Burton Dane Travels

We're traveling through Europe and parts nearby for a year. We'll be posting our pix and adventures here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


We’re spending a week here in Istanbul at the Metropolis Hostel at the tip of a peninsula. It’s easy walking around to the mosques, museums, the Grand Bazaar, restaurants and the ferry dock.

The first picture shows an underground Roman cistern. This was recently discovered and restored. They did a pretty nice job of lighting it. There’s even a nice cafe for tea.

They sell pretzels for cheap on the streets. Along with lots of other goodies like baklava, lookum (Turkish Delight) and yogurt with honey.

Turkey and the city of Istanbul are in Europe and Asia. We took a ferry up the Bosphorus bouncing between both continents. That’s Europe off of Ben’s shoulder while my head blocks Asia.

Ben enjoys Turkish keyfit on the roof of the Metropolis Hostel, overlooking the Sea of Marmaris.

Authentic Trojan Horse reproduction in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum show cases the bickering between Anatolia and Greece eight centuries before Jesus Christ.

Whirling Dervishes

We saw this Sema ceremony in Istanbul.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Efes Ruins

Our last stop before Istanbul was Selcuk and the ruins of the city Efes. Efes was a major Ionian city and a source of much of the classical world’s great thoughts. It includes streets, houses, temples, baths, public toilets, pleasure buildings, markets and a theater. It changed nationhood several times but seems to have impacted the conquerers as much as they impacted the city

We toured Efes in some pretty strong winds with Gundoz a local guide. We had to duck behind ruins to avoid the dust clouds and avoid downwind of Gundoz to dodge his spittle. He explained the inspiration and background of the architectural styles and symbols.

A recurring image was a spoked circle surreptitiously carved by Christians. This symbol had layers of meaning that used the latin word for fish as an acronym to proclaim that Christ was God’s son and he died for human’s sins. We also saw a hastily carved menorah in the library steps. It looks like religion is a founding source of graffiti.

The simple white statue piece is a Roman’s foot on a sphere. Gundoz explained that this showed the Romans knew the world was round (and that they controlled it). I bet they thought is was older than 5000 years too.

Friday, March 23, 2007


hello, nice of you to stop and read this blog, THIS ONE IS BY BEN!!!! Thank you.

so, you are wondering probably why I named this blog entry “THE CALCIFICATION VACATION”, we are currently in Hieropols , and not too far away are the travertine pools, a vast place of wonder once occupied by romans, and as usual they left there ruins. Look at some of our pictures , imagine what its like . Now a imagine that all the natural pools of pure white water are clogged by a mass of speedo donning, sunburnt, 60 to 70 year old mainly american and british tourists, all wearing sunglasses. Yes, I too let out a scream of horror. Luckily , this Hichcock-like scenario was the demon of a few years ago. When we went most of it had signs saying that you can only WALK here,without shoes. Ahh it was great. after our second day we went to a ancient roman bath, which was amazing.

Look at the photos of my and mom in that pool. That was the roman bath, it was a hot spring with chunks of old roman tooled stone architecture. Although there was the occasional piece of floating algae, there was also a kind of algae underwater that felt like VERY slippery wet plush carpet. It was also a natural history lesson, If you look closely at the pics of the pure white of the travertine pools, you can see a strange pattern, this is caused by archae bacteria, and it is a great way to see something amazing (the pure water ) and something amazing (the strange shape of the bacteria colonizing we loved it.

read the blog more often, its good for your health-ben dane

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Whirling from Today to 7000 bc

Konya is ground zero for the fascinating belief of Sema, or whirling. Disciples are called Dervishes and they believe since so many things in our world revolve, so should they. The leader of this sect, Mevlana, would describe his beliefs in poetry couplets while entranced in Sema. We were able to wander through the now museum (former headquarters) to see not only his sarcophagus but leaf skeletons inscribed with golden characters, and The April Bowl (collected spring rainfall is believed sacred).

We took a taxi to the ancient city of Catal Hoyuk, that dates to around 7000 bc and were delighted by the construction of the homes. There were no front doors, the entrance was on the flat roof and accessed by ladders. People and animals roamed there, popping in and out of doors in the roof. They believed in being close to their ancestors too and kept them close by planting their bones in the floors of their dwellings, sometimes underneath the dining table. We wandered in this active archaeological dig with the best audio guides thus far, alone through 3000 years of human history.

Thought that was enough? I did too but we decided to take a bus to a restaurant in Sille (yup, pronounced silly) for dinner. Buses in Konya are an adventure so after seemingly missing bikers and cars along a dark, windy road the restaurant appeared and we got off, really wondering if this was a huge mistake. The place came to life when we walked in and soon was feeding other diners delights unfamiliar but wonderful. The staff even walked us to the “bus stop” we would have never found on our own! On board the bus, a quiet ride back and the bus driver, like many on our trip, noticed Ben and gave him a gift of his prayer beads.

Wow, what a day.

A few times a day an adult cups Ben’s chin, squeezes his cheeks and murmurs some adoring words. It’s very cute and he endures it well. We think he’s part of the reason we get such a warm welcome here.

Ali, the proprietor at the Otel Ulusan in Konya, spent a couple of hours planning our trip with us. It was fun to hear his stories and plan to make some new ones of our own. He also helped arrange a taxi to Catal Hoyuk and had free Wi Fi in the otel. Another good stay.
So now we’re on a five hour bus drive to Antalya, a seaside town near Olympos. We’re passing through some dry, snow covered mountains. Small, fertile fields near a stream have been recently planted. The rock is green, making us wonder if they are the source of some of the original copper smelted. The locals are using a mix of medium sized tractors and donkeys to work the fields.
We’ve now surprisingly transferred to a local bus to take us the last 75 km to Antalya. We’re in a new climate with palm trees, broad plateaus and wide, slow rivers. It’s much warmer and we’re down to shirts. Maybe we’ve seen the last of winter.


