Saturday, October 30, 2010

A turkey goes to Turkey

One of the best things about Turkey was that it was not China. I am only kidding. I think me, my sinuses, and my case of athlete's foot are over China for the time being. Turkey is a neat place that we enjoyed. I'll break down this entry into three parts since we based our time in three different cites and areas of Turkey. We spent our time in Istanbul, in the central Cappadocia region, and in Kusadasi on the Mediterranean coast.

To start off with our time in Istanbul we first had a little excitement just getting there. We arrived at the airport in Hong Kong about nine hours before our flight. The reason being was that we were going to spend the afternoon in one of the lounges relaxing and getting caught up on things. Well we found out upon our arrival that our carrier Royal Jordanian only operated one flight a day which was our flight and their check in agents wouldn't be available for several more hours. We had to have our boarding passes to get through security and immigration. We actually were told by the first customer service agent that our flight was canceled but found out quickly that it wasn't canceled and was actually going to board early but only about 15 minute early. We ended up killing time in the large lobby area. The airport has free wi-fi and plenty of food options before you check in so it wasn't too bad. The next interesting part was that once we boarded we noticed there were a lot of people of Asian decent lining up to board the plane. We thought this was unusual since our flight was headed to Amman, Jordan then Istanbul, Turkey. We began to notice the sign at the boarding gate occasionally flash up Bangkok. There was no announcement and nothing on our boarding passes for the Amman flight that gave any indication we were flying to Bangkok first. We found out when we were boarding that our flight did indeed stop in Bangkok which is only 2.5 hours from Hong Kong. We stayed on the ground and about 2/3rds of the plane got off and a full compliment of passengers got on after about 45 minutes. We then took off for the 9 hour flight to Amman, Jordan. The flight was uneventful. We got in to Amman around 5 am. We made it through the transit area and up to the lounge. In the lounge which was pretty nice we found a quiet room and took about a 3 hour nap before getting up and having breakfast before boarding our two hour flight. Nothing too bad just a few extra steps to get to our first stop of Istanbul.

We arrived at in Istanbul around 3 pm in the afternoon on Monday the 18th. The first stop when entering Turkey is to get your visa. It is pretty much a money trap. You stand in line and get a stamp at the airport. It costs $20 US. They don't ask any questions. They take a quick look at your passport and put in a stamp which is good for 90 days. I paid in US cash but they do accept Visa and MasterCard. After getting your visa you then have to clear immigration. The immigration officer makes a quick check of your visa and quickly stamps your passport. They didn't seem to take to much time to check your credentials but who knows maybe they check it more closely than I give them credit. After we cleared immigration and customs we met both our driver to the hotel as well as Althea's mom Diane and her husband Ronnie. They toured with us in Istanbul and for the first three days in Goreme before heading back home. It was nice that they came. I know I enjoyed their company. In our nearly three months of travel we haven't spent really any time with Americans.

We spent the remaining part of our first afternoon in Istanbul checking out the area around our hotel including the Spice Market area before eating a pretty good meal at a local Turkish restaurant that was patrolled by multiple cats. We ate outdoors hence the cats. The next day we covered all but one of the key areas that I wanted to check out. Those were the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern. They were all close together and a short walk from our hotel. All were pretty neat in their own way. The Blue Mosque was the first place we went. The mosque was built in 1616 and is one of the grandest in all of Islam. It was free to enter. You just had to take off your shoes and women are supposed to cover their head and shoulders with a scarf. A lot of women did this but there plenty inside that did not. I was a little surprise by this since they were checking at the front door. It was pretty crowded although it was several women that I noticed were doings this. It was actually the first time I had been in a mosque before. I enjoyed our brief visit. The designs are simple but intricate. There were no prayers and services going on and a large portion was roped off. We went into two other mosques over the next two days. One had some type of service going on. Of course it was in Turkish so I couldn't tell what was going on. It would have been nice for some type of English translation to get a better understanding.

