Strangers in the night

Bergama Travel Blog

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Sarcophagus outside the Red Basilica at Bergama

People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

The Truva bus pulled up on the side of the motorway in pitch blackness and pouring rain, why were we stopping? The attendant told us that this was Bergama and that we had to get off the bus - oh, thats why. Now i may not be a genius, but i am no clown either, and i am smart enough to realise that this wasn't a village, let alone a town, there wasn't even a house in sight! But what could we do? Our bags were already been placed on the sodden ground so we had to quickly pick them up and work out what to do.

We crossed the unlit six lane highway and when we got to the other side saw what we could only assume was the new bus station. The problem was that there were barely any lights on, no people there and not a sign of any transport to run us into the centre.

Colourful old houses in Bergama
There was also a barbed wire fence running around the parking zone, so we couldn't get into the area from this side, even if we wanted to. Several expletives began slipping from my mouth, especially as we had paid so much for the ticket, only to end up stranded a long way from where we had asked to go!

With no other option we began traipsing our way along the side of the motorway, wishfully sticking our thumb out to any passing vehicle, in the hope that they might pick up two drowned rats. After ten minutes or so a large truck skidded to a halt and we rushed to the cabin to make sure that we could get a ride. Normally i would never get into a strange vehicle in the middle of the night, but we were left with no other option other than to walk for several hours on an unlit motorway, which was hardly a safe alternative.
Defensive Walls at the Acropolis in Bergama


Luckily the driver turned out to be a very kind man and as he spoke a little bit of English and also some German, we managed to talk to him a teeny bit. To our surprise he used a Russian word and said he could also speak some Russian, so Julia struck up conversation with him, which was really nice. He took us as far as the outskirts of the City and dropped us there, with the offer of taking us to Ankara the following day, which we sadly had to decline.

With the help of a shop owner, we caught the correct dolmush to Athena Pension, which is located in a restored Ottoman House. The owner Aydin was very friendly and helpful and put us in an en-suite room for only 30YTL ($19), which was a really good price.
Building in the Middle City of the Acropolis at Bergama
We had air-con, electric blanket and he also brought us loads of extra blankets and we also had free wi-fi in our room. On top of this he gave us some useful tips on where we could enter the ruins the following day, which may save us some money - nudge nudge, wink wink. We left our bags next to the warm fire in the communal area to dry off a bit and went to eat Pide in a nearby restaurant before returning home to bed.

Friday the thirteenth, unlucky for some. This was certainly the case for anyone wanting to go and see Bergama's ruins, as it was raining cats and dogs when we left the Hotel. In the time it took us to walk 200m we were soaked, so went and sat in Azur Pide and Corba salon and ordered a mixed Pide for 4YTL ($2.50). This was the best Pide i had ever eaten, it was simply delicious and there were even views of the Acropolis from the upstairs seating area.
Remains at the Acropolis in Bergama
We savored the food and played a game of Ludo and as chance would have it, the rain had stopped by the time that we ventured back onto the streets.

Walking through town we passed the sizable Red Basilica (5YTL), which dated from the 2nd Century and is now missing its roof. We didn't bother entering as we saw what we wanted to from the roadside - its kind of hard to miss! From here it was a 10 minute walk up to the foot of the Acropolis, which had sporadic amounts of barbed wire trying to deter entry and make you climb up the road. Instead we cut through a gap and started viewing the ruins from the bottom upwards, which really makes more sense.

The weather had turned for the worse again, so we donned our fetching yellow raincoats and did our best to look around in the miserable conditions.
Altar and Temple of Demeter at the Acropolis in Bergama
Buildings of interest included the Lower Agora, Altar and Temple of Demeter, some defensive walls and a rather steep theatre. Just as we were approaching the Temple of Trajan, which is probably the nicest building, but hardly anything heart stopping, a security guard came and asked us for our ticket. We told him we didn't have one, so he asked us to go to the ticket office with him, which we happily did.

Now in the book the price had previously been 10YTL, which was quite steep for what was on offer, but i wasn't too bothered about paying that much. But when i saw 20YTL written on the tickets, i was a little shocked that they were trying to extort so much out of foreigners to see a b grade sight. To be honest the ruins were nothing that i hadn't seen many times before for far less and i wouldn't even rank the Acropolis in my top ten sites in Turkey.
Bust at the Acropolis in Bergama
Thus i just shrugged my shoulders and said i didn't have enough money to pay, so the guard said we couldn't go back in. Now i thought he would insist on us paying, which i then would have done, but i wasn't going to pay 40YTL ($25) for the two of us to just see the last Temple a little closer.

The real down side of having to leave via the main entrance was that we had to follow the road all the way down, which was far longer than the way that we had come. As we descended we saw so many places that were near to the theatre where you could just enter for free, so obviously they thought that we had just come in from there and not seen anything else.

