Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Traveling and Touring in Turkey

On Saturday we docked at Kusadasi, Turkey, and boarded our buses with Tuba, our lovely Turkish guide to see the ruins of Ephesus, the Agora, the Library of Celsus and the Great theatre. We didn't know much about Turkey, but everyone on the tour was pleasantly surprised. Many Europeans have purchased vacation homes in Kusadasi. Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kernal Ataturk and became a secular state in 1928. There have been bumps in the road, but civilian rule was restored to Turkey in 1983. We were there right before elections, and with a multi-party system (eleven?) there were signs and faces everywhere. Biblical peoples for this area were the ancient Hittites, Phyrygians, Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, Romans and Arabs. In the 11th century, the Turks from Central Asia set themselves in place as rulers. 99% of the population is Muslim (mostly Sunni) with a population of over 62 million; 0.1% are Christians.

The newer architecture in Turkey is quite colorful, unlike that in Israel or Cairo. Sometimes the different units in the same buildings were painted (or parged) in different colors.

Kusadasi is a holiday resort with lots of large hotels and beaches.

Here's and old and new contrast--the camel ride next to our buses. I'm not sure where this guy is stabled. The Turkish and Israeli hawkers, hustlers and sellers (10 post cards one dolla; bok one dolla) were mild compared to Cairo's--a story I'll tell you later.

All of our tours seemed to have obligatory "approved" shopping stops, and someone gets a percentage of sales, I'm sure. This one was at a rug dealer in Kusadasi who had a very interesting demonstration on how oriental rugs are made. We passed up the $1500 rugs and $4,000 diamond rings in Jerusalem and waited for Egypt to buy $15 cotton t-shirts with names embroidered in hieroglyphics.

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