After the Blue Mosque we decided to go to the Basilica Cistern which is an underground water storage area. It was built in 532 AD by the Romans. The water came in via aqueduct 19 km away. Those Romans were some good engineers. I know some of their work is still used in Rome to this day. Next stop after the Cistern was the Hagia Sophia. The Hagia Sophia was also built or at least started in 532 AD. I think it was finished in 537 AD. Must have been a good time to build large projects. They probably had a lot of stimulus money to spend that year :-). Hagia Sophia is currently a museum but when it was built it was the largest church in the world and remained so for 1,000 years until a larger one was built in Seville, Spain in 1520. It was also became a mosque around the same time and remained one for around 400 years until the 1930's when it was converted into a museum by the new secular Turkey after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It is a massive old church/mosque. There are multiple mosaics that have been restored with some 1,000 years old. There are also several Islamic markings alongside or covering Christian pieces of art. Historically the church is pretty important. Several Byzantine Emperors were crowned there plus there were several church councils that met and determined Christian doctrine that is still in use today.

The next day we spent the morning exploring the Topkapi Palace. The palace was the home off the Ottoman rulers from the 1400's to I believe 1850's. It is a large complex with many different administrative and living rooms. The architecture is of Islamic influence. I didn't realize this until we got there but it also contains important religious relics that are important to Muslims. So important that they often make pilgrimages just to see these relics. The relics on display in the crowded rooms that had decent size lines were a staff from Moses, a sword from Davis, a piece of the Kaaba stone from Mecca, foot print of Muhammad, piece of Muhammad's beard, one of his teeth, and one of his cloaks. It also had and I am not making this up a saucepan from Abraham which actually rhymes. Who knows if any of those items were real. I am sure the piece of the Kaaba from Mecca is real because that can easily be traced but I am not so sure on the other stuff since there is no way to prove the authenticity of most relics.

We spent the remaining part of our time exploring different neighborhoods and markets including the Grand Bazaar. We had some good meals including the one the night before we left. I think we covered all of the key areas that we wanted to see. Alethea had been to Istanbul before but it was all new to Ronnie, Diane, and I although Diane may have flown into Istanbul before when she was working as a flight attendant. Feel free to correct me Diane :-).

My thoughts on Istanbul are that I think it is a pretty neat city. You can definitely identify the European influences since it is partially in Europe. However, it is distinctively different being in a country that is mostly Muslim. You first notice the difference in that some of the women are covered up but only a few were completely covered from head to toe which I personally do not like. You also hear the call to prayer throughout the day and notice minarets and mosques everywhere. The people on the street especially the people in front of restaurants can be very aggressive. Some would touch you and stand in front of you to block your progress. I didn't experience that in China. I actually gave one gentleman a pretty good shove to get out of my way. I wouldn't let that detract you from visiting Istanbul. I definitely would recommend it especially if you have already visited Europe because for me it wasn't all that different from other large European cities.

Next stop in Turkey was the Cappadocia region. Cappadocia is in the middle of Turkey a little over a hour by plane from Istanbul. It is an ancient area. Some of the research I did indicates people have lived there continuously since 3,000 BC. The Cappadocians were actually mentioned twice in the bible in the book of Acts per Wikipedia. It is a somewhat dry arid area that sort of looks like the American West. We decided to visit this area because of its uniqueness and history. We had read good things about it on travel blogs and noticed it on the Rick Steves' Turkey itinerary. We spent a total of 4 nights in the town of Goreme. Goreme has a population of 2,000 residents but they get about 10,000 tourists a week per one travel guide. Goreme was a little over a hour drive from the Kayceri airport that we flew into. We rented a car to get around here since the bus service is not as robust as it is other parts of Turkey. It was pretty easy to get around. The roads were in good shape and gas stations were common.

