Turkey Art Adventure Sept 27 to Oct 10, 2015

I am really excited to have been asked to lead a small group tour to Turkey this Fall with Finisterra Travel. See the itinerary here.

See my blog posts here for my 2014 painting trip to Turkey here.

Read about my month as artist in residence at the Babayan Art House, Ibrahimpasa, Turkey in March 2009 on the blog here.

Read about my month as artist in residence at the Gumusluk Academy on the Bodrum peninsula in Turkey for May 2009 here.

Magical Ebru

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Today we were introduced to a wonderful art technique – ebru, Turkish paper marbling. Hikmet laid out all the supplies on our outdoor dining table and explained how the procedure worked. A kind of sizing or gum Arabic is mixed into water to create a thickish gluey liquid paste which is then poured into shallow trays of various sizes. Hikmet had several small jars of coloured inks made from animal bile, an oil-based medium, and brushes, metal pokers, and paper.

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Into the bed of liquid she flicked brushes loaded with ink; these ink drops then spread open on the surface of the water. Into these drops she flicked other coloured drops, building up a layer of colour covering the shallow surface of the bath. A sheet of paper was then carefully put onto the resulting patterning, pressed down lightly, and then dragged through the water and pulled off, the coloured pattern coming off the surface of the water onto the paper – magic! The results were really great.

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Each of us made several sheets of ebru using various techniques to build up the patterning. The small metal poker was used to draw onto the surface of the ink, causing the circular forms to become hearts or wavy lines. As well, we had three small rakes to draw through the ink, making other kinds of patterning.

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After the paper is drawn out of the bath, it is then washed and hung up to dry. A bit unfortunately, the day was really, really blustery so the pieces of paper were swinging and dancing around quite violently on the clothes line. Barb and Maggie both printed onto their clothing, with good results. See more info on paper marbling here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_marbling

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En Plein Air in Gokcebel

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Gokcebel is a beautiful little village – I love it here. It is wonderful to be back in Turkey again after 4 years. The Old Stone House is a former castle or fort, likely about 250 years old, although it has older parts, such as bits of Roman column and pillars. The scent of jasmine and mint fills the air and the garden has lovely bougainvillea, palm trees, and grape vines winding over a huge wooden pergola underneath which is the breakfast table. Three levels of terraces surround the house, each of which has a lovely seating area. The main house has three bedrooms, a sitting room, kitchen and small dining room used in the winter when it’s too cold to sit outside. All the houses here are built for outside living because the weather is so beautiful here most of the year.

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Just outside the back gate is the Mulberry Cottage, a much newer two story building, with two twin bedrooms, one single, and a small kitchenette, as well as its own little terrace and upper deck with a view out over the valley. The town is located in a small valley surrounded by serrated hills, the caldera of a former volcano. Eljay and I are staying at an apartment across the valley, since there is no room at the Old Stone inn – all the bedrooms are full with our painting program guests who arrived in a series of waves yesterday. Altogether with Eljay and Hikmet, the local Turkish tutor, we are a group of 12 who will spend the next two weeks drawing and painting around the Bodrum peninsula.

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Before the guests arrived Eljay and I had a lovely sunset drink down by the harbour in Yalikavak, the closest big town just a few miles down the road from the house. I have not been in this part of the peninsula before; last time I was here we stayed in Bodrum and in 2009 I was in Gumusluk, west and south of here, for the month of May. This part of the peninsula is not too over-developed and is still quite charming. Yalikavak has a beautiful yacht harbour and a series of beaches along the coast towards Golturkbuku. Restaurants, bars, and shops line the harbour and the side streets next to it. As I recall there is some sort of regulation about the colour of the buildings here – they must be white or at least light in colour, giving a uniformity to the villages. Against this white background the purple, pink, and red flowers stand out in stark relief.

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As usual, since we are in a small village, the animal chorus gets going very early in the morning. The strangled cries of roosters, dogs, cows, bulls, and the odd donkey echo around the hills accompanying the 5 am call to prayer, sung by an imam with a terrific voice. Three of Eljay’s cats stroll around the garden, many skinny stray beasts wander through the yard, and a very large tan and black Turkish dog keeps guard outside the front gate. Today we are going to begin the program with an oil painting exercise around the village – each person will have her own set up of easel, stool, a bag of painting supplies, a pallet, and even an apron. Eljay plans to start people off with a thumbnail sketch of the local “colour” and then proceed to painting from there.

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Each member of our intrepid group grabbed her bag of supplies, a stool, and an easel and headed for the hills. We separated into two groups and stationed ourselves in shady spots overlooking the view, one group near the market and the other up above the mosque. The first order of business is oil painting in a realist manner so Monday saw us sketching our motif and transferring the drawing onto a small canvas for painting. On Tuesday, after visiting the tiny local market and purchasing some shalvar pants and scarves, our group returned to our respective spots to block in the lights and darks. I, being a crummy student, did not do the exercise as described but instead executed my piece in the hot colours of the American south west, making the Turkish village house look like something out of New Mexico.

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The local dog fell in love with Barb and sat down in her paints, refusing to leave her side. Everyone was able to do a piece with which they felt proud and Eljay was very complimentary about our efforts.

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Almost all of us took Eljay up on the optional hamam program, piling into the minibus for the Raschid Hamam in Ortakar (the third best Turkish Bath in all of Turkey, according to the owner’s daughter) where we were hosed down, scrubbed, and massaged for three hours of bliss. Su was delighted with her masseuse, a tall, dark-haired pony-tailed Russian man decked out in tight white speedos …

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The Eagle Has Landed in Gokcebel

Well, I had been stressing for quite a few days about my upcoming flight to Turkey. I had purchased the ticket on Ty’s tablet while we were in Mexico; I was angry with myself because, on its tiny screen I had difficulty reading the information and, even though I had said to myself “That flight is one I definitely don’t want because it has such short transfer times”, in fact that stupid flight was exactly the one I clicked on in my rush to buy the ticket. Visions of being left behind in Amsterdam as my KLM flight to Istanbul was winging its way eastward danced in my head, and not in a nice way, either.

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I attempted to check-in online the day before the flight, but because I hadn’t entered the passport information when I bought the ticket (because my passport, inconveniently, was expiring), half way through the process I discovered that without this crucial bit of info, I could not check-in online. Nor could I select a seat, another thing that I had wanted to do so that I could make sure of getting a spot on the aisle close to the front of the plane for speedier exit … sigh. Major cock-up.

