Bulgaria & Turkey, November 2001 Travelogue
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Tuesday, Dec 4th, 2001

Antalya, Termessos and second base

I woke up & wandered downstairs for breakfast. I was pretty sure I was the only one staying at this hotel. Two cats meowed and begged for scraps of my considerable breakfast. It was bread, white cheese, cream cheese, tomato, cucumber, Kalamata olives, coffee and a simple omelet.

My host had mentioned the night before that since I was only one person, and it was the low season, that it would be hard to find a tour company willing to take me around, so he would do it himself. I doubt that was accurate, but it was fine with me, and it turned out great because he also brought Junlin(?), his wife's hot friend. Junlin's english was great..in fact she had what turned out to be a New Zealand accent which was...uh...also hot.

Unfortunately, I thought that Junlin WAS Raj's wife until the day was almost over, so I was playing it cool when I should have been fawning all over her. Lame.

Raj quickly discovered that his horn didn't work. In Turkey, your horn is an essential instrument of the road, with a wide range of meanings, mostly polite. I watched him tap the wheel uselessly at least 5 times, each time followed by a "oh yeah, it is broken" expression. We drove uphill and inland to the mountain city of Termessos. The ruins of the city are 3000 feet above sea-level, founded by Pisidians around 800 BC. It had been raining for 3 days in this area, so there were a few mini-landslides covering the road.

As I wandered through the over-grown rubble, it struck me as Lara Croft terrain. These were the most overgrown ruins I had seen so far. The crumbling walls and columns were surrounded by thick trees and shrubs, and there were incredible views all around. Before Roman theatres, builders would build on a mountainside, leaving the area behind the stage open for a natural background. The background on this one was breathtaking.

We climbed over rubble and I took photos for about 2 hours before heading off to the local museum and prehistoric caves. The museum was just one-room, and the caves had suffered a blackout in the storm, so we couldn't go in. We pressured one restaurant owner to open up shop so we could have a fish lunch. He apologized for the look of the place because he had brought all of the patio furniture inside to escape the rain. Lunch was two fried fish and cheese pastry appetizers. It was great. I was having fun.

On the way home, Raj brought his car into a mechanics to get his horn checked out. Yeah, it was that important. Junlin and I sat in the car and I asked her about her restaurant in Aukland. It was called BYO and people had to bring their own wine and beer in because they didn't have a license to sell it. I told her about Coca-Cola and the whole H2NO story.

She also clued me in on another facet of the Ramadan fasting. At about 4am, there is a drumming sound broadcast from the Mosques, signaling people to wake up and eat something before the sun comes up! They eat, then go back to sleep for a few hours! Man, that sounded like torture. After that conversation, I often woke to the 4am drumming.

When we got back to the hotel, I was anxious to get online because I had been unable to FTP for about 5 days. After that failed, I was kicking myself for not making dinner plans back in the car. I wandered around the city, eventually spotting 5 or 6 guys break-dancing just off a pedestrian mall. I didn't think they would mind a little photographic attention, started taking pictures and pretty soon they were hamming it up like the cockeyed staff. I kept shooting until my batteries were expired.

I told them I was from California and they countered with calls of "Tupac!", "Kujo!", and "Eminem!". I nodded, "Yes".

I promised them I would put all of the photos online, handing out my URL on scraps of paper. It was fun...they were amazing to watch.

As I made my exit, I was approached by two women who had been watching the breakdancers. Halta spoke a little English, and Buse spoke German. They invited my along to have pizza with them.

Pizza was amusing. Buse and I hit it off despite having no language in common. It was ridiculous, come to think of it, but next thing I knew we were married!

Just kidding. She gave me her picture and phone number and we went back to my hotel to see if I could produce one from a printout. We were spotted by the hotel staff, and her friend Halta was overdue for something, so she only stayed for a few minutes. We agreed to meet at pizza pizza the next day.

The night was young, so I skipped around looking for better internet access & eventually found it. I stayed until they closed.

Into the mountains above Antalya

The ruins at Termessos

The theatre at Termessos

Junlin and Raj enjoy the view

Raj tightropes the cistern opening

Sheep herding

Break dancing in Antalya, Turkey

The Dervish are a sect of the Muslims

Pizza with Halta and Buse

Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, 2001

Duden Falls, Perge and Aspendos
The next morning I woke up late & held up the tour a little. Raj had heard about my visitors and gave me the old Casanova routine. There were two Japanese guys on the tour instead of Junlin, and we visited waterfalls, an Ancient city called Perge, and the giant, intact Roman Theatre at Aspendos.

There wasn't much conversation in English, but the sights were pretty neat. I can take an awful lot of Roman and Greek ruins before I get bored. Also, I was looking forward to my date.

The falls were muddy because of all of the rain, and they had carved a little walkway out from behind them so you could walk behind them. They had a little too much information about the amount of water measured in meters cubed per second over the year. When you hear that coming from me, you should take it seriously.

Perge dates to about 1000 BC, and was in it's heyday when Alexander visited in 333BC. They have ruins of baths, a massive city gate, a Byzantine basilica, a 4th Century Agora, a 300 Meter Colonnaded street and a gigantic stadium for racing horses. There were ornate chunks of marble lying everywhere, with pools of rainwater slowly evaporating. It was nice enough to take off my sweater for some of the day.

Next we visited the Theatre at Aspendos. A well-preserved Roman theatre designed by Zeno. Judging by his name, he was probably a DJ from the distant future.

Zeno built a tall wall with about 20 niches for statues of gods and goddesses behind the stage. The theatre is preserved enough to host the Opera and Ballet Festival each year.

Finally we visited part of the Roman aqueduct that brought water from the mountains into the city. There was a tall, dark stone staircase that spiraled to the top, where I climbed out onto a scary ledge for a photo. The Japanese guys were not one bit afraid of that height.

Back in town, I killed time before heading off to meet the girls at pizza pizza. They totally stood me up! For the record I'm going to chalk it up to a scheduling mix-up. I settled for an evening of walking around taking photos & ate dinner at the nearby Burger Queen.

Some of the traffic lights in Antalya had a numeric countdown above them, showing not only how long the light was going to be green, but also how long it was going to be red.

Underneath Duden Falls

Rainbow near the falls

Marble wasteland at Perge

Water and Columns at Perge.
I was looking directly at the sun.

The horse-racing coliseum at Perge

Theatre at Aspendos

In the nosebleed seats at Aspendos

Down that middle crack you can just barely
see my waving hand on this aqueduct

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Read my other travelogues: Minneapolis 2001 | Burning Man 2001 | Europe 1999 | Costa Rica 2000

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