10 Best Things About Turkey (so far)
UPDATE – check out this post about Istanbul & Capadoccia, which was my very favorite place, along with Ephesus — amazing area of ancient, underground (and rock-carved) dwellings that were used by different peoples through the centuries.
Ok, it’s been five whirlwind days in this beautiful country. internet connection is too sporadic for daily posts; but sitting in the room 1204 of the lovely Aktif Metropolitan Hotel with luxurious wi-fi, I now feel up to the task of a Best-of Top 10 list. Back soon!
1. Ephesus – (200 BC-400 AD) The partially reconstructed ruins of one of the oldest cities in Anatolia (there were 4 Ephesi ranging from 5th c. BC – present; this is #3), established by Alexander the Great, visited twice by St. Paul. Unlike viewing archaeological remnants in a museum, this site gives you the opportunity to experience the scale, touch, size and geographical presence of a complex ancient city that once had a population of 300,000, heated running water, and great wealth generated by sea merchant trade.
2. Gene’s Rock Star Moment – fellow delegation member, Gene, is a bit of a novelty in Turkey. Here at Topkapi Palace, he was rushed by a gaggle of school boys who thought he was a rock star and/or basketball star. We did nothing to dispel the myth.
3. Bird Island Martini: gin/vodka/home brew (?), salted rim, lemon twist, ice cubes, two kalamata olives. Strange but potent.
4. Turkish Coffee – my new sludgy best friend!
5. But don’t drink Turkish coffee + eat baklava and then expect to resist the carpet salesmen.
6. Turkish Rugs – this needs its own post.
7. Being addressed as exquisite honorable passengers over the PA system on a regional plane.
8. The Food – fresh, whole, and inexpensive. Tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, yogurt & salad with almost every meal (including breakfast). Lentils ,eggplant, cheeses, fresh local meats, eggs also rampant.
9. Peda – baked in a wood oven, served steaming hot with fresh butter, hard not to eat the whole thing by yourself. SUPER YUM!
10. The “I have sooooo worked this off already” philosophy of eating whatever you want, and as much as you want, because you’re on vacation and you’ve been walking around a lot.
11. Ancient toilets – those Romans really knew their business when it came to doing their business. Complete with a flowing sewer system and carved stone seats, these community crappers gave Romans (men only!) an opportunity to squat in style with their neighbors. Concerned about nether parts touching cold stone? No worries! These beauties were *heated* by the same wood-furnace powered radiant system that also warmed the communal baths. And if you’ve thought it through this far, you may now be wondering about the final, delicate task of ancient wiping… well, see that small canal on the floor? That carried fresh, running water into which the men would dip their wiping sticks [covered with soft cloth] used for post-production cleansing. No double dipping!
Runner-Up: Mike Hess’s Haircut – surprisingly (especially to him) included a beard and eyebrow shave, remnant whisker *burning* with a fiery little broom implement, a neck massage and knuckle cracking (hands).