Tag Archives: travel

Göreme Open Air Museum (Cappadocia Photo Dump #3)

First, a couple pictures I snapped on my way out of Göreme on my way to the museum…

The Old Cappadocia Pancake House gave me a little chuckle. I guess you can kinda call Gozleme’s “pancakes” but that really stretches it. On the menu list you can see the second option is “chese” a little later down they have another choice “beef and chesee”. On the scrolling neon sign they spell the word, “chesse”. Keep trying different spellings. Sooner or later they will get one right. 🙂

The skyline in this next photo is Sunset point (to the left of the flag) and path (extending off to the right) where many of the photos for Cappadocia photo dump #2 were snapped. There are three tiny dots on the right of the skyline that are actually three people sitting and enjoying the view. It is about where they are where I snapped the selfie that is currently my facebook profile picture.

And now on the road to El Nazar Church…


This next one would have been the home of the priest or monk responsible for the church. It is actually larger than most homes I have seen and might even have been a meeting place. One thing that I am constantly reminded of here is how everyone’s homes were so much smaller than what we think we need today. Even those living with what we now call “tiny homes” would be extravagant by comparison.

Now on to the Open Air Museum…

I’m only allowed to take pictures inside when nobody’s looking to tell me no.  (Interpret that how you want) So know that any pictures like the next couple from here on out were snapped covertly. 😉

Most of the dozens of churches here are very small and are places for prayer (and burial) rather than meeting places like we consider church today. I do have a little evidence that the larger one halfway through the trip was the exception. The table for forty is served…

Now back outside:

When I returned to Goreme, I noticed a place that whares the name of one of my favorite restaurants in Gaziantep. While it was good, clearly not all Istasyon’s are created equal. Good bye till next time.



Turkish Night (Cappadocia Photo Dump #1)

It was getting close to dinner time and my hotel manager told me that tonight was Turkish Night. “What is Turkish Night?” You might ask. OK, maybe you wouldn’t, but I did. He got excited and started explaining quickly and I had to have him slow down and remember to use simple Turkish. (I’m still too much of an amateur and after a couple months in the States I am out of practice.) So he explained, Turkish sing, Turkish dance, Turkish music. Very good.

Actually, it sounded a bit touristy. I was right but even still, I am here in Cappadocia to do the tourist thing so… why not? Off I went to:

Sorry, I didn’t think to adjust my camera to night time exposure. Anyways, I went into this restaurant which, like nearly everything in Cappadocia, is actually a cave. There was this large open area with five or six atrium branching off from it each holding eight large tables. I was sat at one of these and even before anyone came to take my order something like this was put before me:

On these plates we have a chickpea salad, two yogurt type dips, bread, watermelon, cheese (all gone), çiğ köfte (mostly gone), humus, mixed nuts, and water (just to the left off the screen). They also had a bottle of white and red wine but I had them taken before I even set to. Before the main course they also brought out a börek plate as well (with four: cheese, mashed taters, olive, and cheese&spinach). Honestly, I could have enjoyed this alone as my meal. The main course was a let down. But long before that came out, the entertainment started…

Again, I apologize about the incredibly poor quality of these pictures. These three (actually four, one off screen) male whirling dervishes are not true Mevlevi (or even Sufi, I would guess). They will all appear in many of the other dancing acts that follow. The female does not reappear when the normal group of nine (five men, four ladies) do their acts.

After these two, the night rotated between a band (kettle drum, djimbe, clarinet, accordion, and cymbals) and the dancing with various traditional costumes…

Near the end there were a couple acts where they drew on audience participation. These were some fun acts except I was never chosen. Oh well. Considering the number of people there, the odds were against me. In all, except for the dry chicken in this final picture, and of course my overpriced bill (I’m always too cheap),  it was a great night.

Day 3 Morning

Sometimes things go bump in the night. I made my camp last night just north of the town of Kargi. The spot I chose was near a bend of the road and right up the embankment from the lake I was walking past. Honestly, it wasn’t the best of spots but it was full on dark already and if I didn’t stop there the next possible spot might have been miles ahead and still no better.

