A Travellerspoint blog

13: The beauty of the desert

sunny 10 °C
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Early start this morning as some of the ladies and I decided to go and see a felting shop to understand how they traditionally made felt (and still do) here in Turkey. I’ve seen felt produced before in Aust and was surprised to see how differently it seems to be made here. The felting process in Turkey is that they start with a felt base (created the same way as I am about to describe) and to the felt base a thin sheet of cotton is attached (well it is when they make rugs.. when making scarfs they would use silk). The cotton is attached by thoroughly wetting the cotton in a hot soapy water solution. The cotton is then laid onto the already created felt and ‘rolled’ to ensure the felt fibres attach to the cotton. Once this is dried other layers of wool can be added to the cotton to create a felted pattern.

Today the lady at the shop was making a rug with a design of coloured flowers. To make the flowers she was just grabbing a small amount of wool, thoroughly wetting it in the water/ soap solution and then just laying it onto the cotton. As the water dries it slightly bonds to the cotton. Once all of the wool has been added to the cotton the whole rug is taken, wet down with the soap/ water solution and then the rug is rolled and kneaded to combine the cotton fibres with the woollen fibres creating a felt. Her shop is of course also a show room for her works so we spent some time trying on some of her concoctions (shortish jackets, vests and lots and lots of scarfs). She managed to get some of the ladies to part with their cash before we continued our site seeing journey at the Mevlana Museum.

From what I could work out at the museum, Mevlana was some sort of Islamic guru who created his own following and had his own mantra’s. His sect is today known as the Dervis, and this is the sect that we saw earlier in Bursa ‘whirling their way around the room’ as they sang their prayers (ala Evensong). The museum is housed inside an old Mosque that was used by the Dervis. The centrepiece of the museum is a couple of rooms that house coffins of sect leaders. Each of the coffins are draped in long silken pieces of cloth. The area is off limits for photography and also for viewing so you look at these coffins from a distance. They appeared to be a little dusty so I’m guessing they also infrequently clean the coffins to ensure they don’t disturb the dead?? All in all the museum was certainly one of the more interesting that I’ve entered.. esp when there were people inside who were seemed to be praying in front of these coffins? It’s kind of like a museum come mausoleum!

After our wander around the Mevlana museum it was time for us to board another bus this time for Goreme in Cappadocia! Our drive was very uneventful with us arriving at Goreme just before the sun set (around 4pm). Although the drive was uneventful the surrounding landscape was very beautiful. This part of Turkey is a sandy/ rocky desert with rolling hills.. so if you can imagine yellowish soil and a very blue, blue sky.. Unbelievably beautiful. I have to admit that this is the sort of landscape that I actually pictured Turkey to look like, and I had finally come to the point where I could see it!

Goreme is actually nothing like I pictured it! The town is built in a valley that is filled with fairy chimneys. The buildings themselves are built inside the chimneys so you can see windows and doors cut into each of these amazing land formations. We checked into our hotel and then quickly climbed up behind our hotel to a vantage point to take a look at the valley at sunset. The valley reminded me something of the Grand Canyon but with these ‘sand dribble’ style rock formations… Nothing like I’ve ever seen before and likely nothing like I’m ever going to see again!

The temp is still very very low (about 3 below tonight!) so we all rugged up big time to head out for some dinner. In fact I wore almost everything I owned out to dinner! Dinner was at a local ladies house and she cooked for us the most incredible Bulger Rice.. I’m now a complete convert to Bulger wheat cooked with chilis and lemon! I’ve grabbed the recipe so fingers crossed I can put it all together when I get home and cook up some more. Her house is built into one of the chimneys and has been in her family for a couple of generations.. Pretty cool huh?

We all headed in early because tomorrow we are getting up early to go for a hike through the valley and we’re also going to find the Underground City where people escaped persecution.

