Saturday, May 31, 2008


Mykonos windmills.

Today was another 5:30 am start; actually it was 5:15 am; we reported nearly an hour before our ferry’s departure. The trip was not as crowded as the one from Kusadasi to Samos; Lynne checked out the life jackets and believed we would all fit into the life rafts etc so all was well.

Although a small town Mykonos is a lot like Venice; it is very easy to get lost in its streets which seem to have no recognisable layout plan. However that doesn’t seem to stop the many shoppers who have no trouble finding the many delightful and colourful boutique shops in the town. We managed to get lost following the commercial 3 D map!

We arrived at the new port of Mykonos and had reservations about this place; the touts were there to meet us but no buses and only one or two taxis. We managed to dodge the touts and catch a taxi to Marina Pension where George signed us in, gave us a free map and some tips about where we might like to go.

It wasn’t long before we had booked our onward ticket for Santorini and a day tour of Delos for Sunday. That completed we soon found the famous Mykonos windmills; the subject of many a post card and many Mykonos posters and books.

Lunch consisted of Moussaka (sp?), bread and fruit juice at Alefkandra restaurant on the waterfront before we returned to our pension for a much needed sleep!

Shoe shine

I decided to approach one of the shoe shine men to touch up my one pair of shoes – they have been doing a good job of looking after my feet for 31 days. I have to say this task was not undertaken without considerable research; after all I didn’t want to be totally ripped off. We agreed on a price – 4 Turkish Lira (YTL) – and the gentleman set about doing a great job.

One of his colleagues decided Lynne’s footwear also needed cleaning after all it’s a well known fact, ‘feet get sweaty you know’. Unfortunately we made an assumption that the price would be the same – how wrong that was! It turned out that this was indeed a specialised job (suede sandals) and ‘sweaty shoes’ needed more chemicals etc; that made the job worth 8 YTL!

Well we learned another lesson in travel and the price was probably a fair one to pay for that!

Last hours in Kusadasi

With a few hours to kill until our ferry’s departure time we spent it simply lounging around the Kusadasi downtown area visiting shops and stalls, sitting in the park, people watching and generally soaking up the ambience.

There was another cruise ship in today so again, a very large crowd around the shops and markets.

Turkish food has been great but every now and then one needs comfort food so we had a meal at Burger King – haven’t done that at home for years! However what I really enjoyed was the meat; I think I needed an ‘energy pick up’. In addition, making a purchase at Burger King entitled us to use their toilet (without having to pay the usual 50cents to a dollar NZ) and shade umbrellas; shade is at a premium here.


This was another of the highlight of our trip – a visit to various sites that have become household names in New Zealand and Australia – ANZAC Cove, Chanuk Bair, Lone Pine, the Dardanelles etc.

From ANZAC Cove one can look back at the hill that the ANZACs were supposed to capture – an impossible task when you see the terrain close up. If they had indeed landed at the correct target about a mile away history could well have been so different.

Chanuk Bair memorial

The words Kamal Ataturk wrote for the inscription to mark this site and others seem to have even greater power as we read them today than when they were first produced. In a way they also have a greater healing effect and will, I am sure, be seen as amongst one of the most powerful and meaningful inscriptions ever.

Today ANZAC Cove is a large grassy area marked by tombstones. On the day we visited you could have described it as a ‘lovely spot’, as you will see from the pictures posted here – what a very different thing it must have been in 1915.

We visited the area where the traditional ANZAC service is held each year; it wasn’t as large as I had imagined it would be. Workmen were maintaining the site while we were there.

As we visited each of the sites in the area our guide explained their part and significance in the campaign. One has to be impressed with the work of the Turkish government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in maintaining all of the sites in the area and especially Lone Pine, the main Australian memorial, the area given to the Turkish 57th regiment, and Chanuk Bair where the New Zealand memorial center is.

The bus we travelled in was made up mostly of young Kiwis and Aussies – may future generations continue to come to this place. We have been most impressed by the young Kiwis we have met while travelling; the respect they show for the countries they are in and the quiet but confident manner in which they go about their activities.


