Turkey and Greece tours starting in Istanbul, Turkey – Part 1

Traveling to ancient sites requires climbing up steep dirt hills, walking up uneven, rocky steps and a lot of huffing and puffing, but once you've reached your destination...Wow! This was my reward for climbing up hill, a breathtaking view of the theater ruins at the Hierapolis, an ancient city in Turkey. Hierapolis along with the hot springs of Pamukkale, which is located close by, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. May 13, 2015

Taking a month to travel while still employed full-time took some planning, but I knew it was something I needed to do. I wanted to go to Turkey and I couldn’t see coming all this way, although Turkey is definitely worth it, without seeing Greece too. So, when I checked the Rick Steves schedule for his 2015 tours and found a Turkey tour with a Greece tour beginning two days later, I reserved a spot on each tour.

Spending a month traveling made me realize two things, one…I loved it; and two…if my plan is to travel extensively, and it is, I need to do it now. Now, while I am physically fit enough to do the walking, climbing and any other physical demands required to spend time on the road and to see the ancient sites.

What’s amazed me most about Turkey…besides its people, the food and the diversity of its topography…is the depth of its history. I fell in love with Turkey. The two main reasons I came to Turkey was to see Istanbul and to go to the ancient site of Ephesus. I had no idea that everything I saw in between those two places would also be just as amazing. Turkey and Greece have seen lifetimes and lifetimes of history at its doorsteps. The first traces of occupation of the area where the city of Ephesus, Turkey, later stood dates back to 5000 BC. It’s one thing to see and admire a photo of the Celsus Library at Ephesus in a book, and it’s another thing to stand before it, under it and behind it to appreciate its beauty.

This tour allowed me to see the diversity of Turkey through its cities including Istanbul, Ankara, Mustafapasa, Konya, Antalya, Pamukkale, Aphrodisias, Ephesus and Kusadasi. We did not venture to the east of Turkey because that area borders both Iran and Syria. But at no time during my stay in Turkey did I ever feel uncomfortable as a woman or as a foreigner. Our guide, Yaren Turkoglu, a young woman whose roots are in Turkey and who lives in Istanbul, could not have been more knowledgeable, gracious, and kind. Her love for her country and its endearing people is another important reason I took to Turkey. Whatever may be happening in the world, I don’t want to hide from it. My experience in Turkey taught me that the good heavily outweighs the bad and if I just listen to the news, then I don’t get the opportunity to expose myself to the good in the world. Thank you Rick Steves for this tour and thank you Yaren for being such a wonderful ambassador for your country’s abundance.

On this trip,  I met Alice and Tammy. These two women were classmates during their school years. While Tammy lives in Australia and Alice lives in the US, they picked the Turkey tour and like me, the Greece tour afterwards, to meet and travel together. The benefit of this for me is that I got to enjoy their company for both of the trips. Although I did not pay the supplement to have a single room, I ended up with one anyway and I realized that I liked it. I enjoyed having those evenings to myself where I could write and sum up my day’s activities.

Join along through the photos and captions.

Mom and Syd took me to D/FW Airport to begin my month-long travels first to Turkey and then to Greece on back-to-back Rick Steves tours. This is from my daughter, Sydney’s, Facebook post: “And she’s off again for the next month! Turkey, Istanbul and some other places I don’t know. Please pray for safe travels for my mom! Ugh I miss you already.” May 2, 2015
I’m here, in Istanbul, Turkey, a place that I’ve always wanted to come to because it’s a place with a full and exotic history. It’s been a long night and day of travel, by way of London’s Heathrow Airport. But, when I got to the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, it took a few minutes to get through customs and find my way to the Hotel Azade’s shuttle service, but I did. And, low and behold, I’m on the shuttle with three future members of my Rick Steves Turkey tour group: Alice, Mindy and her husband James. May 3, 2015
Here I am, well, its my left hand with my make shift splint on my pinky finger in my private room at the Hotel Azade in Istanbul. I did not sign up pay the up front cost of the single’s supplement, but if there’s no one for me to room with then I automatically get a private room. No complaints here. Okay, now on to the finger. It happened as I was getting off the plane at Heathrow Airport. I was helping this woman take down her luggage when a man in front of me pulled it out and it caught the tip of my pinky finger. I knew right away something was wrong. When I got off the plane I asked an attendant for a first aid place so I could get a splint, well there was none. So, the attendant called for an ambulance only to be told they don’t do splints. When the attendant suggested taking me to the hospital, I said absolutely not and inquired about a pharmacy instead. Since there was nothing to fit my pinky, I bought some emery boards, split one in half and taped them to my finger. No way was I missing my flight out of London into Istanbul. May 3, 2015
