Bergama and Pergamon, Turkey

I visited Bergama completely on a whim – I’d been planning to head directly to Istanbul from Selcuk but changed my mind about 30 minutes before leaving the hostel when I realized it meant an entire day of traveling and that I wouldn’t be able to take the train from Izmir as I’d wanted.  Instead I took a minibus into Izmir’s large and functional bus station (otogar) and then found another headed out about half an hour later headed for the  small Aegean near-coastal city of Bergama.  I arrived in the town in the early afternoon and decided on the spot that I’d stay two nights because it seemed so sunny and cheerful and I wanted to do justice to its sights.  I had only the wikitravel info attached to my little map app but I was able to find many interesting and off beat tourist experiences in my 36 hours in Bergama.

Just before closing I hiked up the smaller of the two city hills to visit the Ascelpium, or Sanctuary of Ascelpius, an important medical center.  The springs were thought to be healthy and importuning Ascelpius, god of healing, was also probably helpful.  More healthful than either were the impressively designed facilities, with covered walkways for patients to get to and from their rooms out of the elements, sunbathing facilities and thermal baths for patients to bask in and a really neat round healing building that I wanted to know more about than the minimal signage allowed.  I got there just as the last tourists were headed out so I spent my half hour before it shut down wandering the site with only the sheep and a guard for company.  What fun.

Pergamon, the ancient city, I tackled the next day

As much as I enjoyed the sights of the city, one of my favorite things about the stay in Bergama was the hotel – I chose it nearly at random, following a sign I saw on the street but I was NOT sorry.  The Odyssey Guesthouse is a restored Greek house in the old part of the city, three floors up with sunny cheerful rooms and a really charming sitting room and terrace on the top level.  I’ve stayed a lot of places that were just a horizontal surface to sleep on and a place to lock up my stuff during this trip but this guesthouse was really an experience in itself and I recommend it strongly to anyone passing through or near Bergama.  Among other things,  I used its charming ambiance to motivate myself into finally finishing up my tax forms, begun and abandoned nearly three months before.  Thanks again, Odyssey.

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