Friday, June 07, 2013

Turkey Day 2: Troy

Turkey in 10 Days
1. General Remarks
2. What to Bring
3. Day 1: Traveling There

4. Day 2: Troy
On our first full day in Turkey, we traveled from Corlu in the upper peninsula of Istanbul to Troy. Breakfast (kahvaltuh) at most hotels began at 7am and we had our first fill of tomatoes, olives, bread, hard boiled eggs, and of course tea.

The shortest route down to the ferry at Chanakkale would have been a smaller road that ran along the coast down through Tekirdağ (120, my preference). We opted for what we hoped would be better roads (110 to 550 south). This path involved some climbing (the road would have taken us to Greece less than 20 miles after we turned south from it) so did use extra gas and likely time.

That brought us to the ferry (only 29 lira for the car).  So we crossed the Dardanelles, the strait across which King Xerxes, husband of Esther, once built pontoon bridges for his armies to cross as he waged war against the Greeks.

The Dardanelles from the ferry
This was the campaign in 480 where the Spartans resisted the Persians at the narrow pass at Thermopylae (see the movie The 300) and where the Persians burnt Athens to the ground.

So our first day in Turkey was largely a classical day. After the ferry, we continued south on 550 to Troy. Troy is of course the famed location of the Trojan War between the likes of Achilles and Hector around 1200, during the time of the judges in Israel (a couple hundred years before David).

Outside Priam's House at Troy
The site has something like 9 layers that span thousands of years (15 liras to enter). Layer VI is currently thought to be the layer that relates to the time of the Trojan War.

Walls of Troy
Troy was not hard to find, since it is now a World Heritage Site.  Just watch for the signs. 

Of more interest from a biblical perspective is (Alexandria) Troas, which is not far south of Troy (39-44-48.24N, 26-8-36.35E). We did have some trouble finding it and I suspect there is an easier way than the way we found (probably turning west at Ezine).  We went down toward the coast to Dalyan and then followed coastal streets hugging the beach.

Looking south toward Troas
 We saw several storks on the trip.  Here's one just after turning off 550 to head south across country:

stork on way to Troas
Troas is where Paul, Timothy, and perhaps Luke set sail toward Greece for the first time.  It is also where long-winded Paul caused Eutychus to fall asleep and fall out the window for dead.  There was no one at the site and it is surrounded by fence.  If one is adventuresome, watch for drop offs in the (likely) grass overridden site.

It was neat to think that Paul almost certainly walked on this Roman road:

Roman road facing west toward the beach at Troas
We didn't stop at Assos, we felt our way back east across small roads to 550 and headed south. By that point we were all pretty tired from jet lag. The opportunity to detour a little west to Assos was missed. Everything we heard, though, was that Assos is a magnificent site, one of the few coastlines that is as it was back then. On his third missionary journey, Paul walked from Troas to Assos, from which he set sail south.

We did stop for some "mezeler" (appetizers, picture on the second post) as 550 began to come down out of the mountains.  It was a wonderful place on a curve on the side of the road (it reminded me of a great restaurant in Greece at Delphi that overlooks a valley as well).

coming down toward Edremit
The rest of the day was spent traveling south.  We ended up spending the night at Ayvalik, a wonderful seaside city that conventional travelers would like. Travel to countries like Turkey often involves getting used to hotels that aren't as nice as standard American fare, but Ayvalik would be comfortable to most Americans.

The bay at Ayvalik from breakfast
There are plenty of hotels to be found at Ayvalik if you go down to the beachfront area.  We split into two hotels next to each other because of smoke at the one. Ross and I stayed at the one with Wi-fi, called the Hotel Ayvalik Palas (120 lira a room). We didn't notice the smoke and found it very comfortable, with a very pleasant breakfast on a second floor overlooking the bay.

This city had a couple abandoned churches.  After the wars of the 1920s, Ataturk required the Greeks in Turkey to leave.  So the Greeks left Ayvalik for the nearby (Greek) island of Lesvos (Paul stopped briefly at Mitylene there sailing south from Assos). Meanwhile, the Turks on Lesvos were relocated to Ayvalik. Lesvos is probably only about 10 miles off shore of Turkey.

Friday is the Muslim holy day of the week, and I guess the main activity is to pray at a mosque from 12-2pm. We would have been on the road during this time so didn't really notice any difference. The following Friday we were in Istanbul and the Blue Mosque was closed to visitors for a time in the morning, although I don't know if it had to do with the holy day. We would get used to the morning calls to prayer just before sunrise as the week went along.

P.S. Here's Dave Ward touching Troy 2 (2500BC), which he mentions in his comment below.

Troy 2 (2500BC)


Keith Drury said...

GREECE: Good point on being close to Greece… we may have actually been closer to Philippi than to Ephesus at this point.

TROY: I will restrain myself from constantly giving the "old man" response (I remember when...") but register it it here once--it was only 10-15 years ago when taking students on a similar trip that they could wander around this site mostly unexcavated and there were no fences, entrance fees and they clambered all over the walls of Troy which was just an uncontrolled field with no sings to it. This will be true of a half dozen of the sites coming up and when we get to the actual unexcavated sites on this trip I bet in ten more years people will visit them and all of my tripmates will then give the Old man talk of "When I was here the last time all this was simply a hill." OK---no more old man recollections .-)

FERRY: As I recall that cheap car price also included all of us too—one of the cheapest ferry rides to take at a historic place including four people and a car for less then US$20.

AYVALIK: And Dave & I roomed at a bargain hotel nearby that offered Hostel type rooms with no breakfast at hostel-type prices. Ironically the cheapaer the hotel in Turkey the less smoky the room—perhaps because they are more frequently occupied by younger foreigners who smoke less than Turks?

Ken Schenck said...

And the Turks do smoke a lot. At Nicaea at one hotel when Ross asked about smoke in the rooms with a hand gesture, the hotel owner said something like, "Yes, yes, there is smoking in the rooms." :-)

Dave Ward said...

Troy had a low bar in my mind, and exceeded it. That's the best way to think of it before heading there I think. But once there the insights into the culture, time and place are significant. One neat thing about troy is the clear view out to sea. If you study it well, you can picture where the harbor used to be before it was filled in with sediment and silt from erosion over time. That little geographical picture helped me better understand other coastal cities with harbors that are now under soil.

Also at Troy, it was a thrilling thought to touch stone that was older than Abraham.

Dave Ward said...

It was worth walking around the site at Alexandria/Troas. But I personally agreed with Ross' sentiment that we go down to the beach as close to Troas as possible. This is near where Paul had the Macedonian vision and Christianity jumped across the sea.

Ken Schenck said...

Dave, I added the picture of you touching the "brick with straw" from before Abraham to which you allude in your comment.