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JERASH, JORDAN

Roman ruins in Jordan? Yup!

sunny 26 °C

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On the last day of my 6 day tour of Jordan, we headed north, to the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash. Above is a photo of me under Hadrian's Arch.
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Our guide, Suhaib, educating us on the history of Jerash.
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The hippodrome - where chariot races used to take place in ancient times, and in summer months, still do for entertainment! I would've loved to have watched one, but I was there in November.
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Exterior of the hippodrome.
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This ancient city dates back to 333 BC.
The Oval Plaza, or forum.
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Jerash has 2 amphitheaters. One big, one small. At the bigger one we were given an acoustics demonstration by 2 Jordanian men.
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No matter where we sat in the amphitheater the acoustics were exactly the same. After their demo we each got the chance to stand in the middle of the 'stage' and speak. By standing exactly in the middle it sounds like you are speaking on a microphone, but one step left or right and it sounds completely different.
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The small concave space located between the 2 men (below) also acted as microphones. If you speak into them it amplifies your voice. No shouting required! Truly amazing! Nowadays we require so many electronics to put on a concert, but back then they didn't need anything fancy. Every summer Jerash Festival is held here - a music festival featuring local artists. Both amphitheaters are used. The way that they are built, you cannot hear 2 bands playing at the same time, nor can the nearby neighborhoods hear anything! All the noise stays within the open-air amphitheaters!!
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This is the main street, the colonnaded Cardo Maximus.
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The Gateway to the Temple of Artemis.
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I feel bad, but I cannot remember what this is (below). I looked on a map of Jerash, and if I'm correct, then this is the Agora.
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Unfortunately the majority of ancient Jerash now lays underneath the modern city of the same name. In the photo below you can see some ruins alongside the modern city.
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This is the smaller South Theatre.
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Jerash was actually more interesting than I was expecting it to be. I enjoyed the acoustic demo, the fact that all the ruins are fairly close together so theres not too much walking in the heat, that there where almost no other tourists (cuz people are too scared to come to Jordan cuz they think its 'dangerous'), and that chariot races take place here in summer! How fun would that be to watch!

Posted by ChantelleS 16:46 Archived in Jordan Tagged history ruins roman asia jordan ancient jerash Comments (0)

EPHESUS & KUSADASI, TURKEY

The Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus, and the Mediterranean beachfront city of Kusadasi.

sunny 21 °C

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From Pamukkale my original plan was to go to Fethiye, but Fethiye's forecast was rain for the next 5 days :( So I headed to Kusadasi instead. Minibuses headed there take 3hrs, and cost 35L ($17CAD). It Dropped me off across the street from my hotel, Hotel Sozer, which was located right across the street from the Mediterranean! It wasn't super fancy, but had free breakfast & free wifi, and a rooftop terrace with a pool overlooking the sea, and there was a beach 2min walk away. Only $35CAD ... not bad at all for all that! Above is a photo of the boardwalk that extends for a long ways in both directions. Its lined with restaurants, bars, and shopping.
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Kusadasi is Turkey's biggest/busiest cruise ship port. One day there were 4 ships in port!
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Watching the ships come & go
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A stray dog came and befriended me at the beach. He laid beside me the whole time. He even fell asleep with his head on my sarong that I was using as a beach blanket :)
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If you head east along the boardwalk you will eventually come to the causeway out to Pigeon Island and its fortress.
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Of course it was closed for restoration when I was there, but its free to walk around the outside.
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There were a lot of locals fishing from the causeway.
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From Kusadasi, the ruins of Ephesus are only 19km away. Dolmuses (mini van taxis) are $4CAD each way. They drop you off on the highway, and then its a 3km walk to the lower gate entrance. Admission is 30L ($15CAD).
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The main thing everyone comes to see is the library (featured above), and I am one of those people, lol!! And it did not disappoint! The details were incredible!!
This is the main 'path' leading up to the Library of Celsus.
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View of the library from the other side.
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The 3 level amphitheatre which can hold 25,000 people. Each range of seating is pitched more steeply than the one below, thereby improving the view & acoustics for the spectators in the upper seats.
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If you keep wandering you will happen upon these ancient toilets! Taking a poo was a public event back then! I was told that entertainers would come in and put on a show while you poop with your friends!! Can you imagine, lol!!
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Water used to run underneath to wash away all the 'deposits'.
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Itty bitty mosaic tiles
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Kitty sunning herself on the mosaic tiles that were roped off for humans. Sneaky kitty.
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Do these cats even realize they live in an ancient city?!
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Sarcophagi
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Well, thats it for the Kusadasi/Ephesus area. I headed back to Istanbul after a few days here. I flew from Izmir (nearest city with an airport, 1hr from Kusdasi) to Istanbul for only $55CAD, which was only $10CAD more than the 10hr night bus option.

Next up ... Jordan!!!

