Monday, September 27, 2010

Castles and Gozleme Gardens

Anamur to Tekmen (Gozleme garden)

Distance: 24 km
Time elapsed: 1:32:00
Average speed: 15.5 km/ hr
Max speed: 48.3 km/ hr
Temp: 30 C
Weather: Mildly humid, nice evening. No wind.

We finally had to say goodbye and leave Behlul and Arzu, although we really didn't want to. After filling our bottles at the mosque, Chris and I biked out if the town toward the Marmur Castle. Turns out this largely ignored kale is one of THE coolest castles in the country, if not the region!

Hosça Kalın Behlul, Arzu, and Rua!

Seaside Marmur Castle

First of all this place is huge, with three defensive walls to block out invading armies. Inside is a modern mosque, though I don't know if it is in any way connected to an ancient one that may have stood there long before.

View from the guard tower (notice the tourists)

We climbed in through a sea-facing window, then up to one of the many towers, climbing the dangerously narrow flying staircases and following long corridors illuminated by window light. I often think I should be feeling some sort of emotion when visiting ancient sites, that's why I'm here right? To walk around the remains of great civilizations and understand what life was like long ago. So many stories. So many births and deaths and who knows what in between.

Stairs winding up to the tower

Sadly, I get desensitized to ancient sites fairly quickly. Sometimes downright bored. Everything cool has already been extracted, taken for safekeeping to a museum or warehouse anyway. (Some anthropologists feel that removing a symbol from it's location of use is like breaking the bond, thereby rendering it's value worthless)

First of three defense walls

However the Marmur Kale is just the opposite! My imagination was running wild and I felt the need to walk around and see it from every angle possible (this is how Chris generally always feels, which gets pretty annoying after some hours when I'm hungry and tired and bored, ha!).

Scaling the kale of Marmur

After thorough explorations we took off, passing a few coastal hills and quiet coves. Late lunch was at a balik restaurant, set right out over the water. The grinning chef/proprietor served us a plate of fresh balik with a salad and bread, standard Mediterranean fare, then went back to his tea on the front porch with his friend.

There's actually a stunning seafront just to my left

Last of the banana stands, departing Anamur

Later we took a stop at a mosque to fill our bottles, striking up a conversation with the imam who took us inside to use the internet. We didn't catch what he wanted really, but he did show us random pictures of mosques and Mecca while talking to Chris in Arabic. I think he was just excited to meet us, glad that we are interested in mosques, Islam, or Arab culture in general. His wife appeared with a pitcher of ayran (Albanian dhalle, a salty yogurt drink) which he and Chris guzzled jovially.

Friendly imam attempts to ride Chris' bike

Our plan was to get to an empty cove we had seen on google earth, just a few more km away. As the sun began to set we spied it from afar, deciding to grab a quick gozleme (cheese pancake) at a roadside cafe garden. This place was super cute, every square foot packed with potted plants, vines, trees; gourds hanging from the overhead trellises. The ocean just below was impossible to see through the dense vegetation.

Cute roadside eatery! (/ family living room)

We ordered 2 pancakes from a nice family (2 parents 2 young kids) and sat on the cushioned couches near their tv; Chris began sketching in a kids' coloring pad and I was writing when the mother came out with plates of food. Then they all came out to sit with us in their outdoor living room, curious to learn who we are and what we're up to. We found out their families are from Cyprus, and they have an older daughter studying in university there.

Seride (mom), Melisa (daughter), and Arda (son) eat in the outdoor family room

After finishing and going back to the bikes, the father, Mustafa, was watering plants nearby (they pretty much do thus all day) and he turned to ask Where are you going? Why don't you stay here with us?

Hanging gourds o plenty

So that's how we ended up sleeping in their outdoor living room, under a mosquito net (although it didn't seem necessary). Once back on the couch and established as misafir (guests), they set out a large silver tray full of food (their dinner) and encouraged to join them. Pay for the pancake but stay for the free feast? Only in Turkey.

Hangin with the fam, talkin gourds...

We graciously passed (except for the tea) and instead Chris drew scenes on a gourd, and a sketch of how they can make gourd lanterns, while I practiced stringing Turkish words into sentences with them. After a few hours our eyes got droopy; they set us up under the net for a comfortable sleep, waking to the sound of pouring rain and thankful that we weren't down on the beach.

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