Thursday, 17 September 2009


Thursday 17 September: Boat harbour with Crusader castle remains, Lycian rock hewn sarcophagi and cliff-cut tombs. Departure point for Gület yacht (25th mode of transport) voyages along Anatolia's Turquoise Coast. Also the starting point of the Lycian Way coast path which I hiked as far as Kayaköya, an eerie 'ghost' village abandoned in 1923 when the Orthodox Christian Greek population were repatriated following the Turkish War of Independence.
Organised by Ideal Pension, I joined the Kardesler 5 for an enjoyable island-hopping day ending in a violent thunderstorm with lightning forks igniting the damp hillside.
In and around Fethiye.


Tuesday 15 September: One of the world's great natural features the hot travertine (calcium carbonate) pools of Pamukkale ('Cotton Castle') are a delight. Stayed in the bright red Dört Mevsim (Four Seasons) Hotel downhill in Pamukkale village to enjoy the shelves and pools at dusk, as well as some of the red wines for which the region is also rightly famous.
Photos of Pamukkale and Hierapolis.

Selçuk and Ephesus

Sunday 13 September: Storks nesting in Byzantine aquaducts are icons of Selçuk with Artemis Temple's one remaining pillar (once of one of the seven wonders of the world), İsa Bey Mosque, St John's Church and ancient fortress above, all in the town centre with the ancient city of Ephesus (Efes) close by.
Saw Joan Baez perform at Ephesus in 1984? where she sang "Turn Turn" to get the riot police, with shields, battons and helmets facing the audience, to turn around so they could see the concert. The Library of Celsus and the Temple of Hadrian also still impressive. Efes Museum's famous effigy the rampant Phallic God, Priapus, is missed by many tour bus groups as they rush through - displayed in a dark cabinet, you need to push the light button to illuminate the little guy in all his well proportioned glory. The carving of the marble statues of Aphrodite and the multi-breasted Artemis is just exquisite.
An afternoon at the quiet Pamucak beach and an evening drinking delicous Efes Dark, as opposed to Efes 'Normal', in the Pink Bistro in Selçuk rounded off another good day. Stayed at Kiwi Pension where the English proprioter, Alison, also saw Joan Baez's show 25 years ago at Ephesus.
Selçuk and Ephesus photos.

Troy and Gallipoli

Wednesday 9 September: From Europe to Asia by roll-on roll-off sea ferry (24th mode of transport) over the Dardinelles (Hellespoint) from Gallipoli peninsula to Çanakkale and Yellow Rose Pension.
Not a lot to see of the nine ancient cities of Troy (Troia) except a wooden Trojan horse with windows. The one in Çanakkale made for the 2004 Troy movie is a bit more authentic and artifacts from Troy are in the Çanakkale's Archaelogical Museum (photos not permitted).

Knee deep in mud in Gallipoli's WWI trenches just too realistic so I visited Kilitbahir's fortress across the narrows on Gallipoli instead. Returned to Asia again to explore Çanakkale's Military Museum which tells the stories of the sea and land battles reasonably well. The most facinating war relic, which gives a chilling reminder of just how much ammunition was flying around, is two bullets welded together as they hit each other in mid-air.
For photos in and around Çanakkale click Troy and Gallipoli.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


