Club 'Med'

Trip Start Feb 26, 2006
Trip End Nov 28, 2006

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

From Istanbul we headed south along the coast towards the Mediterranean Sea to work on our tans (although some people at home think we're dark enough!). On the way, we passed through some famous sites, including the ancient city of Troy. Troy is little more than a hole in the ground these days, so instead we made a visit to the nearby town of Canakkale to see the original Trojan horse....that was used in the filming of "Troy" the movie (you know - the one with Brad Pitt!). Apparently, the town spent $1 Million U.S. to purchase the horse. While there, we felt like movie stars ourselves when we were asked by locals to pose with them for photographs. I guess they don't see many foreigners (or Chinese?) here, so we must have been a novelty! It was a little weird, but I guess it's no weirder than all the photos we've been taking of locals.

One of the most famous sites in Turkey is the Roman ruins at Ephesus, an old trading port dating back to 3 BC that was once the most important city in the Roman empire, with a population of 50,000 people. The ruins there have been very well preserved and restored, and the site is massive. It was amazing to see the scale of the many Roman buildings, with the highlight being the enormous amphitheatre seating up to 25,000 people. Other interesting sights at Ephesus:
- The communal public toilets: arranged so you sit shoulder to shoulder. Worried about the cold stone on your backside? No problem, the room was heated from the warm water runoff from the bathhouse!
- The brothel: located opposite the library. It was said that there was a secret tunnel from the library to the brothel...boy, were those Romans clever!

We also made a stop at Pamukkale to see the calcified falls and relax in the thermal waters. The whole side of the mountain looks like it's covered in snow, but actually, the water here is rich in Calcium Carbonate which has caused calcium deposits to form on the mountain over the last 40,000 years. The area was used during Roman times as a spa resort when it was thought that the springs and calcium mud had healing powers. We weren't so sure, but we gave it a try anyways.

When we made it to the Mediterranean, it was well worth it. We took a sailing excursion for a couple of days and spent our time sunbathing on the deck, playing backgammon, swimming and snorkeling off the boat at a few points along the coast. At night we were gently rocked to sleep by the gentle bobbing of the yacht. We could have definitely spent more time here!

Making our way southeast, we stopped to check out 'Chimaera' at the city of Olympos. According to Greek mythology, the Lycian hero Bellapheron and his winged horse Pegasus slay the Chimaera (a fire breathing part-lion, part-goat, part-snake) on the slopes of Mount Olympos. Today, gas seeps from the mountain which causes a cluster of flames to burn spontaneously through the crevices, and this is said to be the breath of Chimaera. Cool!

It's goodbye to the beach and hello to the mountains as we make the long trip to central and eastern Turkey. We're a little sad because we know we won't see the ocean again until we reach of the many things to look forward to!

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