Silifke, Anamur and more
by Fred Moore - February 2007
This is an adventure we will not soon forget; join us as we begin our journey
to 'no-where' in particular. We've been talking to our friends about the long
weekend and where we might go to get away; Gaziantep comes to mind, as does
Kahramanmaras, Kayseri comes up in our conversation also but we talk of the
possible rainy weather and brush them all aside. The Turkish Meteorology web
site has been predicting rain, rain and more rain for this weekend.
We awaken Saturday morning, though, to beautiful sunshine and clear skies.
I decide to call Jim and Chelly our traveling companions; we collectively decide
that the weather is too good to pass up and we'll go for a drive to the west
of Adana. We pack an overnight bag just in case we find ourselves with far greater
weather than we have anticipated. We talk about Silifke as our possible destination
for the day. We opt to take the coastal road west and stay south of the autobahn.
We drive through Adana and head toward Tarsus.
We're now passing through Yenice the last train station before the train reaches
Adana. We see the commuter train leaving for Adana as we near the city limits.
Many fields of lettuce are being picked along this route; this is 'marul' a
leafy lettuce, excellent in salad. We see field after field with ten, twenty,
even more people bending, squatting and sitting to hand cut the growth of leaves;
this person cuts, the next person cleans (removing dead and wilting leaves)
and then another places the bundle gently into a crate for shipping. We see
trucks loaded down with the labors of the day headed off to market this morning.
Just beyond Yenice we enter the southern most parts of Tarsus, a modern city
of 220,000 and the historic 'hometown' of St. Paul. We notice a 'brown sign';
these denote historic places and since we're headed 'no-where' in particular,
we turn in the designated direction of the historic site. We're going to Eshab-i
Kehf - this is a cave near a mosque north of Tarsus. We drive north through
the suburban streets and emerge in the country; we travel a good way and now
round a curve and there in front of us is a great smattering of mud dragged
clear across our path. I make some off-hand comment about how awful it's going
to be driving through the mess and Jim says, 'aren't you glad you're not a tire',
very funny. There appears to be a temporary cement plant set up here by the
road; then just past it is a very large building that appears to be a chicken
barn; this facility is easily a hundred meters long. We continue on this curving
road north crossing over the autobahn to reach the historic site. I'm amazed
as we near the site, we're coming to a mosque that I've seen from the autobahn
many times and marveled at it location and wondered, why should it be all alone
way up this hillside. Its minaret is unusually tall and the mosque is settled
on the hillside half way to the peak of the mountain we're ascending. We climb
quite a grade and pass through a very large cemetery complex lining both sides
of the road. The closer we get the more interesting my thoughts become - there
doesn't appear to be a village around here why do all these departed souls come
to rest here? As we near the mosque site, we see many picnic tables and little
cleared areas for families to 'enjoy' (this may be the wrong word considering
where we are) an afternoon outing. Just above these picnic areas we see the
parking area; it's lined to one side with venders selling touristic souvenirs
(all kinds of things with the mosque pictured on them), they too have many items
with words from the Koran-imprinted on them.
Jim parks the van opposite the vendors; Chelly and Carol go to browse the vendor
stalls and Jim and I climb the multiple stairs that lead to the mosque high
above. On the first landing we enter a large open deck with a fountain for washing
the extremities, a ritual necessary before one enters the sanctity of worship
within the mosque. The mosque entrance is still two flights of steps above us,
more than we have ascended already. As we complete our climb (we've come to
the level of mosque entry) and adjacent to the mosque is a flight of steps that
descend to the cave entrance.
There are far more steps to be ascended above mosque level and I want to get
a better photo so Jim and I climb even further up the terraced hillside. It
appears much work has gone into creating a well-planned garden and restful surrounding
for this mosque complex. There are benches and covered patios all along the
walks extending out from the mosque to the street on numerous levels. I learn
once we ascend all the stairs that mosque level has a walk to the street, which
would have made all those steps taken already unnecessary! Climbing the full
height of the prepared stairs I get some great photos of the valley below and
the mosque itself. Those who are interred here for eternity have come to rest
in a 'garden of God's making'.
We climb back down and take the walk toward the road; we're not far from the
hilltop now and I want to see what's over the other side. I leave Jim and walk
up the road to what I believe to be the top. As I crest the hill I see only
the next hill that must be climbed; I simply turn and descend again to where
I left Jim standing by the road. We decide to walk back down the road to find
Chelly and Carol. When we reach the foot of the stairs where we began our ascent,
a gentleman senses our quest and motions to us that the ladies have gone up
the stairs. Jim and I look at each other, kind of like, we don't want to do
this again and then (almost in the same instant) we see the ladies have stopped
on the fountain landing and are sitting on a bench right by the staircase. We
ascend to their level and talk about what we've seen above.
After a few minutes of conversation, we all ascend once more to the top. Carol
takes a number of photos of the description on a sign leaning again some trees;
unfortunately this is totally in Turkish and we don't know what it says. This
area of the compound is being renovated thus the sign leans against the trees.