I was still walking a major highway and the sound of each car that passed was accompanied by the running silhouette of nearby foliage against my tent. Occasionally I could hear the distant thunder of a plane passing by as well. In addition to these human sounds I could also hear the frogs singing down at the lake. Crickets and cicadas made accompaniment as well as a host of other lakeside wildlife.

I was drifting off to that point where the sounds of my environment combined with my wandering thoughts were starting to turn dreamlike. Suddenly I was jolted wide awake. Something sounded off. I strained to listen and at first I couldn’t tell what it was. Then I heard it again. Something was walking on the gravel towards my tent. It was too light, faint, and irregular to be human. On the other hand, I think it was making a bit too much noise to be a dog or a cat.

Then another car drove by and what I saw what was silhouetted against my tent I almost laughed. It was a duck. This little guy had the audacity to walk almost right up next to my tent, alongside it, and then down to the lake. Sure enough, a couple minutes later, I could hear a bunch of them quacking away down on the lake. I can’t say I have given it much thought but I never imagined ducks as being nocturnal animals.

That set me thinking, how unique of an experience was this missionary journey for Paul and crew. We know Paul himself was a tent maker and a Roman citizen from Tarsus living in Jerusalem and traveling to Damascus when the Lord stepped into his life. Apparently he got around. We don’t have so much of a back story for men like Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, or Luke.

Can you imagine Timothy as a young teen on his first night out with the missionary team? Everyone else is sleeping. Silas’ snores are worse than a rusty saw on green wood. Timothy can’t sleep. Suddenly, there is something that goes bump in the night. How far out of their comfort zone did these missionary journeys take these heroes of the faith? How big of a sacrifice even in little ways was their obedience to the cause of Christ?

Day 1 – Evening

The latter half of my day yesterday proved to be far more productive. I left Pergia taking back roads towards the northwest rather than heading the two kilometers south, then back west, and then north to stay on major streets. I had this route mapped out beforehand and, miraculously, I was able to follow these directions without a hitch. There was a bit of doubt a couple times when the road would “y” and I wasn’t sure if this was the true road or another set of driveways. I would just wait until a car passed by and hope they were using the road and not heading home.

On two separate occasions I passed a shepherd leading his sheep down the road. I also passed a few homes with kids playing in the yard. For them, seeing a stranger walk down their street must have been quite a novelty. They would watch me and wave until the road took me out of sight. That was cute. What wasn’t so cute was the dogs.

Most of the time these dogs were chained. Most of the time. On those rare occasions they weren’t, I would fervently pray while meekly walking by the far side of the street. They would bark and chase but they never followed me far into the road or beyond their property.

Then I walked around one corner to see a dog right in the middle of the road on the top of the hill ahead. I stopped. Somehow I had to get by this dog. There was no going around and I had walked much too far in this direction to consider going all the way back. He hadn’t yet seen me when I first stopped, but once I steeled myself and continued forward I didn’t have long before I was spotted. While still about ten to fifteen feet away, I moved to one side of the street and this dog backed to the other while barking furiously at me. By the time I had come even with him, two other dogs also unchained, had joined him from out of the woods on that side of the street. I had barely gone past them when a monster silently came barreling out of the woods on my side heading straight for me.

I thought to myself, “If you run you’re a dead man.” So I turned towards this beast while not quite facing him directly. I kept my sight on him while not quite looking him in the eye. This big black thing looked to be a cross between a Rottweiler and a Retriever. Once I was turned toward him, the beast pulled up short and began barking. His teeth were bared, his ears and tail were up. And other dogs were still joining in. In all, there were seven dogs massed behind this beast who got as close as about five feet but no closer.