My first night in Istanbul and I’m having dinner with Alice, in the black, whom I met on the shuttle to the hotel and her childhood friend from Australia, Tammy. Little did I know that I would be hanging out with these two through both Turkey and Greece. What a joy! May 3, 2015
I’m having the fish while Alice and Tammy are sharing the rest during my first Istanbul meal. May 3, 2015
As I write this post, I am listening to the melodic call to prayer. I met my Rick Steves tour group members today. I’m excited to get to know them as we travel together over the next two weeks through Turkey. Today in Istanbul we visited the Topkapi Palace and walked around the area of the former ancient Hippodrome. Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror chose the Topkapi Palace’s prime location, which overlooks the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, as the administrative center of his empire. A century later, it became the home to sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. This is the Imperial Gate to the main entrance of the Topkapi Palace. May 4, 2015
The beautiful cypress trees in the courtyard of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul are so lush and stately. May 4, 2015
The second gate, the Gate of Salutation at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. May 4, 2015
Close up view of the Gate of Salutation in Istanbul. May 4, 2015
The Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. May 4, 2015
Part of the Haram section at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul where the sultan, his mother, his wives…up to four of them…and concubines lived. This wasn’t a free for all for the sultan because his mother had a great deal of influence over his partners. The Haram was an institution with the purpose of providing future heirs to the Ottoman throne. May 4, 2015
A stunning tiled mural of the cypress trees at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. May 14, 2015
The sultan’s private apartment at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul glitters with its beautiful decor. May 14, 2015
The sultan’s private apartment at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul glitters with its beautiful décor. May 4, 2015
These tulips were in full bloom at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul and since red is my favorite color, I just had to add myself to the mix. May 4, 2015
The German Fountain is on the site of the Hippodrome in Istanbul. Although the fountain was shipped to Istanbul from Germany in 1901, the Hippodrome was built by Constantinople for chariot races around the fourth century A.D. May 4, 2015
This Egyptian Obelisk in Istanbul was carved about 1,500 years before the birth of Christ to honor an Egyptian pharaoh. This portion of the obelisk is only the upper third of the original massive stone block. May 4, 2015
The Hippodrome, which is where this close up of the Egyptian Obelisk in Istanbul was taken, was basically a racetrack where popular events took place. May 4, 2015
Not sure if you can see this clearly but this is the Byzantine white marble base of the obelisk that shows a horizontal obelisk and how pulleys were used to raise it. May 14, 2015
This was really cool…members of our Rick Steves tour group entering the underground old portion of Istanbul…that led to the back door of our restaurant. Like Rome, when you dig, you find history. May 4, 2015
My feet hurt from all the walking, but I wouldn’t vacation/travel in any other way. As ancient as Istanbul is, with its Roman emperors and Ottoman sultans, it’s a city that’s home to 17 million Turks. That’s a lot of people, but I haven’t felt uncomfortable or out of place in this electric and exotic city. The stunning Blue Mosque in Istanbul was built in just seven years (1609-1616) and gets its name from the rich blue color of the handmade ceramic tiles that dominate the interior. May 5, 2015
This is the interior entrance to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. May 5, 2015
This is the mihrab of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, which points southeast to Mecca, where all Muslims face to worship. Islamic tradition forbids the portrayal of living beings in places of worship. As a result, the Muslim world excelled at nonfigurative art. May 5, 2015
Since the Blue Mosque continues to be a place of worship, women are required to cover our heads and all are required to remove our shoes. Yes, that’s me in the red scarf that I haggled for and bought in Istanbul. That’s Tammy, in the middle, and Alice to the right of me. May 5, 2015
