TCFTurkey15 – Day 10, Pamukkale to Konya

Our guide Orhan warned us this would be a long day… and it was… 13 hours from when we left our hotel in the morning until we got to a new hotel that evening!

Today we left the hotel at 7:15 in the morning. We went to Pamukkale (Calcite Hot Springs), the Mevlana (Rumi) Tomb, Catalhöyük (neolithic site), and finished in the night in Konya.

The drive to the Calcite mountain was only about 10 minutes from the hotel. We stopped at group of ‘Cash Temples’ along the way – Orhan’s term for an ATM. There were a half-dozen lined up side by side representing just about every back in Turkey I think. I got off the bus, and went to one with nobody else at it yet. At 7:15am, we were the only ones there of course, so it didn’t take long to get some cash. I withdrew 250 Turkish Lira from my account – which should be close to enough to get me through to the end of the trip.

The calcite pools looked a lot like white geyser pools we would see in Yellowstone National Park. Until about 2003, there were a number of hotels functioning at the top of the calcite hill. Then, because of the pollution concerns (asphalt on top of the calcite and, more importantly, the hill began turning grey) – the hotels were closed and removed. Today, only the outdoor pool of one remains. This was a weird situation – as people came by the hundreds to swim in the pools with submerged ancient columns and other artifacts submerged in the water!  I strolled through this chaotic scene and headed up for the theater on a hill above these other sites. On the way, I walked past a truck with a crane on the back and a group of laborers working on excavations.

Orhan is not impressed with the Turkish archeologist in charge of these restorations. The man, in his opinion, is cutting corners trying to impress the world with his speed and efficiency in revealing things. He is using heavy equipment to move things rapidly and is losing much site integrity as he does so. The men I saw by the truck were helping accomplish the archeologist’s goal of getting things done quickly.

The theatre was pretty awesome for a couple of reasons. First, the morning sun was not yet at full force, so it was only in the high 80s I’m guessing temperature-wise. Second, it was still early enough that there was only one tour group listening to a guide when I arrived, so I pretty much got the place to myself! And, third, the stage was in the most ‘reconstructed’ site of any we had seen. If you look at the pictures, though, you’ll see that some new blocks of marble are being placed in position to be carved. I asked Orhan about that, and he said much of what we had seen had been reconstructed in this fashion. But, he said, usually the blocks are carved first and then put up… often using what pieces can be found on the ground first and incorporating them – he said this situation was probably being done to speed things along by the over-eager archeologist in charge.

Next, it was a few hour drive to Rumi’s Tomb. This was the site of the origin of the Whirling Dervishes. We went inside the old mosque (now a museum, but seen as a holy site by many) by placing plastic liners over our shoes. Orhan reminded us not to take pictures of the people praying to respect their privacy. It was a pretty awesome place. As I stood looking at a copy of a large book (the Koran, I thinK) from the 1300s, an elderly short balding man came up quickly to stand beside me. He was breathing hard and shaking with excitement, much in the way Mr. Elder did the first time he was in the National Archives and got to see the US Constitution. Up he came and reached out to behold the book for himself. In his haste, he forgot that the book is in a case… he smashed his forehead into the clear casing, groaned, and then grabbed the case as it shook. It was so funny, I burst out laughing! He was so embarrassed, he began rambling in Turkish. The look on my face must’ve said I have no idea what you’re talking about, but he just kept going… I continued to chuckle as I went on through the museum and went out to join the rest of our group afterward.

After a few more hour drive, we drove through Konya and continued on out into the countryside for another half hour or so. This took us to Catalhöyük (neolithic site). This was one of the first recorded civilizations, dating back about 6,000 years. It was pretty amazing. For the teachers in our group who teach world history, I think was maybe the high point of the trip for them. Indeed, it was fascinating. When done, I bought a book about a day in the life of this early civilization for future reading.

Then it was back to Konya for the night. We got to the Anemon Hotel just after 8:00… indeed it had been 13 hours since our odyssey began – What a Day!!

TCFTurkey15 – Day 9, School Visit (rural) and Aphrodisas

We awoke this morning to another splendid sunrise out our windows over the Aegean Sea, with the added element of morning fog masking our view of the Greek Island across the water.  By 7:30, we were on the road, heading inland for a few hours to our neighborhood school visit.

About 20 students – obviously dressed in their best attire – came to the school to join their principal and meet us for a tour and visit. We teachers had each brought some goodies along to share with the children. My contributions were pretty basic. I had brought 30 of the pre-sharpened pencils (the ones with cartridges where you take the old one out and plug it into the top of the pencil when done, pushing out a new sharp one on the writing end). I also had a box of alphabet flash cards (‘A’ on one side, a picture of an Apple on the other). Finally, there were 12 bottles of bubble-blowers with the bubbles solution. When the Turkish teacher Yunus explained what that was to the elementary children, the joy on their faces was evident!

The high point for me of this visit was seeing a fellow futbol (soccer) fan. One of the boys had on a Turkey National Jersey. I saw it and soon thereafter asked Ishmael if my bag were near a door under the bus. We looked and found it right on top of the pile! Within a couple minutes, I had gotten into my suitcase, grabbed by USA jersey, and was back in the classroom. The picture on this post was the result!

After our school visit, we had lunch at a retired teacher’s restaurant. He played a turkish guitar-like instrument while we ate on a shaded outdoor patio. As he played/sang, his parrot sat on the man’s shoulder, on his guitar itself, or on empty chairs and helped with the singing. The bathrooms at this place were very nice. I took the opportunity to use an Asian-style toilet – that is to say, one of the toilets that are built into the ground level with a spot marked of where to put your feet when you squat down to go.