Posted by weary_feet 21:30 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

12: One LONG bus ride..

sunny 18 °C
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We were on the bus by 8am this morning and got off just before 6pm… What a killer.. all day either on the bus or waiting for a bus….. The first few hours were taken up by catching a small local bus to Antalya (a sea side city on the Med). Small buses are great but really aren’t very roomy.. esp when you are carrying your hand luggage! Thankfully, the bus driver didn’t want to completely fill the bus with people standing in the corridors so we didn’t stop quite as many times as we could have! The morning ride on the bus took us further along the Med coast, so lots of towering cliffs and blue water!!

Lunch was in the bus station in Antalya. I had a filo pastry filled with spinach and cheese before deciding to get some exercise by walking laps of the station. I only got in 5 before we had to again get into a bus to start the last leg of our trek to Konya. This time our bus was a normal sized coach, complete with bus-hosties!!! Yep the long distance coaches here are crewed with a host or hostess who provides you with cups of tea and coffee and biscuits or cakes.. Very nice! And your bus ticket only costs the equiv of about 20 dollars.. CHEAP! We settled in for another gruelling 5 and a bit hours before we would get to Konya.

Highlight of our bus trip was discovering that our bus had sprung a leak and had broken down! 30 mins later our hostie and bus driver had got the beast re-ignited and we were off again. When the bus broke down we all got off to stretch our legs.. boy was it cold!!! About 6 deg outside!! So in the matter of a couple of hours we had gone from 24 deg down to 6!! The main reason for the huge drop in temp is that Konya is in the mountains in central Turkey and we had been steadily climbing since we left Antalya. In fact we were up so high in the mountains that we could clearly see a designated tree line!

We finally arrived at Konya freezing and hungry so we headed straight out to get some dinner at a restaurant that overlooks the Mevlana Museum. Konya is famous for the Mevlana Museum. Mevlana was a person who first founded the sect of the Whirling Devis. He is considered a type of prophet by some and created his own teachings/ interpretations of the Koran. Dinner was a fairly subdued affair, mainly because we were all tired and grumpy from the long bus ride. I had a lamb and rice dish (ok but nothing to write home about) and then we all headed back to the hotel to get some sleep because tomorrow is free time til lunch time and then another 4hr bus trip to Goreme in Cappadocia.

Posted by weary_feet 21:25 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

11: Boating on the Med

sunny 24 °C
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What an awesome day today.. Is there anything better than sailing along on the beautiful Med coast??? Our day started at a nice leisurely time with us having our breakfast up on the terrace overlooking the aqua marine water.. The view was so good that I had to rush back downstairs to grab my camera in order to grab a couple of photos during my brekky!

Our boating trip started very peacefully with us pulling out of the harbour at Kas and gently sailing out towards the Greek island of Meis. As soon as we hit some open water the swell started to get up a bit but not enough to trouble me immediately. We sailed for about an hour before we pulled into a sheltered cove to go for a swim. Temp today is probably about 24-ish so it wasn’t super warm for a dip but I had made up my mind that no matter what I was going for a swim in the Med (water temp is probably about 18 so not super duper warm…). The boys dived in first and I jumped in second. Yep the water is pretty chilly!!! Surprisingly the water is a lot more salty than what I’m used to so I didn’t really need to tread water at all to enable me to keep my head above water! (I more swam around to try and keep reasonably warm!)

After about 10 mins I had to get out as my teeth were chattering and I spent the next half an hour warming up in the sun. After pulling up anchor we continued our journey out to a sunken city. The next hour was pretty yuk for me.. the swell had picked up considerably (wind was blowing) and so the boat was rocking.. all in all not very pleasant! I retired down stairs to dose myself up and then spent the remainder of our sailing time curled up in a ball on the deck trying to avoid the worst. Thankfully we finally made it to another cove and our captain dropped anchor for lunch. Once we had stopped for a while I started to feel a bit more normal and so was able to take a good look at our surrounds. We had dropped anchor in a small cove which used to be Greek harbour way back when. You can still make out some of the footings from a stone pier and some tumbled down stones which look like they could belong to old walls etc. One of our group members decided to go for another dip (no chance I was getting back in.. I had donned two jumpers to try and warm up so there was no chance I was going to go for another swim) but the rest of us just soaked up the sunshine without the worry about seasickness!