I kept my arms down at my sides, but there was an aluminum water bottle inches away from each hand I was more than ready to grab and use as a club. I was doing my best to look submissive and nonthreatening while still looking alert and ready to defend myself. Slowly I started walking backwards away from this pack, and just as slowly they all continued following me at the same distance. It felt like at least a half a mile that this continued. I don’t know. What I do know was that they continued to follow me, sometimes half circling around as we walked down that hill, around two bends, and all the way up another hill. Step for step, that beast and his pack followed me and I firmly believe that if I had looked away once or made any sudden moves that would have been it. My only thought was that I couldn’t take them all on but if it was going to be my end, the big one is gonna die first.

When I reached the top of that far hill, they finally stopped following me. I took three or four steps creating separation when the big one finally turned, walked about ten feet away, and then stopped to watch me. All but one of the others did the same. Only one of the smaller dogs remained where he was about half the distance between us. As I continued to walk backwards this one remained stationary, still barking away, while the others disappeared back into the woods. I still didn’t dare turn around and continue walking forward until the curve in the road took this last sentinel out of my sight.

After that I felt as though I was in a race to get to the highway. The sun was very low on the horizon and the last thing I wanted was another encounter like that taking place in the darkness. I did walk past a few more chained dogs, no more kids, but fortunately the highway was much closer than I thought.

Once I turned right and began my long trek north, I started looking for a place to make camp. I thought I had found a decent place but then I saw another dog watching me from the crest of a nearby hill. He seemed completely uninterested but I was taking no chances on his behavior were I to leave the highway and set up a tent closer to him.

A few minutes after this, I watched a car pull over and pop a trunk. The driver got out, walked around, and pulled two puppies from the back. He carried them into some nearby bushes and left them there with what I believe was a little food. As this driver hopped back into his car and drove away I thought, “See, you’re the problem. Those dogs are gonna go feral and before you know it they will be chasing innocent Americans down the street hoping for an easy meal.”

It was well and truly dark when I happened on a couple farmers packing up their roadside produce shop. They gave me some good conversation, some grapes, a few babynanas and permission to camp in their field. Finding an almost flat spot and setting up my tent was quick and painless. Getting to sleep, not so much. My shoulders, my legs, and my feet were all beyond sore. Even though I didn’t hit my far too ambitious goal for day one, I made up a lot of ground and came much closer than I expected. I walked further this day than I ever had in my life. Now, twenty-five days just like it and I’m all set.

Day 1 – Afternoon

My first day did not start out very well at all. Murphy has a law. Murphy is evil. My plan was to get up in time to start at Hadrian’s Gate at sunrise. Since I was having such a hard time getting to sleep the night before, and since I’d turned my phone off which is my alarm clock, I didn’t wake up until almost nine. So I decided to skip the gate and leave straight from my hostel instead.

Google maps is even worse in Antalya than it is for Istanbul. I missed my turn and by the time I realized it, I was already a good mile past it. I knew that the main road I was on eventually looped around and rejoined the road I wanted to be on. What I didn’t realize when choosing to push forward instead of backtracking was that I was adding a good five miles by taking this loop. Oops.

To make matters worse, even though everything around me is practically a desert, I somehow managed to step my right foot in the only patch of swamp in Antalya. So now I am running late, moving in the wrong direction, and doing so with one muddy sock… Then the sun and heat take over. It got up over 90 today and I am carrying on my back a big black bag weighing in at 32kg.

The one advantage is that the more water I drink, the lighter that bag gets. Even though I was staying hydrated, I could feel the heat exhaustion kicking in. When I came close to the airport, I actually walked twenty minutes out of my way so that I could get a break inside the AC. I never even made it inside. I planted myself at the first shaded bench I saw and barely moved a muscle for over an hour. I didn’t dare get up. From my seat I could see the local buses and if I got off that bench before my will retook control from my body, I would have abandoned this journey, hopped on a bus, and made my way back to Istanbul.

Instead, I limped my way from that airport to Perge. What should have taken less than two hours from that point ended up being a little more than three. The first thing I did when arriving at the ruins was to find myself a place of shade and fall asleep. The dinner time call to prayer woke me and that brings us to the present where I am now on a bench writing.

