Excerpts from my Foreign Correspondence interview with John Bordsen of The Charlotte Observer. It was syndicated in numerous Knight Ridder newspapers across America.
Istanbul is a fabled place - but what are the most amazing places to visit outside the city? * * It depends on your interests. If you like ARCHAEOLOGICAL adventure, it would probably be Ephesus - one of the best-preserved ancient ROMAN cities in the world. It was the capital of Asia Minor. Ephesus is like Pompeii, IN ITALY, only on a MUCH grander scale. IT WAS FOUNDED BY THE AMAZONS, AND LATER RENOVATED BY THE ULTRARICH KING CROESUS. * Ephesus was the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. IT’S about AN HOUR FLIGHT from Istanbul. YOU CAN ALSO MAKE A PILGRIMAGE TO THE VIRGIN MARY’S LAST HOME WHICH IS NEARBY, OR VISIT A VAST GLADIATOR GRAVEYARD.
* * * When Americans think of visiting the Aegean, Greece comes to mind. Is the Turkish side of the sea different? * * It's all the same BEAUTIFUL WATER, AND land. PERHAPS LESS DEVELOPED. You'll see TYPICALLY Greek villages from the days when the coast was inhabited by Greeks. Whitewashed buildings that are pristine and simple. You'll find them in the AEGEAN TOWN of Bodrum, SURROUNDING ITS CRUSADER CASTLE IN THE HARBOR.
* BODRUM’S a rocky coast. THE Turks make IT ENJOYABLE BY BUILDING wooden decks along the rocks, so you can sunbathe, dine or dance over the water, with the backdrop of HILLS behind you. It's visually spectacular. * * Who visits the Turkish Aegean? * * Bodrum is on a peninsula. THE MAIN TOWN ATTRACTS A LOT OF Europeans, BOATERS. On the OTHER side, it's mostly Turks IN A PLACE considered the TURKISH RIVIERA. MANY LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL CELEBRITIES FREQUENT THE CLUBS AND HOTELS THERE. If you go to Bodrum, DEFINITELY take a day trip to TURKBUKU, or get a hotel there. THE BEACH CLUBS ARE very chic. * * Turkey has shoreline on the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Sea OF Marmara that links them. There's also its Mediterranean coast to the south. How do they differ? * I'm biased toward the Aegean and its very charming coastline OF COVES. The Mediterranean is GORGEOUS but MORE HUMID, AND you can be at the beach and feel like you're looking out into nothingness because the Mediterranean is such a vast expanse. The Sea of Marmara is like marble - which is A SIMILAR WORD in Turkish. It's very flat. There are vacation spots there, QUAINT ISLANDS TO GET AWAY FROM THE CITY, WHERE THE ISTANBUL SULTANS USED TO EXILE THEIR RELATIVES. NOT SO BAD! It's also where HUGE CARGO ships wait for permission to go through the Bosphorus to enter the Black Sea. The BOSPHORUS is one of the world's MAJOR shipping lanes, AND NOTORIOUSLY DIFFICULT TO NAVIGATE. LOTS OF TWISTS AND TURNS, AND CHANGING CURRENTS. JASON AND HIS ARGONAUTS ALSO FOUND IT DIFFICULT WHEN THEY SAILED UP IT LOOKING FOR THE GOLDEN FLEECE.
The Black Sea isn't called "black" because of what the water looks like. In ANCIENT TIMES DIRECTIONS WERE INDICATED IN COLORS. BLACK MEANT NORTH, WHITE WAS SOUTH. THE TURKS STILL CALL THE MEDITERRANEAN THE WHITE SEA.
The Black Sea was thought to have been created by an earthquake; THE SEA OF MARMARA rushed through A NEW CREVICE THAT BECAME THE BOSPHORUS into a much smaller FRESHWATER lake. SCIENTISTS ARE finding whole submerged villages in the center of the Black Sea, where the original coastline was. FOLK stories about A GREAT flood began WITH PEOPLE in the Black Sea area and worked their way south, into the Middle East. And Mount Ararat, where MANY BELIEVE Noah's Ark STILL RESTS, is in northeast Turkey. HERE IN TURKEY IT's EERIE how these OLD STORIES KEEP adding up!