This is the Hagia Sophia. First a church, then a mosque, and now a museum, it is grand, ancient and well preserved. May 5, 2015
Here I am inside Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia where some of this great structure is being renovated. May 5, 2015
The interior narthex of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul has nine vaulted bays with decorative mosaics and marbled paneled walls. May 5, 2015
This majestic doorway to the entrance of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul is the Imperial Gate, once reserved for the emperor, but now opens for all. May 5, 2015
The grand interior of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is just stunning. The Arabic calligraphy medallions are 24-feet-wide with the names of Allah and Muhammad. May 5, 2015
Here’s another photo of the stunning interior of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. May 5, 2015
Upstairs in the south gallery of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is this Byzantine mosaic, dating from the 13th or 14th century of the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist asking Jesus for the salvation of souls. May 5, 2015
The nave or altar of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul with its gorgeous stained glass windows is just gorgeous. May 5, 2015
The Minbar of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is the pulpit where the imam (leader of the prayer) stands to deliver sermons. May 5, 2015
This patriotic monument at Taksim Square in Istanbul, unveiled in 1928, commemorates the fifth anniversary of the Turkish Republic. It features Mystafa Kemal Ataturk, on the other side of this massive statue, considered the father of modern Turkey. This side of the statue shows him wearing his military uniform, as the hero of the War of Independence. May 5, 2015
This patriotic monument at Taksim Square in Istanbul, unveiled in 1928, commemorates the fifth anniversary of the Turkish Republic. It features Mystafa Kemal Ataturk, considered the father of modern Turkey. This side of the statue shows him wearing his military uniform, as the hero of the War of Independence. May 5, 2015
Inside the Chora Church in Istanbul. The outside of the church is under renovation, but the interior frescoes of Mary and Jesus are just breathe-taking and no photo that I take can do them justice. May 5, 2015
This mosaic inside the Chora Church in Istanbul shows Mary as a child being loved on by her parents. Several frescoes are dedicated to the birth and life of Mary. May 5, 2015
Inside the Chora Church in Istanbul. May 5, 2015
Inside the Chora Church in Istanbul. May 5, 2015
After a full day of walking, came the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. This is entrance number one and its best to know where you enter because it is a maze of streets under one roof. May 5, 2015
I’m not much of a shopper but I had to experience the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is where salesmen wait outside the shops to coax would be buyers to come look. May 5, 2015
Inside the colorful labyrinth of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar there’s anything and everything a shopaholic will want or need. May 5, 2015
Goodbye Istanbul, you are truly everything and more I had hoped you would be…and hello Ankara, the capital of Turkey. Our first Rick Steves group portrait in front of our hotel in Istanbul, as we move on to our next adventure. May 6, 2015
Before we left Istanbul, we hit the colorful and fragrant Spice Bazaar. And, yes, it is filled with merchants who sell a variety of spices, Turkish Delight candies and Turkish teas. I just stuck to the pistachios, which came highly recommended by my brother…and he was absolutely right on! After indulging in Turkish spices, our tour group took a private cruise that began at the Sea of Marmara and ended on the Bosphorus where we picked up our bus to be whisked away to Ankara. All I can say so far is, “Thank you” Istanbul for the beautiful weather and for opening the door for me to explore this extremely diverse city.A spice shop at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul is both colorful and aromatic. May 6, 2015
A bevy of colorful and rich Turkish teas at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul is the perfect place for tea lovers to just run amuck. May 6, 2015
The ever so sweet Turkish Delights at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. May 6, 2015
There’s literally a cornucopia of spices that delight the senses at the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. May 6, 2015
Our Turkish tour group boarding our private boat in Istanbul to sail across the Sea of Marmara and into the Bosphorus. May 6, 2015
Leaving Istanbul’s European side on the Sea of Marmara….May 6, 2015
to enter Istanbul’s Asia side at the Bosphorus.May 6, 2015
The Walls of Constantinople from the Bosphorus on the Asia side of Istanbul. May 6, 2015
