This report covers Tuesday and Wednesday, the 14 and 15th although in reverse order again, as I took hardly any pictures Tuesday, and I’m trying to put pictures and captions at the top of these reports, and just commentary at the bottom.

Wednesday, April 15, day 10

The title, Better than a Workshop, refers to the three great photo sessions today: Troy this AM, Alexandra-Troas this afternoon, and Assos this evening.

After the pretty constant rain and really long day yesterday, we got some good weather all day today and the first really good sunset of the trip.


After a museum in Canakkale Wed AM where much of the best stuff from Troy is, we went out to Troy (of The Iliad and The Odyssey); you learn about the end of the war and the Trojan Horse only in the second book.

The travel books say that the idea of being there is better than being there, but they lied! Big time!

Lots of great chances for pictures—the light was good and the recent rain had kept many tourists away. The rain cleaned the air, too, which is why shooting after a storm often proves beneficial.

And it was delightfully windy up there on that hill, where nine cities lie stacked on top of each other—Homer’s Troy is Troy VI— and I kept remembering the line from the Iliad:

Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy

And on the way out I saw this fence line with old columns along it, and up high on the fence line was a lilac tree. The first one on the trip.

And I thought that if I ever hook up with a woman again, I hope she’d like lilacs, because I plan on growing them.

The oddest thing about Troy was the souvenir stands outside the gates— the usual Turkish and Trojan stuff— all the little Trojan Horses you could ever want— but here’s the odd part.

Each of the dozen or more stands had sets of Native American bows and arrows (!!!) and a few had eagle-feather headdresses. One woman

(who I got earrings for my granddaughter from) pulled a chief’s bonnet off the roof to show us and it had a fez inside.

And they all have some souvenir African drums for sale as well.

I was lucky as a kid, but too oblivious to realize it, in that I had lots of really wonderful teachers— lots of them, but the best before college was clearly Frank Cunningham, who I had for Senior English. And we read The Odyssey, some of The Canterbury Tales, Desire Under the Elms, Oedipus Rex, etc.

And just south of Troy is the beach where the Achaeans (the Greeks) parked their ships, and I brought some zip-lock baggies, and I went down there and got some sand from that beach to bring home for Frank.


The second place for pictures was a 6 sq km Roman city called Alexandria-Troas. It was partly overgrown and only partially dug up and had great vistas everywhere.

The proprietor, Ismail, is one of the archaeologists, and showed us all over the site, explaining things mostly in either Latin or German. It worked. Better than Turkish would have. . . .

There was a huge agora, some baths, a basilica, a stadium, an odeon, temples, everything really cool.

We also hit a small town— Babakale, at the western-most point of land in Turkey— it’s mentioned in the Iliad. How’s that for cool?

Stopped at the harbor, watched guys working on their boats, and had a picnic— bread, cheese, salami, oranges, tomatoes, pickled red peppers.

Tough life.

On the way to Assos, we passed this town in the evening light.


And then as the sun started down, a couple of hours later, we were on top of an old Greek citadel called Assos, which is on a south-facing coast just across the water north of Lesvos, which, I understand, has some social implications. . . .

Tuesday, April 14, day 9

We got out pretty early this AM from Istanbul, thanks to Chetin working some more magic on the Notary Monday PM on the phone after he went to work.

I forgot to mention an interesting cultural attitude that has thrown a serious question about how really masculine the muscle car guys of Istanbul are.

I have now been in several garages where they build these great cars, and parts houses where they hang out when they aren’t rebuilding these great cars, and I need to share with you that these guys may not be the serious mechanics I thought they were at first.

I mean the cars are all great, with great paint jobs, and engines big enough to drive a battleship, but the pictures up on the wall of the garages just don’t qualify– first of all, there are the requisite pictures of other great old cars, and (the first part of the cultural value) there are calendars of the founder of Turkey, Ataturk, which is nice, but here’s the problem: there are no pictures of scantily clad cuties holding carburetor gaskets or standing in front of other custom cars, distracting serious gear-heads.

I mean, what’s the matter with these guys, anyway?

So we got up early and loaded the car, and punched the trip odometer, and headed out.

The plan was to follow Chetin’s wife, Jali (ZHAL ee) to work. She’d let us follow her to where she turned right off the freeway to go to work, and at that point we were to keep heading on the prior freeway toward Edirne.


Guess how long it took us to get lost.

Six kilometers— just over three and a half miles!

We’re no pikers. . . . .

It seems she wanted us to follow her from the first to the second freeway, then when she left it, we were to stay on it. . . .

Well, we followed the rest of the instructions from Chetin and now it’s 8:30 PM (10:30 PM Monday AM for all of you) Tuesday, and we’re between Cannakkale and Troy, which we’ll see tomorrow.

Rained most of today, pretty hard here and there, so our tour of the Anzac battlefields at Gallipoli (Gelibolu in Turkish) were pretty much curtailed, and not many pictures got taken, but we did OK.

It’s still raining pretty hard and I fear Troy may be drippy as well. Funny, I don’t remember it raining in The Odyssey or The Iliad. . . . .

I have a great friend in Portland named John, who gave me a jacket he in-grew— as he lost weight, it became too large for him. And at his 70th birthday surprise party I shared with everyone that the jacket warmed me twice. Once for the normal reason, and again because it was a gift from John.

Well, I need to tell you a little more about Chetin. He’s the guy I was going to rent the car from. He also arranged for us to stay at a pensiyone that a friend of his owned.

But when we got here, the friend wanted too much money for the pensiyone, so we just stayed at Chetin’s house. And we needed some groceries at one point, so he took us to the store and then insisted on paying.

And he realized I’m too tall to fit comfortably in the Yaris, and we had too much luggage for the Yaris, so he found another car for us and he bought the car with the money I brought over.

And when I bring it back, he’ll give me what I paid for it less about $500, so we’re all in good shape—especially me.

And his other friends (mechanics, parts guys) got involved and they were all helping, and talking me for squirrelly rides and all that, so I asked him the Turkish work for friend—and he told me it was arkada?.

But that’s only part of the answer.

The rest of the answer is that the Turkish work for friend is Chetin and Jali.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey


posts by Robert