A Trip Down Memory Lane - Traveler Tales from Turkey and Beyond

Dick & Betty Podol|September 20, 2009|Blog Post

In 1960-61 we both separately joined the Foreign Service/USAID and our first assignments were to Ankara, Turkey. In the spring of 1961, we became acquainted on a trip to Goreme/Cappadocia. As kismet would have it we fell in love and were married in Ankara in 5/62 and our two children were born there. Before departing in 4/65 we visited an antique store in Izmir and bought 3-4 pieces of "old pottery." Also, we visited Bodrum and at a Turkish tea house, we bought two amphorae that the local fisherman had brought up in their nets. We had two children so of course, we had to buy two!! Their janitor's closet was full of amphorae. NOTE: in 1965 it was still "legal" to take these items out of Turkey and bring them into the USA.

So in September 2009 to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of our first trip to Turkey we joined Zegraham's Circumnavigation of the Black Sea cruise, as well as the Cappadocia Post-voyage extension.

Off to Istanbul for a little sightseeing before boarding Le Levant on our voyage around the Black Sea. We lived in Turkey during the Cold War so the Black Sea was off limits to us as Diplomats. One thing we had heard then was that the U.S. had submarines based in Turkey. So on arrival at our first stop in Bartin, our guides showed us where they were based. Our four Turkish guides were great and we enjoyed using our rusty, but basic Turkish with them.

Allan Langdale, one of the lecturers on board, was the specialist in Roman/Greek art. He so kindly joined us for dinner and looked at the photos of our pieces of pottery we purchased in 1965. After looking at one photo of a small black pot he immediately told us age, use, and what culture it came from. Exactly what we had been told by a Smithsonian Museum expert! At our stop in Histria, Romania he walked with us through the museum showing us pieces similar to what we owned.

After disembarking in Istanbul we flew to Ankara. A great lunch in the old city and then a tour of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Hakkan, our guide, introduced us to his university professor who was the supervisor at the museum. She too gave us information about our pottery pieces.

In the afternoon we left the group to go on our own tour down Memory Lane. We hired a car and driver and revisited the apartments where we had lived almost 50 years before our old USAID offices, and the Italian Embassy chapel where we were married. In the evening we had dinner with our best man and his wife—still friends after 50 years.

The next morning we were off to Cappadocia with a stop first in Hattusha, the Hittite kingdom. In Goreme, so many new caves had been discovered or opened to tourists. Downside—too many tourists. Kayseri was a historical and picturesque city. A visit to their small, but very interesting museum, was again led by Hakkan and he pointed our pieces similar to ours.

On returning to Istanbul we had our farewell lunch at the Hamdi restaurant near the Spice Bazaar. With help from our Turkish dictionary, we were able to give a toast, in Turkish to thank Hakkan and Zegrahm for a wonderful, nostalgic, trip down memory lane. As Mastercard likes to say, "The memories are priceless."

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