A Travellerspoint blog

Icky Birra Lutfen....

Two beer please - our language lesson for the day!

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Today we had a lot of time on the bus, en route to Cappadocia. Our guide, Omer (pronounced Umur) decided that we needed a serious lesson in the Turkish language. Being the eager students we are, we listened intently and tried to wrap our tongues around this challenging language.

For those Turkish language experts - my apologies if I make a few typos. Turkish has 8 vowels including those with double dots which my computer is incapable of producing. Here are a few of the words we have mastered:
Merhaba – hello
Te Shekur – thank you
Navar – a friendly version like ‘what’s up’
Numbers: Bir is one, icky is two (so I guess when ordering one beer it would be bir birra)
Evet – yes and Hayir – no (useful when you don’t want to buy from the ever present vendors)
Gooli Gooli is a favorite way to say goodbye but only if the other person is leaving. The person leaving says Hor Shekur (Masoud – if you are reading this I apologize)

Students in Turkey begin to learn basic English in Grade 4. We have encountered many large groups of students at the museums and attractions. We are always greeted with great smiles and lots of hellos! The kids are so cute, loud and enthusiastic but very cute!

So a little more about rest stops and bathrooms. Rest stops are multi service facilities. The one this morning offered services to wash the bus – yes, in 15 minutes our bus is sparkling clean. You see coaches washed at almost every rest stop. The bathroom facilities (a necessity after 2 ½ hours on the bus) are very clean and often have attendants there to help. Travellers should always have .50 Lira to 1 lira in their pocket to pay the attendant (the cost is 30 to 60 cents). One rest stop we encountered had two imposing Turkish women working – they admired my pedicure first, then the next pedicure and the next. You didn’t have to speak Turkish to know that is what they were talking about. None of the students (or instructors) have braved the ‘squatting toilets’ that are always an option at the rest stops.

Also at the rest stop is a café offering fresh squeezed orange juice for about $2.50 and tea for about 60 cents. Today the hot tea was especially wonderful as it is very cold here, raining and foggy. We are climbing up the mountains, passing many small towns along the way. We are hopeful for a break in the weather soon. The planned hot air balloon trip is in jeopardy if the weather does not improve. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Our guide assures us we will be at the hotel at 7:43 PM. It is now 6 PM so for today’s update. Our first stop today was in Konya, a city of 1 million people. I would have loved to spend some more time here. Another SAIT study tour of Architect Technology students were here for most of their stay in Turkey (they just left – we missed them by days). It will be fun to compare notes when we get back to work.

The stop today was at the Mevlana Museum, the home of the Whirling Dervishes. The ancient mosque is now the museum. After donning little booties for our shoes (no head scarves required) we entered a small but beautifully decorated mosque. It took 1008 days to become a dervish, with many repetitive tasks assigned in those 1008 days. Many of the dervishes are buried in the mosque, all with elaborate dervish hats. The most elaborate was Mevlana’s tomb. In addition, we viewed Korans from the 11th and 12th Century. What a master craftsman to be able to decorate and write the intricate symbols of these holy books. When Mevlana died the dervishes built a gorgeous minaret made of brilliant green tiles. It is said that when he died they folded his beard fourty time and it is now housed in a glass case that is said to give off a lovely scent. Visitors can have a smell through the case.

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After another long drive we made a ‘pit stop’ at the Sultanhani Caravanserais. Each Caravansei was built the distance a camel could travel in a day – 9 hours and 40 kilometers. And just like those camels we arrived - it took us ten hours but we covered a much longer distance that those camels! This particular caravansei has withstood earthquakes over the past 7 centuries due to its engineering. It even had a haman, (Turkish bath) one for men and one for women. Being built way back though means it was pretty sparse for a Turkish bath.

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On to Cappadocia. It has poured rain most of the trip. The clouds are trying to disappear. We passed a dormant volcano and came over the edge to get our first look at Cappadocia. At first glance it looks like a drive into Drumheller.

As promised we arrive four minutes early to our unique hotel set on the side of the hill. We are still keeping our fingers crossed for good weather for the hot air balloon trip tomorrow morning. Our wake up call is 4:30 AM. Good night!

Posted by jonaway 21:55 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Ephesus the Great!

And bartering with the locals.....

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Sorry for the delay in posting the blog today. I know you are anxious to hear about our next adventure. We spent the whole day touring with little time to write so we tried to get a bit done before dinner. Then it was off to the thermal pool and to bed….more about the thermal pools later.

While we may have started out slow as far as shopping, things heated up a bit today – shopping wise anyway. We are getting bolder with our bartering skills. I think that by knowing what other pay for something helps you with a starting point. There are opportunities to buy at each place we stop, including our lunch restaurants.

