Greetings from the ancient world! The past few days has been spent wandering through ruins so ancient that we find it difficult to wrap our minds around how very old they really are.
We chose to spend our final day in Fethiye walking through the city, enjoying the people and sites there. When we came into Fethiye on our gullet cruise we could see a castle and a huge Turkish flag on a hill above the city and knew that we would need to go and explore it before we left. We also saw some Lycian tombs that were carved into the rock walls nearby. We wandered for awhile and made it easily to the tombs. After this though we began to try to walk over to where the castle was and found it difficult to find a street to take us up to it. While we were walking we came across a older man in front of a convenience store. He asked us where we were going and when we told him, he began to guide us up a narrow street. Once we had an idea of how to climb to the castle we told him that we didn’t want to take anymore of his time. He assured us not to worry, and that he was retired and he wanted to help point tourists in the right direction since it was not easy to get around. He continued to lead us up and, in broken English, told us about the history of the sarcophaguses we were passing and other ruins as well that the neighborhood we were passing through has been integrated around. We found him to be very friendly and he insisted on taking pictures with us and us taking pictures with him. We eventually got to a place where he invited us to sit down and have a cup of apple tea. We agreed to this and sat down with him in a courtyard surrounded by vines and a beautiful view of the Med. We also noticed a pen full of goats in the middle of the courtyard. Once we sat down he continued very friendly conversation, tried to give Adam a facial massage (you should have seen how creeped out Adam was by this as this man had his hands all over his face and he is trying to get him to stop), and then when half of our tea was gone he mentioned that he was very poor, had a bad heart and wanted us to give him a tip for showing us the way to the castle. We asked him what he wanted us to pay him, and he told us that we could pay him what we wanted. He then also said that we needed to pay for the tea (it is common in Turkey for tea to be served to you without a charge). We didn’t really know how to react to this and discussed with each other that we would pay for the tea, and tip him ten lyra after he showed us the castle. When we got up to leave he told us that he was going to take us to the castle now. We walked out of the courtyard and about 30 yards down a little road and then he stopped and said, “I am too old to go any farther up to the castle, the path is on the right past the olive tree, I will take my tip now and leave you”. Adam asked him, “I thought that you were coming with us?” He explained to us again that he was too old. Adam handed him his ten lyra that we had decided to give him and then he asked for more, he wanted twenty! Adam said, “no” and we walked away.
After this experience we had a mixture of feelings, anywhere from anger to guilt. We had heard many stories about the friendliness of the Turkish people and we still believe it to be true, where people will go out of their way to help you out of the goodness of their hearts. We mostly felt worried that if someone geniunly tried to help us again, that we were going to be jaded and not let that interaction occur.
The next day we took a bus ride to Pamukkale. It rained fairly hard during the duration of the trip and most of the roads resembled the logging roads of the Pacific Northwest so this was quite the adventure. When we arrived in Pamukkale the weather had cleared up so we decided to go and visit the travertines that this place is famous for. They are very beautiful and we enjoyed being able to walk through them and then see the ancient city that was at the top. There was also a hot spring pool up at the top that was filled with all sorts of broken columns and other ancient ruins.
After leaving Pamukkale the next day we were off to Selcuk which is where the famous, ancient city of Ephasus is. This is the second best preserved Roman city next to Pompei. It also has the second largest ancient library after Alexandria. This was very interesting, but even though it rained most of the day there were Disneyland-like crowds thanks to the cruise ships that came through in masses. We also found out the reason we had been dragged in and out of handicraft shops is because the government requires tour guides to show one government sponsored shop for every two historical sites. Our tour also took us to the site of the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. There isn’t much left to see besides the outline of the foundation, but you can tell the place was huge.
We were picked up from our hotel at 9 am the next morning by our tour guide and taken to Pergamom, another ancient city. Pergamom is not as well preserved as Ephasus and many of its ruins are at a museum in Berlin (they were stolen by a German engineer in the late 1800s, during one of the first ever archaeological excavations). Pergamom also contains the Askelpion which was the largest medical center in Anatolia (the Asian side of Turkey). This evening we decided to go for a run through the city. I am pretty sure that we made quite a spectacle of ourselves, as people looked us (especially Shawn) like they had never seen such thing.
In a few hours here we will catch the day bus to Cannukale, which is a harbor city on the Agean. Then it will be back up to Istanbul tomorrow after a possible stop in Gallipoli. We are also going to be near ancient Troy, but since there is almost nothing to see there we will probably forgo this site despite it’s historical significance.