It looks as though much of the immediate area has been restored in the not too
distant past. Right now several men are working to construct new patio covers
and repairing stone work. I would guess the number of visitors here has to be
large because of the vendor stalls below and all the grave-sites we passed through
to get up here.
We never descend into the cave so should you wish to visit I can't spoil your surprise. I know it seems odd to come all this way and not see what we've come for but we talked about it and Jim said he's done it once several years ago and it's simply a cave. There are many visitors here today and all seem to be going into the cave so I felt better simply staying above ground; I assumed the place would be small and far too crowded. What little I can get from our literature is this: an account recorded in the Koran, states that seven people were escaping Roman persecution in 249 BC, they hid in this cave and slept for 309 years.
Winding up our visit, we walk out to the road and descend the hill to the van.
I ask Jim if we could drive up the hill and see what might be on the other side
beyond my view. The hill is quite steep and we crest it and find a small village
- Dedeler Koyu - we drive through the village thinking maybe we could simply
get down the hill on the other side. After a few minutes drive Jim decides to
backtrack and leave the way we've come.
That was a nice side trip and now we're back on the coast road again headed
toward Erdemli. The traffic is light but steady; the day is growing more beautiful
all the time. OH MY, here's a sight you won't see every day (well maybe not
where you live anyway); here's a small motorcycle with a guy driving and a girl
on the back sitting sidesaddle. The guy driving is holding a bicycle (I think
it might be the girl's) with his left hand as they ride down the road. The girl
has a fan belt in her hand and has another guy holding it while he rides his
bicycle being pulled along behind and to the right of the motorcycle. Very interesting
dynamic; we pray they make it wherever they are headed.
It isn't long before we drive into Mersin, a city of 545,000. This is one of
the busiest port cities in this part of Turkey. On this street we pass through
a very prosperous seaside commercial district. We pass several hotels and numerous
upscale shopping opportunities. The traffic is quite heavy but we pass through
without incident and continue our adventure. We drive through Tomuk, Kargicik
and finally we reach Erdemli a city along the coast inhabited by 50,000 souls.
We continue our drive and travel through Limonlu (a site with many Roman ruins),
Ayas (even more Roman ruins) and on to Kiskalysi (Girl's Castle); this is the
coastal plain supporting the castle-by-the-sea and the castle-in-the-sea. These
two castles were at one time connected, you can still see the remnants of a
pier between the two just above and below the beautiful turquoise water. The
castle-in-the-sea was reputed to be impregnable.
Along these coastal waters there was a major Roman settlement about every 15
to 20 kilometers. The ruins we see today along the highway are centuries old
and some still awe the imagination. We see tombs, baths, theaters and aqueducts,
all in varying stages of deterioration and ruin. Not far to the north of us
are what's referred to as Heaven and Hell; we visited both some years ago so
I won't talk about them here.
I get increasingly frustrated as I try to describe the vast treasures that
surround us on these travels. The literature is insufficient and the ruins are
prolific; little is documented or at least not published where it can be readily
researched; even with the World Wide Web! I have plenty of books on Turkey,
a couple ('A travel guide to the historic treasures of Turkey' first written
in Turkish by Dr. Cemil Toksoz in 1977 and also 'Ancient Civilizations and Ruins
of Turkey' by Ekrem Akurgal in 1978) my most prized possessions and yet they
leave me longing for far more than I get. There's one other title I find quite
rewarding but it too only presents snippets of historical data; 'A Country Like
The World - Turkey', by M. Ali Birant in 1990; I too have the first print done
We've just passed through Akkum and shortly we're in Narlikuyu. It's 2:30 and
Chelly says they know a place on the water's edge here we can have lunch. Jim
swings the van down a short lane toward the water, we park right next to a tiny
museum, the Three Graces Mosaic Museum. We'll take a look inside after lunch.
Chelly leads us to the Kerim Restaurant and inside we find we're sitting at
the nexus of a cove. This is so peaceful and words fail me, as I want to describe
the awesome beauty that surrounds us. The building is small and we're seated
only feet from the water, separated from it by large glass windows.