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So … I got to the airport four hours early, checked in at the self-serve kiosk, and found out that my assigned seat was a middle seat right in the back of the plane (of course). Luckily, because I was so early I was able to change my seat at the kiosk to a more congenial row 26 aisle seat …. closer to the target. Even more happily, the plane left on time, and, since it wasn’t full, I was able to move to an even more strategic seat on the aisle row 16. We had a smooth flight over the North Pole and arrived in Amsterdam a bit early; I leapt out of my seat the moment the seat belt sign was turned off and hustled myself and my carry-on bag down the hallway to my connecting flight, already boarding at a gate somewhere far away … after a speed walk through the terminal I arrived at a long line sneaking its way through the security clearance with 5 minutes to spare before the gate closed – huzzah!

Unfortunately, the Istanbul flight left late and confronted strong head winds on the way east, Ataturk International was exceptionally busy, with every gate full of planes and others waiting to taxi in, and we had to wait to park at the gate. When I had originally booked the Bodrum flight, I had had enough time to transfer, but the airline had changed the departure time twice after I had already purchased the ticket, each time moving it earlier. As a consequence, I had only one hour to get off the KLM plane, through passport control, into the domestic terminal, and onto the next plane … Once again the mad dash down the airport hallways, rushing past folks clogging up the moving sidewalks, only to arrive at an unbelievably crowded passport control point, full of a surging mass of international humanity. Unlike other big airports – Mexico City, for example, where people with connecting flights can go through a separate streamlined transfer passport control process – here everyone has to trudge through the same slow snake of a line towards the control booth – scheisse! It was not at all looking good for my connecting flight to Bodrum. While I walked slowly through the line, the group of eastern European men behind me kept trying to budge into line in front of me; not feeling very charitable and not willing to ignore it, I told them that actually I was ahead of them and proceeded to push my way past them as the minutes ticked inexorably by.

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After receiving a desultory look at my visa and a loud clang of a stamp in my new passport, I raced through Ataturk International in the direction of the Domestic Terminal, along a seemingly interminable series of hallways as the time was running out and “Last Call” for the Bodrum flight flashed on the Departure screen. By this time I was a ball of sweat, and the ol’ legs were not as strong as they might have been. I was losing steam and starting to give up on making the flight. But with a superhuman effort I ran up to the Atlasjet counter yelling “Bodrum – help!”. An employee took pity on me, I was tossed a boarding pass, conducted to the front of the security line, through screening, had my bag carried down to the bus, radioed the plane that I was on my way and the door held open for me as I stumbled up the stairs, into the cabin, and collapsed in a sweaty, stinking heap into my seat at one minute before departure (not a good look) – huzzah!

In an interesting turn of events on the flight, I was having a nice chat with a very pleasant Turkish woman heading to Gundogan from Frankfurt and the fellow sitting on my other side heard me say I was from Canada. He asked “Which city?”, I responded “Vancouver”, he asked, “Where in Vancouver?”, I replied “Downtown – what about you?”, he replied “Yaletown”, I said “No kidding – where?, he answered “The Elan – 28th  floor”. I was stunned – we were actual neighbours! The Elan is the building right across the street from our place – we could have seen one another through our windows! How small is the world! Originally from Iran, resident in Vancouver for 14 years, Dema is now a financial planner in Dubai but still considers himself Canadian. It was a lovely end to a long, long day to meet these nice folks.

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Eljay retrieved me from the airport and drove me to our digs for the coming weeks, the Old Stone House, in tiny village of Gokcebel, a lovely drive of about 45 minutes along the beautiful coast of the Bodrum peninsula. After a nice glass of cold white wine, and some homemade soup, I was ready to hit the sack. Over and out for now!

Bye-Bye, Turkey – Görüşürüz!

Well, my six months of travel are almost over – one more day and then I am off back to Canada on June 20. It has been a wonderful journey!

My companions at Side Garden Residence have been the following:

Tracey, Christine and Barb, family and friends.

Elke, from Bonn, here for six months, looking for work in the tourism sector.

Family of three generations of Turkish women from Ankara and Munich, non-swimmers all. Granny, living large, wearing her string of pearls necklace and her pink crocheted cap, inches around the pool using her hands to propel herself crab-like along the edge. Her two daughters, alike in size and blonde hair, and their three daughters, all lovely dark-haired beauties, are doing their best to learn to swim. Both Elke and I attempted to show them how this morning, Elke with more success than me.

English family of five, nicknamed the Griswalds, who station themselves poolside all day and never leave the complex.

English couple who station themselves poolside and never leave the complex.

Five young English friends frolicking on inflatables.

Ann and her unnamed husband, here from the north of England for 9 months each year, who station themselves poolside and seldom leave the complex.

Many (28 apartments – of the 60 in the complex – worth) unnamed Scandinavian, German and Belgian tour company employees, mostly for Nazar and Tui.

Kaan, Gokhan and several other unnamed Turkish employees of the housing management company responsible for looking after SGR.

Yilderay and his unnamed wife, maintenance man and cleaner.

Granny, Kaan’s grandmother.

Three unnamed cats.

Several song birds.

Recap of where I have been since Dec 31, 2008:

Thailand: Koh Libong; Koh Muk: Emerald Cave; Koh Kradan; Koh Lipe; Koh Lanta; Koh Phi Phi; Phi Phi Lei; Koh Jum/Pu; Krabi; Bangkok: Arun Wat Temple, Grand Palace complex, Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha; Chinatown; many Buddhist and Hindu temples.

Malaysia: Malacca.

Singapore: Modern Art Museum; Singpore History Museum; Bukit Brown Abandoned Chinese Cemetery; several Buddhist and Hindu temples; Arab Street; Little India; Peranakan Museum; Emerald Hill.

Greece: Meis/Kastellorizo Island

Turkey: Istanbul; Princes Islands/Buyuk Ada; Nevsehir; Ibrahimpasa; Uchisar; Ortahisar; Urgup; Mustafapasa; Cemil; Sahinefendi; Goreme; Avanos; Gore; Dalyan, Ortaca; Kas; Gumusluk; Bodrum; Gumbet; Turgutreis; Torba; Side; Antalya; Manavgat; Aglasun; Burdur; Pamukkale; Ucagiz; Simena; Kadikalesi; Koycegiz; Seleukeia; Cirali and many other tiny towns and villages whose names escape me at the moment.

Ancient sites in Turkey: Blue Mosque; Hagia Sofia; Basilica Cistern; Cemberlitas Hamam; Kariye Church; Rustempasa Mosque; New Mosque; Grand Bazaar; Spice Bazaar; Topkapi Palace; Dolmabahce Palace; Sobesos; too many rock-cut churches and monasteries in Cappadocia to mention separately; Kayakapi; Kaunos; Kas/Antiphellos; Xanthos; Patara; Kekova; Simena; Bodrum Castle; Myndos; Ephesus; Hieropolis; Side; Olympos; Phaselis; Sagalassos; Karain Cave; Termessos; Perge

Museums/Galleries in Turkey: Topkapi Palace; Dolmabahce Palace; Hagia Sofia; Kariye Church; Goreme Open Air Museum; Bodrum Castle and Underwater Archeology Museum; Burdur Museum; Mosque/Gallery of contemporary art in Kaleici (Antalya)

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Things I will miss about Turkey:

Weather: wonderful, wonderful sunny hot breezy days; I especially love the mornings and evenings here.

