We made it to Turkey, and, even better, we made it to our planned location in not too much time and more or less one piece. Touts, “yes please” followed by solicitations, and negotiable prices mark the end of our time in the EU and the beginning of our travel in more Eastern and less developed countries than the beginning off our trip. Ruins of an old church we saw today were beautiful in their mix of crumbled stone, green grass, and freedom to roam just about anywhere. But what struck me first about Turkey were not the old sites, but the majestically thick mustaches about half the men here are sporting. No more dainty French facial hair and sculpted sideburns. Thick mustaches, that’s where it’s at.
We made it to Turkey! I guess its somewhat symbolic as its technically Asia Minor, although its generally considered part of Europe. Although very modern and progressive, its definitely not first world. Jackie came up with a checklist of things that verify we’re in a developing country, rather than a developed one:
-Everything is negotiable.
-There’s not really any rules.
-The majority of people out are men.
-Sanitation is not a concern.
-Its insanely hot.
-People address you as, “Hallo sir” and try to hawk you junk. i.e. “Halo sir, you please like postcard.”
-Restaurant menus are in no way indicative of what’s available.
I love the developing world. It’s so much more free and fun. For example, we went to the Basilica of St. John, which are the ruins of a church built on top of the Apostle John’s tomb. The ruins weren’t under construction and everything was original rather than restored. Columns were lying all over the place and stairs led up to the edge of fallen walls, but there were no ropes or anything. You could walk on anything, explore anywhere, touch everything. It looked like ruins, it was rugged. There weren’t walls or fences enclosing us. We could walk to the edge of the plateau/hill and look across the landscape. The same landscape that John saw two thousand years ago when he returned from his exile on Patmos. It was beautiful and we could enjoy it. It wasn’t just an attraction, but an experience.
Ruins at the Basilica of St. Jean. Find Jackie and Alex in the foreground for an idea of its sıze.
Continuing yesterday’s post, our itinerary is becoming more and more Biblical. We traveled through Izmir (known as Smyrna in antiquity), which was one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. And then we saw John’s final resting place today. I hope to see the house that Mary lived in tomorrow. But if we don’t have time, at least we’ll explore Ephesus, which was also an important city in the New Testament. It was also one of the seven churches listed in Revelation. Additionally, one of Paul’s letters to that church is included in the New Testament, as the Book of Ephesians. And the Book of Acts describes Paul’s actions in the city, including in the theatre where we will visit. And on our walk back we’ll see the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders and also mentioned with Paul in Acts. Again, my excitement for history has gotten ahead of me as we haven’t even visited these places yet. But we will tomorrow and I’m stoked.