The Ancient World and Enemies Lists

The Temple of Zeus in the Ancient City of Euromos

The Temple of Zeus in the Ancient City of Euromos


Halicarnassus, better known as Bodrum, was the birthplace of unofficial first historian Herodotus. I found the city intriguing as a tourist destination for the origin story alone, but others appreciate this modern-day resort town in southwestern Turkey more for the vacationer’s paradise it has evolved into. It’s nestled against the Aegean, with stunning vistas, calm blue water, sun, sand, culinary delights (provided you enjoy seafood) and numerous historical treasures.
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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Cappadocia

Cappadocia


Traveling when you’re sick is the worst. I spent a few minutes trying to think of a good metaphor for the experience, and the best I could come up with is that tourism while ill is like trying to enjoy a movie while on a roller coaster, which makes a lot of sense to me, given how sick I get on roller coasters, but largely fails to impress in the grammar department.

Regardless of Strunk and White’s opinion on the aforementioned, I came down with the flu two days before leaving Istanbul for Cappadocia, but there was no way I was missing out on one of the great natural wonders of the world.

Goreme

Goreme


Having said that, this was one of the lamest trips ever. I did very little. I saw precious little. I somehow managed to still have some fun in between the frequent bouts of fatigue/blahness, but most of that was reserved for playing tavla while being stalked by a vicious demon cat.
Vicious Demon Cat

Vicious Demon Cat


Somehow, Ferda manages to tame Vicious Demon Cat

Somehow, Ferda manages to tame Vicious Demon Cat


Ferda and I flew from Istanbul to Nevsehir airport, which is in Central Anatolia, aka the middle of Turkey, aka the middle of nowhere. A forty-minute shuttle ride to our hotel in Goreme, one of the largest towns in the Cappadocia region, and the first step was to lie down and rest. Super lame, but super necessary, what with me being a delicate flower and all.
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Split and the Tyranny of Pretty

Ferda contemplates the fall of the Roman Empire.

Ferda ruminates on the end of the Roman Empire.


Split is that bizarre animal that defies every attempt at singular categorization. The city on the coast of the Adriatic is almost hideously ugly at times, a shocking surprise coming after the uniformly lovely Dubrovnik, and almost every view that didn’t include the sea during the bus ride in was ruined with some factory or Soviet-era architectural relic that was continuing to fight the good fight against the tyranny of pretty.
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Of course it feels European. It’s in Europe.

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Bitola is a gorgeous little town in southern Macedonia, though little is a relative term in describing the second largest city in the country. Roughly three hours from Skopje by bus, the ride there was largely uneventful save for the brief stop at a gas station/convenience store in which Ferda took the opportunity to hop off and stretch her legs, but failed to return before the bus began to pull out of the station. I did my best to yell in Turkish and English, and it was either that or my wild gesticulations that stopped the driver from leaving her stranded in the middle of Macedonia. He also very graciously arranged a taxi to our hotel, speaking with the driver on our behalf once we’d arrived in the outskirts of Bitola.

The highlight of the city for me was seeing the ruins of the ancient city of Heraclea Lyncestis, founded by Alexander the Great’s father Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the fourth century BC. Most of the relics, buildings and monuments still standing are from the Roman era several centuries later. The amphitheater is especially impressive, in excellent condition, so much so that performances still take place there during the summer. There were also a number of truly spectacular mosaics left from the Byzantine era, but photographs were unfortunately not allowed.
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Travels Through the Ancient World: Pamukkale

The Cliffs of Pamukkale

The Cliffs of Pamukkale


The ancient Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis is only a few steps away from one of the great natural attractions in all of the world, a collection of hot springs and travertines in southwestern Anatolia, as seen in the photo below.
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Lots of tourists, but no shoes allowed.
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The Edges of the World

Istanbulnight1 108Istanbul is a big city. Wikipedia confirms this observation in its description of the metropolis: “With a population of 13.9 million, the city forms one of the largest urban agglomerations in Europe and is among the largest cities in the world by population within city limits. Istanbul’s vast area of 5,343 square kilometers (2,063 sq mi) is coterminous with Istanbul Province, of which the city is the administrative capital. Istanbul is a transcontinental city, straddling the Bosphorus — one of the world’s busiest waterways in northwestern Turkey, between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.”

On a day with the most perfect weather ever for a February in Turkey, I left my hotel in the late morning without the faintest idea where I was going and headed out into the sprawling mass that is Istanbul.
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