And what do you think our intrepid travelers have purchased so far? Let me tell you!

Pashmina scarves seem to be the most popular item. The scarves come in varying degrees of quality and, hence, the differences in prices. The evil eye is the protection against evil so you see the evil eye on everything; pendants, shot glasses, beads and even a Pandora bracelet charm or two. We are all very well protected.

Some have chosen to buy the harem pants and tops – they truly look like they fit it. No-one has ventured in to the purchase of a scant belly dancing outfit, just yet but Sue was eying one today! We all think that would be a great (if not chilly) Halloween costume! Some of the other items purchased are Apple and Pomegranate tea sets, glass clocks and leather jackets.

We are starting to see who the best barterers are and those that aren’t are seeking out those that can! The funny thing is that if you pay too much they feel obligated to offer you something else, followed by more bartering and then you come away with more than you want but at the price you should have paid at the start.

Enough about our purchases! We headed to the House of the Virgin Mary located high on a hilltop, close to Ephesus. This is a shrine to both Christians and Muslims. We learned that the Muslims have a very strong belief in Jesus and the Virgin Mary. It is thought that she lived into her 90s in this house.

On to Ephesus. The sun tried desperately to shine when we arrived. And what a site this was to see. It is hard to describe everything that we took in today. Ephesus is thought to be one of the three largest and finest settlements, dating back to 3000 B.C. How do you describe something that is that old? We wandered down through Hadrian’s Gate, the Terraced Houses with mosaics and fresco still intact, Roman Baths, Gymnasium, the Bolereum (the Roman version of the outhouse where the slaves sat before to warm up the marble), the Celsus Library, the Brothel and the Amphitheater holding 30,000 people.

The Celsus Library is the ‘showcase’ of Ephesus, standing three stories and in ancient times holding 12,000 books. In addition, the four niches contain the statues of the four virtues; Wisdom, Valour, Intelligence and Knowledge. Unfortunately, two are without their heads! Each arch contains intricate carvings, lettering and designs. I wish I could articulate the intricacies of what we saw. It is hard to believe that these civilizations were able to create such masterpieces with virtually no tools.

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And then it was back on to the bus – and it RAINED, and RAINED. We arrived in Pamukkale and the rain stopped just in time to visit our next set of ruins, Hieropolis. A nice steep hike brought us to the top of the amphitheater where we had a beautiful view. This is an amphitheater that is most intact.

A walk down the hill and we were at Pamukkale, best described as a white castle formed over the side of a hillside. If you were looking at it from the road you might think you were looking at a Banff Park Glacier. However, the white formations called Travertines are calcium deposits that form into thermal pools that are layered on the hillside. We all took off our shoes and ventured into the pools. The water is constantly being supplied by the underground pools of water. Many climbed quite far down the hillside. There was only one unfortunate spill landing Sue in a trench of warm water!
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We checked into the hotel late (around 7:30 PM), had a quick bite to eat and then headed to the thermal pools at the hotel. Boy was it hot!!! We all felt great after getting out….quite therapeutic!

Off to our 10 hour drive today. Hope to post later tonight….Internet willing!

Posted by jonaway 20:58 Archived in Turkey Comments (2)

Snacks on the Bus

Enroute to Kuradasi....

Merhaba to all of you. The group was pretty tired yesterday. We are not sure if that was due to the lack of coffee being served in the hotel or jet lag. At our hotel this morning we were greeted with COFFEE. Yes, regular, ordinary, out of the coffee urn type coffee. This was greeted with much glee by most of the group. We seem to have more energy – it must be the coffee.

Today I would like to tell you about the food of Turkey.

First, let’s talk about snacks. For the past two days we have been travelling by coach from Istanbul enroute to Kusadasi. We have had long times on the coach, however we do stop frequently for bathroom breaks and this often is followed with the ritual of buying snacks. Buying snacks in a foreign country becomes an adventure with everyone trying different things, sharing and, usually convincing others to buy what they have bought. For example, on yesterday’s first stop we had an array of chips to choose from. Yes, there was the Pringles – always a safe bet but in Turkey the flavor is Hot and Spicy Paprika. The local brand, Cispo, is a tasty little treat – almost like Lays. The favorite flavor so far is Ege Lezzeti. As best we can tell it is a garden herb/tzatiski flavor.

We also discovered chocolate bars – bitter chocolate (dark), milk chocolate with pistachios and chocolate biscuits. And, then there is the local version of Drumsticks – filled with an intense raspberry filling and mini chocolate chips. Personally, it was the best Drumstick I have ever had. Others opted for the caffeine in a can, Nescafe Xpress Iced coffee. Yummy!

