Some people asked me if I didn't have fear to fly after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11. Well, it was strange, because of the thought, but I wasn't afraid. I think flying is exciting, always. We had to fly 3,5 hours before landing in the south of Turkey, in Antalya. Of course, when we stepped out of the plane, the sun and the heat struck us. It was over 30 degrees. We were transported by bus to our hotel, about 30 minutes driving. I thought Antalya was a city on the coast, but it is a BIG city! It has over one million inhabitants. I didn't realise that. We were part of a group of 35 persons, who were with us during those two weeks, in the bus and with all the excursions. It was fantastic to arrive at the first hotel, to check in, and to be in the swimming pool and in the sun, some hours only after leaving in the cold, dark Dutch night! Our guide was Yavuz, a young Turkish man, who had studied the Dutch language (but who was never in our country, up to now), our busdriver a young Turkish man who could drive fantastically.
19 sept. We visited Perge and Aspendos, two places I had never heard of before, but it was interesting to visit the old city, built 1000 years before Christ.
After lunch we went to Aspendos, to see the ancient theatre. It was very hot to walk in the open air there, without any shade. On the way, in the bus, we saw cottonfields, fields with sesame, markets with sheep and many melons and vegetables. Factories where women make carpets. Many beautiful trees and plants, flowers. On the roofs of the in general modern houses and flats are suncollectors, to provide sun energy for hot water. We went to cash money from a 'bankomat' and we got 300.000.000 Turkish lira! (=ca. 450 gulden). It was the first (and probably the last) time I was a millionaire. We had to pay extra money for the extra excursions (Turkish evening with folklore dancing, Istanbul by night sightseeing, Antalya city tour) and for the lunches, if we wanted; Ton and I and some other people decided not to take part in the common lunches, because it would cost us 1-1,5 hour every day, 15 gulden, and we would miss the opportunity to see other, more interesting things than the inside of still another restaurant. So we saw small village markets instead, we ate in local restaurants and spoke to many Turkish people, in English and in Turkish and Dutch (by hands and faces and sometimes by drawings). It was a good decision.
20 sept. Through the Taurus mountains (beautiful!!) to Konya, the city of the turning Derwishes. We visited the museum of Mevlana, situated in an old mosque. After Konya we visited an old caravanserai and went on to Cappadocia. The whole day trip was ca. 550 km.
21 sept. The region of Cappadocia is famous for its bizarre landscape. Wind, sun and rain have eroded the tuff, and made thousands of pyramids from it. It is like walking and driving through a fairy tale landscape. I didn't know that this region was so large. Christian people in the 7-13th century after Christ made houses and churches in the rocks, to hide for the Arabic attacks. We visited Göreme open air museum, where we could see the houses and churches and the paintings and frescos from the inside.
After this we went to Kaymakli, an underground city. Long ago, this city was a refuge for 15.000 people. It consisted of 8 stories/floors, connected by 30 km. of tunnels, and containing many corridors, store rooms, living rooms, churches and a meeting room. It was very special to 'walk' through the corridors, because some were not higher than 1 meter.
During the Turkish folklore evening I felt not very well: a headache and the apparantly inevitable troubles with intestines......(Only 2 people of the whole party of travellers escaped from diarrhoea in more or less severe forms).
22 sept. We woke up at 5.30 by the calling of the muezzin from the mosque. We left at 7.30 for Ankara a trip of 310 km. On the way I bought some 'blue eyes', the same we all received from our guide Yavuz. The blue eye is believed to protect people, animals and property from the evil eye. Before 14.10.1923 Ankara was a small, insignificant town, but since the day Ataturk assembled the Turkish parliament in that place, the city grew to a metropole with over 3,5 million people. We visited the Museum of Anatol Culture and the Mausoleum of Ataturk. They started to build the mausoleum in 1944 en completed it in 1953. (Turkish architect Emin Onat). You may find it bombastic, you may find it impressive..... it is big. Ataturk, the Father of Turks (14a), lies buried here in his sarcophagus. Ankara is a big city with very busy traffic. It's great to have a busdriver like Zafer here! We stay in a hotel in the old centre of the city. In the evening a few of our party go out into the narrow streets and sit down for a drink in a 'rampart' of Turkish MEN only. Fortunately the waiters of the bar/tea-room are very friendly and both the men and women amongst us are most welcome. We are touched by their hospitality and share an unforgettable evening in the Turkish capital.
