After months of preparation, we set off on the 2nd September 1998 for Istanbul via Singapore and Dubai. Twenty-two hours after leaving Sydney, we touched down at 8:30am local time on Thursday 3rd. A 20 minute taxi ride to our hotel was an interesting introduction to Turkish driving techniques and etiquette.
Our hotel for three nights was the Obelisk/Sumengen in Sultanahmet. It was an old Ottoman house near the coast and 10 minutes walk from the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia and Topkapi palace. Rooms were comfortable if not luxurious, but had TV, air-conditioning and helpful staff. Cost was USD120/day but the convenient location was a real advantage. There are many pensions in the neighbourhood, as well as backpackers accommodation.
Blue Mosque Aya Sofia
Uncovered Mosaics Grand Bazaar
These three days were filled with hectic activity - sightseeing in the above three sites, and the archaeological museum, half-day tour on the Bosphorus, shopping in the Grand bazaar and Spice Markets, having a Turkish bath in the Hamami built in 1584.
Views on the Bosphorus
Topkapi Palace and Harem
Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Sunday 6th September 1998
AVIS delivered our Tofas Dogan S (Fiat 131 Mirafiori) to the hotel. Pat drove for the first sessions as I was having a bit of tummy trouble. We headed for Gallipoli and the National Park. Here are several sites with cemeteries for the soldiers killed there in the First World War. It was a very sad and moving experience for all of us. From there we crossed the Dardanelles by ferry to Canakkale, where we found a very quiet and comfortable hotel.
Monday 7th Sept.
The next day I was feeling better so drove down the coast along a windy dirt road, not really knowing exactly where we were, but eventually we found a signpost pointing to Troy. Here excavations have shown nine different levels of civilisation. From Troy we continued south, making a detour to visit the village of Assos. This has the best preserved stone walls, according to our guide book. It was a very worthwhile excursion, with spectacular views over the Aegean Sea. From there we continued along the coast until we rejoined the main road. We made our evening stop at Bergama (Pergamon).
Pergamon was the site of a large library which was stripped by Mark Anthony to give to Cleopatra. It is sited on top of quite a steep hill about 5 km from Bergama. There are temples, walls and a huge theatre. Just outside the town of Bergama is the Asklepion, the first hospital. Both sites occupied most of the morning. From there we stopped in at the Bergama Carpet weavers Association, a cooperative set up for local carpet weavers. They receive 86% of the sale price, according to the representative who showed us around. Pat and Sandra bought one, but we decided we won't need one on our boat.
Our car's aircon was playing up, and as it was quite hot without it, we rang Avis to ask for a fix or replacement. We first had to find the Izmir office (done by fluky navigation), then go to the Airport office for a replacement car. This took some time to prepare, but eventually we were on the road again, heading south to Selcuk. The Lonely Planet guide suggested the Kalehan, which was really great. It has many old artefacts which give it a charming atmosphere. It also has a pool. We ate in the hotel the first night, but ate in town for our second evening meal.
In the morning we spent a couple of hours in the Museum in Selcuk before heading out to Ephesus. The museum has some very interesting pieces and wasn't crowded. Ephesus was very crowded and hot. Several cruise ships had arrived in Kusadasi, and all of the passengers had decided to go to Ephesus. Ephesus is everything the guide books say it is, very impressive. We spent several hours wandering through the streets looking at the buildings. From there we went to have a look at Virgin Mary's house, higher up in the hills from Selcuk. After a hot and busy day, it was very enjoyable to relax in the hotel pool before going out for dinner. After the meal, we discovered an Internet cafe at Jimmy's pension, not far from the PTT.
We headed south again, via Priene and Milet on the way to Bodrum. Priene was a Greek settlement that wasn't taken over by the Romans. Milet had a large amphitheatre stuck out in the middle of nowhere. We continued on towards Bodrum but decided that the 'atomic powered discos' were something we could do without. Instead, we went to Yalikavak, about 17 km northwest from Bodrum, and in a quiet harbour. We found a hotel-apartment with two apartments available. It was very pleasant having lunch and dinner in restaurants with their tables right alongside the quay. This was obviously a town popular with the English, as many prices were quoted in English Pounds.
We drove the short distance to Bodrum, had breakfast and then headed to the Castle museum. This had some interesting exhibits including a shipwreck and many glass objects retrieved from it. From there we pushed on, deviating into Marmaris for a quick look before heading to Gocek, our yacht charter base. It was very hot, but we were able to get two rooms in the air-conditioned Deniz Hotel.
Our boat wasn't available until 6pm, so we drove to Fethiye for a
look around, then on to Olu-deniz. Again this area was full of English
tourists. The lagoon itself was not all that inspiring from ground level.
After lunch we returned to Gocek and waited for the boat to be ready for loading, and for
Avis to pick up the car.
Phase 2 - Our