In the steps of history

Ups and downs
A lazy day

The little harbour at Assos looked even more gorgeous in the morning light! I went for a little pre-breakfast walk, and watched fishermen readying their nets, and seagulls swooping in hope. The water was very clear and you could easily see many fish swimming around.

We had around a 3 hour drive from Assos to Bergama today. As we are becoming accustomed, it was narrow and winding for a good section, a 6 lane highway for a while, and of course, long stretches of the ubiquitous roadworks. But also very scenic, as we hugged the Aegean coast the whole way, driving past little villages and towns, upmarket resorts, camping grounds and summer houses of the rich and famous. We arrived at Bergama late morning and managed to leave our bags at the hotel and head for the ruins. Bergama is on the site of classical Pergamum, which was an important city in ancient times. They have (so far) uncovered some significant ancient areas – the mind boggles at the thought of what else might be buried under this city. Our first port of call was the Asklepion, which is ancient medical center built in honor of Asklepios, the god of healing. It was also the world’s first psychiatric hospital! Fascinating!! They used all sorts of treatments, including psychotherapy, massage, herbal remedies, mud and bathing treatments, the interpretation of dreams, and the drinking of water from a ‘sacred spring’ – which remarkably is still running, and we could have taken a drink if we so desired. There was a degree of frustration as the signposting leaves a lot to be desired so we weren’t always quite sure what we were looking at! It was amazing to be wandering the streets that ancient Romans walked so many centuries ago. We were hot, tired and thirsty by the time we finished, and were grateful for a little cafe, which served Gozleme and fresh squeezed orange juice, and had seats in the shade.

After lunch Dad opted to rest at the hotel rather than trapse over more ruins in the hot sun. Smart man! I pressed on, however, since we’ve come a long way to see these places! The main attraction of Bergama is the ancient acropolis or Pergamum, a complex of temples, and an amphitheatre on the top of a big hill just outside of town. To my relief I found a cable car to take me to the top, and spent a happy (if hot) couple of hours clambering over the site. The view was impressive, and the ruins really interesting. Most of the really interesting bits are in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, where they were taken by the original German excavators (with the consent of the Ottoman Govt, back in the late 1800s). Still, what is left is very evocative. I am always impressed by what they achieved with such limited technology. The amphitheatre is built into the side of the hill, and is quite vertigo-inducing. It seated 10,000 and must have been quite a sight in it’s heyday, with the city lights sparkling in the valley below! Although I rented an audioguide, I still spent half the time unsure quite what I was looking at. I think I should offer my services as a consultant – a decent map and a few little arrows to follow would make all the difference.

We had dinner in the hotel restaurant, which was next to the pool – very pretty spot, and the food was nice. We arrived at around 7.45 but the place was empty – people only started arriving after 8.30. They keep European hours here. After we went to bed there was live music – loud live music – thank goodness for ear plugs!

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