October 12, 2005
A few months ago I was having dinner with Don Fischer, a friend from my
days with the Department of Education, and he asked if I'd like to join
him and his wife for a tour of Turkey, and without giving it much
thought I said, "Sure."
Turkey, hm? Well, why not? But what did I actually know
about Turkey? Istanbul, the Orient Express, From Russia with
Love, Topkapi, the Bosphorus, Richard Halliburton swimming the
Hellespont, Asia Minor, my college roommate Leon graduated from high
school in Ankara, Paul's missionary journeys, my friend Ismail Akbay
from the Marshall Space Flight Center was Turkish and he ate lots of
home made yogurt, Ataturk, um ... Alexander the Great, maybe?
Clearly I didn't know nearly enough about Turkey. And it sounded
exotic. And it sounded educational. And I hadn't yet noticed
it borders Iraq. D'oh! So I signed up for the Trafalgar tour.
here to read the official tour site.
I departed for Turkey on
September 22, and returned home on October 6, 2005. Here's a map of the trip. We started in
Istanbul, drove south to Canakkale (Cha-KNOCK-uh-leh), further
down to Izmir (formerly Smyrna), east to Pamukkale (Pah-MOOK-uh-leh),
down to the Mediterranean coast at Antalya, then up to the very
conservative Konya, and further up to Cappadocia (Kap-uh-DOKE-ee-uh),
then back northwest to the capital city of Ankara, then west to
Bursa, and finally back to Istanbul. That's about 3,400
kilometers or 2,113 miles. We spent a lot of quality
time on the bus.
Here's our tour group, posing in the ruins of Ephesus.
There were 44 of us, 46 if you count the tour guide and the bus
driver. Quite a fine-looking cast of characters, don't you
think? We had group members from the USA, Canada, South Africa,
Australia, and New Zealand. Everybody spoke the same
language, though not always the same way. By the end of
the trip we had become close. Just a congenial, fun-loving
bunch of good people.
For a higher-res version
of the group photo, click here.
That fellow to the right is our tour guide, Mete
Mutluay. (His name is pronounced "MET-eh.") He was
an absolutely outstanding group leader -- a fount of information
about Turkey, its history and customs and politics and geography
and cuisine and architecture and dress and educational system
and on and on and on. After traveling with Mete for two
weeks, I know without question that he is a true Turkish
patriot. I believe he considers his profession to be a
mission -- his opportunity to help the poor, uneducated North
Americans and others understand Turkey, its tremendous promise and its
daunting challenges. He is an excellent spokesman for his country.
He is also an accomplished, diplomatic manager of people.
We never worried about getting lost or finding excellent food or
locating a clean toilet or anything else -- because Mete was
always there to show us the way. Any time he would give us
instructions, he always concluded by saying, "You will never
miss it." And he was right; we never did.
Any questions about our program for today?
|Throughout this website
I've sprinkled "Mete Says" buttons that connect to RealPlayer
video of Mete's factoids about his country and its people. If
you want to watch a video, be sure you have the latest
RealPlayer installed on your computer. Hint: the Basic Player is free.
Pictures of the Trip
The buttons below represent the places we spent each
night on our trip. They're in chronological order, reading left to
right. Most of them have sub-menus with pictures of the various
places we visited each day. So click away, and join us on our tour
of fabulous Turkey.