Today's stop was the GREAT PYRAMIDS! While the bus started back on the highway, I could see off in the distance the Great Pyramids, and never thought that our hotel was so close, and during the night we couldn't see them. It was a gorgeous day, a hot one, but the humidity wasn't bad at all, We got our tickets to enter the area for the pyramids, and away we went. They're huge! I can't believe that humans were able to create something that amazing so many years ago when they didn't have all the technology we have these days. I still believe it's Aliens!! With our ticket was included the access to go inside the largest pyramid, and you had to climb a path up along the wall, and there was a hallway you can enter. Photography is prohibited, which is too bad, I would have loved to take pictures of the tiny hall way and low arches we had to climb under. There was very little lighting, and after you had to crawl under these huge arches of stone, and climb up a very steep and high flight of stairs that could only fit one person at a time.Once we were up the stairs we were in a dark, black room. It had high ceilings, and it was cool inside. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could see a black box in the back, side of the room. It was the place where the Tomb of Pharoah Khufu would have been placed.
The Sphinx was our next stop. I have never would have imagined it with large fences around it, I've always just seen the Sphinx on TV or in photos as it was, nothing surrounding it, but this huge creature statuette, and that was it, but you enter through a door area, and walk around tall pillars of stone in the area where the Sphinx was. What a sight it was. Something I never thought I would see! My mind was just being overwhelmed with astonishing sights all day long.
Our flight to Turkey was short, and we soon arrived in Istanbul after only a couple hours, once again we had to go through customs, though the visa stamp you need to get into the country was cheaper than Egypt. Our bags were picked up for us, and we were off to our hotel downtown Istanbul, and once we got into our high class hotel, once again Yuka and I were out on the streets searching for more adventure! Actually we were in search for a supermarket, but to our sadness, the one we found was closing. BUT there were convenience stores! We got some 25 cent ice cream, and some cheap chips and pop, and it was snack party time at our hotel room! So you see, what a high packed tour this was, and everyday was full of tons of fun and adventure! So keep checking for my post next about Turkish food, ferry rides (we actually got to drive the ferry!) and Troy!
A magical world is where we are off to on another gorgeous day in Turkey. Located in central Turkey, there is a place, a place with fairy-tale-like rock formations, these formations have been carved over centuries and centuries by erosion, and these days the rocks are called 'fairy chimneys' or hoodoos. Turkey is not the only place in the world with these rock formations, you can also see them in Utah, or South Dakota. But only here in Turkey have the people made the amazing 'fairy chimneys' into homes and churches.
Thousands of years ago a group of ancient volcanoes spewed out layers of thick tuff which covered the countryside for miles and miles around. Those volcanoes were Mr Erciyes, Hasan and Melendiz. Over centuries the wind and rain made it so that the soft rock was carved into spectacular gorges and left behind amazing pinnacles of rock, the most famous being the 'fairy chimenys' which is how Cappadocia came to be. It is more than just the dramatic rock mounds, humans have also left their unique mark on the region, by carving cave storerooms, stables, cave house and cities underground of rock! Even to this day these places still exist, thought most are inhabited, but some of the rock-cut storerooms are still stuffed with fruits and vegetables in the winter.
A underground city called Kaymakli was our next stop on the tour. With nearly over a hundred tunnels, and over 4 underground floors: the first floor is the stable area, the second floor is a church, the third and fourth floor contained all the compartment areas for wine, food, kitchens, storage area. The passages in the city were quiet small and at times I would hit my head, standing at 5'9". In a lot of the tunnels we bent down on our hands and knees.
High in the mountains in Southwestern Turkey you can find the "Cotton Castle", also know as Pamukkale. The city contains hot springs and travertines, which is why the rocks and all the pools of water are white colored, it's the terraces of carbonate minerals left behind. People have been bathing in these pools for over thousands of years! Which makes me glad it's all running water...just imagine sharing the same bath with, who knows how many people! The ancient Greco-Roman and Ryzantine city of Hierapolis was built on top of the "cotton castle", and during the many years of tourism in the 20th century, there was a lot of hotels built up on the hill ruining it's beauty and destroying it, but when it was declared a World Heritage Site, the buildings were torn down, and now you can only enter the hot spring area with barefoot, no shoes are allowed. In the area there are 17 hot spring areas
after lunch we boarded the ferry, and had an hour trip across the water to arrive in Canakkale, which is the closest main city to Troy. There are actually buses that leave hourly from the city to Troy. Also, just to note, Yuka and I got to drive the ferry across the strait. I think we're lucky to have been able to arrive at land, rather than sink. For those who don't know much about Troy, it was best know for being the focus of the Trojan War. Just at the entrance you see the large statue of the Troy Horse, and it may just seem small in pictures, but you can climb up in it! It's a good 4/5 stories high! This place has over 4000 years of history, and one of the most famous archaeological sights in the world!
A trip to Ephesus, to the Ancient City of Anatolia Efes, a city famed for the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We get to see the huge city of Ephesus, sit in the great Temple of Artemis, the huge stadium that could hold over 25,000 people. It was initially used for dramas, but during the Roman era, it was used for gladiator combat. There was so many problems and troubles, that the government used the fights to keep the people occupied and not thinking about all the worries. The city of Ephesus was huge and it was a hot day at 36 degrees, we were ready for a break and a delicious, Turkish dish for lunch before heading to a fashion show for a store that creates the most famous and best leather jackets in Turkey, and maker for some of the most well known brands in the world, like Gucci and Vuitton. Of course those jackets and purses didn't have the name brand it yet. But we had the chance to buy any product at cost price, which ranged 200 to 1000 dollars. The staff were friendly, and the products were all amazing!