgeous Lycian rock tombs on the hill above and the enormous theater. It was full of your buses and we became annoyed with the whole thing. It was our 3-4 visit here and perhaps the long day hiking in the sun did our heads in.
    Therefore we hastily departed to Kas, the beautiful Mediterranean Sea licking at her feet. I knew right where to go and we descended into the two, found out desired hotel quickly, showered and watched the sunset on the ancient theater about 100 yards down the street, a Turkish warship the only vessel in the beautiful sea before us. It was a good day.