Turkey part 2
The marina and its stray cats
On the boat
Jolly St. Nicholas
Staying in a chimney
Stunning views from the amphitheater
Kushadasi and the Caravansary
10 on a scale of 10, the ancient city Ephesus
The mother of all meals
We arrived in Antalya about 6:00 A.M. The bus station is huge and modern. No tour representative was there to meet us, although we were told that someone would be. We took a taxi to our hotel. He went through so many narrow allies with increasing amounts of trash piled in it, and worsening housing. We thought he was lost, just trying to run up the fare or worse, trying to find the thugs who would rob us. It was none of the above, as he eventually found our hotel, a 17th- 18th century Ottoman style residence. It has a courtyard with a pool, around which breakfast is served under the bright, clear skies. We had to rest in the lobby until we could get into a room.
Later we walked through the old town of Antalya and make a few purchases, including rain gear. The harbor is about 100 feet below. After a cold drink while overlooking it and the clear blue waters, we walked down to look at the boats. Maybe we would see ours. When we got there, we were set upon by men selling boat rides, mostly lunch cruises. Another gauntlet to run! One in particular was pesty and got too close, too intrusive. I said “No,” harshly. He said, “Don’t get mad. If I don’t ask, I will get fired. Who is going to support my family, you?”
At around 2 p.m. someone came to transport us to the boat, which is not in the town’s harbor but about 15 km away. The vessel is moored in a harbor that also has a modern marina. I think that the marina is called “Sectur Marina.” After putting our bags on the boat, we walked around.
We spoke to an English woman who has been living aboard here for around six months. She and other English speaking women have been caring for some stray cats, so common in Turkey. There are about eight cats in the group, all neutered, which the women paid for. The one we spoke with has been sailing for several years and enjoys the life style. Her husband has been rebuilding their engine, having to travel quite a bit in the area to get parts. Everyone is about to depart, having entered some sort of regatta, and they will not return. They are looking for people to care for the cats.
Peg and I visited the marina office. The Turks at the desk speak English well. As I recall, slip fees are around $150-200 per month. There are showers, laundry and other mod cons. Living here would be quite comfortable. There is a free shuttle to town that runs frequently.
In Istanbul I tried to connect to IBM.net. I could not get an answer from their computer. In Cappadocia I tried to reach the help line in Istanbul. I was put on hold there, and had the same result here. Each time I gave up after waiting ten minutes. The number is not toll free. In Cappadocia I used our hotel phone. Here at the marina I used a phone booth and a telephone card. The card I bought cost about $4.00 and was just about used up when I gave up.
The operators who answer the phone speak very little English. All they could say was, “Can you hold?” I tried to find out how long it would be and they could not answer. I found out that there was only one person providing all the technical support. A college teacher from the U.S., now teaching in Azerbyjan (sp???)) told us that he has not been able to connect to AOL in Turkey.
Back on the boat, we met our crew. The Captain is Mustafa. His wife, Nuri is the cook. There is a line under the ‘S’ so the name is pronounced ‘Nourish’. The crew is Y suf, which is the Turkish version of Joseph. I wonder if this version of Joseph is closer to the version used at the time of Christ than our version. Mustafa looks like a mustafa, since the name sounds like ‘moustache’. He has very wavy, jet black hair with gray streaks, stands about 5′ 5″ tall, and is solidly built. He wears shorts and a polo shirt, and appears Greek to me. Since the Greeks have controlled Turkey several times, this is not surprising. He looks the part of captain on a leisure cruise, except that he has not trimmed his beard in a while, nor shaved the contoured areas. Maybe he looks more like a pirate than a captain of one of these boats. He speaks a few words of English.
Nuri could be Greek also. Or maybe Italian? No, she somehow looks slightly oriental. She must have Central Asian ancestry. Turkish, Mongolian? Maybe all of the above. In Turkey, all have been here long enough to contribute many genes to the pool. She stands about 5′ tall, as solidly built as her husband. Y suf is about 5′ 7″ and very slender. His features are slender:
long, thin nasal bridge, long face. He moves about the boat quite comfortably. He brings drinks, sets the table, and helps with any other chore that needs to be done.
