A panorama of Yedikule Castle. Be patient it is worth it!
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
Wednesday – Istanbul Day 4 – Turkey Day 24
After an extensive (and expensive) trip through the Bosphorus on Tuesday I figured we might try and learn some local transportation. Not that I wanted to go all bus crazy but at least to use the tram system. From the cruise I had seen 2 different palaces (on each side of the Bosphorus) and though it might be fun to hit them today.
We took a tram out of the old city to the first palace but when I got there I noticed there were some ferries going across the water. The guy told me they were like $1 and left every 10 minutes. So we headed across back to Asia and then took a very short taxi ride to Beylerbeyi Palace. This was a very very ornate palace (with no heating or kitchens!) and no photography on the inside so I only have one or two shots of the interior. Some gorgeous – well everything. They made us put shower caps on our shoes which was pretty funny (and apparently the theme for the day. After we had lunch and headed back via taxi to the ferry and then via ferry to Europe again.
Once we were back in Europe we headed to Dolmabache Palace – which is enormous (and expensive). We walked the ground for a bit (no photography indoors) and then headed to the Harem section. Most of it was under renovation and everything was by tour only. The good thing was that the tour just meant a group of people with the guide saying little and a rear guard moving along the stragglers (us). It was interesting but short. The clock museum was apparently close but the aviary and Crystal Atrium were wonderful – there were birds just walking around it was pretty neat. We finally headed into the palace proper and got into an English tour group (required) that was too big and most people didn’t speak English. So from the back you could hear nothing and people kept pushing and showing. We stayed in the back (cause otherwise people ran all over you) and these 3 really rude ladies in front of us started arguing with the security guard who was telling them not to linger. The funny thing was – we were behind them so we could take our time and he would yell at them. One of the three had a perfume bottle and every few minutes would spray herself (and the surrounding area) with some lemon stuff. She bumped me really good once and said “I’m sorry” I asked if she was sorry because she did it or because I was upset that she did it. She was not amused. But let me let you after you are behind some obnoxious people for 40 minutes you aren’t either. The rear guard kept looking at me for sympathy and boy did he have it. That aside the palace was amazing and the last room they showed you was this main hall with giant ceiling and huge columns and it was probably one of the most spectacular rooms (that I wasn’t allowed to photograph) that I have ever seen in my life (and think of all the places I have been!)
We were done fairly early and since we had no more palaces to see that day I took my friend Karyn’s advice and headed via Funicular to Taksim Square. It was really an active place though not much to photograph except the crowds. We stopped at Starbucks (which was very grounding) and then started to walk around the Istiklal Caddesi neighborhood. It was just a SEA of people and shopping. There was a sweet shop I was looking for with some Art Nouveau decorations but I realized it was very far away. So we headed back to the square and hopped on the old street car which took us right through the entire neighborhood! We found the sweet shop but it was fairly modernizes and the Art Nouveau decor while great wasn’t worth photographing (not what I do). As we walked we saw some street performers (whose CD I purchased) and headed on.
Eventually we go to the Galata Tower (whose ORIGIN dates back to the 6th century). Its very neat and the inside has elevators to the 7th floor – the views however are from the 9nth floor. When you get up to the top it is lovely but way to crowded – the sun was setting and I got some nice pictures of old Istanbul (and the haze). There is a dinner show at the top that is like 90 Euros (that’s right Euros) per person but he told me if it was cash it could be cheaper. We passed. We went downstairs and had a lovely dinner from the base of the tower – which is very castle like.
We walked back to the Metro and headed home – very tired but much cheaper transportation costs!
Istanbul Day 4 – Summary:
Thursday – Istanbul Day 5 – Turkey Day 25
As you can see I travel at quite a pace and we have been very tired. The temp is in the 90s and so is the humidity. Everyday is an ode to how much can I perspire! The trip has been shaping quite nicely. And the goal for today was to hit the outer walls of Istanbul. There was once castle in particular I wanted to see but I also noticed the ruin of a palace both in the guidebook and on a taxi ride and decided we would start there. Regretfully it also started to rain.
We walked in the rain down the coastal walls for a bit and eventually stopped for lunch – we got a late start – which is fine since we are really going through my checklist fast. When we came to the ruin of the Bucoleon Palace it was just cleared for a minute to get some photos of the really nice ruins of windows. It was at this point we ran into some serious trouble. All over Istanbul there are cats. Feral cats. Wild cats. Stray cats. They mostly beg for food and look kinda sickly – some are interesting and most seem unafraid of tourists. I find them all delightful and am amazed at how many there are. Usually you can see momma and babies or brothers and sisters. Well we came across a very very small kitten and it was very very friendly. It was also adorable. I have to note that this is the 100th cat we have seen so this isn’t me just being a pushover it was meowing and mewing and following us and it let Jenny place with her and it was adorable. Eventually we had to make sure it didn’t follow us. Last night I spent a lot of time figuring out the proper legal procedures for importing a cat. It isn’t as hard as you think especially if they are kittens but if you do it wrong they will destroy it at the border. Updates on the kitten situation as we continue our research (and assuming we can find it again if we do decide to rescue it).
We walked (well short taxi then a walk) to the train station and headed to Yedikule. This was an OLD train and (but not like the cable car nostalgic one ) and there were no tourists on it. When we got off I asked some old men where the… he cut me off and just pointed. One block away and you couldn’t miss Yedikule Castle or the Fortress of the 7 towers. There was a film shoot going on in one of the towers but otherwise it was perfect a big open and empty castle with full access and views of the water and the walls. One of the stairwell has a railing which was nice (though many others did not) and it was a very fun exploration. Plus at the very top you could see all of these ships in the Sea of Marmara it was amazing!
