Editor's Note: Women's tennis player Devon Cavanaugh and men's soccer player Nick Stemkowski are traveling to Turkey this summer as part of a summer class at UNC Asheville. The two of them will be sending blogs throughout their time there. Today is their second blog.
I greet you now in Athens, Greece, the capital city. When I last posted, I was about to see the ancient city of Troy in Turkey. Well, it was beautiful. Troy overlooks 60 miles of flat farm land that used to be the sea. The major river of the area gradually filled the port with silt creating rich soil, perfect for farming. Troy, or more commonly known as Troia in Turkey, is now a famous archaeological site where the nine layers of the city are excavated.
After visiting Canakale, we left for Kusadasi, stopping at the ancient city of Pergamon on the way. While there, we saw the Asklepion, one of the first "hospitals" in the world. At the Asklepion, there was a library, theater, and sleeping room, where patients would receive diagnoses from the gods. We also visited the acropolis of the city, located on the top of the highest hill in the area. We had to take the equivalent of a ski lift in order to reach the top; each enclosed car held eight people. At the top we visited the Temple of Trajan, the remains of the Temple of Zeus, and the steepest outdoor amphitheatre in the world. I was petrified to walk down the stairs of the theatre, but a few people in my group eased my tension by walking to the bottom and serenading me with a Greek song. The last thing we did before leaving Pergamum was visit the Red Basilica, which is the largest red brick building in the world (unfortunately, there is not much left standing). We finished our day trip early and made it to Kusadasi before dark.
We were all so excited to finally get to Kusadasi because a) we were finally staying on the sea, and b) we finally got to ditch the bus. Kusadasi was my favorite city in Turkey. Foreign tourists visit Kusadasi to see Miletus and Ephesus; Turkish tourists visit to vacation on the beach. We went to Miletus early in the morning and visited the theater and the Roman bath. We went on a tour of Ephesus later in the day and were treated to the most well preserved archaeological site we had seen thus far. We walked on marble roads throughout the city, through ancient market places, temples, and monuments and visited the famous library and theater. Our tour guide mentioned that until recently, the theater was still in use and he had in fact seen Elton John perform there!
After our bus broke down twice leaving Ephesus, we finally made it to the olive oil museum and were treated to a wine and olive oil tasting. It was magnificent! The museum took us on a tour of olive oil production through the ages and the sample products were delicious (the wine was more than good too). After our snack, we headed on to our Turkish bath adventure where we stripped down to our swim suits and were massaged and soaped by hairy Turkish men with towels wrapped around them (it was quite an experience to say the least). All in all, it was very relaxing and cleansing.
Leaving Kusadasi was hard, but after taking a ferry and reaching Samos, a Greek island, I was overcome with happiness. Our hotel was quaint and right off the water-front with numerous beaches in the area. Because we were only staying in Samos one night, our professors decided to give us a free day. I spent this taking a long run, renting a bike and exploring the island, and laying out on the beach for a few hours. It was exactly what I needed. I swore to my mother when I called that I would return to this island on my honeymoon some day. If I thought leaving Kusadasi was hard, leaving Samos was ten times harder.
I've been in Athens now for two days. We arrived after a ten hour ferry ride but it was worth it. We have been staying at a hotel with a view of the Acropolis. Yesterday, we toured the Agora of Ancient Athens (the marketplace/town square) and the Acropolis. I was blown away by the Acropolis. The Parthenon is huge; you do not understand how big it is until you are standing right next to it.
Today, we visited the Acropolis Museum and saw all the decorations that used to adorn the three temples of the Acropolis. The decoration that still remains is stunning, but it was disappointing that most of the pieces were replicas and the originals had been either stolen by other countries or destroyed by ancient Christians and Muslims.
Tomorrow morning we will wake up early and travel five hours to Karpenisi, the sister city of Asheville, which is located in the mountains of Greece. I'm stoked for the six-mile hike we are taking.
αντίο (that means goodbye!)