A travelog of Greece & Turkey


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I would like to share a great article. It's a great review by Evan C. Economos ( http://www.stanford.edu/~economos/EconomosResume.html ) who working at Stanford University.

I am just bringing a part of his review but you can find lots of useful articles about his trip to Greece & Turkey at http://www.stanford.edu/~economos/hellas/hellas.htm

Day 17, Wednesday - Kusadasi, medieval Ephesus, Smyrna/Izmir, Begama

At breakfast, I required more coffee than usual. Unfortunately, the Turks only drink tea and coffee was unavailable. Tea just didn't have the umph I needed to get going that day. As the day progressed, I realized something more serious was wrong and finally concluded that I had sunstroke. I wore Pam's hat for the rest of the day and moved very slowly.

After breakfast, we went back to Seljuk to see the medieval city of Ephesus. On a nearby hill, above the Artemision, is the fortress city. Leading up to the fortress walls is a small village built from the stones of the church. On the way up the hill, a small boy kept pestering me to take his picture. In sharp contrast, a group of women sitting under a shade tree at the edge of the Turkish village started screaming at me when I pointed the camera in their direction.

Most of the buildings inside the fortress were still intact. We roamed through them. Pam was concerned about a young Turk who was leering at her from a roof of a nearby building. The Turks find European and American women interesting because they lead a more open life. Everyday, the front page of the daily Turkish newspapers have pictures of naked blond Germanic looking women frolicking in the water.

On the other side of the fortress, was the mosque of Isa Bey, built in 1375 near the site of the temple of Artemis. Inside we saw tall Hellenic columns of various design holding up the mosque. There didn't seem to be any consistent design in their construction, so it was fairly clear they had been taken from somewhere else, possibly the original temple of Artemis or St. John's church, or the Roman baths which were all nearby.

Afterwards, we went to the Seljuk museum and saw many classical and Byzantine statues. Statues of Artemis were of course the main attraction. The goddess's numerous breasts (sometimes more than 20) representing fertility reminded me of Indian statues of Krishna which are of human form, but with similar multiple appendages.

On the bus to Ismir, which the Greeks call Smyrna, we met Ismet, a Turk who spoke to us in English. He was also on his way to Ismir to buy rugs to sell in America. He was married to a girl from Arkansas, whom he met in Paris. They have one son named Evan, which because my name was Evan, was deemed adequate to form a bond. Ismet pointed at my very tanned arm and said, "You must be Italian or something." Northern Europeans never tan this dark. Pam's skin, for instance, was still about the same color as when we left the USA. I heartily assured him I was Italian.

Since we had just come from Greece a few days before, we started comparing and contrasting Greeks and Turks. Turks appear to be a more serious people who always have a look of purpose on their face. Greeks tend to be more relaxed. You'll never catch a Turk staring into space deep in thought or dancing. They are always on the move. It made me wonder why their economy is in worse shape than Greece's. After we established our mutual contempt for apparent Greek work ethics, he promised to show us hand made rugs for sale, if we were interested.

When we got to Ismir, Ismet took us to a store near the sea coast on the posh side of town. Until 1922, Smyrna/Ismir was predominantly a Greek town. However, in that year the Greeks invaded Turkey with an eye to recapturing their Byzantine homeland. The invasion failed and Smyrna was the Greek's Dunkirk. The Turks put the torch to this Greek town in the midst of their country and considered all Greeks living in Turkey to be a "fifth column". All Orthodox Chrisitans in Asian Turkey, about three million people, were forced to leave. In retaliation, all Moslems, about one million, were forced to leave Greece. It was the largest population exchange in the 20th century and ended 2,800 years of Greek culture on the Asia Minor coast.

Pam and I could not agree on a carpet. We each liked just one. Then we went to the warehouse where there was an even bigger selection. Turkish rugs are predominantly of geometric design, which is a result of Turkish weaving techniques. Despite the enormous selection, we still had a hard time agreeing. Pam wanted a rug which I thought was awful, and she thought the same of my selection. We finally were able to agree on a 5'x 7' rug of middle quality hanging on the wall.