Our lunch consists of numerous salads (including pickled seaweed), fish and
squid. The fish is fried Lagos, a delicious white fish that Jim and Chelly do
not remember having before. The squid, 'calamari', in the local tongue is very
good, well prepared and gone before we've had nearly enough. We hesitate to
order more because it's quite costly. Jim and Chelly are not familiar with a
restaurant just a short way around the cove that Carol and I have eaten in before;
we make plans on our return trip to stop here once more and eat there. We dine
in leisure and enjoy it far too much, the water is splashing just outside our
window in a soothing rhythm, and our day thus far has been great and our company
We leave our lunch experience behind and make our way across the driveway to the museum; a young woman appears from an adjacent building to unlock the door for us and we enter a small space lined by a slightly elevated catwalk. Once fully inside we see a most impressive mosaic beneath the catwalk. We circle the room and consume the magnificent mosaic just below our feet. This was once the floor in a very large Roman Bath complex, all of which is gone now gone except for this wonderful mosaic. About two thirds of the building is the mosaic (the other third is a tiny remnant of the bath complex); the center to one side of the mosaic is filled with a 5X8 framed plate of three women. There is an inscription above this framed plate in Greek; it translates, 'He who drinks from this water will become wise, long living and if ugly become fair'. The women are the Three Graces: Aphrodite, Hera and Athena. Another of my books names the three quite differently, calling them Aglaia (Grace), Euphrosyne (Merriment) and Thalia (Charm); I much prefer this description. We delay our day's adventure only a few minutes in this museum, but a worthy delay it is.
We're back in the van now and just above the cove and the museum we stop to
check out a new hotel; we want to know more about it for future stays IF we
come this way to overnight. It's the Calamie Hotel and it looks quite nice from
the outside, we find out they have rooms but we're not looking for space today.
I tell the gentleman we're simply checking room rates: he tells me 80 TL including
breakfast. The reception and lobby area look equally nice so I get a card for
future reference. We don't look into a room although that might have been a
good thing to do; the place is three years old and certainly has potential.
Back in the van now, we head west once more toward Silifke; we pass through
another small village - Karpizli and begin moving away from the coast. It isn't
long before we enter the city limits of Silifke, a city of 64,000 people. Jim
and Chelly know of a hotel here and we wend our way through the city streets
to the location. The little 'Guksu Otel' is nearly backed up against the Goksu
River; immediately behind it is a very lovely river walk. There's an expanse
of rapids in the river right here behind the hotel as well. Just a short way
up the river from the hotel is a Roman Bridge fully in use even today.
We park in the small lot directly in front of the building and go inside to
check for room availability. There are rooms available so we return to the van
and collect our things. The first room I'm assigned the door won't latch no
matter how I try to close it so I return to the front desk and explain my problem.
Without a moments hesitation the lady gives me a key for a room just down the
hall. Our room isn't well appointed but it's plenty adequate and it's on the
back of the hotel with a view overlooking the river and the rapids. I open the
two windows and the sounds of the river come crashing in on us; I look forward
to the sleep that will come with the rushing water as a backdrop for our room.
The other nice thing about our room is we can see the castle on the top of the hill just across and up the river from the Roman Bridge. The crusader castle is from the 12th century and the Roman Bridge from 77-78 AD.
After we've gotten fully settled in our rooms, we meet Jim and Chelly outside
to try and discover some of the city around our hotel. We talk about walking
and then decide to take the van for a drive up to the castle. We're only ten
minutes from the hilltop and the drive is easy; OK, I'm not driving but it looks
easy. We cross the river on the Roman Bridge and drive through a commercial
area that turns residential then to the main highway up the hill. We turn off
the main road in just minutes and find we're able to drive right up to the foot
of the castle.
We park adjacent to a café that is apparently quite active in the summer but
not now, although a young gentleman offers us tea or sodas. Near where we park
there's a stairway ascending the hillside to the castle wall and I climb it
to get a better look. I circle the castle wall for a short distance and stand
far above the city looking out over it toward our hotel and the river that seems
to divide the city nearly in half. I also see a ruin far below; once I have
a few photos I return to the van and meet with the others. I speak of the ruin
I saw from above and Chelly tells me it's a cistern she remembers from a previous
After a half-hour or so we descend the hillside by driving around it; we've
now made the complete circle of the castle. We return to the hotel and park
the van. Since our lunch was not so long ago and so heavy, we opt out of a dinner
and simply walk around the city near the hotel. Jim and Chelly want to stop
at a produce stand for fruit and they buy oranges and bananas. Carol stops for
a soda and I get some roasted corn.
Before we retire for the evening Carol and Chelly suggest a trip across the
street to a pastani (pastry shop) for dessert; Carol, Chelly and Jim all have
a piece of cake or a cup of pudding, I opt out of both. We talk about our travels
and what we might do in the morning. We've had a very full day and simply return
to the hotel to retire for the evening.
Our room is flooded with morning light and I awaken to crisp clean air. The morning sky is a blaze with rays of the sun; it hasn't yet crested the horizon but it casts an array of light across the broken clouds. The sky has a tinge of red as the sun climbs above the horizon to make its full appearance. I decide to go out for a walk by the river; it's 6:30 and there are a number of people out there enjoying this wondrous morning already. Two city parks form the promenades on either side of the river here by the hotel; our side is the Ergenekon Park and the other side is the Guksu Park. I begin my walk on our side but quickly decide to cross over the Roman Bridge and I walk down the other side. I encounter a number of school children on their way to classes and older couples dressed in warm-up suits walking for their health. The sound of the river woos us all; the 'white water' rapids are only right here, the river gets quieter as I walk from the Roman Bridge toward the modern one to cross over to the other side. I meet first one couple then another, then more children who look as though they've had little sleep and those who are fully animated and having fun with their friends as they scurry off to school. I pass two gentlemen walking the other way covered in paint smatterings from top to bottom; they must be off to a job this morning. I stop along the way to admire some Ottoman Architecture aligning the Guksu Park side of the river. The property lining this side of the river is quite different from the high rise buildings on our side. I walk past two platforms that have been built out over the edge of the river from the walking path; both are stacked with tables and chairs and appear to be for cafes, probably only open during the summer months.
