Tokatsgiving

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To celebrate Thanksgiving 2014 I visited the central-eastern Turkish city of Tokat, joining a group of Fulbrighters for a potluck dinner. While in Tokat I was able to spend some time sightseeing in the city center while spending plenty of time in fellowship (pun intended) with my fellow grantees and our Turkish guests.

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Before I elaborate on some of the sights I was able to visit while in Tokat, I must address a very Fulbrihgt-esque pun, which is the title of this post and was the name of our celebration. As previous posts have suggested, we Turkey Fulbright ETA’s particularly enjoy combining the names of holidays and the cities in which we celebrate them. Tokatsgiving was no exception, but is in fact an exceptional instance of this type of word-play. Why?

Part of our dual role as English as a Foreign Language instructors and ‘cultural ambassadors’ includes sharing English-speaking countries holidays and cultural traditions with our students, Thanksgiving being a particularly easy and fun opportunity. Many of us have included the instant-classic ‘Slapsgiving’ episode of How I Met Your Mother (a series which for some reason is wildly popular among young Turks) in our lesson plans. Incidentally, in addition to being the name of a city, ‘tokat’ in Turkish is the word for slapping someone. A better holiday-locale combo has never been accomplished…..

In any event, I was blown away by the rich history still visible as we “gezmeked” (my Turklish version of ‘wandered’) the streets and sights of Tokat.

Our trip began as any good weekend rendezvous does, with a long and big Turkish breakfast (kahvalti) in a beautifully restored Ottoman era home.

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Doyduk… clean plates after a massive and delicious breakfast.

IMG_6253We toured an old Ottoman-era home turned museum (free of charge) which explained life for upper class central Anatolian families. The house itself was allegedly designed by a famous Armenian architect.

IMG_6277From the gardens of the restored Tokat Mevlevihane, you can see the city’s stone clock tower. As is generally the case, exploring the Mevlevihane turned museum was a major highlight of my trip.

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The complex has been stunningly restored and, much like the museums in Konya and the Galata district of Istanbul, contained a vast display of manuscripts, daily life objects, musical instruments, physical manifestations of ritual practice like tesbih or prayer beads, clothing, artwork, and especially here, a large collection of antique carpets.

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The former semahan, or room in which the ritual practice of sema (whirling) has beautiful woodwork which has been well maintained, but that isn’t what catches your eye when you enter the space. No, it’s the lit-up mannequin ‘whirling dervises which mechanically spin across the floor.

Tokat has numerous old stone mosques, many dating back to the Selcuk era.

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There are also a number of tombs either standing alone or on mosque complexes. I was more than a little surprised when visiting the tomb of Ali Tursi, which has beautiful turquoise Selcuk-era tilework, to see this posting by the Ministry of Religious Works ‘reminding’ visitors of ‘how to appropriately visit’ a tomb. I’ve never seen a posting like this at any other tomb in Turkey….

IMG_6401In addition we were able to pend time checking out the rich collection at the Tokat City Museum, which had no entrance fee. The museum is an a lovely old stone building, and has everything from archaeological finds from Tokat and the surrounding area to a wide assortment of religious artifacts (both Muslim Christian, iconographic paintings that echoed to a different time), folk costumes, handicrafts, and more. The collection includes pieces of the castle in the nearby town of Zile conquered by Julius Ceasar, who upon victory infamous declared “Vendi, Vidi, Vici!”

IMG_6418 IMG_6432In addition, we stopped into an old caravanseray that is now owned by the state university in Tokat, who uses it to house much of their music daprtment, and one of the historic bazaar areas, where I picked up some of the famed cloth wth painted designs in the forms of a dress and a dual function scarf/vest. The woman I bought them from had painted them herself!

Of course, I’d be remiss without mentioning the meal itself, which was an absolute feast. We enjoyed a fantastic array of ‘tradition Americana’ dishes like mashed potatoes with gravy, green bean casserole (my contribution), REAL pumpkin pie from scratch (which was quite an effort), stuffing, etc. as well as some Turkish classics like mercimek koftesi (red lentil meatlessballs?) and stuffed grape leaves. There were many cries of affiyet olsun, and we all went around the table and shared the things for which we are thankful.

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Tokat was a fabulous city that I’m so glad I visited- truly a hidden gem in the hillsides of central Anatolia.

 

 

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Bayram II- Bergama (Pergamum)

Kurban Bayrami 2014 Part 2. You can read part one, about my trip to Chios, here. For more on Izmir, click here.

