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Today’s Wheel of Adventures stopped at 2013, so here we go.

The Aegean Sea is the center of Grecian ancient cultures – from Crete and Rhodes in the south to Troy in the north, Athens west to Ephesus east in Turkey. In May 2013 Turkey was my destination for 9 days to explore some of these antiquities first hand on a land excursion by bus. I selected American European Travel since they offered a trip thru western Turkey from Istanbul near the Black sea south to Antalya on the Mediterranean. With a group of 50 Americans on two luxury busses, the travel was focused on learning about a variety of historic civilizations.

Air travel was non-stop R/T Los Angeles to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines Boeing 777, twice named best european airline. Every night was spent in 4 and 5 star hotels and resorts, 3 meals a day, including all cultural entrance fees plus air for just $1,800. For me, that also included a single supplement. Our group age was 26 to 92 , so I fit right in. I really do enjoy long scenic bus rides, alway in a front seat, so it was my kind of travel style for sure.

Istanbul is certainly one of the world’s most important cities in existence over thousands of years, straddling between Europe and Asia. Thus the existing basilicas and mosques, historic government and museum structures, span nearly a thousand years. The exquisite Blue Mosque built in the 1600s has the most beautiful artistic blue tile facings on the interior. The Islamic artistry and dedication to long lasting materials and craftsmanship is breathtaking.

Exterior of the Istanbul Blue Mosque
Exterior of the Istanbul Blue Mosque
Interior of the Istanbul Blue Mosque
Interior of the Istanbul Blue Mosque
Beautiful tile ceiling of the Istanbul Blue Mosque
Beautiful tile ceiling of the Istanbul Blue Mosque

Another famous structure is the Hagia Sophia Mosque, which was built in 537 AD as a basilica, but converted to a mosque as Islam spread across this part of the world. The interior is an interesting combination of Christian and Islamic art. Probably the finest Islamic architecture is the Topkapi, both an ancient ruling government complex and a historic museum. It’s in a vast park setting always filled with visitors. What I found interesting among visitors was the very beautiful styles of dress seen on both young and older ladies alike. Men mostly dressed very neatly as well, Certainly not at all like what one sees in the US these days. I was very impressed with the respect that folks showed towards their cultural heritages.

The Topkapi Museum is classic Islamic culture
The Topkapi Museum is classic Islamic culture
Topkapi building's tile and art is totally exquisite
Topkapi building’s tile and art is totally exquisite
The tile ceilings are typical of Islamic craftsmanship
The tile ceilings are typical of Islamic craftsmanship
Meeting spaces in the rooms are luxurious Islamic
Meeting spaces in the rooms are luxurious Islamic
Topkapi meeting rooms feature gold decorations
Topkapi meeting rooms feature gold decorations
Turkey enjoys a beautiful Mediterranean climate
Turkey enjoys a beautiful Mediterranean climate
The Taurus Mountains are just one of many
The Taurus Mountains are just one of many
Turkish ladies are seen everywhere in stylish dress
Turkish ladies are seen everywhere in stylish dress
Istanbul's many museums attract families every day
Istanbul’s many museums attract families every day
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Hagia Sophia Mosque was built in 537 AD as a Basilica

 

The Hagia Sophia has a spectacular ceiling
The Hagia Sophia has a spectacular ceiling

Leaving Istanbul after 3 days, our tour next enjoyed historic Troy after crossing the famed WWI Dardanelles, then onward to Ayvalik, Ephesus, and Kusadasi. Here’s the continuing itinerary as quoted from the tour brochure:

Day 4: Istanbul, Troy, Ayvalik

After breakfast, drive along the Marmara coast, followed by a ferry ride across the Dardanelles. Arrive at the legendary city of Troy, immortalized in Homer‘s Iliad. Marvel at mighty walls and the site of one of the most famous wars of ancient times. After wandering around the city walls, where Achilles dragged Hector’s dead body, continue on to Ayvalık through the captivating mythic Ida mountains, where Paris gave the apple to the goddess Aphrodite.

 

Day 5: Ayvalik, Ephesus, Kusadasi

In the morning, follow the Aegean Sea’s coastline to one of the great cities of the ancient world: Ephesus, the star of Asia Minor. Have a long stroll through well-excavated and colonnaded marble streets, adorned with monumental fountains, numerous temples, the elaborate Library of Celsus, and other impressive structures portraying the architectural remains of antiquity. We will stop at the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

A stone temple at Ephesus
A stone temple at Ephesus

 

The main street of Ephesus
The main street of Ephesus
Ephesus has a dramatic library still standing
Ephesus has a dramatic library still standing
One of several outdoor amphitheaters
One of several outdoor amphitheaters

Day 6: Kusadasi, Hierapolis, Pamukkale

After a visit to the House of the Virgin Mary, a drive along the valley of Meander will take us to one of the most inspiring sights of Turkey: Pamukkale. After lunch at a country restaurant, explore formations including the calcareous cascades, calcium stalactites, and shallow travertine basins formed by lukewarm thermal springs. The crystal clear waters of revelation were once a source of healing for the dwellers of the ancient town nearby, after walking along the ruins of the Hierapolis, enjoy a nice warm swim at your hotel‘s thermal pool.

