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 Afrika Auteur : Eddy le Couvreur
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September 6 through 27, 1997

Saturday, September 6, 1997

I can’t remember that we ever got up so early for a holiday. At 2 o’ clock in the morning (!) we find ourselves at Rotterdam Central Station waiting for a train to Schiphol airport. We are supposed to fly at 5, but there is a delay. On board the aircraft, ready for take-off, there are two passengers who are not bound for Turkey at all, but for Athens. To top it up we have to wait for two passengers who were clever enough to leave their passports at home. The latter two miss the flight. We fly to Izmir and upon arrival everything goes according to plan. We pay twenty guilders (cash in Dutch money) for visa, which, without further ado, is stamped into our passports. Looks a lot like highway robbery to us.

Our rental car is ready at the airport. It’s a Tofas Sahin, the Turkish version of the good old Fiat 131, which is still being produced here. Soon we find out that everybody is driving a Tofas. We head for Selçuk. In the Hotel Ürkmez we’re being greeted by two brothers who run the place: Çem and Düneyt. Our relationship puzzles them. They think we’re brothers (!). We're desperate for some sleep and luckily the room is ready for use. After a short nap we go out to look around town a bit. There’s a market and some Roman sites with the grave of St John the Baptist. After that we go to the beach. The beach is practically deserted and very quiet. At night we have a good and cheap dinner at Seçnik’s and at ten I practically fall over with sleep. High time to pack it in for the day.

Sunday, September 7, 1997

After a reasonably big breakfast on the roof garden, we head, having been waived off by the brothers, for Pamukkale. We stop, thanks to the idiosyncratic Turkish road signs, one village too early and can’t find the hotel. A soldier explains, in French, that we have another 10km to go. The Koray Hotel has a pool, a lot of staff without specific duties and costs only £18 ($23) half-board. After lunch we drive towards the famous travertines. The water level is extremely low and bathing is not allowed. It’s still a beautiful sight though. Also the Roman/Greek theatre is well kept.

Pamukkale, Travertines

 

At night we dine in the Hotel courtyard and get a belly dancer thrown in. Ignoring her is not helping things and she is very persistent to get a tip from us. We’re supposed to put it somewhere in her undies, but that’s not on for us (had it been a nice looking guy…!) Happily for her (and us) she’s more successful with a group of middle aged German men. After an evening walk we call home. Holland beat Belgium 3 –1 and are certain of qualification for the World Cup.

 

Monday, September 8, 1997

After breakfast we walk to the post office for stamps. Then we’re on our way to Egirdir, but not without free advice by the Hotel staff. They know, not surprisingly, a good number of hotels that we MUST visit. In Isparta we draw some money from a cash point machine (after three vain attempts) and have some lunch. In Egirdir we find Ali’s pension on our travel guide’s advice. It’s a simple affair, but dirt cheap. Only £8 ($13) per room including breakfast. After having set ourselves up in our room we head for a quiet beach on the shores of the big lake on which Egirdir is set. The water is fresh and the beach pebblish, but it’s lovely and quiet. At night we eat at Adac’s pension. The food is questionable, but the tables are placed romantically on the quay. Another good walk to the centre of town (the pension is on a peninsula). Egirdir’s nightlife leaves a lot to be desired; in other words: it’s stone dead.

Tuesday, September 9 ’97

Today we drive to the Kovala National Park. In the park we find a seemingly deserted cafeteria. It turns out to be manned by a boy in his late teens, who only speaks Turkish. After having served our drinks he joins us at the table. A somewhat difficult conversation follows, helped by "What and how in Turkish" (he can read). His name is Mustafa. The Park is beautiful.

Kovala National Park

It’s populated by small peasants, but it is low on wildlife. Finally we arrive in the village of Sutcelkeler, where we ask for directions. Soon a crowd of men gathers around our car, in which no one speaks more than just Turkish. Someone gets a good idea and fetches the local English speaker. This man, without any hesitation, invites us to tea and tells us that he has relatives in Eindhoven. We thank no for the tea, but get good directions. The road back has just been given a new layer of asphalt, and so is our white car after a few miles. We’re looking forward to returning it to Mr Avis in two weeks’ time(!). After a late lunch we go to the beach. At night we eat at Ali’s. During dinner I start feeling not so bien (to use a French expression). "Gastrointestinal disorders" is our amateur diagnosis or the "runs" to put it more plainly. To bed early.

Wednesday, September 10, 1997

We get up early, because we have a long way ahead of us. Erik’s had some intestinal problems too during the night. We drive to Konya. The journey goes well. We’re there before noon. First something to eat. My stomach and intestines haven’t settled yet. The main attraction in Konya is the Mevlana museum, devoted to the founder of the sect of the whirling dervishes. Many devout Muslims come here apparently in some sort of trance. We visit another mosque and two former medresses (Islamic schools), but they’re not very special.

At night we order more food than is good for us. If that’s the cause we don’t know, but Erik becomes unwell in a big way. First he turns very quiet (very rare) then grey (not his hair, but his face) and nearly faints. He disposes of the meal in the toilet and recovers in no time. Early to bed.

Weather: sunny 30° and more.

Thursday, September 11 1997

Breakfast is not in the hotel, but in the restaurant around the corner. We thought it was included, but no, we’re being called back. But for £2 ($3) for both of us, we don’t make a fuss. Then follows a dull drive through a barren plain. Halfway to Capadocia we stop at the Sultanhani Kervanseray. We’re besieged by children asking for candy or selling postcards. We kind of have to hit them to make way for ourselves. The Kervanseray is nicely restored. The scenery becomes better by the time we near Ürgüp. We find the Hotel Hittit. Fine place. In the afternoon we drive to Göreme. We stop for a viewpoint (30p) and than head for Üçihsar, where a fortress has been cut out of the rocks. The view is magnificent. You see rocks with cave dwellings all around you. These dwellings were cut from the soft stone by Christians, who took refuge from the invading Selchuks almost 1000 years ago. We carry on towards Göreme. Here some cave houses are still being used. The open air museum includes a number of cave churches and chapels. The frescoes are sometimes severely damaged. Especially the faces (Muslims are not allowed to depict living creatures). Still impressive just the same.

Capadocian scenery

At night we eat a Turkish pizza in a pathetic little restaurant. The menu is a small photo album (quite handy actually) and we are the only guests for tonight. It’s clear that the main season is over in Ürgüp. The town is geared up for many more tourists the few dozen walking around now. We have tea at Murat, the bar for Ürgüp’s switched on crowd. The owner also runs a travel agency and never stops talking about it!

 

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