I have to laugh to myself as I begin to cross the modern-day bridge, the centuries
old Roman one looks to be in far better shape! It reminds me of the conversation
Jim and I were having about modern buildings opposed to these ancient structures
we continue to visit; how much of 'our' architecture and construction will be
around for those generations following us to visit?
I meet and pass more and more people now on this side of the river, obviously out for their exercise as opposed to me, who is simply strolling to savor the moment. The air is so clean and clear here. There's a slight breeze and people are all very cordial as we pass one another. Here's another platform built out toward the river set with tables and benches; an older man simply sits lost in his own world gazing out on the fast moving water. I feel like I can sense his distant thoughts, life is good and this is the life. I continue my walk right on past the hotel; it's still far too early for my companions to be stirring. Oh, I'm sure they must be up by now but we've said breakfast won't be until eight or eight fifteen; a good half-hour yet. I cross the street that serves as the approach to the Roman Bridge and follow the river walk further up stream. I stop to admire statuary of a woman in the park; unfortunately I can not understand the plate at her feet but know that she has a part to play in the past significance of the city or country as a whole.
Back in the hotel now I join my fellow travelers for breakfast. The offerings are standard Turkish and we're all very pleased with it. Again we spend the time over our meals discussing the days events, what now, where to, and etc. Jim talks about my weather predictions and how the 'rain' has been so terrible we've enjoyed it very much. We all have to laugh at the sarcasm in the conversation because the Turkey weather prediction WAS for continued rain all weekend and we've had NONE! There's no way we could have planned a more beautiful day yesterday and we hope for the same today. We finish up our breakfast, collect of things and check-out.
We decide our first task this morning will be to find the cistern and take
a look at it from ground level. Jim takes us in the general direction of the
ruin and we turn first one street then another. We stop next to a ruin that
we believe to be the Roman Temple of Zeus (dated from the 2nd century AD) but
don't bother to get out to further investigate, maybe another time. We make
more turns and finally, there it is; it turns out to be a Byzantine Cistern,
it's 23 by 45 meters and 12 meters deep. One can descend to the interior by
way of a spiral stair encased in a stone-carved cylinder; it reminds me of a
silo back home with a solid cylinder in the center. It appears it would be a
very tight fit descending the very narrow spiral stairs and we pass on the opportunity.
I take a few photos and then return to the van again.
While surveying this particular ruin, we have acquired the company of a number
of children. These young lads are chasing after me for a photo and the standard
lines, 'what is your name', 'where are you from'. Their few phases of English
are quite good and they are with me the whole time as I walk around the ruin.
As usual, Carol becomes the 'instant' grandmother; as she joins me they gather
around her; she patiently speaks to each one and shares her name and gets their
names in return. One young lad asks for money and his friend turns to him and
tells him he is naughty and not to do that again. I take some photos of them
and then a couple more as they gather round Carol; Carol gets the name and address
of one of the lads so we can mail a photo to them. We can only try the address
looks like it's complete so we'll be sure to mail some photos after we return
We return to the van and get on our way. Jim and Chelly have decided we will
travel farther up the coast. We leave Silifke behind and begin our ascent out
of the city. We cross over a mountain and begin down the other side and happen
upon a 'brown sign', Frederic Barbarossa, Carol and I remember this from many
years ago. We were on a tour through here in the early eighties with a very
astute Turkish Guide, as he explained it - seems fate was not on OLE Frederic's
side this day, he fell into the Guksu River (far below where we are currently
standing) in June of 1160 and perished; thus ending the German part in the third
crusade. The story we were told all those years ago was that he 'went swimming
with his armor on' and drowned; anyway it's interesting revisiting our own distant
Into our drive now about a half-hour Chelly decides things are not looking
as they should. We are on a winding mountain road with no guardrails and the
Guksu River valley far below. As we reach the floor of the valley we cross over
the river and in a few minutes reach Degirmendere, a small village. Jim pulls
the van to the side of the road so Chelly can consult the map to seriously study
our current route. She is more than convinced now that we've made a wrong choice
and directs Jim to backtrack to get on the proper highway. We make another turn
after climbing the mountain two thirds of the way back toward Silifke and before
we've gone five minutes Chelly again says, no, this is still not correct. Once
again Jim makes the adjustment and we reenter Silifke and find the correct highway.
We're now off in the right direction; our short misadventure, although time
consuming, was a very lovely drive.
