Sunday, 30 June 2013

A Wet Walk.

On our way back to Bodrum we decided to follow the signpost just after Milas to Uyku Vadisi, (Sleep Valley in English). I've been intending to visit for some time and had watched the You Tube clips so thought I knew what to expect.  Our aim was to walk up the gorge to the Gökçeler cave  and see the stalactites. We arrived, parked outside what we hoped was the Uyku Vadisi restaurant but were a little disconcerted at the lack of signs.  A lot of building was in progress and the restaurant bore only a passing resemblance to the one on the internet so I began to wonder if we were in the right place.  The colour co-ordinated staff confirmed that we were on course and directed us to the path to the caves.  I remembered pictures of wooden bridges and stepping stones across streams and rivulets so was attired in sensible trainers and socks as I knew there would be a steep climb ahead, it was therefore confusing to arrive at the first stream to find the bridges had been dismantled.  Off came the socks and shoes for a paddle and then back on they went.  Five minutes later, shoes off, paddle and on again.  I began to curse myself for not properly researching the walk. If you attempt this, waterproof walking shoes are a must.

What no stepping stones?

The settling is a beautiful one with the proverbial babbling brooks and overhanging foliage and as we climbed higher the path narrowed until we had to negotiate a rotten-looking wobbly plank over quite a large drop.   I have two recurring nightmares:  in the first I am sitting a history exam without doing any revision, in the second I have to walk across a narrow plank with water rushing below.  Grabbing on to Teo,  Jake and I got across the plank only to come to a weir.

My balance is not what it was so I bailed out at this point and Dave and Teo carried on the climb, (but not before I'd dithered and had to cross the rotten plank 3 more times) while Kath, Jake and I made our way back to the restaurant.

After a steep climb the guys got to the mouth of the cave only to find the gate locked, so no stalactites but lots of hornets.

Meanwhile the ladies were sipping a cold drink next to the mill wheel and Jake was enjoying a paddle.

Why such a discrepancy between the information on the web and reality?  The business is under new management,  more overnight accommodation is being built and the restaurant is being revamped.  I'm left wondering what has happened to the original owner who developed the site and talked with such enthusiasm about his project.

Dave takes a cold shower 
If I had done my research properly I would have found fellow blogger Natalie's post about Uyku Vadisi and realised that the walk wasn't for me.   I'm glad I'm not the only blogger caught out in  inappropriate footwear.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Finding Keramos

I had no difficulty finding Keramos when I first visited in 1982.  We sailed into the wide bay at Ören, moored at the only jetty, made our way along the only road through the empty fields, came to a small village and ambled over walls and gardens visiting what I remember as quite abundant ruins.  My abiding memory is buying a warm Fanta and packet of biscuits  from a gas-lamp lit grocer shop and eating the paraffin flavoured biscuits as we walked back to the sea.

Ören has grown. The seaside is lined with cafes and and the pebble beach is full of sun beds. The fields  have filled with holiday houses and driving in, the road takes you straight to the sea.  Having not made an early start we arrived at lunch time and after a very hot wander along the front we stopped for a toast and beer on the front. I haven't recommended any restaurants in this blog yet but the Bi Lokma cafe deserves a mention. I love real chips and hate the frozen french fries so when I find a patron who answers the question "Do you have real chips?" with "I have plenty of potatoes so of course I'll make you some" I'm sold.

After lunch, we had to find our way back to the village. Easier said than done.  We now know that on the approach to Ören, after crossing the bridge, we should have taken the left road signposted paraşut yeri, then turned right at the sign to Keremos. Parked at the top of the village and with temperatures touching 36 degrees C we climbed up to find the city walls that clearly mark Keramos out as a Carian town. It is on record that it paid one and a half talents to the Delian League in the fifth century BC and by Roman times it was minting its own coinage and was a titular see of Asia Minor with three bishops mentioned in despatches.

We could see several promising bits of wall from up here and set off downhill to find them. Several times we came to dead ends or closed gates but eventually found ourselves by this wall of unusual polygonal shaped stones.

There are tempting glimpses of what may be underground

One day the archaeologists' trenches will tell us what is here. 

The modern cemetery provided an interesting contrast between the ancient sarcophagi and modern graves. It may have been in constant use for over 2500 years.

Not all recent additions are as sympathetically positioned

Either my memory is faulty or a lot of the site has been built on or moved elsewhere. There are better preserved ruins of a temple of Zeus in the hills above but they will have to be saved for a cooler day. 

One photo I can't resist putting in is the interior of Municipality Building. 

