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Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.

Journal Entry:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 08:18:21

BBLACK SEA, SUDANS, ETHIOPIA 2013: 5 Canakkale, Bodrum Turkey

Sunday, October 27, 2013

We were in Canakkale City when we got up this morning, and off the ship by 8 AM. The port arranged a shuttle bus into the centre of town, a nice touch as it was some distance away. We wandered around the wide waterfront esplanade for awhile, marvelling at the crystal clear water, and stopping to photograph the giant wooden horse from the 2004 movie Troy. We hired a taxi to take us 50 km to ruins of Troy (called Troia here).

This area was originally inhabited from about 3,000 BC, at which time Troy was the first fully fortified settlement in the area. It prospered as an important trading centre, being located on the narrowest part of the Dardanelles, until destroyed by an earthquake in 1,300 BC. It was rebuilt, then destroyed by fire in 950 BC. The Hellens rebuilt it and ruled from 700 to 85 BC when the Romans took over. After the 13th century it was deserted and covered with sand & mud. Today it is a World Heritage Site, with a considerable amount of it having been unearthed.

Our driver waited an hour for us to wander the well marked paths and read the bi-lingual descriptions, then drove us to Cimenlik Castle, which along with Kilitbahir Fortress on the European side helped control the security of the strait. Cimenlik Castle is a naval museum with a lot of old artillery, torpedoes, mines and information on the battle of Gallipoli, where in a 9 month battle for control of the Dardanelles in World War I around 500,000 people were killed or wounded and several British and French battleships sunk. The Turks eventually prevailed, and the commonwealth forces had to withdraw.

We walked along the bustling waterfront where ferries where coming and going every few minutes, and giant freighters and container ships passed in a steady stream, until we found a nice restaurant where we had a table in the window overlooking the harbour and straits. Lunch was Turkish food, washed down by local wine and beer before returning to the ship for a 3 PM departure.

On board there were a number of people in line at reception requesting forms to cancel or reduce the automatic tips charged to each person. They charge an automatic 5 British pounds per person per day, and the general feeling on board was the service was not worth it. I cancelled ours, as a third goes to the restaurant staff where we only ate on the first night, and gave out what I considered to be appropriate amounts to people who actually did something for us. I'd say the majority of people on board were unhappy with the cruise, but it suited my purpose in getting us to the places we wanted to go.

After the evening performance in the theatre we headed to bed to make an early night of it. In spite of the "Do not desturb" sign the cabin steward knocked, wanting the bottle of water with the "for sale 2.50 pounds" sign on it that has sat in our cabin since we arrived. An hour later reception phoned saying they must have our passports, in spite of the fact that we are not on one of their 4 charter flights and have all necessary documentation for Turkey. We were not impressed!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Being independent travellers, we were first off the ship in spite of general confusion among staff at the gangway as to who was allowed off and who was not. We quickly passed through passport control and took a taxi to the Azka Hotel. The hotel was no where near full, as high season is over in spite of it being a beautiful day with 32C temperature. We have a super room with a balcony overlooking the bay and town.

Bodrum also dates back to 3,000 BC. At one time in was capital of the Carian Kingdom, then was built up by Mausolus (from whom we get the word "mausoleum") between 377 and 354 BC. In 334 BC the city fell to Alexander the Great, then after his death to Egypt, Syria and then Rome. It was destroyed in AD 654-5 by the Arab forces from Asia Minor. In 1407 the crusader castle of St. Peter was built by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John and finally became part of the Ottoman Empire.

We hired a hotel car and driver for a tour of the city. The buildings on much of the Turkish west coast are painted white. The hills go to the sea, so these white buildings march up the hillsides in rows - almost everyone has a great view. In town centre there are winding, shop lined narrow pedestrian streets with sheets over them to provide shade. Merchants were not pushy, many invited us into their shops, but when the offer was declined it was taken in good grace.

We were told the main thing to see is the castle, which has four museum, one in each of the towers, however it was closed on Mondays. We did walk to the walls from the town side. We also stopped at the famous mausoleum, built by the man whose name is generally used for that type of final resting place, but it too was closed on Monday. There is a Roman theatre set into one of the hills that is still used for the odd event. Overall we really liked the town - it would be a wonderful spot for a week or two holiday.

I thought I brought my prescription sun glasses with me, but in the last minute scramble brought two pair of regular glasses, not great for the blinding sun I'll be facing in the desert. Our driver knew a glasses shop, and although they would have taken 2 days to make new prescription glasses, in 20 minutes they put lenses of the same strength as my regular glasses into new frames with magnetic sun lens that fit over them. Marilynn liked the frames they had, and as they were much cheaper than in Costa Rica purchased two.

After returning to the hotel the driver took us to a restaurant where he left us to have a delicious Turkish lunch.

Back at the hotel we put on bathing suits and made our way down to the private sandy beach. Although some brave souls were swimming the water was far below my comfort zone, so we lay in the sun and dozed.

We didn't feel like much for dinner, but there was an amazing desert bar at the dinner buffet, so Marilynn fell off her diet for a night and we had nothing but drinks and deserts for dinner!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A reasonable breakfast preceded a drive in a very comfortable hotel van to the airport, about 45 km away. Our Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul was on time, and although it was only a bit over an hour in duration a complimentary meal was served. There was a notice that they have been elected best airline in Europe for a third consecutive year - I'd say they deserve it.

We managed to get Marilynn's suitcase checked only to Istanbul, and mine to Cairo, as she will stay the night in Istanbul. I bought us both tickets to Cairo as they were cheaper than the tickets only to Istanbul - figure that one out! We said goodbye at the airport and she caught a cab to her hotel, only 3 km away. I found a pub in the airport to catch up on writing - it was 5 hours before my flight.

The flight to Cairo was comfortable, as I had Marilynn's empty seat space for my legs. Although I was in economy on this 1hr 50 min flight, a menu was provided and a full course meal served. My seat mate was a young Korean girl who was travelling on her own. She spoke only a few words of English - definitely an intrepid young traveller.

At the airport a representative of the Novotel Airport hotel in suit and tie met me as soon as I was off the plane. He ushered me into a short line for immigration while he went to get my visa. In a couple of minutes he was back, to speed me through immigration and customs - everyone knew him. The hotel bus was waiting for the 7 minute ride to the hotel. A pretty impressive welcome!

The hotel itself is old, and needs some new carpets, etc, however the staff were great. It was an early night to catch up on some sleep. Tomorrow will be a day off to catch up on a lot of things that need doing.