Sunday, October 21, 2007

Greek and Roman ruins up to here!

Today began overcast and wet after last night's heavy rains, but we decided to trek the 3.5 miles up the hill to the ruins of Greek and Roman temples and towns and along the way Kevin jumped back as he almost stepped on our unexpected walking companion! This one was easy to get rid of as he was equally scared by our presence and quickly slithered away. Much to Kevin's dismay, our other walking companion, a young kitten, was not dissuaded from our company so easily and he had to spend much of the early hour of our walk shooing her away from his pant legs. Here are some sights from the ruins of the ancient (1500 to 2500 years old) city and temples on the hill top in Bergama, Turkey.
Kevin's goddess?

These last couple of days we have seen perfect blue skies and never-ending rain and everything in between as we have traveled along the western coast of Turkey. The riding has been amazing as we have often found ourselves alone for miles upon miles of great paved roads or smaller dusty mountain roads mostly under blue skies and a very pleasant 70 degrees F. The Turkish people continue to charm us with their smiles and friendly demeanor, but much to our dismay we have noticed more and more trash and our hotels have once again began to promise hot water which never seems to materialize!

It is a bit mind-boggling to visit ruins of temples and cities that were once thriving centers of culture, religion and politics of some of the most advanced civilizations known to humanity from thousands of years ago, yet see all around these ruins the trash and pollution left behind by modern man. The contrast is stark: beautiful white marble columns, not-so-beautiful plastic water bottles. In addition, one sees ancient properly planned water and sewer systems adjacent to 'modern' cities with sewage thrown into, or spilling into rivers and streams. How far ahead is mankind? It is easy to imagine a wonderful night out at the Greek Amphitheater, the stars, mountains and sea stretched out before you as you enjoy the latest comedy or tragedy. Today however, these modern cities have no communal arts center, and the views if they were outside would all too often be choked off by pollution.

The Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism publishes some very nice guides for the country's top tourist destinations and in the end they dedicate a page to explaining why our cultural heritage is fragile and what we can do to protect it and ensure that "future generations may have the opportunities to enjoy [it]." The thing is, we have to teach people to protect the environment as well! One thing I know about the effect that this trip is having on me is that it is making me a much "greener" individual, and I don't mean to say that I'm getting any younger! (I wish!!!!)