After leaving Istanbul, we spent a night in Ankara, the second largest city in Turkey. So, while still there, we visited the Anatolian Civilizations Museum this morning with its pre-Roman treasures from Turkey. This female Goddess figure dates to around 5750 B.C. She is associated with both agricultural and human fertility because of her huge breasts and wide hips while sitting between two leopards suggesting a strong social persona. This small, but dominant piece of history is regally on display at the museum. Need I say more? May 7, 2015
Yaren Turkoglu, our Rick Steves Turkey tour guide, who is kind, caring and passionate about her country, gives us the low down on her country while we are at the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara. Yaren lives in Istanbul and was born in Turkey. May 7, 2015
After our visit to the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara, we paid our respects at the monumental Anitkabir, the tomb and museum of modern Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Ataturk (1881-1938) He is considered the George Washington of the Turks. Almost single-handedly he created modern-day Turkey. May 7, 2015
The sculpture of three Turkish women in national costumes is located at the entrance of the Road of Lions leading to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara. The two women at the sides are holding a large wreath reaching to the ground. This wreath, made up of grain sheaves, represents the abundant country. The woman on the left with a cup in her stretched-out hand is asking for God’s compassion. The woman in the middle, covering her face with her hand, is crying. This group represents the pride of Turkish women, and their solemnity and determination even in grief and hardship. A five-centimeter gap separates the paving stones on the Road of Lions to ensure that visitors take their time and observes respectful behavior on their way to Atatürk’s tomb. May 7, 2015
In front of the Freedom Tower, across from the statues of the three Turkish women, are these statue three men at the entrance of the Road of Lions leading to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara. The man at the right with a helmet and coat represents a Turkish soldier; on the left with a book in his hand is a Turkish youth and intellectual; behind both of these, in village clothing, is a Turkish peasant. The serious facial expressions of all three statues represent the solemnity and willpower of the Turkish people. May 7, 2015
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is buried here at the Anitkabir mausoleum in Ankara, Turkey. May 7, 2015
This is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s tomb inside of the Anitkabir where he is buried in Ankara, Turkey. May 7, 2015
I’m not much for taking pictures of food and posting them, but I’ve really enjoyed the food in Turkey. It’s simple, tasty and fresh. I’ve mostly been eating fish but decided today to try a chicken kebab and it, like all the other food I’ve consumed while I’ve been here, wash delicious. Oh, and Baklava with pistachios has become my new favorite obsession. May 7, 2015
The region of Cappadocia is known for its scenic wonders. More tomorrow, but here’s a look at the Urgup Fairy Chimneys…locally known as the Three Beauties. I got to hang out with these incredible women on my Turkey tour…Janet to my left, Alice and Tammy to my right. May 7, 2015
Dinner tonight in the Cappadocia region at our hotel, the Greekhouse, in the small town called Mustafapasa with the entire tour group…except tonight the women folk decided that we all wanted to sit together for dinner. The husbands, boyfriends, significant others sat at the other table. Good food, great company and so much to talk about. May 7, 2015
Our all girl dinner table at our hotel, the Greekhouse, in the small town called Mustafapasa in Turkey’s Cappadocia region. May 7, 2015
Cappadocia has the feel of a small town filled with a big history. The people are kind yet backed by a nomadic culture with deep religious roots; the food is simple, unprocessed and delicious; and the landscape is green, lush and enchanting. To me, Istanbul is Turkey…yet Cappadocia has proven there is so much more to learn, see and do in Turkey. For many years, people lived in the soft rock of Cappadocia. I’ve heard these rock cutouts and caves are still home to some of the people. The increase in tourism to the area has brought the creation of hotels being built into the rocks…causing the government to step in. May 8, 2015
A landscape view of the rock homes, the various rock formations and village of Mustafapasa in Cappadocia. May 8, 2015
Me at the Goreme National Park in Cappadocia. This site became a religious refuge during the early days of Christianity. From the 9th to 13th centuries monastic communities were established. The monks excavated extensive dwellings with beautiful religious frescoes in the caved churches. May 8, 2015
This is the entrance to the Dark Church in the Goreme National Park in Cappadocia. It took 14 years to restore the interior of the church in this cave to reveal the frescoes and that included removing layers of pigeon poop. May 8, 2015
