Friday, October 07, 2005

A Turkish Odyssey

Dear Friends,

While I am still working on an article about our 11 days in Turkey, here are six photo albums for your enjoyment.

You will find them listed at the very top of this home page. We toured Istanbul (both ancient and modern), Cappadocia (central Turkey), Pamukkale (southwestern Turkey) and Ephesus (western Turkey). If you are really pressed for time, check out the one called "The best of Turkey."

For the shutter bugs, I used a Pentax digital SLR with two different lenses (a wide angle zoom lens and a telephoto zoom lens) to take the shots. All together, I took 700+ pictures. The six albums contain about 30 percent of the exposures.

The place is incredibly photo genic, as you will see. The Turks are very friendly with the cutest round-faced children I have ever seen. We found great weather where ever we went. The language posed a challenge because the otherwise English-looking alphabets are often pronounced differently (thank Ataturk for that). I have had an easier time in Saudi Arabia with Arabic than I did in Turkey with Turkish. We could understand about 5 to 10 percent of the words, since they have found their way into Urdu (which of course is a Turkish word; there is also a town by that name on the Black Sea, spelled Ordu).

And, as for the food, it was not so great, at least for our Pakistani palate. Even the sea food was a bit of disappointment, since the fish would appear with their heads, tails and bones all intact on the plate. There was an extra charge for getting rid of all that baggage.

Just about all of us had (minor) tummy upsets throughout the trip and that made me wonder about the integrity of their food supply system. After all, it is a relatively poor country by European standards.

The country is neither Middle Eastern nor European but a unique hybrid. The mosques in Istanbul issue the call for prayer (azan) five times a day but are mostly empty, frequented more by tourists than worshippers. The sole exception was the Mosque of Fatih (Mehmed II, the Conqueror of Constantinople, 1453). That whole area around Fatih struck me as being quite religous and a shop keeper near the Hagia Sophia confirmed that.

The place is expensive, even according to American standards. We found a few good deals on trinkets (and they have loads of things to sell) but not much else. Touring in Turkey is an expensive (but very rewarding) proposition. You literally feel like you walking on land where history was made. If you listen carefully, you can hear the footsteps of the Hittites, Romans, Greeks, early Christians, Byzantines, early Arabs and the Seljuks. If you don't listen carefully, you can still see their monuments.

I can't wait to go back there to see the places we missed, such as Konya and Troy and Bodrum and Van (near the Iranian border) and Mount Ararat and Numrood and the House of Virgin Mary (near Ephesus). You can only do so much in one trip.



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