Press Pass

David Plays in "Trojan Horse"
TROY, Turkey
May 21, 2011

I had entirely forgotten about the destination until Greg and I happened to catch each other on-line.

"You're still in Turkey?", my brother back in Seattle typed. "Have you been to Troy yet?"

"I read a book about the Trojans when I was in ninth grade," Greg continued on. "Since then I've always wanted to see Troy with my own eyes."

Irina and I had already decided that our next leg would be a night train to Plovdiv, Bulgaria. But, all of a sudden, I was reminded that Troy was nearby--and vaguely in the same direction in which we were continuing along. A detour sounded too compelling to pass up.

I turned to Irina. "Hey! Do you want to go to Troy? I think it's on our way out of Istanbul."

"Why not!", she responded immediately.

I wasn't surprised by her quick agreement. Irina studied Latin for several years as a teenager. Classically educated people would also be into visiting Troy, wouldn't they?

Hookah Session in Troy
And so we came here to see the relics of this ancient city. A bus out of Istanbul connected with a boat to ferry us across the Dardanelles. Last night, we stayed in Çanakkale, the city nearest to both Troy and to the battlefields of Gallipoli. I enjoyed our time in Çanakkale not just for its location as base to Troy but for its own character. It's a small city along the Aegean Sea lined with cafes and outdoor bars that overlook the water. Lots of people stay out late into the night, walking along the promenade.

This morning, we took a local minibus to Troy. At the entrance gate I learnt that Irina is craftier than I am. She got in for free by waving a press pass. I paid 15 Turkish lira ($10 USD). Her card was bona fide: she does pen the occasional article for a UN publication. But, what I really wondered was why I never thought of that angle. A press pass yields free admission to museums, antiquities, and most any attraction that tourists pay to visit. I'll have to contemplate getting some kind of credentials...

We walked a circuit around the excavated areas. The remains, by-and-large, left more to the imagination than they conjured up gods, legends, and battlefields. We did step somewhat off the beaten path to an ancient "water cave". We paused there less out of archaelogical curiosity and more because it was the perfect location to break out the hookah pipe. A small bench set beneath fig boughs overlooked a frog pond. Smoking double-apple flavored tobacco amongst the antiquities was reminiscent of my recent visit to Persepolis. I've decided that firing up the hookah each time I visit an archaelogical site will have to become a requirement of my future travels.

Aegean Sea
We've returned to Çanakkale in plenty of time to catch a lovely sunset. The lunch we had packed off with us (but not eaten) at Troy turned into supper. Seated along the wharf, multi-grain bread, ricotta cheese, tapenade, tomatoes, and sausages were all washed down with a bottle of yoghurty ayran. To conclude the night, several rounds of beer at various bars along the waterfront kept us out late.

The night isn't over, yet. We're still killing time. We have a 3:00 AM departure to Edirne, a town near the Bulgarian border.

Next stop: Plovdiv, Bulgaria.