Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Days in Istanbul

Thus were our last few days in Istanbul, favorite places, the Spice Market, a dinner at Develi, more shopping, another visit to the archaeological museum, more walking around, just appreciating the great city.
Develi restaurant in Samatya

At the archaeological museum--where we revisited Troy,
Hittites, Lycians, Lydeans, Phrygians, and other old
friends--we finally got to see the remnant of the iron chain
the Byzantines had stretched across the Golden Horn to
keep enemies out (it had been on loan in October)

A last look at the Blue Mosque

And the incredible Hagia Sophia

Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent

One of the loose ends--it was still closed for renovations in October--was to see Istanbul's greatest mosque, that of Suleiman the Magnificent, the 16th century sultan who saw the empire reach its zenith in most every way. It was designed by Sinan the Architect, buried nearby, one of the 131 mosques he designed in his 97 years. Most interestingly, this mosque was the center of a huge social services center, soup kitchen for the poor, housing for travelers, baths, hospital, school, library, etc. I wonder if they had free wifi. Anyhow, I liked this mosque, far more than the blue one: there was a simplicity of design and decor here that added to the sense of height and massiveness.
Hemmed-in as it is, both by its own campus
and courtyard and then city buildings all
around, it is difficult to get a picture with
even most of the mosque in it


Great dome, 52m up there

Beautiful Islamic glass

More interior

One of the four minarets

Larger exterior view

Sultanahmet Again

After Gallipoli, we turned back east and drove to within 50 miles or so of Istanbul, stopping at a beach-side lay-by. We had decided to spend our last few days in Turkey back in Istanbul, a city we enjoyed so much when we arrived here, to attend to a last few loose ends in sight-seeing, shopping, and eating. We drove into the big city about 9AM and were settled at our old campground on Kennedy Caddesi in Sultanahmet by 10. We spent the rest of the day at the Grand Bazaar, again, and in the neighborhoods surrounding it. We buy very little, but find these Turkish bazaars endlessly interesting.
There were only a few RVs at the "campground," a few Germans, a few French; 
as you can see in the background, the wind and sea were really kicking up at 
this point

Really kicking up

We thought about seeing the latest Harry Poppins movie, but, 
alas, it was dubbed in Turkish
In the bookstalls adjacent to the Grand Bazaar, a cat surveys 
the literary crowd; what do cats think about?
Beyazit Square and the entrance to Istanbul University

In the Square, what we dubbed the "old mens' market"

For example

Next afternoon, one of many BBQs going on along the sea-wall and in the park 
near us; Turks will grill just about anything, anytime

This one got out of hand: the old rail station, across the Golden Horn; it was 
gift of the Kaiser to the Sultan way back when...

Sunday, November 28, 2010


We spent much of Friday touring the Gallipoli peninsula, the northern side of the Hellespont and thus the traditional water gateway to Instanbul and beyond. In WWI, the British, under their First Sea Lord Winston Churchill, elected to try what no other navy had ever done--force the Dardanelles, proceed to Istanbul, and take the Ottoman Empire out of the war, thus relieving ally Russia. The combined British and French fleet was driven back from the Hellespont by shore batteries and mines. Later, the Allies landed on both Gallipoli and at Canakkale, across the strait. Gruesome WWI trench warfare ensued. A second landing, of Australian and New Zealand Commonwealth troops, took place in April, 1915, but had the very bad luck of arriving at just the place that a divisional commander named Mustafa Kemal--later Ataturk--had expected them. Four months later he led the counter-attack that eventually drove the Allies from the Dardanelles. Churchill resigned as First Sea Lord, and the war went on another three years, in other theatres. There were 500,000 casualties in the Dardanelles campaign.
From our campsite Thursday night, near the narrowest part
of the straits

The great monument at Abide, near the end of the Gallipoli

In the Abide memorial courtyard

It is a huge cemetery for Turkish soldiers killed in the
Gallipoli campaign, some 86,000 of them

Gallipoli was largely a matter of trench
warfare and the attendant terror, rot, and
disease; Bernieres' Birds Without Wings
captures it as well as any of us can imagine

With lines and trenches literally within ear-
shot of one another, the "Johnnies and
Mehmets" (Ataturk's expression) had other
relations than enmity alone

ANZAC Cove; in defending this area, Kemal gave his
famous order to the 57th Infantry Regiment: "I am not
ordering you to attack, I am ordering you to die. In the time
it takes us to die, other troops and other commanders will
arrive to take our places." They held their ground, were
wiped out to the man, but the Allied assault failed. A
national hero was born, and it might be said, Turkey's
war of independence had begun.

At the Ataturk statue, near the spot where he
was hit in the chest by shrapnel, the blow
stopped by his pocket watch, in the August
counter-attack; there are many, many
memorials and cemeteries, some Turkish,
many British, French, Australian, and New
Zealand; the area is reminiscent of
Gettysburg, with so many memorials; the
monuments themselves are more on the scale
one sees in the great WWI battefields in
France and Belgium

Vicki takes a picture for some Jandarma in the area; this must
be holy ground for them

I am so proud: she has gotten really good at identifying
gun emplacements, tank obstacles, pill-boxes, etc., and often
sees them before I do....