People: the generous and hospitable people that I have met here.

Flora: the beautiful colours of the bougainvillea, hibiscus, lilies and other flowers; the grapevine arbours, the pine forests.

Animals: I have loved the Turkish cats and dogs, especially the street cats with their tiny triangular faces and piteous meowing – cagey devils; grasshoppers, crickets, birds including pelicans and storks (and the funny little bird who comes to our pool every morning and immerses its whole body in the world’s largest bird bath), lizards large and small – these guys, quite a bit like geckos and iguanas, hang out on the rocks at the ruin sites; camels; my little boyfriend Keesje, Willemijn and Paul’s grey and white cat.

Hamams: I love the tradition of the Turkish Bath and think that we should have it in Vancouver. I understand that there is one bath at home, on Granville near 6th, so I will check it out later.

Patterns/tilework: the geometric and floral patterned motifs on tiles, walls, ceilings of mosques, hamams and ceramic ware.

Water: the beautiful turquoise-blue of the Mediterranean Sea; our 25 meter pool at the SGR; the glacial green-blue water of the Manavgat waterfalls and the Koprulu canyon.

Dolmuses; the great inexpensive minibus system, where one can hop on and hop off anywhere along the route.

Things I won’t miss:

The top two are smoking by everyone everywhere all the time and the ubiquitous, pushy, annoying sales touts everywhere almost all the time.

Driving: Although I did not actually drive myself, because I can’t drive a stick shift and all the rental cars here are standard, being the navigator also entailed being alert through the chaotic traffic here. One site I was looking at in preparation for our Sagalassos road trip cautioned: “An aggressive driving style is recommended” – yah, that’s for sure! S/he who hesitates on the Turkish roads is lost.

Litter and garbage: plastic, plastic water bottles, cigarette butts, paper wrappers; people throwing their garbage out of car windows and tossing their butts everywhere; dumps, both legitimate and illegitimate.

Bare-breasted European women on the beach. While I normally have no particular problem with this practice, I think that it is highly inappropriate in this culture. Ditto the wearing of bikinis at places other than the beach or pool. News Flash: You’re not in Kansas any more, Dorothy; you are in an Islamic culture – give your head a shake. I am reminded of the English woman at the Saturday market in Side with her large fake breasts popping out of her bikini top trying to negotiate a purchase from a Turkish man slavering over her boobies – blaaahhh to both of them.

Rudeness in general: While the Turks are mostly notable for their politeness and hospitality, some in the tourist sector are really rude and ignorant; ditto some of the tourists who frequent holiday resorts here.

Nescafe: I can hardly wait for decent brewed coffee and the cappuccino – best in Vancouver – at the Japanese coffee bar Ty and I frequent on Davie St.

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The most amazing aspect of my trip has been all the wonderful people I have met everywhere I have gone, both local people and travelers from other countries. I will try to list them here and hopefully I will not forget to mention someone:

Thailand: Tam and all the guys at the Tai Rai Bay Resort on Koh Jum/Pu; Roger, resident guru at Ting Rai Bay; Helena, Sofia, Elizabeth, and Monique, guests from Sweden and Holland at Ting Rai Bay; Chris and Mich from Malaysia on Koh Libong; Ingo and Simone on Koh Lanta.

Singapore: Matilda, my friend and hostess; Skye, friend from Nanaimo now living in Singapore.

Istanbul; Ahmet and Sharam, proprietors of the Ocean’s 7 hotel in Sultanahmet; Sofie from Belgium; Chrissy from the States by way of Romania.

Cappadocia: Willemijn and Paul, artists and hosts of the Babayan Culture House in Ibrahimpasa; Mehmet Ali, unofficial “mayor” of Ibrahimpasa and antique dealer; Kus (Birdie) Mehmet, toast-master extraordinaire of Ibrahimpasa; Idris, proprietor of Urgup’s candle- and world-music-house; Mehmet, Cenap, Bayram, Filiz, Hanim and Cansu in Goreme; Crazy Ali, antique dealer in Ortahisar; Almut, artist, chef and guest house proprietor, and her two sons, in Uchisar; Halil, my taxi driver; Marina, Portuguese artist in wood and stone.

Dalyan: Sonja, guide from Kaunos tours and mountain biking machine, and her husband Murat; Katie and Richard from London, my companions on the mountain bike tour; Ali and Nurmin, proprietors of the Crescent Hotel; Terry, Bob, Doug, and Bill, retired teachers from Langley, BC, Canada.

Kas: the four young guys who helped me with my mannequin installation; Marta-Sofia from Portugal and Germany; Suzi and Peter from Fiji.

Gumusluk: the gang at the Gumusluk Academy, Seray, Ilknur, Nils, Elhan, Pilin, Latife, Emre, Eyup, Mehmet, Mehmet Abi, Zubeida; Meral and Ida from Denmark; Nesa and Li Li, poets from Cyprus and Sweden respectively; Gary the Gumusluk Gambacisi and Danny, writer and proprietor of a pension in Gumusluk; Eren, pianist and Director of the Gumusluk International Classical Music Festival, and her husband Mesrut.

Bodrum: Ayla, guide and delightful companion.

Side: Elke; Yusuf, proprietor of the Vera market and all-round helpful guy; Mehmet, car rental dude and all-round helpful guy; Ahmet, antique dealer.

While I have enjoyed every bit of my time here (even the grumpy old lady bits), the most incredible part of my journey through this fascinating country was the time I spent in Cappadocia at the Babayan Culture House in Imbrahimpasa. The month spent at this artist’s residency and guest house, a centuries old renovated cave house in a tiny village of 800 persons where people live as they have lived for a thousand years, was the most unusual and farthest outside my regular frame of reference. It was magical and inspirational in every possible way. The landscape was incredible; although I had been before for a few days last June, spending a month there allowed me to visit almost every village and town and hike through many of the beautiful valleys. I also got to experience almost every kind of weather: from sunny and 20 degrees to a foot of snow and minus something, sometimes within a day of one another. Also, since it was so early in the year, I had almost every place I went to myself; that, too, was incredible, especially being able to take my time when visiting the Open Air Museum and rock cut churches. I also loved the Goreme Hamam, especially the visit that Willemijn and I made one Sunday when, after spending several hours in the warmth of the bath, we came out in early evening to a winter landscape of snow blanketing the town.

