The Mosque in Antakya
The dervishes dress in long white robes with full skirts that represent their shrouds. Their black cloaks symbolise their worldly tombs, their conical felt hats their tombstones.
The region is also famous for carpet restoration.
Another day and another perfect place for a swim
It's the people you meet that make the journey. This is Richard and Cheryl also traveling on a bike from England. Richard is an opera singer and the Muslim's call to prayer was pure music to his attuned ears. He gave us a better appreciation of this regular occurance.
We had been very concerned for some time that the world financial crisis had seriously effected our financial affairs back home. It was here that this dread was confirmed and we realised it would be necessary to head home but before we left we still had places we had to visit in Turkey. We would not get to Europe and our friends there and so it was with a great sadness in our hearts that we moved on, this time heading to Gallipoli - another must see.
A fresh new look at Turkey
Turkey, we had discovered is a land of contrasts, of ever changing scenery, with places that are either progressive or lost in time. We have found traditional and innovative people in both ancient and modern cities. We wonder where the roads in Turkey will take us this visit?
We crossed the border from Syria into Turkey heading for Hatay or Antakya just 12 km to the south. Again it was a busy crossing and we were subjected to some bribery and corruption on the Syria side but the Turkish side went surprisingly smoothly.
We kept a slow pace remembering the heavy fine we had to pay the last time we were on Turkish roads. We had met a wonderful family on a weekend bike ride near Sanliufa while in Southeast Turkey and they had invited us to come and visit them in their home town. Sabahattin, or Sabo for short, spoke good english and together with his lovely Mom we were able to communicate with all his family, father Ihsan Aluç, Uncle and Aunt. We went for just a day and stayed for several, all their warmth, kindness and generosity will always be a very special memory and we can truly say we experienced Turkish hospitality at its best.
Antakya is steeped in history and mythology and we were whisked off to the many places of interest. Not only is Antakya and the region home to several Roman temples, aqueduct and tombs but ancient Antioch also played an especially important role in Christian history. A little outside the city is the holy site where St.Peter's Grotto is situated, a cave church where St.Peter preached and founded the Christian community.
The Castle of Antioch has a panoramic view over the city.
It was sad to leave our good friends and hit the road again but Jack was rearing to go - so much more in Turkey to explore. We headed north into the hills to the infamous Cappadocia province in central Anatolia.
The unique landscape of Cappadocia was formed through violent eruptions of the volcanoes three million years ago. It then took a million more years for the ash from these volcanoes to form a layer of tuff, covered in places by a further layer of basalt lava.
The region shelters a unique land structure and was used intensively as a religious centre by the early Christians during the Roman and Byzantine Periods. The volcanic, soft tufa structures were carved easily by the early Christians and underground cities, monasteries and churches were built.
Frescoed churches carved into the rock in the Open Air Museum.
The basalt ultimately cracked and split under attack from the weather and rainwater that seeped down through the cracks and splits to slowly erode the tuff itself. The natural effects of alternating very hot and very cold weather and the rain and the wind breaking down the rock's resistance creates the tall cones of tuff capped by hard basalt which the Turks call Fairy Chimneys.
The underground city of Derinkuyu was built as a refuge during the recurring threat by invading armies, the city has 8 floors of living quarters, store rooms and shrines connected by ventilation shafts.
The whole area is mind boggling, nowhere else have we ever seen such a diverse range of towering coloured rock formations and canyons.
After Aksarey we continued on the highway stopping that night at the Kervan Pension in the middle of the flat plain north east of Konya. At this lonely point on the ancient Silk Road we found the Sultan Han (han meaning caravanserai), a truck-stop-for-camels and the largest Seljuk caravanserai in Turkey.
Konya is a city that is filled with history everywhere and the sky is shaped by it's architectural monuments
We spend some time soaking up the atmosphere in and around the Museum, Shrine and Mosque in Konya then continued on west.
I had planned a magical ride on small roads through hilly farmlands, quaint villages lost in another age and alongside the picturesque Lake Beysehir.
It was then across to Lake Egirdir and a ride along its eastern shore to the quaint lakeside town of Egirdir at the southern most point of these placid blue waters.
It is then over the mountains down to Antaya on the Mediterranean to follow one of the most exhilarating coastline roads in the world. For the first time on the trip Dianne wished she was on her own bike.
We left the coastal highway and rode on a small road that twists through the hills for 19 km to reach the tiny fishing village of Üçagiz. We strolled past the yachts in the harbour and amongst the old village houses interspersed with tall stone Lycian tombs and other Roman remains of an ancient city. Offshore, just beyond the harbour and mostly beneath the waters of the Mediterranean, the marble ruins of a "sunken city" still glistened in the evening light.
On the coastal highway again with more stunning views
We leave the coastal road and head inland - our target is Pamukkale in the central Aegean region, 20 km from the town of Denizli.
Yet another remarkable landscape, photos do not do the water feature any justice. We walked up a rock platform rising up from the plain and the slopes of this hill are covered with a large number of pools and terraces. The tectonic movements that took place in the fault depression of the Menderes river basin formed a number of very hot springs, and it is the water from these springs, with its large mineral and chalk content, that has created the natural wonder now known as Pamukkale (Cotton Fortress).
From the edge of every terrace and every step hang brilliantly white stalactites, and the waters of the hot springs cascade down over slopes. These terraces have been formed when the beds of the water-courses are filled up with limestone deposits and the water splits up into several branches to move past this accumulated sediment.The water flows over the slopes into pools, the small basins surrounding them and finally into the fields below. The calcium oxide in the water adds to the thickness of the white layers and widens the terraces, producing pools in fantastic shapes reminiscent of oyster shells or flower petals, while the small amount of sulphur and iron oxide produces stripes of yellow, red and green over the white of the limestone.
We rode through Aklinsar, Baliksir and on through the hills studded with pine forest on minor roads to Canakkale on a narrow straight that connects the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea.
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