Turkey was one of my most favourite countries to visit.
My friends and I travelled around the country by local bus which was very inexpensive and that was a good thing, but as we found out the roads were treacherous, and the buses extremely smoky. I remember at one point being barely able to breathe the cigarette smoke was so thick. Just when there was a little bit of clearing in the haze the man in front of me lit up again. I thought I was going to die! I politely tapped him on the shoulder to try to get him to butt out, but of course he spoke neither English, nor German. He did smile however, with his baked bean teeth, and offered me a cigarette! Thinking back, I should have just taken the whole pack off of him! Another kind of funny thing I remember: at one of the bus stops along the way a young boy came on board with lemonade. I felt a little sorry for him, so I bought a glass. I was just finishing the last drop of this lukewarm drink when my friends boarded the bus again. When they saw what was in my hands, they asked where I had gotten it from. I pointed to the young boy and they started laughing hysterically. (Good thing they had just gone pee, or they would have peed themselves!) Apparently, as they had walked into the restroom they had seen the same young boy mixing up his lemonade concoction in the men's room. He cut up the lemons on the counter, used water from the grungy sink, and then he used his grubby little fingers to stir the whole mess up! Lesson learned. Thank god I didn't get e-coli.
One of the prettiest resort towns we went to was Kusadasi. Many cruise ships stop in this port so it really does cater to tourists. We stayed there for a few days and really got to explore the surrounding area. Ephesus is perhaps one of the most interesting ruins I have ever seen and it dates back to something like 6B.C. It is believed that the Virgin Mary may have spent her last days in this area. Pope Benedict XVI has even celebrated mass here (just a bit of UBI!)
From Kusadasi we moved on to Pamukkale, which in Turkish means Cotton Castle. It is, by far one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen. It is listed on the World Heritage Site and was founded in ancient times as a healing spa. The white cascades are made from calcium deposits from the thermal mineral waters. There is a natural spring that bathes ancient marble columns and the temperature coming form the ground is 35 degrees Celsius. Swimming in this water is akin to dunking oneself in hot Perrier water! Since 1994 when I was there, there has been a lot of hotel construction that has occur ed. When we were there, there were only two hotels and the one we stayed at was quite simple but luxurious in that by opening up the back door to the room, we actually stepped out into the spring water baths. We were able to walk on the travertines, which I believe is not permitted anymore.
(click to enlarge)
Leaving Pamukkale, we took an overnight train back to Istanbul which I would highly recommend. I guess it was the milk-run and we stopped numerous times along the way. While my friends arrived in Istanbul bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, I remember it as one of my best sleeps ever!