Deb & Roger’s YB Travel Adventures to Turkey 1998 – Present
Turkey is located in Western Asia. Starting from the 13th century, the Ottoman beylik united Anatolia and created the largest and most powerful empire of its time, encompassing much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and North Africa.
Like most of Asia, Turkey has changed a lot in the last ten years. When we lived there in ’98, it was a lot different, and much less expensive. I am happy we were able to have both experiences. We lived on the Asian side of Istanbul in Acibadem (pronounced Agibadem). This was just across the Bosphorous from old Istanbul located on the European side.
A brief background: In ’97 Roger sold the restaurant he built, Thai Pan Alley, on Indian Rocks Beach. So I decided to leave my career in Broadcasting. Things were dissolving all around us, and I kinda freaked for awhile, then decided to ride the wave where ever it took us.
We spent the next year traveling all over Central America, and as usual, our annual Asia trip. Only this time we could stay longer. Though Roger had been out of the automotive business for over a decade, out of the blue he got this job offer in Istanbul. It wasn’t even a discussion, it was meant to be.
He went ahead of me and I stayed behind to sell all of our possessions, including our condo on the beach, cars, everything. With all that had been happening we wanted to be free to go wherever the wind blew, with no material impediments to drag us down.
I arrived in Istanbul and fell in love with the city. The energy. The differentness, and especially the feeling I go each time I placed my foot on the ground walking in the foot steps of those thousands of years before me.
We had the good fortune of living in a beautiful 3 bedroom condo on the park that the company paid for. In addition to us, there were other engineers from the US so I had their wives to hang out with. And we had regular dinner parties, taking turns at hosting.
But at first I spent a lot of time by myself. I had worked all my life, and it felt strange to have this time. But I enjoyed it. Being able to do what I wanted when I wanted. Having the time to read in leisure which I love. To write. To take my shopping cart up the hill from our apartment to the local outdoor market where everything was fresh, and home made including the cheese, and the filo I bought to make Burek. And negotiating via a calculator neither of us knowing the other’s language.
Then I would go home and cook a beautiful dinner using all my fresh ingredients. Other days I would take the dolmush down to the Bosphorous, hop on a boat, have a cup of tea and enjoy the trip to the other side. Walking and strolling through Taxsim, and other areas.
Turkey is often called “the cradle of civilization,” as it has been home to a rich variety of tribes and nations of people since 6500 B.C. Hattis, Hittites, Phrygians, Urartians, Lycians, Lydians, Ionians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans have all held important places in Turkey’s history.
There are ancient sites and ruins throughout the country that attest to each civilization’s unique character. And you can literally feel yourself going back in time as you stroll the ancient streets, witness the whirling dervishes, enjoy a turkish bath and visit places like Topkapi Palace, home (and Harem) of the sultans, Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia): changed the course of Western architecture; greatest church in Christendom for 1000 years, Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque: Islam’s elegant answer to Ayasofya, with six minarets and blue interior tiles.
Then there’s the Byzantine Hippodrome: the political and recreational heart of Byzantine Constantinople and Ottoman Istanbul, Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum: facing the Blue Mosque on the Hippodrome, a treasure-house of 1000 years of fine art, Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarniçi): an eerie subterranean “sunken palace” of 336 marble columns which could hold 80,000 cubic feet of water in case of drought or siege, Grand Bazaar: the ultimate medieval “shopping center,” with 4000 shops, fun whether you buy or just browse, Egyptian (Spice) Market: food, spices, coffee, snacks and some touristy stuff, Beyoglu: the romance of 19th-century Istanbul, Dolmabahçe Palace: the sultan’s sumptuous new (1856) European-style palace on the Bosphorus.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money for a Bosphorus Cruise: the perfect 90-minute, half-day or full-day Istanbul excursion, up toward the Black Sea past castles, palaces and Ottoman-Victorian villages. And there is Princes’ Islands: get away to islands with Victorian-era towns free of motor vehicles: walk, bicycle, or take a horse-drawn carriage tour.
In 2007 we visited our friends for a month. After a few days in Istanbul we drove south to their seaside home near Bodrum. It is a lovely area and we visited all the small seaside towns, each looking like a painting, they were so charming. At night we would sit on their balcony looking out over the sea to the Greek Island of Kos.
We did an excursion to nearby Ephesus, an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire; ranking behind Rome, the empire’s capital. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world.
Visited Pamakkale. The city contains hot springs and travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. People have bathed in its pools for thousands of years. It is located in Turkey’s Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley, which has a temperate climate for most of the year. The ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white “castle”. As recently as the mid-20th century, hotels were built over the ruins of Heropolis, causing considerable damage. When the area was declared a World Heritage Site, the hotels were demolished and the road removed and replaced with artificial pools. Wearing shoes in the water is prohibited to protect the deposits.
We drove the coastal highway from Bodrum to Antalya and on to Alayna. The views are breath taking and the water the most unbelievable colors of blue and turquoise I have ever seen. Alayna was a nice place to visit for a few days then we were off to Cappadocia stopping along the way at the Mevlana Museum, the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi mystic also known as Mevlâna or Rumi. It was also the dervish lodge (tekke) of the Mevlevi order, better known as the whirling dervishes.
And nothing can prepare you for the experience of Cappadocia, an ancient region of Anatolia. It is out of this world. Unique, miraculous and a wonder of nature. With a rich history. Headquarter yourself in the inhabited city of Goreme and visit all the sites in the surrounding area. Be sure to take in dinner and belly dancing for a fun, and entertaining evening.
The formation of these chimney rocks happend over tens of thousands of years. In the prehistoric periods (the Bronze Age) the first human settlements began and the humans constructed the underground cities in the volcanic rocks in form of tufa due to protect themselves from the wild animals. They lived for long periods of time in these underground cities. There are many in the Cappadocia area but the biggest is Derinkuyu Underground City. Also, the first Christians escaped from the persecution of the Roman Empire in the 2nd century B.C. and came to Cappadocia finding the underground cities with gates made in a way they couldn’t be easily observed.
Cappadocia lies in eastern Anatolia, in the center of what is now Turkey. The relief consists of a high plateau over 1000 m in altitude that is pierced by volcanic peaks, with Mount Erciyes (ancient Argaeus) near Kayseri (ancient Caesarea) being the tallest at 3916 m.
The boundaries of historical Cappadocia are vague, particularly towards the west. To the south, the Taurus Mountains form the boundary with Cilicia and separate Cappadocia from the Mediterranean Sea. To the west, Cappadocia is bounded by the historical regions of Lycaonia to the southwest, and Galatia to the northwest. The Black Sea coastal ranges separate Cappadocia from Pontus and the Black Sea, while to the east Cappadocia is bounded by the upper Euphrates, before that river bends to the southeast to flow into Mesopotamia, and the Armenian Highland.
This results in an area approximately 400 km (250 mi) east–west and 250 km (160 mi) north–south. Due to its inland location and high altitude, Cappadocia has a markedly continental climate, with hot dry summers and cold snowy winters. Rainfall is sparse and the region is largely semi-arid.