After the castle we flagged down a cab take us to the Church of St. Savior in Chora. Its a little out of the way for most people but inside were the most amazing frescoes and mosaics. Its hard to describe just how breathtaking it all was and Jenny thought they were better than at the Haghia Sofia (and made me upgrade my book selection for the one with even better pictures).
We walked (I say that I lot don’t I) back to the metro station and along the way we stopped and saw the old Theodosian Walls. This was something I wanted to see and it goes on and on and on. Also so do the vagrants who don’t just hang out at the walls but apparently have set up shanties IN the walls. We didn’t stay too long and then we headed back to the Metro station. We found some more cats (a momma and a baby) and then realized we were looking at a very old cemetery with some beautiful tombstones that were cast side and hidden away. I took some photos – Jenny played with the cats (without touching them – these didn’t seem great) and then really headed to the metro and to the final destination for the day: Al Muhiddin Haci Bekir. This sweet shop has been open since 1777 and this is the guy who invented Turkish Delight and its still run by the same family! We went in – had some samples – got some sweets and headed out. We also stopped at a specialty stop nearby that gave us samples till we were full! We did purchase some things there too. We will not be bringing back food presents for people though – its just too much of a hassle.
We found a great place for dinner and their dessert menu was very robust except they only had one item on the entire menu! (Yes Monty Python Cheese Shop jokes ensued). A quick metro back home and my only problem now is that I have filled my computer with pictures and have 2 more days left of touring. I hope you are enjoying this so far I really wanted to catch up on my quick stories.
Istanbul Day 5 – Summary:
Bucoleon Palace Ruin
Church of St. Savior in Chora
Al Muhiddin Haci Bekir – Sweet Shop
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
Monday – Istanbul Day 2 – Turkey Day 22
Wow – I messed up my dates again – in my previous post I talked about Sunday (might) and Monday when in fact I meant Saturday night and Sunday all day. I have since fixed the blog entries. This is important because – well because it is.
Having spent Sunday (got it now) doing pretty much the heart of the old city of Istanbul I figured it would be a good time to do some shopping. How before you go all “you have to be kidding” on me – I though it would be important to see what was being sold for what price plus most things are closed on Mondays (hence my own confusion in writing this).
We started off for the Grand Bazaar and along the way we hit Constantine’s Column (which is different from the one from Sunday) and a whole bunch of merchants selling crap for all prices. We then entered the Grand Bazaar – it was amazing – such a fun time – we didn’t buy anything (yet) but its a maze of stuff – some good – some bad – some amazing – and we just threw ourselves into it and let ourselves get lost in the STUFF. It has over 4,000 stores! Crazy! And the area around it just creeps and gets larger and larger. After a few hours I needed some air and we ducked out into a side area.
We soon found ourselves in a part of town were there were not many tourists. I finally was able to purchase myself a vest (the kind the the men all wear here with lots of pockets) and Jenny found a scarf shop where the prices were VERY cheap (like $2-$3 per scarf) and then she bought a dress for $10 and a skirt for $10 and was very happy.
We then headed over to the Egyptian or the Spice Bazaar where we were told the prices would be cheaper and of course where we could buy spices. I had previously samples this wonderful tea in Guneykent that nobody could find for me locally. They wrote down the name for me and each vendor told me either no or that I was mistaken. Finally a guy sits me down – pulls out a big old book – looks in his cross referenced index and then says here it is – its Black Cumin. We have it as an oil or a tea. I purchased some for tea and then let him sell me a whole bunch of other tea’s and spices (which he vacuum packed). Its nice to have good service. Once we were loaded up it was kinda sad because no one had much to sell us – we did let one guy sell me some more spices and one other guy sell us some more tea. I tend to go for the more colorful vendors – if they tell me a good story or make me laugh then I will probably deal with them. Except the one guy who called me Professor (which I felt good about because he didn’t call me cowboy) and then said Professor Indiana Jones and proceeded to whistle the theme song from Raiders each time I walked by. We did NOT eat at his restaurant.
We left the Spice Bazaar to get some lunch and found a really nice china shop (not a little street market place but a real store) and got ourselves a quality set of tea cups for a good price. I also got another vest 😉
Heading back to the Grand Bazaar we wanted to head over the Book Bazaar. On the way we got stopped by some very aggressive merchants. Jenny ended up with shoes and I ended up with designer jeans (they really are Armani and there really where cheap). It was fun! We were tired though and didn’t get anything at the Book Bazaar and just came back to the hotel. I knew that Tuesday would be crazy (and expensive) and I wanted us to be well rested. Jenny was so sick of shopping (we did purchase more than we said we would) and I think it was good that we mostly got it out of our systems then. I budgeted one more day/afternoon for shopping though at the end of the week.
Istanbul Day 2- Summary:
Tuesday – Istanbul Day 3 – Turkey Day 23
There are Castles to see in Istanbul – well right outside of Istanbul all on the Bosphorus and I really wanted to see them. Sometimes there is only one way to get to see them – spend money on travel. But you don’t fly around the world to get cheap on the taxis so here goes.
Out hotel arranged for me to get a taxi to Rumeli Hisari (also known as the Castle of Europe) located on the European side of Istanbul on the Bosphorus. The taxi drive drove like a bat out of hell (as they all do) and dropped us off at this really kick ass castle. This castle was built in 1452 in about 4 months. 4 months! The story is that the sultan gave each of his advisers one of the three towers to be responsible for and that if it wasn’t done on time that they would get killed. Talk about a DEADline. The castle was fun – you could walk everywhere (though NO railing) and it even had a wonderful amphitheater.
After our walk around the castle we stopped for lunch and then I flagged down another taxi driver. He understood what I wanted to do and he drove us across the suspension bridge that spans the Bosphorus and drove us to the Asian side of Istanbul. Drove us over a bridge to another continent – how cool is that. Anyways on the other side is a slightly older castle (though now in total ruins) called Anadolu Hisari (or the Castle of Asia). He stopped and I took some pictures and then he drove on and dropped us off at a local ferry stop.