23 sept. At 7.00 leave for Istanbul, 420 km. By way of Bolu to Düzce, where in 1999 the second earthquake took place. There are still many damaged houses to be seen and temporary (container-) houses. Via Sapanca through Izmit (Kocaeli), where the first earthquake took place. Closer to Istanbul we see the Sea of Marmora and we cross the Bosporus bridge, which is really fantastic to see. Ton, Marja (a woman from Rotterdam, who was with Ton and me almost all the time) and I had lunch in a Turkmenistan restaurant, which was very colourful to see. Good yoghurt soup with bread, and we were offered tea 'from the house'. In the afternoon: some of the highlights of the trip: Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (or the Blue Mosque). The first one is not so attractive from the outside, but everyone should have seen the well-known inside once in a lifetime, I think. At least, it was a wish of Ton and of myself too. The Blue Mosque (1609-1616) is the only mosque in Istanbul that has 6 minarets. Yavuz told us a story about them: Sultan Ahmet I ordered to build the mosque and before he went on a journey he told the architect, Mehmet Aga, to give the mosque golden minarets. Aga knew it was almost impossible to make golden minarets. When the sultan came back, the mosque turned out to have not golden, but SIX minarets. On the question of the sultan, why they weren't golden, Aga answered: 'Did you tell me golden? I thought you said six!' (In Turkish golden = altin, six = alti). A nice story. The Blue Mosque is a dream, a fairy tale. It is real, but you cannot describe it. The 21.000 beautiful tiles from Iznik, the floor with hundreds of praying carpets indicated on it, the dome with a diameter of 23.5 m., 43 m. high, the lights.......(And in it some very friendly guards, we talked to.)
Temperature in Istanbul: 25 degrees, a perfect temperature to have dinner on the roof-terrace of Hotel Adela, with view over the city, which has 12 million inhabitants. Situated in Asia as well as in Europe, separated by the Bosporus.
24 sept. Amsterdam: cloudy, 16 degrees, Istanbul: sunny, 29 degrees. Second day in Istanbul. Trip to the Topkapi Palace (surface 7000.000 m2). Many mosques, pavilions, courts, fountains, magnificent views over the Golden Horn and Istanbul, a harem, a treasure-house with diamonds, splendid thrones and the famous golden dagger, known from the film 'Topkapi'. After lunch (Turkish pizza and ayran, cold, salted yoghurt drink), the others went to make a boat trip on the Bosporus, but Ton and I went with some others to the Big Bazar (Kapali Çarsi). We walked through many narrow crowded, busy streets up to the covered market. Ton bought a shirt of one of the three most popular football teams, Galatasaray (the others are Fenerbahce and Besiktas), with which he made easily contact with many Turkish 'friends' and 'enemies'. In the bazar (200.000 m2) are ca. 5000 shops in a maze of little streets and alleys. Carpet shops near carpets shops, silver shops near silver shops, leather shops to leather shops, etceteras. One of the shop-owners pulled me inside to try a belly-dancer costume! I succeeded in resisting of the purchase, by reminding the salesman the Dutch weather isn't exactly inviting to wear that kind of 'clothing'. After dinner at the hotel, a wonderful warm evening is spent in Kumkapi, the part of town where people meet, eat and drink on the terraces of fish- and other restaurants. Music, shows of icecream-sellers, drinking of raki, the 'national' Turkish anisette-drink (like ouzo in Greece, pastis in France), the drink that colours milky-white when it is diluted with water.
