Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blog Catch-up - Izmir Trip

       Sorry for the long absence. A deadly combination of internet access problems, two trips, and the delivery of our household goods shipment with ensuing chaos has kept me from posting. So . . some catching up is in order.
       In September Geoffrey and I flew to Izmir, a popular tourist city on the eastern Mediteranean coast. We had a date to meet up with the Tangs - our Aussie friends from San Antonio - who would be passing through on a cruise. We would have one day to spend with them and two days to spend just the two of us.
This was my favorite painting. Its St. Augustine watching a child play at the beach. The story had something to do with understanding the Trinity. I just liked the paining.
       Our hotel was in downtown Izmir and we spent our first day walking around the city and along a pretty boardwalk. We found the small military installation there and took a tour. We also found the old cathedral that the Air Force has rented from the Catholic Diocese for more than 50 years. The church is hidden behind a steel fence topped with barbed wire and you have to be buzzed in and show a military ID to a guard to get in. But its a beautiful church with huge fresco paintings on the high vaulted walls.
      We also rented a car that first evening so we would have it for our adventures the following day with the Tangs. Having been told where to purchase a toll card and gas, we set out during rush hour to procure both. And got lost. Very very lost. We had maps and my husband's fantastic sense of direction and my mediocre navigating skills.  But the Turkish signage never tells you what street you are on or what streets the exits are leading to. Instead, the signs tell you only what area of town that exit leads to. The maps, however, label only the streets.  So it took us almost two hours to accomplish what should have taken 25 minutes.
      The next day we managed to get out of town and drive the hour and a half to the port town of Kusadasi where the cruise ships dock. We were only able to find a small rental car, a sedan that had room for 4 comfortably. Our plan was to find another car to rent in Kusadasi to accommodate the Tangs and their friends the Woolleys. But no rental cars were to be had, so we all piled in, circus clown style and drove to Ephesus.
      Ephesus reminded me of Machu Picchu. You can see pictures of it and think you have a grasp on what its like. But a visit there gives you a totally different experience.  Ephesus was amazing! To walk on stones and touch pillars that were there when Christ walked the earth. To see the amphitheatre where Paul preached. To see the buildings and sculptures this culture created without the use of modern machinery or building techniques. It's astounding. I highly recommend it.
       I always feel so distinctly American when I visit places like this. We have so many positive wonderful aspects in the US. We are so unique. Despite our imperfections, we are the most benevolent super-power history has ever seen. But in the greater scope of history we are SO dang young. And so as an American I feel a bit like a kindergartner being allowed to walk across a college campus. I think I'm pretty great because I've managed to learn my letters and colors and I hardly ever eat the glue sticks or run with scissors. But who knows how I will do in the next five or ten centuries?
Chantelle is the middle and her lovely friend Norelle is on the left.
We shelled out the extra Euro to go into the terraced houses exhibit. Fascinating stuff and cool to see the excavators at work. Once we were finished touring the ruins we visited the museum which housed many of the statues and artifacts found in the ruins. We also found a little place to have some lunch. Honestly the food was not great and I wished we could've found a better representation of Turkish food for our friends.
All you Texans - notice the Buckee's shirt that Mark is sporting?
     Once we got back to Kusadasi, we walked out a long jetty of sorts to a random ancient building turned park at the end where a nice kid who worked on the cruise boats shot a couple of pictures for us. Then we had to say goodbye. It was so great to see friends from home and make some new ones as well. We tried unsuccessfully to convince them to sneak us into their suitcases and then drove back to Izmir.
      And almost died. Repeatedly.  That little street map problem I mentioned earlier? Well, we missed our exit and it reared its hideous head again. Honestly, I have never been so terrified in a car. Ever. At one point we were caught between two semis both merging into our lane. I actually covered my ears. When the crisis was over and we were miraculously not dead, Geoffrey asked me why I covered my ears. (He knows I do this during scary movies so I won't hear the scary music.) I told him it was so I wouldn't have to hear myself screaming while we got squooshed and died.   Somehow we finally got back to the right section of town and were only a half hour late returning the rental car. We walked back to our hotel and I was never so happy to be walking in my whole life. I like the Turkish people. Until they get into a car.
     Our last day was a commercial tour we had booked through the base travel agency along with our plane tickets. We shared the tour with a charming retired military couple from Idaho and an interesting Russian Swiss man who had very distinct political views. He and the tour guide had several heated discussion on our drive out to Pergamon.  We saw some more ruins that day including the steepest amphitheatre in the world. They were not as impressive as Ephesus but our guide was knowledgeable and the day was beautiful. The highlight for Geoffrey was seeing the ruins of the Asclepium, hospital complex where patients could bathe in healing waters, take naps and then have their dreams interpreted, or listen to soothing musical concerts. Hmmm. . . sounds more like an expensive spa than a hospital. The famous physician Galen - whom Geoffrey knew all about - worked at this hospital for many years.
Here's Geoffrey with a statue of Galen. 
       After a long day of touring we were dropped off at the airport. We were the last ones to be dropped off and Geoffrey spent the last leg of the drive discussing language dialect and pronunciation with our guide. He had been taught English by both an American and a Brit and wanted to know which country's English he more resembled phonetically. We couldn't say but Geoffrey rounded out his education by teaching him some Southern redneck expressions and word corruptions. (Think ya'll and fixin tah ' and the like.) He caught on to these very well. God forgive us!
       So that was Izmir. A great trip that both Geoff and I needed. Stay tuned for an account of the family trek to Germany.


1 comment:

  1. Ida, I LOVE reading your blog! It makes me smile, and laugh and miss you so much! I am glad you are having some fun adventures!