I did a “no,no” and took this picture of the interior of the Buckle Church at the Goreme National Park in Cappadocia. As I was walking out of the cave church, there was an actual sand storm. That’s what I get for not paying attention to the rules. May 8, 2015
We had lunch today in the home of Fahriye, (seated in back and wearing the head scarf) in Cappadocia. The picture was taken in her salon filled with Turkish carpets. Fahriye and her two sisters made the carpet on the floor. May 8, 2015
This is Fahriye and our Rick Steves tour group had lunch at her home today in Cappadocia. The picture was taken in her salon filled with Turkish carpets. Fahriye and her two sisters made the carpet on the floor. May 8, 2015
A woman weaving a carpet at the carpet shop we visited in Cappadocia. May 8, 2015
Here we get a demonstration at the carpet shop in Cappadocia of on how silk threads are gathered from the cocoons. May 8, 2015
Mustafa and company showing off some of the carpets in their Cappadocia shop. May 8, 2015
This is the carpet that caught my eye at the carpet shop in Cappadocia…a mere $16,000. May 8, 2015
The former mansion, built in the 1800’s and family owned since the 1930’s, is now the Greekhouse hotel where we are staying in Mustafapasa, Cappadocia. May 8, 2015
The open and festive dining area of the Greekhouse hotel in Mustafapasa where we gathered for our group dinners with hotel rooms in the background. May 8, 2015
I just had to show off my cozy little room at the Greekhouse hotel in Mustafapasa, Cappadocia. May 8, 2015
Woke up at 3:30 a.m. to hop on my first hot air balloon ride only for it to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions. We’ll try again tomorrow. But, that didn’t stop us from packing in a full day of wondrous sites in several towns of Cappadocia. This morning some of our group went to the weekly open-air food market in Urgup, but another tour member and I walked around the town instead. I’m absolutely fascinated by the simplicity and quaintness of the small towns. I do get some strange looks, but other than some young people yelling out “Obama” in a cheering way, I’ve felt very accepted and comfortable. The landscape with the enchanting fairy chimneys and the ancient caves both above and below ground are fascinating. May 9, 2015
Cappadocia’s Pasabagi Valley, but the locals call these rock formations fairy chimneys. The small openings were once the houses and churches of hermits. May 9, 2015
Still among the fairy chimneys, I’m standing next to my Rick Steves tour buddy Geeta. The buddy system makes sure that each member has someone other than a partner, friend or mate looking out for them. The other Diana…yes, there were two of us on this tour…and her buddy Gleena. May 9, 2015
What did I tell you…Cappadocia’s gorgeous landscape!! May 9, 2015
Yesterday was the Turkish carpet show and today is the beautiful Turkish ceramics in Cappadocia. May 9, 2015
More than 3,000 people lived in the eight levels of the Kaymakli Underground City, a UNESCO Heritage Site, contained within the citadel of Kaymakli in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. May 9, 2015
Another cave dwelling in the Kaymakli Underground City. These caves date back to the Hittites around 1200 BC. May 9, 2015
As a child, our 74-year-old guide, Mustafa, played in the caves of Kaymakli as a boy. May 9, 2015
A Turkish carpet maker selling his family made carpets by the caves of Kaymakli. May 9, 2015
This is how the Turks store their lemons and apples, outdoor caves in Cappadocia. May 9, 2015
Me surrounded by various sizes and shapes of an eye-shaped amulet called a nazar. It is believed to protect one from the evil eye of jealousy. May 9, 2015
We left the region of Cappadocia today, but not before I got the chance to float along this region’s historic and magical terrain on a hot air balloon. Happy Mothers Day to all the incredible women of the world who nurture and give of themselves with tremendous love. Here I am holding on tight to the basket before my very first hot air balloon ride over the stunning landscape of Cappadochia. (That’s Janet standing next to me.) May 10, 2015
Watching the sunrise as more than 100 hot air balloons sprinkle the skies over Cappadocia. May 10, 2015
The beauty of viewing the magical fairy chimneys of Cappadochia from up high. May 10, 2015
I actually like this picture of me that Sue Bourland, another member of my Turkey and Greece tour groups, took on our balloon ride in Cappadocia. May 10, 2015
Balloons, balloons and more balloons over the beautiful Cappadochia landscape. May 10, 2015
Our hunky Atmosfer Balloons pilot Gokhan Aydin giving us landing instructions. Not that many instructions were needed because the landing was upright and perfect. May 10, 2015
Quite a number of us on the Rick Steves “Best of Turkey” tour got up at 3:30 in the morning, two days in a row, to take the balloon ride. Here we all are celebrating with the pilot after a successful ride. May 10, 2015