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Most people who spend a decent amount of time touring Turkey make a point of visiting Ephesus (Efes), the ancient Biblical city, as I have. Though they are almost equidistant, far fewer people make it to the city of Bergama, known in ancient times as Pergamum (or Pergamon… according to Wikipedia, both are correct).

This is unfortunate.

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Bergama is located 100 km north of Izmir, today a city of about 60,000 people. Its current name in Turkish reflects its ancient stature. We went for an afternoon from Izmir and just barely had time to see three of the main attractions there: the Acropolis, the Asclepion, and the Red Basilica.

Having been a big fan of the Disney rendering of the story of the Greek god Hercules, I was fired up to visit the Acropolis; to climb up the mountain to have a chat with old man Zeus myself. Things in life never go exactly the way they do in the squeaky-clean animations though, and the climbing was mostly done in an old cab with a disgruntled but courteous driver blasting Turkish dance-pop music. In addition, my chat with Zeus in his altar is pending, as I’ll need to arrange a trip to Berlin to see the remains, thanks to the persuasiveness of some opportunistic German archeologists in the late 1800’s. I’ll also have to wait about 5 years, as the exhibit in Berlin undergoes renovations. Always, the renovations.

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A consolation, though. The magnificent tree pictured above stands at the site of the foundations of the Altar of Zeus.

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Nevertheless, the site is stunning, and the vast majority of its structures remain, including an insane 10,000 seat theatre carved onto the side of a steep cliff. Significant portions of the Temple of Trajan also remain, pictured above. The view from the top of the site is breathtaking, a picturesque modern day Bergama with hillsides and red-tiled rooftops.

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A more orientalizing blogger may suggest it’s as if one goes back in time, gazing over the landscape. Besides being silly, that would also be patently untrue as the cable car which can take visitors up and down the steepest part of the ascent to the site (dropping off right at the ticket booth) obstructs the pastoral in many directions.

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You can make out a bit of history though, especially if it’s a clear day: a view of the pillars lining a walkway at the Asclepion, about 5 kilometers away as the crow flies.

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For those of you who didn’t know (I didn’t), the Asclepion at Pergamum was a renowned ancient center of medicine. According to my Lonely Planet Guide, “Treatments included mud baths, the use of herbs and ointments, enemas, and sunbathing. Diagnosis was often by dream analysis.” That can’t have been all they were up to, because this was also the site where the great Galen was born and worked; his studies had a major impact on ‘western’ medicine for a good century and a half. Nice.

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It was sunny and lovely, and my travel companions and I really enjoyed traipsing around the almost empty site. (Fellow visitors included two Turkish families, and two small tour groups, one geriatric group of Brits, and one with all members wearing matching “UPENN ALUMNI hats. That’s it!)

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We wandered through the aforementioned bazaar street lined with Roman columns, looked at but didn’t drink from a sacred well (which was the same color as the now infamous algae blooms of Lake Erie this past summer, yum), and scaled and (I) sang in the very well restored theatre, which continues to host theatrical and musical performances in the summer.

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I was also intrigued by signposts which advertised an app that allows users to visualize the way the site is presumed to have originally used, using 3D imaging technology. Sorry for the poor photo quality:

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I enjoyed one of my favorite Turkish indulgences, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, while perusing a gift shop chock full of replica parchment, echoing Pergamum’s fame as the site of the development of the stuff. My pride in the innovations of ancient Egypt instilled by my grandparents got the best of me, and a Google-search later permitted a not-fully-deserved “I told you so;” parchment for use in the famed library of Pergamum was developed beginning with a shortage of papyrus shipped from Alexandria.

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Our cab ride back into town took us through a neighborhood teeming with traditional old houses, some of which have been carefully restored as boutique hotels.

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It also led us to the Red Basilica; another reason for Pergamum’s fame.  It was originally a massive temple to some Egyptian Gods, and Christians who later acquired the building actually just built their basilica inside the structure. The Book of Revelations lists this site as one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor, specifically as the throne of the devil. To be honest though, all I saw was a whole lot of renovation and not a lot of Basilica.

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Though the archaeological museum was closed, we were able to walk through the historic covered bazaar, and we also spotted an old hamam, which is still operational.

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Our day ended with some piyaz (white bean salad) and “Bergama koftesi,” the defining trait of which seemed to be copious amounts of cumin.

As my travel companions from last year would say, “On to the next adventure!”

