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Turkey, May 2009
We had a great time walking around Istanbul, hiking in the unusual rock formations of the Cappodocia region and driving the Mediterranean coast from Izmir to Antalya. Greek, Roman, Selchuk, Byzantium, and Ottoman ruins, ancient cities, beautiful scenery with mountains flowing into deep blue water, and friendly people!
and $7 per gallon gas!!! Except for the gas, prices were very reasonable. During the many times we found ourselves lost as we were driving in the cities, inevitably, someone would stop and help us find our way! Having the freedom of a car allowed us to see much more than a bus tour.

We also cruised the Bosphorus from Istanbul to the Black Sea, straddling the line between Europe and Asia. As we travelled across the country, it is very evident how this region was the "cross roads" of civilization for 1,000 years. The Ottomans ruled a big part of eastern europe and the Middle east for a long time. Their downfall came when they did not keep up with the European scientific advances during the 1800's and the empire started to crumble, especially in the Balkan area. Also, the europeans started to covet the energy resources found in the Middle East. After World War I, the allies carved up the empire until Mustfa Kamal, the Turkish General from the Gallipoli battle, reunited the country and formed the present day Turkey as a secular democracy. He renamed himself Ataturk. He is very revered in Turkey.