The other guests are Edward, Correy and Yvette, from Holland. Correy is Yvette’s mother, but Ed is no relation. Rima, Yurate and Eimutis are from Lithuania. I think that they are just friends. Yurate speaks English pretty well. She is perhaps in her mid-30’s (since she is going to read this, I hope I am not wrong!). Late to arrive are Yannick and Pamela. She is Canadian and he is French. They are married and live in Banff, Canada. They are in their late 20’s, I think.
For dinner they serve thin roles that are filled with fresh parsley and cheese, deep fried. They are excellent with the red wine. There is a salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, as I recall. After dinner, the Lithuanians share a sweet drink with us. It is mead, but in the form of a liquor. One sip was enough for me. There were several bottles to try, all variations on the theme.
Our cabin is quite comfortable. It has a double bed. One side of it is beneath the walkway on the deck. There are sliding windows, but no screens. We have a head with shower and sink. Storage is adequate for light travelers. Correy and Yvette are not light travelers. They have two bags each that weigh a ton! They told us that they had to pay extra to get them on the plane. I was surprised that the plane could get off the ground.
Sunday rises gloriously blue yet cool. Our week on the boat is beginning. Just being on the water felt good. It has been over a
year since I felt a moving deck, except the few boats we walked on in Holland. Being near the water, seeing and hearing the noises of the harbor, feeling the breeze, smelling the salt feeds something deep inside me.
We left at 9:30 a.m. Since the boat, a 25-meter gullet, has only one engine and no thrusters, we are helped from the dock by a powerful dinghy that pushes us away from harm and into the open. This gullet, and all of the ones now in use, I guess, are not sailing vessels. They do have two tall masts, but the sails are small. Sailing would not be practical for short trips like this, where people want to get places and see things. The vessel is all wood. During the winter the necessary and probably extensive maintenance is performed. A new one was being built in the harbor. We were told you could buy it for about $50,000.
We motored until noon. The swells were soft, but still the boat rocked when the sea was abeam. After anchoring at Olympus, Mustafa or Yusuf took us ashore in the dinghy. We walked around the beach and inland a little. We saw a stone gate, overgrown with trees, shrubs, vines. It is abstractly decorated, looking Islamic to me. The gate is square, not an arch, with a heavy lintel made of stone. There are some columns laying about. This area is strong with the sense of age, of time, of success no longer, of a story hidden, of a treasure hidden.
Out from a cave rolls a large boulder. I grab my whip and …Where is my Indiana Jones hat when I need it?
Yannick and Pamela are late for lunch. They went exploring and found many more ruins. After a while, Yusuf went to look for them. When they got back to the beach, Yusuf was gone. Mustafa held up a yellow card, like the referees do in soccer; Pamela and Yannick had committed a foul by being late. Shortly, Mustafa dove in, swam to shore, brought them back, and then went to get Yusuf.
We anchored at around 5:00 p.m. a few miles away. It was my first night on the water since we took our boat Meridia to the Manatee River in Florida, where we spent the evening watching the Hale-Bopp comet. This coast is spectacular. Hills sit watching us as the ghosts of Alexander and the ancient gods looked on, as if to ask us, “What do you want to know, and what are you willing to do to find out.” For some people, these calls are Sirens, pulling irresistibly and deeply into the past. Deep memories. The Sirens tug as I settle into a deep sleep.
It’s the roar and stench of the diesel. Mustafa fired up Old Stinker at 5 a.m.! He didn’t tell us we were getting up this early! The diesel fumes from the nearby exhaust come into our cabin so it’s out we go, easily in time to see the sun rising over the Med.
Small wonder so many early sailors plied these waters, for the beauty of the water, the stillness, the welcome, warming sun is enough to put sea legs on anyone.
At noon we anchored near Myra. We have an optional tour of Myra and its amphitheater and St. Nicholas Church. Yes, jolly St. Nicholas lived in these parts, taking a special interest in children. Wonder what his interest was, other than giving gifts. He is known also for performing miracles.