Urfa Part One: Göbekli Tepe

In early March 2014 I went with a group of fellow ETA’s on a whirlwind weekend tour of two of the most important and historic cities in southeastern Turkey: Şanliurfa (more commonly known by its former name, Urfa) and Diyarbakir, a journey I will be covering in a series of posts. This post is the first in the series, detailing the first half of my almost 24 hours in Urfa.

I flew from Ankara to Sanliurfa’s airport on a Friday evening, where we met up with our friends and had dinner at a kebap house. The cuisine in Urfa and the surrounding area is distinctly spicier than other regions in Turkey, and we sweat our way through an array of delicious meze (often called semsek) before feasting on lahmacun and the famous Urfa kebap. The whole meal was washing down with a copper mug-and-ladle over-frothing with yayik ayran a foamy, salty yogurt drink.

me savoring the ayran

me savoring the ayran

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urfa lahmacun

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make the time/arrange to have the ultimate Urfa dining experience: sira gecesi, an evening of food (especially ciğkofte and kebap) and live music, held in a şark odasi, or Ottoman-style sitting room (seating on the floor with cushions) in a konuk evi (converted mansion). Inşallah, next time.

We woke early the next morning and arranged two taxis to drive us 11 km northeast of central Urfa, to a site that was as unassuming as it was mind-blowing:

Gӧbekli Tepe, one of the oldest archaeological sites in the world.

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As unassuming as it may appear, Gӧbekli Tepe (Potbelly Hill, also known in Kurdish as Girê Navokê) is, for lack of a better term, a really, really, really big deal. I mean, Stonehenge is amazing, right? Such ancient history, such compelling questions about the origins of belief… Göbekli Tepe is estimated to be about 6,500 years older than that, dating back to somewhere around 9,500 BCE. Something like 11,000 years old. That brain buster is just step one, though. Claims about what this site indicates do no less than challenge just about every textbook claim made about the shift from nomadic, hunter-gatherer societies to agriculturalist societies. With this discovery, some argue that everything anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians have argued about the timeline of the Neolithic revolution, the domestication and production of crops and animals, and its causes are up for scrutiny. But there’s more, and for Tess the religious studies major, this one is the real kicker: the leading archaeologist of the site, and the man generally accredited for ‘discovering’ the site in 1994-5, Klaus Schmidt, argues that Gӧbekli Tepe also evinces what is probably the first known worship site of any kind.

The signage at the sight echoes Schmidt's theory about the implications of the site

The signage at the sight echoes Schmidt’s theory about the implications of the site

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The site first received widespread international attention after the publication of two pieces: “The Birth of Religion” by Charles C. Mann in National Geographic, and “The Sanctuary: The World’s Oldest Temple and the Dawn of Civilization” by Elif Batuman in the New Yorker. Both articles reflect on the lead researchers’ supposition that, to quote the lead in of the National Geographic piece, “We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world’s oldest temple suggests the urge to worship sparked civilization.”

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This momentous claim is not without its skeptics, of course. In addition to the articles above, I’d encourage you to check out Cris Campbell’s six-part series examining Göbekli Tepe and critiquing this theory on his blog, Genealogy of Religion. (His blog also has much better pictures of the site, and the megaliths in particular, than I could manage to capture.)

views of the megaliths from the boardwalk overhead

views of the megaliths from the boardwalk overhead

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A relatively newly discovered and little known archaeological gem, mass tourism has not yet reached Göbekli Tepe. Reports from a few years describe a couple hundred daily visitors; more recent ones suggest that as many as a thousand come at the weekend during high-tourist season. This seems a little difficult for me to fathom… We saw a total of about 30 people, including at least one bus of schoolchildren and a large family in the two-ish hours we spent at the sight mid-morning, on a Saturday. It seems difficult to imagine that mass waves of tourism are likely to come soon, given Urfa’s location and the surrounding areas current geopolitical realities. However, I’ve recently read that tickets are now being sold and required for entrance to the site, but I do not remember this being the case as of early March.

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In addition, the idea of the site was far more astounding than the site itself, in my opinion. The site is prohibitively ancient- the engraved megaliths cannot stand alone, and their excavation puts them at risk to the elements. They are propped up by a network of wooden stilts, and a rickety boardwalk of sorts guides visitors over the site. The lack of visual splendor is a perfect testament to the tension between preservation and touristic exploitation faced by those who seek to learn and/or profit from locations like this. Signage in four languages (English, German, Arabic and Turkish, seen above) vaguely indicate the meaning of the arrangement of the stones and their engravings, mostly animals and humans. The hillsides around the site were blossoming with yellow flowers and flush with the green of the coming spring (perhaps a testament to the controversial and apparently successful Guney Anadolu Projesi, a water irrigation project, previously alluded to on the site here and here, with more to come).