Normally i would feel a bit crappy for trying to cheat the system like this, as in someways its paramount to theft BUT in my opinion the Turkish government is treating every tourist like a complete and utter mug.
Theatre at the Acropolis in Bergama, with views over the City
Turks can buy a one year pass to ALL of the tourist attractions in Turkey for 20YTL, yet they want foreigners to pay this much for just one sight. Its simply wrong. Add on to this the fact that they set stupidly high petrol prices and then let the bus companies fix ridiculously high prices for all of the journeys, as they have an agreement with each other. Talk about a cartel. To me it feels like you are been constantly shafted. So as far as i am concerned i will try to avoid entry fees (sneaking in) and long distance bus fares (hitching if i can be arsed!) wherever i can.

As luck would have it, half way down the mountain a car stopped and gave us a lift the remainder of the way, which was really cool of them. Dropped off in the centre, we walked out to the Asclepion, via some lovely narrow streets.
Temple of Trajan, with clouds behind it, at the Acropolis in Bergama
The ticket fee was once again over the top, this time 15YTL ($9) each, for a really tiny site. Instead we walked around the fence and just peered in from a vantage point, thus ascertaining that there was sod all to see. When we returned to the hotel we googled the site and looked at images and breathed a sigh of relief as it really looked crap.

Thus we saved ourselves 80YTL ($50) by not paying the entry fees today, and i am so pleased that we did. I really love Turkey, but i think that the bus fares and admission fees are such complete and utter bullshit that it puts me off wanting to come back again. In particular the admission fees really grate on my nerves, as it costs a small fortune to gain entry to everything worth seeing, when Turks are allowed in for next to nothing.
Galinos River, with the Red Basilica and Acropolis behind - Bergama
Fair enough that locals could maybe pay a bit less, but they pay 20YTL for a year and i think i would have to pay about 400YTL or more to see the same places.

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Sarcophagus outside the Red Basili…
Sarcophagus outside the Red Basil…
Colourful old houses in Bergama
Colourful old houses in Bergama
Defensive Walls at the Acropolis i…
Defensive Walls at the Acropolis …
Building in the Middle City of the…
Building in the Middle City of th…
Remains at the Acropolis in Bergama
Remains at the Acropolis in Bergama
Altar and Temple of Demeter at the…
Altar and Temple of Demeter at th…
Bust at the Acropolis in Bergama
Bust at the Acropolis in Bergama
Theatre at the Acropolis in Bergam…
Theatre at the Acropolis in Berga…
Temple of Trajan, with clouds behi…
Temple of Trajan, with clouds beh…
Galinos River, with the Red Basili…
Galinos River, with the Red Basil…
Table in Athena Pension
Table in Athena Pension
Red Basilica at Bergama
Red Basilica at Bergama
Red Basilica at Bergama
Red Basilica at Bergama
Red Basilica at Bergama
Red Basilica at Bergama
Ruined buildings at the Acropolis …
Ruined buildings at the Acropolis…
A view of Bergama, seen from the A…
A view of Bergama, seen from the …
Ruined buildings at the Acropolis …
Ruined buildings at the Acropolis…
Ruined building at the Acropolis i…
Ruined building at the Acropolis …
Ruined building at the Acropolis i…
Ruined building at the Acropolis …
Ruined building at the Acropolis i…
Ruined building at the Acropolis …
Julia stood in the rain, as my cam…
Julia stood in the rain, as my ca…
Ruined pillar at the Acropolis in …
Ruined pillar at the Acropolis in…
A view of Bergama, seen from the A…
A view of Bergama, seen from the …
City Walls at the Acropolis in Ber…
City Walls at the Acropolis in Be…
Ruined buildings at the Acropolis …
Ruined buildings at the Acropolis…
Altar and Temple of Demeter, at th…
Altar and Temple of Demeter, at t…
Views of Bergama and the Altar and…
Views of Bergama and the Altar an…
Red Basilica in Bergama, seen from…
Red Basilica in Bergama, seen fro…
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Marble pillars at the Acropolis i…
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Scattered ruins in the Acropolis …
Julia stood on the theatre steps o…
Julia stood on the theatre steps …
Theatre steps at the Acropolis in …
Theatre steps at the Acropolis in…
Theatre and countryside at the Acr…
Theatre and countryside at the Ac…
Lake views from the Acropolis in B…
Lake views from the Acropolis in …
City views of Bergama
City views of Bergama
Turkish flag on the hillside at Be…
Turkish flag on the hillside at B…
The Acropolis at Bergama - Temple …
The Acropolis at Bergama - Temple…
Hammam in the centre of Bergama
Hammam in the centre of Bergama
Athena Pension in Bergama
Athena Pension in Bergama
Sarcophagus and Red Basilica in Be…
Sarcophagus and Red Basilica in B…
Pretty bridge spanning the Galinos…
Pretty bridge spanning the Galino…
Pretty bridge spanning the Galinos…
Pretty bridge spanning the Galino…
Bergama
photo by: Biedjee