The Long Haul: Alexandroupoli, Troy, Istanbul
We left Alexandroupoli early this morning. By 9:30 we had cleared the border with Turkey and said goodbye to our Greek guide and driver. We began the long trek to Troy and then on to Istanbul. Although the terrain did not change dramatically, the countryside did. Among other things, churches gave way to mosques and minarets.
The trip to Troy took us down the Gallipoli peninsula where we had to take a ferry ride across the Dardanelles or Hellespont. Along the way we began to notice the crowds of English speaking tourists were actually Australians and New Zealanders visiting Gallipoli for Anzac Day two days from now.
Once on the ferry we made the 20 min. trip from Europe to Asia and drove on to Troy on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles where the strait meets the Aegean. The site of Troy was as fascinating for the way it was discovered and excavated as it was for its multi-layered levels of ancient remains. The guide also observed that Paul left for Philippi by sailing from Troas a short distance south of the ancient site of Troy.
We still had a long way to go to make it to Istanbul, though, so we left after a short visit and caught another ferry back to the European side of the Dardanelles. The potential for disaster struck before we ever got off Gallipoli. We took a short bathroom break and the driver discovered engine problems. Fortunately we were at a relatively comfortable Turkish truck stop, it was a beautiful clear day, and we only had to wait about 45 min. while a mechanic came and resolved the problem. (A leaking radiator hose, we were told, or something to that effect.)
By this time we were too late to make it to Istanbul in time for supper. Our guide made impromptu plans for us to try köfte (a sort of Turkish meatball, although that description does not do it justice) at a restaurant in Tekirdaǧ right on the northern shore of the Sea of Marmara. It was a place frequented more by Turks than tourists, and it was easily one of the most enjoyable and unique dinners we have had yet.
We arrived in Istanbul late. This post will be short. Tomorrow will be the last day or touring, but we have saved one of the grandest sites for last, the Hagia Sophia. Next post tomorrow evening or the following morning from the airport.