Western Turkey: From Istanbul to Izmir


DAY 1. We picked up the rental car from Ataturk Airport, then skirted Istanbul heading East.

Here we are crossing the bridge over the Boshporus:


We decided since this would probably be the only opportunity to do so during this trip, we decided to head up to the Black Sea so that we could say we had been there! All of the resorts are closed this time of year, so there isn't a lot to do along the Black Sea coast (still a lot to see, but that's true everywhere in Turkey -- can't see everything in one go!)


John was the only one that went in. Water was a tad cold.

From the Black Sea, we headed Southwest back towards the Med. We stopped for lunch in a small town, Açkaova if I am not mistaken (but I might be!), where we had a fantastic lunch.


After our late lunch, we continued our drive Southwest past Izmet.

Turkish prison. Cue "Midnight Run" nightmares.

We finaly ended up in our destinatio for the night, Bursa, which is actually a ski resort in the Winter. It's a pretty big City, and a college town. Too bad it was Sunday night ad raining when we were there!


The Silk Bazaar in Bursa

DAY 2: From Bursa, we continued West along the Marmara Sea.

Eventually, we ended up in Troy.

After visiting Troy, we continues South along the Mediterranean, with a stop in Assos.

The Isle of Lesbos, which is actually a part of Greece.

we then headed to Begama, where we stayed the night.

DAY 3: In Bergama, there were two main sites to see. The first was the "Red Basilica," a Roman Church buit over the remains of an Egyptian temple.

The other main site here was the Pergammon Acropolis.

From Bergama, we headed South along the Med towards Izmir.


Izmir. Now that's a densly-packed city...

Random Roman Acqueduct.

Seljuk castle overlooking the town of Selçuk

Gathering silk from silkworm cocoons for making rugs. Yes, we visited a rug manufacturer, hard to avoid in any case, but we didn't really fight it -- we wanted to buy a rug at some point anyway. We didn't buy from this place, though.

At this point, we decided to take in Ephesus.

After visiting Ephesus, we decided to make Selçuk our base of operations for the next few days, and found a cool B&B to stay in, Nilya was the name of the place.

This dog lived at Nilya. Nice dog, but he needed a bath in the worst way.

DAY 3. Drove to Hierapolis-Pamukkale to visit the acropolis and thhe Travertines. A few pictures along the way:

That night, we decided to hang out in the "Anatolian Wine Bar" and have a few drinks. They ony had two types of wine -- red or white -- but they did have beer, and raki, and hookahs.

It was a pretty cool place to hang out, right up until the owner tried to sell us rugs.


Day 4: Decided to explore the area around Selçuk, and kind of take things easy.

This is the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Interestingly, there is no Temple of Artemis in Civilization III, although I do believe it exists in the Conquests expansion pack.

Old Turkish Bath (Hamam), not currently in operation.

Local Rooster.

We visited Ayasoulk Hill, home of the Gates of Persecution and the Basilica of St. John (who apparently came here to live along with Mary after Jesus was crucified).

After visiting the Basilica, we drove up the hill towards Mary's old place (yes, that Mary, as in Jesus' mom). We didn't actually go in -- high tickets prices and oads of tour buses made that decision for us -- but she had a nice view.

After that, we headed up into the hills to visit Sirince, which is actually an old Greek village (or at least was until the Greeks and Turks agreed to ethnically cleanse their respective countries of Moslems and Christians, respectively), they grom a lot of olives and grapes here, and actually make (usually pretty bad) wine.

Lunch was good, though. Mmmm, manti.

Day 5: We left early (like 5 AM) to drive to the Izmir airport, then dropped off the rental car and flew to Kayseri, the primary airport in the Cappadocia region.