On the road in Turkey


Merhaba from Bogazkale, Turkey. We’re now in Central Anatolia in the region of the Hittite civilization which flourished here 3,400 years ago, way before the Greeks and Romans. At the time, the Hittites were as powerful as the Egyptians, yet most people have never heard of them! For almost 1000 years they controlled the land that is now Turkey and Syria, then the commercial crossroads of the Near East. Now their civilization consists of very impressive ruins in a magnificent setting. There are very few tourists here. We would love to be camping here for awhile and just soaking up the peaceful, majestic setting.

This part of Turkey is very sparsely populated, yet we wonder why there are so many new and upgraded roads as the traffic is very light; maybe because of $9/gallon gasoline! We haven’t seen one individual breathtaking site — like Torres de Paine in Chile, but we’ve driven about 700 kilometers from Istanbul through what we’re calling “Vast Vistas."" Every five minutes there is a new magnificent, sweeping view in every direction. The fields are newly harvested, of what we don’t know. Looks like grains, though we don’t see other evidence of such crops. The roadsides are crammed with stands selling yellow and green stripped melons, but we hadn't had the opportunity to try them until this morning's breakfast; delicious! This is what Honeydew tastes like when you go to heaven.

One person told us traffic is light right now because of Ramadan — the pilgrims have either gone to Istanbul to celebrate the month long observance (it did seem very crowded there), or the very devout are staying home. One aspect of Ramadan that is new to us — in addition to the regular calls to prayer they shoot off a cannon (or large firecracker) to signal the end of the daily fast. Then, in the morning, a special contingent is sent into the streets before dawn to awaken the faithful to get ready for their breakfast before starting the day’s fasting. This “announcement” is made by a parade of drum beaters. While done before dawn, this morning my watch read 3:15 AM. It’s hard to sleep through it!

Ramadan is bringing us one very good thing — a special bread that is high in yeast and substantial, like potato bread. It’s made in round loaves, about one inch thick and it’s very tasty. We’re eating it regularly at breakfast with the ubiquitous fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, multiple kinds of olives and cheeses, freshly made jams and maybe an egg. Delicious and healthy!

We’ve stayed in some lovely hotels along the way, particularly in Athens, but the pickings are slim in the outback. The Asikoglu Motel in Bogazkale is pretty basic — but it has free WiFi in the rooms, so we’re not complaining. Onward tomorrow to Ankara to see the great Museum of Anatolian Civilizations — then on to Morocco. We’re already a third of the way through our whole trip — the time flies so fast when we’re having fun.