I did some research before we left for this trip, so I did know that parts of Turkey were mountainous. Nothing quite prepared me for what we saw today, and from what our guide says, this is only the beginnning. We left Pamukkale in more dreary weather, with snow capping the peaks surrounding the Meander Valley. Our climb from very nearly sea level to more than 5000 feet elevation as we wound up and down the mountains was dramatic, and unexpected, to say the least. I spent most of the morning with my mouth hanging open. There was so much to see, and again, the downside of traveling by bus is very evident in my photos full of reflections of the window glass. Tour bus drivers aren’t too keen on stopping for photo ops, but the mountains were so dramatic I had to take photos anyway. I apologize for the quality, but still wanted to share the magnificent views of the Taurus Mountains.
The shifting geology kept me enthralled and glued to the window. We climbing from my California looking landscape, right up into a wild volcanic lanscape that rivaled anything in Oregon, and crossed incredibly flat and fertile valleys filled with deep dark alluvial soils. All the crops have been harvested by now, but the richness of the land is evident everywhere. The volcanics shifted abruptly to limestone and marble, with huge marble quarries along the foothills. Some areas had solid limestone rock outcrop surfaces that were probably 90 percent rock and maybe 10 percent soil.
We stopped for tea and bathrooms at a Urok shop where the women were still wearing traditional Urok pantaloons and selling pomegranate and orange juice fresh squeezed. Once we dropped down from the mountains, and began the approach to Antalya, another sub range of the Taurus mountains loomed to the west. These mountains, rising directly from the Mediterranean, are so dramatic that they look like something made up and painted against the horizon. The city of Antalya is one of the most ancient in the world, and the ruins and archeaological finds are everywhere.
We stopped at a huge mall for lunch and another break where everything was as cosmopolitan as anything in the west, and people were shopping and spending as if there wasn’t a recession in sight. The mall had a huge food court with Turkish food and all the American versions of fast food as well. Leaving the mall was a challenge since our bus was so huge and once more there wasn’t enough room with all the traffic coming and going. For a bit, we thought it was going to come to a real fight between our bus driver and another man who refused to move his car, but it all ended well with our great big bus once more negotiating impossible turns and narrow spaces.
The visit to the archeological museum was breathtaking. Truly so. Most of the sculptures there were from the ancient city of Perga, another ruin we will be visiting tomorrow, but seeing them here was wonderful because they were presented so beautifully, and were all in a place where you could actually appreciate their magnificence. I am in awe of the wonder of sculpture, this kind of sculpture, in stone, chipping away. It amazes me.
After the museum visit, we again negotiated some very narrow streets in order to walk through Hadrian’s Gate, into the Old City of Antalya on the old harbor. Our timing was perfect, will have to be sure to mention that in the comments, since we arrived at the edge of the old city just in time to see the sun setting over the sea with the sillouhettes of the mountains against the sky.
The day ended with a delight of an incredible room at the Khan Hotel, our best yet. Here we have a very large suite, with windows on three sides and views of the city and the sea, and the mosque just below us. Evening prayers were called while I watched the setting crescent moon over the minaret studded by a very huge Venus and another star that is very close to Venus. It took my breath away.
This day has opened up even more of the magnificence of this country to me and I am truly glad that I am here to experience it.