By bus and dolmus, we explored
Turkey as it might have been 20-50 years ago, and found friendly
people everywhere in lands mentioned in the Christian Bible.
Antalya, Anamur, Adana
technically in Eastern Turkey, these coastal cities were on our
route as we left the busy tourist-oriented cities of Western Turkey
for the more agricultural east. As is often the case, people
met along the way are one of the highlights - in this case a Turkish
lady who was married to a Frenchman and had lived in Germany, China,
Morocco, and other places - it made the trip go by quickly.
Along the way we spotted:
- Strawberry fields and banana plantations
- Roman ruins along the highway near Sielifke
- Great views of the Mediterranean from our
hotel room in Anamur.
- Great hosts at our hotel - they only wished
we had stayed longer
time we reached Sanli Urfa, we felt we were in the Middle East.
Most women wore head scarves or veils, and many men wore
turbans. The city has an eclectic background with:
- Islam - A beautiful mosque that
dominated the pilgrimage area of the city.
- Roman Empire - Roman columns on
the hill overlooking the city.
- Judeo-Christian - An cave where
Abraham was born - important to all religions that
started in the Middle East
- Decadent West - A single street
with a a few bars - made us feel we were in a disreputable
part of town
We wandered the streets, visiting a local
bazaar (where we bought a sheepskin, that we needed like a
hole in the head), explored back streets, and were yelled at
by one woman who didn't approve of us photographing a veiled
woman - she was right!. By this time we had met up
with our part-time traveling companions, Marcus and Debi,
and rented a car to visit Harran near Syria, a
village with 5000 years of history mentioned in Genesis and
not much changed since then. On a side trip we visited
Birecik, a bird sanctuary on the Euphrates and one evening
decided to see "Closer", an English-speaking movie
with Nicole Kidman - which turned out to be one of the worst
movies ever made! For more photos, check out
the middle of Turkey is a burial site for King Antiochus I,
a pyramid-like pile of rocks surrounded by heads of the king
and story-telling steeles. The rocks have been broken
into small pieces and piled into a smooth conical pile
several hundred feet high. The burial site has never
been excavated and its is anyone's guess what may have
rested inside for the last 20 centuries. See more at
Mt Nemrut Photos.
Batman, Tatvan & Lake Van
was prosperous-looking, with oil fields nearby and a
refinery on the edge of town. Tatvan was the opposite,
with seedy streets and men of all ages hanging around
talking and drinking tea, but no evidence of work - a sad
contrast to many areas we had visited. On Lake Van we
took a boat to Akdamar, a pretty Armenian church on a
small island - well maintained despite having been around
for 10 centuries or so. One of the highlights was a
side-trip to Hasankyef, a minor tourist attraction
with a few families still living in the caves that once
housed hundreds - now all are at risk as Turkey plans to dam
the Tigris for power and irrigation. An ancient bridge still
stands in the Tigris, although a modern one carried the
standing-room-only dolmus that brought us to visit the town.
There is more to see at Lake Van
the Iranian border we
the border town of Dogubayazit, a mostly Kurdish area with
heavy military presence and bustling commerce. The
snow-capped mountains surrounding it include Mt. Ararat,
the reported site of Noah's Ark landing after the big flood.
The hills also have palaces dating from the Ottoman Empire -
Ishaz Pasa Palace being one of the most beautiful as
it overlooks the town and the route of the old Silk Road
trading route. We wrapped up our tour of this
eastern-most city in Turkey with tea al fresco with a
wonderful view of the valley below. See more at
For more details,
visit our May 2005 Journal.