The contrast between the shiny white marble and green astroturf was quite mind altering, especially as the building was completely empty. (I made the mistake of visiting during the lunch hour).
Despite the heat, we had fun finding what is left above ground at Keramos but the remains don't merit a trip specially to see them. 

Saturday, 22 June 2013


A successful trip can be measured in many ways but an early start to an unspoilt temple enclosure with no entry fee and a very friendly guardian ticks most of the boxes.Yesterday we left home at 7:15am in the camper van and by 8:30 we were parked at the entrance to Lagina, breakfasting on simits and tea.

The route is an easy one as the site is off the main road between Milas and Muğla. I've passed the brown sign to Lagina hundreds of times which is lucky as the signpost is no more, so you have to follow the sign to Turgut beside the power station in Yatağan. 

Lagina is a temple sanctuary dedicated to Hecate, a goddess reigning over land, sea and air and usually depicted with 3 heads.  She is a very busy lady as she also presides over fire, light, the moon, witchcraft, magic, herbs and poisonous plants, childbirth, soldiers at war and sailors on rough seas.  A shrine to Hecate was often found at entrance doors to protect a building from restless spirits.  

The dog is the animal most associated with Hecate. I'm sure Jake wouldn't have roamed so freely over fallen columns if he'd know that his ancestors had been sacrificed here. 

Lagina was connected to the city of Stratonikea by a sacred way and Strabo writes that in the 1st century BC during the festivities celebrating Hecate, a key was carried from the temple to the city.  The sacred road still exists in places but has been mostly destroyed by the large lignite mine supplying fuel to the Yatağan power station.  This May, a symbolic reconstruction of the key carrying ceremony took place with young girls dressed in white Grecian garb carrying a key as far as the main road where presumably they hopped onto a minibus. 

We were the only visitors and spent an uninterrupted couple of hours wandering around the minimally  reconstructed site.  The monumental friezes were long ago taken to Istanbul but the grandeur of the site is still evident in the complex decoration of the altar ceiling and the distance between the monumental gate and the temple gives an idea how large the walled complex was. 

Back at the car park, the guardian of the site, Abdullah Demirel had come on duty and invited us to join him for a glass of tea and a chat about the site.  We found out that excavation was currently on hold as the director of the dig was fighting a court case (a bit of non-archaeological digging on google turned up plenty of Turkish archaeologists  and museum workers subject to legal investigation so I'm glad I don't ply this trade in Turkey). He also told us that the site is very popular with pagans and showed us a couple of the flags they had left behind.  He recommended we come back at full moon and wait to catch a glimpse of Hecate herself. I think we would more likely be arrested by the Jandarmes.

As a parting shot he suggested we take a photo of the olive tree next to the car park.  Transplanted from beside the sacred way to avoid destruction, it has been dated to 2,500 years old.  As we drove away from the Lagina we realised that we were visiting on the summer solstice, the day before the super moon. We really should have made proper use of the van, camped overnight and waited for the goddess of sorcery and necromancy to flit by.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On.

It seemed  a bit inappropriate to be posting pretty pictures and enjoying the glorious countryside when to the north, fellow citizens, children and elders included, were being blasted with water and gas, but the latest "duran adam" protests give me cause for hope.  It started with one man, standing immobile for 8 hours. He was joined by others and now this form of Standing Man silent, passive protest has spread around the country and further afield. It just proves that you can't keep a good Turk down. I'm not going to feel guilty about carrying on as normal, in fact  I think it is our duty in the tourist areas to keep up the positive posts as the economy of this region is reliant on tourism and shutting down in sympathy with the protesters won't help anyone.  

I've had great fun the past week travelling around with old friends Kath and Dave in their camper van.  We spent a lot of the 1980's travelling together and it's great to be back on the road together again.  After a few false starts getting into the van, Jake can now leap in without needing the step, I wish I could say the same for myself.

The storm clouds moved in but didn't put a damper on our picnic next to Lake Bafa.

I assumed that such a large van would be difficult to manoeuvre and restrict the the places we could visit but show Dave a narrow lane and he's off down it with no qualms about getting stuck.  Extreme campervanning at it's best.  If we do come a cropper we can always pull out the Turkish Flag and stage our own Standing Van protest.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

It's not all tear gas and water cannon.

