Category Archives: World Travel

Seafood in Canakkale

Canakkale, Turkey – Part 2 – Worth a Visit

Canakkale is bustling, even in the off season. I would actually hate to see it during the peak tourist times, although most backpackers would probably enjoy it.

My introduction to this was at http://www.vagobond.com/canakkale-turkey-gateway-gallipolli-ancient-troy/ – Just in case you missed it.

I tend to shy away from tourist places in the high season because I don’t like crowds, pyramid in TurkeyI like the locals, and I tend to think that tourist towns are like magnets for all the worst types of people this ugly world produces from drug addicts to terrorists to plain old assholes. But during the off season, I do like to see the pretty places- and most touristy spots are pretty. Canakkale is no exception.

Canakkale Trojan HorseFrom the promenade with it’s nighttime lights, cheap stuffed mussels, and big, fake, Hollywood Trojan Horse to the pretty little cobble
stoned backstreets. It’s a nice town.

We found a great little place to get fresh fish grilled and delicious in the back streets.Seafood in Canakkale I don’t suppose I’ll be going back anytime soon so I’ll share the secret with you. On the road between the dolmus station and the ferry road, there is a tiny little place run by a very nice family. Clean, fresh, and delicious. It’s called Okyanus Balick Calick. Normally, I don’t eat anywhere with anus in the name, but in this case, it was delicious.

There are a number of little monuments in the town. cannon in canakkaleSome old cannons from the Dardanelles battles and a strange ceramic something that is just sort of strange. Of course, as everywhere in Turkey there are no shortage of monuments to Attaturk and the heroes of the Turkish Republic. An Ottoman clock tower somehow seems out of place.

In stark contrast to Manisa, there are a lot of places to quaff a beer in Canakkale. Lucky for me there are plenty of places for shopping too, so I was able to sit in a small cafe/bar for an afternoon listening to jazz and having adult beverages while Hanane shopped. Bliss. I’m very much a Turkish sort of Muslim, my wife on the other hand, well, she doesn’t approve. The difference between Moroccan and Turkish again.

Another difference is the Hammam. After nearly four months here, I finally made a trip to Turkish Hammam while in Canakkale. I went for the full massage at Yali Hammam. As compared with the Hammam in Morocco ( see this post: http://www.vagobond.com/the-hamaam-morocco/ ) I was surprised to find that it was….empty.

The advent of modern bathrooms and hot water in nearly every house has made Hammam a thing of the past in Turkey whereas in Morocco it is still a necessity. I miss going to the Hammam in the Casbah of Sefrou, the social nature of seeing the same guys in the morning, then seeing them through the day. It was nice.
Hammam in Canakkale
Don’t get me wrong, the Turkish Hammam was fancy with marble basins and a heated center platform for massage plus a closed sauna room inside the main hammam. There were private locker rooms to leave your things in and you could lock the rooms. The massage was good, done by a big serious bald fat man.

The expense, well 35 lira in total (just 10 lira for the hammam alone). Pretty cheap when you consider a full bath, massage, and steam room for 17.5 Euros but when you compare it with 3.5 Euros (35 MAD but just 10 dirhams for the hammam alone) in the casbah, well, it starts to seem expensive. In fact though, both are a bargain. If I were to choose though, I preferred the one in the casbah.

Of course there is plenty more to see and do in Canakkale. A military museum, a castle, fishermen, the strange pyramid, the Nusrat Minelayer, the Korfmann Library and more, but I’ll leave those treasures for you to discover.

Oh, one last suggestion though…make sure to try the peynir helvas. It’s sweet, baked, and delicious with strong tea or Turkish coffee.

Coming soon: Gokceada Island: The Organic Turkish Island
Troy: City of Legends
Gallipolli and the Gellibollu Peninsula
Eceabat, Turkey
and much more…

Take time to sleep on the watermelons

World Travel without Moving

Some of you may have noticed that I’m currently not doing a lot of exotic travel. In fact, that’s okay. Sometimes you have to sit in a place in order to understand things better.

Lao Tzu said that “Without opening your door, you can see the world” and he said it way before Google Street View or virtual travel were even a remote possibility. What he meant by this can be argued from quite a few different directions, but what I’ve always thought he was saying was that sometimes it’s important to sit still in one place and stop endlessly rushing from one place to another. Watch the seasons change, see the way people live.

I like to think of the Tao Te Ching as a sort of Vagabond Bible. I first discovered it while I was hitching across the Southwest USA in 1997. Sitting by the side of the road, watching cars pass by, the words spoke to me. The idea of wu wei especially resonated…this idea of do nothingness. So I sat and I waited and I watched some deer come and drink from the Colorado river. I watched a gorgeous sunset. Then a big RV came along and two very kind old people offered me a lift, a sandwich, and a beer. Imagine if I would have just walked to pass the time. Maybe I would have seen something else, or maybe I would have just worn myself out walking and gotten pissed off that no one picked me up. Either way, I’m glad I stayed put and did nothing for a while.
Take time to sleep on the watermelons

And that is sort of what I am doing now. I’m in Manisa, Turkey. Making friends, working, navigating the bureaucracy to get a residence permit so I can stay legally for a while, and learning as I go.

So, to those of you who want to see new travel adventures every day, I’m afraid you might be a bit disappointed.

