Ancient Wonders

Daughter and I went walkabout last weekend and ended up about 2 hours west of Mersin in the small village of Kizkalesi.  Most of you who know Turkey or more particularly know Mersin will no doubt already know about this little spot along the Mediterranean but for those of you who are yet to visit this area Kizkalesi should definitely be on your list. kiz 3

Once out of Mersin the bus ride is enchanting was we passed through small villages, a scatterings of ruins and the never ending blue ocean.  The town itself is really nothing to write home about with its extraordinary number of pensions and holiday apartments that have built along the shoreline and on the lower slopes of Tarsus Mountains but our reason for visiting last weekend is to wonder at the majesty that is Deniz Kalesi also known as the Maiden’s Castle floating in the blue water of the Mediterranean.  Set on a small island just 400 metres off the mainland the island (The Turk tells me he used to swim over to it as a child although I call balderdash on that statement) was built sometime in the 1st century and has been rebuilt many times over the following centuries. Like most things in Turkey there is a legend that is attached to Deniz Kalesi.  It is said that a fortune teller told the King that his beautiful daughter will be poisoned by a snake.  Shocked by the fortune teller’s words, the King tries to change her fate by building a castle on an island where no snakes live.  He sends his daughter to live in the castle.  But a snake hides in a grape basket sent from the mainland and poisons the princess.  Definitely a bit of bad luck for her – maybe the King should have sent the Princess to Ireland.  Incidentally there are hundreds of little lizards on the island sending Daughter into screams of terror at every turn – so that’s definitely a bonus *sigh*. Image Daughter and I took a paddleboat over to the island (which really means I had to paddle both of us over to the island while she hung her legs into the water) to explore before returning back to the mainland (which also meant I had to paddle us both back while she complained about being cold even though it was 30 degrees and I was sweating bullets).  If you don’t want to paddle (or know that you are going to get stuck doing all the work) you can take one of the tourist boats over for 10TL. Exploring the ruins takes time and as Daughter and I had all the time in the world we enjoyed wandering around the base, climbing up and down its high walls and examining the mosaics. Image The mainland also has its fair share of ruins to explore as well and Daughter and I spent a good few hours wandering along in the sunshine traversing the ruins along the shore including Korykos Castle (above) which is directly opposite Maiden’s Castle and then a quick dolmus to Elaiussa-Sebaste (below) ruins which are only a few kilometres east of Kizkalesi.  If you have a few days you should also explore the Roman-Byzantine cities of Kanlidivane and Kanytelis also has a wonderful example of Roman necropolis. Image In summer Kizkalesi is packed, mostly with German tourists, but right now it is just a sleepy village and definitely no crowds – the beach was just pristine and it was all ours. _________________________________________________________________________ Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love to travel and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Weekly Photo Contest – Objects

I took this photo on Wednesday morning.  A dreary day in Istanbul with the temperature sitting at 3 degrees Celsius.  Our time was limited though so despite the cold Daughter and I roamed the city exploring. The colour of the tram stood out to me and I quickly snapped this photo as we dodged the crowds down Istiklal Caddesi.

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/photo-challenge-object/

Weather Update

As you all know I have been keeping you abreast of the lack of rain in Mersin.  I think at last check it was 4 rainy days in 138 days.  That’s a lot of sunny days!  Anyhow, Daughter and I went to Istanbul last weekend for a little holiday and, on the way to Adana, our rain free run came to an end.  Yes it rained.  Daughter was excited.  Me?  I was more concerned about the weather in Istanbul.  I googled it that morning and saw a high of 3 degrees Celsius.  That falls under a huge “Yikes” for me.

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In the six days that Daughter and I were in Istanbul it rained in Mersin – a lot.  There was some localised flooding (not in the Village thankfully) heavy rain and strong winds.  Since our return yesterday it has been sunny and rather pleasant, in fact I managed to get a little pink while sitting on my newly completely (finally) balcony this morning.

And Istanbul?  Yes it was cold.  Really cold in fact.  But despite the zero degrees and the occasional snowflakes that turned the city a dreary grey we had a great week away from Mersin.  Daughter did a lot of shopping (she “discovered” Topshop while wandering down Istiklal Caddesi) and we visited our usual haunts including the Basilica Cistern, Sultan Ahmet Camii and Hagia Sophia.

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Will blog more about Istanbul soon but right now I have a lot of laundry to get on the line.  Just before I sign off I just want to add one more thing.  Away for a week and The Turk is unable to do the washing despite the fact that I have showed him a dozen times how to use the washing machine AND the fact that the instruction manual is in Turkish AND who uses a clean towel every – single – day?  Clean undies – yes – but clean towels???

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Gunaydin

I pretty much track the same steps every day when I leave the house in the morning.  First is a walk with My Hurley Dog.  I go wherever he chooses – he is in control of the walk.  The one certain on our early morning walk is that we stop for fresh bread.  One loaf for The Turk and I and the other for his father.  After I drop off the bread at home My Hurley Dog and I make our way down to the deniz (sea) for a pleasant stroll.

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I wave and call “Gunaydin” to those I know as we wander down towards the water.   I occasionally stop to have a chat (with my limited Turkish) if anyone calls me over.  As I walk down the main road I can see Daughter’s school in the distance.  She is no doubt daydreaming at her desk, pretending to learn but most likely thinking of Calum Hood or chatting with her friends.

I always stop by the vegetable market to have a quick look.  Always fresh and always delicious I might make a quick purchase before dodging may way through the fish markets.  Although the Village is predominantly a farming community it also has a large harbour and fishing industry and many of the restaurants in Mersin purchase their fish from these markets.  You need to be there early though – really early.  By the time I get there a little after 7:30 most of the best fish has already been sold leaving the lesser quality for us slowpokes.

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When I finally arrive at the waterfront I always pause for a moment.  With the early morning sun shining on the water it is a sight to behold.  No matter how crappy I feel or how down I am at the world in general looking at this scene always perks me right up.  Gorgeous water, gorgeous sunrise – unfortunately, however, the beachfront itself is not as attractive to the eye.  It is a garbage dump.

The Village is the closest beach area to the city of Mersin itself.  It’s potential as a destination for day visits by the “city dwellers”, particularly in summer.  I recently read that the Council is looking into rezoning the area for tourism but that is, I imagine, some years away.  It is disappointing that the locals do not realise the little gem that they have here under their noses and the literal goldmine that they are sitting on.

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In the meantime My Hurley Dog and I love our morning walks in the sunshine – I say sunshine as I am still waiting for rain.  The rain count since we arrived still stands at only 3 times.  Yes that’s right 3 times in 132 days although it is little a little overcast today so we might get something.  Finger’s crossed.  Maybe.

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