I know this is supposed to be a blog about writing.Â But sometimes even I can’t resist sharing my vacation photos!
When I told people I was planning to visit Turkey for my vacation,Â more than a few of them gave me aÂ puzzled look and asked: “Why would you want to go there?”Â Sadly, in this post-9/11 era, Americans seem to feel that visiting any country with a predominantly Muslim population is a somewhat scary proposition.Â But I’dÂ heard about the beauty of Turkey’s coastline, its great cuisine,Â andÂ its fascinating history.Â Most of all, I’d heard about its many archaeological sites, many of them still barely excavated.Â
My internet search turned up an archaeological tour that sounded too good to be true: a 2-week cruise of the southwesternÂ coast aboard a traditionalÂ Turkish sailing vessel called a gulet.Â There are only 8 cabins aboard the boat and the tours are personally conducted by the ever-personable and energetic Peter Sommer, a youngÂ archaeologist from England who has, among his travels,Â walked the length of Turkey in the footsteps of Alexander.Â
While his tour looked great online, I couldn’t really be sure what I was getting into.Â But I took a leap of faith.Â I paid upfront for the tour,Â invited some friends to join us, and boarded the plane to Istanbul.
A few days later, in the little port of Gocek, I caught my first glimpse of our boat, The Almira.Â And I knew that it was going to be a fabulous vacation.
For two weeks, Peter escorted his intimateÂ little group of 11 tourists toÂ archaeological sites along the Carian coast — some of them obscure sites that wereÂ accessible onlyÂ with a small boat.Â There were many times when we were the onlyÂ people walking among the ruins, sharing the landscape with just the goats and sheep.Â The ship’s crew of four men took care of all the sailing and cooking — we didn’t have to do a thing but enjoy the sights, swim in incredibly clear waters, and enjoy lavish Turkish meals.Â Every night we anchored in a different cove or harbor, and often we were the only boat around.
Because archaeology was what had broughtÂ these touristsÂ together, it was a lively, curious group.Â We weren’t there to get drunk and carouse and play obnoxiously loud music.Â We were there because we wanted to watch sunsets while standing on ancient sites.Â We wanted to learn.Â And so we hounded poor Peter with questions,Â and probably drove him crazy, but he never stopped smiling.Â
Knidos (below)Â is still under active excavation, and you can scramble about on walls that are still in the process of being fully unearthed.Â Since I’m in the middle of re-writes, I figured it was a good time to say a prayer to the Muses.
By the time the trip was over, we’d bonded.Â And we posed together for one last shot, at Bodrum castle:
Finally, it was back to Istanbul for one last day, and a visit to the spice market — where you can just see my hat in the crowd:
So nowÂ it’s back to work on the edits for THE BONE GARDEN.Â Â The next blog post, I promise, will be about writing!Â