Up at 6:00 and put our bags outside the door and down to a buffet breakfast. Spicy over hard egg on mushroom and some other stuff – not spectacular. A couple of the beetles from the night before were on the floor (and on the pool deck and pretty much in a lot of places). Then back to the room, collected out stuff, and down to the bus for a long ride to Izmir.
As we started out on the trip Neslie, the guide, apologized and said that there were not two weddings the night before. On the roof was a graduation party from a local secretarial school. At the pool, with 500 guests, was a circumcision party. She explained that it is a Turkish custom to have boys circumcised when they are 8 to 10 years old. It starts with several days of partying and riding around town and doing whatever the boy wants. Then they do the circumcision and two or three days later have a big party. The boy is dressed in a fancy historical costume for the party. All the guests bring gifts, some coming earlier and giving the gifts while he is still in bed. It REALLY looked like a wedding but…
Then goodbye to Canakkale. We drove through the city then saw the Aegean Sea – and a whole bunch of “second homes” nearby. Then we drove through a large district of olive trees – thousands of them. We were told that the largest farms were only about 20 acres and they don’t put up fences – everybody knows their trees. Relatively few large farms in all of Turkey.
We had one stop for a comfort break that was supposed to last for 15 minutes – actually lasted for 40. We have some difficult passengers on the bus. About half are one family/friend group, mostly from Syria, who tend to be late and not worry about anybody else in the group. Irritating but they seem to be having a great time!
We wound our way up some pretty small roads to a small village called Gobelli – about 500 people – and parked in the town square. We gathered around and each group of four to six were given to a local family and taken off for lunch. We went Neslie and Erica and Daniel Cruze (from Las Vegas) and went down the road and up to a small kitchen with three women – the host, her mother, and her grandmother. We were served wheat/tomato soup and then bulgur rice with tomato and eggplant and tomato sautéed in olive oil for the main course – with water. None spoke English but Neslie translated for us. I kept asking who made this – and it was the mother almost always who made the dish.
The host was 20 years old and had been married for almost two years. Very friendly as was all the family. The kitchen had a stove and a washing machine where you would normally find the dish washer – and the counter top was granite. I heard (but did not use) that the toilet in the house was a squat toilet – most houses in town have that type.
For desert we had rice wrapped in grape leaves – quite sour – and baklava (very sweet – soaked in honey) and homemade yogurt (by the host!) which was really nice. Then we posed for some pictures and the grandmother escorted us back to the square. We waited in the shade of what looked like a cross between a sycamore and a maple tree that must have been 500 years old. Then back on the bus and down the curvy mountain road. We passed many stands of pine-nut trees that the local people harvest – very curious looking – pine trees with round tops. The road also had many small fountains – a running stream of water from a small pipe and a cup attached to a string. For refreshment (there was also one near the village square).
We drove for another hour or so and ended up at Pergamum, a Roman era ruin. On the hill overlooking the area was the ruin of a temple and amphitheater and some other structures overlooking the existing town. We went to the Asclepion, which was a Roman spa/medical center. There were extensive ruins – some reconstructions (such as a smaller amphitheater used for local productions) and many springs, tunnels, columns, and foundations. Columns in both Doric and Corinthian style (the later replacing ones that had fallen due to earthquakes) and many relics still bearing Roman inscriptions.
A fascinating part was that the tunnels to the various healing centers had been reconstructed. They were a welcome relief from the 92 degree heat! We found a small group of European Pond turtles in one of the small pools, and some frogs in a small stream. These pools and streams were used for the various healing procedures followed. One of the tunnels led to a “dream chamber” where an early form of psychotherapy was performed. People would go to sleep and then report their dreams to the doctors. The doctors would then interpret the dreams in ways that would indicate the patient should do what the doctors thought should happed “Oh, you dreamed of a black sheep on a table? That means you should not drink as much wine and exercise more…”
As we made our way to the inevitable gift area we found out that Turkey has more Roman ruins than Italy and Greece combined – a very fertile area. The gift shops weren’t great but they did (finally) have pomegranate and orange juice – we had been looking forward to that. Sadly, it wasn’t great.
Then back on the bus and a relatively quick drive into Izmir. At one point we passed a relatively large fire and planes were flying over and dropping water from the Aegean Sea on it. Then we passed some concrete statue places – almost all of the statues were painted in bright colors – quite unusual. We finally got to Izmir around 5:00 and got a nice room overlooking the city – amazing view. We took a walk to look for something to drink and went down to a quite well developed shoreline, then wandered through the city some more. Finally back at the hotel we had a less than spectacular buffet dinner. Then back to the room to straighten out what happened during the day and have a small glass of raki – an anise flavored alcohol that turns white when you mix it with water. The national drink of Turkey! I also discovered that my left arm had blistered a bit - my right is already peeling. I need to use more sunscreen :(