Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Izmir part of the trip has been non-stop touring until this morning when we have the luxury of nothing to do until check out at noon well, except do yoga, eat breakfast, enjoy the view and pack, but we aren't on a bus very early, so it feels rather vacation-like. It is also nice to have the few relaxed hours before traveling back officially begins.

It seems like we arrived in Izmir ages ago, but really only three days. The first evening  Jeff and I walked along the sea wall and had drinks at the first place we saw, then dinner at Efes house which was not so great, we both felt a little sick the next day, but still hard to beat the setting.

Tuesday we went to Pergamon. The tour guide chose this site first because Tuesday is the day all the cruise ships arrive and go to Ephesus. 4 cruise ships and something like 10,000 people pour into the site. We drove for about 1.5 hours through the city, then through some pretty lush farm land. Our guide, Nazim, gave us a thorough account of contemporary life in Izmir. There is less than 4% unemployment in this city, largely due to tourism, farming, and trade. 98 percent education rate. People really do seem happy living here. it might be like the Austin of Turkey. He also emphasized again the importance of Turkey being a secular state, between as he put, it "the deep, dark, Islamic countries" and  Europe. Great phrase, worth the trip in and of itself.
We also drove by an environmentally friendly oil refinery.  Well  as  environmentally friendly as possible.  Really there was a beautiful beach right by it, compare that to something like Bay Town.  Nazim said they spent over 20 million  making it where it had as little impact on the environment as possible.

I had the opportunity to see the Altar from the temple of  Zeus  many years ago when it was travelling from Berlin to NYC  but it in no way prepared me for the majesty of this site.  There are  pictures on facebook, but one thing we  did not get a picture of,  an owl flying right in front of  us  as we were looking down on the Temple of Dionysus. The owl flew from the direction of the Athena temple and library and  it really felt like we were being blessed by the goddess.  Incredible moment.

Things that struck me about the site, how many religions  exist over the centuries in  any one place. It is so difficult for me to see how anyone can believe one religion has a monopoly on the truth of religious experience.  The audacity of taking the Altar to Berlin  or  Elgin taking the friezes of the Parthenon to England.  The fact that people from so many walks of life were allowed in the high part of the city. The massiveness of the library and that it too was a holy site.

However, as  great as the Acropolis was,  Jeff and I were both even more amazed by the Asclepeion.

Wholistic  healing of  the ascelipion. 

Dreams  water, psycholgien

Hygiene and  regular medicine as well.

Pine trees,

Feeling of  the  air similar to one in Greece.

Theatre  in both  locations,

Ascelpion  even more interesting. 

Oldest    Isis  cultt. 

Dinner at  mezzaluna.

Guides  government  Turkish citizen   other languages. 

On the water.   People  knowing each other,  saw  dentist  owner of the restarunt.

People have  difference of  opion but not fighting. 

15 percent more fundamentalist.

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