What impressed me most about Turkey was its variety. Each place was uniquely different. Ismir by the seaside felt more like Alexandria than Istanbul. Antalya felt different from both Istanbul and Ismir. And Capadoccia was something entirely different from all those places. And we hadn’t seen all of Turkey. There’s all of the North and East to explore. No wonder people return to Turkey over and over again.
Ephesus – We visited this three years ago via Princess Cruise and thousands of people had crowded the place, and we didn’t really understand our guide all that well. This time, the place was not as crowded and Yusuf gave excellent commentaries about the place: the temple of Artemis, the library (which isn’t really a library but which held the collection of some wealthy man), the whore house across the library, the agoura, and more. The amphitheater was closed this visit so I’m glad that we had seen it last time; I even had the chance to stand on the stage and imagine how St. Paul might have felt when he spoke there and angered the people so much, they drove him away.
Mary’s House – There’s been some development here since I last saw it. Now there’s a digging to unearth the ruins of the ancient church near Mary’s house. Now the vendors sell rosaries. The chapel/church where Mary’s house used to stand remains small and intimate. The nearby forest that had burned three years ago and dramatically stopped near Mary’s house is growing back. The wall with people’s petitions are still filled with the scraps of white cloth and paper, and the taps with spring water are still there. Mary is venerated by both Catholics and Muslims who call her Miriam. In a hotel restaurant a waiter looked at my pendant with Mary’s image and he said in recognition, “Miriam.”
The Ruins – We saw quite a lot of ruins, they’re starting to run together. After Troy and Ephesus, we visited the acropolis of Pergamon, which is perched up a mountain. We visited the nearby ancient hospital with dreaming rooms and a shrine to Asclepion, Greek God of medicine. We saw the Hierapolis located in the midst of white lime cascades. What stands out in my mind is the pool with the fallen temple columns and statues. There is also the theater with the intact backstage walls, and a most dramatic view of mountains in the distance. We visited Perge with the wide avenue and fountain trough down the full length of this street. Perge also has a hippodrome, used for chariot races, and a section of this was also used as an arena for bloody gladiator fights. During a rainy morning, we visited Aspendos with it’s huge amphitheater.
By the time we got to Antalya, we were ready to rest, and fortunately we spent three nights there. Time to do some laundry, sleep-in, catch our breath. We didn’t take any optional tour. We relaxed and Antalya, called the Turkish riviera, was the perfect place to do that. We stayed at the Sheraton Voyager Hotel, quite nice, near the sea, although it was up a ridge so you had the view, but didn’t have access to the seashore. We visited their marvelous museum and took the tram to their Old City. The Old City was down near the water, and it had winding streets, and tall houses with tiled roof and balconies that made me think of Moorish Spain.
And at this point, dear Readers, I must share with you my sadness that all the pictures I took in all these places I’ve been talking about are gone. My husband accidentally reformatted my camera, and the pictures are now in some picture-cemetery, forever gone. I am waiting for the kindness of my tour companions to send me their pictures, so until then, I’m making do with whatever pictures I have available. I should mention that tour companions: Estelle Schwalb, Dan Hopson and George Matula have already shared some pictures.
Originally written for TRAVELS (and more) WITH CECILIA BRAINARD