Spring Break... Camping on the Mediterranean

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
1
11
91
Trip End Jun 01, 2012


Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Hide lines
shadow

Flag of Turkey  ,
Sunday, March 16, 2008

The academic intensity leading up to our spring break was enough to cause a mass exodus of teachers and students scattering in all directions... some people fled to the mountains in the north, to go skiing... an adventure we almost took... others headed off into various countries throughout Europe ranging from Italy to Sweden... many headed to the beautiful Aegean coast of Turkey... We decided to head due south, driving across the vast and rolling Anatolian Plateau... rising up into and then twisting down the Taurus Mountains... around snow capped peaks...into mountain valleys filled with olive groves... into yet even deeper valleys filled with flowering fruit trees... further dropping elevation into villages surrounded by orange, lemon, tangerine and banana groves... finally reaching the date palms lining the azure coast of the Mediterranean Sea...


We spent nine days exploring the coastal treasures scattered throughout... this area of Turkey has the highest concentration of ruins, many of them unexcavated...
as we found out on an afternoon hike into a mountain canyon... I will leave the destination unstated so as to avoid any further pillaging of ruins within Turkey... After clamoring around ruins of an unexcavated ancient Roman village... Debra found shards of pottery scattered about...
we noticed the top of a Roman Vessel sticking out of the ground... a careful removal of surrounding rocks proved the intact nature of the jar... we gently reburied the treasure... to the confusion of the boys... Aidan wanted to take it and sell it for big money... Carsten was ready to start digging for gold coins or jewelry... Deb and I took the opportunity to teach the boys about preservation... and how pillaging causes a loss of historical records...
did honestly wrestle with the concept of keeping a few pieces of pottery shards... yet decided against it... funny how even as adults we are constantly challenged with the practice of integrity...


Much of the Turkish coast is covered with ancient villages, cities, holy sites, temples, basilicas, nymphaea, theatres, gymnasia, baths, ancient marble paved roads, bridges, aquaducts, mosaics and a multitude of castles... SOUNDS OVERWHELMING... IT IS... even more overwhelming are the various cultures that built these treasures...
from the Seleucid Kingdom of Syria, Hellenistic Greeks, Romans,
Egyptian Ptolemies, Byzantines,

Persians, European crusaders, rogue pirates, Seljuk Turks, Cilician Armenians,
Ottomans and the modern day Turkish peoples... Quite often it is hard to grasp the richness of the historical within Turkey... It might make it easier to simply state that we drove by or explored thousands of years of history within our nine day trip... starting with Catalhoyuk, the oldest human settlement ever found... dating from around 6800 BC to the restaurant we ate at... built in 2005... IT IS ALL VERY HARD TO GRASP...


Although the ancient abounds... it is quite often overshadowed by the natural beauties that adorn the Turkish countryside...

Deb stated it best when she said that regardless of where one casts their eyes... there is a picture waiting to be taken... be it the canyons that appear ripped open by ancient Greek gods, the snow capped mountain tops that are viewed as one swims in the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, the thousands of varieties of plants and flowers that emerge from red clay...
colored sand and green hued rocks, the flocks of flamingos as they emerge from a flooded delta,


tortises that clumsily push, climb and craw over black volcanic rock, the colorful birds that skip, jump and flutter amongst the various cactus, trees and brush erupting in a rainbow of colors, and the trees that pierce the deep blue sky draped with oranges, bananas, figs, avocados, apricots to name a few...
the fish, crabs and various sea creatures that dart, crawl and grasp to their aquatic world...



Quite often on trips it is the people that leave a lasting impression... this journey was no different... One early morning we were served coffee and tea by a campground neighbor... an elderly woman named Fadime... meaning joy... she always had a wonderful smile and pleasant stories with each encounter we had with her...

The three brothers that gave us a boat ride to Kizkalesi castle on a small island... after dropping us off they headed out to sea to pull in one of their net traps... picking us up an hour later... while still pulling fish from the net that lay on the bottom of the small fishing boat they collectively owned...

One evening while waiting for our dinner at a seaside restaurant, an elderly gentleman approached our table and gave us a gift... a small guide to the multitudinous ruins that seemingly littered the area around where we were staying... he signed his book, To Mr. and Mrs. Cota and the lovely children, with my best wishes, Celal Taskiran... he was a highly respected elder in the local community and an expert on the areas archeological ruins...
The next day we drove into the mountains and used his book as an excellent guide to the ancient ruins that lined the mountains overlooking the coast...



The American expat family that we haphazardly met at a beach one afternoon... the boys got a good old fashioned loud and rambunctious American romp on the beach... making and destroying sand castles,
having a sand ball fight, body surfing the waves into shore and laughing and communicating in English... while Deb and I enjoyed the interesting stories from their mother... planning to host our new friends on their next journey to Ankara...



The "octopus man" as he showed the boys how to tenderize octopus meat before it is cooked... by tying a rope to it and briskly slamming it against the concrete... needless to say the boys swore off even trying octopus meat... EVER!!!

The soft giggles of young children as they passed us in the streets... quickly saying hello... the only english most of them knew.. and their wide eyes as we answered in return, "İyiyim, teşekkürler. Sen nasılsın?" The Turkish version of I am fine. How are you?

The bathroom attendant at a gas station in a remote mountain village... who gave us an extra supply of hand towels to dry our hands... squeezing the boys cheeks... a very common Turkish practice... The Turkish people love children...





Our drive north... back home... yielded more beautiful scenery...




meanderings through quaint mountain villages that seemed to grow from and blend into the landscape...

a few stops at local road side carts to buy oranges and bananas for the road trip

and a quick and uneventful jaunt across the Anatolian Plateau to our apartment on the hill... overlooking the vast and polluted city of Ankara...



Tomorrow we return to school for yet another fast and furious week at Bilkent International Preparatory School..
Slideshow Report as Spam

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: