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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Turkish Delights

Well, I had to didnt I? I mean what other title could I give entries about our vacation in Turkey.

As mentioned there are hundreds of photos I took. 99% of them are rubbish, although like every other amateur photographer, I am more than capable of convincing myself that the Pulitzer is just around the corner.

Anyway, just for the record, we stayed in Kas, a Meditteranean fishing port 180 kms away from the nearest drunken English/German/Russian/Dutch night-clubber. Kas is selling itself as an adventure destination these days, and getting there certainly was, as we had decided to drive. But as I took so many photos, I'll start with a gentle introduction in the form of a few panoramas showing some of the landscapes we encountered.

Firstly the mountains round Gombe, a small village about an hour and a half north-north west of Kas. We climbed this day to about 6000 ft (although exact elevations are hard to tell due to lack of good contour maps) and found this massive meadow. As usual, a click on the photo reveals more details, but the real surprise was to find that these Turkish pastoralists who still spend the summers in these high pastures tending goats, sheep, cattle and bees. A bit of a magical place, with a river flowing through and a way of life relatively unchanged for a very long time.

Secondly the village near the sunken city of Kekova

This was the end call of a sea kayaking trip, a village only reachable by boat. Although almost totally given over to tourism these days (at least during the summer months) it was spectacular and unspoilt. A Crusader castle stands on the hill above the village and, as with most of this area, it just reeks of history.

The final panorama is of the view from the top of the ancient Lycian city near Tlos. I've given two versions of the same view mostly because while one shows the landscape of the area quite well, the other is better for detail of the architecture. At this place Roman, Byzantium, Greek, Lycian and Ottoman forts and baths and amphitheatres, acropolis and necropolis all pile on top of eachother. It is incredible to be in the middle of five thousand years of history without an interpretive panel in sight.

The strongest impression I got from these places was the ease with which the history and the people mixed in these places. I know (from reading) that there are conflicts within Turkey on how the land is used, especially in areas where tourism threatens long-established ways of life but it did seem that in most of the places we visited, there was an easy relationship between local people and the history that they lived among. Rather than being a sort of fairground attraction, or having to establish "Conservation Areas" with signs everywhere, the land was still used - crops were sown around two and a half thousand year tombs, goats grazed on ancient monuments, and there was none of the preciousness that accompanies so many archaeological sites in the UK. Many people would take the view that these places should be preserved, wrapped in cotton wool and fenced in, but in Turkey the history felt more alive because the land was still being used.

Final selection for today is a brief video clip. The soundtrack, which was at first spooky and beautiful, is of the call to prayer from the mosque in Kas. We got used to hearing this every night and morning until it became a soundtrack. As usual, cats feature prominently.

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