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Showing posts from April, 2014

Antalya,Turkey: In the Shadow of the Mountains

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Turkey:  A 2000-Mile Road Trip, Part 4 In the Shadow of the Mountains Our guide described Antalya as an international resort city that has become a prime destination in Turkey. It offers fantastic beaches and world-class shopping and ruins in the surrounding area . It was founded by King Attalos of Pergamum as “Heaven on Earth." It is a favorite destination for the Europeans, especially the Brits so that the Euro is the mo re common form of payment than the Turkish Lira. And for the first time , the topic of the day changed from religious to secular; our guide talked about his experience as a tour guide to a nudist group . The drive to Antalya was one of the most beautiful in Turkey. Approaching Antalya, the previously tree-covered hills turned to alternating green and bare bedrock mountains , the razor-backed ridges screened in the mist of blue that it arrived like a landscape waiting for my cam

Lost in Smyrna

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Turkey:  A 2000-Mile Road Trip, Part 3 Lost in Smyrna “Izmir or Smyrna is very much like San Francisco, California,” our guide announced as we approached Izmir. Still reeling from a long ride and talk about politics, I thought that he was making a comparison in the context of politics, that being of a liberal city. The obvious similarity in topography did not register immediately until we arrived in the city where I saw homes and buildings on the hillsides, ships and an expanse of sea. Izmir is hilly and bounded by shoreline (forty miles of shoreline, according to our guide). I was excited when our guide mentioned that the boardwalk and pathways are within easy access from our hotel. I wanted to go for a long walk after sitting on the bus for hours. After settling into my hotel, I headed down for a long walk. Two blocks later, I passed an elegant and charming cafĂ© called Mado. Seduced by the display of ice cream, macaroons and pastries, I went inside and ordered ice cream. S

The Road to Pergamum

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Turkey:  A 2000-Mile Road Trip, Part 2 The Road to Pergamum As we drove into Izmir, the talk about religion, politics, history and the Greek connection continued. The concept of intermixing religion, history and mythology early in the morning was hard to wrap in my mind: History was my least favorite subject in school; Reading the Bible put me to sleep; I read the poetry of Rumi in passing; I read the “Iliad” and “The Odyssey” in my sophomore years because I had to. So the road to Pergamum was long, so to speak. However, the retelling of history was important to our guide in order to introduce the next highlight of the trip. We were driving on a stretch of farmlands, the color of olive green. There hardly was a sign of commerce (shop for tourists) found on the road. Part of the day’s schedule was to stop at a local village for lunch. The landscape felt so secluded and quiet as we neared the village. Our group was broken into a group of four to join a local family for lunch

The Road to the City of Troy

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Turkey:  A 2000-Mile Road Trip, Part 1 The Road to the City of Troy A few minutes after crossing the bridge, we entered another continent: Asia, but we were still in the city of Istanbul. We then descended slowly through the layers of smog that enshroud the city, a site common to a sprawling and crowded metropolis. I noticed lines and stacks of apartment buildings. My tour mates noticed it too, but before we could ask a question or make any comments, our tour-guide was quick to comment, “They’re apartment homes or what you call condos, there are no yards or gardens. We don’t build single homes here.” He then made a snide remark, “Turkey's contribution to modern day architecture.” I guessed the beautifully manicured gardens on the side of the road and road dividers carpeted with flowers, mostly tulips, compensate for the absence of yard and gardens in a residential area. As our bus made its way outside the city , our tour guide started talking about religion and