Click to set custom HTML
Anatolian Region of Turkey 2012
March 29, 2012 -- We left the Finike Marina in our rented car to explore Cappadocia and Central Anatolia (in Turkey). Wow!
Our first night was in Konya, at a hotel with a fabulous Turkish Bath. The guy operating the bath said, “He first.” Motioning that Con was to be washed first. I waited, watching the thorough job. He then wrapped Con in towels and led him out of the bath to the lay down room. Next it was my turn. Everything was going well until he tried to wash inside my bottoms. I said, “No thanks!”
The Cappadocian landscape was formed when hardened volcanic ash eroded creating tuffs--about 30 million years ago. More amazing is that ancient dwellers carved homes and elaborate churches out of the rocks. There are about 36 underground cities in the Derinkuyu region. We entered the deepest one, thought to house 20,000 people in ancient times. (Pictured in the rotation beside.) We descended 60 metres (197 feet) into the earth, transiting narrow tunnels. It was freaky, knowing how much weight was above us, in the Swiss-cheese like construction.
Driving along some of the most interesting if not narrowest roads, we've encountered a number of friendly locals. Filling up the tank, Con went to the toilet at the back of the station. A man jumped into the drivers seat, "Merhaba" (hello). He turned on the car, backed it up around to the back, passing Con using the toilet (doors aren't important apparently) and by the time Con exited the toilet, the car was filled with suds. A moment later, my passenger door opened, "Merhaba" and a young guy leaned in and handed me a chai (tea).
The woman pictured beside in the rotation of photos walked out of her mud house to greet us (while we were driving) to talk to us in Turkish. We smiled at each other a lot and then waved goodbye. The mud houses is a common design in some of the smaller communities. Stones and sometimes brick stuck together with mud, and then painted.
We're having a blast!
Yesterday, we picked up a hitchhiker (guy about 40) in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. I jumped out to make room for him in the back seat, and he jumped in the front seat!
Con said, "No, no," and gestured the back. He didn't quite get that. Once settled, I showed him the map (on our iPad) and asked him where he was going. He pointed with his finger touching the map with his finger, which created a new route, and poof, there we were in the Anatolian mountains without a route or the internet to reset our route. "Dur, dur, dur," he said calmly and I wondered what he was saying, singing? Then I remembered seeing that word on the Stop signs. "DUR" means stop.
"Con, stop," I said. He kept driving and I repeated, "Con, STOP!" By the time we'd gotten through that communication, we were a few kilometres past his drop-off point. He smiled, got out, and began his walk behind us, probably further away from his destination than when we picked him up.
Con and I drove on, negotiating our way through the winding roads, most paved, some dirt, some temporary since the main road was washed out and snow covered mountain tops, arriving at Konya the first night. We had to purchase a new phone since our last time visit in Turkey and slipped our newly purchased SIM card into it so we’d have internet along our journey, and a GPS and map. We learned a tough lesson a few days later, when our internet wouldn’t work, that the Turkish government locked our phone. When we replaced our phone it was no longer registered in Turkey and all phones have to be registered! The government automatically LOCKS the phone. We're told to go to the Finike Governor to request a letter stating that we're tourists and need our phone. Sheesh!
April 2 -- In Goreme, we visited the amazing geographically odd shapes that people refer to as "Cappadocia". Erosion shaped the Goreme Valley 1000 years ago and ancient volcanic eruptions left ash on the land and when combined with erosion the odd shaped cones, mushrooms, chimneys... took form. In ancient times, Christians hid in the cones as refugees from the Romans. Today, some have been transformed into hotels and restaurants. We had dinner in a cave--food was good and it was cozy.
The past few days, we've been making our way east toward the Syrian border in what's referred to as "Southeastern Anatolia." Our furthest point was Sanliurfa, the birthplace of Abraham the Profit. Half the population are Kurds; the others Turkish; and a portion of the people are Hezbulla supporters. We've entered an area of Turkey that reminded us of our trip to Syria winter before last. Not surprisingly, since we're near the Syrian border.
Our destination: Sanliurfa, once known as Urfa. In 1984, Urfa was renamed Sanliurfa, meaning, "Greatness" following the Turkish War of Independence. It's mainly a Kurdish city, and the birthplace of Abraham, who was allegedly born in a cave. We visited the cave, having to enter separately, (men on the right, women on the left) leaving our shoes outside. My head had to be fully covered. About six feet into the cave, I was overwhelmed by the smell of feet!
