Adventures of a teenage author...

This is Marta, author of the Darkwoods series and of Marta's Blog. I created this blog specifically for blogging about my 2015 study abroad adventures in Europe, but it's becoming the blog for all my travels. I hope you enjoy all the pictures and stories!

Saturday, September 16, 2017


I managed to forget about this city, somehow.

Thyatira was one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. It was also the city where Lydia, the first convert to Christianity in Europe, lived (she was a merchant, so I assume that means she was visiting Philippi in Macedonia on business). The city was probably founded by the Lydians, who I remember as being the first group of people to mint coins.

Here are some pictures (they're all kind of vague, deliberately so) from the ruins. I should mention that we don't know what all the buildings here are:

I honestly don't think anyone knows what this is. I just thought it was pretty!

This was part of the arches between pillars. It made me think of some of the graphics in the Dwarven cities in Battle for Middle-Earth II. 

Alpha, I think

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Bona Fortuna!

I don't really have enough to say about this to make this a long post, but it was one of the highlights of the trip, so it's getting its own post.

On one of the days we were looking at roads, we stopped in this town and a gentleman told us they had an inscription set up in one of the town squares, for lack of a better phrase, but he didn't know what it meant. He led us to it, and it turns out it was written in Latin and Greek, except the Greek inscription was never completed.

(I was happy the Latin one got completed, because I understand more Latin than ancient Greek. Not that I could tell you what it actually said, but I recognized the words. Some of them. I know what fortissimo and pontifici maximo mean, anyway.)

Anyway, while we were there and the professors were trying to decipher the inscription, a group of people from the village all came to watch and see what was going on. It turns out that no one in the village knew what the inscription meant, because, like average Americans, average Turks don't read Greek or Latin, so they were all curious to know what it meant.

To me, this was a highlight because it was so fascinating to see how people interact with a piece of history in their own back yard. In America, we really don't have that kind of history just lying around for us to pick up. I'm not even talking about ancient history, which America doesn't even have - just history in general. For example, if you come out to the west coast and see some of those totem poles here and there, I can just about guarantee you that they're replications or pieces of art produced by contemporary artists. Any totem poles made in history will be in a museum somewhere.

Of course totem poles don't have the same endurance as stonework from Ancient Rome (few things do), but it really impressed on me that Americans don't get many chances to see and touch our history in everyday life. Certainly we have our museums (and I am not, in ANY WAY, discrediting the importance of museums - they also play an important and irreplaceable role), but I don't think most Americans make museums a part of their everyday life. The people in this village, however, have a piece of history as part of their town, and they were curious enough to learn more about it, if they could.

I don't yet know what I've learned from that - I'm still thinking it over. But it certainly gives me a lot to think about as I prepare to teach history (you know, if I survive grad school).

It also gives me some ideas for sequels to the Quest for Rinaria, maybe explaining what happened to the treasure the pirates found... although, so far they're just ideas. But, if I ever do come up with a sequel for that, now you know where it will have come from!

P.S. No pictures, because I don't think I'm supposed to share pictures of inscriptions we found outside of Ephesus.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Some Turkish Towns

So, I'm scrambling up the days, and I'm also having to be careful what I post. But, here goes - some shots of Antalyan towns:
We walked along this to get to an ancient bridge

If I remember correctly, this was an old flour mill. I tend to refer to it as "the creepy abandoned building we had to walk through to get to the bridge". 
This next picture is, according to the guides, a statue of Ataturk, the first president of the Republic of Turkey. He wanted Turkey to be a mostly-secular country (as far as the government goes), and modernized Turkey after the Ottoman Empire fell apart (it still amazes me that WWI is removed from the Roman Empire by only two empires). The current president, Erdogan, has been moving the country away from a secular government and towards a strongly Muslim government. According to the guides, seeing statues of Ataturk in some of these rural towns was an indication that the citizens there are less than happy with Erdogan's actions.

I don't remember what town that was in, and nor could I spell it if I did remember (and it's not just that Turkish is hard for me to spell - it has letters that don't exist on an American keyboard. If I were dedicated enough, I could figure out how to make them with the fancy key combinations, but ... some other time). 

Anyway, moving on:

This was the side of a mosque that once had spolia in it. The spolia are now in a museum in Istanbul.

Looking over some farmland

Looking over a city

I believe this was emergency shelter after a storm... but I'm not entirely sure about that.

This is a mosque in one of the towns we visited. As I was taking this picture, an older gentleman came up to me and began speaking very enthusiastically to me. Of course, I can't understand Turkish at all, and he doesn't speak any English, so I had no clue what he was talking about. Because Americans tend to be touchy about taking pictures of some things, I was afraid I wasn't supposed to take the pictures, but he was smiling, and when I showed him the pictures on my phone, he seemed pleased. Later on, one of the ladies on the trip said that she thinks he was proud his town had something so beautiful and he wanted to tell me about it. That makes sense in hindsight, because the only word that I recognized was "muezzin", which is the man who stands at the top of the minaret (that tower) and calls out the daily prayers. 

This was a woven reed mat a lady showed us

So yes, those are some of the pictures of smaller Turkish towns. 

Now, just for fun, here are some pictures of Izmir (which is definitely not smallish):

I'm pretty sure this is the Freemasons symbol.

Looking across the bay

Monday, August 14, 2017

Assos - Scenery

From the top of the acropolis, we could see the island of Lesvos across the water. It look for all the world like an island from a fantasy realm rising out of the mist. There was an old, ruined stone that also looked liked something out of a fantasy setting. So, naturally, I have a lot of pictures:

Just imagine a bird skimming across the water as the island grows closer...

Clouds were following us in, and they looked cool, so I snapped a few shots:

I don't think any of these pictures really captured how cool Lesvos looked.

Anyway, here are the other scenic pictures:

And finally... walking into the town, we passed an ice cream sign: 

One of the professors told me that "Yahya" is a name for John the Baptist - so it's holy ice cream! (Hahahahaha!)