Strangers in the night
Bergama Travel Blog› entry 537 of 658 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.