Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Look of Love

Last night I finished reading the 3rd book in the Barsoom Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The books chronicle the exploits of American Civil War veteran John Carter who is transported, without any explanation, to Mars (known by Martians as 'Barsoom').
Once there he falls in love with a princess and has absolutely non-stop Conan-type adventures battling Tharks, Plant-Men and Great White Apes.
It's all perfectly mad, but a rollicking good pulpy read.

One of the chief pleasures is wrapping my tongue around the names in the book. For example, one of the main villains is called "Matai Shang, Hekkator of The Holy Therns" and Carter's best friend is "Tars Tarkas Jeddak of Thark". Great stuff.

However, these names are getting confused with some of the Turkish words I'm learning. Especially names of dishes in restaurants.
So, I start wondering to myself whether "Tavuk Sis" is chicken on a skewer or is it the name of the redoubtable Jeddack of Zodanga, and if I order a plate of "Woola" am I asking for a red kidney bean salad or for a faithful Martian war dog.

From Pamukkale I joined a daytrip minibus to Aphrodisias, an ancient city famous for its Temple of Aphrodite. After the disappointment of Ephesus this place was a real treat.

It's surrounded by mountains, covered in spring flowers, hardly visited and full of columns!

The site itself is huge, it took about 2 hours to walk round.

First was the very columny Tetrapylon gate

Tetrapylon gate

From there a small path crossed a field of flowers...

to an athletics stadium.

 I think Galatasary ought to play their home legs in The Champions League here.


Only columns remain of the once famous Temple of Aphrodite...fine by me.

Temple of Aphrodite

Other notable buildings include the Hadrianic Baths

Hadrianic Baths
Part of Hadrian, I assume

and the Sebasteion, a temple where previous Roman Emperors are the gods.


All in all, a suitably beautiful place dedicated to the Godess of Love.

One last thing...
These three columns really caught my eye because they form the Japanese kanji for mountain!


Cotton Castle

From Selcuk I journeyed inland to Pamukkale in ancient Caria. Pamukkale means "Cotton Castle" in Turkish. It is home to yet another World Heritage site.

Here's a new word for you all : travertine.

Travertine is a type of stone deposited by hot springs. It's made of calcium carbonate and is similar in some respects to stalactites found in caves. Apparently, it is quarried in some places and used for tiles.

Anyway, Pamukkale has a whole hillside of terraced travertine that is visible from miles around.

I've wanted to visit this place since seeing a poster of it in a kebab shop on Brixton Hill.

I was wary of crowds after my Ephesus experience so I visited the site in the very late afternoon when most of the coach parties had left town.

I walked up a large hill beside the tarvertines, paid admission and entered the restaurant, pool and spa complex at the summit.

Here you can have small fish come and slowly eat you alive. I didn't have enough time so I reluctantly passed.

Once outside the views took over...

I took a couple of close-ups...

Barefoot I walked back down the hill on the travertine itself.
The ridges were a bit spiky but the water was lovely and warm.
Happily, there wasn't an unpleasant smell of sulphur in the air.

Back in Pamukkale village there was one last surprise. A Japanese restaurant! I had miso soup and soba noodles. Very good, too.

The lady who ran the place was happy to chat about Japan and gave me 5 free strawberries and a glass of muggicha (Japanese barley tea).

I watched her two dogs fighting over a lead.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Basilica of St. John & My First Mosque


John The Evangelist is believed to have written his Gospel here on Ayasuluk Hill. A 4th century tomb is also believed to house his remains.
In the 6th Century Emporer Justinian built a large church around it. As usually happens eathquakes and marauders destroyed the site but it is currently being restored.

I have to admit that I didn't take a photo of the tomb. I got this one from Wikipedia 

The reason for this was a stork that I'd spotted nesting on a one of my beloved columns.

I became obsessed with trying to get a good shot of this bird and photographed little else at the site.

Except a tortoise with a baby...

And some flowers...

Outside an old man stinking of raki took me to one side and tried to sell me some old Roman coins he had nicked whilst "helping" with the restoration. He was reticent to appear on the blog.

At the foot of the hill is the Isa  Bey Camii, a 14th Century mosque and the first I have ever been in.

Beautiful, huge carpet - donated by the people of Selcuk.

Nice light from the high windows

and a column with a bird on it.

The Madding Crowd

I left Fethiye and headed off to Selcuk. In ancient times this meant leaving Lycia and heading through Caria and into Ionia. It also meant saying goodbye to the ocean and The Lycian Way.

Selcuk is only 3km from the world famous ruined city of Ephesus, where once stood one of the Seven Wonders of The World (The Temple of Artemis). Sadly, only a single column remains today so I didn't take a photo (even though I do like columns, as you all know).

It is also believed to be the site where John wrote the 4th Gospel and where the Virgin Mary died, so it's a place of pilgrimage for Christians.

The town itself is nothing special but it's surprisingly laid back when compared to somewhere like Agra (Taj Mahal) in India.

Slightly kitsch weddings happen...

...and men spend all afternoon playing games and drinking tea.

Never seen that game before. Backgammon and dominoes are very popular too.

I walked the 3km to Ephesus early in the morning in a vain attempt to miss the crowds...Oh.
Ephesus Main Street
This was a bit of a shock after having whole ruins all to myself. I tried telling myself that Ephesus had a population of 250,000 people at one time so it would have looked crowded even back then - but that didn't really help.

Maybe all visitors should be made to wear togas.

There were lots of columns and some impressive buildings.

My favourite building was The Library of Celsus with its statues representing Wisdom, Knowledge, Virtue and Justice.

The Library of Celsus

Sophia - Wisdom

Arete - Virtue

I later read that the statues were only copies and the originals are in Vienna - which makes a change from London.

Ennoia - "Is this Justice?" "No, just a simulacrum."

I paid an additional fee to see the Museum of Terraced Houses. Luckily, the additional fee keeps the number of visitors down. Nine houses have been excavated from a hillside and are protected from the elements by a NASA style high-tech enclosure. Walkways take you up above the houses and allow you to look down into them.

None had external windwows, all light came from internal courtyards.

The floor mosiacs and psychedelic 'wallpapers' were great.

Was Dennis Hopper your decorator?

But overall I have to say that Ephesus was a bit disappointing for me.

Too many people, too many hawkers and not enough cats.

Some, but not enough