Cirali is situated in a small, serene space separating a stony beach and gray, cut cliffs. The development is limited to small, two story buildings surrounded by orchards and gardens.

Most of the 50 or so pensions are starting their restoration work to open for the season. We are at the Azur Hotel, one of the few open year round. This area is popular with German tourists in season. Now we are accompanied by two dogs, a cat and some chickens.

A little south of us are the ancient ruins of Olympos and a backpacker shanty town near it. At the ruins we wandered through thick growth over ancient walls and canals. We went through domed rooms and past small shelters for cremated remains. There are tooled stones and mosaic floor pieces laying around. This was a chance to fulfill another lifelong desire to be in an unrestored ancient city.

Last night we hiked to the Chimera. These are a dozen or so places where gas escapes from a mountain side and feeds flames. At night, the flames cause a glow that can be seen from miles away, even out at sea. Up close, they are like eternal campfires. It was a moonless night with no people around. It’s not hard to understand these as a source of worship and myths.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


We continued touring the sites here in Cappadocia where people lived inside the rocks, underground and amongst the aliens.

There may be 100 underground cities in this area, possibly linked by long tunnels. These were siege holdouts that the civilians used for months at a time. Possibly up to 30,000 people in some of them. The cities extend six stories below the surface with all you need to outlast your attackers. Stables for animals, kitchens, baths, meeting rooms, sleeping rooms, food storage even wineries. Ben is shown 4 levels down, sitting on a rock used for food preparation.

Our tour also included some requisite tourist “opportunities”. Ben rode this camel (and stayed dry). He got to play on a potters wheel and Jules got to run from a sales guy. They reviewed the documentation on alien encounters while I got a haircut and shave. I’m not sure who saw the weirdest stuff during that one.

+90 539 424 2674

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ihlara Canyon

Today we joined a tour group to see some of the sites around Cappadocia. We’ve seen a lot of tours come and go during our travels. Usually happy to see them go. I’ve been shouldered aside, stood in front of and corralled. A few weeks ago I started to bait them. You just stand right in front of the next famous painting. Act like you are so engrossed in the artist’s message and technique that you don’t notice the thirty people staring at the back of your head. OK, perhaps you’d call that passive aggressive..... I don’t know.

Yesterday we watched a Chinese tour file one-by-one out of a tiny stone doorway for minutes. It looked like a variation on a clown car.

Our tour got off to a weird start when one of the Americans asked pointed questions about the Kurds. Turkey has a few tough geo-political problems and this is one of them. They also aren’t too happy about the mess Americans are making next door in Iraq and threatening to do in Iran (another neighbor). But on to the tour

We hiked through the Ihlara Canyon for about 7 km next to a stream and past many 8th to 13th century cave dwellings and churches. These are carved out of the live volcanic tuffa rock. We saw hundreds and hundreds of these. Some as high as 100 feet off the ground.

The frescoes included Egyptian influenced images that predated the Byzantine ones. The most developed one was a monastery that housed up to 10,000 people at one time.

We ended the trip in the Church of Guzelyurt. This was built around 360 for Saint Gregory. This is the oldest Christian church we’ve been in. It’s now an active mosque and this was the first time Ben and I have ever been in one (2nd time for Jules). No pictures were allowed.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Goreme Turkey

We just weren’t ready for what we saw here in Goreme. In the 10th to 12th centuries, the Christians lived in this valley. They actually lived IN the valley. Inside the volcanic tuff rocks! We don’t know much about it yet but will spend the next few days learning.

The pictures show some of the homes and churches we saw. These were in a valley called the Open Air Museum. Most had frescoes inside. The great stone table with benches that Jules and Ben are seated at is a common feature. I want one in our house!

Our trepidation about traveling in Turkey is quickly fading into the friendly, unhurried reception we’re getting. We are trying to learn some phrases but they escape us the minute we stop repeating them. Hopefully, we’ll keep a few soon.

We ate a huge hot pita with some great meat and vegetable kebabs. More to come....

Monday, March 05, 2007

Amsterdam is a trip

I didn’t think we could leave Paris for anywhere I would like as much but (again) I was wrong. We stayed at Mae’s B&B, you should do this too! (www.bedandbreakfastamsterdam.com) We felt immediately comfortable--comfortable enough to act pretty immature if you know what I mean. Larry King and mushrooms are a disturbing combination.

This is Ben ripping the streets of Herenstraat and all of us at the Hortus Botanicus butterfly reserve and remarkable garden arboretum. This is the home of the 300 year-old cycad and seed bank for all that palm oil now taking over Sumatra and penninsular Malaysia. If you look closely at the coffeeshop picture you can see someone having a toke of legal drugs, Amsterdam is visual enough without stimulation...


We turned our van back in to BW Campers. It was sad to see it go. Camping was a great way to move when we wanted to without reservations. And the van fit us well. The guys at BW Campers were great. I'd recommend them to anyone looking to rent a camper.

We fly to Goreme, Turkey today. We plan to be in Turkey for a month. Hopefully we'll shed our heavy clothing when we hit the coast there.


Paris 4th Week

We got to spend a great time with Feliza during our last week in Paris. We saw some more museums, cafes, restaurants, the Paris Catacombes and neighborhoods.

These pictures are from the Louvre, Pont Neuf over the Seine, and the Maubert market. Doesn't that fishwife look cute. Remember, these are the women who bolstered the revolution with their long, sharp knives. The creepy monotone image is a nightshot of Ben in the Catacombes that turned out even creepier than I thought it might.