Sunday, July 09, 2006

Çeşme: Birthday Party!

The Birthday boys in their Galatasaray wear: Hakan, 19 on July 11th and Alex, 18 on July 18th. Happy Birthday!!


There was literally a Turkish feast - this is only a very small amount of the food that was at the party (you couldnt possibly fit it into one photograph). The women of Hakans family had been cooking for two days for this and Tuncay bbqued köftes and brought mussels stuffed with pilav and guests brought food - it was absolutely incredible and delicious!

The party from above the patio

Ferhan and Donica dancing after our Greekesque dance-line around the pool. Opa!

Slow dancing to traditional Turkish music towards the end of the evening

Three way chicken fighting in the pool after 2 am - Osman, Hakan, Alex, Kate, Morgan and Hannah

İzmir: Part II

Alex playing foosball with various Turks, friends and family. He impressed them with his incredible foosball skills.

Kate and Morgan playing backgammon, the national sport of Turkey

Just some of the family together before the real birthday festivities began!

Nevşehir & Akşehir & Afyon

Alex and Dad in a field of poppies

We spent the night in Afyon (Hakan said it has the name of the Black Fortress of Opium) which is surrounded by fields of poppies and is reportedly the prodcer of 1/3 of the worlds legal opium. The son and daughter of Hakans Dads best friend set us up in an Otel and took us out to dinner, which was very nice of them!

Akşehir: home of the tomb of Nasreddin Hoca (statue), a famous Turkish comic/funnyman from the 1200s. We bought a book of some of his funny stories translated into English - they were funny but I think a little bit was lost in translation.

Fields of wheat make the road between Afyon and İzmir look a lot like Kansas - if you ignore the horse drawn carts full of women in headscarves on the freeway and the old Turkish couples harvesting grain with scythes in the fields.

Nevşehir: Dad got pulled over going 78 kph in a 70 zone speed trap and had to pay a fine on the spot - but we got a 25% discount for paying in cash... very small town

More Kapadokya

Since one post just isnt enough, the encore of our Kapadokya tour:

Sun setting over Devrent Valley

Alex discovered the way up to part of an old dwelling - so we all scrambled up to check it out

Mum and Dad in the rocks
"The Camel" rock formation - found without a guide :)

Derinkuyu: Underground City

Dad frog hopping through the tunnels

Probably the coolest thing about Derinkuyu - an ancient underground city dug over several hundred years to house hiding Christians - is it was the first visit to anything that Dad wanted to leave before anyone else. Probably because most of the tunnels were a pretty tight fit and involved crawling, stooping, scrunching, limboing, or in other ways being small - one thing Dad isnt very good at. It was a blast exploring the city though and running amok in the rabbits warren of tunnels.

Alex right after he turned on our underground city theme music - the Star Wars soundtrack

At the very bottom of Derinkuyu - 7 stories down and very cozy. We ran into some Spaniards near here and then passed them on the road back to Ürgüp, so we gave them a ride to Göreme.

Hakan pokes his head through a hole in the ceiling/floor. We are all on our knees to take this picture - the people who carved this place didnt really believe in headroom.


Kapadokya is best shown in pictures -

Part of the pansiyon where we stayed in Göreme. Hannah, Kate, and Morgan slept in the top room, and Donica and Scott had the lower one in this "fairy chimney" - what they really call this rock formation.

Fairy chimneys with ancient dwellings carved out of them - we wandered around in them for hours since they were 15 minutes from our pansiyon and open without so much as a fence to keep people out.

We went to the Göreme Open Air Museum and looked at tons of old Christian churches carved into the rock there. Several of them had beautiful frescoes of Biblical scenes - like this one!

Kids and rocks

An amazing carpet shop in Göreme.

More rocks and homes. Many people still live in the caves or in buildings buried at least part way into the cliffs and fairy chimneys. Traditional farming also is taking place all around, and you cant walk anywhere without being surrounded by tiny fields of wheat, grapes, and squash.


Steep stone steps in Sultanhanı

On the way to Kapadokya, we stopped at one of the most famous caravanserays - safe havens for traders coming along the Silk Road. It housed camels and the caravans that came through from East Asia on their way to Bursa (I think...) and is hundreds of years old.

The winter half of the caravanseray - the ceiling was 40 feet high


The Rumi museum

From Antalya we drove northeast to Konya, known as one of the more conservative Muslim cities in Turkey, especially for the central region. We visited the Rumi Museum, with all sorts of beautiful examples of calligraphy, the sarcophogus of Rumi and several other early Sufis, and a room full of ancient Korans done all by hand with gold inlay - gorgeous enough to make you want to learn to read Arabic. Almost.

Ali of the Otel Ulusan. He was "first class"!

Once again we had an adventure finding our Otel in Konya. After over an hour we just got out and walked because it really did seem to be one of those places "you cant get to from here."

