It’s always about a woman.
In the legendary city of Troy, that’s supposedly what brought on the war between the Trojans and the Greeks. The Greeks wanted to reclaim their queen, Helen, presented as a gift to the young Trojan Paris by the Goddess Aphrodite (I guess even goddesses liked to throw their weight around). This was all in the 13th century BC. Today the remains are a series of partial stone walls, foundations, and piles of ruble that leave much to the imagination. Thank goodness for signs that show what the city would have looked like. But that’s another point – there are nine ancient cities at the site, built one on top of the other. The first was in 3000 BC. Whether or not the Trojan War took place, it’s a fascinating cultural site with a rich history. And if you can’t buy into the legend of the war, you can’t accept the legend of the horse that was given to the Trojans by the Greeks (“beware of Greeks bearing gifts”). Still, like me, you would have climbed the steep stairs of the reproduction horse just to have your picture taken (see photo). Brad Pitt better be glad I was nowhere around when they cast the movie!
This visit to Troy makes me think what future archaeologists might find in the typical American city in the next millennium. What if they look beneath the foundations of our homes, for example? Will they discover remote controls with faded numbers, and set out trying to decipher what we had written on those little plastic buttons? Will they find plastic water bottles, coffee cans and petrified computer parts?
We took the sea road from Troy to Bursa, stopping only for lunch along the way. Bursa is the fifth largest city in Turkey and modern in most parts but with an historic city center. It was to the center of the city we went first to tour the ethnographic museum – lots of old clothing and jewelry worn by Turks from various regions until about 75 years ago.
Our hotel is built over a Turkish Bath (hamam) installed by Ataturk in the early part of the 20th century (follow link on this entry and look at the bottom of the homepage for a picture). The pool is filled with warm, natural mineral water. Our hosts encouraged us to enjoy the bath, so we all descended on it like vultures on prey. The one lone attendant (who spoke not a lick of English) was overwhelmed by these dozen or so Americans coming in at once, all to swim in the pool and get their loofa scrub down and mini-massage (which is the traditional Turkish Bath experience). You have to imagine a large, marble room with a very high ceiling and fountains all around the sides. In one spot by a fountain there is a marble slab about six feet long where customers get the scrubbing of their lives. I was summoned first, and had a captive audience of twelve Americans in the pool eager to see what would happen to me. It was ten minutes of bliss. I was scrubbed, washed, rinsed and massaged, then sent back to the mineral pool. The others couldn’t wait for their turn!
Dinner followed, and the day ended with free wireless Internet!
The gods are smiling on me.
Todd Culpepper is executive director of the International Affairs Council, a Raleigh-based nonprofit focused on international exchange and education. Culpepper was invited by the Turkish Cultural Foundation to participate in a 15-day educational and cultural tour of Turkey, with stops in Istanbul, Edirne, Canakkale, Bursa, Iznik, Ankara, Amasya, Tokat, Sivas, Kayseri, Cappadocia, and Konya. He is traveling with a small group of business, government, and education leaders from across the U.S.
For the Love of a Woman
It’s always about a woman.
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