Yes, this is defiantly the right route; we're driving near the sea again. Here's
Tasucu, then there's this 'Best Resort Hotel', looks like five star accommodations.
Now we're passing Manaster and Mylai, both of which have Roman ruins and the
highway now is right on the water's edge. We travel through Bogsak now and then
Akdere, then Isikli I and II, all little villages basking in the shadow of the
Mediterranean. What a beautiful drive along here; the water is turquoise with
the sun radiating from it. Now we're passing through Yesilovacik and as we progress
here's Pine Park (we've heard a lot about this large resort; the chapel always
brought folks here as a get away, when we first arrived in Adana). Not far on
now we reach Yenisli and finally we make a stop along a lovely beach front service
facility, Agacli Kafeteria.
We decide to have lunch here, the view is indescribably beautiful. The dining room is glassed in to the seaside and the sun is fully showering the building. The food is well presented and fabulous! I have an eggplant dish that is far better than any I can remember. The choices are many and everyone has what they want; we relax and enjoy this oasis on the road to Jim and Chelly's surprise location for the day. Jim has indicated they want to show us something we've not seen before and this trip along this waterfront is certainly something we've never done. We've seen a great deal of Turkey but there are still many sights and locations that will be new to us. Turkey continues to provide us with new and exciting adventures. We savor our lunch but can linger no longer and we get back to the van to press on. Before I get into the van I look toward the west and our line of travel, the road seems to be suspended half way between the sea and the mountaintop. I'm thankful we're traveling on this inside of the road as we drive west.
We're not far from our lunch stop and we take a curve and pass over a hilltop
and peer into Sipahili; the valley floor is carpeted in glass! As fart as the
eye can see; I've never seen so many greenhouses all in one place ever before.
Look in any direction and all you see is glass shimmering in the afternoon sun.
These hothouses are all filled with vegetable plants; there's not a flower to
be seen. We peer into hothouses and see tomatoes, peppers and eggplant; we view
fields of strawberries between hothouses and a number of things in other greenhouses
we can't identify from the road as we pass. These greenhouses reach from the
seaside to the mountain faces; the landscape has been terraced everywhere that
could conceivably be flat enough to accommodate a hothouse. These greenhouses
come in every conceivable size, most are the same width but many are different
lengths to conform to the piece or real estate they occupy.
I have to note here too, the last 25 or 30 miles of coast have been over two-lane
road that has not one stretch of straight anywhere over 200 or 300 feet at most.
This highway truly follows the seaside as it meanders the Mediterranean Coast.
A new vista is presented time and again as we follow the curves and hills of
this ribbon of asphalt. I can say without exaggeration that this drive although
somewhat frightening on the turns has brought us panoramas of seaside beauty
we can not describe with mere words.
We continue on west and before long we're in Aydincik a village of 8,000 persons.
There are more and more greenhouses now along the road and off in the distance;
they simply cover more and more of the countryside along here. We move on and
as we round a bend and descend into a small cove we're in the tiny village of
Socuksu or 'cold water'. There are a couple of guys standing on the rocks in
the cove waters fishing; they don't even look up as we round the cove. We pass
the village and ascend the hill on the other side. The highway continues its
ups and downs, its round and rounds and we ride in total awe of its remarkable
construction. We're traveling on a ribbon of highway seemingly hurled up again
the cliffs of the countryside by the Gods; I swear it defies gravity in some
places. The road surface seems far too narrow every time we meet and have to
pass an oncoming vehicle. In a few places, on some of the hairpin curves, we've
actually pulled to the side of the hill to allow the larger trucks to slip by.
I'm amazed any trucker would use this route of travel if he didn't absolutely
have to. I realize too that with all these greenhouses producing food for the
country along this coast many trucks must travel this route daily.
Here's Bozyazi, another small village on our route west. Far above the village
on a peak we can see a castle ruin; why in the world, how in the world did anyone
get those stones up there for that structure? Talk about a place being impregnable,
no doubt about this one! The greenhouses have now gotten taller and more and
more are covered in plastic sheets rather than glass. These are filled with
banana trees! We pass a few small trucks with bundles of green bananas stacked
in the back, guess they must cut these green as well. The bananas here are much
smaller than we're accustomed too but I'm told on good authority (I don't eat
bananas), they are very good.
Ah, there's what we've come all this way to see, another castle; this one at the water's edge too. We pull into the small parking area and almost before we get out, there's a guy with his very young daughter coming toward us waving a large four-fold postcard (it's large because it's tri-lingual). He asks three Liras and I take one. The card describes our attraction; 'the castle consists of three parts, 39 towers, a mosque and a Turkish Bath. This is Mamure Castle built on a foundation dating from the 3rd or 4th century and it's incredibly well preserved. The name 'Mamure' came to be in the 14th century after a renovation was conducted. The three parts of the castle are divided by high walls. The mosque has been dated back to the 16th century.
