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Trip to Turkey September 2004
Wednesday, September 8, 2004

We had another wonderful breakfast.

This morning we walked to the backside of Topkapuh Palace to the well-endowed and under-patronized Museum of the Ancient Orient.  There we encountered the first of several similar disappointments at archeological tourist attractions in Turkey:  no well-stocked bookstore or giftshop associated with the museum.  There were no postcards with pictures of the exhibits, no books (in English) about the ancient cultures, no maps of ancient sites, no miniatures or replicas, no jewelry, no information about the sites where the stones were found...  Gimme a break, how many decades, um, centuries, have these people had to figure it out?

One of the possible explantions for the lack of tourist traffic to this particular museum may be the failure of the curators to provide enough information on the plaques for visitors to properly appreciate the context of these artifacts.  It was puzzling.  It might have something to do with the conflicted attitude towards such magnificence from an historical "other" people with a diametrically different culture and religion. in, the people who proudly called themselves the "People of a Thousand Gods" verses the people who loudly and publically declare that Allah is the only God five times per day.  If I hadn't been studying these artifacts (from afar) for the last 20 years, I wouldn't have understood what I was looking at.  As it was, I felt like if I had been in charge of providing a tour or information, I could have done much better than what was available.

All that said, the exhibit was wonderful and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:

cuneiform on top of carved stonecat standing on cuneiform stone
stone lioniron daggers
lapis outer wall, from Ishtar temple in Nineveh
Teshub, I am the God of Grain and Grape and all the pleasure in this worldart
most likely the Goddess Shaushka
Taru - the original Thorwater
Shamash, God of the Sun, a Hurrian bas relief

Turkey has a wealth of history, natural resources (natural wonders), a rich culture that values education, children, the rituals of civilization; and yet certain simple things are amazingly difficult there.  Things that are not manufactured locally or in the country are difficult to find and costly....

Tom and I had rented a white Ford Transit minivan for our loop trip of Turkey.  It turns out that this is the exact same vehicle that is used for a form of public transportation throughout Turkey.  The Turkish minivan public transport is called a "dolmoosh" (literally, "stuffed"); so throughout our travels, locals tried to flag us down, thinking we were public transit.

The van came equipped with four rows of seats, which was three rows too many for our purposes.  We needed a place to store the extra seats and we needed a foam pad or mattress for camping in the van.  Had Sarah and Sadi not come to our rescue once more, it would have been extremely difficult to prepare the van for camping.  As it turned out, Sadi and Sarah were moving out of their old apartment and into a friend's furnished apartment temporarily at just the right time for us.  They had arranged for storage of their furniture and offered us both storage for the excess van seats plus a loan of their mattress for our camping trip.

Tom did some amazing driving through narrow streets of Istanbul to go to the storage building and Sadi found a mechanic with the right tool to remove the seats.  Then we went to their apartment and helped them move their bed out of their apartment and into our van.

We wanted to take the ferry across the Bosphorus to Marmara this night, but we missed the last boat.  Exhausted and cranky, we didn't have the proper support under the bed yet to be comfortable.  We finally decided on the only possible good solution:  stay one more day at the Sultan's Inn and have one last wonderful breakfast.

Created:  November 15, 2004
Updated:  November 21, 2004
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