Thanks to everyone who made my journey so memorable!

Ruin Road Trip: Sagalassos, Burdur, Karain, Termessos, and Perge – whewww!

Road trip! Tracey and I boarded our small silver bomb early yesterday morning and were off on our ruin road trip by 7. The traffic through Antalya was still quite busy even though it was fairly early Sunday morning and I had to keep alert to navigate us through the city, onto the city centre bypass route and up north towards Burdur. We made one false move in turning off north too soon but caught it quickly and were back on the right track within 10 minutes. Unfortunately, our driving map did not go up high enough and I was navigating according to written instructions obtained from the internet and my memory of the map we’d had in the car the other day. We stopped three times at three different gas stations to see if they sold maps but none of them did. At our second stop five guys debated in Turkish over how to get to Aglasun, the town nearest to the Sagalassos ruin site, our first destination. However, even without the map, and instructions scrawled on the back of a cookie box, we managed to find our way to the correct turnoff some 1.75 hours north of Antalya. We drove through Aglasun following the old weathered Sagalassos signs up 7 kilometers of windy hairpin turn one lane road to the ruin site.

The site occupies a mountain top position and it was slightly overcast and windy when we arrived, cool enough to wear a sweater and scarf. Only one other car and a small midi bus were in the parking lot; a Belgian tour also pulled up just as we disembarked, disgorging a small crowd of visitors, some of whom were using walkers and canes. We were not sure what part of “hill top ruin site” led them to think that they would be able to climb up to the ancient city. At the top of the site, far up the mountain, was the Hellenistic theatre, quite well preserved. We enjoyed the view from the top in almost complete seclusion and the cool breeze whistling through the grass and our hair. Making our way down again, we examined the Neon library and the fountain house, the latter providing a home for lizards, butterflies and crickets, as well as a solitary large worm in a pool of water.

The site has two agorae, the upper with a beautiful Nymphaeum (ornamental fountain), a Heroon (small temple dedicated to a deified human, likely Alexander the Great), and a Doric temple. The heroon has a beautiful frieze of 15 dancing women around the base, the originals of which we later saw in the Burdur museum. The lower agora is where the archeological team is currently working and thus we weren’t able to walk around inside it. It is here, in the bath complex, that the colossal heads of Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Faustina were found last year and the year before. The large crane in the middle of the agora, used by the archeological excavation team, seems oddly out of place in the midst of white stone monuments. When we’d completed our tour of the site, I sampled my favorite beverage, Nescafe, in a tulip shaped cup in the small outdoor café at the entrance.

Read more about the site here and here.

The setting of the ruins is beautiful and we were interested in seeing some of the artifacts excavated so we decided to drive to Burdur, where the museum housing these is located. Rather than retrace our steps, we drove along a 27 kilometer gravel road up hill and down dale through villages to reach Burdur, a medium sized town about 150 km north of Antalya. The museum is small but contains several beautiful sculptures, especially the ones taken from the upper agora’s nymphaeum. The two sculptures of Bacchus and Satyr are standouts here, as is the original frieze of the 15 dancing women from the Heroon. We also saw finds from Kremna, Kibyra, and Karacaoren, all ancient sites in the immediate area. The wealth of ancient ruins in this area is astonishing and we marveled at how the ancients were able to construct their cities in such imposing locations. After an hour or so in the small museum, we hopped back in the car and headed back down towards Antalya and the Karain Cave, the next stop on our agenda, a Paleolithic archaeological site located at Yağca village 27 km northwest of Antalya.

Karain is a prehistoric cave, situated at a height of about 370 m from the sea and about 80 m up the slope, where the Western Taurus calcareous zone borders on the travertine plain. Evidence of human habitation dating back to the early Paleolithic age (150,000-200,000) years has been discovered in this cave. We entered the site through a minimalist museum with four or five small glass cases of artifacts such as stone arrow heads and two rather dusty sets of antlers on the wall. 800 meters up the cliff along a narrow rocky path lies the entrance to the cave itself. The cavern entrance bears vestiges of the archeologists’ excavations. Beyond the entrance are several large rooms with strangely-shaped walls and ceilings, luridly lit by high-powered electric lights. Tracey and I enjoyed the coolness of the interior after the steep, hot climb, both of us having made the mistake of wearing flip-flops rather than our shoes. As we made our way down the slope again, the clouds that had been gathering as we were inside became darker and darker and just as we reached the car, the heavens opened and it began to pour rain and hail. Earlier I had called Suleiman at the Yesil Vadi pension where we were spending the night to let him know we were on our way and he came to pick us up and guide us along the shortcut to the pension through the village of Yağca.

The pension, located 9 km from Termessos on the side of a dry river bed, has 9 rooms and is run by two brothers from the local village. The two of us and a German family of three camping were the only guests. While somewhat Spartan in terms of décor, Yesil Vadi served its purpose of being very convenient for our next stop, the mountain top site of Termessos in the Gulluk Milli Park. Suleiman was also very pleasant and spoke good English. Tracey and I sampled the restaurant’s specialties of meatballs, cigar boregi, macaroni and tomato salad and were in bed by 9, exhausted.

The next morning, although I had wanted to sleep in a bit, I was awake at 6 and we were in the dining room for breakfast by 7:30. The morning was beautiful, sunny with a few drifting clouds, and windy. We headed off down the road, into the park, and up the 7 kilometer windy one lane hairpin turn road to the parking lot halfway up the mountain. From here, we took the left hand path through the forest up towards the site.

