We have been to a lot ancient sites in Europe. Some were meticulously renovated so it was easy to picture the history that took place there, while others were rocks and rubble that required more information and imagination to conjure up a visual image of the past. On a day trip to Bergama (Pergamum) Turkey, we saw both restored ruins and rocks, that would soon become restored ruins. And we were able to witness some the tedious processes of excavating and renovating an enormous ancient site.
Pergamum is an important ancient city that, over time, attracted artists and philosophers, housed the famous library of Pergamum, was one of the ancient world's main centers of learning, became the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and produced a famous medical center, the Asclepieum.
The Library of Pergamon was second best in the ancient Greek civilization. Legend has it that Mark Antony later gave Cleopatra all of the 200,000 volumes at Pergamum for the Library at Alexandria as a wedding present.
We walked miles down the hill, seeing the ancient city in various stages of disrepair and wondered who the people working were, volunteers? If not, who pays them?
There are more than 400 well-conserved and renovated world heritage sites in Europe. From prehistoric cave paintings, mosaics, forts and historic monuments, to medieval castles, monasteries and market towns, to entire cities created by ancient civilizations. It is difficult to imagine the resources required to turn these piles of rubble into accurate recreations of past civilizations, fascinating places to explore.
It is said that the theater is the steepest Hellenistic theater in the world, capable of holding 10,000 people.
The great temple of the Egyptian gods Isis, known today as the Red Basilica
As hard as we try to convince people that our cruising life is more than just cocktails and sunsets, most don't believe us. Or perhaps they just don't want to hear us, as the thought of something other than smooth sailing, idyllic anchorages, refreshing cocktails and amazing sunsets would tarnish the concept of "living the dream." Our time in the Ayvalik Archipelago in Turkey was pretty much the type of experience where the "living the dream" and "cocktails and sunsets" cruising image came from. While the surrounding area wasn't gorgeous and tropical, it was attractive in an uncluttered, quiet, Mexico kind of way.
For several days, we kayaked, swam, read and enjoyed some incredible sunsets, including one green flash.
In between the colorful skies, however, we did have to move Berkeley East in 20-knot winds and a two-foot swell. And after one lengthy lightening storm and torrential downpour, when BE was cleaner than she had been all year, we were forced to get the boat wax out and put a shine on the coach house. Cocktails, sunsets and other stuff.
We arrived at the island of Bozcaada expecting much the same as we had seen in the rest of Turkey. Surprise is the only word to describe what we found there. Until 1925, the island belonged to Greece so much of the town feels Greek, with Turkish sounds and Turkish scents. By their own description, the Turkish people are a very reserved and serious group, but as we walked through town, there were smiling faces and sounds of laughter everywhere. Instead of the conservative dress found in other parts of the country, we saw bright colors, short shorts, and high heels. We wondered if the people here were Turkish, as they looked and acted more like Italians. Bozcaada is just a six-hour drive/ferry ride from Istanbul. Every day twenty-five ferries, packed with cars full of men, women and children, come and go from the island. This is what Turkey looks like on holiday.
Bozcaada is a very small island, just 15 square miles with one town, a coastline of beaches, and field after field of grapevines.
There are approximately 2,500 year-round residents and some 10,000 visitors during summer.
Vineyards have existed on the island since antiquity and today occupy one-third of the land. In the 16th century the finest wines in the world were considered to come from this tiny island. Modern winemaking techniques continued the winemaking tradition here creating quality wine and a burgeoning industry. But in 2013, the Turkish government tightened restrictions on wineries halting wine tastings and wine festivals, imposing heavy taxes, even eliminating road signage. One disgruntled winemaker told us that about all he is allowed to do is pay taxes; others are finding ways to continue on.
With the end of summer quickly approaching Bozcaada was crazy busy. Restaurants were packed and there were few moments in the day that you could walk through town without a long line of cars awaiting the arrival of the ferry. Still, Bozcaada had a happy, fun loving vibe.