We had an uneventful ferry trip from Kusadasi to Samos although Lynne was beside herself the whole way concerned the ferry was overloaded. She had worked out that there weren’t enough life boats for everyone should disaster strike and her anxiety only eased when we came to within swimming distance of the Samos coast! As for me, I slept through most of the journey.

We easily found a pension for the night but after checking with a ferry company decided to stay two nights and sail for Mykonos on Saturday morning. We both needed a breather after the previous 2 weeks of activity. There are 62 street steps from the street to our pension and a further 8 steps to our room. The reason I know this is because I have now walked and counted three times!

Samos is very different from Turkey; the Euro somehow makes things twice the price of goods in Turkey; there is not the same invitation to ‘come and see my shop’; and, in Turkey, men rush to carry your luggage.

In a walk around the main bay we came across three schools but only looked from a distance; didn’t want to be the cause of a security ‘call out’. We came across a beach where the only way you get onto it is by renting an umbrella and loungers; that was made clear by the young woman on duty while we were still making our way down the street; she had a walkie-talkie and was obviously in charge of the whole beach!

We haven’t been tempted by the many bars and restaurants in the main street because of the high rate of smoking – Turkey recently changed their laws so they do have some restrictions on where people can smoke.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Not every trip …

Not every trip goes perfectly – our return trip from Canakkale to Kusadasi was an example.

We had been on a tour of the Gallipoli sites and knew that at the end we would return to Kusadasi by bus. What we didn’t know were the details which turned out like this. We crossed by ferry from Eceabat on the Fez Tours bus, this is a secondary departure point where the ferry leaves when it’s full (that doesn’t take long) and takes only a few minutes to cross. When we arrived back in Canakkale the guide told us where the bus would leave from and at what time – 11:30 pm – another overnight bus trip – our 3rd in less than 2 weeks! And that doesn’t count the day bus ride to Canakkale.

We still didn’t have a ticket but the guide assured us it would be on the Truva Company bus when it arrived from Eceabat at 11:15 pm. Trusting souls we are we set about making use of the next 5 hours doing some people watching on the water front.

At 11 pm we turned up at the bus stop and the company rep assured us our tickets would be here when the bus arrived. He assured us he was ‘on our side’.

The bus turned up, no tickets but we were assigned seats and left for Selcuck – we were supposed to be going to Kusadasi, 15 km further onwards. However, we were satisfied that at least we were going to be closer to where we needed to be and that we could solve the rest of the problem later.

We arrived at Selcuck at 6:10 am; woken by the ‘conductor’ and told this is where you get off. So alight we did onto the street – our bags were already on the street. I said to Lynne, ‘Isn’t this typical, you get dropped off in the middle of the night (well it felt like that) without any explanation!’

However, once the bus moved off we recognised the Selcuck bus station across the street so made our way there. We managed to escape the hotel tout who latched onto a Canadian couple who had also been cast off the bus and who were half asleep too.

We managed to work out which dolumus (mini bus) we had to catch to Kusadasi and were sitting contented with ourselves when I realised that my camera was still on the bus! That immediately accelerated my heart rate- almost 200 irreplaceable photos about to be lost!

No-one at the bus stop was going to be able to help us so we dug out the contact details for the travel company who had helped us in Istanbul – the woman there spoke much better English than I did Turkish. She was able to give me a contact number for the Truva bus company which I pursued only to be given another number for the company. The second person understood what I had done and contacted the bus while I waited. He came back to me after a few minutes with, ‘I have some good news for you. Your camera will be left at the Aydin office of the company, you can pick it up there.’ I was thrilled and impressed and hoped that picking it up would be that simple.

However, we then needed to rescue our bags from the dolmus that was going to Kusadasi and find the dolmus that was going to Aydin – 1 hour away. Having successfully done that we relaxed again and accepted that we weren’t going to make the 8:30 am ferry from Kusadasi to Samos.