Termesssos was a Psidian city built at an altitude of more than 1000 meters at the south-west side of the mountain Solymos (modern day Güllük Dagi) in the Taurus Mountains. Unlike Sagalassos, the wealthy first city of Pamphylia which was conquered by Alexander the Great in 333, Termessos was left alone by the Macedonian conqueror. Legend has it that Termessos’ location and fierce inhabitants repelled Alexander but other modern accounts say that he simply didn’t bother to take it, possibly because it was not worth his while. Termessos is an unrestored site, concealed by a multitude of wild plants and bounded by dense pine forests, and has many tumbled-down blocks of stone and parts of columns over which a visitor must climb to ascend. We reached the theatre, located right near the top of the mountain, and was it ever fabulous. What a location! The view from there over the valley and mountains beyond was gorgeous. From there we walked through the gymnasium, the agora, of which nothing much is left except piles of stones, the benefactor’s house – ditto – and along a path with five very deep cisterns. We spent some time walking in circles around here looking for the agora before we realized that there was nothing much of it to see. Very few people were at the site; the steepness of the terrain keeps most away but we saw a few, including one British couple, the woman wearing leather dress shoes, a white skirt and carrying a white parasol – unusual dress choices for this particular venue … We then made our way back down again to the baths and took the right hand path leading down to the parking lot, the steeper and more difficult way past rock-cut cliffside tombs and sarcophagi. Near the bottom we saw Hadrian’s Gate amidst another big pile of stony rubble. Upon asking one of the ticket takers where the lion’s tomb was, he proceeded to take us on a whirlwind tour of the north east necropolis – no “yavash, yavash (slowly, slowly)” for us. The guy sped us through that necropolis as if he were being chased by wild boars. We did see the lion tomb, with relief carvings of two lions on the side of the sarcophagus, the monumental tomb, and several others with quite well-preserved relief sculptures, some of angels. The two necropolis on the site contain in total about 1,200 sarcophagi. Many of the ones we saw were completely overgrown with moss, ferns and other plants, tumbled here and there, hither and thither in the forest. My old favorites the korek were also growing here; however, while the korek in Gumusluk had been fully grown and dying off, those here were just beginning to grow. Butterflies fluttered around our heads and crickets and grasshoppers skipped across the ground as we walked; one small beast attached himself to our car windshield and had to be brushed off into the weeds before we left.

Read more about Termessos here.

After having spent about 3 hours at this wonderful hilltop site, we headed back down the road to Antalya, through the big city and got stuck in terrible traffic about 2 kilometers before the turnoff to Perge, our next stop. A construction project has closed down half the highway here and we crawled along for what seemed like hours as cars and trucks and tractors and motorbikes tried to jockey for position on the crowded tarmac in the heat. Finally, we reached the Perge turnoff and 2 kilometers from the highway, the site itself. A notable historical figure who twice visited Perge was St. Paul the Apostle and his companion St. Barnabas, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 13:13-14 and 14:25), during their first missionary journey, where they “preached the word” (Acts 14:25) before heading for and sailing from Attalia (modern-day Antalya city), 15 km to the southwest, to Antioch.

Perge is enormous, a ruin from the Roman imperial period, and has several long colonnaded streets that are very impressive. But the most impressive part of these ruins for us was the bath complex, an enormous, opulently constructed series of buildings that must have been amazing back in the day. I was quite tired and hot and we did not have much water so our progress through the site was slow and we didn’t have the energy to see it all. We did make our way through an unmarked field and torn down fence out to see the theatre, only to find that it was “closed for restoration” – ha! It looked as though no-one had been in there for at least 25 years and did not at all look as though any restoration project was happening – it is just locked up behind a tall metal fence – damn. It would have been helpful if the ticket taker had told us that the theatre was closed. And also, after paying 15 lira, more than any other site, it was disappointing that we did not even get a brochure in English. Perge would be best visited early in the morning when one is fresh – it is definitely not a heat of the day endeavour …

Once back on the highway and in the ridiculous traffic, we crawled along for another painful 2 kilometers before being able to get some speed up on our return journey. Feeling hot and tired, we pulled over at one of the many roadside gozleme (Turkish crepe) stands and feasted on gozleme cooked by granny and tomatoes and cucumber picked fresh from the garden – yummm. We arrived back at the ranch by 5:30 or so, glad to put the silver crap car to rest.

See pictures here and here.

Side Friday and Saturday

After our busy couple of days on the road, Tracey and I decided to take it easy yesterday. We spent the morning working on our respective journals, Tracey’s an actual physical book and mine electronic. Later, we spent several hours poolside lounging and swimming, watching three English kids unsupervised by their sleeping parents splash and throw things at one another. That evening, after a little nap, we headed out so that Tracey could do some shopping. We stopped at a local restaurant right on the main drag along the coast and had a spaghetti dinner in their grassy garden, watching several rabbits in a small cage munch on lettuce. A little girl was enchanted by them, reaching her fingers into the cage to stroke their furry noses. I wondered whether rabbit was on the menu and/or whether the rabbits were there to attract foreign tourists. Some of the shopkeepers here keep small dogs and cats on hand as a way to draw people in.

After a surprisingly tasty pasta dinner, we walked through the otogar, hopped on the train/bus to the town gate and headed down a back street to the antique shop that I’d seen earlier. In a town where almost all the shops and markets have exactly the same cheap tourist junk for sale this place stands out for its unique merchandise, such as camel accessories and jewellery from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, antique prints and paintings. When we got there the door was open but the proprietor was nowhere to be seen. We walked in and suddenly he emerged from somewhere looking very spiffy in a white shirt and tie and welcomed us, wondering whether we were “travelers or tourists”. When I responded that we were travelers, he invited us to make ourselves welcome and offered us tea and orange juice. I drank my tea while watching Tracey rummage through the wares on offer. After selecting a few things, Tracey pulled out her purse whereupon Ahmet cautioned her not to open her wallet in view of the window and to conclude the transaction in the back room where passersby and other merchants could not see how much money she was paying. He explained to us that the other merchants were always watching him and his store to see how much money he was making and that they were jealous because they weren’t making any money; nothing much is selling this year. Elke had also mentioned that people she knows in tourism were also complaining that they are not making any money this year, especially people in luxury fields such as watersports. I had the impression that Ahmet was afraid of being beaten up or robbed by his neighbours.

We wandered out onto the main shopping street after completing the purchase and Tracey managed to find a few other little items that caught her eye. Tiring of shopping and all the attendant hassle, we made our way over to the Temple of Apollo and Byzantine basilica on the waterfront, beautifully illuminated at night, and took several pictures while being watched by the ubiquitous pairs of Turkish men that hang out there looking for foreign women.

Saturday morning four kittie cats were in our dumpster nibbling on discarded goodies; after cooing over them, we walked over to the Side Saturday Market located next to the big mosque in Kemer. Tracey still had a few small items to look for and we cruised around the market examining spices, clothing, and the other offered wares. One man spent a few minutes showing Tracey how something worked, and after, when she did not buy it, he got really angry and swore at her … just another day at the fair: “Yes, please …”. After dropping off the merchandise at the apartment, we walked down over the sand dunes to the beach, dropping to the sand in front of the Beach Bar and collapsing into the wavy ocean. We watched as a group of kids build an enormous sand village consisting of several castles and moats and a group of seven zoom around on a banana boat. Elke met us and we spent some time under her umbrella, then, when the clouds started moving in, we headed in to town so that I could change some Canadian cash for our road trip tomorrow. We are off to Sagalassos, an ancient Greco-Roman site an hour and a half north of Antalya currently being excavated by a Belgian University; the Karain Neolithic Cave, continuously occupied for 25,000 years; Termessos, a mountain-top ruin site northwest of Antalya famous for repelling Alexander the Great in 333 bce, and Perge, a Roman site west of Antalya through which St Paul travelled on one of his missionary journeys.

