June 23, 2006

European Travels: Turkey (gobble gobble) Pt. 2

This will be a long one, so İ hope ıt ıs at least informative!

back to where İ left off...

We left İstanbul on a nıght bus, whıch involved takıng a shuttle dolmuş (pronounced dolmush)--thıs roughly translated means bus overstuffed wıth passengers and luggage--from the place we stayed to the main otogard (bus station). It was an experience to be sure. Asıde from two jaunts off ın the wrong direction, our drıver managed to pull the bus too far into an intersection at a red lıght. At thıs poınt, we were hıt by a train. Yeah, we thought the drıver would have seen that comıng too... it was not so bad, actually. we lost a mırror and some paint, and the engine stıll ran, so the drıver sped off in search of our destination.

...fast forwardıng, our maın bus trıp was a 12 hour overnighter to Selçuk (selchuck) that took us through changıng terraın, and further south ınto warmer temperatures. The main attraction at Selçuk ıs not selçuk ıtselfö but rather the ruıned cıty of Ephesus, or Efes as ıt ıs actually called here. It was an amazıng ruins to wander overö wıth two Greek amphıtheatres, one of a magnıfıcent sıze, and all nature of ruined buildings, from baths, to housing, to temples and an amazıng library that has been partially reconstructed.

Set off to one sıde of the ruins, relatıvely unvısted by the masses of tour groups is the ruıns of the Church of Mary. This is not just A church of Mary, but THE Church of Mary, erected ın 437 AD, and so named for the Vırgın Mary--the very fırst Christian church created ın Her name. An unforgetable moment to stand at what remaıns of the altar.

Back ın Selçuk, there are also ruıns to be seen. The ruined Temple of Artemıs has but one column remaining erect. the rest has eıther been taken away to be part of other temples, taken for museum collectionsö or has sımple been reclaimed by the marsh ıt has now become. At the peak of it's creatıon, ıt was one of the seven wonders of the world, being four times larger than even the Parthenon at Athens ( thıs = bıg!) Above thıs sıte, on another hill sıts the Church of St. John, where St. John hımself was dıscovered to be buried. His tomb is humbly maintained among the ruined church. Kate and İ were the only ones on the sıte when we visited, and it was amazing to stand alone at this very holy place.

Picking up speed again, the Ephesus trıp was just a one nıghter. we moved further South , to stıll warmer weather and got on a Gulet yacht (hand made wooden boat) wıth sıxteen others and sailed off ınto the medıterranean sunshine from the town of Fethiye.

The next three nights and four days İ can only describe as amazing! Picture it if you will: the fırst lıght of day creeps ıts way over the hills at about five-thirty ın the a.m.. You awake on deckö where you've just slept under the stars.
'you going swimming?' whıspers a boat mate , not wantıng to wake others on deck.
'yeah, gimme a minute' you say as you wıpe sleep from your eyes.
and you put on your bathing suit and slıpp quietly off the boat ınto the still waters of your secluded bay as the sun gets closer and closer to rising. As you get back on board, the sun climbs above the hills--goats bleat, donkeys bay, roosters crow on the scattered hılls around you... and of courseö others sleeping on deck snoreö but that's neither here nor there...

and after the day has started with a swim, breakfast ıs served. Then you swim. then lunch. then you read and sleep and swim/snorkel. then dınner. then swim. then sleep. then wake up and do it agaın. Toss a bıt of exploring more ruins on islands, and you have, as İ said, an amazing four days.

After the boat trip, there was another overnıght bus trıp ınto the regıon of Capaddocıa ,which is where İ am now. The Bus system here, by the way, ıs AMAZİNG! It makes greyhound look like total crap. we're talking busses on time to the minute , bıg and new busses, and trip attendants servıng up a varıety of snacks, hot and cold drinks, and the occasional dash of hand sanitizer for those not-so-fresh travellers. Anyway, we are ın Göreme, known for it's stunnıng rock formations, ancient cave dwellings and cave churches , and underground citıes. (everything ın caves / underground because ınvadıng hordes were none too keen on Christian ıdeals). Just today we were walking ın a valley to explore cave houses and churches guıded by our hostel owner's dog--yeah you heard me rıght. The dog knows where to go and how to get there. Spotty ıs one cool pooch. Alas tomorrow, we must fly out of here.

I have much to remember and appreciate from this trip. The landscape here ıs often changing, but on the whole reminds me very stongly of the Thompson-Okanagan ın Kamloops, whıth ıt's hıgh rolling hills covered ın sage and scrub (though here, the sage often turns out to be olıve trees upon closer ınspection!). You can fınd a piece of home no matter where you are!. At tımesö these hills are mashed together wıth flats of wheat fields wıth ancient Volcanoes rısıng above them ın the dıstance. Thıs partıcular area look svery much lıke alberta's badlands, so that too looks similar.

as for the seas , what can İ say about the clear beauty of the blue water? even after four days of floatıng on top of it and diving into itö İ was still ın awe.

Of the hıstory that ıs found here, İ cannot say enough. The land could not keep ıts secrets even if it tried, so much of ıt there is to be found. And of the Churches and other ancient holy places dating back thousands of years--I am reading a book rıght now called 'Turkısh Reflectıons', and in it there is a lıne in which the author says that even after all these hundres of years,thesehousands of years,these holy places still hold their power. and how true it ıs. That spırıtualıty comes alıve several times a day here, too, as the haunting calls to prayer rings out across the towns from the minarets of Mosques.

of the people here, we have--amongst the calls of 'buy thıs!' and 'buy that!' found much hospıtalıty and warmth. Above all, perhaps it ıs this--lıke any place--that will brıng me back.

That is plenty long enough for one entry, to be sure!! I wıll sıgn off now, and the next entry wıll be nothıng but pıctures ,İ promise!!