At this point (about half way up the Bosphorus) we boarded a ferry that took us from town to town up the straight to the Black Sea. We didn’t get off however until we hit Anadolu Kavagi (a small fishing village) and the last stop on the ferry. When we got out we found a taxi driver and asked if he could take us up the mountain to the castle (yes another castle) and he laughed and said that’s all he did all day – drove people up the mountain and waited to take them back down.
He then drove us to the Yoros Kalesi which to be honest looked a bit better from the water as there was an excavation team working on the place (securing it with gates and digging areas up) so we could only walk around a little – the view of the mouth of the Black Sea was pretty cool though.
When we got back to the taxi he asked us if we wanted to see some other sights since we had some time before the last boat left and I said yes (which was slightly foolish since I didn’t negotiate a price first – but sometimes you just have some fun). He drove us much further north through area that was all NATO and previously off limits (signs were everywhere!)
He dove us further on until we hit Beykoz and the Lighthouse of Anadolu Feneri. Regretfully they had just closed and he took us instead to some really nice cliff overlooking not the Bosphorus but the Black Sea itself! It was really worth the extra time and money to get a good look at the Black Sea. He then drove us back a ways and we stopped at Poyrazköy where we saw the beaches (its where the tourist ferries drop people off to swim for an hour). He then drove us back in town for the last ferry home. When I asked him what I owed him he quoted me a price way higher then I would have expected (for as he put it the “tour of the Bosphorus and Black Sea” and while I could have argued and even gotten some off it wasn’t worth the effort – he gave us a great time and I wasn’t going to ruin my day with the aggravation. I think he was shocked himself when I didn’t say anything and just paid him what he asked. And to be honest it wasn’t really that much.
This time we would be taking the Ferry the entire length of the Bosphorus. For most of the trip Jenny read and I slept (as we had done this already and I was tired). About half way through I got up and started to photography the castles we had seen earlier from the water (with mixed results) and then shot the palace’s we passed along the way. I was so inspired by two of them I decided that we would do them the next day! When we got back to the old city we were quite a ways from the hotel – we started to walk (as we hadn’t played with the tram system yet) and a taxi picked us up. Jenny got in the front and I got in the back because we were in the middle of the street. When we got to the hotel he asked for WAY too much money and I realized he was bad taxi driver (a real driver but either a bad meter or he hadn’t reset it before we got in). I told him he was cheating us and offered him much less money (though a tad more than the real price because I wanted him to accept) and he did. Later Jenny told me he kept trying to GRAB HER LEG – he kept touching her with his pinky when he was shifting (and then when he wasn’t)! She was smart and just shifted her body out of reach. If I would have known I would have done something stupid to be sure!
That last part aside – it was a pretty successful day.
Istanbul Day 3- Summary:
Anadolu Feneri Lighthouse
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
Saturday – Istanbul Arrival (Day 0 or Day 20 in Turkey)
When Jenny got in we just grabbed a taxi to the hotel – he didn’t know where it was and kept lamenting how this was very bad and very difficult and then surprisingly (to him as well) got us there very quickly and cheaply. The hotel is GREAT – good Internet – nice beds – fabulous view and right in the Hippodrome. We walked around for a bit grabbed dinner and headed back for the grand adventure!
Sunday – Istanbul Day 1 – Turkey Day 21
On Sunday we decided to stay close to our hotel (which is located right next door to the Hippodrome) and walk around and see what we can do. We visited the Hippodrome (area – as there is not much left) and saw the Egyptian Obelisk – which was crazy amazing – like how do you even transport something that big let alone make it (it used to be bigger even), the Column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus (which looks like a giant Jenga game) and the Serpentine Column (which is neat but you almost miss between these other two).
We headed to the Blue Mosque which was truly awe inspiring. Jenny brought her own scarf (though they were giving them out). The place was just a sight to see – contrasting the beauty of the place was the tourists who all had taken off their head coverings and let their children roam around the areas that were off limits. The lack of respect some people show always amazes me.
We then headed to the Haghia Sophia. Wow – I mean WOW – WOW! Pictures do not do it justice. It feels OLD – it feels big – and it was just amazing. Jenny liked that the second floor was gotten to by a series of ramps and not stairs. It was very dark and there was some renovation going on but I think I got some amazing photos and the mosaics – its enough to make you a mosaic fan to see just how detailed they were.
On Andrea’s recommendation we headed next to the Basilica Cistern – which was very damp and slippery (and dark) but really worth it to see the 2 Marble Medusa heads that were built into the columns (one upside down – one sideways!)
Lots of vendors of course and for some reason people keep asking me if I am from Texas (my hat doesn’t look like a cowboy hat and they should know that – they sell cowboy hats here!)
We were doing so well time wise we headed to Topkapi Palace and visited the private (Harem Section) as well as the public sections. Such an amazing structure and museum. The museum has a wonderful treasury and some amazing relics – seeing Mohammed’s footprint, tooth, and beard were one thing but I was also amazed that they head Moses’ Staff, David’s Sword, Joseph’s Turban, and Abraham’s Saucepan! Wow! Oh and they have a 86 carat diamond!
We then headed into the park to watch some Pigeons fight over a pretzel and then get totally dominated by some finches!
Dinner was very nice and the person at the table next to us had their meal cooked in a sealed pot over a big flame and then broken open and served to them. Roughly the menus translated to shish kabob, meatballs, or chops 🙂 Meat means lamb – and everyone sells rice pudding. Works for me.
Istanbul Day 1 – Summary:
– Egyptian Obelisk
– Column of Constantine Porphyrogenitus
– Serpentine Column
Topkapi Palace, Museum, and Harem
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
So here goes – the end of my 3 week adventure in Isparta/Gonen (and the start of my 1 week adventure in Istanbul). I will post a few pictures from Istanbul tomorrow!
I somehow messed up my day numbers but trust me we are up to Day 14.
Day 14 – Sunday
When I left off I had just gone to bed in a nice hotel in Antalya. When I awoke I went and did the Turkish bath thing which was crazy! First they put me on this very very hot stone and after leaving me there (where it feels like you are melting with the sweat just pouring out of you) they then come back and pour really hot water on you – which would hurt but the stone is so hot it feels cool against your skin.
They then grab a scouring pad and exfoliated my body and then covered me in giant bubbles and massaged me. When that was over they sat me down and rinsed me first in hot water then in ice cold the in hot and then in cold. My pours were like “Make up your mind!” They then sat me in a chair and had me relax and drink some water which I did.
Everyone else was going to stay in the hotel and go swimming but not me – not when its 104 degrees and 95 percent humidity. I went out.
My first stop was the old city and to see the Hadrian Gate (which was cool) and then to walk through the town. As I said it was very hot and there were no tourists so everyone wanted to be my friend (and sell me a carpet). The first place I stopped to buy some water the guy asked me how much I made per month (next!). The prices were much higher than I had seen in Gonen and Isparta and I was warned ahead of time (which is why I got my scarves in Gonen). Everyone as I said wanted to sell you something and I did let the guy with the Hawaiian Ice sell me some of his product.
The old city is full of ruins and authentic buildings and I loved The Korkut which was a roman temple, a church, and then a mosque (now a ruin).
As I continued through town I met a man who asked me to teach him photography and I jokingly gave him a few tips. He didn’t try to sell me a rug – it turns out instead he is a designer and we had a really long talk on how carpets get made and designed (and he really didn’t try to sell me anything). He insisted that if I had time on the way back that I have a drink or a meal with him.
As I headed further towards the sea it turns out that there is a Castles in the old city! Very nice round town on a square base which was great fun and then I walked down a path that led down to the Mediterranean Sea itself where people were fishing (and some were just making out).
On the way back my friend at the carpet store had me sit with him and I had a nice snack and a drink and we promised to stay in touch (we already are friends on Facebook).
I went back to the hotel (after taking pictures of more of the old walls) and found that everyone was ready for me – that they replaced the brakes on the van (which had started acting up on Saturday) and then we went to dinner where everyone had the lamb meatballs and I had my first of many meals of oh so yummy lamb chops!
We picked up the students from their hotel and headed back to Gonen.
It was a long trip back and Paul is a great diver – especially at night – one black cat did try and cross our path but – well lets just say the next day we could see it on the road still.
Day 15 – Monday
On Monday I had to finish shooting at the Museum (we did the same setup again) and I was nervous because there was a field trip in the afternoon that I didn’t want to miss so we made sure to shoot in a hurry.
That afternoon we were going to Antiochia to see another archeology team in action – the site itself is open to the public and visitors but we were going to be taken around.
Andrea drove us there about 90 minutes and then dropped is off as he had another errand to run. He told us exactly what to see and do before we left. When we got to the gate however they wouldn’t let us in – it was strange because if we were tourists it wouldn’t have been a problem. Instead they made us take off all of our cameras (which we did) and leave them with security and then took us to their field house.
At the field house we waited (they did offer of some instant coffee) and waited and waited and after about an hour Andrea came back – apologized for any confusion and they took us on a very nice tour of the site (though no photography – unless you are sneaky with your iPhone) and the day was rescued. I learned an awful lot on this one and even though it was a strange start it was a great end.
Day 16 – Tuesday
In what turned out to be our last excursion – Andrea wanted to go out to the site of an old Roman road that he had been told about by the director of the Museum. He had gone out earlier and told me that the farmers had called the Gendarme (presumably because people were poking around – though more likely because real archeologists cut into their business of looting and selling on the black market).
When we got to the site we found that part of the road had been covered by an illegally laid gravel path but enough was still visible that you could really make out the grooves and such. As we walked around trying to see where it went we stumbled on an old necropolis (ie some open stone cut graves). They had been emptied a long time ago as we could see trees growing out of some of them. We spotted at least 15 graves. It was really cool – we discovered a previously unknown ancient necropolis! Some farmer kept driving back and forth giving us dirty looks as we walked around but the cops never came (and we had papers so they could have anyways!) Andrea also showed me another ancient city up on a mountain – whose name eludes me at the moment – and it was pretty neat overall.
When I got back and checked out my GPS logs and the satellite photos it was funny because you could clearly see where the Roman road turned into a more modern dirty path and though we didn’t have time we need to go back next year and check it out.
The last stop of the day was based on a tip Andrea had gotten on another stretch of Roman road near the railroad crossing. We found the crossing – parked the car – and then just started to hike – we found…. nothing. And that’s quite often the way that stuff goes – Andrea talked to another farmed and has another lead but again that is for next year.
Day 17 & 18 – Wed and Thurs
With so much data collected I really needed to post process – I had set Karyn up with a small photo station in the lab where she was shooting Shards of pottery. She shot 1300 photos I needed to post process and I needed to post process the 106 museum objects (with multiple views). While I was editing – everyone else was packing – not just our stuff – they had to dismantle the field house back into a school!
Day 19 – Friday
Friday was chaos as they took apart are beds and packed everything up. We would be staying a hotel Friday night (since our beds were gone). We said goodbye to Gonen and headed into Isparta. That afternoon Bilge (the Director) took us to a mountain stop cafe where we had lemonade and said our goodbyes. Then we checked into the hotel we saw that they were setup for a wedding! Then we found out that the hotel had no AC and that the wireless barely worked from our room. The three of us proceeded to lay in our beds quietly sweating without Internet and listening to the wedding until about midnight when we fell asleep.
Day 20 – Saturday
We got up at 4:15am on Saturday to catch your flights to Istanbul. My bags were overweight since I was ONLY flying to Istanbul and I talked them into only charging me about $30 for them. The flight was less than an hour but they served us food!