Lunch was a glorious smorgasbord of salads, pastas, vege platters.. a real vegos delight and a nice change from the constant tomato and cucumber salad with shish! We weighed anchor again after lunch and headed to see the remains of the sunken city. The city was destroyed in an earthquake in early AD and the only parts that are still visible is some tumbled down stone work on the shore and some stone walls that are visible under the water. Diving, snorkelling etc is all strictly prohibited so we couldn’t get a good look at the ruins we could just see whatever we could see from the boat.

After our quick viewing of what little remains of the submerged city we headed back on shore and climbed up the hill behind the town of Simena. This town is home to a plethora of Lycean tombs. This time the tombs aren’t carved into the rock facings but are instead huge stone sarcophagi that are perched all over one small ridge line. The sarcophagi all appear to be empty (I’m sure they were grave robbed long ago) and are now filled with stone and gravel. The amazing thing about the sarcophagi is the immense size of them! I find it incredible to think how these huge blocks of stone were moved and placed in position??? I guess it’s a bit like the pyramids.. who knows?? The other incredible thing is the carvings that adorn the tombs.. I can only guess that these tombs were for some important Lycean people…. I also saw my first piece of native Turkish wildlife (for once it isn’t a cat or a dog!!) this area is home to some curious tortoises.. We saw a couple ambling along as we climbed amongst the tombs!

We finished our mainland trip with a local Turkish ice cream (Hazelnut for me).. very tasty.. before we re-boarded our boat to finish our sailing trip to another small town Ucagiz which is our accom for the evening. We had a couple of hours to kill before our dinner (back on board our sailing boat) so I decided to spend it blogging and having a rest.

Dinner was another delicious affair, more beautiful salads and this time accompanied by some really tasty shish. Probably one of the best meals I’ve had since arriving here in Turkey! I spent the rest of my evening marvelling at the beauty of the Milky Way (its been a long time since I’ve seen the stars clearly in the sky) and looking for the northern hemisphere’s constellations… (Although to be honest I really didn’t know quite what I was looking for… definitely no southern cross though!!)

We all headed back to bed with tomorrow being an all day bus trip to our next stop of Konya… 9 hrs of travel what a killer!!!!

Posted by weary_feet 21:30 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

10: Colour contrasts

sunny 24 °C
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Got going again early-ish as we had a short-ish bus trip ahead of us as we continued our trek down the Western coastline towards the Southern point of Turkey. Today’s bus trip was really unforgettable- Fetiyha to Kas (although I’m sure give me a couple of years and I’ll struggle to remember the beauty of the trip!). The road followed the coastline so on the RHS of the bus it was beautiful turquoise water and on the LHS steep treacherous yellow rocked cliffs. The colour contrast was what made this trip so special.. Everywhere you looked your eye was drawn to either beautifully clear water or amazingly coloured cliffs!! Indescribably beautiful… One of those drives that should be on every one’s list!

Today’s stop was at a beautiful seaside town called Kas. Kas is small town that is rimmed by huge towering mountains and of course the Mediterranean. On arrival in the town we found the town stopped and about to begin their national holiday celebrations (which are actually tomorrow but being a Friday they are doing a half-day and celebrating the holiday today). One thing that is very obvious about Turkey is the level of national pride. Everywhere you go you see multiple Turkish flags (in fact nearly all apartment buildings have at least one flag flying from a balcony) and this celebration was no exception. The local school kids had turned out ‘en masse’ and the leaders of the school were all carrying the flags for the country. The ceremony was fairly short, introductions of the town’s leaders and then the singing of the national anthem. From what Kiymet (our guide) tells us, this year’s celebrations are deliberately subdued because a few days ago hundreds of people died here in Turkey after a large earthquake. SO instead of celebrating their holiday, the national day will actually be a day of mourning for those who died or were injured in the quake.