25 sept. (Impossible to phone with my new mobile phone. It keeps saying crazy things after the one time I succeeded to call Jochem at home from the roof-terrace. The only thing that works perfect is receiving sms-messages from home).
We got up at 5.30 (! is this holidays??) (All those marvellous hotel breakfasts, with bread, cakes, cheeses, tomatoes, olives, yoghurt, juice, tea, coffee, make us put on weight kilograms! And the dinners with their many sweet desserts are really irresistible. This is holidays!)
By the southern coast of Turkey's European part (via Tekirdag) to Gelibolu, where the bus took the ferryboat to the Asian part again, to Lapseki. We saw dolphins in the water of the Dardanelles! Istanbul-Troje (Truva) = 350 km. The wooden horse of Troje is made for tourists to climb in and make pictures. I didn't like it and refused to make photos of it. Homer described in his Ilias and Odyssee the Trojan War, which is said to have taken place in this region. Diggings revealed nine layers of different periods: Troje I (3000-2600 BC) - IX (350 BC-400 AC). Through a fine area with cypress-trees, olive-trees, fig-trees to our next hotel. We could see the sea and the Greek island Lesbos. The hotel turned out to be hotel Eden Garden in Assos (Behramkale). After a warm trip of almost 700 km. swimming in the Aegean Sea was very welcome and sensational. (I saved you some very small stones from the beach).
26 sept. Zafer is driving the bus so close to the coast, that from my seat at the window I can hardly see any land! A winding road through the hills, cottonfields (big trucks filled with bales of cotton), cornfields, olive-trees, fruit-trees brings us to the top, where the (best kept) ancient city of Pergamon (Bergama) is situated. It is beautiful in the clear sunlight. The theatre is the most steep of the ancient world, and built against the slope of the hill. The upper city, the holy street, the market place, the Zeus altar, the source......use your imagination and dream away.
Leaving our nice hotel in Assos was hard for most of us. We would have liked very much a resting day here. The next hotel, in Özdere is with sea, but unfortunately the sea is so wild here, that Ton is smashed back to the beach again; he has to crawl on hands and feet back to dryer places. This hotel (Grand Efe) is big. It can accommodate maybe over 500 guests, it has shops and so on. We do not like it, (only the food choice!!) but we will stay two nights here.
27 sept. On our way to Efese. I am certainly no expert in (ancient) history, but you must be a barbarian not to see how lovely these temples, the columns, the gates are. The temple of Hadrianus, the famous Celsus-library (where a photo of our whole group is made), the big theatre, they all have their own story and it's impressive.
During the lunch break we walk on the market of the village Çamlik, where schoolchildren in uniforms ask to be photographed by us. I bought a bag full of delicious apricots, for nothing. In the afternoon we visited (collectively) a leather shop. We didn't like this way of selling during our holidays, so we went outside quickly.
28 sept. A cool morning. Left at 8.15 for Pamukkale, via Aydin. A nice view on the coast, Turkish music in the bus (I bought some too, f.e. Tarkan, a pop-artist also known in our The Netherlands for his hit Sikidim), Ton talking to his neighbour, time for me to quietly enjoy the green mountains, the fig-trees, the vineyards, the olive-trees, the blue sky, the rocks. I still cannot imagine I am really here. I see Turkey as a rich country now, although I know very well it's economy isn't healthy and the currency inflation is horrible. Lunch in a small restaurant in Sarayköy, where the bread for our spinach and cheese pizza is baked at the other side of the street, by some old woman on a carpet. In the few minutes that left us before we had to be in the bus again, we entered a carpet shop, just to ask some prices. Just when we tried to bargain on a damaged nomad wedding carpet, we ran out of time and had to let go, which made the salesman less friendly. Sorry!