Karyn headed into Istanbul, Paul and Adam headed to their flight and was going to have to wait until 3pm for Jenny to arrive. For 3 weeks I had been in Turkey working and now sitting alone at the airport I was getting ready for my vacation to begin.
I watched a movie on my iPad. Had a Whopper at Burger King (Don’t judge me! It was my first in 3 weeks and at least I didn’t eat at the Popeyes!) got a shave – got a haircut (said goodbye to the ponytail after over a decade!) and waited and waited.
Jenny arrived and we headed into Istanbul for the next leg of the adventure!
Coming soon – Istanbul!
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
Sorry for the delay in writing – I have been working very hard and its been very hot and I’ve been very busy. So here it goes – Part 2 of my adventures in Turkey.
When I left you last in was Sunday (day 7) and I was going to head into town.
Day 7 – Sunday
I walked to the town square (its about 4 blocks) and there was a bus station. The guys at the station didn’t speak English but he was able to write down the time table for the bus schedule to and from Isparta and when I told him that I wanted to go to the mall he even told me the name of the shopping plaza to get off at.
The bus came and 30 minutes later I was at the Mall. It was fairly upscale (mostly clothing and electronic places) – of note was the fact that the anchor store was like a home depot. The food court had a Burger King! There was a move theater, an arcade, bowling, and even ice skating.
I found a barber and for 5L (about $3.50) I had an amazing straight razor shave! Woo hoo I love a good shave.
I went from store to store trying to find a vest but alas – none had them. I was able to get swim trunks for my next weeks trip to Antalya.
Next door was a supermarket and I had so much fun. They had raw carob which I love but can never find at home and they guys were having such a fun time with my lack of Turkish that they kept giving me free samples! I was stuffed before I left (olive, cheese, bread, Turkish delight).
My only regret was that I didn’t bring my watch with needed a battery since I could have had it replaced there.
I took a bus home without any problems and several of us pooled our food for a Sunday night feast!
Day 8 – Monday
On Monday they took me back to the Isparta Museum to shoot the pottery for a catalog. I was a little surprised (but not too) to find that there was no special place for the photography or lighting or backdrops.
We setup a small studio in the gallery with a black paper sweep (not very big) and we had two florescent desk lamps for lighting that bended in weird ways. Once we set everything up – they opened up the displays and handed me pot after pot.
At first I was hands off but they instead and after a while you get used to handling the 3,000 year old pots. They didn’t mind so why should I. It was quite an experience and I have really seen some amazing works.
We left our stuff set up on Monday (for Tuesday) as we didn’t get it all done.
Day 9 – Tuesday
We finished up as much as we could on Tuesday (though there would we found out be another day of photography). SInce the Mall was on the way back from the Museum I asked if they could drop me off (and I would take a bus home) so I could get my watch fixed.
They dropped me off and I told them not to expect me for dinner. They guys at the watch store said it would be about an hour and I went to the food court to grab a snack and read my book.
At the food court I went to this very nice waffle place (its a franchise) and the owner kept loading me up with more food that I didn’t order. Potatoes and bread and such. He was very nice and sat with me while I ate – I asked him if he knew were I could get a vest and he went and set his family into the mall to find me once – literally 4 people went looking for me. When I was done eating he told me that they found that a place in the mall had them at their other store and drew me a map (which I later found was not to scale).
I thanked him and started walking from the mall to this plaza (that I had seen before but had not noticed the distance too).
It was a lovely night and my watch was fixed and about 4km later (yes you read that right) I got to the store which did indeed have vests but about 2 sizes smaller than I needed them to be.
I went to the bus stop to head home but I had just missed the 7:30 and the next one was at 9:30. I waited for 2 hours (I was a tad nervous but I also knew were the taxis were if things got really bad) and the bus that came was SO full we sat in the stairwell on the floor.
When I got back some people said they were worried (the adults however knew I was a big boy) and that dinner was quiet without me.
Day 9 – Wednesday
I was told that every so often – nobody goes anywhere so that we can just play catchup. So I laid in bed and worked on the photos. Everyone thought I was sick and I was like – no I’m just laying in my bed and working on my photos (everyone else was in the labs).
That afternoon we threw an event for the local villagers and dignitaries – it was shorter than you would have guessed – introduction – national anthem – 2 five minute speeches and then food. They served a light meal for everyone there. Afterwards they did a nice thing for the kids on ancient pottery shards and they showed the villagers the kind of work we were doing. It was very nice because I had met some of the villagers in the mountains before and they remembered me and such.
Day 10 – Thursday
We were going to go back into the field on Thursday and Andrea has told me that I had a real treat ahead of me. Last week we had taken the jeep on the old road to Appolonia and back on the newer road – well this week we were going back there (though the town is called Uluborlu now) to look at some inscriptions on the old Byzantine Citadel (ie Castle!!) While the others went looking for inscriptions Hagen and I climbed around the old gate and castle walls taking photographs and panoramas. Very nice indeed.
Next we headed to a holy shrine – the tomb of the sultan Veli Baba. It was very nice and Paul got more inscriptions. The caretaker let me in and allowed me to photography and his wife made us tea. I asked Adam how you said “No Thank You” in Turkish and his reply to me was “You don’t”. In the end I had one glass but most of the others had 2 or 3 glasses of tea to make her happy.
After we headed to another museum which was in the area of the survey and we later found out had 30 inscriptions to study. We walked around the museum for a few minutes and they were very nice – Paul ended up going back the next day with a team to make squeezes of almost all of them.
What a full day!
