This is Part 2 of Turkey…if you didn’t see the post ‘Istanbul’, please start there!
The Evil Eye
The Evil Eye belief in Turkey is when someone ‘eyes’ your good fortune with jealousy or gluttony, bad luck in some form is bound to befall you. The Turks believe, even if you mean well, you are looking upon them with a wee bit of greed and spite. It is these greedy and spiteful looks, that have the power to cause you harm and you should be wary of them.
The Turks also believe that people with eyes in an unusual color, especially blue eyes, are wicked, do not desire the good of others and hence seek them harm and misery. I become very self-conscious of this – wicked?!
You see the ‘Evil Eyes’ everywhere and not just for soveniers; the Turks use them sparingly. Metin gave us all one as a surprise!
Our Tour Manager Metin shared enjoyable stories about his life in Turkey, one of which was about the ‘janitor’ in his apartment building. Each evening, residents leave a bag with a list of things they need from the store; like fresh bread, eggs and the newspaper. The janitor goes shopping and leaves your requested items on the door in the morning. You can also call him during the day to run to the store for you. What a super, super! This service is part of the janitors job and his salary. The residents settle their grocery bill with the merchants once a month. If you don’t keep your account current, no vendor in a 5km radius will deal with you for months, as you are ‘dishonest’. Interesting!
Back to the blog….
Monday, March 16 – Pamukkale Hot Springs, Necropolis, and Hieropolis
We had a fantastic day at Pamukkale, also called the “Cotton Castle,” a functioning spa since the Romans built Hierapolis around these sacred warm-water springs. Today, Pamukkale is Turkey’s foremost mineral-bath spa. Its extraordinary natural beauty is created by hot calcium waters springing from the earth and cascading over the cliffs; dramatic travertines of hard, brilliant white calcium form clusters of pools as the waters cool. Pamukkale’s Hot Springs form a surreal landscape of glistening icy-white waters, mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and terraced basins.
This was our first stop, a gorgeous view from the bottom:
Incredible! Notice the sun is in our eyes?
Then up at the top:
And we got to walk in the water!
At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, we also explored the Roman ruins next to ancient marble columns from the Roman Temple of Apollo.
Beautiful place for lunch here on a hot and sunny day. Life is good!
Figs are blooming!
Turkey also has almond trees that look just like cherry blossoms.
Our unique, circular hotel:
The buffet desserts and appies:
Water from the mineral spring in middle of town:
Tuesday, March 17 – Konya
We traveled to Konya, a city on the ancient Silk Road, and home of the mystical “Whirling Dervishes” for over 800 years. This part of Turkey in addition to the historic Silk Road trade routes, is also significant from a Biblical perspective as we essentially followed in the footsteps of St Paul,John the Baptist and even Mother Mary….many religious tours take place in this area.
We visited the Mevlana Museum, which shelters the Tomb of Jelaleddin Rumi, a Muslin poet and mystic that was one of the country’s great spiritual leaders. His Tomb, resplendent in gold decoration is accented by old Dervish musical instruments and antique prayer carpets, is nearly seven centuries old.
Ancient copies of the Koran:
Stopped to sample a dessert of fresh yogurt with honey and opium seeds.
Turkey also has amazing goat cheese ice cream!
We viewed the splendid Seljuk architecture and many unusual Caravanserai structures.
A row of Sultans:
Wednesday, March 18
On the way to Cappadocia we stopped at the 13th-century Caravanserai of Sultanhan, a large abandoned shelter on the Silk Road; its main portal gate considered one of the finest examples of Seljuk art. The site also included a small mosque, known as “Kosk Mescid”, situated in the center of the courtyard. During the Seljuk period when trade flourished, caravanserais were built and used as inns for travelers, providing all conveniences.
including stables for camels! (Camels exist now in Turkey only for the tourists)
Stopped at a grade school that has been adopted by our tour company Gate1 Travel. Gate1 took a small village school that was rundown and in rough shape, and added new toilets, kitchens, playground, soccer field etc. We got to visit with some of the excited young kids who were very eager to engage us in conversation, sing to us and play games. Very worthwhile cause…this school project is completed now, so they are waiting approval to start on the next small village school.
This group of kids asked me to write down how old I was. Went I wrote ’56′ on her paper, this girl and her classmates looked at me like I was the oldest person they had ever seen! So I told them to ask Joe how old he was, lots of noise on that one!