The Church of St. Nicholas was restored in the mid-1800’s’ but the original structure was built in the 4th Century A.D. In the
restoration, part of it at least was not done in the original style. There are frescoes of saints on the ceiling of the dome.
I have no notes on the amphitheater. This little journey, two hours total, cost us $12! This included a water taxi, two 10-15 minute bus rides and admissions. The admissions were about $1.00 for each of the two sites. I thought it was very
expensive. Others agreed.
After Nuri ‘ excellent lunch some guests swam in the cold waters. Eimutis brought out his harpoon. Well, I needed a better name, an easier name, for him. So it’s Spear Chucker. Spear Chucker loves to swim, snorkel and try to shoot fish and because he is used to swimming with icebergs, he can stay in these still cool waters for long periods. The other Lithuanians do as well with these waters. The Dutch come in second. Peg and I are last.
We motored to Kale (pronounced Kal-ay, or Kal-eh), which sits on the coast. It is a small town. Women in traditional Islamic robes sell various hand made items, mostly scarves and jewelry. Some are very friendly and helpful. A little girl selling jewelry walks with our group, giving away small samples of fresh oregano. Someone buys an ankle bracelet from her, making her efforts worthwhile.
Roosters, chickens and chicks wander loose around the town. There is a fort about 100′ up, the rubble-strewn foot path taking you through the village. There is no access to the village by car, but I think you can get to the fort. The houses are stone, fair to good condition. There are some satellite dishes on the roofs.
We are near the Lycian tombs. Lycia is between Antalya and Fethiye. The Lycians may have come here from Crete circa 1400 B.C. They fought off Ramses II circa 1300 B.C. Homer said that they were allies of Troy in the late 13th Century. Pharaoh Merehpta reported that they attacked Egypt in 1230, but were unsuccessful. In 545 B.C. they were
conquered by the Persians. As a result, they had to provide fifty ships for the campaign against the Greeks. In 480 B.C. they were ruled by the Greeks, but the Persians came again in 385 B.C. Alexander the Great conquered the area in 334 B.C. In 190 B.C. the Romans took over. The Lycians were given to Rhodes to rule, but resisted successfully. In 167 B.C. they were set free but under Roman rule. In the 3rd Century A.D. they were Christianized. Their earliest known writing comes from the 5th or 4th Century B.C.
They used the Greek alphabet plus some symbols for sounds specific to their language. The language was not used after the 5th or 4th Century B.C. The oldest buildings credited to them are from the same period. There are many extant tombs, some decorated with Greek columns. The tombs are about 6′-7′ long, entirely of stone, of course, including the covers. Most have been pillaged but I recall seeing one or two that were not. We walk undisturbed among them with Pamela and Yannick.
Pamela and Yannick stayed at a pension a few nights ago. It is called Peri and is in one of the early Christian caves, of the type called “chimneys,” for they look like chimneys. 24 Sant Sicaksu, in Goerme, near the Fred Flintstone and the open air museum. The phone number is 0384 271 2136. They spent $20-25 including breakfast. I think that they also had dinner there or nearby, and it was excellent, home-style cooking. Fred is made of the volcanic rock but from the effects of wind and rain, we’re told. Other images appear there also. Tonight’s anchorage affords us beautiful views of the stars.
The excellent weather continues and today we get to eat breakfast before we continue with our journey. At 11:30 we arrived at a swimming spot near Ka (pro Kash,) once called Antiphellos. Capt. Mustafa gradually came to a stop, dropped the anchor and then backed off it. Then he let the boat come into the wind. He did not head into the wind first, then drop the anchor, as I was taught. The wind pushes us 180 degrees so the anchor is facing us. He is but a few feet from the next boat.