After an exhilerating balloon ride in Cappadocia, and as we travel to Konya, we make a stop in the village of Guzelyurt to meet the local Imam. To the left is Yaren, our Rick Steves tour guide and to the right is the Imam, the worship leader of the local mosque and Muslim community. Our group was able to ask him questions and Yaren did the translations. What I learned is that being an imam is a profession in Turkey. The imam is employed by the government through the Department of Religious Affairs. He leads the call to prayer five times a day and is involved with the welfare of his community. In regards to Mother’s Day, which is also celebrated in Turkey, the Imam said he considers being a mother the holiest job in the world. May 10, 2015
The Sultanhani Caravanserai. Trade across Turkey and the Silk Road during medieval times was dependent on camel trains or caravans that stopped at inns called Caravanserai. Since camels could travel about 20 miles in 8 to 12 hours, then these inns were built every 20 miles or so. May 10, 2015
This is the entrance of the Sultanhani Caravanserai. May 10, 2015
Details of the stone work to the entrance of the Sultanhani Caravanserai. May 10, 2015
Rooms inside the Sultanhani Caravanserai. May 10, 2015
We spent last night in Konya, a city in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, that is a religiously conservative area. Alcohol cannot be bought or sold in the city and that includes restaurants. As in all the other towns and cities in Turkey, I felt comfortable enough to walk around by myself. Before leaving Konya, for our long bus ride to Antalya, we paid a visit to the Ladies Market and to Mevlana’s Museum, better known as Rumi, the 13th century poet, Islamic scholar and mystic. The entrance to the food bazaar, built by a woman, is called the Ladies Market in Konya. May 11, 2015
What caught my eye was the Turkish flag hanging proudly in the middle of a plethora of fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, spices and all kinds of meat in the Ladies Market in Konya. May 11, 2015
An array of Turkish goat cheese made from goatskin…and I tasted it at the Ladies Market in Konya. Too salty and chalky for my taste, but I’m not much of a cheese lover. May 11, 2015
These young men are butchers cutting fresh chicken into parts at the Ladies Market in Konya, Turkey. May 11, 2015
The Mevlana Museum in Konya, Turkey, where the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi is located. Many Turks come to the mausoleum as a pilgrimage. May 11, 2015
At the entrance to Rumi’s mausoleum, at the Mevlana Museum in Konya, everyone had to cover their shoes with a piece of plastic, which were provided. May 11, 2015
The ornate gateway under which lies Rumi’s tomb at the Mevlana Museum in Konya. May 11, 2015
The tomb of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a man of love and affection who died in 1217, at the Mevlana Museum in Konya. May 11, 2015
The twirling dervish exhibit at the Mevlana Museum in Konya. May 11, 2015
You don’t have to tell me…I plan to keep on traveling. May 11, 2015
A free day from planned activities to do whatever we wanted in Antalya. Yaren, our tour guide, provided our little group of 24 with maps, guidance on possible things to do and then kicked us out to do our own exploring. It was still a full day, but I got to move at a much slower pace and enjoyed taking in the Old Town history and charm, the beautiful site of the Mediterranean and a treasure trove of history at the Antalya Archeological Museum. While walking to the marina this morning through the Old Town area of Antalya, Turkey, I came across this beautiful bougainvillea at the entrance of this shop. The Old Town, considered the first residential area of Antalya, was established between the years 159-138 B.C. and was surrounded by walls, remnants of which are still in existence. May 12, 2015
A colorful shop in the Old Town area of Antalya. May 12, 2015
It was a gorgeous day for a magnificent view from the marina in Antalya of the Mediterranean and the nearby mountains. May 12, 2015
The Antalya marina and the ancient walls. May 12, 2015
It’s me at the Antalya marina with the ancient walls behind me. The weather forecast before we got to Antalya was rain, but it turned out to be a warm, sunny day on the Mediterranean coast. May 12, 2015
A breathtaking view of the Antalya marina and Mediterranean coast from up high. May 12, 2015
A view of Antalya’s ancient walls by the marina. May 12, 2015
I found my brother, Hermes Petterson, posing at the Antalya Archeological Museum. Okay, I exaggerate, this Hermes is not my brother, but they do have the same first name. This statue, like many others at the museum, was excavated from Perge an ancient city near Antalya. May 12, 2015
Emperor Hadrian himself. He was excavated from the ruins of the ancient city of Perge and now holds court at the Antalya Archeological Museum. Perge, which I didn’t get a chance to visit, is said to be an impressive archaeological site containing a wealth of ancient ruins, mostly dating back to the Roman period. May 12,2015