As I write this post, the TV is broadcasting live from Taksim Square. The police are clearing the area with water cannon, following the fleeing protesters into the lobby of the Divan Hotel and filling the foyer with pepper spay or tear gas.  The newsreader sitting in the studio is looking decidedly nervous as femail protesters are saying exactly what they think of their prime minister, words that are not usually allowed to be broadcast. It's an ugly, upsetting scene that makes me despair and wonder how the situation will ever resolve itself. I sympathise with the protesters, I too have stood in line before armed police, protesting to save trees and prevent massive desecration of an unspoilt area to fill the pockets of already rich individuals, and although we weren't subjected to water cannon and tear gas, we had live ammunition fired over our heads, and this was long before Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to power.  Over-reaction of the authorities to peaceful protest and destruction of nature is nothing new in Turkey and those that have a rosy view of past governments should not forget this.  You may be wondering what this photo has to do with the protests. Absolutely nothing.  This was Mazı Beach yesterday; as tempting as always.  I was at Lake Bafa on Thursday and in central Bodrum today and can confirm to anyone who has booked a coastal holiday in Turkey that all is safe and calm. My daughter works for Mark Warner holidays and her guests are still enjoying their windsurfing and sailing.  Turkey has always been a  big contradiction of a country and as areas of Istanbul seethe the rest carry on as normal.  Please don't be like Matt and Lillian in the Archers and cancel your trip to Turkey. The majority of us here are still waiting to give you a warm welcome.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Three Seasons in Scotland

I've been back home for 3 full days now enjoying the warm sun and recovering from the shock of dipping my toes back in the world of the salary slave.  My first evening in the highlands was a chilly affair; 2 degrees outside and a cottage in which the fridge had been turned on but the central heating hadn't.  The interior of the fridge was warmer  than the bathroom.  The snow lingered for a few days and then the sun came out and by June 1st violets were poking their heads through the rough grass. 

I have lived in the UK for more than half my life and have never seen daffodils flowering in June before so I can appreciate how rough this year's winter has been. The last few days of the trip were warm (well 18 degrees counts as warm in Inverness) and sunny enough for shorts and T-shirts to appear on the few walkers and bird-watchers that make their way up the path through glen.  I stuck to the Bodrum convention that cardigans don't come off until the mercury hits at least 24C.

With a dodgy satellite internet connection, no mobile and only terrestrial news I had about as much information about events going on in Turkey as my neighbours the deer and goats, and gradually weaned myself off my internet habit.  Back home, with friends visiting and  a gardening project underway, I haven't rekindled my obsession yet so I apologise for the sparsity of my own posts and my lack on comment on blogs I usually follow.  I have caught up with them today but couldn't summon up a worthy response.

Hopefully normal service will resume as soon as I catch up on my lost sleep and missed newspaper articles  and I can think of something to say on the current protests that won't have my blog blocked for eternity.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Away from Bodrum

 From my hideaway in the Highlands, I see that the terrestrial  media has belatedly caught up with the turmoil at home, which gives me an overview of the troubles but will someone please tell Jon Snow  how to pronounce the prime minister of Turkey's name.  I'm hoping the televised apology by the deputy prime minister for excessive use of force will go some way to calm the situation but I'm not holding my breath for a similar statement from his immediate superior.  Meanwhile life back in the village is unaffected and Jake and my husband have been entertained by the arrival of our very old friends Kath and Dave who have driven the scenic route from the UK to our garden.  Kath has been charting their progress over the past 6 months (it was the very scenic route) through snow and sun to arrive chez-nous, and if you click on this link not only will you see that, despite the troubles, holidaying in Turkey can still be a peaceful prospect, but you will also get a great picture of Jake with his new summer haircut.
I fly back to Bodrum via Istanbul on Sunday and  am very much looking forward to joining them.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The camel's back was ripe for breaking

I'm away in the highlands of Scotland and looking on in horror at the events unfolding in my home country. I have little access to the internet and in the short time I can get on line, I am relying on my fellow bloggers to keep me up to date with the latest developments. It's a horrible feeling to be so far away from Turkey when its brave population finally turns and says "enough is enough".
The following report was emailed by Chris Drum Berkaya on Bodrum Echo:
Bodrum has seen peaceful gatherings in the Bodrum square in front of the Municipality building on Friday and Saturday nights as called for 7pm to support the actions in Gezi Park and Taksim (Istanbul) , however police closed traffic from the main road down past the AKP office building ( near the prison ) and some large groups left the square , at different times – there was certainly one large flow of people at 8:30pm from the square up the road to the offices.
Around 10pm reports came back with people that the police and protestors had clashed and some tear gas had been used.
Meanwhile other protestors were cheerful and were asking drivers to blow their car horns while passing through the square, and also marched to the Marina/. As elsewhere in Turkey Saturday night, reports say that later clashes occurred near and above the Bodrum bus station from midnight -2am. (brief reports) plus

For an good overall view of the situation read Alan's blog  and Mark and Jolee's