Thanksgiving, 2010: Turkey, Turkey Everywhere...

Thanksgiving Day for us was a pretty big travel day--the Baths at Alexandria Troas, Troy, and then the Hellespont. We are always mindful of how fortunate we are in being able to do all this. We stopped for the night in a parking lot of one of the huge World War I Gallipoli museums outside Eceabat. The Jandarma checked us out about bed-time, but didn't have anything to say.

Thanksgiving, 2010, was another memorable holiday. Away from home, family, and friends, again, but still memorable. In 2009, we were at Mt. St. Michel, feasting on French dindin. In 2008, we were on Koh Samui, in the Gulf of Thailand, and our dinner was at the cooking school there I attended. No dindin, but lots of other great stuff. We had hoped to find turkey in Turkey. It is called hindi. Much of the lunch meat I have eaten here is jambon-flavored hindi. But, despite a concentrated search, we found no turkey in Turkey and had to settle for roast chicken, albeit with the usual fixins, including Vicki's special lime bavarian (aka green slime). We subsequently learned that turkey is the national dish in Turkey on New Year's Day, but that's beyond our scope.

Actually, we did find turkeys in Turkey, and briefly
considered sacrificing one to the gods at the Red Hall in
Pergamon; but concluded that would be too messy in the

Vicki preparing Thanksgiving dinner in our
little galley at Gallipoli

Of course, we had Trojan wine to go with
the roast chicken; it was, um, epic...

A modest but memorable Thanksgiving dinner, 2010, in
turkey-less Turkey

We have much to be thankful for beside our travels. Daughter Rebecca and husband Jeremy, who were married last June, are expecting a baby girl in April. The prospective grand-parents are thrilled. And daughter Rachel became engaged to Will Sehestedt earlier this month, putting us way over the top in parental pride. They are planning an August wedding in Missoula.


We drove on, viewing the Hellespont from a variety of angles, stopping in Canakkale to board our ferry back to Europe; well, European Turkey.
Entrance to the Hellespont, the narrow strait leading to the Sea of Marmure, 
to Istanbul, the Bosphorus, and then the Black Sea; an historic place, as long 
as there has been history

Past Canakkale, where it gets really narrow, some say 1200 meters, some say 
1500 meters; in any case, less than a mile, short enough for the Persians to 
stretch a pontoon bridge across for their hundred thousand troops

Traffic is always brisk

Traffic on the road to Canakkale was interesting, varied...

Our ferry, the Good Ferry Ezine, about to arrive in Canakkale

It's been more than a year since the Grey Wanderer's last boat ride, across the 
English Channel; the weather this day was balmy, calm

Farewell, Canakkale, and Asia, again

Our crack satnav, Tom, ever keeping track of us; we think this might have been 
his first trip to Anatolian Turkey

Hello, Eceabat, the Gallipoli Peninsula, the Dardanelles, and Europe

Saturday, November 27, 2010


We drove on to Truva, modern-day Troy. The story of the German-American Heinrich Schliemann's 1870s discovery of Troy, following Homer's literary leads, is well enough known. Schliemann was an adventurer, made his money in the California gold rush, a treasure-hunter and relentless self-promoter, who savaged the place, but got what he was looking for. What he never fully realized was that he had uncovered a site that included as many as nine distinct cities, one atop another, going back 5,000 years. Homer's Troy, if there was such a thing, and if this is it, is conjectured to be either Troy VI or Troy VII, that is, end of the Bronze Age, 13th century BCE or so. The site was well enough known in antiquity. Xerxes sacrificed a thousand oxen there prior to crossing the Hellespont to invade Greece. The Romans reverred the place, as they did anything Greek, but especially so since they thought (after Virgil) they were descended from the Trojan Aeneas. Only in the middle ages was it "lost." Anyhow, it is one of Turkey's most popular sites, one of its many World Heritage Sites, and, like the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall or the Taj Mahal, something you just can't miss. I think the state has done a good job with it, as complicated and dug-over as it is. But if your interests are strictly Homeric, you're not going to be pleased. Troy museum artifacts are in Canakkale, which we skipped, Istanbul, which we saw, and in Berlin, which was closed when we were there in spring of 09.
More beautiful landscape along the way

Most-photographed item at Troy

Most-photographed pose

Famous photo of Schliemann's wife wearing
"Priam's gold"--well, someone's gold

Most of the place looks like this

Northeast citadel, Troy VI

Looking toward the beaches, where most of the fighting
occurred; to the right, the Hellespont; of course, after 3000
years of silting-up, one assumes the beaches were much
nearer in the time of Agamemnon and Priam, Paris and Helen,
et al.

Schliemann's original trench; it says
something about the place that this would
be memorialized...

This, I thought, was the most compelling scene at Troy:
showing all 9 layers...

To wit...

Troy VII structure

Odeon--Roman Troy

Pillars thought to be part of Priam's palace...

South gate, Troy VI-VII

Two red squirrels, Hector of the gleaming helmet and
swift-footed Achilles, fight it out before the walls of Troy;
well, actually, on the walls of Troy