Bulgaria & Turkey, November 2001 Travelogue
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Thursday, Dec. 6th, 2001

Antalya, Turkey

This was my last day in Antalya. I didn't have a tour scheduled, so I woke up around 10 am. There didn't seem to be any hot water, so I figured I would wait until after breakfast to take a shower. After breakfast, however, the water was only slightly warm, so I asked one of the guys downstairs if there was hot water. He seemed genuinely concerned and started running around to hunt down the cause. I didn't understand what was up, but I got the feeling that a fuse was blown or something and that it would take 30 minutes to fix.
After about an hour I settled for the tepid water, but I wasn't happy about it. This was supposed to be a three-star hotel...I guess the stars are as inflated as the Turkish lira. Hyuk hyuk hyuk.
I was on my own today so I decided to see the Seafront and the museum. I busted out my guidebook and was excited to find out that the large stone arch I had been walking into town through for the last two days was Hadrian's Arch! I had to go take a photo.

I visited the harbor, which was also right next to my hotel, and took some photos and made my way to the museum. The museum had a bunch of Roman statues, sarcophagi and urns. Most of this stuff had come from the nearby cities I had been visiting, put here for safekeeping, I guess. They were doing some renovation work in some rooms, and in one, a worker was plastering the ceiling. His crappy ladder was teetering, so he steadied himself by put one foot on the sarcophagus the was standing over. The sarcophagus was from around 212 A.D. I couldn't believe he wasn't being more careful. I made a comment, but he probably didn't understand me.
It is funny how museums can be super uptight or relaxed about artifacts. There is a whole range of restrictions they can place on you to guard their artifacts from damage, some of which inhibit my viewing pleasure: Velvet ropes, dim lighting, glass cases, high admission fees, forbidden flashbulbs or cameras. If you go to see the Rosetta stone, you have to get permission to SKETCH it. Jeeesus. It is stone. I would understand these restrictions if it was the Rosetta Eggshell, or the Rosetta Dodge Dakota, for instance.

It started to rain, so I took a cab back to my hotel, sat indoors and typed a bit. It always seems like a shame to waste vacation daylight hours indoors, but I was getting way behind on my travelogue, and I needed dry clothes for the next few days.
Pretty soon 7pm rolled around and Raj drove me to the bus station. His wife and Junlin came along, and I told them about getting stood up for Pizza pizza.

"Oh, that's not right." was Junlin's reaction, in her irresistible accent. I said goodbye & they wished me happy travels.

Raj handed me my ticket and I got on board.

It was an 11 hour trip to Urgup, the heart of Cappadocia, Turkey. I typed for almost 3 hours, while a Turkish-language dubbed Anaconda played on the comfortable bus. I was probably starting to annoy the guy next to me when the gentleman in front of me leaned back his chair, folding my laptop's little screen down. I didn't have enough room to continue, so I called it quits and tried to get some rest with the rest of the passengers.

For I think the first time in my life, I was able to sleep on a bus.

At a little before dawn we stopped the van at a rest stop to eat. This was timed so that the Muslims on board could eat something before sun-up.

When we got back into the bus, it wouldn't start, it seemed to be an electrical problem. The driver tried about 15 times, but it wasn't even making more than a click. The digital clock on board was dimming as he tried.

Everyone started making nervous chatter, wondering what the next step would be if the bus didn't start, when the driver said something that sounded like "idea".

He took the brake off and the giant bus slowly rolled backward. It was only going about 2mph when he dropped the clutch, I guess, and it started right up. People breathed a sigh of relief, "massallah", I think they said.

When you are stuck in a potentially bad situation with people from another culture, and you make it out of that situation alive, a little bonding develops, a little sense of community, depending on the depth and duration of the bad situation.  I got a tiny sliver of that, and it felt pretty good.

This big bus stopped, and I got on a smaller shuttle to Urgup. There a guy from the tour company picked me up and brought me to my hotel. We talked about Hideo Turkoglu and he informed me that the Sacramento Kings were going to play the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, and that the game would air (live) at 4am. He told me the Muslims would be up at the time, so they would probably be watching it. I thought that would be great!

My hotel looked deserted, but nice. It was about 7am now, and my tour started at 9am, so I only had time for a little nap & shower.

Near the port of Antalya, Turkey

The young naked people love Ataturk!

Silver Cross and Chalice from Antalya

Dynamic Athena Statue reconstructed

Idiot workman on ancient sarcophagus

Kids pestering the ducks of Antalya

Hadrian's Gate

Carving at the Iskender

Friday Dec. 7th, 2001


The tour bus picked me up first, and then picked up a Japanese woman at a second hotel and a pair of Koreans and Japanese at another. I was happy to have a group to tour with. The first stop was known as the Underground City, an extended set of caves dug into the ground to store food during winter from around 3000 BC. Well, first they were dug to store food, but then they dug out more & connected a large number of houses around the area, adding spots for the animals to sleep when it was freezing cold. The Cappadocian countryside is in a location that was constantly playing host to armies moving east and west, gathering supplies and young men to battle with them. The Hittites developed the caves as a nice hideout network, where they built clever doorways and traps to thwart invaders.
They made the entryways very cramped & had easily defendable round doors set to roll into place & be nearly impossible to move. It was a great setup that would be hard to attack without cluster bombs. They had water wells, airshafts and a church. It was the kind of place you might build to hide out for a week. It was impressively deep. We went down about 55 meters into the earth, according to our guide.

Oh yeah, the new guide was a real character. I didn't catch his name, but he was older, serious acting, but always looking for a funny situation to point out.

The next stop was the canyon at Belisirma. A magnificent canyon had been carved out by this river, through about 100 yards of this weird volcanic soil they have. We walked down the side and into the canyon, walking along the riverside for about 2 miles, occasionally scrambling over rocks or stopping at some little caves in the hillside. We stopped and took a lot of photos. One guy, Jong Min, had one of those neat new digital cameras with the onboard CD-burner. He showed me the disks hold about 154 Megs each. It was great. He liked mine for the weight, but he didn't have to carry a computer along.

He had had some adventures trying to find the 3" CDs in Europe, but had been successful.

We stopped for lunch, where I noticed a rough looking container of toothpicks. I am pretty sure they were handmade.

Next we went on to a Caravan house, a little fort on the silk road where traders could rest safely with their camels & shipping containers. It was neat, elaborately decorated considering it was pretty much just a warehouse. Apparently for hundreds of years, musicians sat just inside the doorway welcoming visiting traders.

We stopped for a couple more photo-ops & then drove back to our respective hotels. I slept on the bus. Just as soon as we were driving away from Nasu's hotel, I realized that I should have arranged dinner plans with someone. My dinner was part of my package deal, but I wasn't looking forward to eating alone in the vast, chilly hotel dining room.

Oh well. I slept for an hour or two before dinner, ate by myself & went for a walk. It was easy to get oriented in the center of the little town. I found an internet connection hosted by this great guy named Kamil.

I took a taxi back to the hotel & asked about the Kings/Lakers Game. I left instructions to call my room when it came on at 5:30am.

Cramped quarters of the underground city

Just roll this stone into the
doorway & Indy will be trapped!

Early cave communications


The river that carved the canyon

Does everyone value
straight sticks as much as I do?

The poplar trees in the canyon

The gang at lunch

Alien landscape of pointy cliffside houses

Of course, they were all out of horses
when I got there.

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

Back to main Cockeyed | Write to Rob@Cockeyed.com Last updated Dec 12th, 2001.
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