We also had one of our best meal so far at a small, roadside restaurant for our lunch today. A tasty salad dressed with local olive oil and pomegranate vinegar was followed with lamb or chicken kebabs, spicy meatball kebabs or the Turkish version of pizza. The dessert was interesting – some type of lemon and saffron pudding made with seminola (like couscous).

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So, a little more about our day. We travelled from Canakkle this morning, on a 3 ½ hour drive to Pergamum to see the ancient Acropolis. What a beautiful, scenic drive. We had the Aegean Sea on the right and acres and acres of olive trees, seemingly growing wild. I thought Spain had the market on olive trees but Turkey could rival them. Arriving at the base of the Acropolis (meaning upper city) gave us a small picture of what was in store – a cable car ride to the top. This came as a surprise to some but the group rallied to make sure everyone, including those that don’t like cable cars, got to the top. Oh, how it was worth it. This ancient ruin dates back to 300 B.C. and had ties to Alexandra the Great. Most of the was discovered by a German in the 18th century. When he uncovered the Altar of Zeus’s he promptly moved most of the structure to a museum in Berlin. In place of the ruins he planted a tree – hardly a fair trade.

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The amphitheatre at this Acropolis is the steepest of all amphitheatres in Greece. Holy s$%t is it steep!!!!! Built in the 3rd century B.C. it has 80 rows of seats and accommodated 10,000 people. After climbing down an ancient tunnel you arrive at the top of the theater and look down, and down, and down. There IS NO Some of the group climbed to the very bottom of the theater and then back up again. Check out the photos.
From the Acropolis we travelled down the road to one of the seven ancient churches of the Book of Revelations, Serapis also known as the Red Basillica. All of these seven churches are still standing and, according to the Book of Revelations, they will remain standing until Judgement Day. All seven churches are located in this area of Turkey.

We are currently on the bus travelling to Kusadasi, our overnight stop. Tomorrow it is on to Ephesus and more history lessons.
I would like to share some interesting information on the growth of tourism in Turkey. While we have ran into many tour groups I am sure that in the summer all sites must be overflowing with tourists. Just 20 years ago there were only 50,000 tourists from around the world that visited Turkey. Should a Canadian couple be interested in visiting, say, Cappadocia the mayor of the city would make an announcement that 2 visitors were coming to tour. He would ask for a volunteer to ‘host’ the visitors in their own home. In a short 20 years and through a strong marketing plans and plan for growth, tourism has become a huge part of the Turkey economy, now welcoming over 18 million visitors!

And for the last tidbit today – the best sales line of the day and the reason we all paid more for our Pashmina scarves, “But lady I can’t give you the same deal I gave that nice young girl. Because I sold one to her for 16 Turkish Lira I have to charge you 25 Turkish Lira. I need to make some money. I didn’t make any money off of her today so you have to pay me 25 so I can make some money.” Thanks a lot Amber – we are glad you got a deal though! And it is a beautiful scarf. Oh well, there is always the Grand Bazaar!

Thanks for your comments – we hope you are enjoying hearing about our trip.

Posted by jonaway 11:52 Comments (3)

Goodbye Europe.....Hello Asia

If this is Tuesday it must be Troy.......

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Two posts in one day! Aren't you lucky today. First let me say that for everyone reading this blog, we would love for you to send us your comments. We are happy to pass them along to any of your loved ones, although most of them seem to be connected to home in some way.

We left Istanbul early today, after loading our luggage into one small van and carrying the rest of our luggage to a nearby gas station. It is impossible to load a coach on the main tram line. I know we were a sight for all the Turkish men lined up in the employment line.

We travelled the north coast of the Mermer Sea to our first stop lunch. After the usual salad, lentil soup,
chicken kebabs and makarel we were off to the first sightseeing stop - Gallipoli. This World War battle lasted for two years, ending in 1916. There was 170,000 casualties in total, Turks and Allies. The battle has significant importance to the Aussies and Kiwis, which return each Anzac Day to remember those lost. Our stop was at the Turkish memorial sight which, as you might expect, is spectacular. We felt it was odd that the only remembrance was that of Turks until we learned that there are multiple cemeteries and commemorations around the peninsula.
IMG_5839.jpg Please take some time to read the moving words from Atuturk, the leader of the Gallipoli conflict.

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On to the Ferry to take us to Asia.....just like that. 15 minutes on the ferry, across the Dardenalle Strait and we found ourselves in the Asia part of Turkey. It was getting late so we headed directly for Troy, home to ruins dating back to 3,500 B.C. (and even earlier in some cases). Most of the area has been excavated, although most was damaged through multiple earthquakes.