We enter the castle crossing over the mote bridge, yes, the castle is mostly
at the seaside but it has a mote on its land side. Once through the entry we
emerge into a vast courtyard. We're immediately confronted with the immense
open space before us; this is certainly the largest castle complex we've ever
visited. We can hear the sea crashing against the seaside wall. There are several
slotted windows situated in small alcoves along the lower portion of the wall
that allow us an intermittent view of the sea. We walk for a good way around
the grounds on the interior and cross through an inner wall to find the mosque.
The tranquillity of the inner space is broken with the arrival of a Turkish
tour group; it's most young women in long skirts and headscarves. A couple men
who appear to be directing their visit accompany them. One-by-one they dissolve
into a corner entryway and in minutes we see them emerge on the tower just above.
We can hear their laughter and animated conversation ripple across the courtyard
to greet us. The next thing we see is the entire group traversing the wall above
us. Before we leave they completely circle the castle on the walls above. Each
time they reach a tower they disappear into it for a few moments and then remerge
on the other side.
We explore the entire interior and even look into a couple openings in the
walls as we walk around the grounds. We don't have any desire to climb the internal
staircases to the upper walls, the view could be quite breath-taking but so
could the fall from up there (I'm not much for heights). In the couple of doors
I stepped into the staircases were quite well intact but not enticing enough
to get me up them.
After nearly an hour's visit we return to the van and drive on west. Carol
and I thank Jim and Chelly for this outstanding historic surprise. This certainly
is a very inviting destination; if you're into castles, the drive is well worth
We're now passing through Oren and there's another brown historic sign, Animorium.
We pass it by for now and venture on; we don't get far though because the road
is simply getting far too narrow for 'some' of us. None of us wants to be on
this stretch of highway at dark or even close to dark for that matter; as I've
suggested earlier this two-lane strip of asphalt simply clings to the cliff
like wet tissue to a wall. I for one realize this road has been here for probably
a hundred years and the traffic has moved over it with little impact for all
those years but I don't wish to become history today and I'm quite uncomfortable
riding along here! We decide collectively to simply turn back for Anamur when
we find a suitable space for a turn-around.
When we reach Animorium on this return trip we decide to visit. We have to
turn off the main highway and head toward the water, it's no time before we
reach the entry and pay our fee to get in. We drive another minute before coming
to the parking area and pull in right beneath a hillside covered in Roman Ruins!
I'm in awe; this is or was, I should say, a vast Roman settlement. The ruins
cover the hillside before us and run the full distance from us to the sea. This
settlement is dated from the 4th century BC; the literature tells us that it
was most prosperous and fully alive between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. This
was a strong and important city because of its closeness to Cyprus; this jut
into the Mediterranean is only 40 miles from the island. The city was extremely
important in commerce and export of natural resources from Asia Minor.
There are a number of fairly well preserved structures still standing despite
earthquakes and the march of time. Outside the main city walls there are nearly
400 tombs of those who lived and died here, many with intact mosaics. Unfortunately
for us it's too late in the day and the sun is against us; we must hurry to
see the few ruins of note and move on. This is without exaggeration a site for
all day; an hour or two simply can not satisfy one's thirst for what is to be
discovered beneath their feet. Another disappointment came at the tiny souvenir
shop, no books or literature at all, simply a few meager postcards. It isn't
tourist season of course and I'm assuming during the full summer season literature
is available. The gentleman manning the inner gate has been disappointed I think;
I haven't purchased any of his postcards even though he presses me to do so.
With our light fast escaping, we reluctantly retreat from this magnificent
open-air museum. This is a site to be re-visited and we WILL certainly strive
to return. As we pull away from the parking area we talk of finding a hotel;
we saw signs on our earlier drive through Anamur and return to find one hotel
in particular. We don't know any here but the sign we saw earlier just seemed
to draw our attention. We traverse first one street then another and finally
happen onto a hotel we weren't even looking for, by coincidence. When we pull
in to park a gentleman and his wife are walking past us on the driveway; they
stop to ask us about our intentions. We tell them of our quest for a couple
of rooms, turns out the guy owns the place with his brother and 'YES' he says,
we have plenty of rooms available; remember this is NOT tourist season. We've
pulled into the Touristic Strand Hotel - Restaurant - Bar.
We are greeted by Uzay Unluselek and told to leave the van where we've stopped.
Uzay runs to the office and returns with a number of keys; come he motions,
we'll get you set-up. He leads us to the second floor and down an exterior walk
to the end of the building nearly at seaside to look at the rooms he has chosen.
Jim and I each decide on a room and go back to the van to collect Carol and
Chelly as well as our things. Uzay invites us to have tea or coffee and after
settling our things in our rooms we make our way to the café at the end of the
drive overlooking the beach. We settle at a table already set and relax, in
just minutes we're brought tea and coffee.
