Taksim Metro Cat

Over the past few days a video has gone viral (link to the video at the end of this story), showing up on newsfeed on my various social media more than a few times.  That video is the latest kitty internet sensation – Taksim Metro Cat.  A cat that gives no shits about you… or you… or even you!

Taksim kedi

Anyone who has ever visited Istanbul (or Turkey for that matter) knows how much Turkish people just love their kediler.  They are everywhere and they are treated with a lot of love and respect despite the fact that they can go from zero to grade A jerks in a heartbeat.  One of the most famous Türk kedileri is the Hagia Sophia Kedi, a little cross-eyed tabby who is so beloved that he has fan sites where people can upload photos of him.  Now there is another famous kedi here in Turkey.  Introducing Taksim Metro Cat and I had the great pleasure of bumping into her a few times during my week in Istanbul.

She favours two spots.  Both of them extremely inconvenient for the commuter as they are both on upward riding escalators.  Our first encounter was as we stopped to visit the Republic Monument at Taksim Square. There she was, this pretty little calico chilling by the Metro exit, just as she was in that video.  People dodged her as she lay stretched out giving silent, judgmental stares to those who nearly tripped over her. At first, I was worried that she would be trampled but, again as you see in the video, she is totally relaxed and loving the chaos she was causing.

The next time we crossed paths she was inside, again chilling on the upward riding escalator but at least indoors (it was the one day it snowed for a full minute while we were there).  Taksim Metro Cat knew the weather outside was frightful and was very content to sit and be petted as we passed.

The final time we saw Taksim Metro Cat she was doing the lazy cat equivalent of hunting.  You know how they go.  They make a little effort, they do the crazy cry, and then they roll over and let the pigeon continue on its way, oblivious to its close demise.

For those of you who are concerned about her welfare, she is one very happy little cat. A stray animal here in Turkey is not the same as a stray anywhere else.  Here they are loved.  Taksim Metro Cat is very well looked after. Her fur is soft and clean.  Her eyes are bright.  She is quite a tubby girl and I’m pretty sure she has been desexed as her ear was clipped.  On researching Taksim Metro Cat I found there are lots of people who feed her and many photos of her chilling out welcoming the commuters and tourists each day and even you guys are adding photos of her on my FB page.  Okay, maybe she’s not welcoming, rather she is just making a kitty nuisance of herself and having kitty fun tripping unsuspecting people up as they pass. Why does she love the escalator so much?  I’m guessing that grate is warm from the engine underneath. She is quite content.

This is one cool cat people and if any of you happen to be visiting Istanbul go up and introduce yourself.  She might ignore you but at least you can say you had a brush with fame while on your travels!

And today Taksim Metro Cat got her very own report on Anadolu Kedisi.  Click on the link and see all the fabulous photos and the actual video at the bottom.  Like me you will no doubt laugh at the reaction of the woman in the pink joggers “Bu kadar?” Hahaha!

Have you seen the Turkish documentary “Kedi”?  If not, you should grab a copy today –

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Istanbul or Bust

Like most of us, I have a love affair with Istanbul, and I try and visit this beautiful city at least once a year.  I always take a list of things I want to see and when in the city, I walk around and tick off the tasks that I’ve completed.  Daughter can’t cope with my method and now that she is a little older (but perhaps not any wiser) I let her go off and do her own thing (which usually involves around sitting in coffee shops with her friends, flirting with boys and melting my credit card with her spending).

