By the time you read this I will be home from my vacation in Turkey. Although Turkey has its challenges like all countries, it definitely gives the impression of being a country on the rise. This was my first visit and I was extremely impressed with Istanbul as a top tier tourism city. One of my traveling companions was in Istanbul for the first time in over 25 years and was amazed at the transformation.
Having dinner on the Bosporus is a great touristic experience. Seeing the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Basilica Cistern, the mosaics at the St. Savior Church at Chora, the Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace in two days is a touristic treasure trove. It didn’t hurt that our guide was most likely the number one English-speaking guide in Turkey. I drilled him with questions and he answered everything except one – how were engineers educated in ancient times to be able to build such amazing buildings (and cisterns under buildings)? We loved dining in Istanbul, especially the restaurant Asitane which features Ottoman (not to be confused with modern Turkish) cuisine that the restaurant has painstakingly researched going back to 1471.
One thing I learned from our guide – there never was a Byzantine Empire like we learned at school. Later European scholars retrofitted this appellation on to the “Byzantines.” Back in the day, so our guide told us, there were the Western Romans (capital Rome) and the Eastern Romans (capital Constantinople). After Rome fell, the Eastern Romans carried on for nearly another 1,000 years until the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453. If any history buffs want to comment, please feel free.
After Istanbul, we relocated to the southwest coast near the Mediterranean at Fethiye, which is in the region where the Lycians lived before Alexander the Great came through. We visited their pre-Greek ruins at Xanthos and Letoon. We spent most of our days on a small boat just offshore or in the water. It was very hot and very sunny throughout. I kept up my training and ran up some massive hills, twice running ever upwards for 18 – 20 minutes. The food was outstanding. The friendliness of the people was notable. Ramadan started in the middle of the week, which added an interesting twist. The best part, however, was hanging out with the other three families and their kids. The four husbands went to law school together. We get together somewhere in the world every two years and it is always a major highlight.
Hope you enjoy the videos.