Turkey, A Phaidon Cultural Guide, lent to us by an employee of the travel agent in Istanbul that we used, says Ka is among the most beautiful spots on the south coast. It has one of the best amphitheaters in Turkey. Ka goes back at least to the 4th C. B.C., when it was the harbor of Phellos, which was in the mountains; thus the “anti” in “Antiphellos” means “before,” or in front of Phellos. I wonder if there was a symbol for Phellos, and if there was, if it would be called a Phellos symbol; I also wonder if this can be called a good joke.
The water is still a little chilly, although there were warm spots here and there. I spent most of the time in the water looking for
them. The shoreline is still volcanic. We walked about the town. There are many small hotels, pensions and restaurants. Many have great views of the harbor and the islands about 3/4 of a mile offshore. A strong wind some 40 knots came up about 5:00 p.m. Crews scurried about securing canvases, throwing out additional lines and securing everything. We now have two lines tied around the rocks off the stern.
I awoke before anyone else, as usual, and Nuri again got up with me to make coffee; instant coffee is the only type they have on board. After the typical Turkish breakfast, we took a cab to the amphitheater. The high speed ride up the curvy road takes us to a one lane dirt road. The road goes past several inhabited huts, whose residents wave to the driver and to us. There are no touristy things here: no post cards, no souvenirs, etc. There is a man in uniform who collects a small entrance fee, which includes his services as a guide. His English is very good.
A more beautiful site for an amphitheater cannot be found. We are on the side of a mountain, with great views of the valley below and marvelous views as far as the eye can see. I do not remember if we could see the sea from here, but I do not think so. The amphitheater is in wonderful shape, just as we were told. Our friendly guide points out the box seats. He tells us there are family names carved into the marble seat back. These were reserved seats.
Above the amphitheater is a running track used for games. It looks to be about 150 yards from end to end, and it is wide enough for the oval track he said was there. The seats are on a long side of the track; on the other there remain portions of statutes and columns. I would have loved to camp here. The mountains, the air, the stars would make for an unforgettable evening.
The hustle and clutter of Istanbul are behind me and I am seduced by the charms of Turkey’s history and landscape.
I want to bring my own boat here for months of glorious cruising. Our anchorage is near a disco on the shore, which appears reachable only by boat. And some people have reached it, and the sounds of disco disturb an otherwise impeccable night. The crescent moon (just like the one on the Turkish flag), sets over the mountains at 9:00.
At 6:30 A.M. Old Stinker fires up, and puffs reliably while our friends sun bathe on the front deck. After lunch, we go farther along the coast, anchoring in the blue waters for swimming at around 5:30 P.M. Dinner is beef with rosemary, tomatoes, and green peppers (called paprikas here), all slowly cooked. As we eat dinner, goats walk the steep rocks lining the anchorage, their bells clanking in the growing deep stillness of the night, and again we watch setting of the crescent moon, cooling breezes flowing over and around.
After a brief cruise we anchor at yet another set of ruins. Yosuf (I am not sure if there is one dot over the ‘u’, or two) takes us ashore in the dinghy. I forget to write down the name of this place. The old city is on a peninsula and there are bays on three sides of it. The main street runs from the bay we anchored in to the other side where there are two more bays. There are a Roman bath, angora (marketplace), and on the hill, an amphitheater. We did not go to the amphitheater. The area where it was located is heavily overgrown. The shore is home to many sea urchins, so we walked carefully in the water.
Sadly we returned to our point of departure and there we spent the night. Fortunately it was quiet, and the mountains nearby are magnificent. We will remember our new friends. We enjoyed being with all of them.
Our morning goodbyes are over, we have everyone’s address and promise to keep in touch. We are going to the coastal town of Ku hadasi. Yannick and Pamela ride part of the way with us on the bus. The steward is over-attentive. He annoys me by turning the vent on when I want it off, and off when I want it on, and by raising my armrest though I want it down. I was removing my shoes when the man on the seat across the isle from me touches me on the arm, and waves his
finger gently at me. I guess it’s rude to take your shoes off here; given all the foot washing that goes on before people enter the
mosques, I wouldn’t think anyone would mind.