Tracey’s Herculean foot: Tracey has been plagued by mosquito bites and heat rash; as a result her left foot has blown up like a balloon and she is right now sitting at the dining table with her Herculean foot immersed in our dish washing bowl. Hopefully, it will subside by tomorrow morning.

See pictures here.

The Three Stooges in Turkey: the Continuing Adventures of Larry, Curly and Moe

Yesterday was a hot and busy day here in Turkey. The three of us decided that we would have a half day excursion because we were going to the opera in Aspendos that night. The Manavgat waterfalls seemed like a good bet, only 15 or so km from here and nice and cool on a very hot day. However, I just happened to be reading an Antalya tourism brochure in the morning and came across a ruin site that I’d not heard of before in the Side/Manavgat area named Seleucia. From the description it looked like there was quite a bit to see there and it was in the area so we added Seleucia to the agenda.

We grabbed the dolmus from the Side otogar to the Manavgat otogar, a 15 or 20 minute trip, and our driver took us to the dolmus operators driving the minibus to Seleukia, the Turkish name for the town nearest the ancient site. From an admittedly tenuous conversation with the bus driver, we were under the impression that the bus travelled up there and back every hour and that the last bus back was 4:30. Since we had a 45 minute wait at the otogar, we enjoyed a glass of Turkish tea with the drivers in their office. At the appointed time we hopped aboard and headed off north in the direction of the Manavgat waterfall, passing that place and then turning off the main road onto a back street somewhere about 10 km north of Manavgat. The dolmus dropped us off at the entrance to the tiny town and a local man, also just off the bus, walked through the village with us and pointed out the way to the ancient site.

Seleukeia is a one horse town without the horse; a couple of old gozleme stands, many ruined stone houses, a minaret without a mosque and a few tractors were pretty much it. Brown signs pointed the way to the site and we walked fairly briskly up the road, past an ancient sign in German advertising a non-existent restaurant, to arrive at a disused ticket booth with broken windows and a rusted gate marking the entrance to the ancient site.

It looked as though this place used to be on the tourist map but was no longer – we weren’t sure why – obviously, though, no-one had come this way for a very long time. We walked along a sandy road with no evidence of any ruins anywhere in the vicinity until Tracey spotted what looked like an aquaduct in a forest high on a hill very far away … damn. It became apparent to us that the ruins were not anywhere near and that to reach them would require a very long walk – no wonder the bus driver had warned us the last bus back was 4:30; he obviously thought we intended to walk all the way up there.

A bit disappointed, we turned around and headed back for the dolmus stop, only to see the man who had pointed the way out to us walking towards us while talking on the phone. He kept wanting to take our picture and gestured for us to follow him across the fields, both of which we declined to do. I thought he seemed weird and wondered if he was calling his buddies to come and meet him; however, as we reentered the town, he disappeared.

As we walked back, we noticed on the site signs stickers for the Manavgat mountain bike marathon … If we had seen them before, they should have given us a clue as to the length of time the journey required. Back again at the dolmus stand, a dirt track on the edge of town, we thought that the bus would be there in ten minutes or so … ten minutes passed with no sign of the bus, and ten more minutes … Waiting for Godot, once again.

We decided to walk down the hill in the direction of Manavgat and flag down any passing vehicle – the traffic in and out of dodge was pretty well non-existent, though. Finally, we spotted a dolmus in the distance and I flagged it down but he was not going our way. However, he dropped us at the main road where he said, in German, that we could catch a bus to the waterfall in ten minutes. A few minutes passed, we waited in the very hot sun, and a silver BMW going very fast slowed down to take a look. I immediately held up my hand, he stopped, and I asked him to take us to the waterfall, which he did, in his air-conditioned vehicle – huzzah! (Note: we later figured out that the minibus did not run up to Seleukeia every hour but only when people wanted to go there; we realized that, when the driver had explained to us that the last bus was at four thirty, he probably meant that he would go up there then expecting to pick us up)

The Manavgat waterfalls, big and small, are not really waterfalls as we know them, high and rugged. The big waterfall is wide but fairly low, and has beautiful green-blue glacial-cold water. At the edge of the river is an extensive development of terraces, restaurants, bars and the ubiquitous shopping stalls. We browsed through the shopping area and then had a light lunch at a table right by the waterfall. It was very cool and shady, delightful on what had turned out to be a very hot and sweaty day.

After a dolmus-ride back to Side, Tracey and Christine swam in the pool while I had a cold shower and lay down with a cold face cloth on my forehead – too much sun. Mehmet the car rental dude came by with the car we had arranged to rent, we had a tiny something for dinner and by seven in the evening we were sitting outside the Park Side Hotel waiting for the bus pickup for the opera at the Aspendos Amphitheatre.

The 16th International Opera and Ballet Festival at Aspendos is being held this June and we got tickets for the opening night performance of Aida by the Ankara State Opera and Ballet. Our little minibus picked up a full load of opera-lovers and we were at the theatre before 8 for the 9:30 start. All the performers were hanging around outside the venue already in Egyptian costume and makeup; begging cats emitted piteous meowing and received enormous pieces of pizza from them in return. The doors opened at 8 and we moved slowly towards the entrance. Security personnel searched all bags and people carrying glass had it confiscated. The stones benches had small slightly-padded green squares indicating the seating places so we grabbed three seats quite close to the stage left of centre and spent the time watching the crowd and taking pictures as the sun slowly set and the arcade around the top of the theatre turned more and more orange against the darkening sky.

Finally, after a clutch of dignitaries strolled in at 2 minutes to go and took the best, fully-padded seats right stage centre, the show seemed about to go on. But no … not quite. First, a speech from a young woman telling us that there would be speeches from others. My heart sank, remembering the children’s day performance in Kas ruined by too many long-winded speeches. The conductor, a professor from Ankara, made a speech about opera and ballet as international arts and invoked the memory of Ataturk and his ideas of progress – his speech was well-received and warmly applauded by the audience. But it was long and, after each paragraph in Turkish, the information was repeated in English, making every comment twice as long. By this time it was quarter to ten. Then a political hack came on stage and started talking, repeating essentially the same things that the other two had just said. The crowd had had enough and started clapping in unison to drown him out and get him off the stage. I felt torn – on the one hand, I hate it that politicians feel the need to insert themselves into things and make long, boring speeches in a language I don’t understand, on the other hand, I was embarrassed and a bit ashamed of the crowd for their rudeness. Anyway, he left the stage, and the show finally began around 10 to 10. Aida is a four act opera so we knew that we weren’t going to get home until 3 am.