Lunch was at another family run restaurant (Mamma’s) and this time I tested out the local Turkish ravioli (very similar to Italian but the sauce is based on yoghurt rather than cream.. quite a nice change!) before we headed out into the town for an afternoon of shopping and relaxing. Dinner was a really fun affair, again us ladies got together and decided to have a light dinner on the main market square before finishing off our night with a drink at one of the local bars. I ordered what I thought was a cocktail and ended up with a shot! (how does that work??) but I have to say that the shot warmed up this little black duck, because once the sun goes down here in Turkey the temp drops very rapidly!!!

We all headed into bed pretty early because we are spending our whole day tomorrow out on the beautiful Med on a yacht! Again, it’s a pretty tough life for this little chicken at the moment!!!!

Posted by weary_feet 21:15 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

9: Sail's and Swan's

sunny 24 °C
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Really early start this morning as we had a hike planned over the hill and down to the Med so by 8.30 we were on the track. This trek is actually via the Lycean Way. The Lycean way is a 500+ km track that was used by the Lycean’s for defence. Today the track is marked and is open for trekkers from all over the world. We only trekked a very small amount of the track from Kaya village down to the Blue Lagoon.

The trek was a really pleasant hike, starting with us walking through the ‘ghost village’ and then up and over the mountains down to the Med (prob about 6km). Most of the track was through pine forest so thankfully it wasn’t too hot a walk.. (I would hate to do this trek in the height of summer.. it was hot enough for us and the temp was probably only about 21 deg!!) We were ‘dogged’ (literally) by a local dog that Malia nicknamed ‘Muffy’. The animals here in Turkey are pretty amusing.. they are all communal animals with everyone looking out for and feeding the animals. Muffy joined us in Kaya village and walked the whole length of the trakc with us to the Blue Lagoon!

The view of the lagoon is pretty special. The lagoon is a crescent shaped stretch of water that is aqua marine in colour The lagoon is fringed by white coloured coarse sand and pine forested hills. All in all, very inviting for a dip! There is also a small town situated on the lagoon which is a tourist mecca. We arrived to find a paragliding championship in action so the sky was filled with colourful sails!

Us girls, spent our morning up on the top of one of the local restaurants sipping cocktails whilst overlooking the lagoon! Gosh it’s a tough life, but someone has to do it! My cocktail was a ‘Burnt Almond’ which was definitely quite delic!! By the time we had completed our drinks I had cooled down considerably so was no longer interested in that dip (it really isn’t that warm here.. I should have got in straight away whilst I was still hot from the walk.. oh well). We went for a tour of the town, which is mainly all cheesy touristy shops, before we met up with the boys for a trip into Fetiyha and some seafood for lunch.

Fetiyha is a large town on the Med close to Kaya village. The bus trip was interesting (actually all bus trips here in Turkey are interesting). The local buses are all small 20 seat jobs and when the seats are filled people stoop in the tiny corridor between the seats! There are not really any dedicated bus stops.. you just hail the bus to get on and tell the driver when you want to get off!! (This even goes for big long distance coaches when we are travelling between towns!!!!) We stayed on the bus until we got to the end of the road and then went for a walk down towards the water front hunting some local seafood. We didn’t manage to find a fish monger (although lonely planet assured us that we could) but we did see hundreds of big yachts and boats parked in the marina and found ourselves a fairly average restaurant to eat some fish. Although the food wasn’t super duper the view from the balcony was very sweet. Huge yachts parked out front, sun shining, slight breeze, blue sky and great company what more can you ask for, when you are looking for a lazy late lunch???? The most amusing thing at lunch was when Sue ordered a Latte and got a hot cup of milk with a hint of coffee flavouring and the most impressive thing about our lunch was a fruit platter that the owners brought out to us which was fruit cut into the shape of a swan! Impressive! All in all a very nice way to end a fantastic day on the Mediterranean!

Posted by weary_feet 21:08 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

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