Random shots of an inter-generational mix of 9 Ruins, 2 Gen-Yers, and 11 year old easygoing twins Chuck and Harry Pye. In a bus for 2 weeks through Turkey with locals Abdullah and Vegdan in the cockpit until the more acquatic travel between Greek destinations by ferry.
Ephesus, a cafe in a woollen tent on a hot day. Cool.
A day on the water on a cateraman all to ourselves, Santorini.
Some of the Ruins at Ephesus. The cost and likely futility of any attempted restoration has meant that little of it has been undertaken. Work on the historic structures however is well underway.
Captain Spiros welcomes Bev aboard. Bev wonders whether she could reciprocate and welcome Captain Spiros aboard. Santorini.
Captain Spiros. We had to hose down the women with cold water.
Spiros-Schmiros, watch this for style! Wave damage to the nearby beaches was minimal.
Bev. Lovely clear and cool water but bugger-all aquatic life. A later scuba dive revealed rocks, and more rocks but no fish. Santorini
Erika: "Bev! Would you do that in your own pool?" Sulphur from an underwater vent - volcanic, not Bevic. The caldera, Santorini.
Dr Brad, in a rare moment of introspection, contemplates his compliance with the Hippocratic oath. Ephesus.
Adjusting for high shutter speed to capture the moment.
Bev, Brad and Abdullah. Ephesus.
One of Sean's more animated moments at Santorini.
Abdullah surrounded by 12 Aussies, Lone Pine war memorial, Gallipoli. The pine tree, supposedly, was grown from a seed from the original.
Sean comes 3rd in the moob contest. Mykonos.
Bevvie on the ferry from the Gallipoli peninsular across to Cannakale-Troy side of the Dardanelles. Bev's bum is fully onboard, but Vegdan had to leave a significant bit of the bus's arse hanging out the back.
Sean ponders what generous, indulgent parents he was blessed with and works out a timetable for exploiting it to the max. At the Charisma Hotel pool, Kusadasi. Samos, our first taste of Greece, is in the distance.
Adrian searches for his bikini top. Hotel hot springs near Pammukale.
Bev has far more style in her own spa at the hotel. Santorini.
"This is why I go to work!" Santorini.
Erika "Bobby Sue" Barnett finds her banjo. Or was that mojo? Santorini.
"This is why my mother goes to work!" Santorini.
Spectating the Red Bull parcours from our Santorini forecourt. Parcours is French for too-cool-for-school types in baggy daks with their arse cracks showing jumping around the roofs.
Chris airs his tackle. Marmaris.
Rita ponders Chris' tackle. Istanbul.
Bruce's simple assignment was to take a photo of the hotel. Marmaris.
The WC is more for photo ops than functionality. The caldera, Santorini.
An Hieropolis colonnade. No icecream vendors or souvenir stalls near here, so there were very few tourists.
A typical Mykonos backstreet. Typical Gen-Y Aussie tourists (except Sean and Erika stayed sober and un-tatooed).
You can't wipe the smiles off when you're in Santorini.
Bubbles in the glass, and if you pull my finger we can have bubbles in the spa too. Santorini.
1 small Pye floater attracts 3 fat geezers. Marmaris.
Kim adopts a slow and cautious approach to Aegean immersion. Santorini.
This bloke floated by as we sat in the hotel's outdoor cafe sipping G&Ts. Life can be a bitch. Rhodes.
Rita and Chris ignore the UFO to concentrate on the perfect pose photo op. Rhodes.
Underground Roman cistern in Istanbul adjacent to the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, St Sophia and Topkapi Palace. Still solid and functional, and a testament to Roman engineering and Turkish maintenance. The darkness has not dissuaded carp from growing big in size and many in numbers.
A Bevvie in the backstreets. Mykonos.
Rooftop geezer. The Acropolis from the hotel, Athens.
We put the Pyes out in the hot sun to keep them warm.
The famous Barry Turner
Erika undergoes Santorini stress therapy.
Leaf sweepers at the travertine terraces, Pammukale. Spread across the higher levels of the otherwise brilliantly white, pristine formations are large accumulations of trash - eurotrash, bussed in from the huge cruise ships on the coast.
Busker, Istiklal Avenue Istanbul. An elegant boulevarde of about 1.5 kms lined with stylish, late Ottoman period buildings hosting the sort of boutiques and eateries that give it a funky-central feel. Catch one of the historic trams that run its length from near the Gelata Tower to Taksim Square - site of later unrest as the more enlightened Turks expressed their disapproval of the reactionary tendencies emerging from their autocratic prime minister - Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is seemingly intent on taking the country backwards to a more Islamic state.
Vegie salesman. Mykonos harbour.
Fisherman baiting hooks at Pythagorea. Samos.
Marmaris beach babes. This was the sad standard set by most of the tourists.
The asses on Santorini are better looking than the ones on the Marmaris beach babes.
Changing of the guard, done with exaggerated, synchronised movements in slow motion, at the war memorial in front of the Greek Parliament House at Athens. After the change over, the 2 guys on duty stand stock still until the next shift; hot or cold, night and day. Occurs every hour, on the hour, 24 hours per day.
With so many cool things to see, what stands out? Old Istanbul got unanimous rave reviews; Gallipoli is a compulsory pilgrimage if you're in the country; Pergamon, Ephesus and Pammukale are must-sees with pleasant stop overs at the funky towns of Cannakale and Kusadasi. The mountains in the hinterland suggest there would be very special scenery further inland.
Greece, despite its disastrous economy, civil unrest and lackadaisical attitude to ferry and plane schedules was a joy end-to-end.