For the first two nights and really three full days Diane and Ronnie accompanied us to Cappedocia. We stayed at a small pension called the Cave Life Pension. It is built inside of a hillside with parts of it being a cave. It was pretty decent. Alethea and I had one room while Diane and Ronnie had one room. It included free wi-fi which was spotty the first couple days and free breakfast. The breakfast was pretty good. It contained olives, breads, boiled eggs, cheeses, and some fresh tomatoes. We had some difficulty with hot water in Diane and Ronnie's room. Our was fine except the last night when I had no hot water for my shower even though Alethea had plenty for hers. The rest of our first day in Goreme we spent hiking by the mushroom rock formations just outside of the town. They were unusual but look to be created by the usual culprits of fire and ice. Only the pictures will be able to really described it. After our hiking around we returned back to Goreme and had a pretty decent meal at a local restaurant. I believe we all had local Turkey\Ottoman dishes except Diane who had a pizza. I don't blame her. I was craving some American food too by the second or third day in Goreme although everything we ate was good. I really like the quality of the bread but again everything was tasty.

We spent the next day traveling via our rental car. We stopped first at the underground city of Kaymakli. It is a large complex of rooms that were used hundreds of years ago. Some of the tunnels were quite small. There were food storage, kitchens, plenty of wineries, and living room areas. On the way in we were somewhat pressured to hire a local guide but we decided to do it on our own. There were very basic one or two word signs to describe what type of room we were in plus Alethea overheard a French tour guide give description of rooms. For those that don't know Alethea is fluent in French and has a degree in French plus she flew international routes throughout Paris for Delta airlines for a few years. This is isn't the first time we've used her French to eavesdrop versus paying for something. It's like having a secret weapon :-). It was an interesting place. It is pretty deep underground. Can't really believe people lived there. I believe they lived here to flee or hide from various conquerors. You definitely would have to have some good torches to live in that place. We actually all had our head lamps with us which was a good thing since the power went out briefly and some areas were not well lit when the lights were on.

After Kaymakli we drove about a hour to the Ihlara Valley. We stopped at the town of Belisirma where we had a quick bite to eat on some huts that sat out in a shallow creek. We then hiked the southern part of the Ihlara Valley. We hiked up to one church and saw some old frescoes. We could make out paintings of Christ, some angels, and the twelve apostles. We then hiked down and along the valley looking for some more churches. We ended not hiking far enough even though we thought we had per our primitive map before encountering a nice gentleman who was about to walk home for the evening who showed us where the churches were at. He took his time and showed us each church. It turns out I was real close to them but didn't go quite far enough. These churches once spotted were a little easier to get to and nicer than the first one we encountered. We went to a total of three in this section. I had a clumsy moment while climbing down some rocks on the way to one church and twisted my ankle and scraped it up pretty good including my toes that are infected with athlete's foot. It hurt pretty good for the next 24 hours but was fine after that. Ronnie ended up tipping our spur of the moment tour guide and then we hiked about 45 minutes back to our car. The scenery in the valley was nice. We hiked along a creek with plenty of greenery and trees which aren't all that common in this part of Turkey. We wrapped up our Ihlara Valley trip by driving north for a few minutes and stopped at an old hillside monastery in Selime before driving the hour and half back to Goreme for the night.

The next day we went to the Goreme Open Air Museum. The museum was located only about a kilometer or so away from our hotel. We paid the 15 Lira a piece to enter the gates of the museum. Here there are a cluster of churches in the hillside built in the caves. There are frescoes and structures. In most of the churches you could not take any photos which is why most of the pictures for this section are of the area or just show the entrance. The churches of this area range for the most part from the 11th and 12th century AD with oldest being from around the 10th century AD. From what I've read there are no signs revealing the exact date of these churches. What is most commonly used to date them is the style of iconography used in the frescoes which has features that became common in the 10-12th centuries. Even though the churches may only be a 1000 years old this region's history involving Christianity goes back a lot longer. As I mentioned earlier the Cappadocians are mentioned in the book of Acts and some of the founding theologians of Christianity came from this region in the 2nd century AD and played a part in developing some of practices still in use today according to some of the literature I read.