Above the cave is the Mosque and the Pools of Abraham are in the slide show below. We seem to be the only foreign visitors.
We traveled further south toward the Syrian border (about 20 minutes by car) arriving at the ancient village of Harran, where the Beehive houses are. The village is mostly made up of Arabic and Bedouin people and poverty is quite evident. Beside are photos of the Beehive Houses, thought to be the same construction as they were 3,000 years ago. Harran may be 200 years old. This same construction is found in Syria and Cyprus. They keep the people cool in summer and warm in winter and the cone design doesn't allow rain to saturate and eat away at the mud. They're also easy to construct especially for nomadic people.
Three young girls, about seven skipped up to me begging quietly in their trained English voices for my necklace (worth about $150), I smiled and shook my head. They asked for my turquoise earrings; I shook my head again and then they asked for one lire, about .60 CND. A bit later, a five-year old pointed her index finger at me and pulled the trigger with her thumb. Later that day, an eight-year old boy shot me in the chest with an empty lime-green squirt gun.
Maybe they're saying "hello." Haran is 44 kilometres from our hotel in Sanliurfa. Driving west, heading back toward Finike and Big Sky, during rush hour traffic, our lanes were plugged. A driver of an SUV decided to drive up the opposite lanes (not unusual as they often make up their own driving rules). He hit a teenager, leaving his arm dangling and the kid in a lot of pain. He stopped for a few seconds and carried on.
We were told Mt. Nemrut was not possible to see this time of year, but that didn't stop us from trying. We drove three hours out of our way hoping to see the large statues, assumed to be the tomb of royalty, dating back to 1 BC. (I scooped this picture off the internet.) The summit climb by car was 2,134 metres and we came within a stone's throw and had to turn around due to the snow making it impassable. On our failed journey, we stopped at the Ataturk Dam, on the Euphrates River.
Now tucked into our hotel in Adana, exhausted, we plan to have a Turkish bath and see how much Turkish sand we can scrub off our skin.
April 5 -- Near Antalya we're surrounded by Lycian, Roman, Crusader and other civilization's stone structure, many crumbling into stones. We drove to Termessos, ill prepared for the 1,000 metre hike up into the mountains, dressed in sandals, no water and not having had lunch. That didn't spoil our afternoon, as we tromped over the 2,000-year-old remains of one of Turkey's most ancient city, dating back to 180 AD. Alexander the Great tried to conquer Termessos unsuccessfully in 333 BC calling it, "An Eagles Nest." It's tucked away hidden in the pine forest, but once you climb it you can see the incredible natural flat platform the people build their village upon. Fascinating.
April 6 -- Our eleven-day journey through southeastern Anatolia by car ended today back in Finike where Big Sky is docked. Syrian fighting spilled over the border Saturday, two days after we left the region. Syrian refugees camps in Turkey came under Syrian fire. Turkey is a secular country with 98 percent of the population Muslim. While traveling in Harran, there was no indication that the area was in peril from shelling. The people are innocent, and now that tourism will dry up, they will suffer.
In all of our travels there wasn't one sign that this is Easter weekend--not even a chocolate bunny! The call to prayer is omnipresent over every village and large city as it sings out from minaret's loud speakers five times a day. The message calls out for Muslims to stop what they're doing, face Mecca and pray. The prayer states that there is no God except Allah and Muhammed is his Prophet. In Arabic, "God" means "Allah." The prayer inspires them to higher morality--there's nothing wrong with that.
Returning to Finike, we appreciated its charm, as it's nearly untouched by the massive grip tourism has on larger cities further east along the coast. Finike is surrounded by luscious orange groves giving off spectacular aromas. Six kilometres north of Finike is this Lycian treasure, pictured beside, sprawling over an open field with goats and lizzards the only occupants. Not much is know of the Lycian civilization, as Turkey has seen dozens of civilizations since the beginning of time. People know that the Lycians were admired for their progressive thinking, creation of their government, and that they do something different from all other civilizations, they name their children after the woman instead of the man. They were known for their fierce need for freedome and independence. In the photos, you can see the ancient under water road. Later, we sailed over water where an ancient Lycian village had slipped under the water from an earthquake and can be seen today.
See below for larger pictures of Cappadocia and Sanliurfa.