Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Turkey 5 - The Second Half

We have passed the midway point in our trip and are now starting to think of home. The weather continues to be sunny and warm with the occasional cloudy day. We've had only one day of significant rain and no cold weather to speak of. This is great for sightseeing, but the climbing conditions remain difficult and it doesn't look they'll change anytime soon. Going to the beach remains feasible and we've enjoyed a variety of other activities.

The old part of Antalya (Kaleci) is very quaint and interesting. There's lots of prominent examples of the Ottoman architecture and many narrow, shop-lined streets. It has a more "European" flavour than the vast tracts of apartments blocks that dominate the outlying areas. We enjoyed an evening around the harbour and strolling the streets.

Cats are everywhere in Turkey and definitely outnumber dogs. We believe they tolerate the cats because they keep the rodent population at bay. I don't know if many are kept as pets, but the street-wise strays are in very good shape, for the most part. We see them loitering around the shoreline where many fisherman (Turkey's national pastime!) through them the odd small fish.

The shops in the streets were very quaint and interesting. Restaurant owners tried to lure us inside constantly.

We saw many, many rug stores and watched some craftsmen weaving them in the streets outside.

This is the coastline to the south of the city. The mountains are large and plentiful. In nice evening light, it's quite a dramatic vista.

We did an afternoon trip to an old port city, Phaselis. Here, Elise poses on the rim of the stadium and again underneath the arches that surrounded the structure. Our best guess was that the multiple "alcoves" were built to minimize building material in the stadium itself. These arches surrounded the entire structure and were located underneath the elevated seating.

We had a very adventurous day trying to find the local ski area, which I was fascinated to see. We drove up the wrong valley and ended up taking a semi-horrifying mountain dirt track over to the next valley. Talk about escalating commitment. We got 3/4 of the way there, could see the village, but weren't sure of the terrain ahead. It got a tad "rough", but we made it. Phew...

Here's Elise studying the map before we started onto the gravel/dirt roads. She is quite interested in maps and often wants to know where we are. Maybe she'll become a cartographer???

It was cold up there. Too bad that's not where the climbing is!!!!

Desert-like vegetation was all around, including various kinds of cacti and what I believe were very large juniper trees.

The ski area. The area is above tree line and completely barren. Apparently the season only lasts for 1-2 months per year. It is a very pretty area, but the town seemed completely deserted. There were Whistler-type ski condos with the doors off and wind howling through the hallways. Weird... The lodge (red in the picture below) was only half built. The outside looked finished, but the inside was a concrete shell that looked like it may have been abandoned.

Looking toward the sea from the village. Note the significance of the surrounding peaks.

Beautiful light on the local mosque with storm clouds in the distance.

Elise on the chairlift. I think she's looking forward to skiing this winter!

Back down in Antalya. This is Elise posing with a collection of dried plants she'd assembled at one of the climbing crags.

Here she is hiding in a large tree trunk down by the river, which runs adjacent to Trebenna, the cliff we've spent most of our time at.

Most recently, we visited Termesos, another incredible city ruin near Antalya. This one is in the mountains and rests in a saddle between large limestone peaks. We toured this area with Geoff and Josie, friends of ours from Vancouver that arrived last week.

Here we are, preparing in the parking lot.

There were some incredible tombs carved into the cliffs that lined the valley.

This is Geoff, rising from the dead...

Elise wanted in on the action of course. Here she is posing in a sarcophagus (and yes, she knows what they are used for).

After an hour or two of hiking, we stumbled upon their water collection system, which consisted of massive underground cisterns.

It was incredible to see the size and complexity of these "rooms'. But what was even more impressive was the theatre! We walked over a rise and looked down at the most incredible ancient ruin I've ever seen (I'm afraid my pictures don't do it justice). This very large outdoor theatre was perched in a saddle between two steep valleys and had a dramatic limestone peak rising to the south. The location was utterly spectacular and it was really something to imagine hoards of people lining the seats 2,000 years ago to watch various forms of entertainment.

It was a memorable day...

Back in Antalya - These are giant blocks of marble, a common building material in Turkey. They are mined from the local peaks and stored in yards we pass on our way to the climbing. We see 1-2 of these blocks resting on flatbed trucks that rumble up and down our street during the day. Nice stone!

Finally, we have a resident cat that visits us from time to time (we seem to always find cats on our trips). We've named her Jasmine and Elise loves to let her into our apartment. We have not fed her - we know what this could lead to - but we enjoy her company in the evenings.

It looks like winter is starting on the coast at home and Blackcomb is opening in a few days. We are bracing ourselves for a big change in December! Until next time...


PS - For more climbing pics and informatoin about the cliff conditions, visit my latest Mammut blog post at:

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