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I’m just now back from a week in this gorgeous city, staying in a fab apartment on Istiklal Caddesi.  I racked up over 100,000 steps (or 82 km), predominantly getting my tourist on, but also spending time meandering through tiny alleyways and cobbled backstreets looking for that hidden gem that I hadn’t found before.  One of my friends gave me a pretty thorough list of places I should visit but with my god-awful sense of direction, I got lost every single time although having gotten lost, I often found somewhere new that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

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Walking through Istanbul’s busy streets is a visual feast, with so much life going on around every corner that you never know what you will find from an overflowing mosque filling onto the street on a Friday afternoon, ladies gossiping to their neighbours (probably about other neighbours) or a street party to welcome a young man home from his army conscription, life is everywhere.  Istanbul is also made for those of us who are cat-obsessed and as a self-proclaimed cat-whisperer I  always kept an eye out for my four-legged furry friends as I go.   Did they follow me back to my apartment?  I’m not saying yes and I’m not saying no but I will say that when we left there was a little calico kitty sitting on the step next to our doorman when we left for the airport.

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The thing with Istanbul is that it really is a city that you can just walk around in.  No need to do tours or pay exorbitant fees (150TL for 1 day or 180TL for two days) to bus companies.  Instead, you grab an Istanbulkart and hop on the trams and buses that are so easily accessible and just as easy to use.  I also downloaded a couple of apps including Voice Map and Street Art Istanbul which gave me the opportunity of also seeing things from a different perspective.

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Of course, I ate way too much during my week in Istanbul but I expect that all that walking won’t translate to kilos lost thanks to my indulging in everything I saw with tempting stacks of baklava, simits and lokma on every street corner and juicy kebabs, overloaded kumpir and thanks to Macro Centre (why oh why won’t they open one in Mersin) even a little bacon thrown in to enjoy.  Yes I know I can eat all of this just as easily in Mersin (well maybe not the bacon) but when in Rome (or Istanbul).

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On a serious note, I will mention how safe I felt during my time in Istanbul.  There was a significant security presence with police and soldiers patrolling at tourist attractions as well as security guards doing bag checks and security gates to pass through before entering shopping centres or bazaars.  At no time did I feel nervous or intimidated.  I was not harassed while out by myself and Daughter, who travelled on the metro by herself to Kadikoy and back, did so without incident.  Yes, you should be vigilant and follow the advice of local security authorities as well as monitor media reports and keep up to date with the travel advice issued by your own Government, but I personally felt very comfortable visiting this beautiful city, and I hope to come and visit again very soon.

Istanbul 1

I will do a few posts over the coming weeks about our time in Istanbul, but I just thought for now I would put up a few photos.  They are, of course, not great as I am no photographer, but they are little memories for me to keep.

If you are thinking of visiting Istanbul why not grab one of these books –

 

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Heaven and Hell

Daughter and I recently did a long weekend road trip.  4 days of driving with no real destination in mind so the next few posts will no doubt be giving you some of the highlights of our trip.

Originally we were heading towards Goreme to go ballooning but a last minute decision was made to go west as it was hot and Daughter wanted to swim so we started driving west towards Alayna going via Kizkalesi, Narlikuyu, Silifke and finally ending our road trip in Yesilovacik also known as “literally the middle of nowhere”.

Credit: Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Just past Kizkalesi is a small tourist sign – Cennet ve Cehennem (Heaven and Hell).

“Oh let’s go check out the caves”, she said.  “It’ll be fun”, she said.  Well SHE needs a kick up the ass and by SHE I mean ME because it was MY silly idea.

Cennet ve Cehennem are actually two large sinkholes and, as someone who knows little about sinkholes I’ve got to say, they are pretty huge.  I mean I have seen sinkholes on television where houses are swallowed up in Florida or that big one somewhere in Mexico (I think) that took out a whole neighbourhood.  They seem to be popping up everywhere these days thanks to fracking and all sorts of other less than stellar reasons but Cennet and Cehennem are natural sinkholes that have been there for thousands of years.

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We started off walking to Cehennem because Hell seems more likely in my future.  It is only a 5 minute walk up a small incline.  A pleasant walk on a pleasant spring day.  The sinkhole itself is masterful and Mother Nature has definitely outdone herself.  The opening is small but has a depth of 128 metres.  I felt quite nauseous standing on the edge but Daughter being Daughter threw her legs over the side to take a photo to message to The Turk (just to “freak him out”).  Don’t worry though there is a barrier around the edge – you are quite safe.