Day 11 – Friday
Just another day to catch up. People didn’t really go anywhere. I went to the marker where I met some of the villagers I knew again. One guy shook my hand very heartily and kissed me on the checks. To be nice I asked to buy some apricots from him and instead of giving me 1/2 Kilo, he gave me a giant bag and then wouldn’t take my money. I felt bad – but they told me people do that here. Later on someone else I knew also gave me a bag of apricots. It was crazy how much fruit I had – I brought them back at lunchtime for everyone to eat!
Day 12 – Saturday
Well today was going to be the day of the big field trip to Termessos and are overnighter in Antalya. We spent the morning just getting ready and headed for the long drive. Paul did a find job driving those mountain roads.
When we got to Termessos it was almost 100 degrees and very humid. From the gate to the parking lot is another 9km up the mountain. As we drove Hagan joked that he wanted to try walking it – we passed some guys who were doing just that and I remarked how funny it would be to pull over and throw him out of the van and say hey walk with him – like revere hitch hiking.
When we go to the top we started to walk to a path when the guard pointed to us and indicated we were walking down the wrong path. He didn’t speak much. Paul asked if there was water and he shook his head no. Then he handed 2 of us pamphlets and we all kind nudged him for a copy. As everyone started to head up the path – I turned to him with my phrase book and asked how long the path was?
He lit up and pulled out another map and then in very good English asked me how long we had to stay and proceeded to draw a very intricate plan for us to follow that would hit all the good spots and avoid unnecessary walking! It was a like a different person.
We hiked over the ruin for over 3 hours and saw some crazy sights – some great photos were had and I will post them at some point.
On the way back down we passed the guys we saw on the way up – this time they were looking for a ride and we found out that they were German students (so Hagan would have been in good company) and agreed to take them down the mountain to the gift shop. When we got there they told us they too were going to Antalya so we gave them a ride into town.
I was supposed to navigate us into the city but none of the streets were marked so the mapquest guide was useless. Paul and I were rooming together at the nice hotel and the students were staying somewhere cheaper in the old city. We dropped them off at the Hadrian Gate and told them we would see them on Sunday between 6pm and 8pm and to have fun.
Paul drove us to our hotel where we met Bilge and Andrea – it had a real shower, a real toilet, and even AC! Such a delight. We had dinner at a nice restaurant under the full moon on the Mediterranean sea. They all planned on spending Sunday at the pool or at the beach – but I had different plans.
This ends Week 2!
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
OK, OK – I know it has been a week and no updates on my adventures in Turkey just a random tweet now and then. Well I have an excuse – I’m tired – really really tired. Today is Sunday which is our day off. So I slept in late (ie 9am) ate myself some breakfast and when the power came back on I committed to write this update before I take the bus into town and find myself a local mall.
I will not be posting any pictures today. While I have taken well over 1,000 – my agreement with the IAS says that I will not post any picture without authorization first. And while the Director just asked me to run them by her quickly – I wasn’t ready and will post photos later in the week.
So without further delay – Turkey Week 1:
Day 0 – Sat/Sun:
The flight was relatively ok – even after Travelocity assured me I wouldn’t be charged for a second bag they made me pay $50 (which Travelocity is handling). The 11 hour flight from Chicago to Istanbul is mostly a blur because even though they had fully interactive “pick your own movie” touch screen devices – I slept for over 7 hours.
Istanbul was easy – no one said anything at immigration or customs and I then changed some money found my fellow student Karyn (who was already there) grabbed some rice pudding and waiting for the flight to Isparta. They claimed my bags were too heavy but some nice chats here and there fixed that (at no charge). We arrived in Isparta where Prof Iversen met us and took us to the field house in Gonen (the town we are staying in). It was past midnight and when I got to the room my roommates quickly tossed out their smokes (they have been good since) and I went to bed. I will write an entire post later on the living conditions here.
Day 1 – Monday:
Breakfast is at 6:30am and then people leave at 7am for their activities. When I walked down the hall at 6:30 (its really a schoolhouse that we have turned into a dorm for the summer) the Director told me to go back to bed and that there was a second breakfast at 10am. After second breakfast they drove Karyn and me to Isparta to get our residency permit from the local police station – it was a pleasant wait but it did take several hours of sitting (and I have never actually seen the permit).
On Monday night I walked the 2 blocks into town to look around and then came back and went to bed.
Everything seemed very laid back and casual – seemed so mellow that I had no idea what was coming next!
Day 2 – Tuesday:
There are several teams here and the German group is doing geological testing up on the mountain where the ancient Greek fortress lies in ruins. I was to go up with them (at 8:30 not 7am) and I ended up going up in the second truck which was much later. It was a crazy drive straight up the mountain on a path that was a fire road (to prevent the spread of forest fires) so it wasn’t really a road and it went UP! Here every time we see a fork in the road here we take the one that looks less like a road than the other.
I was sure to wear my long pants, high boots, SPF100, and bug spray and boy do you need all of it up on the mountain. We could only get so far by truck and then it was a straight climb up with no paths and lots of prickly plants. I had my gear in my backpack and shoulder sling but it was nothing compared to the gear brought up by the Germans. I took many photos and some great panoramas.
The Director said I could stay or go with her on another adventure so I packed up and headed back to the truck.
We took another road through the mountains where the Nomads live in small shacks and tend to their sheep (which are everywhere). As we explored a field I found my first shard of pottery (after several rocks) and our driver had fun playing games with the rams. The German professors children (8 year old girls) were with us and it was just a pleasant ride through the mountains. We even stopped at a mountain spring where they drank the cool running water. This has happened several times since and even though it hasn’t given anyone “the poops” I still haven’t done it.
On the way back we stopped for ice-cream – yeah!
As hydrated as I have been staying the sun makes you very tired and I sleep here very well.
Day 3 – Wednesday:
Everyday the students are told which team they are on and when to be where. The Director keeps moving me around to different places and its funny how I get all the best trips.