We say goodbye to our young friends, as they are going to Pammukele (sp?). Afterwards they are going to Aix en Provence. A job awaits Yannick there. Pamela is going to teach English. Eight hours or so later, we are at the bus station in Selcuk (sp?).
We board a dolman, or it could be a dolmus, a little bus that seats about twenty people. Of course, I called it a dolma, as in the
stuffed grape leaf dish, since people were stuffed into these little vans. It costs about $.50 to go to Kushadasi, and a few more cents to take a second bus to our hotel. We are staying the evening in the center of town, in a caravansary. People on the bus answered our questions readily, and even offered help without being asked. They passed money to the driver, and the change back to the passenger.
The hotel is a dream. It was constructed in the first or second century of the common era by the Romans. It was built for the spice caravans, thus the name “Caravansary.” On the first level you find the arcades where the goods were displayed and the animals stabled. On the second level are more arcades, which are now sleeping rooms. The rooms have been comfortably and handsomely done, beginning with the ancient looking wooden, rounded doors.
After you enter you walk a few feet through an pointy-arched hall. Then you are in the main part of the room. The windows are also arched, I think, and we look over the main entrance. This is a gigantic door (maybe 20′ x 20′) into which a normal sized door has been cut.
Kushadasi is built on several hills and is now a summer resort. The Aegean Sea laps gently against one side of the town. Everyone is hustling and bustling. Around the caravansary are a few blocks filled with shops. Sitting outside is a row of shoe shiners, mostly middle-aged men busily looking at the shoes of each passer-by. Mine are always polished before I leave whatever room we are in, but I nonetheless get many offers here. We walk a few steep hills with ease. The eateries look great, but dinner is included in our tour. The shops are stuffed to over-flowing, and the owners stand outside, ever ready for the next customer. Even though the streets are narrow and laden with shops, the perfect gauntlet, we are not harangued.
Mary’s Last House
Not far away from Kushadasi is the wonderfully preserved city of Ephesus. For this tour we have a guide again. The trip takes less than an hour. First we visit Mary’s last house, near Ephesus. She is said to have lived here with St. John. Jesus asked St. John to care for her. This site was chosen because it was well hidden, at the top of a mountain, and probably safe from their persecutors.
Mary’s house is tiny, maybe 500 square feet. In it there are the usual Mary pictures or statues, perhaps both, I do not recall. A monk in brown monk robes stands guard, admonishing silence in this site, holy for both Christians and Muslims. The house and environs are an official holy site run jointly by the Vatican and the Turkish government.
A legend in France has Mary living her last days on the Mediterranean coast, near Montpelier. Which of these stories is true, or are they somehow both true? This house was discovered and excavated in the late 1800’s, pehaps a little later. A dying nun in Germany had a vision showing where the house was located. After considerable efforts and just at the point of giving up, the searchers found the remains of a house. The story has it that these remains were exactly where the nun said they
would be. I do not know if this ‘vision’ or whatever it was is the only basis for believing that this house was Mary and John’s
After Mary’s house, we drive to Ephesus; there is a great view of the valley of Ephesus along the way. Ephesus used to be a seaport and the valley that was created when the port silted up is beautiful and filled with produce. The sea is now about 6 km away from where it was when Ephesus thrived.
Ephesus was an important city before the Romans came. The Romans got it, I think, by marriage. Well before the beginning of the Common Era, Ephesus was made the capital of the Roman province of Asia Minor. It was part of Rome’s first expansion.
Heraclites was born and lived here 540-480 B.C. I read some of his writings as an undergraduate. When our guide told us, it made Ephesus something special for me, having read him without knowing he was from this city. Everyone taught that Heraclites was an early Greek philosopher. I guess he was Greek since the Greeks may have ruled this area at the time.
I recall that Heraclites is famous for his assertion, “Everything is flux,” meaning something like “reality is
change, motion, movement.” I read that Mark Antony lived and ruled here, and his presence added
to the importance and wealth of the town. I also read that he came through here in 44 B.C., on his way to marry Cleopatra. As a wedding present he took the valuable library of Pergamon (sp??).