On the same site was a model of the famous Trojan horse which our travellers climb to the top of for a photo op. I will have to post the photos of this tomorrow. The computer is acting up and we need to get some sleep. Hope you enjoyed a snippet of our trip. Please send us your comments.

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I tried to upload a group shot so you could see your loved ones, however the file is too big. Sorry about that. Hope you enjoy the pictures and. lastly, our sunset at the hotel tonight!IMG_5923.jpg

Posted by jonaway 12:11 Archived in Turkey Comments (6)

And now a word from our intrepid travellers........

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So for our blog post today we thought we would do something a little different. We have been in Turkey for two days now and we have all formed some opinions and feelings about what we are seeing and learning about the country. We are on a four hour bus trip and we are circulating the computer around to all of the travelers, asking for their thoughts and opinions about Turkey.

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Here is what they have to say:

• Turkey is great for self esteem. The men are great at flattery here. If you want to feel good about yourself come to Turkey! As I walked around I found I was being complimented left right and centre. Some of the compliments consisted of, “You are so beautiful.”; “You are Turkish no? I think you are Turkish you look like a Turkish Princess! You have the face of a beautiful Turkish woman.”; “How is it that you are so beautiful and kind?”; and the list goes on. The men don’t actually care about what you want or where you are going, they just want you to sit at their restaurant so all the male staff can come out and stare at you. They will offer you free tea just to get you to stay. Then if you bring friends back, they give you free drinks and only charge you for anything else you order. The key to this success has nothing to do with your physical looks but how you carry yourself. Be friendly, listen to what they have say, answer their questions and you won’t have to pay for a single drink. Oh, and if you’re really lucky… you might get a proposal. ;D

• So far during this trip, my eyes have been opened to many new experiences that have been hidden throughout my life. I personally found the city amazing and breath taking. Compared to other places that I have been to in the world, this so far is better.

• Turkey so far has been a very intriguing and busy place. So much action going on in the streets at all hours. We even saw a Soccer game at 12:30 am. Lots of historical places to visit. Had such a fun night at the restaurant just across the street from our QINN HOTEL. The charismatic owner Adem was so good at “customer service” and bringing people in off the street to eat at his restaurant, I think Jona is going to hire him as a guest speaker for her next Sales class. Right, Jona? lol :) D

• Turkey is an exceptionally clean country from what I have seen so far. I was out this morning at about 6:15 am and there were 4 people in front of our hotel sweeping the streets with their little brooms and dustpans. Along the drive to Gallipoli farmers are working in their fields and the locals are bustling about. The Turkish people have been very friendly and helpful.

• What a wonderful place to visit! The people are so pleasant and very enjoyable to interact with. The country side is amazing and Istanbul is very easy to get around. The culture here is very rich and there is so much to see and do. So many places to visit and so little time… I may have to come back!!!!

• I was never going to go on this trip, I am so happy that I changed my mind! Turkey has been everything I never expected, it’s fun and friendly. Clean and welcoming. The architecture has left me both breathless and most of all speechless. This has to be trip in my book of travel destinations. ~Melissa Johnson~

• Hello to everyone at home!! Turkey is a beautiful country! The people are amazing and friendly. We have seen a lot of things we would not see a lot of at home and some that is very similar to home. I wish we were staying for longer to be able to explore a bit more. The city of Istanbul has SO much to see, but we just don’t have enough time to see it all. I guess I will just have to come back some day. Our guide told me I should try to get a job here in the tourism industry. I think I would need a lot more training to match their 4 years of school! This is definitely the trip of a lifetime!! Missing everyone at home! And yes Sheldon, they have John Deere dealerships here (sorry, no picture…yet)!! *** Ashley Howard ***

• Fun, fantastic, friendly and flirty – but enough about the abundant stray cats of Istanbul. Nah, I’m kidding, the people are fabulous here too! At times it’s difficult to tell if we are in Turkey or Tuscany and then the terrain changes again to fields of yellow canola and green waving wheat so we could be back home. It’s beautiful and different and I’m excited to explore some more! (Jodi)

• For my first time traveling abroad, Turkey has been the perfect destination. It may not be the top place listed in most tourist books, but it has so much to offer and I still have so much left to see. The rich culture, beautiful architecture, delicious food, and friendly people have made this trip so far a success. I’m so glad to be here right now! – Andrea Warren

• The people here are really nice but some of those sales people can get quite pushy. All the people I have met thus far have been really helpful in that they help us to pronounce the words that we need. Although they seem to find our pronunciation amusing, I cannot imagine why. Everything has been amazing except for seeing so many stray dogs and cats. I look forward to the new experiences that lie ahead.