When I first came up on the ruins, I could see a little of the mountains to my right. If I had the motivation to climb up on one of these small hills around me, I bet I could see the whole range dominating the northern skyline. I could imagine Mark coming into Pergia as exhausted as I am. One of the others points ahead and says, “This is nothing. We still have to cross through those up there.” I don’t blame him for turning around and heading back home. In fact, I’m a little jealous.

I’m not going to explore these ruins. I saw the stadium and the theater. There’s a crumbled wall in front of me. Good enough. This walk is about remembering lives, not visiting ruins. The sun is starting to fall down the western sky and the temperature has dropped notably. I’ve got a long road ahead of me. Now is the best time to walk it.

Antalya – The Night Before

I went down to the harbor at Antalya to watch the sunset. Before getting there, I did walk around for a bit in Old Town. There is a beauty and a quaintness to the place but too many of those old buildings have now been hijacked for use as hotels and bars. They mar the rich history of the place by trying to market it.

Most of that history would not even have existed when Paul and his team landed at this port. There might have been a couple thousand people here tops. The port was little more than a service station for the real city, Pergia, a couple miles to the northeast.

When I passed through Old Town and into the harbor, the first thing I noticed was how small it was. There were perhaps fifty small boats docked but they were all packed in like cars in a lot. There were cliffs to the west and north, and then a small beach on the east with steps leading up to the cliffs behind it that continue onward to the east.

Even in Roman days you could see why this would not have been the best shipping center. The cliffs make it visually beautiful but they make it obvious why this harbor was skipped right over in Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 27. This would not be a good place to winter a bireme. Until the infrastructure was in place to bring people here by bus, train, and plane there wasn’t much reason to come to Antalya. Now it is a new, large city. Tourism has made it a vacation favorite and in the past fifty years it has ballooned from the tens of thousands into a city of well over a million and there is no sign that the population growth has even begun to slow down.

Antalya Harbor 1Antalya Harbor 2Antalya Harbor 3Antalya Harbor 4Antalya Harbor 5Antalya Harbor 6Antalya Harbor 7Antalya Sunset 1Antalya Sunset 2Antalya Sunset 3Hadrian's Gate

The Ride Down

We were traveling through Isparta right about the time the sun woke up the sky and me with it. Roughly two thirds of the bus occupants were still asleep but within minutes of my waking up the bus steward was offering me a pogaca (a breakfast biscuit). This was the first time I have  had the opportunity to ride a bus long distance and the experience is much closer to an American flight than an American bus ride. Like an airline steward, there is a man who would get blankets and pillows, assist with luggage, and pass out snacks and drinks at scheduled intervals. Unlike most airline stewards, he seemed to genuinely have fun doing his job. He carried on a running conversation with some men further to the front for hours, he laughed and played with babies and young kids, and when a boy of about ten got too curious, the steward co-opted him into helping pass out the snacks. That boy was in his glory.

As the bus continued its southward journey, I realized that I would soon be walking in the opposite direction through these same mountains. What I was viewing struck me as a bit like the badlands of Arizona. It was also rocky and dry but there did seem to be a bit more vegetation than I remember from my one visit to the southwest and the Westerns I’ve seen plenty enough on TV. None of the trees I was viewing looked to be much taller than I am and those small trees are vastly outnumbered by the bushes.

As I was passing by one of the many cliff faces giving evidence that this road cuts through the mountains rather than up and down or around them, I wondered if I was cheating. When Paul and team made this same trek was there a Roman road working its way through the Taurus Mountains? There was certainly a path from Pergia to Antioch of Pisidia but how well traveled was it? I have daily stops planned at towns roughly 15 miles apart. Was there any human habitation to speak of after Pergia until the lakes region?

Any guilt I might have been feeling was quickly squashed remembering that Paul was almost certainly using a four legged transport vehicle while I would be walking. Even if he did make that journey on his own two feet, they certainly had a donkey or a mule carrying the team’s traveling gear. I would be hefting 32 kilograms of food, water, and supplies on my own two shoulders.

The rising sun did not let my neighbor, Mustafa, sleep much longer than I did and soon all thoughts of my impending journey were set aside as we struggled past language barriers to get to know each other better.