Saturday 5 September: From Istanbul's main Otogar (bus station), by the Metro electric Light Rail Transit (20th mode of transport) then modern tram, to the Blue Mosque in Sultanahamet, the ancient city centre, and breakfast nearby at Sultan Hostel.
Beautifully tiled Blue Mosque and finely proportioned Aya Sofya with it's superb interior - just breathtaking. Cool subterranian Basilica Cistern with Medusa heads at odd angles supporting the original columns.
Monday 7:Topkapi Palace former royal residence with impressive domes, tilework and views over the Bosphoros and Golden Horn. Mostly enslaved white Christian females and black eunnuchs lived their lives within the confines of the palace Harem. Men and even unsliced fruit and vegetables were banned from the Harem complex lest they spoil the Sultan's ladies. It's told how the chosen female would wriggle from the foot of the Sultan's bed up under the covers to approach him from below. One Sultan had a particular appetite for struggling virgins who were encouraged to kick and fight for his added pleasure. Another, the mad one, tied his whole harem in weighted sacks and drowned them in the Bospherous.
The treasures and humour in the Archeological Museum are wonderful. Folowing a fish lunch sandwich I crossed Galata Bridge and took The Tunel funicular railway (21st mode) below Galata Tower to connect with the quaint antique red brass and wood tram (22nd mode) through the modern shopping centre to Taksim Square.
Next day Museum of İslamic Art and the Modern Art gallery, cruised the Bosphoros and Golden Horn in the passanger ferries Polaris and Yeni Menderes (23rd modes) before finishing off the evening in the bars in Akbıyık Sokak, the accommodatiom street, in Sultanahamet. Great city, I stayed two more days than intended and would still return for more. My Istanbul photos should say it all.
Wednesday 9: Poured down with rain as I left Istanbul on the overnight coach for Gallipoli, saw several abandoned cars in underpass flood waters, but the bus got through. Heard two days later that 37 people were killed in the freak floods.

Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast

Thursday 27 August: Arrive at Varna's eager to please Yo-Ho Hostel, beach busy with local townsfolk but good Archaeological Museum and Art Gallery featuring, once again, the work of Vladimir Dimitrov. His portrait of a Peasant Girl particularly impressive. Shaded cliff-top Primorski Park stretches a couple of miles east to the dolphinarium. Intriguingly named Sold Bride House of Wine restaurant a good fınd, near the hostel, but not in any guide books.
Sunday 30: Down the coast to Nessebar, rich in ruined churches but nearby "Sunny Beach" jam-packed towel-to-towel with package tourists. Stayed en-suite in Hotel Tony in the UNESCO listed old town above on the peninsula.
Tuesday 1 September: en-suite room in private wooden house in the old fortified peninsula town of Sozopol then on to Burges to await the Friday night midnight coach to Istanbul. Small Archaeological Museum, quiet beach with long Soviet style pier and monument to match but with good atmosphere and restaurants. Refreshing and delicious meal of Tarator (chilled cucumber and yogurt soup garnished with chopped walnuts and dill) with freshly-baked bread, olives and garlic butter followed by pear, blue cheese and walnut salad then chocolate topped cheesecake and white (clear) local grape brandy at Monte Cristo's, despite what the guidebooks say, the best restaurant in town.
Photos of Varna, Nessebar, Sozopol and Burges.
Bulgaria summary:
Water: Delicious and free mineral water from public drinking fountains and spouts.

Drinks: Wine - very drinkable whites and reds particularly Melnik and Mavud. Beer - Stara Zagora's brewery produces a decent bottled dark beer but their Zagorka lager is uninspiring. See Sofia entry for Bulgaria's best ales. Tea - wide selection of delicious fruit and herb teas.
Toilets: Upright, clean and free at places to visit (M=Male, a spider-like Cyrillic symbol=female, most also have a graphic) otherwise a small fee (about 0.5 lv) is payable.
Leva (currently £1 = 2.4 lv).
Language: Dobber Den is hi/hello/good day, molyuh is please, merci is thanks, Chao is bye, da is yes, ne is no and Nazdrave! is Cheers!.
TICs: Helpful if you ask with free local town maps and guides. Will book accommodation for you.
Accommodation: Can be B&B or bed only
so you need to ask.
Food: Good variety of local dishes and, of course, both pizza and kebaps - usually rolled up wıth French fries. Taratore (cucumber and yogurt soup) delicious.
Supermarkets: Small mini-markets mostly, some called Maxi, larger unnamed ones tend to be hidden-away in the basements of larger shopping complexes.
Transport: Trains are comfortable and cheaper than buses. Return tickets are double the single fare.

Medical: Health Centres or private doctors, in most towns, will treat visitors on the same basis as nationals.