Interesting titbit – according to mythology, after Zeus defeated the hundred-headed dragon named Typhon he kept him in Hell for a while before imprisoning him under Mt Etna.  Good to know.

After visiting Hell we started off towards Heaven.  After the first 50 or so steps we passed a group making their way back up.  A mixed bunch but the one thing they all had in common was that they were all bright red from exertion.  As they puffed past me I murmured geçmiş olsun (get well soon).  I got a wave and a groan – it was clear they were all too exhausted to speak (or couldn’t get their breath).  Crap!  What am I doing?

Daughter ran off ahead leaving me to waddle along at my own pace.  By the time I reached the small chapel (at about 300 steps) it was clear that I was in over my head (literally because I must have been about 100 metres down the sinkhole at this point).  I started wondering whether they could airlift my body out of here or maybe some kind of winch system set up behind the scenes because I didn’t know how I was going to drag my ass up all these stairs.

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The chapel itself was apparently built by a believer by the name of Paulus in the 5th or 6th century.  You really have got to give credit where credit is due.  Paulus must have had some major love for Saint Mary because he would have had to carry those stone blocks down the 300+ stairs to get to the landing.  Kudo’s to you Paulus.

We continued past the chapel to reach the mouth of the cave.  This climb is a little tricky now as the as the stone stairs were quite slippery from precipitation.  The cave itself was a lot cooler and quite a reprieve on a hot day.  Daughter ran off attempting to reach the back of the cave to find the source of the stream that we could hear however that proved to be impossible while I chose to sit on a rock and contemplate my new life in the cave (because like I said I was pretty sure I would never be able to drag myself back out of the sinkhole).

heaven over it

After spending 30 minutes of exploring the cave it was time to leave.  Standing at the mouth and looking up, well I’ve got to be honest, it was going to be a monumental task.  All up there is 452 stairs to reach the top!  452 stairs!  But I did it and without the need of the imaginary winch too.  We passed a group on their way down and, seeing my red faced and fatigued self, said “geçmiş olsun”.  I groaned and waved while Daughter continued to jog up the stairs (sometimes I hate that kid).

Heaven 9

Now in future when I get a hair brain idea like visiting caves anywhere I will make sure I do a little research first and it will go a little something like this:

Janey:  Is there 450+ stairs in my foreseeable future?

Janey:  Umm … yep.

Janey:  Feck my life!

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Need to know:

Cennet ve Cehennem is off the D400 at Narlikuyu.  There are no buses to the site itself so you will need to either drive or walk.

Entry fee is 10TL (5TL per cave).  Asthma Cave is 3TL.  Toilets are 1TL.  Parking is free.  There is the possibility of a camel ride around the carpark at a negotiated price.

There is a café at the top of Heaven as well as a few tourist shops.  There are many lokantalar along the road up to the caves serving typical Turkish food.

Oh and take water.  Lots of water!

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Driving Miss Janey

I recently started driving here in Mersin having purchased a brand spanking new, beyaz (of course) Nissan Juke.  I am finally an independent woman and can get out and about without having to catch 1, 2 or more dolmuş.  This has the added bonus of being less likely to be sneezed on, kidnapped or generally treated like a second class citizen while travelling on the public buses here.

Speed-Limits

Because I am a kind and thoughtful blogger I have put together a few helpful hints for those of you who intend on driving here in Türkiye:

  1. When driving on the road use your horn – all the time. It seems that we have been wrongly instructed to only use the horn sparingly.  Fallacy!  Use your horn to show how happy you are, or how sad you are, or even how horny you are (get it.  horn/horny).  Rarely the horn is used to in agitation.  Better to use your horn than your brakes (after all the horn will last longer).
  2. Pedestrian crossings are not actually for pedestrians. These black and white zebra style markings on the road is in fact a sign for us, the driver, to speed up.  If some fool does try and cross my best suggestion would be to aim right for him.  This has a two-fold effect.    You get where you are going faster; and 2.  You help him get a cardio workout.  In fact you are doing him a favour and he will no doubt smile and wave to you when he reaches the other side of the road.  This has happened to me often.  The Turk tells me it is not waving but that is neither here nor there.
  3. When at a red light you are at liberty to disregard such red light.  Instead you should think of your car as a chess piece and it is now your move.  Manoeuvre your chess piece to the front of the lights so when the lights turn green (or orange) you can shoot out like Mario Andretti.  If you do not play chess then be prepared to start using that horn (as mentioned above) and hit it as soon as the light change to show how happy you are.
  4. Left or right side of the road?   Either.  Whatever.
  5. Feel free to ignore those silly signs on the side of the road. You know the ones 50, 70 or even 120.  These signs are not actually the speed limits they are signs that indicate how many pedestrians have successfully made it to the other side of the road (true!).  The numbers never change because making it successfully across is a pipe dream.
  6. Another rule that was drilled into us while we were learner drivers and that should be totally disregarded here is using your mobile phone. In fact I stress to you that you must use your mobile while driving.  Multi-tasking is a skill that should be utilised by you.  I find that while driving you merely point your car in the direction that you want it to go and continue your chatting on your mobile or texting your cousin.  Allah will get you to your destination.  Or not.

Bonus hint – Seatbelts are an optional extra.  Merely a suggestion by the manufacturer.  And if you, like me, have a new car with that pesky alarm warning you of your impending death should you not wear your seat belt merely lock the seatbelt in place before you sit down (as suggested to me by my brother in law).

* Disclaimer:  Some days my humor is lost on The Turk and so, on his advice, I disclose that this post should not be construed as instructions on the driving laws here in Türkiye or in any other country.  You should always adhere to road rules in the country that you are visiting or live in and here in Türkiye “road rules” means “no rules” LOL!

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The Loco Lodos

It was a Lodos weekend in Istanbul, with the strong, dusty winds from Africa howling up the Bosphorus, sending waves crashing over the shore and forcing the locals indoors to save themselves almost certain doom.

istanbul winds 3

Like the better known Sirocco or Mistral winds when the Lodos hits with its 90+ kilometre gusts it causes chaos with flights and ferries cancelled as well as numerous car accidents and untold damage to homes and businesses.  Despite the Lodos coming to ruin our fun Daughter and I are hardened Aussies used to some tough weather and really a little breeze wasn’t going to stop us from heading to our first stop, Galata Tower, for the best view over Istanbul.

After climbing one of the seven hills of Istanbul (warn me next time) we then had the pleasure of climbing another two flights of stairs (after catching a lift the first 5 flights) before arriving at the conical cap of Galata Tower.  At the top is a café which was packed with tourists milling about waiting for someone to take the plunge and step out into the lodos.  Daughter didn’t hestitate and threw open the door letting the howling wind into the café and sending shrieks from the café workers to “kapıyı kapattı!” (shut the door!).

I can see why this building served as a watchtower as you really did have an amazing 360 degree view of Istanbul.  No one was going to take Constantinople with this bad boy watching over it (well not until the Ottomans finally did in 1453 anyway).

Daughter and I held onto the fence as we made our way around the tower.  It really was a crazy wind – a loco lodos if you will.  Soon we were followed by others braving the loco lodos all of us laughing and yelling into the wind, daring it if you will to push us around.

istanbul winds

After surviving our first stop it was clear that the lodos was not going to beat us and so, soldiering on we made our way down to the Bosphorus and jumped on what seemed to be the only ferry prepared to leave Kadıköy dock for a three hour cruise.  Well let me tell you Gilligan had it easy compared to what we went through over the next couple of hours.  The boat was really rocking and I now understand why all the sensible captains stayed safely on shore.

istanbul winds 2

The Turkish poet, Ümit Yaşar Oğuzcan, opens his poem “Istanbul Light” with the verses:

Istanbul, the wind

The wind, my love

Sometimes lodos blows from the seas

Oh so warm

Sometimes poyraz blows like a crazed razor

Let your hair down for the windows of Istanbul

You can’t be without love or the wind in this city.