After our purchase, the store owner took us to the "otogar", or bus station. On the way, we got a short tour of Izmir. When I asked where the Greeks lived, he said "everywhere". Its amazing that an entire town could change populations! We bought tickets for Bergama, but the bus didn't leave for two hours.

The bus station is a very interesting place. There are all kinds of people one doesn't necessarily get to see as a tourist. Some women were wearing veils. Many crouched near the ground as is more common in Asia, rather than stand. There were seedy people, and clean people.

No one at the bus station spoke English. I wanted to confirm our hotel reservations in Bergama, since we would be arriving late. As in many foreign countries, I had to go to the post office to make the long distance phone call. I didn't know the phone number. Phone books aren't readily available even if you can read Turkish. Although no one spoke English, everyone at the post office was very friendly and tried to be helpful. With everybody trying, it was possible to find the number and make the call.

Afterwards, we ate dinner. The cafe owner took one look at us and tried to sell us his expensive lamb kabob which looked like it had been sitting out for a few days. Instead, we had a light salad. The food was fairly good. It is now clear that egg plant is a major staple of the Turkish diet. We got back to the bus company office only to find out there had been some miscommunication. Apparently the tourist towns are in a different time zone from the rest of the coast in order to be consistent with Greece. The bus had left an hour before we thought it would. There wasn't going to be another bus until morning. The clerks at the bus station thought this was very funny and started to laugh. Pam started to cry and made a real scene. This embarrassed the clerk who promptly gave us back our money.

Travel plans can only anticipate so much. We had not planned for this. We did not know if there was alternative transportation or where we could stay in Ismir. For awhile, I didn't know what to do. I thought about going straight to Istanbul or taking a taxi to Bergama. We were on tight schedule and couldn't afford this kind of a delay.

I knew I didn't want to spend the night in the Ismir bus station, so I started walking toward the taxi stand. Pam started to protest and demanded to know what I was doing. I didn't really know, but I was too upset and anxious to have a reasoned discussion on how to proceed. I just told her "follow me". Normally this would have lead to an argument, but not wanting to be left alone in a Turkish bus station, she did. I saw a sign for Canakkale. I knew the bus to Canakkale had to go through Bergama! The last bus left at 9:00 p.m. and it was now 8:45 p.m. The trouble is that this bus only stopped at the intersection of the road to Bergama. It didn't go into the town itself. The clerks assured us there would be a minibus there to take us into town. We got on the bus.

It grew dark as we approached Bergama. For some reason, the bus driver let us out with all our luggage about a 100 yards short of the intersection. When we got off the bus, it was a totally dark on a moonless night with only starlight to guide our way. I thought I could see every star in the galaxy. There was no minibus, no taxi, no street lights and no people anywhere. We were alone in the middle of nowhere in Turkey. Pam kept tripping because she couldn't see where the road ended and grass began. Thoughts of camping under the stars came to mind. I started worrying about marauding thieves who might slit our throats. We walked ahead to the intersection.

Behind an unlit road sign at the intersection, we spied a taxi with its interior dome light on. A Turkish women smoking a cigarette in the back seat was waiting for the bus to Ismir to arrive. Words could not express my relief. The taxi drivers spoke some English. His name was Sali. He said our hotel was only 150 yards away. He suggested we walk there, since he had to wait with his passenger until her bus arrived. We couldn't actually see the hotel from where we were. The hotel may have been near, but it was so dark, we were afraid we would get lost, so we choose to sit in the Taxi with the Turkish women.

We sat in the darkness for awhile secure that we were somewhere with someone who knew where somewhere was. Sali started talking. He said for ten dollars he would drive us around all the next day. I thought the price was fair for a personal chauffeur. We struck a deal. Besides, Pam and I had already had our quota of anxiety in Bergama. We were willing to pay a little for convenience. Finally the bus arrived and Sali drove us to our hotel. The hotel was surrounded 25 foot high trees that hid the hotel from view even in broad daylight. The desk clerk at the hotel was waiting for us with a smile despite the hour.

Evan C. Economos
I would like to thanks again to Mr.Evan for his permission.
(His Resume)
(Complete review)