• The people here sometimes really need to make a sale so they will settle for pretty much the best price you give to them. If they are already famous and have made a good profit on what they are selling then they will probably not settle for less than the asking price. Some of the tactics that they will use are flattery and bargain for what they either knows about you or how much money they know you have. If you look like you have a lot of money then they will most certainly use their time on trying to get you to but their product. One of the most sincere methods that I saw someone trying to use to get money was a little boy sitting on the side of the road playing a little flute/keyboard and even though he couldn’t play it that well he still stayed there for 9 hours just playing away.

• `My first impressions on Turkey are just how friendly the people are, and how many people speak fairly fluent English. I thought that there would be more of a communication barrier between us and the locals however they all seem to know at least enough English to aid us along, and are all willing to teach us and correct us on our Turkish. The food here has been wonderfully different; we went for supper last night and had some of the most incredible pasta that I have ever had. It is also quite shocking to see how busy the main roads are, there is people walking up and down the streets dodging the cars, trolleys, and the motorcycles. I am excited to see how the other cities that we are going to visit will compare to Istanbul. –Kori

• Europe sure has some beautiful countries and Turkey is no exception. It is so exciting to visit somewhere new and to learn and experience the food and culture of another country. I am quite satisfied with going to church once a week, but praying five times a day may take some getting used to. I am so excited knowing that it is still early in our trip and that there is still so much else to see and do. I am most looking forward to the Grand Bazaar. I feel so lucky to be on this amazing adventure in Turkey and I look forward to the many exciting days to come. (Elizabeth)

• My first impression of Turkey hit me as we were leaving Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Istanbul is a very fast paced city filled with history surrounded by the busy metropolitan life. Our drive to our first hotel the Q-Inn was definitely an experience to remember as even after midnight, the streets were still busy with cars inches away from our bus. The narrow streets had me doubtful of our drive but our excellent bus driver was able to weave his way through. Our guide, Omer, is always full of wonderful facts about Turkey’s culture and history. Our first day on the tour was not only filled with colourful sightseeing but also of experience in the Turkish way of life such as bartering for ice cream. The vendor was going to charge me 5 Liras but the local girls by the ice cream stand told me that it was only one lira. I told him that for that, he lost a sale, but he turned around and made a delightful show of serving me ice cream cone for 1 Lira =D. All in all, I can say that the busy life of Istanbul was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back and see more of Istanbul in a few days. But for now, we are off to the Marmara region of Turkey to enjoy the Turkish life outside of the metropolis. ~Kristine Lopez

• Hello from Turkey! This trip has been crazy interesting so far and quite a learning experience. The people here are so friendly – and pushy. But for the most part they are very nice! The bell boy when we arrived at the Q-Inn would literally grab our luggage out of our hands and take it into the hotel and up to our room. “Oh its fine, I got it” he mumbled something and grabbed it anyway; I don’t think he understood or just was so kind he wanted to take it up for me. Our tour guide is very smart as well and can answer any questions we have. I hope everything is great back home. Miss you all! Peace off bloggers – Rebecca

• Merhaba everyone! What a fantastic trip this has been so far, from the people, architecture, food and history there is just so much to experience. It still feels so surreal that we are actually here so far across the world! Just a few months ago we were learning about this wonderful country and seeing pictures of the sites in our geography class, and yesterday we got to see and experience them first hand. If you ever get the opportunity to come here, I highly recommend it as pictures don’t do it justice. This is a country full of contrasts, and the people are so friendly! Even though they can be a bit pushy in their “selling techniques”, I’ve never felt unsafe or out of place. I can hardly wait to see what the remainder of the trip has to offer! –Jennifer Laye

• Merhaba, Turkey has been so much fun with all my classmates. I am having so much fun see the rich culture and see the people speaking their own langrage. I love drinking the special drink “Apple Tea”. The tea taste like hot apple cider. This is a great experience to see and as a group is lots of fun. – Phillip Guest
• Merhaba! What stands out the most on this trip is the friendliness of the locals. Don’t be afraid to have tea with the shop owners even if you cannot afford that rug! Just sitting and socializing with them was a unique experience on its own. We will never forget the people we have met on the journey and now have a lot of funny and interesting stories to tell for years to come. –Kathleen and Alyssa

• Friendly faces, smiles, flirtatious men, great food, incredible scenery, history going back to 11,000BC and did I mention men who flirt a lot? Carla

• Beautiful scenery; beautiful people; beautiful mosques and tiles and beautiful men. What else can I say? Great place so far and more of everything to come. Sue :)

Posted by jonaway 11:24 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

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