Well I may have survived a Loco Lodos but I’m not sure if I want to meet the “crazed razor” of a Poyraz wind.  Until next time.

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Cumhuriyet Bayrami

In Turkey 29 October is known as Cumhuriyet Bayrami (Republic Day).  This day commemorates Mustafa Kemal’s declaration that the Ottoman Empire would forevermore be known as the Republic of Turkey.  With that declaration a vote occurred in the Grand National Assembly and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Father of Turkey) was elected the first President of the Republic of Turkey.

Here are a few photos taken around Mersin today finishing our day with Ispanek Borek in Ataturk Parki.

29 Ekim 3

29 Ekim 2

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borek

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Paradise Found

One of the great things about Mersin (or Icel) is that it is not usually on the international tourism wish list.  I get it.  I really do.  It is an industrial and farming province.  There is no airport and frankly no one speaks English.  It is kind of cosmopolitan and unique but its lack of infrastructure, its occasional domestic issues and now its proximity to unstable borders means that it is not really a draw card for visitors.  After all why come to Mersin when you can go to Marmaris or perhaps Bodrum for your sunfilled vacation?

For those of us living here though it is a godsend that the international tourist passes us by.  Why?  Well if you, the international tourist, go elsewhere it means that the hidden gems found along this magnificent coastline are left for the Turkish tourists which means – Turkish prices!

During Kurban Bayram the family and I travelled to Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu and I honestly I feel like I have truly found my new favourite spot in IcelSusanoğlu actually is part of the seaside town of Atakent, 65 kilometres west of Mersin and only 15 kilometres east of Silifke.

susanoglu

Susanoğlu Playa itself is a nice enough beach but there is more to Susanoglu than the main beach.  You don’t want the main beach.  You need to keep looking.  If you blink you will miss it for it is not on the main drag.  It is a secret after all, locals only, and they are not going to give up its location to a yabanci readily.  You are going to have to work for it.  You will need to park your car.  You will need to stalk a Turk (as no doubt they know where to go) but, with perseverance and a little good fortune, you will come across some ancient stone stairs on the side of a cliff (not as daunting as it may sound) leading through a smallish little forest.  Through the pine trees you go until you get a glimpse of that perfect mavi (blue) sea.  Step towards that colour and know that, finally, you have arrived at Yaprakli Koy Susanoğlu, a hidden gem along the coastline surrounded by Turkish beach clubs and restoranlar.DSC00437

This place bay has the feel of a party all day long.  Families gather for picnics, girls sunbath in their itsy-bitsy bikinis while watching the boys prance by showing off their muscles.  Old Turkish men do calisthenics on the rocks before making their way to the nearest lokanta for a glass of raki (medicinal I am sure). The surrounding restaurants sell simple Turkish food, but simple can at times be extraordinary with amazing balik, kofte and tavuk dishes on offer for the low non-touristy price of 10TL.  Even more importantly the drinks too are ridiculously cheap and the Efes’ are ice cold.  The music is blasting and it is always Turkish.

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No one, I repeat, no one speaks English and you will no doubt find yourself, as I did, sitting next to 70 year old Turkish lady who told me her life story.  Sure you may not understand what they are saying but they will still talk to you anyway.

I think I have found my incredibly cheap but now not so secretive paradise.

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One Day in Istanbul – or Three Things in Istanbul

As you are all aware Daughter and I are in Sydney visiting family and friends.  Currently I am suffering from a nasty bout of the flu and hating just about everything and everyone but I am quite certain I will feel better after a little blogging and a little TLC.  While recuperating I thought I tell you about our day in Istanbul visiting all of our favourite haunts.  I posted Five Things back in March but today as our time was limited we did not get to complete our usual five instead we downsized to Three Things.

