The Cats of Ephesus

One of those rare times in which cats lay in the middle of the ruin on something beautiful, and it’s not their fault.

The cast in Ephesus seemed particularly good natured and well taken care of.

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Touring Turkey by Bus and Ephesus

As I mentioned in a previous post, my traveling companion and I joined a 5-day tour by bus along the Aegean coast area of Turkey. Overall, it is a pretty good experience, and it is nice to have someone else plan the transportation, lodging, and food in the myriad of places we stay. It is, however, exhausting, staying only one night in each hotel (except one), spending 3-8 hours on a bus every day, and having to worry a bit about not delaying the rest of the group when we might want to explore a bit more in a particular place, or would rather sleep in.

As we board the bus, meet the other 4 travelers, and get our overview, we discover that the 6 of us are actually on 3 different tours, that happen to be sharing 4 days. Four of them had been touring Istanbul the day or two before (we had too, but not part of a tour group), and on the last day of our tour, the other 2 sets of 2 people would also be venturing in different directions, one couple continuing for another day or two with the tour group, as we get shuttled back to Istanbul. On our final leg to Istanbul, we are pretty exhausted, and our tour guide graciously skips a bit of the tour (some silk market) and delivers us directly to our next hotel in the Asian side of Istanbul, which is about 1.5 hours away from where we were initially picked up (in the European side) and where we were originally supposed to get returned to, which is great. Our tour group is very friendly and a lot of fun. All 4 others are from Australia most recently, though one was Greek and another Italian, originally, I think.

749 Tour Group Photo
Our tour group

Continue reading “Touring Turkey by Bus and Ephesus”

Touring Ruins

Early in the morning we board a tour bus for a 5 day tour of a bunch of places around the Aegean coast of Turkey. We start with Gallipoli, the site of significant battles in World War I, not something we’re particularly interested in, but the views are gorgeous and the memorials solemn. The political rantings of our tour guide get a little annoying however.

Continue reading “Touring Ruins”

Eating in Turkey

Interestingly, perhaps the tastiest meal I had in Venice was in the airport as I waited for my flight to Turkey. It was just a wrap, but the lettuce inside was so cold and crisp, the bread outside so warm and crisp, with melted cheese, or perhaps something mayonnaise-based, and warm ham inside. It was a good start to a tasty segment of my travels. Though, admittedly, all of my travels have been pretty tasty. Meals in Istanbul started with some kebabs, one of the best (and cheapest, at just over a US dollar) was at a little hole in the wall place near my hotel. At the time, I had no idea what kind of meat “urfa” was, but it was delicious.

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Cathedrals and Mosques in Istanbul and Bursa

622 Cat CafeI have returned from my trip to Turkey, and will be posting the next few blog updates a little out of order so pictures can be combined more thematically appropriately with each other. This one covers the sights seen in my first couple days in Istanbul, and a short stop in Bursa during a group tour.

One thing I read about Turkey and noticed immediately is the cats. They’re everywhere, each neighborhood has their own set of cats, which roam and live freely outdoors as far as I can tell. Most of them are quite friendly, not a one cursed at me while I was there, and a few let me pet their usually flea-ridden heads.

I met up with a friend for this leg of my journey, and one of the first things we did was take what was billed as a “sunset cruise,” but was actually the exact same thing as the “Bosphorus hop-on, hop-off water tour”, just a boat that goes to about 8 stops along the Bosphorus – the large waterway dividing the European and Asian parts of Turkey. We showed up and took an earlier boat, so didn’t actually get the “sunset” part, but it was a nice ride with nice views. Continue reading “Cathedrals and Mosques in Istanbul and Bursa”

Verona Day Trip

556 Train workWanting to see a little more of Northern Italy while in the area, I take a day trip to Verona, a little town about an hour and a half out of Venice known for having a large ancient colosseum, and for being the setting of Romeo and Juliet. The train is quite comfortable, and I get some work done on the ride there. Once in Verona, I follow a walking tour from my guide book, which first takes me to the aforementioned colosseum, which is, I think, the second biggest Roman Colosseum in existence. Most interestingly, it is still used for holding regular events. The tour book promised I would be harassed by an Albanian gang outside the colosseum, but they appeared to have the day off. Apparently they are usually outside the colosseum, dressed as ancient gladiators, charging tourists way too much money to have their pictures taken. The police say they’d rather have the gang doing that than what gangs usually get up to, so they leave them to it. Continue reading “Verona Day Trip”

Tourist in Venice

435 Much better calzone
Much better calzone

In Venice I’ve felt like a tourist every day, due to the whole place being oriented towards tourists, but today my friend Daniel (also most recently from California) arrived in Venice, so, after a great calzone for lunch, we set out to see some of the more poplar sites which I had avoided until now. We start with the Basilica dei Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari church, which is just two blocks away from my hotel, and has a pretty good free audio tour through Rick Steves’ Audio Europe app. Lots of pictures are taken, apparently a bunch of work by famous sculptors and artists. I particularly like the lazy lion. The winged lion is a symbol of St Mark, the patron saint of Venice, so shows up everywhere, including the flag of Venice. Continue reading “Tourist in Venice”