While we wind down from the day's discoveries, Uzay introduces us to his brother,
Halil, his wife and his mother. As is always the case in this wonderful country,
we're hosted as if we're family not simply travelers who needed a room. Uzay
and Halil speak English as does Uzay's wife. After our leisurely refreshments
the sun has dropped below the mountains and we decide to simply stay put and
have dinner while we're enjoying the early evening. We ask Uzay what's available
and he rushes off to the kitchen; he returns in a minute with a couple different
fish on a platter. Carol, Jim and I opt for one we don't believe we've had before
(at least for a good while, if ever) it's reddish in color and fairly small,
they call it barbone (I think that's what they said), Chelly orders kofte (small
While we wait for dinner to be prepared and served we talk more about our day
and what we might do tomorrow. We're thinking of taking the high road over the
mountain tomorrow as opposed to the coast road in an effort to see new things
and get away from that ribbon of asphalt clinging to the cliff at seaside. We're
still talking about the 'rain' that has not come and how we could not possibly
have asked for more beautiful weather.
Here's our first wave of food, two very lovely salads; I could easily become
a vegetarian in this country! Next we get our order of calamari; this is melt
in your mouth wonderful! Now, here come our main courses, oh my, we're getting
two fish on each plate, we didn't need two at all. Chelly gets her kofte and
we sit for fine dining as always. I mentioned the fish were small but that made
the order just the right size, now we've got to eat two - head/tail and all
these things stare up at us from the plate. Initially I'm not keen on the taste
but as I get into it, it begins to seem better flavor. Don't know that I would
be inclined to order it again however but it's well prepared and we eat it all.
We've finished a good dinner but fresh fruit is always available to top off
any meal in Turkey, this one will be no exception. Shortly after we finish our
main dishes out of kitchen comes a large platter adorned with fruit, but it's
not simply a platter of assorted fruit. We're dazzled by the presentation; an
apple has been sculpted into a swan in the center of the array of fruit. There
are two candles in lemon halves on each side of the platter of bananas, strawberries
and Kiwi. Additionally, they've put two banana peels that have been turned wrong
side out on either end of the platter to more fully grace the display, nothing
short of awesome in this wonderful offering.
Again we've enjoyed a long and educational day of discovery and here we've
topped it off with a commendable dinner and great friends. The service and the
hospitality are rich, warm and fast. I believe though that an extra effort has
been made this evening to show us an excellent time. We thank our hosts and
retreat to our rooms for the night.
It's 6:00 in the morning, daylight is streaming into our room on this east
side of the hotel, I must get up. I dress and walk to the seaside. It's a little
chilly out here with a pretty substantial breeze coming in off the water. The
waves are crashing at my feet and the resulting foam is overwhelming the beach
and dissolving into the sand. I stand for a moment and gaze both east and west,
up and down the shoreline; a distance away to the west is a man fishing from
the beach. I pivot away from the gentleman and begin walking down the beach;
I find a couple of small but nice seashells and pick them up. The beach is sand
at the water's edge but tiny pea gravel where I'm trying to walk. My ankles
get a real workout as I trudge on and I find myself lost to the world around
me; I always find the seaside calming and enjoy a walk by the water. The roar
of the surf at my feet and the call of the seagulls flying overhead; I can't
explain it; there is just something about a morning alone at the seaside. Well,
I've gone far enough, I turn around and head back toward the hotel.
Once I'm back to the room Carol has decided she would like to walk to the beach
and we return together. The sun has fully joined us on our walk and there's
a little heat radiating off the water, it's warmer now. We retrace my footsteps
and Carol walks almost too close to the water, as it races up to greet her.
There's an additional set of footprints out here now, someone must have come
through after I returned to the hotel. Carol and I walk for only a few minutes
and then retreat to join Jim and Chelly for breakfast.
We meet at the room and take our things to the van before we eat. We make our way to the café and when we enter there's a table prepared for us near the window looking out across the beach to the sea. We settle in for more marvelous hospitality and almost immediately our breakfast is brought to us; no buffet here, at least not this time of year. The plates are covered in a array of morning delight: tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, a pepper, two kinds of cheese, a piece of meat and to the side toast, raspberry jam and other preserves. We're no more than started and out come two more plates, each with a thin omelet that looks awesome; again presentation is a sight to behold. I don't eat eggs but my companions assure me these are delicious! We have tea and coffee with everything else and there's simply no way we could be more pleased with our breakfast. We eat leisurely and enjoy the seaside view; this is going to be another really beautiful day.
We hate to leave such wonderful surroundings but the day is moving on and so
must we. We head out to make our way to the main highway, when we find the street
we need we're at a traffic circle with a statuary in the center, it's a women
with a bundle of bananas. The entire statue is matte black except for the bunch
of bananas she holds and they are very yellow; the contrast is stark. We turn
to the east and cross over the Kocacay River as we leave town. Chelly says to
Jim she wants to buy some bananas and she wants them from ONLY a banana stand.