Shopping – or where my credit card takes a beating

I was well aware of the fact that we were returning to Sydney and that shopping in this great city is amongst the best in the world but for Daughter shopping at Top Shop on Istiklal Caddesi is amongst the “totally best thing” in the world and I automatically become “an alright mum” as a result.  I accept that lacklustre award.  I don’t really mind that much to be honest as it is cheaper to shop in Turkey for Daughter than it is in Sydney.  Knock yourself out sweetheart.  I did have to remind her though that her suitcase will not magically make the space so desperately needed and once it is full, it is full.

For me I needed to stop at The Grand Bazaar and stock up on Turkish Delight and gifts for my family and friends.  An empty suitcase makes it very easy to buy up big – which I did.

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Basilicia Cistern – or that cool place that was in that James Bond movie back when

Yes again.  Oh how I love coming here.  If you time it just right you can get the place to yourself although there was no chance of that during this visit.  Istanbul always has been a mecca for tourists but during our limited time here it seemed that each and every one of them decided to go to my Basilica Cistern while we were visiting.  After waiting just over an hour to get through the door the normal cool underground respite became a hot and frankly a little on the nose.  Daughter made her way down to Medusa’s Head to make her wish while I stopped and ordered a cay from the elderly man who works at the café.  I recently heard there are a few other cisterns here in Istanbul including the Sultan Sarnici and Nakilbent  Sokak.  We did not have to time to visit them today but on our next stop in Istanbul it will definitely be on the cards.

Suleymaniye Mosque – or if you don’t visit the Mosque you will hate yourself later

Istanbul is full of the most amazing mosques but as we always stay at Sirkeci Mansion in Sultanamet we usually walk up the third hill of Istanbul to Suleymaniye Mosque.  Morning or night this mosque is quite a commandeering sight and each visit to the Mosque gives me a new experience.  On this visit we spent time walking through the gardens that surround the mosque before making our way to the tombs of Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan.  Though Hurrem Sultan was gossiped about and ostracized she was Suleiman’s true love and they now spend eternity together buried in the grounds of Suleymaniye Mosque.  I have told the story of Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan many times to Daughter over the years and her take on their relationship is thus:

“If you are meant to be then nothing is going to stop you.  Like Edward and Bella (Twilight).”

Alright so it seems that Suleiman and Hurrem Sultan are the Edward and Bella of the 1500’s.

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If you only have 24 hours or 1 day in my Istanbul and even if you only see one or two things this beautiful city has so much to offer.

 

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That time our dolmus driver went bat shit crazy

Yesterday our dolmuş driver lost his cool.  Postal.  I get it, I really do.  It’s hot here in Mersin and it is only going to get hotter.  It was 35 in the shade yesterday afternoon and when it gets hot people lose their shit but this guy was one sandwich short of a picnic crazy and I did start to worry about our safety (you will understand as the story goes on).

Just to remind you or for the uninitiated a dolmuş is a shared taxi that runs along a set route.  It is usually quite civilised.  They come along every few minutes.  There are signs on the dolmuş so you know where they are going and it is easy enough to wave them down or ask them to stop when you want to get off.  If you are lucky you will get an air conditioned dolmuş which is a blessing in this heat but if they are not air conditioned then it is a little like being stuffed into a sauna with 30 other unlucky souls.

dolmus

(Stock photo – not dolmus in question)

Up to speed so back to my story.

It all started with the driver receiving a telephone call.  Now I know I do not have enough Turkish to give you a rundown of the conversation but I can tell you that he was obviously not on time (the drivers have a very tight schedule to keep and if they run late or run early they are fined) and his boss telephoned him wanting to know where he was.  He pretty much told his boss to get f*cked and he would get there when he got there.  I had a big grin on my face at this point after all who hasn’t wanted to tell their boss to get f*cked at one stage or another.

He then lit up a cigarette.  No you are not allowed to smoke on a bus in Turkey but the sign above his head “Sigara içilmez” or “no smoking” meant nothing to him at this point after all he had already told his boss where to go.  An elderly lady complained about the cigarette so in reply he flicked it at her feet.  She got out of the dolmuş.