After visiting still one other ancient place, Hierapolis, (19 km. from Denizli) with theatre, Domitianus-gate and necropolis, we went to the famous Pamukkale limestone terraces. The terrace is 2600 by 300 m. Water from a source with chalk and carbon dioxide has been streaming over the terrace and was falling from 100 m. downwards. The chalk formed a sediment as a white, flocky mass and made white stalactites along a terrace-shaped series of shallow water-basins, that hang on the slope like bath-tubs. Nowadays the flowing ('feeding') of the water is artificially, or in any case, helped to stream on the right place, on the right time, following a special schedule. People cannot walk on all the terraces anymore, just on the edge of some of them, without shoes on. I expected the area to be bigger, but that must be due to the prospects of travel agencies, from the time tourism hadn't still been restricted to that edge only......
To the hotel with thermal bath, to rest.
29 sept. 8.30, via Denizli to a 'factory' where carpets are knotted. We got a demonstration of the knotting, of the way silk is gathered from cocoons of the silk-worm, of the painting of wool and silk. Again here the possibility of buying, which we detested in the leather shop. But now we had real interest and we wanted to buy some carpet. I wanted it before going already, Ton decided on the very place to buy something. I was getting dizzy of the thousands of carpets they had. Some were so beautiful that I almost got tears in my eyes. But the prices.........I bought a small nomad carpet of wool. In some weeks it'll be delivered at my house in Nijmegen, thanks to a special subsidisation of the Turkish Government, in order to keep the culture of carpet knotting (and the selling of carpets) alive. Ton bought a small but beautiful silk carpet for hanging on the wall.
Through the Taurus mountains back to Antalya again, 320 km. Back to hotel Keptur, where we started, and where we would stay 3 nights now.
30 sept. Warm weather! Time to explore Antalya. View at the city, the waterfall (nice place to watch it, in the warm sun. I received two postcards from the seller, just because I talked to him for some minutes.) To the city centre, where the market is. All the salesmen try to pull you inside. All the t-shirts are fake Nike, fake Ralph Lauren, and still you find yourself bargaining over the price. To find out later, that somebody from our group bought it for some million liras less! I bought some souvenirs: a bracelet for Elies, earrings for Maaike, some herbs for Jochem (saffron, the real expensive kind) and a bowl for Moniek. We drank some apple-tea (very popular here) in the bazaar and tried to keep some money as a tip for Yavuz and Zafer, who guided us through this wonderful country.
1 Oct. Through the nice, mountainous, fertile coastal district to Myra. Orange-trees, greenhouses for tomatoes and flowers (to be able to harvest 3 times a year), the sea is blue, green, azure, there is not a cloud in the sky, there seem to live turtles here.
In the rocks near Demre many rock-graves have been cut out. Also there is one of the bigger Lycian theatres here. It's almost too hot to walk around here, but: we wanted to be in Turkey......I liked the village of Myra, although it was only for it's atmosphere. Many people on light mopeds, orangetree plantations on the other side of the village. We had a delicious meal in a small café: the fine, soft rice, stuffed egg-fruit, tomato-sauce with chickpeas and bread. Bought some bracelets for my daughters still. Simple ones, with blue beads in them.
After lunch we, as real Dutch people who celebrate St. Nicolaas (Sinterklaas) every year on the 5th or 6th of December, visited the old church of St. Nicolaas, who lies buried here. The church has 'sunk' into the earth and lies 7 m. below ground level.
Back to Antalya, by the coast route. Cactuses with great discs are along the way, flowering hybiscus plants, bananaplants, palmtrees. This region is fantastic. Beautiful. A fine last day.
2 Oct. Some dull hours to spend in the hotel in Antalya, till the bus takes us to the airport at 14.20. The plane leaves at 17.00 and while waiting in it (almost 300 people have to take places) the sun is shining merciless on this 'tin tube'. It gets very hot inside. And once the plane starts to fly, the airco helps us to breathe again, but also helps me to a nasty cold. A weird souvenir to bring back from Turkey.