On Wednesday we drove into Isparta to go to the museum. They were doing research and photography and squeezes (which are like rubbings but 3 dimensional paper impressions) of some of the inscriptions. The museum has a vast amount of stuff and while small it is very well laid out. They sculpture is all in gardens outdoors and it was amazing to see. I shot some panoramas of the place and some other VR experiments.
I was told to check out the pottery exhibition because on Monday I will be shooting the work for a catalog!
People are out usually from 7 to 1 and then we have lunch and stay in for the rest of the day to do work or have seminars.
Day 4 – Thursday:
On Thursday I was part of what is best described as the anthropology team (though they don’t call themselves that). We drove to the site of a recent illegal dig (ie grave robbing) where several team members were taking care of the graves (its an important thing when something like that happens). There we met a Nomad family one of who came with us to serve as a guide.
We drove several km across the mountains and stopped at a family (they car left us there) and we interviewed them. It was all in Turkish but you got to see how these people lived in the mountains – very different. One family had a 20 day old baby who was adorable. They were very friendly and asked us to eat bread and cheese with them and then took us to the next family (and the next). We ended up talking to 3 or 4 families walking from hill to hill and from shack to shack.
At one point the team tells me we are walking down into the valley to get some water and then to another Nomad family. We hike down the mountain into a lovely stream (of course more sheep around) and then after the break they tell me we are going right back up the mountain! Because I am slow (cause I’m almost 40, fat, tired, and loaded with gear) I start up the mountain first. They all passed me which is fine but when I get to the top – they weren’t there – they were gone!
They apparently had kept going but I didn”t know in which direction. So there I am in the mountains all alone – it is great video and photos to be sure. I veered towards the left where I saw some grassy areas (with the intention of going back to a Nomad family I met and getting directions or a lift home) and when I came over a ridge I saw the team looking for me frantically. They had gone to the right.
We met another family and then I saw this strange stacking of stones like a 20 feet tall Jenga game. They told me it helped keep the wolves away (like a scarecrow) it was pretty cool.
They then told us that the car wasn’t going to pick a up and that we would need to walk back the entire way – so off we went though the mountains again we met a lady with a horse who was very friendly. The head of the team was great and recorded interviews constantly and got people to agree to let me film and take pictures.
After a hike we found that someone had called the jeep for us and we didn’t have to walk back the entire way after all!
We then headed back to the field house.
But the day wasn’t over for me yet. The head of the team told me to be ready because we were going to go into another town. I changed from boots to shoes and we drove to the other city. There we were met by the mayor who spoke to the team for a little bit (the team at this point was just 4 of us). He then took us to a cultural room where they have special events (and we had to take off our shoes – so it was good I got rid of the boots) and showed us some nice antiques.
He took us around town and showed us some ancient stones (with inscriptions that the other team will have to go back and investigate) and we had tea with him. He invited me to come back again and said they might arrange a demo of some ladies making the local bread. We will see if time lets this happen.
The Germans were leaving on Friday so we had a big party for them and it was a lot of fun!
Day 5 – Friday:
On Friday I went to the local Bazaar (which is only on Fridays) with the head of the anthropological team. It was great because we encountered some of the Nomads we had met the day before selling their olive and cheese products. The olives were about $2-$3 per pound (and yes I did all the conversions right). There were lots of fruit vendors giving out samples of little plums and apples and the yummiest cherries I have ever eaten. When I asked how much the cherries were she told me 1 Turkish lira for a kilo. That’s like .75 cents American for 2.2 lbs of cherries!
The market was fun and I did a little shopping – they told me that Istanbul was going to be very expensive so I will try and do some stocking up next week.
Since the Germans were gone they were going to give back the Jeep – but without the Jeep getting to the mountain would be difficult. I never go to photograph the robbed graves so they took me up there for a quick shoot. The wild dogs started to bark and growl at us. I was ready to flee when our diver grabbed some rocks and drove them off!
The ancient town of Appolonia is not too far from Gonen and there was an old road that no one takes anymore that runs through the mountains. Our job was to drive the old road. When we go to the town we found the ruin of an old Mosque which might have been a church. There were berry and fruit trees around and we all had some yummy samples.
We stopped for Turkish tea and coffee and then headed back on the new road (which was still a mountain road) and back to the field house.
Day 6 – Saturday:
In the morning I finally got to go on my first 7am trip. We went to a local farm to a field that had recently been plowed in the corner of which were some larger stones and broken pillars from what looks like a temple. We walked through the field collecting pottery shards. It was crazy we just kept finding them – bag after bag after bag. Collecting shards means bending a lot – which is not good for me – so I pointed a lot as a I photographed and filmed.
The march back was great and we sample the fruit trees as we went – I have never had white mulberries before and they were amazing. We saw the ruin of an old bath with an ancient inscription on the wall (they had found it last year) and a German speaking Turkish fellow came out and talked to us for a bit.
In the afternoon we had a field trip to Sagalassos which is outside of the area of our Director so it was just educational.
It was amazing and I got some killer shots of this ruined theater – the tunnels inside were mostly intact. It was just a fabulous day.
Since Sunday we are on our own we stopped at a grocery store for food where I also got shower shoes and some other goodies.
Day 7 – Sunday:
Sitting here writing this stuff for you fine folks and then heading into town!
That’s it for now – I will follow up this week with a post about our living conditions and food as well as a photo essay after I get approval.
See ya – Jared
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
I try not to overpack. While I am going away for one month I will have laundry and really only need to pack as if I am going on a single 8 day trip (the last 8 days in Istanbul). In fact its a light packing trip: golf shirts, jeans, toiletries, socks and undies and some pajama pants which all should fit nicely in one small suitcase.
However…. I am also documenting at the survey and exploring new media which means I need to pack the following technology kits.