Finding the Truva office at the bus station in Aydin was easy enough but the staff at the desk seemed to know nothing of the arrangement for my camera to be left with them. I tried several times to make myself understood and to have them understand what the deal was with the person I had spoken to in Istanbul. This was not going well, then the panic started to set in! However, I used my cell phone to call the last person I had spoken to at Truva in Istanbul and handed my phone to the Truva man behind the desk. While he was talking to the Istanbul agent he walked over to where the TV was mounted, reached in beside it and brought out my camera - hooray!!

The rest of the day was straight forward – a dolmus back to Kusadasi and a Greek ferry to Samos – delayed some 9 hours but a successful outcome no less. What would I have done without my cellphone? Well worth the roaming charges I believe!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Left Kusadasi by car (hotel organised and paid) to meet our bus in Selcuk. We travelled to the otogar in Izmir and came into bay 152 on the top level; we then had to make our way downstairs to bay 17. This is another huge bus station – one could easily become lost or miss a connection here.

The wooden horse is from the set of the movie ‘Troy’.

Everything went well for us and we had a very pleasant 7 hour journey to Cannakale.

After checking into the ANZAC hotel we took a walk along the waterfront to take in the ambience and a Canakkale sunset. Dinner consisted of 2 kebabs for 3 YTL (about $NZ3.00) the best deal we have had yet.

Tomorrow we do a tour of Gallipoli and catch a bus back to Kusadasi – hope to be there before midnight.

Carpets & leather

We had time to take in a walk along the waterfront at Kusadasi.

We had another visit to a carpet factory (I’m not sure if that’s the right word to use) and while I’m no expert on the subject I certainly understand a lot more about carpets now than I did a week ago but again, no purchase!

The visit for the day was to a leather factory and a fashion parade. Two women and two men modelled a range of leather garments – each was superb. Towards the end of the show they pulled a man and a woman from the group to help them model some garments – guess who the woman was? That’s right – Lynne had an opportunity to strut her stuff and wear a coat that was probably 700 Euros more than we could afford!!


Today was another full day starting with a visit to Ephesus. Earlier in the morning a cruise ship came into Kusadasi and I think they all decided to go to Ephesus as well. There seemed to be thousands there and this is still the early part of the season. The guide we had was superb; she helped us to understand better Ephesus’ context and place in history, we really enjoyed that.

… and on to Pamukkale

We were met in Denizli by a driver who took us to the Koray Hotel in Pamukkale where we marked time waiting for our tour of Hieropolis to start. The tour proved to be very worthwhile; the guided tour of the ancient ruins was most enlightening; the visit to the hot pools, while we didn’t swim, at least gave us some shade for an hour while one member of our group tried the therapeutic waters.

After our last tour we were taken to the bus station for another overnight bus journey to Pamukkale. The whole event passed without incident with at least two comfort stops during which time we witnessed more dancing and drumming as yet more young men were taken away to do military service.

Later we were treated to views of fascinating white terraces (I guess this is what our Pink and White Terraces might have been like). The ‘guards’ had their hands full trying to keep tourists from damaging the area with their attempts to get yet another calendar photograph to send home – unless a better management plan is implemented I fear they are on a hiding to nothing. The walk to the bottom led us through throngs of people in various stages of undress as they tried out the many shallow pools along the way.

We all enjoyed a superb dinner; soup, at least 14 different salads, main course of meats and hot vegetables and about 10 different kinds of dessert. I can tell you they were all scrumptious!

At 5 pm we left Pamukkale for Denizli to catch our bus to Kusadasi. After an 11 hour overnight bus trip and a full day of sightseeing, the lower priced hotel was as welcome as any 5 star establishment when we arrived there at 10 pm.

Pymakli Underground Village

Our guıde Mustafa explaıns all.

I think the best was saved until last. The underground village was a series of purpose built rooms on several levels; storage, wine, food, kitchens, sleeping, worship, meetings, burial chambers etc all had their own spaces; all were connected horizontally and vertically by a myriad tunnels and other openings. They obviously didn’t suffer from claustrophobia!

Dedeli Kongi

Lynne wıth our hostess at Dedelı Konıg

Our hotel in Urgup offered underground rooms and we were delighted with ours. Apart from the usual things you expect to find in a hotel our room was tastefully decorated and furnished in what I would describe as typical Turkish patterns and colours – very beautiful.

