Monday, August 1, 2011


Why we went to Turkey
We are fortunate to travel and for me, part of the joy of travel is sharing our adventures with our family and friends. For this trip, other reasons included: friends and colleagues have loved visiting Turkey and recommended it; my husband, Hoyt L. Edge, Professor of Philosophy, teaches ancient humanities from time to time and Turkey is critical to that topic.  In addition, Rollins College, where Hoyt teaches, encourages faculty (and provides some funds) to travel abroad in an effort to gain an understanding of other cultures and bring home insights for students.

My name is Charlene Lamy Edge, and writing is about the best way for me to process and find meaning in my experiences, so I can't help but scribble about our travels. I hope something in this blog is of interest to you.

Reading this blog
On the mid-upper right side of the main blog page, under Blog Archive, look for links to Parts I through IV of this blog story.

World Heritage Sites Tour

What's a country like Turkey doing in a place like this?
Once known as Asia Minor, Turkey is huge peninsula about one and a half times the size of Texas, but to me is far more interesting. Texans, don’t take that personally, you can’t help it. Turkey extends horizontally into the waters around it.  To the north, Turkey faces the Black Sea; several countries including Iran are to the east; Iraq to the southeast; Syria to the south (we were about 18 miles from the border when we visited Harran, which was first inhabited in the 3rd millennium BCE.) To the west, The Mediterranean Sea sparkles and holds histories of invaders/visitors sailing to ports like famous Ephesus.

Civilizations criss-crossed, conquered, and cultivated Turkey
There are temples, mosques, churches and houses from so many eras and in so many stages of ruination or the lack thereof that it would take a thousand pots of Turkish coffee to keep me awake to keep them straight: Paleolithic era, Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian trading colonies, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods. Whew.

Beyond belief - MANY heritage sites
Our trip's goal was to visit Turkey's many World Heritage Sites. These sites are valuable in preserving humankind's history. "The idea of creating an international movement for protecting heritage emerged after World War I. The 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage developed from the merging of two separate movements: the first focusing on the preservation of cultural sites, and the other dealing with the conservation of nature."

Education Vacation = Be ready to push yourself
This kind of tour demands lots of walking, climbing, and on some days, an average of five hours drive time because Turkey is so vast and sites are all over the place.  To visit most of these places, we signed up with Pasha Tours for a two-week road trip, leaving the driving to them (the last week of our trip we drove by ourselves). 

This was an educational tour, not a vacation escape, so we set our expectations accordingly.  Relaxing time was scant, but all meals were included with Pasha, as well as site and museum fees. Before we left home, we scheduled personal down time before and after the Pasha part of our 27-day long trip. I can't complain: I didn't have to cook for a month!

World heritage sites in Turkey

The following are those we visited:
The following are on a tentative list:
We also spent time in several places NOT on the list, like Amasya and Sivas.

We left the USA on May 23 and were in Turkey from May 24 through June 19. That is a great time of year to go – hot but not unbearable, with little rain.  When it did downpour in Istanbul, no worries. Shop keepers immediately hauled out racks of umbrellas for sale.

Seeing the world

A word about traveling
In a recent issue of our local paper, The Orlando Sentinel, a colleague of Hoyt’s, another frequent flier named Michael M. Gunter, Jr., wrote an article, “Show Your Patriotism by Seeing the World.”  I especially liked his admonition, “Treat travel abroad as an opportunity to discredit the arrogant and obnoxious American stereotype, to engage in polite debate about U.S. foreign policy and gain understanding of how we fit into the grander scheme of the world.” 

We try and keep those things in mind, although on this trip, due to our inability to speak Turkish, we had few chances to talk politics, except for English conversations with our guest house host in Istanbul at the start of the trip and later with our Pasha guide.  We did, however, have an interesting evening of haggling and laughing with a carpet seller in Bergama who, after a lively couple of hours stuttering broken English, sold us a Turkish carpet. More on that in Part III.

So we're thankful for the privilege to travel, especially given the current global economic mess. I hope that in sharing our adventures here we can add to your appreciation of the world, too.

Click the Part of the story you want to read. Enjoy!

Part I – Istanbul Excursions. My husband, Hoyt and I explored Istanbul, just the two of us. Sites included the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, The Grand Bazaar, The Bosphorus Strait, and the mosaic/fresco-filled Chora Church.

Part II From Ankara to Antalya. After four days of “honeymooning in Istanbul,” we took an overnight train to Ankara (the capital) and for about two weeks traveled with Pasha Tours, with nearly every night spent in a different town.  We shared a van with three other travelers, a Turkish guide and a driver. I’ll tell you about some of our stops: Ankara, Safronbolu, Amasya, Cappadocia, Sivas, Divrigi, Nemrut Dag, Urfa, Harran, Gobekli Tepe, Konya, Pammukale, Aphrodisias, and Atalya.

Part III – The Tourquise Coast.  On June 11 in Antalya, we left the group, rented a car and Hoyt drove us across the southwest and up the west coast to visit Myra, Letoon, Xanthos, Sidman, Fethye, Didyma, Miletus, Didyma, Miletus (where philosophy was born more or less), Prien, Selcuk, Ephesus, Pergamon.

Part IV - Troy, Gallipoli and Homeward Bound.  Just so you know, yes, Troy really is a real place where a real war happened, not a fictional town in Homer's Illiad. Amazing, to say the least. Gallipoli, the site of a more recent war, was our last stop at the park/monument to WWI heroes.

We returned to the USA on June 20, happy as always to be home again. And trying to come to more understanding of "how we fit into the grander scheme of the world." 

"Secretly we spoke, that wise one and me.
I said, 'Tell me the secrets of the world.'
He said, 'Sssh, let silence tell you the secrets of the world.'"

~ Rumi, mystic poet and founder of the Whirling Dirvishes.
His burial place is in Konya, Turkey