As you enter the city, you are treated to a view of some of the town, which is downhill from the entrance. Our first stop is the amphitheater. It was carved from the side of Mt. Pion. You enter through ancient arches and climb the ancient stairs to your seat. It is still in use, the setting for concerts, plays, and the like. Some seats still have their marble facades intact. Now most people are sitting on rocks, but when the amphitheater was complete, the people sat on marble.
Nowadays they easily seat 25,000, and that does not include the top rows that are off limits! From the top seats you get a good view of the city. The acoustics are terrific. You can stand on the stage and talk in normal tones with someone sitting at the top.
It was here that Paul was nearly stoned to death. He was speaking to a crowd of residents, trying to convert them. He broke a statue of Diana, saying that Diana was a false god and therefore could do nothing to harm him for his act. Well, maybe Diana couldn’t harm him, but the crowd could, and threw stones. The seemingly knowledgeable guide pointed out where Paul is thought to have stood while delivering his talk, and the passage through which he fled.
After my jaws closed again, we walked through a tree-lined avenue to the main part of town. We pass the baths, exercise rooms and a swimming pool. The baths occupied 9000 square yards! There were cool rooms, medium hot rooms
and hot rooms. Steam produced by burning wood that heated the water passed under the floors on the way to each room. In this way the floors were warmed. Some ceramic pipes used to transport the water are still intact and in place. I stepped on a few not knowing what they were. This is a good example of the problems the Turks face in conserving their rich heritage.
The guide told us that the same boilers heated houses in the city. We stop at the latrines. Running water served well-to-do customers, who could chat with one another or listen to live music as they heeded nature’s call. Later, the women got their own latrine. The water ran in two channels. One channel was below the marble seats, carrying the effluent away, probably into the sea. Another ran just below where your legs would be when you were seated. This was used to wash, as
they did not have toilet paper.
In Turkey, the toilets have been immaculate in most places. A few had squatters, so-called Turkish toilets, where there are spots in the ceramic for you feet. You place your feet in these indentions and then you squat as there is nothing to sit on. Most facilities have modern toilets. They are just like ours, for one exception. There is a second water line that empties into the bowl. These lines were connected to a shut off valve coming out of the wall. Therefore, I knew that water came out of them, but not when you flushed. I did not know with absolute certainty what these water lines were for so I finally mustered the courage to ask the guide. He said that they are there so you can clean yourself, in lieu of or in addition to toilet paper. The purpose is identical to that employed in the Roman latrine here.
The Traian Fountain, built around 100 A.D. It was dedicated to the Roman Emperor Traian. The two storey structure was recently renovated. Some columns have composite capitals and the others have corinthian. There were statues, one of which was of the Emperor Traian. Little remains of Traian. Dionysus and Aphrodite are on in the Ephesus Museum.
The Domitian Temple, said the guide, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It was built in 550-460 B.C. (Before Common Era). The architects were Chersiphron and his son Metagenes of Crete and Theodoros. It is 180′ x 377′. It is 4 times larger than the Parthenon in Athens, and one and a half times larger than the cathedral in Cologne. 127 Ionic columns. There is a blue tint to the marble.
It was rebuilt 350-250 B.C. The library of Celsus was rebuilt in 1970 by the Austrian Architecture Institute. The books stored there were papyrus rolls. In 262 A.D. it was destroyed either by earthquake or by our old friends, the Celts. I was so busy gawking that I did not take notes during the tour. Thus I have included the above that I got off the web. I am still too
wowed to know what else to say.
GaryBob says CHECK IT OUT!
The dinner at the Caravansary was buffet style, yet ranks as one of the best dining experiences of my life. Eggplant a million ways. Some sort of paste, made perhaps with tahini. Great bread. Breaded, deep fried vegetables. Kebaps. The list goes on, and I only wish I had a list, and the recipes.
