Part 2

Bursa, Izmir and Bergama.

We took the ferry from Istanbul to Bursa.  On the ferry we met Zeki Bayramoglu, a salesman for a clothing dye company.  He goes to Bursa every week to sell dye to the towel factories out there. Zeki is a very generous and charismatic man.  He'd been to America for about a year, and really loved it there.  He spent the whole day driving us around, showing us the area, and bought us lunch and dinner.This is one of Zeki's favorite fish restaurants, the Pinar Alabalik, on the road to Bursa. The trough behind is is where the fish are live right before they're eaten.

Zeki drove us up Uludag, a mountain that rises up behind Bursa.  Along the road was a farmer selling his products--quinces, apples, and walnuts. He presented us with a large bag filled with everything he sold, as a present.  It was the first time we'd tasted quinces--they're tasty, similar to apples, but very hard and a little more acidic.Zeki and Eric on Uldag.

Eric testing the waters at the Huzur Hotel, which is where we ended up staying.  The Bursa area is very famous for its hot springs, and the nicer hotels usually have a facility for "taking the waters".  We ended up not using it, though--too hot and claustrophobic.Zeki took us to a fish restaurant that evening.  If you look at the larger version of the picture, you can see that the fish have their gills pulled over their mouths, to show how red the gills are (and thus how fresh the fish is).

At the fish restaurant.This is in the covered market in Bursa.  It wasn't at all touristy--as a matter of fact, away from the Yesil Cami mosque (the main tourist attraction in Bursa), we saw only 2 other tourists the whole time we were there.

A whole area of the covered market was dedicated to wedding dresses.20 guesses as to what this is for.  Can't guess?  Well, around the age of  8 or 9, boys are circumcised in Turkey.  There's a big ceremony and party, and the boy gets to wear this special suit. (Oh boy, that sure makes up for it!)

At the Yesil Camii, this young man came up to talk to us.  Nuri Yildiz was his name--he's a 5th year English student at the university, and he comes and talks with tourists at the mosque to practice his English.  Eric has a container of Aryan in his hand--it's a drink made of yogurt, water, and salt, that's sold everywhere.We bought a scarf so that I could go into mosques.  This is me in front of the Yesil Camii.  Cute!

Eric met Omur Onan right outiside the Yesil Camii He spoke English very well--he had lived in New York many years, getting damaged carpets to repair from museums and carpet stores, sending them to Turkey for the actual repair, and then bringing them back. He showed us some of the repair techniques used.That evening there was a heavy thunderstorm.  Eric spent about half an hour trying to get a picture of the lightening.  This is the best one.  Needless to say, you have to be fast!

The next morning we took a bus to Izmir.  The bus stations are very modern, like airports.  The 5 hour bus ride cost $7.50 per person.This is at the Otel Antik Han, where we ended up staying.  The hotel is right in the middle of the bazaar.  They were very friendly.  The posted price for a double room was $70, but they asked for $29 and we settled on $26.  You bargain on almost everything in Turkey.

Next door was a sausage and olive shop.  There's a tremendous variety of olives here!Also in the bazaar was a shop which sold roasted nuts and seeds.  We had some excellent pumpkin seeds here, and also pistachios.  The owner really knew his stuff, and gave us some Turkish Delight, a soft jelly-like candy, for free.

This is our first few minutes in our new rental car, a Renaut Sahin.  Eric misses the big V8 engine in his car at home!This is the car in Bergama, the site of the ancient Greco-Roman city of Pergamum.  Pergamum is at the top of the hill in the background.

The Red Basilca is right in the middle of town.  It was originally a temple built to Serapis, an Egyptian god, around 200 AD. Later it became a Christian basilica, and currently part of it is used as a mosque.On both sides of the main building are towers you can climb up a short ways (most of the stairs have crumbled away).

Right next to the basilica was an olive tree.  Later we saw thousands of them, but this is my first close up of an olive tree in Turkey.This is the hilltop acropolis of Pergamum.  Parts of it are very well preserved, like this city wall.  It was really exciting to climb on walls that have stood there for millennium.  Great views of the area, too.  Notice the clouds looming above.

These kilns were everywhere.  We wondered what they were, and later discovered that in the middle ages, people took marble from ruins, and burned it in these furnaces.  The resulting material (lime, I believe) was used to make the whitewash.Part of the old city walls.

The weather is about to turn really nasty on us here.Eric was hit by lightening!  It wasn't a full on strike, but he was charged with electricity, and felt it discharge from his body through this foot.  Needless to say, we went downhill very quickly.

This guy came up to us and wanted us to take a picture of him with the snail.What a cool set of doorways!  There's been a lot of reconstruction in this area, which was part of a temple complex.

Some of the site was behind bars such as these.   Notice the gap in the middle, though?  I was able to squeeze through and take a peek at what was behind the bars.  There wasn't much, really, but it was fun being there.Here's me getting out of the restricted zone.

This is the theater at Pergamum.  I was very impressed--it was our first theater. Normally they're wider and not as high, but this one was built up.

Eric pretends to be a Roman gladiator.  Ericus Maximus!Sylvia among the columns.  This area is all reconstructed.

It started raining, and how!  We huddled among the ruins for a while, and escaped the worst of it.This is a great view of the Temple of Zeus, and Bergama in the background.  Most of this building was moved to a museum in Berlin in the 1800s.

Another shot of the theater. The steps are pretty well preserved in this part of the theater, the seats less so.This is the Temple of Dionysus, right next to the theater.

We met an American from Michigan who took this picture. He was going to go to Egypt through Israel, but I bet he wasn't able to go through Israel, because right about then is when the troubles there started.Similar shot, in the sun--what a difference!

The theater, and a adjunct building, from below.Notice the holes in the stone blocks?  Apparently, in the Middle Ages metals became very expensive because of a general breakdown of mining.  So people dug into the walls, and ripped out the bronze connectors between blocks.  We saw this in many ruins.

The road to the middle city.There's still some excavation going on in the middle city.  This must have been a guard dog.  Luckily he was tied up.  See how friendly he is! -- NOT!

We didn't know what this was at the time we saw it.  After seeing many more ruined cities, it was obvious to us--it's a bath!  People walk into the water on the steps.The middle city, with Bergama in the background.

If you look closely, you can see the steps in this picture.Eric and a freestanding arch.

This was the gymnasium in the middle city.There's something that looked like an underground tunnel with the top fallen in here.  It was huge!  We never figured out exactly what it was for.

Sylvia, posing on a column.  What a Goddess!Eric, posing on another column.

This little puppy followed us around everywhere in the middle city.These blocks look like they've been individually fitted into one another.

More columns in the middle city.A very well preserved cupola in the middle city.  Can you find Eric in this picture?

After Bergama, we drove back to Izmir.  We stopped in a huge grocery store, just to see what they were like.  I took a few pictures, but this security guard told me to stop.  Only later did I realize that we had him on film, telling us to stop taking pictures!  The grocery store was incredibly crowded, and huge.