Well, I've been meaning to write more regularly, but really there is so much to see and not much time to process it. This trip has definitely reawakened my love of travel, just seeing the world. I spend so much time traveling to do yoga and philosophy, travel for the inner life (of the mind, of the soul) if you will, that I forget how amazing it is just to travel with out that as a specific focus. I'm reminded though about Plato's warnings about the dangers of image lovers, there is so so so much to see, one can definitely get lost in it and not see what is most important to see. "What about someone who believes in beautiful things but doesn’t believe in the beautiful itself? (Republic 471e). Now that said, I'm here in Turkey which in many ways is the birthplace of what we now call Western Philosophy, Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus are all from this region, Pythagoras too started off on Samos. (you can look all these people up on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy .not to mention this is where the Trojan war, the cause of the Iliad and the Odyssey took place.... The Perseus Project is a great resource on all things greek and roman.
so I'm aware there's not really so much of a separation between inner travel and outer travel if you will, particularly if one is oriented to the inner landscape. For example, our tour guide for the first part of the trip, Murat, is Muslim and he shared much about his faith and how it shapes his experience of reality. He also gave an incredibly clear explanation of the Whirling Dervishes as well.
Turkey definitely puts my love of the Greeks in a broader cultural context. For instances, seeing Hattusa, a bronze age site and comparing that to Mycennae. Turkey is truly the crossroads of world cultures of all sorts, philosophy, religions, trade, I think it would be great to add it to the World Cultures curriculum. It is the world cultural country.
But just to get the details down, some pics are on facebook, at least upto today and the underground city, but if I still can't sleep after blogging maybe that will get up also..
Friday we went to the ancient city of Hattusa. It was once the capital of the Hittites. Incredible stone works, they made wine, performed animal sacrifice, had walled cities, lots of lion images similar in many ways to Greek cities I've seen from other times, but at least the reconstructions of the upper walls is quite different in style.
Saturday we headed off to Cappadocia. Before that we went to the Museum of Anatolia culture in Ankara. Amazing museum. Not too huge but really gives a sense of the rich history of this part of the world and the building itself is stunning. Ankara is a huge city and it was nice to get out to see the countryside in Hattusa but that in no way prepared me for the stunning beauty of Cappadocia. Cappadocia was formed by a volcanic eruption many many years ago and the best way I can describe it is like the grand canyon with the most amazing rock sculptures scattered through out. sort of like Sedona and the grand canon combined, but I'm not doing it justice.
We stopped by an enormous salt lake on the way there, saw several panoramic views
Sunday morning started early with the balloon ride at dawn over the landscape. The whole process of the balloon flight itself is fascinating. I had no idea it took a whole team of people to get one up, up and away and safely down. Then a day long tour of various rock formations, Avanos where they make lovely pottery, a carpet collective run by the Turkish government and then the cave churches where very early Christians practiced. Actually, Christians in the Byzantine period as well. As a western mainline protestant Christian, it is important to be reminded of the vast diversity within Christian spiritual history. On the Cappadocian fathers see this site, Sunday evening we walked to the top of the castle fortress and had a great dinner.
Monday morning we went to an underground city founded in Hittite times, about 550 people lived in it and there are apparently over 300 such structures. Complete with stables, kitchen, bedrooms, winery, ventilation shafts. Never seen anything like it. Then our driver took us to Kayseri to catch the flight to Izmir. Izmir is much larger than I expected and after the calm natural setting of Cappadocia, I am finding it more than a little jarring. I'm looking forward to seeing Ephesus and Pergamon in the next two days.
Anyway, I definitely want to come back there's so so much here to see and learn. Istanbul Nemrut, Troy Miletus....
and the food is fantastic.
I would totally come back to Cappadocia and just stay there for a long time. In fact, it was very hard to leave. The beauty of the place is stunning, and has a very calming, relaxing effect on the psyche.