However, instead, I am going to continue to share my past adventures, find great travel gear and services to recommend such as the World Nomads Travel Insurance (it’s cheap, reliable, and worth every penny- just click on the ad above and have a peek at how much they offer you-Travel insurance from Worldnomads.com) , continue to write about great vagabonds of the past, and share the hard won travel tips and travel advice which I’ve picked up along the way (hopefully you caught the important piece of advice above, if not, be sure to reread the part about wu wei.

And, of course, I am going to write about life here in Turkey, my small adventures in Manisa and the surroundings, and probably a bunch of other things as well.

I just felt like it is important to let you guys know about it. If you are taking any great travels and want to share them with readers at Vagobond, please just use the submit travel news or stories button and let me know about them so I can share them.

Got any great travel stories?

Trojan War Site

Visiting Ancient Troy – Trojan Horse and All

Troy. The ancient city of legends. Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman to ever live. The Trojan Horse. Achilles. Hector. Immortalized by Homer in the Iliad. Troy.

It’s a funny thing. Just about everyone I talked to said to skip Troy. Even my wife’s Lonely Planet said to skip it since there wasn’t much to see there. Not a chance that was going to happen.Trojan War Site I like that Homer was from Izmir. I remember first reading the Iliad during high school detention (I know I was supposed to be sleeping or something). Here I was at last coming to the real life place. I didn’t particularly care if it was boring.

In fact, it wasn’t. It was remarkable. Maybe those other people simply lacked the imagination to recognize that Troy (Troia) was perhaps the most important city in the history of Western Civilization. Not just a city that bridged two continents and connected world trade routes, but a city with more than 5000 years of history behind it. Troia, TurkeyThis ancient city that inspired horrible wars and to some extent led to the atrocities of the 20th century.

From where does the name Paris derive? From Troy. The first judge of the first beauty pageant between Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena was named Paris. Athena takes the golden apple prize and gives Paris access to the already married and incredibly hot Helen, then of Sparta. Paris steals her and she becomes Helen of Troy. A ten year war results because her husband wants her back and Agamemnon, the King of Sparta wants Troy. Canakkale Trojan Horse

Great warriors – Hector, Achilles, Odysseus- and then the famous Trojan Horse. The Spartans leave and sail away leaving the giant Trojan Horse as an offering to the Gods. The plainly idiotic Trojans bring the horse inside and have a party. Later, the Spartans hidden in the horse come out after everyone is drunk, light the horse on fire as a signal to the departing ships to return and they open the gates. Rape, pillage, and plunder follow.

Turkish Ruins - Troia - TroyHow does that make Troy significant? Well, the Trojan Horse is certainly a part of modern language. Both as a gift that has undesired consequences and as a computer virus, but that’s not what I ‘m talking about.

Instead, it is the significance of the story.

No story in our culture, with the possible exception of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Koran have inspired writers and painters over the centuries more than the Trojan War. It was the fundamental narrative in Greek education. The war has been interpreted as a heroic tragedy, as a fanciful romance, as a satire against warfare, as a love story, as a passionately anti-war tale, and more. The Romans also adopted the story. Chaucer’s and Shakespeare’s treatments of the story of Troilus and Cressida are just two examples. Modern writers who have drawn on the literary tradition of this ancient cycle of stories include Sartre (The Flies), O’Neill (Mourning Becomes Electra), Giradoux (Tiger at the Gates), Joyce (Ulysses), Eliot, Auden, and many others.

It is these stories that have shaped our culture and the world we live in.Ruins of Troy Early European countries all traced their ancestry back to Troy. Western Europe defined itself by the legacy of the Romans and Greeks which largely was transmitted through the stories of Homer and Virgil (and thus through the stories of Troye.) Look at the architecture of post dark-age Europe, of the United States, and of the entire ‘Western World’ and you will see that it was inspired by Greek and Roman thought. Indeed, the very nature of our society was also inspired by these civilizations and more than you would think by the ideas brought forth by Homer in his stories of the Trojan War. This is Troy. Even the brutal crusades used the sacking of Troy as justification for their barbarism, as did Sultan Mehmet who retook the city in 1462.
Troy - Duel between Hector and Achilles
Now, knowing that, could there be anything less dull than walking over the ground where these events actually took place? Sure, it’s not as well preserved as Ephesus. It’s not as archeologically significant as some other places, but it is Troy. The one and only.

Add to that the fact that it was Troy where modern archeology was born when Heinrich Schlieman, a treasure hunter, decided to find the treasures of Troye in 1871. Schlieman destroyed far more than he found, but he did find his golden treasure and Troy. Discovery of TroyHis big trenches still show how he dug through the remains of eight distinct cities to find his priceless artifacts.

Troy - Temple of AthenaTo stand upon the Temple of Athena or to be at the famous Skaean Gate where Hector and Achillesfought their duel. These are the amazing moments of travel.

And to make things better, there was almost no one there. Troy's Trojan HorseHanane liked the stories when I told them to her, but she stayed busy watching squirrels and gathering almonds from the neglected trees that grow on the ancient and crumbling walls of Troy. We also enjoyed the big Trojan Horse fort, though as the Lonely Planet humorously pointed out, the original probably didn’t have windows. The one along the seashore is probably more like what the original was.

Troy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and admission was 15 Lira each. Getting a dolmus there and back was six Lira each. You can catch the Dolmus under the bridge in Canakkale, it leaves when it is full. On the way back we stopped at the Archeology Museum in Canakkale which I will write about in a post of it’s own since it was well worth the time.

 

If you are looking for a place to stay in Troy, it’s just a ruin, but there are plenty of options in nearby Cannakale and in Eceabat on the Galipolli Peninsula