Day 4 – Troy and Assoss

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I awoke to a loud banging on the old wooden door of the Karavansay hotel room where we as staying in Canakkale. It sounded like someone was desperate to get in or perhaps they were using the door as a set of drums. However as I lay there momentarily contemplating whether to drag myself from my slumber and find the cause of the commotion I heard a second sound. This one was high pitched and full of devious humour. As I continued to listen I heard the source of the noises shift in the corridor outside and the sound was repeated just a little further down it - a rumble of loud thundering on the door, followed by two sing-song giggles. Then again it happened even further away but now I also detected the sound of bare little feet padding quickly across the wooden floor. I checked the time make sure I'd not unwittingly overslept and seeing that it was only 6.30am, I replaced my head on the pillow.

The two children who were racing up and down the corridor outside made one further round of the doors before a sonorous voice called to them in a loud whisper and there was silence. Before closing my eyes again I noted the Callum had not even flinched a muscle and remained fast asleep.

Then a few minutes later I was awoke a second time by what I thought might be a repeat performance as the wall I was sleeping next to vibrated. Later however Tim explained that it had been a small earthquake (another tick on the bucket list!). We'd seen information in Istanbul about what to do in an earthquake (Istanbul is right at the point where continental Europe meets continental Asia so is prone to them. It basically said - hide under the table and don't let it go. Then get out of the building! Tim explained that Istanbul is expecting another large quake after the big one in the late 90's. Glad we didn't know that then! The small one we felt in Canakkale was actually good as it relieves the pressure. Callum slept through that too!

20130730-175435.jpgApart from our unusual early alarm call however today was a lazy start. We made our way down to breakfast at about 9.15 and met Tim in the courtyard breakfast area at just after 10. We are now starting our tour of the more ancient history of Turkey and this morning we start with the main location of Homer's Illiad and Odessy; Troy. The old city of Troy is about 30 mins drive from Canakkale but our visit starts with a short walk along the beach to a spot where the Trojan Horse, from the film Troy starring Brad Pitt among others, is located.

Tim also tells us the main story of the Illiad which is well known but mainly as a reminder to myself here it is; The king of Troy was told that his son would bring the end to the kingdom and so to prevent this fate he has all his baby sons killed at birth. However one is saved by his mother and given to be a shepherd to protect him. His name is Paris. He grows up and becomes well known to be objective and of sound judgement. Later the Greek Gods are having a party and all are invited except the Goddess of jealousy. To get her revenge she send a golden apple to the party 'for the most beautiful of all the Goddesses'.

There are 3 at the party and they argue over who is the most beautiful. Zeus refuses to get involved but says that he knows of a just man, named Paris, who can judge. Each of the Goddesses try to bribe Paris with gifts such as being the ruler of all Asia but Paris chooses Aphrodite, the Goddess of love (who promised to make the most beautiful woman in the world love Paris). Paris returns to Troy but is accepted by his father and become part of the royal household. Later he is sent to take a message the Greek king Agamemnon and he realises that the Kings wife is the most beautiful woman on earth and true to her word Aphrodite makes Helen fall in love with Paris and they escape together back to Troy.

20130730-234552.jpgThe Greeks make chase and lay seige to Troy but are unable to break through the Trojan defences so eventually the Greeks hatch a plan. They build the horse, hide some soldiers inside and then sail away - apparently giving up. But of course when the Trojans pulled the horse inside, the Greeks soldiers lit beacons to tell the fleet who were actually just in a bay nearby that they were in and opened the gate so Troy fell. Apparently some of the Trojan royal family escaped to the mountain of Ida where Zeus protected them until they could sale away and according to the tradition they landed in Rome and became the ancestors to the Romans. When we arrived in Troy there was another Trojan Horse. This one less ornate than the one from the film but it had the advantage that you could climb into it.

There is a saying that Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun and this is a little how it felt. The sun was very hot and beat incessantly. Even Tim was wearing a hat and we trudged (happily but tired from the heat) from shade to shade. However we saw some very old ruins, some stretching back 2500 years. The best preserved of the site what the small theatre. This as not even the main theatre which is yet to be excavated.

20130730-234336.jpg Then we traveled to Assoss, a charming village right at the edge of the turquoise Aegean Sea, opposite the Greek island of Lesvos. We had a relaxing afternoon, lunch at the harbour (grilled Sea Bass) looking out over the small boats moored in the small rock enclosed port, a dip in the Aegean Sea (one to tick off the list - cold but very clear - and then piggy in the middle in the beautiful outdoor pool (we had it to ourselves but not sure if we scared everyone else - the rules of the pool included 'no noise'.....oops). Finally we had an ice cream and climbed back into the van for a trip to the Assoss Acropolis which sits atop the hill overlooking the modern village of the same name. We climb and see the the huge amphitheatre (huge for that time, it was Roman build and probably held around 5000). Then it was up to the Acropolis where we stayed until the sun fell behind the mountains to the north so we could get to see the wonderful orange, mauve sunset.

Then, on a bit of a whim, we opted to climb down from the Acropolis rather than go back round the roads. It took us a while with a few back-tracks and it was dark when we eventually reached the gate at the bottom. On the way up Tom had haggled for a wooden scimitar and he wielded it as he made his way down the last few rocky pathways (on my back!). He obviously enjoyed it though as he said 'this is one of my best ever holiday!). Praise indeed!