Konya

Trip Start Nov 09, 2006
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Trip End Nov 22, 2006


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The drive to Konya was relatively uneventful, but we snapped a few pics along the way.


That night, Nathan went for a walk with three others from our tour group. We wanted to see if we could make it to the Mevlâna Museum, an optional stop scheduled for the next morning, on foot. It looked like only about 2.5 miles, but we quickly discovered that streets are very poorly marked in Konya! (We later realized that this seems to be true in most of Turkey.) Many intersections have no street signs, and many of the rest only name one of the streets. The 'point of interest' signs were also deceiving because they were geared towards cars, and some areas required drivers to take three right turns to make a left. At one point, Nathan used Turkish to ask for directions. The man Nathan talked to was very nice, but he insisted it was 'çok uzak' (very far) and that we should take a taxi. Nathan didn't know how to ask 'which direction' in Turkish, so he just asked in English along with some hand gestures. The man pointed and said (in English), 'Go straight. That way.' We laughed and wished him a good evening.

After some inspired guesswork and several near-death crosswalk experiences, we made it to the museum. Satisfied with our accomplishment, we took a taxi home. 7 lira (about $5) for the four of us.

While Nathan was venturing around the city, Amy stole down to the Turkish Bath (Hamam) to experience this interesting ritual. Women were allowed 9p to midnight. When you walk in you are handed a towel to change into and then led to a room with marble floors, walls and a large heated octagonal massage slab (this area is known as the hararet). Around the slab are several basins and a smaller slab that you sit on next to your basin. These are designed to have cold water in them so you can cool yourself from the hot steam. Once you have warmed up on the slab, the masseur scrubs you with a loofah-like towel to remove dead skin, then washes your body with soap while he massages you. Hint: Amy found out that if you grunt and groan at the massage, you can get "more special massage." Seriously people, it was just an extra neck rub. After you flip/slip over and over to get washed, you sit on the one of the small slabs and get your hair washed. Surprisingly, this felt quite good. Nothing like the salon with your head in a basin; just sitting up getting a head massage with good shampoo. The rinse, however, was a few throws of cold water at your face, brisk. When you are done with that, you can proceed to take a quick shower, change and head out. As Amy tipped her masseur before leaving, he said, "very nice, very nice," and pointed to her red hair. Amy stole her hamam towel!!

The next morning, the two of us repeated the walking adventure to the museum, albeit a little more directly since we had our Lonely Planet guidebook with us. It was also more scenic in the daylight. We got to see lots of interesting buildings and an amazing little tombstone museum that used to be a religious school.

We did ultimately make it to the museum, which was originally a mausoleum for Mevlâna Celaleddin Rumi, whose followers created the Mevlevi order of whirling dervişes. The museum was amazing with its elaborately covered gold walls, tombs and artifacts. Some school children were there visiting and became more enthralled with Amy than with the museum. Each place she went, they followed and surrounded her. With the little English they spoke, they managed to ask how old she was (the response being older than the museum) and where she was from. The children's laughter was fun as was their curiosity.

Here are some websites with more information about the museum and those interred there:

http://www.istanbulportal.com/istanbulportal/Konya1.aspx
http://www.turkishodyssey.com/places/anatolia/ana1.htm
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