Up up and away in Cappadocia

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We arose at 5 am today to be ready to take off for the sunrise at Cappadocia. Sixteen of our group gently took off for an hour excursion through the surrealistic landscape of the surrounding area. We told David, “Merry Christmas” as thoughts of our next MasterCard bill came to mind! Cappadocia is definitely one of the highlights of our Turkey tour. The rest of the day, we explored many of the underground cities and caves which were inhabited by the early Christians hiding from the Romans.

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Pamukkale

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Pamukkale means cotton castle. Fields of calcium carbonate on the top and side of a mountain are filled with pools of pale blue water heated by the earth’s magma. The water is body temperature, about 37 degrees.

Of course, beside the area are the second century B.C. ruins of the former city of Hieropolis where locals and people from afar took advantage of the healing properties of the water.

We loved it there and took a lot of pictures.

The Library of Celsus

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Tony’s favourite structure at Ephesus. It was build around 120 AD for Julius Celsus Polemaeanus. The statues in the niches of the facade symbolize the virtues of Celsus….wisdom, knowledge, destiny and virtue.

Ed will appreciate this one!

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One of the highlights of Turkey is the well preserved site of Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Many visitors come here from the port of Kusadasi, but our group came from Izmir, an hour away. We decided to ditch our tour group of 45 and took three mini-buses instead to do it on our own. Kind of crazy, only saved $75, but it was a fun challenge. We were a bit surprised to run into our group there, as it was so crowded.

This amphitheatre was built in the third century BC and was a theatre for wild animal fights and gladiator games. It could hold 24,000 spectators, with the original stage having three stories.

When we arrived, a group of Turkish students and their director were singing multi-part folk songs on the stage floor. The acoustics were amazing.

Pergamum

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Here we are at the Asclepsion, an ancient Roman spa that saw its heyday between 280-129 BC. Located near Pergamum, it’s best known for its healing powers using psychotherapy and herbal medicine.

The “inflicted” would walk with a guide through a tunnel filled with warm water from hot springs completely in the dark. Meanwhile, the doctor/guide would whisper “you will get better soon” while the two slowly walked through to the other side and into the light.

Pretty cool eh?

Blue Mosque

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Today we started our Gate 1 tour. It’s quite a big group, but the guide knows a lot and his English is perfect. We saw the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque and the Byzantine St. Sophia church. Both were very old, massive structures. David is worn out from all the walking. We dragged him to the archeological museum after lunch. Nap time!

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

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The next time you come to Istanbul, you must go to the grand Bazaar. Skyfall was just filmed here, but James Bond is no where to be found. The Grand Bazaar was built in 1455 and is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops, and attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and jewellery. It was very difficult, but we didn’t buy anything! (Yet)

Day 1of 92

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After nearly twenty four hours of travelling, we are now in Istanbul, Turkey. In behind us is Hafiz Ahmet, the restaurant we ate in tonight. As you can see, all of the cold vegetarian dishes are on display and you basically pick what you want on your plate.

Due to a communication problem, David and I ate double meals as we wanted to try the spicy kebap which also came with other food as well.

Going to bed soon as we slept very little in the last thirty six hours. Tomorrow we are off to the Grand Bazaar and other sites yet to be determined.

Tony, Michelle and David

It’s too cold here, we’re leaving again!

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We aren’t in Rome yet, but will be in just over a month. We wanted to let you know that we will be continuing our blog when we have wifi access, and that we really appreciated your feedback while in Asia. So don’t be afraid to write a comment.
Here’s a rough itinerary…
We will fly to Istanbul via Amsterdam then have a two week tour around Turkey. From there we will spend a week in Crete and then take a few ferries to see some Islands before heading to Athens and Rome. We will be picking up our Wicked Camper Van and touring around Italy. (Check it out at http://www.wickedcampers.co.uk) From Italy, we will drive to Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and end in Hungary. We fly home to celebrate summer at Long Point July 15th, so hope to see you all before Labour day.
Tony, Michelle and DAVID this time.
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