Day 9 (Tue, Sep 23): Cruising Dikili, Turkey / Pergamum excursion

Passenger transfer to tender
via Reception on the Emerald Deck
We got up at 6:00. While Karen was showering I went up to the Lido deck to watch the sunrise. Karen joined me there. We had breakfast ... our first eggs in a week. We went ashore on a small tender to the Turkish port village of Dikili, in the ancient world Atarneus, the port at which Xerxes in 480 BC made rendezvous with his fleet en route to the invasion of Greece. There we boarded a bus and rode to Pergamon (aka Pergamum; modern name Bergama). Our Turkish guide was Ösken. His English was quite good. While we rode he told us about the old Turkish marriage traditions and ceremonies.

Asclepieion -- Our first stop was at the Asclepieion. Asclepius was the demigod of medicine and healing. The ill would line up along the "Sacred Way" to be interviewed by the staff. If they didn't think they had a cure, the ill person was turned away. Once admitted they were observed very carefully as they entertained themselves in the library (which rivaled Alexandria's), theatre, gymnasium or baths. Based on those observations a healing regime was prescribed. Often the last stage of that regime involved strolling through the tunnel (to hear the pleasing sound of running water or highly magnified messages coming through the air holes) and then run around and around the Treatment Center until exhausted. Following that they would be given drugs to induce sleepy hallucinations in the steam-heated rooms of the Center. During their sleep an actor dressed as Asclepion would appear out of the steam with still further messages for them. Often the dreams the patients had were analyzed as part of the cure. Snakes were sacred to Asclepius and non-poisonous ones roamed freely through the dormitories (no doubt also keeping the rooms free of vermin).




Sacred Way

Sacred Spring



Treatment Center

staff of
I was told that the water of the Sacred Spring was supposed to prevent or cure blindness. At that time I had very limited vision. In fact the reason we took this trip during my sabbatical year was because my vision was failing so badly (I needed help crossing streets) that we figured it was now or never. I amused some of our fellow tourists by crouching in that hole and drinking from the Sacred Spring. As it turned out, two years later I had my first cornea transplant, which was successful, so I guess the Greeks knew what they were talking about (even if that water did come from an iron pipe, and even if the actual work was done by Seattle surgeons).

On our way through the Asclepieion Karen and I were accompanied by a pair of physicians, Raymundo Rogriguez from Los Angeles and Edmundo Figueras from Puerto Rico. They both remarked on how complex and sophisticated these ancient medical practices were, combing individual patient observation and records, biology, chemistry and even psychology and religious belief/illusion to obtain a cure. Dr. Figueras told us we were welcome to visit him in Puerto Rico but to avoid those times when Americans arrive in droves, which times the locals refer to as "el asalto" (assault).

Acropolis -- We went further up the hill to the Acropolis, shown above behind the Sacred Way. It was not as interesting architecutrally as other places we have seen, but it is in a very pretty setting -- high above the valley. There were goat droppings all over the place because goats have the run of the ruins. Children like to wave to the buses when they pass.

Ösken pulled a fig leaf off a tree and suggested we could use it as a costume for the masquerade ball. He also said that the Turkish word for a fruit dish is composto -- and he has a hard time remembering to translate it into English as "compote" rather than "compost".

There were several dogs around the entry gate to the Acropolis, including one poor skinny little puppy who was very friendly.


Trajan's Temple

Dionysos Temple

Zeus Temple site

Zeus Temple site

our guide, Ösken

on the Acropolis

lifeboat drill

Spent most of the afternoon on the Lido deck getting some sun. We saw dolphins leaping all the way out of the water. They were black and shiny. We had lunch on the Lido deck -- sort of like having a picnic at sea. At 3:15 there was a lifeboat drill. That picture was taken by the staff of the Stella Solaris; all the photss taken by the ship's crew have faded badly.

Went to the Captain's Welcome Aboard cocktail party. Sat with Rachel Abernethy (Cleveland), Helen Martin (Mobile), Joe and Sue Erwin (Great Falls) and Raymundo and Grace Rodriguez (LA). The Reeves and Christina joined us later. After dinner we took a walk around the Boat Deck with Ross and Robin -- were nearly blown away when we rounded the prow end. Very strong winds, but the moon was shining brightly and it was very pretty.

Phases of the Moon, Sep 1980 --

Had a Metaxa and then to bed.