Mediterranean Expedition to the Ancient Wonders of the World
We boarded the buses for a drive into the Turkey mountains to the ancient site of Diacaesarea. We saw the intact Hellenistic Tower from the 4th Century BC. We then walked down to the Temple of Zeus. Here the locals turned out in traditional dress and performed a few folk dances. We walked around the site, significant for being one of the first sites to use Corinthian capitals on their columns.
After touring the site, the mayor of the village welcomed us. They had arranged for the traveling loom operators to bring an art historian to the dusty village and give us a presentation about Turkish rug making. The loom operator travels across the mountains to these nomad villages with a government grant to provide them with the means of creating handicrafts for sale. They had, of course, brought dozens of rugs for sale. Apparantly (according to the guides and even a few fellow travelers who had bought rugs in the past), the rugs were all handmade and excellent quality. The art historian showed us how to tell a handmade rug from a machine made rug (the pile on the handmade rugs all lies the same direction creating a different shade and sheen when viewed from one side to the other).
The rugs were all laid out in the dirt and our chairs had been placed on top of some of them. They handed out Turkish snacks and apricot juice. One traveler spilled some juice on the rug beneath us, but the rug sellers did not seem even slightly concerned. Another traveler asked the price of that rug ($32,000!). The other rugs were similarly priced with the least expensive one I heard quoted at $9000. Of course, all rates are negotiable and bartering is expected. Several travelers purchased rugs at moderate discounts from these quoted rates. One traveler (who had two Turkish rugs already at home including one that cost him $16,000 and was rolled up under the bed because he didn't have space for it) said that the rates were a good deal because you could easily sell them for twice the price back in the US.
I was most amused that several travelers stopped to use the very basic toilet facilities (standard Asian design with two molded food pedals on either side of a dirty hole) after spending $30,000 on a rug - such an interesting group of travelers!
Back on the ship that night, Gabor surprised us with a glorious chocolate cake with colorful fresh fruit, chocolate fences, golden almond bark, and even a large sparkler all sticking out a various angles. The kitchen and hotel staf onboard sang "Won't You Be My Sweetheart?" and played instruments to celebrate our honeymoon.