"are all Amerıcan women so beautıful?"
26.06.2007 - 28.06.2007 50 °C
Our Greek adventure came to an end on Tuesday when we took a ferry from Samos to Kuşadasi, Turkey - the resort capital / cruise ship paradise of the Agean coast. Entering Turkey, we all have the privilege of paying a €10 port tax AND purchase a €15 entry vısa, for whıch we had to surrender our passports. Wouldn`t you guess that the machıne was down, so they sent our passports ınto the center of town to scan them while this hoarde of 15 backpackers waited ın the practically deserted terminal. (All the day trippers from the cruise ships had to leave their passports all day while they were in town)
When we eventually got them back, we were a bit worried that the guy from Hotel Sezguın who was to pick us up would have left, but as soon as I brought out the brochure he approached us. And as soon as he approached us, a cop car approached him and began shouting! Apparently in Turkey (contrary to most every other country we've been to) barkers aren't permıtted to approach you at the ferry or bus station enticing you to stay at their hotel or pension, and the police were angry! They asked another man to ask us ın English if we were "customers of this man" ...so much drama ın just 1 hour in the country!
We checked into our hotel and promptly jumped into the pool to cool off. We met quıte the collection of Aussies staying at our pension and one of them showed us where the best gyro pıtas ın town were found, as well as these delicious Turkish pides (basically pizzas) made right when you order them for only 2.5 Lıra.
Because the weather was so hot, but forecasted hotter the next day, we decıded to head to Ephesus that eveniıng to avoid the bus tour groups as well as the sweltering afternoon heat. Such a good decision! Only about 20 km away, we took the local transport minibus to the Roman ruins at Ephesus and explored the grand town still very well preserved - even when compared to many of the places we've seen so far on our inadvertent tour of the Roman empire. The grand theatre was stunning, but the facade of the Library was majestic! One of the only buildıngs still intact - you can see that this was an exemplary city! Two thumbs up for these ruins.
That night we had BBQ prepared at the pension by the Turkısh proprietors (veggıe for me...) and then spent the next day basically avoiding heat exhaustion wandering through the market and hanging by the pool before our overnight bus to İstanbul. Let me say one thing on Turkish bus service: CLASSY! The staff dressed wıth crisp white shirts and bowties, and in the middle of the journey, they came down the aisle with a cart and served cake and tea and coffee...just like an air hostess...now that's service!
Once in İstanbul, we tried to take the metro to the Sultanhammet area where our hostel is located, but the system was too confusing for us at that hour of morning/exhaustion, so we opted for a cab after a failed attempt to transfer about halfway there. OOPS! Our cab driver must not live ın İstanbul, because he had no idea where we were going. Permit me to make a comparison: the Aya Sofia (Sultanhammet neighborhood, where we were staying) is to İstanbul as the Empire State Building is to New York Cıty. Tell me how someone would be able to get a cab driver's license wıthout knowing how to get to the most popular monument in the city!? It was actually sort of funny, Sarah and I in the backseat with our crappy Lonely Planet map trying to direct our cab driver while he pulls over every 2 minutes to ask a fellow cab driver how to get to the Aya Sofia (and of course, they all laugh at him)...one cabbie saw us in the back with the map and asked ıf one of us spoke French, so I told him where we wanted to go and he gave our driver explicit directions - which he promptly forgot.
It was pretty funny.
At lunch, our waiter asked ıf all american girls are so lovely...and then offered us free turkish tea anytime because he wants to "practice his English" (we also encountered this same line about 3 more times in the course of the afternoon...) We managed to see the Aya Sofia (built by the Emperor Justinian) and the Blue Mosque today - they are both so amazingly ornate, and it was my first time ever entering a mosque - quite a grand introduction. But Sarah and I were the only tourists smart enough to dress covering our shoulders & knees and bring along scarves...we didn't look as silly as the men who had to wear skırts of scarves provided by the staff to ensure modesty.