Breakfast next morning was taken on the rooftop in brilliant sunshine – we slept so well we were late rising!


This afternoon we had the inevitable visit to a carpet weaving centre. After a very interesting demonstration of the process for gathering the silk thread, a description of the dyeing processes used and a demonstration of the various ‘x knots per square inch’ that determines the quality of the carpet, we were led into a large room and plied with apple tea, coffee and wine – I’m glad I chose the apple tea!

Then came the sales pitch; it was informative, gentle and even persuasive. However, after hearing all the benefits, none of our group decided they suddenly needed another carpet. There is no doubt they are very, very beautiful but I guess when we have fully carpeted houses it is difficult to justify another purchase for the floor.


In contrast to visits to see natural land formations we also had an opportunity to visit a pottery to see how this art is performed. Having seen potters at work in NZ I expected more of the same but this was different; at the end of the demonstration we were ushered into a series of rooms where we could see first hand the range of pottery products the company produces. They were of all colours in the rainbow and were absolutely brilliant!

We were told we were under no obligation to buy but if we did there were several benefits to be had including; tax free, carefully wrapped and posted to your home etc. I’m not aware that anyone in our group bought anything of significance.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Turkish Women

Several members of our group commented in jest upon the Turkish women working the fields. They were the only people we ever saw working them.

Rose Valley Walk

This is something we might not have chosen to do for ourselves but having done it we can say how pleased we are that we did! The walk was a hot 2 hours but it was another chance to see two valleys of beautiful limestone formations. At the end of the walk we were all relieved to be able to sit in the shade at a restaurant and consume large quantities of water and soft drink!


During the afternoon we visited the very impressive Goreme open air museum. In the early Christian era this was a nunnery with several churches and other buildings hewn out of the ash/stone.

We were able to visit several of the rooms that had been built into the hillside. There is no question of the rooms being cooler than the 35 degrees heat on the outside. On this day I much preferred to have the 16 degrees inside rather than the temperature outside.

Dervent Valley

After visiting the fairy chimneys we went on to the Dervent Valley where we could see a similar but different volcanic landscape.

Fairy Chimneys

The first part of our tour took us to an area where there were hundreds of ‘fairy chimneys’; limestone phallic symbols formed as a result of volcanic eruption, settling and later erosion. They are as impressive live as they are on post cards we have received from friends who have been here before and it was hard to resist the temptation to photograph every one of them!

Palace Hotel

Once we arrived in Urgup we were take to the Cappadocia Palace Hotel for breakfast and to meet up with a group with whom we would be touring the northern part of Cappadocia.

Breakfast for me consisted of cereal, a hard boiled egg, a bread roll with butter and a soft cheese. I could have added olives, a type of luncheon sausage and a few other items - names escape me as I write this.

This is the same hotel and tourist company that ran the local tours we took part in and where we had lunch each day.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Arrıval ın Urgup

Once we arrived in Urgup we were taken to the Cappadocia Palace Hotel for breakfast and to meet up with the group with whom we would be touring the northern part of Cappadocia. Breakfast for me consisted of cereal, a hard boiled egg, a bread roll with butter and a soft cheese. I could have added olives, a type of luncheon sausage and a few other items whose names escape me as I write this.

Our luggage was left ın the dınıng room for the day and was stıll there when we returned for ıt at lunch tıme! Thıs ıs not the hotel we eventually stayed at - more on that later.

Istanbul to Cappadocia

After another day pounding the pavements of Istanbul we were taken from the Sultanahmet area where our pension was located to the main bus station (otogar) north of the city to meet up with the bus to Cappodocia. The otogar is huge and we were let off at our bus stand No. 24 – I didn’t check to see how many stands there were but there were at least another 20-30 I am sure!

Here and at several other stops along the way Turkish people engaged in dancing to a ‘flute’ and drum. It seemed like a farewell to friends who were boarding the buses.

Our journey was to be an overnight one – quite common in Turkey – and we seemed to travel south and east for 2-3 hours before leaving the built up area of Istanbul - home to some 14 million people!