At the next block a young mother hopped on with two children.  She handed over 50TL to the driver for payment and this was the catalyst to the next fifteen minutes of crazy.  The explosion of expletives being thrown around the dolmuş by the driver was astounding and he wasn’t discriminating, he was screaming at everyone.  Daughter (who is well versed in expletives) was gawking at the driver with her mouth wide open.  “I think we need to get off this bus,” she whispered.  I nodded in agreement and was about to ask the driver to stop when his telephone rang again.  The driver looked at the telephone, pulled the dolmuş over, turned the engine off, got out and shut the doors behind him.  At this point I began to wonder if we were being held hostage.

A man stood up and started trying to open the door but he was unable to so he hung out the window and abused the driver who turned around and started kicking the side of the bus.  This was sensational, well except for being held hostage and all that.  The mother that the driver had abused moments earlier started crying and another passenger was comforting her.  I started to giggle (which is what I normally do when I am nervous) and I wondered if the other passengers thought I would lose my shit next.

A couple of minutes later the Polis arrived and the driver immediately opened the door.  The driver was yelling at the Polis, the passengers started to get off the dolmuş and began yelling at the driver and the Polis while Daughter and I stealthy snuck off the dolmuş and backed away from the scene.  Once we were clear we stopped and stared at each other.  WTF???

When we got home Daughter called out to The Turk, “Daddy we just got kidnapped!  Really!”

He is never going to let us out by ourselves again.

Soli Pompeiopolis

I think we have already established that Mersin province is full of ancient sites.  On Saturday (and before the shite hit the fan at home) I went to Viranşehir (Ruined City) to meet with my friend Alana.

For me Viranşehir was a bit of a track from our home in the Village (probably about 60 minutes on public transport) but for anyone staying in Mersin it is located about 20 minutes from the Forum or 30 minutes from the Otogar (catch the Eğriçam bus).  It is quite central.  Viranşehir is a residential area jam packed with high rise apartments blocks and shopping centres so to discover the Roman ruins of Soli Pompeiopolis smack in the middle of this residential area is certainly a surprise.

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Sidenote – One of my main issues with Mersin Turizm is that they have virtually no information for a tourist visiting this city or the area.  If you are a history buff there is abundance of ruins and archaeological sites to explore but with little or no information it is incredibly difficult to visit or even to be aware of its existence and Soli Pompeiopolis is the perfect example.  The only reason I knew of it is that Alana had put some photos up on her FB page.

I digress though, let me talk about this site.

Soli Pompeiopolis was once a large town and a most important harbour.  It was the capital of a Persian province before succumbing to the Greeks, Alexander the Great and King Antiochus III.  After all this carnage Soli recovered with the arrival of Roman Pompey who renamed the town Pompeiopolis (because he was obviously full of himself) who, not only held off the Persian Army, also used it as a base for fighting the pirates that preyed on boats in the area.   In 527AD Pompeiopolis was flattened by an earthquake and eventually the town was left to disrepair.  Today the main, and frankly the only thing that you can view as the ruins are surrounded by wire fencing, is the Colonnaded Street (cardo maximum).  It is over 350m long with Corinthian columns and I imagine it would have been very grand in its time drawing you down towards the harbour.  There is also a theatre, harbour, a bath and the monumental tomb of Aratos currently under excavation.  Archaeologists have found many coins, pottery and other artefacts of interest which are currently on display at Mersin Museum.

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As mentioned the Turkish Government is currently undertaking excavations on the site and in fact there is talk of building an archaeology museum to incorporate the site nearby which, for a history buff like myself (yes little known fact), would be great.

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Worth visiting?

As you can only view the ruins from the street there is little to hold your interest.  If, however, you make a day of it and incorporate a pleasant walk along the promenade, visit a couple of the bars for an ice cold beer (which Alana and I did) or perhaps have a picnic at one of the many beaches then it is a day well spent.

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