After the museum we went back into Goreme and shopped for souvenirs for a little bit before grabbing a bite to eat. We then went back to our room and took Ronnie and Diane to the airport about a hour away in Kayceri. There was a shuttle from Goreme to the airport but it was by far cheaper to take them to the airport. I am glad they came and enjoyed their company. Hope they had a good time. Alethea and I decided to spend another two days in this region before flying to the city of Izmir (Smyrna) on the west coast. We looked into going to Konya or some other cities but either the cost of lodging was too high or the distance was too far to drive considering we had to return our rental car by 10:30 am on the day we flew out. We spent a little time in Mustafapasa where Rick Steve’s tour groups stay and drove to Celim and back through Ugurp. In all I would recommend the Cappadocia region if you are visiting Turkey. It is definitely a contrast to Istanbul and is rather easy to get around. The scenery is pretty in its own way as well as the churches.

The next part of Turkey we spent time in was in the Kusadai region on the Mediterranean coast. To
get to Kusadasi we flew from Kayceri (cost only $80 person) to Izmir which was a little over a hour. We then took a taxi for a hour from the Izmir airport to our hotel in Kusadasi. We stayed at the Villa Konak for 4 nights. The first day we got there we did not get out until the afternoon. It rained off and on in the morning so we spent time lounging outside on the terrace catching up on stuff while working on travel research since we had decent free wi-fi internet access. There is not really too much to see in Kusadasi. It has a population of about 50,000 but about 5 million tourist come through the city each year because it is a port of call for the cruise line industry. It is also close proximity to Ephesus. Ephesus is only about 12 miles away.

The next day was the highlight day of our time in this region. We toured the ruins of Ephesus and went to the town of Selcuk which is only 3 kilometers away from Ephesus. The first interesting part of our trip to Ephesus was getting there. Instead of booking a tour through an expensive tour company or taking a taxi we took one of the public buses which are shared taxis that run frequently and our cheap. We obtained info on how to use them via some previous trip research. We also got some information from a tourist office in Kusadasi the night before and verified it with our hotel staff the next morning. The cost was only 4 lira ($2.80 USD) per person one way. We ended up catching a bus in the city center. It was about a 30 minute ride to the Ephesus site. A 10 to 11 year old girl threw up in the van on the way but luckily I was sitting behind her instead of beside her. Once we were dropped off at Ephesus we took a taxi to the top of the Ephesus preservation site. It is recommended but not required to start from the top of the hill and then walk your way down but you can actually enter from either way. Once we got out we were approached immediately by touts wanting us to buy a book of the site and ponchos since it was threatening to rain. We made our way over to the entrance and purchased our 20 lira ($14 USD) per person entrance ticket. We then rented one audio guide headset (10 lira or $7 USD). Alethea had been to Ephesus 8 years ago while on a cruise so we decided to get just one headset. She actually was the spotter for the numbers to punch in to listen to since it was so crowded. I would then listen and tell her the function & a couple other facts about what we were seeing. They were dropping tourist off by the truck loads while we were there. The audio guide person said some days they have 45-50 full sized coach bus drop offs per day. Not sure we had that many but it was busy. It is kind of hard to go into detail about all the ruins but they were pretty neat. A lot of stuff is from the Roman era when the city hit its peak. It was actually the second largest city in the Roman Empire at one point. The highlight for me was probably the main amphitheater. It has been used for 2,000 years and is actually still used occasionally today. Paul of Tarsus once preached there against paganism and then was run out of town by the silver merchants who made statues of all the idols he was preaching against. In all we spent almost three hours checking out the columns, statues, library of Celsus, and even the latrines that the Romans built in the 2nd century AD. Although it was a little crowded it was worth it and I would recommend it.