Posted by ChantelleS 11:48 Archived in Turkey Tagged ruins turkey roman asia ephesus kusadasi Comments (0)

VENICE, ITALY

Wandering Venice's alleys and crossing its many bridges, riding ferries, trying every gelato flavor I could, and gazing down at Basilica San Marco from atop the Campanile.

overcast 17 °C

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Italy!! Beautiful, beautiful Italy! This was my first time to Europe and it didn't disappoint. One of the easiest countries I've ever traveled in. I landed in Rome, found the Trenitalia kiosk in the airport, purchased my one-way ticket to Venice for $127CAD (make sure you know which terminal in Venice you want to arrive in - there is more than one. Stazione Santa Lucia is the terminal that brings you right to the Grand Canal), then hopped on the train from the airport to Rome's main terminal, and transferred to my train to Venice. Sounds complicated, but it was actually quite easy. Jet lag knocked me out for the 3.5hr ride. But when I arrived in Venice and walked out of the train station, BAM, I was right on the Grand Canal! You will see a ferry terminal in front of you. This is where you buy ferry passes. There are no buses, no cars, not even bikes cuz theres too many stairs and bridges everywhere. Ferries are like buses here - they ply the Grand Canal in both directions, all day long, stopping at various points along the way.

Below is a photo of the ferry terminal near San Marco.
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I purchased a 1 day pass (24hrs from the time you validate your pass) for 20E (euros). Single rides cost 7E each, so if you plan on doing any sightseeing, it is worth it to get a pass. There were also 3 day and 5 day passes available. The best way to get to know the area is to hop on a ferry and stay on it for a full circuit, about 1hr, around the whole Grand Canal. Use it as a cheap sightseeing cruise, but also pay attention to where it stops and what there is to see at each stop.

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I had booked a little hotel in the San Marco area. So I took the ferry there, and then walked to my hotel. If you are expecting streets in a grid-like fashion with well marked street signs, think again! Thankfully Venezians are friendly and helpful. Not all speak English, so have the name of your hotel & address written down. If your hotel is located right on a canal, it is possible to hire a very expensive water taxi to take right to your hotel.

The beautiful Doge's Palace in the San Marco area overlooking the Grand Canal
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I spent my first day wandering around the San Marco area, seeing the Doge's Palace, Basilica San Marco, Piazza San Marco, and the Campanile (bell tower).
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This is the view from atop the Campanile, overlooking the Piazza San Marco. It costs 8E for the elevator ride to the top, and you can stay up there for as long as you want. I unfortunately had a foggy day :(
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The huge bell! Being in the piazza when it is rung is awesome!
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View over Venice and the domes of the basilica.
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The Campanile
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Basilica San Marco was sadly covered in scaffolding, plus the fog, so I didn't get any photos of it that I like.
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Once a day the tide comes in and floods the piazza. These walkways are set out for people to walk on without getting wet shoes. But they are crowded and slow going.
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Then I wandered the maze of alleys, canals, and bridges. I tried using a map but its pointless. Just wander. You're never really lost cuz theres always someone to ask, and you will eventually come out at some point on the Grand Canal ( from there just hop a ferry to where you want to go). Venice is made up of 117 islands all connected by bridges! It is such a pretty, picturesque place, with bridges, canals, old doors & windows, cathedrals, and boats around every corner.

All the alleys/streets are this narrow, except a few of the more main alleys, but not by much!
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The canals can be quite crowded, not at all like movies make it seem!
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Overpriced street-side cafes can be found everywhere.
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Delicious gelato can also be found everywhere, and only 1.50E for a small :)
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This one is carmello e amaretto, yum yum yum!
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I stumbled upon the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.
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I couldn't resist taking a photo of this cutie :)
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The water comes right to the doors. Locals park their boats along side their homes.
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Its such a different way of life here without proper streets and cars/buses. Everything is done by boat! Below are photos of a garbage boat, and a delivery boat. I also saw a boat ambulance!
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Souvenir stands were mostly found in the San Marco area, and Rialto area ... the 2 most touristy areas.
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Then I took a ferry over to the Rialto Bridge. What a gong show! I had to fight for a spot on the bridge to get a photo. Worst place ever, so over-rated.
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View from atop the Rialto Bridge - not even worth it. Even the canal is crowded here!
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Gondeliers awaiting customers. You'll never see a local taking one of these, as they are insanely overpriced and basically for tourists only. Approx $150 for 30min!!!
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Although overpriced, they are very photogenic, as they are Venice's icon :)
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SO MANY PEOPLE! Get up and out the door well before 9am. 9am is when tour groups start arriving in hordes and overtaking the place. Prior to 9am you'll have the place to yourself.
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This is Piazza San Marco at 7am ... peaceful compared to 2hrs later.
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The basilica in the early morning
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The Bridge of Sighs was within walking distance from my hotel ... and the lookout point was ... you guessed it ... always crowded with people taking turns posing in front of it, or trying to capture a photo of a gondola passing beneath it.
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On my 2nd day in Venice I walked over to the Ponte dell'Accademia (the wooden bridge) for this iconic view over the Grand Canal and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.
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I took one more circuit of the Grand Canal before getting off at the train station and heading to Naples.
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That's all for Venice! Although crowded and overpriced, I absolutely loved it! No matter what time of year you go there will always be tourists. Why? Cuz its Venice, that's why!

Posted by ChantelleS 19:00 Archived in Italy Tagged venice boat italy bridge canal roman europe Comments (0)

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