We continued to Nevsehir in Cappadocia, stopping to visit a carpet weaving demonstration. Also a carpet sales pitch – a good carpet lasts 300 years and the value increases dramatically. No, we didn’t buy one; but a few of our travel mates did. They really are beautiful carpets and the art of carpet weaving is quickly disappearing.
Our first glimpse into the beauty of Cappadocia:
What a beautiful location for two weddings!
Always a good idea to befriend a member of the Turkish Army!
In the evening we experienced the astonishing ritual dance performance of the world-famous Whirling Dervishes. The ‘Sema’ is the inspiration of the Persian poet Rumi and part of Turkish customs, beliefs, history and culture. The ceremony represents a mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to the ‘Perfect’ (religious ecstasy). The dervishes seem to fall into a trance-like meditative state. It was incredible to watch. No photos allowed until after the ceremony was complete and then they whirl for a few minutes to appease us tourists.
Check out my short youtube:
I LOVED this…..
Thursday, March 19 – Cappadocia
We explored the Cappadocia region with all the surreal rock formations, ancient underground cities and unparalleled landscapes. This region was amazing. We all spent the day saying ‘wow’ with our mouths hanging open in awe. It was so incredible. Part Bad Lands, part Grand Canyon, part Flintstones. We could have spent days here. Legend has it that the first Star Wars was filmed here. Some of our group floated over the area in hot air ballons at dawn!
Cruelty to animals:
Part of the tour included the Open Air Museum in the Goreme Valley to see the early Christian churches decorated with unique frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible. No pictures were allowed in these churches accept for one church, where the ‘Guard’ let me take some while no one was around and then asked me for a cigarette when I thanked him. We gave him some spare change in lieu of. Not sure he really was a guard! It is forbidden in Islam to have the faces of religious figures depicted, so the eyes were removed; here’s the pictures:
Our new friends Henry and Corina from Houston, Tx. Great people – we had lots of laughs!
May and Yo Mama; so sweet!
Our bus driver Arif:
Other sights from the bus window:
Another cool stop:
Isn’t Turkey incredible???
We miss these guys already! Here is our tour group:
Our last stop was at the ancient Ozkonak Underground City. People lived underground, by the thousands – for years at a time! The farmer that discovered the city under his property was on hand, ready to sign books and shake your hand. That was strange, however; Joe bought the book.
Bruce Lee, one of our travel mates showing his strength:
Friday, March 20 – Travel to Istanbul
Seven of us were transfered to the airport (it was snowing!!) in Kayseri for the return flight to Istanbul. We had a different package than the rest of the group which is travelling back on the bus, making stops along the way and will arrive on Saturday. We had a day off!
View of Istanbul from out hotel window:
Pretty pretty sure the bed here was the most comfortable we have had so far! Nice hotel.
Saturday, March 21- Istanbul
Spent the day figuring out the next portion of our trip, after we have finished our tour of Albania and Kosovo. So far only have an outline but from Albania we are going to:
- Bosnia / Herzegovina
- Croatia; first we are meeting Spencer and Lindsay in Dubrovnik in early May followed by meeting Jordan and Amy in Split at the end of May!! We are so excited to see these guys – we have missed them SO much!
We had a Farewell Dinner with our Tour Manager, Metin and our new friends to cap off a memorable journey in Turkey. Such a beautiful, safe, fascinating country!
Mama and I have the same haircut and love beer & wine.
Here is Joe’s summary of our stay in Turkey:
Seen a lot of miles, amazing places, and good food but absolutely nothing compares to the Turkey experience…so much history, unbelievable geography. Great friendly, people, very accommodating and willing to help you…most speak some English and a lot speak it very well. This is a Muslim nation….and it is very open. They have a clear separation of religion and state which makes the country succeed, socially and economically.
History…my goodness goes back 30 to 40,000 years and so many places are preserved from 3,000 BC…We have seen 4,000 year old ruins, and Roman cities, cave dwellings and on and on…sensational. Makes Canada look like still in the crib.
We had a great tour guide Metin, who put everything in perspective and could relate the stories behind what we were seeing…amazing.
Sunday, March 22 – Istanbul to Tirana, Albania
On the road again!
Talk to you soon…..
Paula and Joe