Shortly on Jim pulls over by a produce stand and Chelly motions him to keep
going, saying she only wants to buy from a banana stand. It isn't long before
we come up to a small stand along the highway that has nothing but bananas,
lots and lots of bananas. Carol and Chelly both buy several kilos and we get
off down the road.
We're headed back toward Aydincik to make the trek over the mountains; Halil
told us at breakfast that he thought the road from there would be better for
us than the road from Anamur that goes over the mountains. It isn't long and
we come to the turn-off inland. We decide to make a rest stop and then take
off to ascend the peaks before us. We're now headed for Gulnar on top of the
mountain. The road is narrow but it's a good surface. Shortly after we start
up this road away from the sea it begins to rise with the terrain. We climb,
climb and climb even more, first we turn right then left then right again. Each
turn swaps us from driving next to the mountain and then driving on the outside
of the road; you feel as though you're flying as you look out the van window
and see nothing but far distant mountain peaks and the valley fathoms below.
Several turns now and we have ascended 3 or 4 thousand feet above the sea and
at each turn we glimpse the trail of asphalt we've conquered thus far. Then
the climbing is over, we've crested the mountain peak and come out on the plain
Oh look, SNOW, off in the distance those hills are laced with snow. We drive
through attempts at agriculture; I use that word because this is simply the
rockiest soil I've ever seen. There's no way you could begin picking rocks here
but these fields appear to be planted in winter wheat. The green growth is apparent
across the plain as we drive through the area. There are a number of homes scattered
along our route too but most appear abandoned (closed for the winter months)
and we guess they must be summer residences. We travel up and down the rolling
hills and at one point come to another historic site, Menekse Magarasi. A gentleman
comes out to greet us as we pull over to look and he wants us to come in, we
thank him but beg off for this time, maybe another time. This appears to a cave
complex, possibly tombs; again my quest for explanations in the literature only
lead too more frustration. I can find not even a footnote regarding this historic
site tucked away up here on this mountain range. As we drive on we begin to
have snow at the roadside; it obviously wasn't long ago that it snowed quite
heavily here. We pass some drifts at the side of the road that must have been
broken through by snowplows; they truly must have made travel here quite challenging
a week or several days ago.
Here's the village of Bozagac, there are plenty of folks active here, several
standing along the road as we pass; we figure some must be waiting on a dolmus.
Then, just as quickly, here we are in Gulnar. This is a village of 10,000 souls
up here in the clouds; it's situated on the hillsides in a box canyon. We have
houses above us and below us as we drive into town. It's Monday morning and
it's obvious this is no backwater town, the activity around us is stead and
purposeful. All of the shops appear open and active. We make a complete semi-circle
in and out of the village in five minutes.
We come to a crossroads in the city and have to make a decision, do we drive
to Mut or simply turn toward Silifke and we opt for Silifke. We really need
to be getting home, so this isn't a decision we want to make, it's a decision
we have to make. The sky is clear and the air at this altitude is as well, we
can see for miles. Chelly decides she needs to drive a while; she's feeling
a bit seasick from all our twists, turns and climbing the mountain. Jim finds
an appropriate shoulder and pulls over to switch places. Chelly takes us on
down the road; we pass through Kayrak and Gukbelen as we head for the coast
again. There's a great deal of logging going on through here and clear cutting
doesn't seem to be a problem. We come upon logs nearly rolled into the road,
piles and piles are laid up for trucking away later. Here we are now at Cumhuriyetalani,
hope you've been getting these village names down, there could be a test later;
this certainly a name for you to remember! We're starting a more serious descent
now going through Bahandiz and up the other side.
We've left all the snow behind us and here's another historic site; Kibris-Baris
Harekati Sehitligi (a military monument of some sort). This is the place we
made our turn around yesterday so we're just minutes away from Silifke now.
We join with the main road into Silifke and we're back driving the coast road.
We decide we'll drive as far as Narlikuyu and have a late lunch again at the seaside cove, this time at Lagos Restaurant. We drive nearly an hour and finally arrive at our lunch stop. Jim parks along the street above Lagos Restaurant and we walk down to the building sitting at seaside. We have to descend three or four steps as we enter the restaurant and we are ushered to a table by the window. The waiter removes the window and we're the thickness of the wall from the water. The waves of the cove are gently splashing up against the rock just outside the window.
Carol and I order for all of us, we order calamari and salads to begin with
and for the main course, as we anticipated, we're having Lagos; this time it
will be grilled not fried. Our initial order of salads and calamari come quite
quickly but we wait some time for the Lagos. When the Lagos finally makes its
appearance none of us are disappointed in the long wait, it's simply the finest
fish, prepared with excellence, that one can possibly ask for. Chelly comments
on how wonderful the Lagos is and we all rave about the calamari as well. We
savor our lunch and the weekend experience as a whole; we had a terrific three
We conclude our trip by driving to the autobahn, get on it and head straight home. My mind races over the past few days and I wonder how I can convey the absolute wonder of it all, I hope you've enjoyed it as much as we did.
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