Passengers on the bus are looked after by an attendant who came around during the night offering water, tea and coffee. Sleep was no more difficult to achieve than one would experience on an aeroplane; I managed to get in about 6 hours but Lynne was less fortunate!

The first stop I recall was at about 12:15 am at a location I can’t name! The second was at 5:10 am at a place I could only identify by the signage as ‘Kapadokya Motel.’ There was more light from here to Urgup and we were able to see a very rural and bare landscape. Some ploughing had been done and we later learned that was probably for wheat or barley.

The Cistern

Another example of Roman presence and engineering in Istanbul can be seen below the city in the form of the cistern where the city’s water was stored and no doubt distributed. Again, one cannot help but be impressed by the restoration of this facility.

Hagia Sofia

With time to spare before leaving Istanbul we visited the Hagia Sofia Muesum. This was previously a Christian basilica but with the decline of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam, a fire and some redesign and reconstruction work along the way that is no longer obvious. Internal renovation is ongoing and scaffolding extends to the dome and from the look of things will be there for some time yet. From the outside the building is magnificent and this is simply magnified as you take in the internal features. It is hard to imagine that this building started out almost 2000 years ago as a place of Christian worship.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Spice Markets

Yesterday evening we visited the Spice Market, about 10 minutes walk from our pension.

This was another amazing place with spices we hadn’t even heard of - perhaps that was due to the fact that the names were not written in English. Even allowing for that I am sure there were lots we wouldn’t even know how to use! The colours were brilliant and made excellent photograph material; although taking pictures was made difficult by the throngs of people that seemed to appear from no-where to fill the camera lenses and so prevent the ‘picture of the month’.

We couldn’t resist buying 2 of about 6 different kinds of Turkish Delight in honey and ate them while we walked around the market.

Whatever there is to eat I am sure you will find it here!

Bridge Restaurants

While we were sitting on the steps of the new mosque (built in the late 1500’s) we could see stairs leading to an underground walkway so decided to check that out. We were surprised to be led through an array of shops/stalls offering all kinds of goods to passers by. We couldn’t resist buying some ties and a wallet before carrying on discovering a heap of mostly seafood restaurants under the bridge. The tables and furnishings quickly told us we wouldn’t be eating there regardless of the persuasive charms of the men asking if they could show us their menus.

Blue Mosque

After a brief rest this afternoon we walked to the Blue Mosque – what an amazing sight! One can’t help but be impressed with its size and beauty.

On the way to the Blue Mosque we took time to listen to a pop group performing in the park area. They are probably famous but not being up with that part of culture I couldn’t confirm that – some-one might be able to tell from the photo.

The fourth picture was taken from a window in our pension – a lot takes place in the street below. It’s 11 pm and the stall holders are still open for business. We haven’t seen them doing much business but perhaps they had a ‘rush’ while we were out. They have a cat to keep themselves and the tourists amused and fill in the rest of the time smoking and drinking apple tea.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On the Bospherous

This afternoon was spent mostly on the water. We were picked up from our pension and carried by bus through a labyrinth of streets, mostly very narrow, to meet up with our boat for a trip on the Golden Horn (principle harbour of the Byzantium Constantinople) and the Bospherous. A most interesting afternoon taking in sights firstly, around the shores of the Golden Horn, and then, the European side of the Bospherous. The Dolmabache Palace and other luxurious buildings brought sounds of ‘oohh’ from fellow travellers.

Following that we turned shortly after Rumeli castle and followed the Asian shore before returning to the Golden Horn. The tour company had a bus waiting to take us to Pierre Loti (named after the French writer), a lookout located above a cemetery high above the city. The only way to describe the scene was ‘magnificent!’ We descended via a cable bar to where our bus waited for the return to Sultanahmet.

I have always been a fan for direct experiences to aid children’s learning and I have to say that would be true also for adults. How much more interesting and meaningful the Byzantine Empire would have been had we been taken to see it while we were learning about it!

Looking out from Pierre Loti

European side of the Bospherous.

Asian side of the Bospherous.