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A Serendipity Trip On The Aegean Coast

When speaking about the Aegean Sea coast, it means from the mouth of the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles south to where the Aegean enters the Mediterranean, just a short distance south of Bodrum

When speaking about the Aegean Sea coast, it means from the mouth of the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles south to where the Aegean enters the Mediterranean, just a short distance south of Bodrum. Traveling to the mouth of the Marmara, a fascinating city known as Bursa should be a must stop. It was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire and is filled with early buildings from that era, the 14th century. Nestling under the slopes of Mt. Uludag, a favorite ski resort in winter and a great hiking area in summer, Bursa is filled with spas as well as history. And you can’t do better than check out its famed towels and other textiles.

Canakkale and Gelibolu

From there one needs to visit Canakkale and especially Gelibolu, with its war memorial to the tens of thousands of Allied troops and Turks who died in World War I when the former attacked in order to secure the entrance to the Marmara and approach to Istanbul. The Turks won but paid a heavy price.

The next stop is Troy, the ancient site that is known around the world because of the Greek poet Homer’s Iliad. Unfortunately, it’s an archaeological excavation and not some truly splendid re-creation of what Homer’s Troy might have looked like. There is, however, a reproduction of what people think the Trojan horse might have looked like.

Assos and Pergama

Continuing south towards Izmir, the sites to visit are numerous, and of these Assos and Pergama stand out.

Izmir is the largest city on the Aegean coast. It was destroyed by fire during the War of Independence as the Greeks were in retreat before the victorious Turkish soldiers. It is basically a modern city with a nice promenade along the waterfront and thrives as a center from which tourists can spread out north and south along the shore.

Aphrodisias and Ephesus

Continuing south, there are two major archaeological sites – Aphrodisias and Ephesus. They are monumental in scale and with a guide readily understandable. The Koc family of industrial fame has been instrumental in raising money for a large museum at Aphrodisias, and the Turkish Association of Travel Agents (TURSAB) has just donated money to provide lighting at Ephesus. Of course while at Ephesus, people usually visit the house of Meryem Ana or Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is supposed to have spent the last years of her life there.

Marmaris and Kusadasi

Along the way are two splendid touristic centers – Marmaris and Kusadasi. They are sunny spots to unwind in one of the many hotels, and both also serve as centers for yachting with their extensive marinas.

Driving onwards, to reach Bodrum you need to go inland and pass through Mugla, another very interesting town with a long history of carpet weaving and restored old houses that give one a sense of what it was like in previous centuries in such a centrally located place.

Bodrum and Mugla

From there it’s a winding road over some hills until suddenly the sea is again in front of you, shimmering with sunshine and below the city of Bodrum. The huge fortress is on the left and hotels, homes and housing complexes spread out on either side. Down the hill and in front are shady trees, a restaurant-lined main street, small hotels, big hotels – some of which are located above the town such as The Marmara Bodrum – and yacht marinas as far as the eye can see. There’s shopping in town and discos at night. The once peaceful, sleepy Bodrum jives today. But from there you can take off on a Blue Voyage cruise and enjoy the rest you surely deserve.

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