Friday, 16 August 2013

From Europe to Asia

We rose early this morning, going by taxi at 7 am to the port at Pythagoria.  Had breakfast there, boarded a ferry, and departed Samos at 8.30.  We departed not only Samos, but also Greece and also Europe!  Just across the short stretch of water they call the Mycale Strait is the Republic of Turkey.  While a small portion of Turkey is in Europe, the city of Kusadasi is in Asia.  In fact, the part of Turkey we're in now was, in ancient times, known as Asia Minor.

After a slow chugging ferry journey of almost two hours, we pulled in at the port of Kusadasi.  On the hill behind the port, a large statue looks out to sea.  I guessed correctly it was Attaturk, the venerable father of the modern Turkish state.  When you land at Turkey, you have to pay 10 euros (they don't seem to want Turkish lire) as a port tax (& another 10 when you leave), and, if your nationality is Australian, you have to pay 45 euros each for an entry visa (not happy with amount).  No credit card payment will do.  Cash.  Has to be cash.  Protests about the visa cost and lack of credit card facilities for the payment thereof only fall on deaf ears.

Equally intolerable was the guy in Tourist Information.  He had no idea where our hotel was, and was vague about buses.  He told us, using the same tone of voice, that we could either take a round-trip to Ephesus for 70 euros or a bus for three euros.  (Gosh...should we take a taxi or the bus?). 

We found a little restaurant with free WiFi, and worked out how to reach our hotel.  We ordered an early lunch, consisting of rice pudding and baklava with apple tea.  The waiter was a very nice man, and told us how to say 'thank you' in Turkish.  He asked our nationality.  I told him we were Australian.  I added that we invaded his country in 1915 but we were sorry.  He smiled.

As we wheeled our luggage through the hilly streets of Kusadasi, a mosque blared a cacophonous call to prayer.  Turkey is our second Muslim country on this journey.  Very different from the United Arab Emirates, it is very Western in comparison, a lot poorer (but not too bad), and almost no woman wears head covering.  

Our hotel has a swimming pool, fantastic!  And we've now fixed a guided tour of Ephesus for tomorrow.  For 90 euros, we get an all day guided tour, lunch included.

For me, Turkey is country number 47.

The port at Pythagoria, Samos
Between two worlds: left is Turkey and Asia; right is Samos and Europe
Jean, with Turkey behind
Kusadasi's port
In Kusadasi's port
Attaturk greets all visitors
A mosque in Kusadasi: Friday is prayer day

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