Following lunch, it was just a bit down the road before we came to Aphrodisias. These remains were EPIC!  The stadium may have been the high point. It was so cool to the THE ONLY ONES anywhere near the stadium as Orhan told the story of how this place was discovered in the mid-twentieth Century. There were people living here when it was found, and they were none to pleased in 1965 when they were told they needed to move. A man had been growing tobacco in a field right on top of where the stadium now stands. It was so raw and so real today… as cool as Ephesus yesterday, but without the thousands of cruise ship participants making the place feel like Disneyland! The final bonus was the museum at the end – if you take a moment to look at my pictures from the day, you’ll see the incredible original statues found within the museum walls of the Greek Gods/Goddesses (These pictures are not yet posted to the web – I’m still working on the collection of images from Troy… sorry!)

This evening, we found our way to the Richmond Thermal (a brand new hot springs hotel) in Pamukkale.  We are all excited to be in a plce where the internet works again… it has been tough to share much with the outside world the past few days… hopefully more will be coming soon on the other days and I will be able to get all of my pictures posted!

Turkey 2015 – Day 8 – July 29, 2015.

I’m having a hard time keeping up with the photos and the blog.  While I don’t have much written in the blog area yet, you can see my pictures using the links on my Travel blog page of my website: – click on ‘Travel Blog’ and then look for the photo albums. There is one album for each day of my Turkey Study Tour!

We’ll be back at the same hotel again tonight, so maybe I can get caught up this evening!  It is just after 2:00 a.m. early Monday morning now in Turkey, which means it is 4:00pm in Montana on Tuesday evening.

A link to the photos from Ephesus:

Turkey 15, Day 6

Yesterday, July 27, we spent much of the day driving from Bursa to the Aegean Sea. We stayed on the coast of the Aegean in the Tusan Hotel, located in Çanakkale. Dinner last night wasn’t served until 8:30, as we didn’t start eating until the sun was nearing the horizon. To eat earlier would have been far to hot, as the sun beat down on the outdoor patio throughout the day. At sunset, however, it was stunningly beautiful. I did not take in the sunset from the dinner deck. A few of us who had been swimming in the salt water were changing our clothes and caught the spectacle from our rooms – which also look to the west across the water! Dinner was excellent. The sea brought out a camaraderie in the Turks among us. Ezra, Yusun, Ishmael, and Orhan broke into song from their table, receiving a round of applause from all when they were done. Ezra, by the way, is a primary (elementary) teacher. Yusun teachers math. Ishmael is our bus driver. And Orhan, of course, is our guide. The four of them really outdid themselves last night, for sure!

The most powerful part of the day were our stops at a few of the monuments dotted through Gallipoli. I will add more to this entry later today, as I need to get ready to go now and the Internet is very slow… please check back!

I’ll also get a link to the pictures as soon as they finish uploading – running the computer through the night wasn’t enough time – there are still 100+ to go… sorry!

Turkey 2015: Day #3 – Ístanbul

Today was a super-busy day for the American teachers in Turkey! We started at St. Sophia (Ayasofya. First a church, then a mosque, and a museum today). We also went to the Spice Market (Misir Carsisi – Egyptian Bazaar) and then went for a boat ride on the Bosphorus to get to lunch down between the two bridges on the Asian side of the strait. After eating lunch on the water, we went to visit the renowned artist Hikmet Barutçugil and got to practice Ebru (or marbling) on paper from water-based paints floating on water. Please take a moment to see the photos Mr. Elder took during the day.  As you’ll see, there are very unique buildings and architecture in Ístanbul. You’ll also notice there is a lot of diversity in how people dress – especially the women of this country. Some women are very ‘modern,’ looking much like women in the western world we are used to seeing. Others cover their hair and neck with multi-colored scarfs, while still others dress in the traditional long flowing black of Islam and wear a burka that covers all of their head except a small opening for the eyes. It was a fascinating day of looking at people and architecture through the lens of the camera today – all of which were very cool!

Here is a link to the photos Mr. Elder took today:

After these activities, we finished our official schedule for the day back at the TCF offices. Dr. Feroz Ahmad, who did post-doc work at Columbia University and then was a member of the history department at the University of Massachusetts until coming to Yeditepe University here in Ístanbul in 2005. His seminar today was entitled, “Turkey: The Transition from Empire to Republic” (no photos were taken here).

After the seminar, people were on their own for the evening in the city of Ístanbul. Mr. Elder went with his new friend Chantay, a world history teacher in Las Vegas (Nevada), to explore a busy walking mall and have dinner on a rooftop deck before trying a little Turkish ice cream on the walk back to our hotel!  What a day, people… what a day. Check out the pictures if you’d like to see some details of what I’m talking about!

Turkey 2015 – Connectivity Issues… But some pictures (finally)!

Well, people, Mr. Elder has had a tough time connecting with the Internet! This is the first time since leaving the USA I have been able to connect to my blog site. I have already taken some pretty incredible photos and have a few stories to tell, but right now I just hope I can get this message posted. Please check back soon – I’m trying to upload a new photo as my banner picture on this blog, as I want it to reflect Turkey now rather than Latin America. Bare with me – supposedly the bus we’re on in a couple days will have wi-fi, and that should give me a chance to get up to date!

For now, I threw some lower quality (faster uploading speed) photos up on the web. These HAVE NOT been edited, so there are a number of pretty bad shots I need to take out!  Here is the link: … Check them Out!DSC01818 DSC01860