The staging, costumes and lighting were amazing. A spectacular set with enormous columns and sculptures evoked ancient Egypt; the cast of thousands (or 50, at least), including three horses, had beautiful, colourful costumes and the lights bathed the stage in blue and purple and red. A small problem was the singing; the male lead’s voice was a bit weak and not big enough to fill the huge amphitheatre which seats about 20,000. The other leads were somewhat better but, to my mind, still not strong enough for the venue and they were not miked (Aspendos can have only acoustic performances so that the sound vibrations do not harm the 1,800 year old venue built in the reign of Marcus Aurelius). When the assembled company sang together, it was great. They also included ballet numbers in some of the acts, which were lovely. But, already tired from the busy and hot day, I was doing the head bob by the end of the first act. At the last intermission Christine ran out and got us some fabulous high calorie ice cream treats which helped a bit but, by the time the performance ended, and we were back on the minibus, it was about 1:45 or 2 am and I was nearly asleep. We were home in bed at 3. However, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a spectacular production in such a fantastic venue and I was glad we’d gone.

Earlier, we had planned to get up at 5 and be on the road by 6 to head off to Kekova, Myra and Demre, a four hour drive west on the coast highway, but after our very late night, we changed plans and decided to go somewhere closer. It was a choice between Termessos, a hilltop ruin site northwest of Antalya, or Olympos and Phaselis, on the coast road west of Antalya but not as far as Kekova. We opted for the latter and by 10:30 am we were on the road with Tracey driving. Amazingly, I managed to pilot us along the city centre bypass route through Antalya and, after a short pit stop for snacks along the way, we were on the beach at Olympos after three hours, the last of which was down a ten kilometer hairpin turn one lane road and unpaved pebbly track across a dry riverbed.

We walked south along the beach, the hot sand scorching even with slippers on, past the assembled throng of sun worshippers, and found the entrance to the ruin site next to a river in a gorge filled with waving bullrushes, pink oleander bushes and pine trees – spectacular!

Olympos was a Lycian city and worshipped Mithras, the original god of light. Although the city was founded earlier, the ruins that remain, hidden in the trees and bushes, date to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. Right at the entrance were two gigantic stone sarcophagi, one of which had contained the remains of a sea captain and had a beautiful carved relief of a ship beneath the inscription. We wandered through the pine forest, really enjoying the cool, green shade, examining sarcophagi, ruined houses, a temple gate with an inscription to Marcus Aurelius, and a couple of Byzantine churches.

We crossed over the dry riverbed to the ruins on the other side and walked through the south necropolis, the ruins of a small theatre with only the gate still really intact, and a large Roman bathhouse. I could hear voices coming through the trees and knew that we were somewhere near the beach, although we couldn’t see it through the forest. A small path led through the trees so I followed it to the river and called back to the others to follow me. Luckily, we were able to walk out to the sea along the river bed rather than going back through the entire ruin site because by then we were quite tired. Christine sat in the shade of gigantic oleander bushes while Tracey and I had a swim. Then we slowly made our way back along the beach to one of the two shady restaurants there for a late lunch of shepherd salad and freshly-squeezed orange juice while watching a chicken and her tiny babies scratch for food.

Later, we headed back on the highway and down to Phaselis, a ruin site on another stretch of beach about 20 km east of Olympos. Phaselis is now a state park and requires an entrance fee of 8 lira which, while parked at the gate, we briefly debated about paying and then thought, “We’ve come half way around the world to see this so of course we’re going to pay 8 lira”. Phaselis, a site about the same vintage as Olympos, is located on three small bays and was once an important commercial centre. The ruins of aquaducts, agoras, baths, a theatre, Hadrian’s gate and an acropolis remain and give a good sense of the structure of the ancient city. By the time we got there the sun was slipping in the sky and the shadows lengthening; in the late afternoon light, the site was really beautiful. Christine made friends with a tiny black and white male cat, who lay down on her clothes and started kneading them as we swam in the bay.

Managing once again to navigate our way through the maze of Antalya, we made it back to the ranch by 8:15. Tracey did a great job of driving the four seater Fiat in conditions that were not optimum. Turks don’t obey many of the rules of the road so a driver has to be constantly alert. Lanes markings are merely suggestions that most drivers don’t take, helmetless people on motorbikes weave in and out, people take two lanes, drive on the shoulder, pass on both sides, drive on the wrong side of the road or back out into the highway without looking. There are cars on the road that in Canada would long ago have been sent to the scrap yard, including ancient tractors whose wheels literally look like they could fall off any second driven by ancient wrinkled smoking men and trucks so overloaded they can’t drive more than 20 kph. By the time we returned, Tracey had gotten the hang of using the horn, the ubiquitous sound on the roads here, used to warn drivers about everything from passing to pulling out onto the highway.

Since we had the car anyway, our plan was to drive Christine to the otogar to catch her night bus to Cappadocia; by 10 pm she was ready to go, so off we went, arriving at what we thought was the otogar by about 10:15 for an 11:15 bus departure. The place was dark, with buses parked and a small clutch of men standing around one of the small buildings. Not seeing where to go, we stopped and Christine showed one of the men her ticket. They spoke no English and only a few words of German so I tried to get from them the location of the otogar. One man said, in German, “links (left)” while his hand pointed right, another said “rechts (right)” while his hand pointed left so I could see we were in trouble. All we knew was that we were in the wrong place. We headed off down the road, and seeing no bus station, pulled into a minimart where the man drew a small indecipherable map on the back of a cigarette box. Damn … we found ourselves on a busy dual carriageway and pulled in to a large garage where a man who spoke no English managed to communicate to us that the otogar was back the way we’d come about 5 kilometers on the left. By this time it was approaching 11 so I’m sure Christine was getting frantic. Anyway, we raced down the road, pulled a screeching uturn and blasted back the way we’d come. As we roared down the road we saw a couple of signs pointing the way to the otogar so we knew we were finally on the right road, finally pulling into the gigantic bus station with ten minutes to spare. Major gong show; we could laugh about it then but it was touch and go for a few moments there. After seeing Christine onto the bus, Tracey and I arrived back at Stooges Central about 11:40 and the guys from the rental agency came and picked up the car.

See more pictures here.

Side VI

Tracey’s bag was supposed to arrive Monday morning. When we phoned Monday, after it did not arrive, the woman said it would come Tuesday morning before noon. We had planned, once again, to visit the Side museum, so when noon arrived and the bag did not, I called once again to find out that the bag should arrive after three but before five … (Waiting for Godot redux). So, since I had seen the museum last year, I stayed behind poolside to wait, and Tracey, Christine and Barb went to the lovely little Side museum, a small jewel which hardly anyone visits.

