Saturday, October 24, 2015

16th October and I get into hot water.

16th October. Drove to Pamukkale and Hierapolis where we toured the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, and saw the sodium bicarbonate thermal pools. Had a quick paddle in those.  Very crowded, very slippery, and very vertiginous. The pools themselves are quite shallow and quite cool, but there is a channel running down which is quite warm.

The cliffs look like snow, but that is the sodium bicarbonate. 

We stayed in the Doga Thermal Hotel where I had three goes in the large hot thermal pool, and two in the indoor regular chlorinated pool.  Slept with the door wide open on our fifth floor balcony, it was quiet and balmy. The muezzin was far off in the morning and didn't disturb, unlike the competitive muezzins of Cappadocia and Konya. 

That muddy brown water is hot, almost too hot to swim in.  Inside that dome there are three outlets gushing forth hot water that is definitely too hot to swim in. Is it therapeutic?  Who knows. The railings into the water are very corroded at water level and below, so what is it doing to skin?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

So many wonders seen

Is today really 21st October?  I don't have a hope of recording everything we have done since my last post.  It has been a whirlwind of ancient sites, delicious food, shopping, swimming, and good times.  Let me quickly summarise our days and then try to go black and fill in some of the gaps.

15th October:  left Tafoni Caves Hotel in Cappadocia with a libation poured over the bus by the staff, who waved us goodbye.  That included the big taciturn man who chewed gum constantly and who carried our bags up to our rooms.   We drove to Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic archaeological site.  We ate a picnic lunch, toured the site, and reviewed the small museum.   

The Çatalhöyük Touristic Gift Shop

Part of the dig at Çatahöyük

The museum at Çatahöyük had very informative displays but I was more interested in the backgrounds, which included these examples of mekik oya (tatted lace edgings). 

Drove to Konya, where we checked in to the Hich Hotel, (ours was the Asi room, as the rooms did not have numbers, only palindromic names).  We then went to the Mevlana Museum just over the road from the hotel, where the Dervishes were trained.   

We are definitely in Konya according to the tree surrounds.

After we had a rest in the afternoon  we emerged, and so did Judy, Tony, and Kate and Jane. We walked around town, bought some dates and apricots, and some gluten free bread for Louise.  While Judy was buying the bread in the very crowded and busy little bakery, A local carpet dealer learned we were Australian and steered us to a terrace top restaurant where I ate lamb cutlets, and chips, we listened to the muezzin and admired the crescent moon. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Up in the air ballooning, under the ground in the underground city, hiking in the Rose Valley, lunch in an old Greek mansion, a carpet factory. All in one day

Phew, another action packed day, celebrating Michael's birthday.  You want balloons?  We've got balloons.  Another 4.45 am start and this time the balloons were taking us with them.  We have liftoff!  It is such an incredible experience.  Candles?  The great jets of flame shooting up into the balloons did well as candles.  It was an amazing experience to see the sun rise over this magical landscape with over a hundred balloons floating majestically in the sky.   We spent an hour and a half aloft. So thrilling. 

We landed in our wicker gondola straight onto a trailer.  The coordination required between our pilot and the ground crew was something to behold.  At the end of our trip there was champagne and sour cherry, the gondola and trailer were decorated with flowers, and there was a card with our names on it.  So Michael got cake and a card as well. We had already sung him happy birthday in the hotel restaurant before we departed.  

As though that wasn't enough, we then went to the underground city at Kaymakli.  This has some eight levels underground, and some people dropped out quite early.  Interesting how claustrophobia is more powerful than fear of heights, although some balloonists were very glad to get back onto solid ground.  Anyway, Michael was one of those who ought to have turned back early.  Not so much because of claustrophobia, but because of the very low, very narrow tunnels.  We were assured that they were no worse than some of those we encountered yesterday, but one tunnel proved too much for his knees, legs, head, everything.  He'd seen Sirhat go through, and as he is a tall man, Michael reasoned that if Sirhat could do it, so could he.  Wrong. He pretty much got stuck for a while, like a cork in a bottle, finally managed to manoeuvre himself out, and after a period to recover, we went back to the surface.  Quite an experience.  We have seen an awful lot of holes dug out of this soft rock.  Perhaps we have seen enough.  I left him recovering while I went and bought a purple cotton top from one of the market shops.  

After that adventure/misadventure we went to meet Mehmet the Walker, who says that Turks are so lazy they would drive to the toilet.  Most Turks think he is crazy because he likes to walk.  He and his yellow Labrador dog Saki led us through the Rose Valley, a magnificent place.  

It was hot and very dusty.  Look at those shoes!

By this time we were pretty hungry, so lunch was welcome.  This was in a village called Ürgüp, a Greek village populated by Turks who had been sent back from their homes in Greece in a population exchange.  A beautiful house, and lunch was delicious.  There was even a birthday cake for Michael and Sirhat, our lovely thoughtful guide, had arranged for some Michael Jackson music to be played along with the  birthday song.  

We then went to see the Fairy Chimneys, and I lingered long taking photos.  They are so interesting and beautiful. 

We were ready to go home for afternoon napping, but oh no.  There was the obligatory visit to a carpet factory,  it was such a great display, as the showman owner called his men to roll out all the different kind of carpets at our feet.  It was very theatrical as well as informative.  I was sorry, but I was not in the mood to buy carpet.  We don't have anywhere to put one, and I would want to think long and hard about what to buy and where to put it.  This kind of thing is fun, but no sale from Michael and I this time.  Our friends are all amazed, as they all seem to have bought carpets.  The plate was enough though. 