Before dinner in a classically Turkish room overlooking the Rumi Museum and gardens

We tried to go see a whirling dervish show, but that fell through so following the advice of Ali, our helpful and enthusiastic Konya guide, we decided to go eat.

Somewhere around course 3 ½ of our "mixed" meal

We found the restaurant he recommended, and since we couldn´t make up our minds what to get, Hakan just ordered us a "mix." The mix ended up being several courses of scrumptious Turkish food - lavash, dolmas, etliekmek, pide, börek, yoğurt, salatı, and kebaps.

After the "mix," several hours later

We did a pretty good number on the meal, but it gave Thanksgiving a run for its money. We almost had to roll home after finishing the homemade baklava, çay and Türçe kahve (turkish coffee).



We drove from Kaş to Antalya the evening after sea kayaking. About all we did in Antalya is eat (dinner at 11:30 pm), sleep and get lost. Our Otel was in the old section of Antalya, which apparently has only one point of access via a small, unmarked street. The area itself was all tiny cobblestone streets just wide enough for one 11 passenger van. Major kudos to Hakan for actually getting us there!

Kate and Morgan at breakfast in the old section of Antalya

Kekova & Kaş

Breakfast on the teras in Kaş

We arrived in Kaş and got directions from a man named Dennis, who then led us away to his pansiyon. It had airconditioning and everything. We went out to dinner, wandered around the town, ate ice cream - another cute town in the process of getting tourist-ized. We went back to the pansiyon and were just sitting down to watch the world cup when the power went out. We later found out it had gone out on the whole west coast of the country, from parts of İstanbul down to the coast where we were. The newspapers said it was because everyone had turned on their air conditioning and the World Cup game all at once, which we thought was pretty funny.

The next day we got up and spent the day sea kayaking over the sunken city of Kekova, which settled 6 meters under the surface of the water after a major earthquake. (pictures of sea-kayaking to be added later).
Dad getting a back massage from one of our sea-kayaking guides while waiting for the van.


A gorgeous beach on the Mediterranean

We left Dalyan in the morning after our interesting turtle watching expedition in the wee hours of the morning (we thought we were going to go to a beach where Loggerhead turtles nest, instead we found ourselves perching on rocks up river with a dozen other bleary eyed tourists watching a river turtle eat chicken skins. Oh well).

We drove South along the Mediterranean coast, stopping to take pictures of course, until we came across this beach. It was so hot (it has been around 100 F everyday) and the water looked so phenomenal, we pulled over and ran down for a swim!

We then finished up by driving to Kaş (sounds like "kosh").

Swimsuits hung out to dry

Monday, July 03, 2006


Dalyan: Across the river from Çınar Pansiyon where we are staying you can see tombs carved into the cliffside, which are apparently common throughout the area. At night they light them up and they look Halloween-esque.

The Pansiyon was run by a Turkish couple who rented us one of their boats. Piloted by the owners father we putt-putted our way down the river to see ruins, a disappointing turtle watch, and an amazing beach.

More ruins! An ancient church from around the 500s B.C. near Dalyan.

The breakthaking beach on a sand spit between the Aegean Sea and the river. The sand is extremely soft and clean and the water is a beautiful, clear, warm, (SALTY!) tropical blue. Dad and Hannah swam to the island to the right.

The view from the other side of the beach looking at the harbor on the backside up towards the river that goes past Dalyan.

Western Türkiye: Sights

Lunch came with free hats and an advertising deal.

We stopped for "lunch" (at 6 pm, we keep extremely irregular hours, just to keep everyone guessing) in the tourist town next to Didim, but walked out of a restaurant because the prices were ridiculous (it was sketchy anyway, who serves chicken curry, pizza, and pancakes in one restaurant?). We ended up at a place that gave us free geek-squad hats which have been put to good use.

A frequent site between towns - sharing the highway with ineklar (cows) .

Western Türkiye: Ruins

The family gracing ancient columns at the ruins of Priene.

The remains of a column still holding the icon of a local god. No wonder the place is in ruins!

During the first day of our road trip, we left Çeşme and drove south along the coast and stopped to visit three sites of ruins - the cities of Priene and Miletos, and Didim (Didyma) with the remains of the temple of Apollo. We followed the Menderes River (the source of the word "meander" and a very aptly named river) and ended up in a Pansiyon in Dalyan.


Mussels with pilav and lemon juice from a street vendor.

Hakan, Nur, and Ferhan showed us around their home city for a day. We went to the local bazaar where we bought lots of beautiful silver jewelry and Turkish pistachios (the best in the world, purportedly). We took a quick ferry across the bay and shopped in an upscale section of town while Scott, Hakan and Nur fetched our rental car - an 11 passenger white Hyundai StarEx a.k.a. the Mothership.

The first mosque built by the Byzantines upon their occupation of İzmir, with a Turkish flag in the background.