After dinner we were treated to an evening of dance. There were three belly dancers, performing separately, all of them seductively athletic. I marveled at how a culture that produced Islam also produced belly dancing. I was more
interested in and especially enjoyed the folk dancers, about ten in number, of whom roughly half were women. They dressed in traditional Turkish style, not Islamic, the men in long black pants, boots, the women in adorned dresses and boots too. I have seen Turkish folk dance before, and have even done one or two myself when Peg and I were members of a folk dance group in Dallas. I am always impressed by the dramatic athleticness of the dances, and this group was the best I had ever seen.
All the dancers were accompanied by a very good live band with a bouzouki (sp???) sounding instrument, an
accordion, and a flute which made the sound so exotically middle- eastern sounding to me. The bouzouki sounding instrument looked like and was played like a dulcimer. The band also had bongos and an electronic organ, subtly employed.
The large crowd of tourists, French, Russian, American, Canadian, German, etc., was very appreciative. A more perfect setting could not be imagined: a courtyard surrounded by the arcades of a building nearly two thousand years old, under the crystal clear night sky, making the exotic music utterly seductive.
We are still in Ku adasi but in a small hotel. Our pre-paid tour had ended. It costs $16 for the two of us including breakfast. Lunch for two us is about $6, dinner with wine about $10 (also for two). They told us that we could stay here in the winter for about $300 per month for two in a large room, maybe including breakfast but no other meals.
Up the street is another small hotel, called the Rose Hotel. It advertises internet access. We managed to connect our computer to their telephone and make the very cheap long distance call to IBM’s computer in Istanbul. The Rose Hotel was the same price as ours, but Peg said it looked more appropriate for backpacking students.
We spent the rest of our time here wandering about, taking long walks and talking about the possibility of staying here some winter for a few months. The locals tell us that the weather is usually agreeable and the prices low.
Turkish people are very honest. If you give them too much money, they will give it back. There is very little street crime.
But they will try to over-charge, or at least this is the way I felt sometimes. They do this in restaurants by not posting prices and
sometimes not even having written menus. You do not always know what is included in the meal and what is not. They build the order by being very friendly and making you feel so welcome that you think that they will not take advantage of you. So you start out expecting a $5 meal and you end up paying $8 or $10. Ok, that’s still not much, but that’s not the point. I just want to know in advance.
Some of the street vendors use similar techniques. Yesterday we wanted two cheese pastries, for which we had paid about $.25 each in Istanbul. He gave us the pastries and wanted 1 million, which is $1 each. We started to give them back, since that was way too much money, and he immediately cut the price in half. Still $.50 each, twice what we expected to pay, but better. Again the $.50 was not the problem, it was the fact that he tried to get away with excessive charges since he knew we were tourists. He did not have his price posted.
Another problem we had was when we wanted to get more lira. We saw a cash machine in some touristy town that we were visiting. A man came out and said it did not work yet. He said to come into the change place right next door. The rate was posted at 252,000 TL per USD. That was a decent rate. We gave them our credit card (really a debit card). We said we wanted $100. He told the woman we wanted $200. We said no, $100.
When she gave is the receipt to sign, the amount was for 26,000,000 TL, not 22,500,000 TL. We quickly recognized that they
were charging us a commission of 3,500,000 TL, which is $13.00, a whopping 13% commission! I grabbed the credit card and my passport, and we left. I forgot to grab the credit card receipt, unsigned, but they never tried to run it through.
Most people are poor. The average wage is about $400 per month. The woman in our hotel earns $175 per month, plus room and board. She is from Iran, and comes here during the summer so she can enjoy the freedom that women have here. She
lost her job when the revolution occurred, but was given a retirement income. She wants to come to the U.S. to work, as do many people.
Several Turks have told us that getting a U.S. visa, even a tourist visa, is impossible. One told us that you had to have at least
$20,000 in a bank account before they would let you in. Our visa for Turkey costs $45 each, compared to $10 or less for most
Europeans. All the sources we checked stated that the visa was $20. Bulgaria charges about the same, and $25 even if you are in a bus or train crossing the country without even touching the ground!
The water, fresh fruits and vegetables are safe to consume. The water tastes fine.