Since we were still in the mood to look at ruins we headed into the town of Selcuk. We caught a mini bus for 2 lira a piece for the 3 kilometer ride back into town. The real purpose in Selcuk was to go to the Basilica of St. Jean and the Isa Bey Mosque. When we got off the bus we walked into town a little before seeing the signs to the attractions and started to walk that way. We were cutting through some of the residents which looked a little cramped and not in the best condition when a group of three girls who were about 12-13 years old asked if we could take a photo of them. Since Alethea already had her camera out taking pictures we obliged then showed them the picture on the camera. It was kind of cute although I was waiting for some type of request for money or to sale us something but they didn't. After a few more minutes of walking we ended up at the entrance to the Basilica of St. John. The entrance fee was 5 lira per person. The basilica is actually the ruins of the church. Several churches have been built on the spot and the one that was built around 530 AD by emperor Justinian was one of the largest churches in the world at that time. Over the years it fell into disrepair. I believe it was burned down and multiple earthquakes took its toll. It is still a worthwhile visit. You can walk through the remains and easily make out where the church was. At the front of the church by where the pulpit would be is the tomb of the apostle John. According to the site info he came here about 4-6 years after the death of Christ and spent most of the remaining part of his life here. Per the site information it is believe he wrote the gospel of John as well as the book of Revelations here too. This is somewhat more controversial but also he allegedly brought the Virgin Mary with him and she ascended into heaven after the end of her earthly life which is marked by a church 7 kilometers away. There are different accounts amongst denominations and religions. Islam considers Mary a saint too by the way. There is also some frescoes and a couple old baptisteries on the site that date back to 6th century AD. Upon completing the basilica tour we walked down the street to the Isa Bey Mosque. It was built in the 13th century AD. There wasn't anything too spectacular about it. It was built using some different types of architecture so there was some differences from the other mosques that we had seen. After the mosque visit we walked back into town and ate lunch. We then walked down to the bus station and caught a mini bus back to Kusadasi. No one got sick on the return trip but we did have to stop at multiple places before we got back to the town center to drop people off and pick them up from different hotels.

The last full day in Kusadasi was a trip research, laundry, and toiletry resupply day. We dropped off our laundry after eating breakfast. It actually cost us quite a bit. It was 50 lira for two large loads to wash and dry (~$35 USD). We washed everything including fleece jackets and towels. We haven't actually been charged for laundry since Yangshuo, China and are heading to Egypt on a tour for the next 10 nights. We may not have easy access to laundry when we need it. We also went to a local grocery store and stocked up toiletries we think we might run out of over the next month while in Africa. We then spent time researching some of our next places to visit in Israel, Jordan, and South Africa. Kenya and Tanzania are already booked. Alethea even manged to squeeze in a haircut back at the place I got my haircut at a couple days before. We were a little concerned that the traditional male run local barbershops wouldn't cut a woman's hair but he was eager too. He was very nice and offered us along with other customers your choice of tea or coffee as you waited or you could hang out afterward to finish your beverage. I had the apple tea. It was pretty good and like all Turkish coffee or tea quite strong. He did a pretty job with both of our haircuts. He even gave me his business card so if anyone who reads this needs a haircut in Kusadasi, Turkey please feel free to visit Aydin Filiz at Arslanlar Cad. Keskin Sk. Tornunoglu Apt No: 1 :-).

That wraps up Turkey. I don't really like to compare countries but I do like to compare what I thought a country would be like versus how it actually turned out to be. Turkey for me was better than the expectations that I had for it. It is a different culture than what I have been exposed to before which is a good thing. The country is relatively modern with English being spoken at least to the point where it wasn't too difficult to communicate. Istanbul pretty much felt European but obviously a little different than the Europe I have seen with all the mosques and call to prayers. The touts were more aggressive than I expected or liked. They were less aggressive in other parts. The infrastructure of the Cappadocia area was better than I expected as there were nice roads, gas stations, and ATM’s in the towns we visited. Turkey is very rich with history and culture which is always a positive with me. It was also good that Alethea's mom and Ronnie met up with us for a few days. I cannot really think of too many negatives. Smoking is pretty common in Turkey. I don't recall coming across any indoor smoking but it was very common in cafes and outdoor restaurants. Only other real negative was how aggressive the people were trying to sell you stuff. The people that were the worst were the for restaurants in Istanbul. They were more aggressive than the Chinese in this regard. I would highly recommend Turkey for a 1 to 2 week vacation. It is pretty easy to get around and filled with interesting historical sights. I almost forgot to mention another positive. The Turkish food we ate was pretty good. Breakfasts were the Mediterranean version of meat and cheese but included olives and different breads. The kebabs and doner plates and wraps we had were great too. The beef meat is usually flavored with local herbs. Not spicy but flavorful. One of the things I liked the best was the bread. At every place the bread was fresh and tasty. I know I ate plenty of it each place we went. I also enjoyed drinking the local Turkish beer Efes. It is a simple pilsner but tasted pretty good.

