Trip Start May 24, 2008
Trip End Jul 26, 2008

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Flag of Turkey  , Izmir,
Sunday, June 1, 2008

The bus trip from Istanbul to Bergama was surprisingly uneventful.  While traveling outside of your norm, you really are never sure what public transportation will be like and after some of our past experiences we figure anything is possible.  Weren't we surprised when we realized that our bus from Istanbul to Bergama would be a very nice Mercedes-Benz, air-conditioned coach?

We took our very comfortable seats and awaited our departure - which occurred right on time.  There were three, yes THREE, staff members on the bus.  One driver, another who I deemed the drive attendant, and yet another whom I gave the title of bus engineer.  The driver drove.  The drive attendant was wearing a crisp white shirt and, I'm not kidding, a bow tie.  He provided service during the ride.  The bus engineer wore a neat blue shirt and tie.  He jumped off to load and unload luggage, kept the bus clean of any garbage that should meet the floor, and wiped down your seat tray after each drink service.  No less than 7 times during our trip did the bow-tied gentleman serve us our choice of hot tea, coffee, or orange soda while en route.  Twice we were offered small cakes.  Many times during the trip water was offered.  Numerous times they would offer a refreshing splash of lemon water which they sprinkle into your hands.  You rub you hands together, take a big whiff to get the sinuses working, and dab it wherever you feel necessary to help freshen up.  We're talking real service here folks!  It sure made the 12 hour bus trip comfortable.  Greyhound back home in the U.S. should be ashamed of themselves!

From Istanbul, we took the highway to the west around the Sea of Marmara and then officially crossed from Europe into Asia at Canakkale during a short half-hour ferry ride.  The scenery was quite nice during the remainder of the ride.  We began to see a slightly arid look as the Mediterranean crept towards us, groves of olive trees became dominant features, and several of the Greek Isles could be seen just off the coast.  A few more hours of skirting the Aegean Sea out the right side of the bus and we arrived in Bergama.

Bergama was a welcome change from the hectic big city that is Istanbul.  Once one of the Middle East's richest and most powerful small kingdoms, Bergama is now a very relaxed city of about 60,000 people.   We stayed in a wonderful guesthouse with a wonderful owner and spent our 2 days there visiting Roman ruins.  We were especially impressed with the acropolis which sits high on the hill above the city.  Walking amongst the ruins and imagining what life must have been like during the ancient times of the Roman empire was a wonderful way to spend the day.  The lack of tourist hordes made it all the better.

This is the dry season in this region of Turkey and we are having wonderful weather.  Blue, sunny days with not a drop of rain.  Who can complain?  From here we make a quick hop south to the city of Selcuk where we pick up the ruins where we left off.  We will be visiting the ancient city of Ephesus and we'll be sure to share our experiences with you.

Enjoy the pictures - don't forget to enlarge them to get the full story!

Until next time...
Jon and Liz
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