Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Recap of Turkey

Besides Athens (my next recap), this was my favorite stop on the cruise. Turkey really knows how to welcome you. It’s amazing how nice an entire people can be when you’re trying to enter the EU.

Our tour guide was probably the best one we’ve had yet. He had gone to university in the US, and his brother had done the same. His brother even met a Jewish girl, whom he married. They now live in Istanbul and will be raising the child Jewish.

In fact, we were lucky to have our tour guide because his friend’s wife was having a baby and was to be our guide, but she went into labor that morning. So, we ended up with the kind of tour guide who tells a bus full of tourists personal information. I love it.

Before I get to the sights, I want to show you their stop signs:

What a priceless language.

Our first stop was a brief visit to the Virgin Mary’s house. If you want a more thorough description of this, check out my previous post, made just a day or two after I went. Here’s a picture of the house:

One thing I forgot to mention was that we noticed guards with MP5-esque automatic weapons. We also saw Waldo, I mean, John Bolton there (no pic because I am just not rude enough to run up in his face and take a picture… and he wouldn’t stand in front of anything I could look like I was trying to take a picture of).

This is a picture of the wall where people write prayers on cloth. Looks like it’s built up for a while and is due for a burning:

It was a short bus ride down the mountain to Ephesus. I mentioned in my oiginal post that we had a Turkish rug in the bus, well here it is:

Here’s a picture of the audium near the top of the hill:

Again, this was not where performances were held; it would be much too small for that. It is where politicians went to debate and give speeches.

Here's a stone relief of Nike (you can sort of see the swoosh in her flowing clothes):

This is roughly how things look when archaeologists dig up the pieces:

And here are some partially erected structures and columns:

The entire road through the city was slick marble, downhill:

I saw a kitty:

In this picture, you have to use your imagination. This was a statue of the Roman emperor, Trajan. We know this because of the inscription at the base (and I am reminded by the plaque on the right). What is so interesting is that Trajan stands atop a sphere, representing the world.

Our guide glossed over this, simply saying something like “they depicted this over a thousand years before we knew this to be true.” Well, actually, the classical thinkers had long conceptualized the world as round.

From Pythagoras to Aristotle, most Greek thinkers viewed the world as round. It was the ignorance of Christianity that eradicated this view from Europe. Their flat-earth creation myth involving a domed firmament did not match up with a spherical world. Has anyone stopped to think about how their view of the world resembles that of bugs trapped under a glass?

So anyway, we progressed on to the library, which had a secret passage to a brothel.

There was a menorah carved into the marble steps (those Jews and their rampant vandalism):

We then saw the great theatre, which seats 44,000:

It held concerts by the likes of Elton John and Stevie Wonder, but Sting ruined it for everyone when his rowdy fans caused millions of dollars worth of damage to the structure.

We then shopped around for some genuine fake watches:

(Classic unibrow, also)

We were then off to see a rug demonstration. I found the whole display very… odd. However, I learned a lot about rugs and silk. Did you know silk is so strong it can be used to cut granite? Here are some raw cocoons before they are made into silk:

Here are pictures of some of the rugs:

Just before my camera died, I got this picture of the gayest bull I have ever seen:

Don’t let anyone tell you Turkey isn’t progressive!

Back on the ship, I got some pictures of the port after my camera battery charged a bit:

That second picture is of a mosque and minaret. I heard it at some point in the middle of the day. It wasn’t beautiful; it was more annoying than church bells.

That night, when we got back from dinner, we were shocked to find this in our room:

The cabin stewards really wanted a good tip.

For my next recap: Athens. Look for another surprise appearance by former UN ambassador John Bolton.


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