I mentioned to our tour guide, Daghan, that I was blogging about this trip, and he asked for the URL. So, in case he does end up reading it, here is my shout-out to him. This means, of course, that I can’t say anything bad about him.
At least, not until I’m back in Canada, else he might “forget” me at a stop. Which would be a shame.
Our tour guide is awesome.
The best available.
Seriously, though, he is good; trust me *cheshire cat smile*.
Also, I need to make sure I triple-check my facts, as I don’t want him to think I’m not listening. Because I am; I’m just really, really spacey.
Today has been really quite cool. We left the “best….available” hotel and started our journey to the Temple of Aphrodite at Aphrodisias . On the way, we passed through the town where my great grandmother and grandfather are buried. Bashara (must double check the spelling; that is phonetic). This area, if I haven’t mentioned, is where my Grandfather’s family is from. As I type, we are driving through it.
It is strange to think that these are the hills my grandfather knew as a child. He and I were very close, and I wish he had been alive now to be here with me in person; to tell me all about growing up here, rather than hearing it second-hand from my grandmother. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate her muchly, and I like listening to stories about Turkey, but he would have had a very different perspective on it, I’m sure.
It has been almost six years, and I still miss him.
It’s not a hurting miss, because I know he was in a lot of pain before he died, but still there are days where I wish he were still around. I imagine this is only natural.
Anyways, so we are driving through his area now. It is very mountainous, with greenery all over. A lot of it is farms; olives, figs, cotton.
I cannot begin to capture the beauty of this place with a camera. I tried, for your sake, dear readers, but I assure you, the best way to see it, is to come here.
Next time I come back, I will stop here. Today, we are just driving through.
During his time at University in Istanbul, my grandfather would come work the farm here.
These ruins have mostly been reconstructed by archeologists from NYU, as a few decades ago (I swear I was listening, Daghan, I just have no memory for dates, which is why I went into English and Religion rather than History!) a photographer was wandering the area and got lost. He found the ruins, and sent photos of them to a friend of his in the archeology department at NYU. They have been rebuilding and excavating ever since.
They’ve found quite a few things. The first we encountered was a giant entry way into the temple. It isn’t part of the temple, per se, but a giant thing built to essentially make you impressed with the stonework and marble work of the area; advertising, Daghan suggested, for all the wonderful things the masons could do. Carved into the stone also was the original cross – I will double check the name later – that is basically eight isosceles triangles all meeting in the middle. It is hiding the word “fish” in Greek. The primitive ones were used to tell other early Christians that there were others there, and they could be safe.
Following this, we visited the stadium which could seat 30,000 spectators. It used to be a place to see javelin, running, wrestling, animal fighting, and etcetera. There may or may not have been chariot races. It is not quite wide enough for the races, though they might have gone from one end to the other. After a giant earthquake, rather than rebuild the whole thing, they converted it into a theatre by basically building a wall half way through.
It was interesting, also, because the land inside the stadium was about 2m higher than it was originally, as each society, after earthquakes and whathaveyou, would fill in the ruins and build another city.
After the stadium, we visited the temple to Aphrodite, which was quite cool. It was easy to see how grand it would have been before it was destroyed. You could see the alter where animal sacrifice would take place, and the carvings of the old cross and it’s evolution from the simple triangles to the more ornate four-point cross, and how it would have evolved from that into the modern cross. We also saw an example of the original use of the swastika, which was interesting, given its cultural history.
We then visited the agora – which seated 1700 – where the important people would all have gotten together to discuss important matters. You could still see the lion paws on the seats, denoting important people. Half of it still has not been rebuilt, and you can see where there should be another level, and how they would have put shades up above using poles stuck into the stairs/seats.
Part of the group returned to the museum, and a few of us wandered to the agora and Roman baths a few minutes away. I can’t remember the exact number – 7000? – that it could hold. This one they’re still in the process of rebuilding. You can see the outline of the baths, though, and half the theatre has been rebuilt. The backdrop is partly done, as well, and the stage.
