Friday, December 4, 2009

Bergama (Pergamum) Turkey

By Claire We are discovering that Turkey is not only one of the easiest countries to travel in but the friendliest. We pulled into Caravan Restaurant Camping, €12.90, one of the few to have a huge sign making it easy to discover as soon as we entered the town. We settled in, checked out the bathrooms and were pulling out our books when a knock came at the door. Once again, two cups of tea arrived.

This kind of hospitality is just so nice. In the morning, Chuck was about to take a shower when an elderly gentleman in a suit and cap came over to make sure the boiler was working so he would have hot water. It’s a comfortable place to be and right in town. We hear the call to prayer easily from our location.

Our campsıte Sewıng machıne as garden decor

The Dısh Man

On the way, we stopped at a gas station in the town of Küҫükkuyu where there was supposed to be a campground. Chuck asked directions (as usual) but the attendant did not speak English. A customer overheard and stepped in to help. His English was perfect. He offered to lead the way in his car and off we went. Unfortunately, everything we found was closed for the season. So, on we went to Bergama, a very good decision.

There are bakeries everywhere with delicious fresh baked bread. We find that we are throwing out bread that isn’t absolutely fresh. We just can’t eat it fast enough. At one bakery, I went in and chose a loaf and, preparing to pay, the young man told me it was 3 TL. My face must have registered surprise as I handed the money over because he smiled and gave me 50 cents back. I’m used to bread costing 70 cents. When I hauled this baby back to the camper, I realized how huge and heavy it was. We only managed to work our way through half of it before it became a doorstop.

I decided we needed a change for dinner so I whipped up some pasta…with a can of diced tomatoes, olives and feta. Hmmmm. Tasted a lot like a hot Greek salad.

On our first day here we decided to visit an ancient medical center, the Asclepion. This place was set up by Galen (AD 131-210) who was physician to Pergamum’s gladiators. He was recognized as one of the greatest early physicians and added considerably to knowledge of the circulatory and nervous systems. His work was the basis for Western medicine well into the 16th century. We really enjoyed this place and had it practically to ourselves. Getting there was another story. Our directions told us that we would pass through a Turkish military base. No kidding. We were stopped and questioned, nicely I might add, and when we explained where we were headed, they tried to describe another route. In order to overcome language difficulties, one of the soldiers hopped into the camper and off we went under his direction. He even wrote down the name of the street we wanted and marked our map. We dropped him in town. Amazing! We found our way easily after that. We walked down a long road lined with columns to the center. At the base of one column carved with snakes is the symbol of Asclepios, god of medicine. Just as the snake sheds its skin and gains a new life, so the patients at the Asclepion were supposed to shed their illnesses. This medical symbol persists to this day as the caduceus—snakes entwined around a staff.

Patients slept in this temple hoping the god Telesphorus would send a cure or diagnosis in a dream. The names of Telesphorus’ two daughters, Hygeia and Panacea, have passed into medical terminology. Chuck even drank from the sacred spring; but, a cold he picked up along the way persists.

Temple of Telesphorus

The complex was far larger than we had imagined: It encompassed ancient toilets and baths, a Roman theatre, two temples, a sacred well, a library and a ceremony area. There was significant reconstruction; but, it was tastefully done and actually enhanced appreciation. We passed the usual yellow dog—we believe all dogs in Greece and Turkey are related—walked through an underground corridor, tried out the theatre seating and tried to check out some books from the library.



We came back to Homer after picking up more bread and enjoyed a nice lunch and were just getting ready to open our Kindles when another couple rolled in. To make a long story short, they are from Australia, have traveled the world, are lots of fun and we spent 5 hours with them consuming 3 bottles of wine!

We’re really enjoying this place and will stay for 4 days or so. There is fresh bread across the street–what more could we ask for? David and Chuck played Boules for awhile while Susan cleaned out her frig and I read my book. We’re all heading into town to find WiFi and a market for more olives and beyaz peynir (feta). Maybe some oranges too. We have devoured a huge bag of them.

We have two months in Turkey and PLENTY OF TIME!

A kind word warms a man throughout three winters. ~ Turkish Proverb


Karin said...

Your descriptions of your experiences absolutely warm my heart! We too, found the Turks to be wonderful people and Turkey is so fascinating. Chuck, get over that cold! Is the picture of your tea the apple tea? Aren't the glasses adorable? Glad you are relaxing and enjoying it. Have you met any "rug salesmen" yet?

Karin -from Paros now in Prague.

Chuck and Claire said...

The tea ıs the real thıng. Hot and strong. Went ınto a rug shop today wıth Davıd and Susan. Had a fun tıme and came away empty handed.

Paul King said...

Go Turkey!

I liked that post a lot.
What a great thing to have the luxury of time in such an interesting and welcoming country.
Looking forward to following you guys in the days ahead.

Is it relatively warm for December?


Chuck and Claire said...

We have been so lucky wıth the weather. No raın for weeks and weeks. Cool mornıngs but blue sky and sun most of the day. We're outsıde a lot.