As far as I go I am holding up pretty well. A couple pieces of my gear got a little banged up in Turkey. The sunglasses that I am using which are Alethea's and very expensive fell a part on one side but Alethea and guy with a knife at the Cave Life Pension in Goreme fixed them. My backpack suffered two small but complete puncture holes at the top. I only store toiletries there so I am not too worried. Alethea said she might be able to patch it. Time to pack up and try to check in. We're headed off to Egypt and the Middle East. Neither one of us have been to these areas so it should be interesting. We just heard over the intercom that the flight to Baghdad just had a gate change. Don't think we'll be on that one as we are flying direct into Cairo. It is interesting though that you can catch a flight to either there or Tehran from here. Everyone take care!

Link to photo albums:

Daily Log:

Monday October 18th
Flew from Hong Kong to Amman via Bangkok, Thailand.
We got in to Amman around 5:30 am and checked in to the Royal Crown lounge where we napped for about 3 hours before eating breakfast and then catching our connecting flight to Istanbul.
Made it in to Istanbul. Ronnie and Diane met us outside of customs. Their flight was late and arrived only a hour before us. Originally they would have arrived 4 hours earlier.
Walked around area of hotel. Ate dinner at a nice local Turkish restaurant surrounded by cats and smokers.
Came back to hotel and took showers.

Tuesday October 19th
Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque – built 1616, surprised at how many women were not wearing scarfs.
The Basilica Cistern Yerebatan Sarnici – 532 AD.
Hagia Sophia – started 532 finished 537. Largest church in Christianity until 1520
Grand Bazaar
Two other mosques
Walked over Galata Kpr Bridge

Wednesday October 20th
Spent hours walking around the Topkapi Palace. It was the home of the Ottoman Sultans 1465 to 1856. Contains many religious relics which included sword of David, Abraham's saucepan, rod of Moses, Muhammad’s cloak, foot print, tooth, and hair from his beard. Beautiful palace.
Walked over to old wooden house section of Istanbul
Toured mausoleum of Sultan ???
Diane bought some spices near the spice market
Ate dinner at hotel restaurant which is an Ottoman Restaurant – very nice

Thursday October 21st
Alarm went off at 5 am. Caught airport shuttle @ 6:15 am.
Flew from Istanbul to Kayceri. Arrived around 10 am. Had Turkish coffee @ airport. Tasted nasty
Picked up rental car and left around 10:50 am
After a couple short stops drove about a hour to Goreme.
Staying at Cave Life Pension.
Drove around to mushroom top rock formations.
Drove to Ugurp. Hike up to viewpoint.
Made brief stop at winery
Ate dinner in Goreme at nice local Turkish restaurant.

Friday October 22nd
Awaken sometime after 5 am by the first call to prayer from the mosque located in front of our hotel.
Alethea woke me up after 7 am to watch all the numerous hot air balloons flying over Goreme. It was pretty neat. Watched them for about 30 minutes or so.
Ate breakfast and left hotel around 10 am.
Drove to Kaymakli. Hiked in underground city for a hour. Pretty neat and massive. Numerous chambers to walk around in. Some tunnels were very small. Had to use head lamp lights
Drove through Ihlara to Ihlara Valley to Belisirma. Ate lunch in Belisirma in the creek.
Hiked through valley to ancient churches. Churches had frescoes that depicted Jesus, angels, and 12 disciples. Need to research to see how old these churches are.
Almost didn't find some. Nice young man walked with us down to where the churches were at. These churches were nicer. We saw three additional larger ones. Very impressive. Frescoes were made with pigeon egg shells. I tripped and fell cutting up my left foot and maybe spraining some toes while hiking to one church.
Hike back to car. Drove to Selime and walked around a monastery.
Drove back to Goreme and ate dinner at local restaurant.
Cappadocia is old. People have lived here since 3000 BC. Cappadocia is referenced twice in the book of Acts.