I just loved the detail on this statue of Marcus Ulpius Traianus – better known as Trajan – at the Antalya Archeological Museum. It too was excavated from the ancient city of Perge. May 12, 2015
This embroidered woman’s dress, at the Antalya Archeological Museum, is from the region of Antalya. May 12, 2015
This is actually a pair of women’s shoes from the region of Antalya at the Antalya Archeological Museum. May 12, 2015
In ancient times, Hadrian’s Gate in Antalya, Turkey, is the end of the road that comes from the towns of Side, Asendos and Perge. It was built in 131-132 A.D. in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. May 12, 2015
In ancient times, Hadrian’s Gate in Antalya, Turkey, is the end of the road that comes from the towns of Side, Asendos and Perge. It was built in 131-132 A.D. in honor of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. May 12, 2015
A colorful shop in the Old Town of Antalya. May 12, 2015
I came across this ceramic plate in a shop window of Antalya’s Old Town. I could have gotten a good deal on it but I’d have to make arrangements to ship it home or bring it with me to Greece. So instead of buying it, I just took a photo to remember it by. May 12, 2015
This colorful batch of ceramic eggs was in a container outside the same shop in Antalya’s Old Town where I found the plate.I could have gotten a good deal on it but I’d have to make arrangements to ship it home or bring it with me to Greece. So instead of buying it, I just took a photo to remember it by. May 12, 2015
Traveling to ancient sites requires climbing up steep dirt hills, walking up uneven, rocky steps and a lot of huffing and puffing, but once you’ve reached your destination…Wow! This was my reward for climbing up hill, a breathtaking view of the theater ruins at the Hierapolis, an ancient city in Turkey. Hierapolis along with the hot springs of Pamukkale, which is located close by, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. May 13, 2015
The theater at Hierapolis was erected in the 3rd century A.D. and was used into the late Roman times. May 13, 2015
The Domitian Gate at the Hierapolis is close to the northern portion of the ancient city and circular towers flank its arches. May 13, 2015
Part of the tower of the Domitian Gate and what looks like the remains to the entrance of a front door at the ancient city of Hierapolis. May 13, 2015
Pamukkale, which literally means “cotton castle” in Turkish, has been used in ancient and modern day as a hot springs and spa since the second century B.C. The calcium carbonate (also known as travertine) and limestone gives Pamukkale its whiteness. The travertine terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water and close to the ancient city of Hierapolis are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. May 13, 2015
Pamukkale, which literally means “cotton castle” in Turkish, has been used in ancient and modern day as a hot springs and spa since the second century B.C. The calcium carbonate (also known as travertine) and limestone gives Pamukkale its whiteness. The travertine terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water and close to the ancient city of Hierapolis are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. May 13, 2015
Yes, that’s me standing on a bridge at Pamukkale overlooking a hillside of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. At a guarded entrance you can walk on the travertine in your bare feet. I passed on that slippery experience. May 13, 2015
Left Pamukkale this morning, but we were able to take some good-bye shots of the “cotton castle” before heading to our next ancient site, Aphrodisias. May 14, 2015
Leaving Pamukkale, we paid homage to Aphrodite at the ancient city of Aphrodisias on our way to the sun drenched, touristy city of Kusadasi on the coast of the Aegean. Our day and Rick Steves “Best of Turkey” tour ends in Kusadasi, our final destination. May 14, 2015
Here I am, sitting on the throne at Aphrodisias. This photo was taken by tour mate Sue Borland. May 14, 2015
This monumental Corinthian archway or gateway leads the way to the sacred site of the Temple of Aphrodite in the ancient city of Aphrodisias. This Aphrodite symbolized fertility and abundance…resembling more the Mother Goddess. May 14, 2015
A photographer was on site took this photo of our Rick Steves “Best of Turkey” tour group by the gorgeous Corinthian archway in the ancient city of Aphrodisias on this beautiful day. May 14, 2015
The excavated remains of the Temple of Aphrodite in the ancient city of Aphrodisias. May 14, 2015
This photo doesn’t really show the massive oblong length of this ancient stadium at Aphrodisias…but take my word for it, it’s big! The stadium could hold about 30,000 spectators and was used for athletic events until it was badly damaged by a 7th-century earthquake. May 14, 2015
Kenan T. Erim, a professor and archeologist at NYU, worked for 30 years at Aphrodisias, until his death in 1990. His grave lies in front of the monumental gate of Aphrodite in the ancient city of Aphrodisias.