Aside: Some fun facts about Turkey:
Daghan has returned to question time – everyone wrote down questions and he is answering them during long trips. He is currently talking about health care and retirement. It is rather unequal. Fun fact: life expectancy is 71 for men, 73 for women, and yet women can retire at 55 and men at 60; women also get health care until marriage, and men only though university and military service. And after that, it is necessary to be insured either through work or buy through the government.
Also, you must vote after 18, or be fined 90 Lyra, and after 25 you can be voted in.
Also, apparently gay rights is a non issue (that is, they don’t really discuss it), and abortion is mostly illegal. That is, they can get abortions if the pregnancy can be terminated only the first six weeks, and only if it is hazardous to a woman’s health.
Said Sulyman the Magnificent: while taking my body to the grave, leave my hand out of the coffin to show that even I, the great Sulyman the Magnificent, bring nothing to my grave.
Also, apparently they are very open to organ donation, but if the family hotly objects, they will override it. The theory in Islam is that nothing should be wasted, including organs. Turns out they have successfully transplanted faces and almost did 2 legs and an arm, but unfortunately the person didn’t make it.
I wonder if he realizes I’m pretty much transcribing what it is he is saying at the moment.
The tax structure is interesting; it is anywhere from one percent on bread, to 25% for technology. They also tax the tax on cell phones, which is really rather funny.
We are driving through Ayden at the moment. My grandmother has told me about this place. It is famous for figs. We are also close to Bodrum, where my cousin is.
Back to the day: so, after the theatre, we stopped at the Sebasteion, which is a place dedicated to worshiping the Roman Emperors as Gods. A lot of the statues seen in the museum came from here. It is very grand, and once you visit the museum, it seems even more grand, as it would be utterly covered in beautifully carved statues.
It is no wonder the people worshiped.
Here is a fact I have learned before but I still find interesting as a religion student: one of the reasons the early civilizations did not want to convert to Christianity was that the switch would mean they would not longer be able to sell idols or have people come through to visit the temples. Essentially, it was economic.
If you’re interested in this topic, I suggest looking into the history of the Kaaba – that is, the big box that is part of the pilgrimage to Mecca. It’s history is rather fascinating as well.
After this, I wanders the exhibit which had photos of the ruins before and during its reconstruction, and walked through the museum which had all the friezes from all over the site. Absolutely spectacular what they could do with stone. I mean, amazing. The detail and artistry that went into every single piece is amazing.
Following our adventure here, we made our way to our lunch stop, which had the prettiest bathrooms I have ever seen. Honest, there were vines and plants growing in the middle, with an open roof and beaded doorways and ceramic faces to denote man or woman.
I’m still getting my appetite back, so I had stuffed pepper with rice, and fresh pita bread (mmmmm), and my grandmother gave me one of her cheese sticks. Even had a coke, which I haven’t in a while. From a glass bottle, no less! There was a gentleman playing a guitar-type instrument and a parrot just chilin’ on the neck, which was cute. It was very pretty.
We have been driving since then, with one short stop where I had an orange iced lolly and another few people mistook me for being Turkish, according to my grandma. I know a few have, since there have been a good number of peoplpe that talk to me in Turkish and look surprised when I respond, “Sorry… English?”
I am determined for my next trip here, I will learn a little Turkish. Daghan has taught us good morning (günaydin), how are you (nasilsiniz) and good (iyi). As an aside, the spelling of those is as close as I could get with the iPad keyboard. In the first two, the i’s are not supposed to have dots.
We are en route to the hotel now. Supposedly it is lovely; right by the sea. Since I am feeling mostly better, I might take a swim. Today has been fairly easy. The problem with these driving tours is that there’s a lot to cover in such a short time. I mean, it is great looking at scenery, but for someone my age, who runs around a lot in her usual day to day life, this is a lot of sitting. I am finding myself getting overly tired from sitting so much.
Oh, the irony.