Lying poolside at the SGR isn’t too hard to take; I swam laps and listened to some tunes on my ipod. As the days pass, more and more people arrive so, by late afternoon it was quite crowded around the pool. The three amigos arrived back around four, and we arranged with Mehmet, the guy who rented me my bike, to rent a car to go to Myra and Kekova on Thursday. He very kindly said, if the bag had not arrived by five, to send him a message with the tracking info and he would look into it. By six, no bag had arrived, I sent Mehmet the info, he arranged to have the delivery man meet him at the car rental place (the delivery man was lost …), and brought the man and the bag straight to our door – arrival seven pm. Tracey could now relax, and also change out of her classic black swim suit, bagging out into shapelessness, into her new two piece bought especially for the trip.

Barb was leaving for Cappadocia so the four of us, plus Elke, had a nice dinner on our terrace. We had to borrow two pots from Elke, whose place is much more well-equipped than ours, so that I could make potato salad. Along with that, and side dishes of veggies, we ordered kebaps from the Alla Turca restaurant around the corner. When the appointed time arrived, we walked with Barb down the street to the cab stand in front of the Park Side Otel and watched as she headed off for the Manavgat Otogar and her night bus to Nevsehir.

See a few pix here.

Side V

I’m typing up this report poolside at the Side Garden Residence – yippee! This place has a fabulous 25 meter swimming pool, not at all hard to take. Yesterday Christine, Barb, Elke and I spent the day at the Dolphin Beach Bar on the beautiful long sandy beach to the east of the peninsula. We were walking down the road towards the sand dunes and the minibus service from the Dolphin cruised slowly to a stop and offered us a ride. The sun loungers were free as long as we purchased food and drinks from the bar. We enjoyed sunning ourselves, frolicking in the sea and walking along the beach to the resorts at Sorgun Forest and back. Some of these are large all-inclusive resorts primarily catering to Russians and one we saw had what looked like rows of bedrooms transplanted to the beach, complete with wooden floors, beds and bedding. Lots of kids were building strange pointy sand castles and a few women were posing for cheesy photos on the sand.

Later in the afternoon we walked through the sand dunes and the ruins and back through the Side Otogar so that Barb could buy her night bus ticket to Nevsehir in Cappadoccia.

Tracey’s plane was due in at 6:50 in Antalya so I had arranged a transfer from the airport for her through the apartment housing management company. Kaan and I headed out to the airport at 5:50 and waited at the arrivals exit as plane loads of people flowed in waves through the doors. No Tracey but loads of Russians. I had arranged with her that if she missed the plane in Istanbul due to her very tight connection times, she was to call me on my cell. No phone call. So, we decided to wait for the next flight to see if perhaps she was on it. The next plane was late and once again, plane loads of Russians disembarked but no Tracey. Kaan was getting a bit agitated by this point, wondering where she was and why she had not called and why I was not able to contact her. He had two more airport pickups early in the morning and needed to return to Side to catch come sleep before returning once again to the aiport. I debated about what to do, spoke to Ty, who spoke to Darrin to see whether he’s heard anything – nada. I was going to wait for the next few flights but decided, finally, to go back with Kaan, just in case she’d had to stay overnight in Istanbul. By this time it was about 10:30. About ten minutes after we arrived back in Side, after a rather hair-raisingly fast ride as Kaan screamed down the highway, I got a phone call from Tracey who was now at the Antalya airport – damn. We should have waited for the next flight. However, although Tracey was there, her bag was not – baggage problem redux. So, Tracey made a lost baggage claim and grabbed a taxi. By this time it was 11:30 or so and I decided to wait for her at the entrance to the complex. I saw a yellow taxi cruising slowly down the road a block away and thought that it was probably hers. I jumped up and down and waved my arms as the taxi came closer and then proceeded to turn off in entirely the wrong direction and head away towards Kumkoy … damn. About half an hour later, as I was agitatedly pacing up and down on the road and looking in every direction for taxis, hers returned from the other direction – finally, arrival at 12:30 in the morning. The taxi had been lost and had stopped four times for directions and finally was able to find us. And, of course, as is always the case in these situations, the taxi driver’s cell phone was not working so he couldn’t even call me for directions. I later found out that Tracey had tried to call several times but had been unable to get through to my cell phone – who knows why … Anyway, all is good now.

Last night I slept on the living room couch to give Tracey the big bed so that she could sleep in. However, the living room was hot and I did not have the controller for the aircon so I needed to open the door to get some air. I was dying of heat prostration – it was probably 35 at 2 in the morning. As a consequence, I got bitten alive by mosquitoes and now have the always attractive Vulcan head and cheek bumps from bug bites. I lay awake scratching for about 2 hours and finally got up at 6:30. Tracey, too, had woken early and was up, unable to sleep. I’m sure she’ll crash later. Right at the moment we are sunning, swimming, floating, and snacking in the beautiful hot Turkish sunshine. In a couple of hours we will go to the lovely little Side museum and see the artifacts extracted from the ruins here over the years.

(…)

Well, it’s evening now and the Side museum was closed this afternoon because it was Monday. Instead, we walked through the agora, forum, city gate, and down to the Apollo Temple to take photos. After some time spent dancing around the columns, the four angels from the Moon headed back down to the main drag to a lovely interior courtyard restaurant and bar decorated with some interesting kitsch: reproductions of some of western art’s finest – Botticelli’s Primavera as a brownish putty statue – stuffed chickens and bears, and a really annoying waiter who kept getting in the way of my photo-taking. When taking my drink order, he kept refusing to tell me what kind of iced tea they had and making really dumb comments that started to irritate me enough to snap at him. However, the garden area was really lovely, cool and green, with beautiful flowers and an enormous lilac tree that touched the sky.

After walking back through the Otogar and getting quite hot and sweaty, we dropped into chairs at the Hawaii Bar for some Ottoman kebap, where the waiter made fun of the way I pronounced “Oddoman”. Later, after that feast, Barb and I went to the Park Side Otel for the Turkish Hamam and had a great, wet time. My masseuse was new there, a Russian woman from Georgia, who, after I had lain down on the warm marble slab, scrubbed me with a rough glove all over and massaged me with a large pillow case full of soap suds, a most luxurious experience. Next came a rest on the lounger with water and orange slices, then an oil massage, and finally a facial mud mask, no doubt with mud from either the miraculous Xanthos river or the miraculous Dalyan mud bath. I thoroughly enjoyed the session. As we exited the hotel, three of my friends from the sand dunes, Ali the orange juice seller in baggy pantaloons, and two of his camels, were stationed in front of the Hawaii Bar looking for customers for camel rides, with no takers – everyone was too mesmerized by the waiters’ disco dancing.

See some photos here.