May 14, 2015
Aphrodite, 2nd to 3rd Century A.D. at the Aphrodisias Museum. May 14, 2015
This Aphrodite of the temple, seen at the Aphrodisias Museum, was a distinctive local Goddess who became identified with the Greek Aphrodite. May 14, 2015
Kusadasi, where we’ll be spending our last two nights in Turkey, has a completely different, touristier feel to it. In a lot of ways, except for the call to prayer and the mosques, it has the feel of Nice, France. My time in Turkey is coming to a close and although I’ve learned much and seen much, there is still so much more…maybe on another trip. May 14, 2015
A waiter at a restaurant in Kusadasi is trying to get our attention to come there for dinner. Everywhere we went (Janet and I) came an invitation from a different food or shop vendor to come in to eat or checkout their menu or store…”No pressure, no hassle, just come see.” May 14, 2015
The day is coming to a close in Kusadasi. May 14, 2015
The sun is setting on the Aegean coast of Kusadasi. May 14, 2015
The beautiful lanterns sparkle outside of a restaurant in Kusadasi. May 14, 2015
The two main reasons I came to Turkey was to see Istanbul and to go to the ancient site of Ephesus. And although today is my last day in Turkey and the end of this tour, it has culminated in a place that has seen lifetimes upon lifetimes of history at its doorstep. The first traces of occupation of the area where the city of Ephesus later stood dates back to 5000 BC. It’s one thing to see and admire a photo of the Celsus Library in a book, and it’s another thing to stand before it, under it and behind it to appreciate its beauty. Here I am at Ephesus trying to find some shade with the beautiful facade of the Celsus Library behind me. May 15, 2015
The Celsus Library in Ephesus. May 15, 2015
The architectural details of the exterior of the Celsus Library in Ephesus. May 15, 2015
The Celsus Library in Ephesus. May 15, 2015
Something we don’t normally see in pictures, the back of the Celsus Library. The interior, behind the beautiful façade of the Celsus, is a single rectangular room where shelves once held about 12,000 scrolls. May 15, 2015
The other side of the interior…or behind the façade…of the Celsus Library in Ephesus.May 15, 2015
These are interior walls behind the beautiful facade of the Celsus Library in Ephesus. May 15, 2015
Although I can’t translate this information on the back wall of the Celsus Library facade, it does mention Julius Celsus Polemaeanus for whom the library was built to honor. The library was built to store 12,000 scrolls and to serve as a mausoleum for Celsus, who is buried in a crypt beneath the library. May 15, 2015
Our Rick Steves “Best of Turkey” group sitting on the steps of the monumental facade of the Celsus Library in Ephesus, Turkey. The library, one of the best preserved of the ancient world, was completed in around 125 A.D. May 15, 2015
Statue of Arete in Celsus Library in Ephesus. May 15, 2015
Yes, that’s me, striking a sassy pose under an ancient entryway by the Celsus Library in Ephesus. May 15, 2015
Stone carving of Nike, Goddess of victory at Ephesus. May 15, 2015
The Nymphaeum of Trajan at the ancient city of Ephesus. May 15, 2014
The Monument of Memmius at the ancient city of Ephesus. May 15, 2015
The Temple of Hadrian at the ancient city of Ephesus. May 15, 2015
Inside the Ephesus Terrace Houses, also called “the houses of the rich,” and how they lived during the Roman period. Eventually the harbour became silted up, and the city lost its natural resources. May 15, 2015
A doorway to a home at the Ephesus Terrace Houses, also called “the houses of the rich,” where you can see copper piping used for water into the home. May 15, 2015
This one shows the mosaics on the floor and friezes in the walls of houses under renovation at Ephesus. May 15, 2015
Tour members Janet, me, Geeta, Gleena and Mindy under the massive renovation structure surrounding the remains and ruins of the Ephesus Terrace Houses, also called “the houses of the rich.” May 15, 2015
The theater at Ephesus is one of the largest of the ancient world and was completed during Roman Imperial Age and could seat 25,000 spectators. May 15, 2015
The theater at Ephesus is one of the largest of the ancient world and was completed during Roman Imperial Age and could seat 25,000 spectators. May 15, 2015
Could be the first ad campaign or not…but this ancient piece of advertising is for a brothel at Ephesus. May 15, 2015
At dinner and for the last night of our Turkey tour, I sat next to my buddy, Geeta Parulkar. What’s amazed me most about Turkey…besides its people, the food and the diversity of its topography…is the depth of its history. I’ve loved journeying through this amazing country. And, now, I go to Greece for the next phase of my Rick Steves tour. May 15, 2015