Turkey’s beauty is punctuated with many landscapes — snow-topped mountains, miles of golden sandy coastline, lush green valleys, and for contrast, some dessert-like areas. She is also one of only seven countries in the world producing more foods than her people consume. Located between Asia and Europe, she is bordered by Greece, Bulgaria, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Georgia and Armenia. She has 430 inland lakes, and her shores front the Black and Aegean Seas as well as the Mediterranean. This positioning gives Turkey great climates, soils and abundant seashores.
With her varied climates, she manages to grow tea in her cool north, hot peppers and melons in her south, and her vast shores yield boundless fish and shellfish. Cultural exchanges with neighbors mix her wealth with Greek wines, Persian sweets, sugar and rice and traveling nomads’ offerings of shish-kebabs, flatbreads and yogurt. Add olives, fruits, nuts and pungent spices from the days of the old Spice Road, and you find some exciting eating!
Tourists are just beginning to appreciate Turkey. So, it is little wonder Holland America’s Prinsendam brought many eager visitors to Turkey’s port of Kusadasi in the fall of 2004. They were eager to visit Ephesus, one of the most magnificent archeological site in the entire Aegean region. This is where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her last days. Also, on this site are the ruins of the Temple of Diana, as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
(Kusadasi is popular with well-to-do, European, seasonal residents. Her well-filled marina proves this. The busy bazaar elevates shopping to an exciting verbal duel. The Turks delight in bargaining for their expensive, hand-woven, double-knotted carpets, jewelry, brassware, leatherwear, dishes and statues. In some instances, they will even do a certain amount of shopping for you. Visitors are also no strangers to Kusadasi’s public baths and nearby beaches.
It’s not easy to avoid ambling into a waterside restaurant close by the Aegean Sea. Just as you enter, you’re apt to find iced display cases of fresh-caught fish. Effficient, professional waiters are very intuitive. Besides seafood, lamb is the most popular meat with beef and chicken distant second. Typical sides includes yogurt, salads, fish in olive oil, stuffed vegetables, lemon and egg yoke sauces and stuffed vine leaves. Desserts abound. In addition to highly-favored Baklava, find sophisticated pastries with mysterious names like: Twisted Turban, Sultan, Lady’s Naval and Nightingale’s Nest. Turkish coffee is powder-like in grind, strong and frequently spiced with cardamom.
When sauntering back to the Prinsendam, you will have opportunities to buy some Turkish staples from your Kasadasi visit: boxes of Apple Tea (which you can re-order over the web), tiny crates of ancient spices from the days of the Spice Road and boxes of Turkish Delight, tasty jellied candies filled with pistachio nuts and dredged in sweet, powdery sugar.
It’s a good time!