One of the few negatives was the tourist multitudes from the fleets of giant cruise liners that ply the Mediteranean and Aegean. They poured out of those damned ships constantly in great numbers, haunted the waterfronts and were bussed inland to places like Ephesus and Pammukale. To be fair, there weren't that many at Ephesus. They aren't interested in history, only in where their next doughnut is coming from. Also, the suburbs of Istanbul (14 million people), the coast to Izmir and Izmir itself are overcrowded, cheek-by-jowl dystopian visions of an overpopulated planet.
Anyone who's attended a wedding on a boat will be familiar with the kitsch decorations, ersatz music, cheap booze and churn-em-and-burn-em food options that the captives of such events are subjected to. The setting for the Bosphorous sight-seeing cruise that sounded like a good way to spend an evening in Istanbul turned out to be similar. Never mind, Istanbul looks good at night from the water. The majority of patrons looked like middle-eastern tourists. On a wedding cruise they would have been the compulsory relatives, sitting passively in clusters and not talking much.
We were cheered up early on by the cheap wine and good Turkish beer, having a laugh round the top deck railing when a blonde vision in a low-cut Stevie Nicks-like outfit, looking uncomfortable with a glass of booze sitting amongst the 'relatives' wandered over and asked to sit down. Of course! It turns out Effie's gal pal had a dose of the colly-wobbles, so she came on her own. At about this point a young dude impressed with his own sex appeal decided to move in and take over. Fk that, so every time he tried to take her picture I leaned over and photo-bombed the prick. Effie was amused. The Prick not so much. In conversation over rubber chicken and half-cooked fish it turns out Effie is a gynaecologist from Tehran scouting escape options to Istanbul for her and her daughter. Very scathing about Iran and the nut jobs who run the place. Well, she was an expert on Iranian twats. It made me suspicious of a greasy type who kept eye-balling her, but not even the Iranian secret police would be dumb enough to wear a white bomber jacket with "Iran" emblazened in large rhinestone letters across the back. Just another dirty old man, and with appalling taste in fashion. I hope Effie has escaped by now.
*With thanks to Erika for the analogy.
The peninsular reaches down the west coast on the European side of the Dardanelles that separates it from modern Cannakale and ancient Troy on the Asia Minor side. A visit clearly shows the strategic value for access to the Sea of Marmaris and Black Sea to maintain supply lines to the Eastern Front during the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, and the Turks' keenness to protect Istanbul. Justification of the futile, huge loss of life is less obvious. Anzac Cove faces west, away from the mainland, with narrow beaches and steep access to the heights where the Turks were positioned. It's clear why it was so tough trying to capture those heights, but very hard to imagine the carnage when it is so quiet, preaceful and green now.
Anzac Cove and Lone Pine War Memorial are reminders of Australian and New Zealand involvement. The Turks, Brits, Ghurkas, French and Indians also suffered huge losses here. The Turks have memorials at the high points where some remnant trenches remain. The whole site is well maintained and covered with pine trees, where some bones will still be scattered - a lot of bodies never having been recovered.
A modern visitors' complex has been built discretely amongst the pines in the hills showing filmed re-enactments of the campaign. Although these are from the Turkish perspective with undertones of understandable nationalism, the narrative is not so different from our own. Except for a jarring inclusion at the end of the story - a mother's letter to her Turkish soldier son is quoted, writing of the defence of Islam from invading infidels and dying for the cause of a competing deity rather than in defence of a country. OK, that may well have been her own point of view, and it was exploited by the Turkish authorities as propoganda at the time, but the true context of the Turks siding with Germany, the billigerant antogonists of the whole affair, and the Allies' need to supply the Eastern Front wasn't mentioned. That tone is unfortunate and misplaced - it reinforces a western view of widepsread current Islamic resentment and antagonism and an insistence of tolerance of their own intolerance. A shame this is in Turkey, a modern, open society from what we saw and a further shame that it's at Gallipoli.
Rhodes represented the halfway point and the start of the Greek leg, a short interim diversion to Samos from Kusadasi excepted. From the hotel at Rhodes, squinting across towards Marmaris, the departure point from Turkey, the coastline is clearly visible and shows just how close the 2 countries are geographically. Some shared histories and mutual territorial animosities; one Asian but keen to be seen as a part of Europe, the other European but resentful of EU censure of its sense of entitlement; one Islamic. the other Greek Orthodox; one mostly a large single land mass, the other a collection of scattered islands. Recent experience and expectations - a good time to sit in the open air, beachfront cafe attended by George The Barman and have a G&T. Eventually with a G&T. (GTB:"Hello, I am George. Can I get you something?" Me: "May I have a gin and tonic, please George?" GTB, wandering off with a small smile: "I'll think about it.") George had a dry sense of humour and a relaxed attitude to customer service. George got a small tip.
Marmaris is a good metaphor for our Turkey experience. Set on a beautiful bay, with the clustered highrise holiday hotels spoiling its pristineness(?), welcoming local merchants and mostly horrible tourist hordes, the noise of a booze-fuelled wet t-shirt competition drowning out the drone of a call to prayer.
So, on to Greece.
Crystal clear water, but little sea life. Nice beaches with pebbles instead of sand. Hospitable locals and horrible tourist hordes. Topless women on the Greek beaches, with saggy knockers and fat arses (says the bloke with the gut and man boobs!). Good Greek white wines.
Do Not Miss:
Turkey - Istanbul, and Greece - Santorini. Both are wonderful.
Overall, an excellent tour.