Pamukkale hot springs are thousands of years old
Pamukkale hot springs are thousands of years old

 

Turks enjoy the Pamukkale hot springs for health
Turks enjoy the Pamukkale hot springs for health
Pamukkale feature hot blue water ponds with views
Pamukkale feature hot blue water ponds with views

Day 7: UNESCO World Heritage Site · Pamukkale, Antalya

Have a scenic inland drive through the mountains and valleys to the Mediterranean coast. Stop at one of the country’s biggest hand-made carpet cooperatives to learn how the colorful woven and silk rugs are made during a demonstration by local weavers. Appreciate the unique collection of old traditional art of Anatolia. After lunch, cross the Taurus Mountains and arrive in Antalya to have an enjoyable stroll through the Ottoman houses and the winding cobbled streets of the old town, located around the ancient harbor and enclosed by Roman walls and Hadrian‘s Gate.

 

Day 8: Antalya, Perge

Start your discovery of Greco-Roman archeology at the exclusive site of Perge, where St. Paul gave his first sermons in Anatolia during a missionary visit. In the afternoon, see the artifacts in the Archeological Museum of Antalya tracing the path from Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages, through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and up to the Ottoman Empire. You will also see Ottoman ethnographic exhibits.

4th century Perga was a popular sea coast city
4th century Perga was a popular sea coast city
The Perga baths had fire heated floors for comfort
The Perga baths had fire heated floors for comfort
Perga's main road had a central water canal
Perga’s main road had a central water canal
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Families can enjoy all kinds of Pine Bay attractions
Pine Bay is one of many such fabulous resorts
Pine Bay is one of many such fabulous resorts
Sunset theatrical events were held at Hieropolis
Sunset theatrical events were held at Hieropolis

What impressed me so much was the friendliness of the Turkish people whether city or out in the agricultural lands. Most major highways are divided 4-lane well built to the latest European safety standards. I saw many miles of new highway projects. The pavement in downtown Istanbul is glass smooth, not like the broken and dilapidated streets of Los Angeles. Of course traffic is jammed as everyone seems to have a nice car. But the countryside from farmland to dramatic mountains is very beautiful with but light traffic.

Friendly school children greet visitors to Turkey warmly
Friendly school children greet visitors to Turkey warmly
Turkish bazaars offer colorful foods and treasures
Turkish bazaars offer colorful foods and treasures

 

Delicious and fancy sweets are a Turkish delight
Delicious and fancy sweets are a Turkish delight
Turkey has some of the world's finest museums
Turkey has some of the world’s finest museums
Southwest Turkey faces a warm and blue sea
Southwest Turkey faces a warm and blue sea

 

Turkish highways display very high standards
Turkish highways display very high standards

The south part of Turkey is very prosperous with a warm summer climate, lots of beautiful resorts as well as a very modern metropolitan infrastructure. And like everywhere in the Mediterranean, the food is healthy and delicious. A special treat was a visit to a Turkish rug factory where all the historic methods were shown in rug weaving, a life career of skilled girls. I can now appreciate the high cost of classic Turkish rugs – incredibly detailed workmanship learned over many centuries. I loved every moment of this Turkish adventure. For more information, visit http://goturkey.com/

Bob Gurr

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Join Disney Legend Bob Gurr and the MiceChat Crew as we set sail on the Disney Magic for a once in a lifetime Mediterranean cruise (from Barcelona to Italy and back again).

Mediterranean_7Night

Day Port Guest Ashore Guest Onboard
1 Barcelona, Spain 5:00 p.m.
2 At Sea
3 Villefranche (Monte Carlo, Cannes, Nice), France* 7:30 a.m. 6:30 p.m.
4 La Spezia (Florence, Pisa), Italy 7:15 a.m. 7:30 p.m.
5 Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy 7:30 a.m. 6:45 p.m.
6 Naples (Pompeii), Italy 7:30 a.m. 5:45 p.m.
7 At Sea
8 Barcelona, Spain 7:00 a.m.

Stay after the cruise and you can also join us for a journey to Disneyland Paris!  Ask us for more details by emailing us at [email protected]

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Bob Gurr is a true Disney legend who was hired on to design the Autopia for Disneyland. Over nearly four decades, Bob would become famous for developing the Monorails, Submarines, Flying Saucers, antique cars and double-decker buses of Main Street, Ford Motor Company’s Magic Skyway (at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair), Omnimover ride system, Matterhorn and lots more. It has been said that if it moves, Bob probably played a part.

Upon leaving Imagineering in 1981, Bob worked on a number of “leisure-time spectaculars” and “fantastical beasts” for parks and developments all over the world. Most notably, he created King Kong and Conan’s Serpent for Universal Studios Hollywood, A UFO for the closing ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics, and the memorable T-Rex figure featured in Steven Spielberg’s motion picture “Jurassic Park.”

You can find Bob’s column, Design: Those Were The Times, right here on MiceChat. Though don’t pin Bob down to a schedule, he’s busy being “retired.”

  • DisneyLover66

    I want to visit Turkey now! Thank you for the interesting read and the most beautiful pictures. $1800.00 seems like a great bargain for such a beautiful trip.

  • jl925sanders

    Outstanding! Excellent photography as always.

  • wmatzner

    Thanks for the excellent piece.
    Have you looked into trips to other places in Europe that American European Travel offers (as this seemed like a very good deal)?

    • Bob Gurr

      No, but I’d certainly use them again on a future adventure