1) Digital Camera Kit:
This is my Pentax K20D 14.7 MP camera. I have the battery grip so that means 2 batteries (and 2 8GB SDHC Memory Cards – Class 6). Which also means 2 chargers. I am bringing 3 lenses, 10-20mm, 18-200mm, and a 50mm Prime lens (which came with my K1000 and I use for studio work). Since there will be some studio work I will also bring the AC adapter for the camera and the USB cable (which is not a generic cable).
2) 3D Camera Kit:
This is my Fuji digital 3D camera with an 8GB Memory card, battery and another charger. I also will bring a stereo slider bar for use with my Pentax (above) for studio work.
3) Panorama Camera Kit:
This is a Nikon CoolPix 8700 with a huge spot fisheye lens, for which I have 2 batteries and another 2 chargers. It takes CF cards, and I am bringing several 2GB ones. The entire thing is mounted on a big metal bracket, on a rotator, and on a tripod leveler and head. Its bulky but it works well.
4) Video Camera Kit:
I am bringing 2 Sony HDV tape cameras. Each camera has a wide angle lens, a 6 hour battery (yes 6 hours!) and that of course means 2 more chargers. Oh and i am bringing 55 hours of Sony HDV Tape. Since I will not be encoding in Turkey I am also bringing a Flip HD tapeless camera with an add on wide angle lens (and a charger).
5) Audio Kit:
For the video I am bringing one nice camera mounted shotgun microphone with a really nice deadcat windscreen. For this I must also bring extra 9volt batteries and shock mounting rubber bands. I am also bringing a Zoom H2 audio recorder for higher quality in field recording for which I also have a memory card, another deadcat, and some AA batteries. For all this I am using Sony studio headphones.
6) Color Kit:
For color correction I am using an Expodisc which allows me to color calibrate the video and still camera with a manual white balance. And for the studio work I am also bringing a color card for calibration. No power here – thankfully!
For the video camera I have an LED Camera array (and battery and charger) and I am also bringing a reflector disc to possibly use in field work.
I am bringing a set of light but sturdy tripod legs and also a small video head. I have a shoulder mount for the video camera as well as a hand mount that makes everything bulkier but easier to hold – the mic, the light, and the camera at the same time. Everything uses the same quick releases for ease interactions.
For my data I have several cards and a hardshell carrier but I also have a Colorspace drive (and charger) for backup as well as a 1.5 TB Hard Drive for backup with a computer and a memory card reader.
I am going all Apple this trip bringing with me my Macbook, iPad, and iPhone (whose SIM card I will remove in Chicago) and of course their chargers. I also am bringing a video cable and mouse for the Macbook and a spare battery pack (and charger) for the iPhone.
I am bringing with me a PlanOn pen scanner as an experiment to see how useful it might be in the field. More on that as it gets used. It has a 2GB MicroSD card and charges via USB on the computer.
12) VR Turntable:
Since we will be doing some museum field work I am also bringing my 10 degree increment manual turntable. No power on that or my angle measurer but my laser measurer takes AAA batteries.
13) Cleaning Stuff:
Can’t forget cleaning supplies, lens clothes, lens pens, lens wipes, and air duster, a brush, and a sensor cleaning kit and head cleaning tapes (forgot that one last year). I also bring white gloves.
14) GPS Units:
Probably giving me the most amount of frustration are the 5 GPS Geologgers (and chargers) that I am trying to get configured for field work. Only 2 of them are happy right now (and I can’t figure out why) so we will see how this works. I only need one for my primary work but others would be ideal for an experiment I have in mind.
Don’t laugh – I already own 2 European power strips and a ton of outlet adapters but I always need more and the first thing I will do when I get there is hit a store for another strip.
So…. All of this has to fit in one carry on. Well not all but most. The cameras and at least every unique charger has to go in my one carry on and the rest (the less valuable and less temptable items – ie the mass of wires and the metal tubes) in one of my suitcases. It is going to happen it is just a challenge.
I don’t THINK I forgot anything.
And, by the way, this is the cut list. There was a lot more that didn’t make it, I am only packing what I know I can responsibly use.
I will be wearing hiking boots, a 2 liter water backpack, a photographers vest, backpack, and a wide brimmed hat. Wait till you see the pictures.
PS I have a research visa in my passport so it should be ok that I have all this equipment (not like in Peru where they did NOT like how many camera I had – though the French have never asked me about the quantity of equipment I have brought before).
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]
One Month in Turkey!
As some of you know, today I leave for one month in Turkey. One month is a very long time to be away and it is going to be very exciting indeed. For the first three weeks I am going to be participating in and documenting the Isparta Archeological Survey that is taking place in Isparta, Turkey. The survey is a collaboration which includes members of the Department of Archaeology at Süleyman Demirel Üniversitesi (Isparta, Turkey), members of the Department of Classics at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio), and members of the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft, (Berlin, Germany).
Some students from Case Western Reserve University have already been onsite for one week but my scheduling didn’t allow for it so I fly out today. That’s Cleveland – Chicago – Istanbul – Isparta. It’s going to be a long day. The Chicago – Istanbul flight is almost 11 hours.
During my 3 weeks onsite I will be filming a documentary as well as documenting and exploring other ways that New Media can be used to augment their work both in the field and in the museum they are establishing. It is a very exciting project. Please note that this is a “surgery” as apposed to a “dig” so we collect what is on the ground only. I am very excited because I am told there is an ancient ruin of a Greek fortress on the site.
After the 3 weeks in Isparta I fly to Istanbul where Jenny will be meeting me for 8 days of vacation. Of course vacation means photographing as many of the castles as I can in Istanbul (there are tons).
I will be posting updates to my University Blog page and linking them via Twitter, Facebook, and my Facebook group From Castle to Castle Productions (please Join).
I will try and post some video clips if I have permission to and if I can tunnel through the University network as Turkey is currently blocking YouTube (and maybe DailyMotion).
More to come soon.
Jared (from Cleveland)
[Re-posted from my University Blog & Edited 07/01/2011]