15.05.2011 - 15.05.2011 20 °C
Imagine being able to travel the same route that Marco Polo took to bring his spices and wares from Asia to Europe. That was our experience today. I am not sure how many took the time to reflect on the significance of the route we followed today. The Silk Road opened up trade routes between the two continents and here we are in Turkey at the connecting point of this famous route.
This was a very long travel day today taking us from central Turkey back to our starting point of Istanbul. We are about an hour away from Istanbul and have been on the bus for 9 hours already. While it seems like it took us a long time I can only wonder what Marco Polo endured. (As an aside, we hit Sunday Istanbul traffic which added a further 90 minutes.
The landscapes that we travelled through were very spectacular and sometimes very simple. With mountains on both sides of us for most of the trip we also saw small villages and lots of very fertile agriculture. We have just now come upon the Marmar Sea only this time on the other side (last week we traveled to Troy on the north side of the Sea).
It has been a good day for everyone to relax, read and, for many, sleep. We have had a busy week and it is hard to believe that with just two days left of our trip that we will be home soon. For those of you with loved ones on this trip I hope you will ask them how it felt exploring civilizations dating back 4000 years. We have certainly been filled with so many incredibly interesting history lessons this week. What an opportunity.
We had a rest stop this morning at Tuzgolu, Turkey’s largest lake which covers 1500 square kilometers and also happens to be a salt lake. Many waded in the water and came out with a nice salty look to their legs. The lake is the 14th largest in the world and supplies Turkey with over 65% of its’ salt demands.
Our only excitement today was at the last rest stop where a group of rowdy soccer fans (all male) got off their bus as we were getting on ours! Thankfully we were mostly on the bus when they arrived. They are enroute to Istanbul for a big soccer game tonight. The young men were pretty excited to see our bus of mostly young ladies. Pictures were taken by both groups. You can only imagine the stir we caused!
We have a free day in Istanbul tomorrow. Most are headed to the water, specifically a cruise on the Bosphorus and a trip to the Spice Market. The sun is shining and it already feels warmer which will be a first for this trip. I am sure there are some who will be headed to the Grand Bazaar for some pre shopping in anticipation of our last tour on Tuesday to Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. I already know we will be coming home with more luggage than we left with, even before that trip to the bazaars!
P.S. – check out yesterday’s blog again as I posted some more photos from our day in Cappadocia