Saturday October 23rd
Open air museums of Goreme – many old churches with frescoes dating back to the 10-12th centuries
Shopped in Goreme
Ate lunch
Took Ronnie and Diane to the Kayceri airport
Came back to hotel and ate dinner and got on the internet.
Decided to spend another night at a our hotel in Goreme

Sunday October 24th
Slept in a little bit until 9 am.
Ate breakfast. Decided to spend another night at our hotel in Goreme. We looked at other places but they were not within our budget.
Surfed the internet after breakfast for a little bit since we were now able to access Gmail and some other sights were couldn't before after the power outage earlier in the morning.
Hand washed some underwear since it might be a few days until we do laundry again in Izmir.
Drove to Ugurp and stopped once along the way at an overlook
Drove around Ugurp until we figured out to get to Mustafapasa
Walked around Mustafapasa for about 30 minutes.
Drove to Celim and spotted an old abandoned church. We believe it is from 1902.
Drove back to hotel. Stopped and bought a bottle of local Turkish. Sat in room and drank the wine, ate pumpkin seeds and mulberries that we had bought earlier.
Edited pictures in Picasa
Walked into town to eat at a local restaurant
Called home via cell then Google Talk and spoke with mom and dad for about 30 minutes.

Monday October 25th
Checked out of hotel around 9:15 am.
Drove to Kayceri to turn in the rental car.
Rental car was due back around 10:30 am even though our flight wasn't until 3:35 pm. Waited in the Kayceri airport for several hours. It is real small. Only two gates. Caught up on picture editing and writing my blog entry for Turkey before flight.
Flight was uneventful except had two small holes punched in my bag at the top courtesy of Sun Express Airlines.
Took taxi to hotel. Took one hour and 100 Turkish Lira
Hotel Konak is pretty nice.
Ate dinner at local Turkish restaurant in Kusadasi.

Tuesday October 26th
Slept in a little bit (prob 8:30 am)
Ate breakfast at hotel (pretty good & included in room rate)
Hand washed underwear in sink to stretch out laundry date until next to last day before leaving.
Raining\Thunderstorming – decided to catch up pics, expenses, research on out door port by the wireless router. All caught up on picture posting. Need to keep writing on blog.
Got haircut from local barber. Cost 13 lira or $9.13
Walked around Kusadasi.
Got back to hotel and enjoyed free wine for referencing Turkey Travel Planner web site.
Ate dinner at local restaurant. Had pizza, wings, and bread. Very good.

Wednesday October 27th
Toured ruins of Ephesus – took public bus for only 4 TL per person. Took around 3 hours to tour. Very good. Highlight was the amphitheater.
Toured St. John Basilica and saw tomb of the Apostle John.
Toured Isa Bey Mosque which is next to St. John's - 13th century mosque.
Checked out local supermarket for our toiletry supply run tomorrow. Did pick up 4 pack of Efes for only 9 TL. Cheaper than buying individually in local markets.
Server complementary Turkish Tea by hotel.

Thursday October 28th
Took laundry to local laundry mat. At first they were closed but our hotel called them & they opened back up.
Went to grocery store to buy toiletries before heading down to Africa
Researched Jerusalem, Egypt visas
Alethea got a haircut
Ate dinner
Worked on blog for Turkey

Friday October 29th
Alarm went off at 4:30 am
Caught taxi at 4:50 am (he was 10 minutes early)
Took 45 minute flight from Izmir to Istanbul
Sitting in airport because Egypt Air's check-in desk isn't open yet.
Working on finishing up blog entry for Turkey
Listening to senior citizens cough up lungs in the lobby as a result of decades of smoking.

This blog entry covered 10/18 to 10/29