On the way back, Judy our tour leader asked if anyone needed a chemist.  All kinds of hands went up, including Michael's.  He is coming down with a cold, along with several other members of our group.  I needed a pair of tweezers as I'd forgotten mine.  We surged in, and Jim and John the doctor and pharmacist members of our group on the bus advised and reviewed our purchases.  Pseudoephedrine mixed with ibuprofen, pseudoephedrine mixed with codeine.  Michael will feel no pain.   So his birthday ended with the full mix of balloons, candles, card, cake, birthday singing, and drugs. What more could he ask. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A cave hotel, more museums, Ankara, Cappadocia

'Argh!  I am so far behind and we have done so much.  I just don't know where to begin to try and catch up.  Today is Tuesday and I am sitting in the Ibis Nest room of a cave hotel in Cappadocia, the Tafoni Houses.  It is carved out of the very stone, and is so luxurious.  I have just had a spa bath and am now enjoying a cup of tea.  Oh, life is tough.  

This morning we went to see the rock churches in the Göreme open air museum, and passed by the fairy chimneys.  What a strange landscape, although no more so than WA's Pinnacles, or Bryce Canyon, or Monument Valley.  It is a wonderful world we live in.  

A few snaps from the open air museum

What a lot of steps. Yes, I climbed them all, every one. 

We then went to a jewellery shop where many of our number bought lovely things, and where the sultanite was fascinating.  I sternly resisted some beautiful turquoise beads. We didn't make the connection between Turkish and Turquoise until this trip, perhaps associating it so much with the US Southwest, but here is where it was named for.  I loved them but truly, I have enough jewellery. And I was saving myself. I had in mind a plate or tile to put in a special place in the new house. The Iznik tiles are very captivating, but as you will see, a Turkish turquoise plate caught my attention after lunch. 

Lunch was in a rooftop garden restaurant and might have been the best yet. A piece of burek frittata, some mante - tiny pasta parcels with yoghurt lemon sauce, a meat and vegetable stew in a terra cotta pot, and fruit with icecream. 

After lunch came to ceramic shop which was informative and beautiful. We bargained for a fabulous plate and an owl.  It was expensive at $900 Australian, but it is something we will treasure and enjoy. 

Tonight we are off to see some Whirling Dervishes. When we saw them do a performance in the Opera House a few years ago, it was mesmerising. 

Tomorrow morning we hope to go ballooning. We were supposed to go this morning and were up at 4.45 but alas the weather did not permit. Another early morning coming up, the third in a row before five am. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mosques, muezzins, Turkish icecream, a Hammam, oya and boots

Our days are so full I don't get much chance to blog.  When we get back to our room all we can do is flop.  

On Friday morning we began with breakfast in the hotel.  There were spectacular figs and everyone made a bee-line for them.  There were fresh dates, wonderful yoghurt, all kinds of stringy fresh cheeses and the usual array of breakfast goodies.  Who knew that baklava for breakfast was so good?  (Well, we knew.). 

We had a presentation in the morning with Judy, our tour leader.  Then out the door around the corner to the Hippodrome, where we had done our first walkabout yesterday.  Many of us were taken by the Ottoman architecture on the way, especially the wooden houses.

Our first stop,was the Basilica Cistern, a vast space only discovered a hundred years ago, designed for water storage.  One of the joys of being on a tour is that tickets are all purchased for you, and all you have to do is enjoy it. 

It was so interesting.  Amazing to see large fish swimming in the clear water, among all the columns. Those columns were all recycled as building materials, so they are all kinds of shapes and have different capitals.  The two medusa stones, one on her side, one upside down, are mysterious, but may just have been used to prop up the columns with no other significance.  

One of the most interesting sights there was three fairly senior ladies dressing up in glitter and veils for their photograph. They were obviously enjoying their dress ups and I wish I could have photographed them. 

The Hippodrome area was next, where we had walked around yesterday. This is a vast space with a central spine containing several columns, including the Spartan snake column.  

There are very many stray cats and some stray dogs.  However the dogs are obviously monitored with tags in their ears.  They are in reasonable condition. 

I am taken with the variety of small fences surrounding the public gardens. These have a tulip motif, as this is where the tulip originated. 

The German Fountain also graces the Hippodrome, and it is beautifully decorated.  This is one of the many ornate domes in this city. 

We wended our way around the back of the hippodrome towards the Mosaic Museum. This took us through a lovely market, where I espied a cabinet filled with oya. This is a particular interest, being a form of Turkish lace. It may be crocheted, or tatted, or made with a needle. It talks the form usually of floral motifs, and is used as an edging.  Most often the edging is on a scarf, but later in our trip at one of the museums we saw some robes that had their font edges, hems, and sleeves festooned with the most wonderful variety. The cabinet I saw had some nice things, and it didn't tak much persuading for me to buy one piece. It is a scarf of brightly dyed stretchy material edged with a floral motif. 

The Mosaic Museum was stunning.  Such fine delicate work, with tiny tesserae and wonderful detail. It must have been glorious in its day, so opulent. 

Having just bough a push lawnmower for our new home, I was convinced that this must have been an early version, but others tell me that it is boys playing with chariot wheels. I still think it is a push lawnmower. 

Of course there were beautiful pictures of animals 

The day is not done but I think this lot has to be published before the wifi keels over.