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It is difficult to articulate what it feels like to visit something so truly ancient, to stand on earth that (regardless of the anthropological evidence conclusive from these stones in particular) is known to be among the first to be used for agriculture. How can one say what it “feels like” to stand on the ground where, millennium before, people may have gathered, conscious of some deity or higher power for the first time in human history? “Overwhelming,” “humbling,” “inspiring”… they don’t quite cut it. After months of traveling across an ancient land, after visiting countless sites whose dates of construction were jaw-dropping, how could I even begin to wrap my head around these hills, what they might signify?

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My mind was blown, but it was time to press onward for more, as I headed off, stuffed in a taxi with my friends, back through the pastoral hills back to Urfa, to the cave where it is said that Abraham (the one with many sons) was born. Coming soon!

Kurban Bayrami Part 4: Ephesus

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:13 (NIV)

God is the Light of the heavens and the earth; the likeness of His Light is as a niche wherein is a lamp (the lamp in a glass, the glass as it were a glittering star) kindled from a Blessed Tree, an olive that is neither of the East nor of the West whose oil wellnigh would shine, even if no fire touched it; Light upon Light; (God guides to His Light whom He will.) (And God strikes similitudes for men, and God has knowledge of everything.)

Surat al-Nur 24:35 (Arberry)

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On our final day in Izmir, at the end of our whirlwind Bayram vacationing, my friend and I woke up early and hopped onto one, two three cheap buses that took us to Efes, the biblical Ephesus, by way of the tourist town Selçuk, where we stopped for lunch after bus #2. I’m sincerely hoping for an opportunity to return to this city, which is chock full of historical and religious sites we didn’t have time to explore, including the burial site of St. John the Evangelist on Ayasoluk hill (Ayasoluk meaning Divine Theologian, aka St. John), the Artemision (the sanctuary/temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), and Meryemana, or house of Mary, an alleged site of residence for the Virgin Mary (some theologians argue that she accompanied John when he went to Ephesus). The house is now a chapel which is frequented by Christian and Muslim pilgrims alike, as “Mother Mary,” as she is known, is a revered figure in the Islamic tradition as well; indeed she is mentioned more frequently in the Qur’an than the New Testament. Trips to some of these sites are accessible, and frequently included within package tours of the area offered by tourism agencies; however, since my friend and I opted for the low-budget version of the trip, the extra taxi rides etc. to these sites were forgone.

What we did see, however, was potentially the largest and best preserved ancient city in the Mediterranean region: Ephesus. Perhaps the most mind-boggling part of the whole experience was the knowledge floating in my head throughout my visit that, according to the Ephesus Foundation, ONLY 10-15% of the site has been excavated!! The implications of this were clear as restoration and further excavation efforts were clearly visible throughout, but… wow.

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“As the capital of Roman Asia Minor, Ephesus was a vibrant ancient city with a population of over 250,000 inhabitants. Counting traders, sailors, and pilgrims to the Temple of Artemis, these numbers were even higher, meaning that in Ephesus one could encounter the full diversity of the Mediterranean world and its peoples.”

The Ephesus site has two entrances, and you go through the site as though walking through the city. Technically we went “backwards,” but that’s where the dolmus dropped us and honestly, it didn’t matter (and more on the rewards of doing so later.) Our tour began near the Great Theatre, Stadium, Gymnasium of Venus, and ‘Harbor Street,’ pictured above.

Unlike Termessos, the city I visited near Antalya, much is known about the ancient history of Ephesus, and is widely online. Though it was then a port city, years of silting contributed to the city’s decline, despite efforts of those including Attalus II of Pergamum, Nero, and Emperor Hadrian, “…swamps developed and the port was lost…” (Hence the area known as Harbor Street which now leads to an agricultural plateau rather than the Aegean Sea. Today one must stand at a high elevation (from the Great Theatre, for example) to view the sea from a distance. However, “in the future, Turkish authorities are planning for war against the silt accumulation that defeated all previous Ephesian civilizations…” Good luck with that.

IMG_0981 IMG_0985Shortly up the way from the Stadium is one of Ephesus’ main attractions, the famed Library of Celsus. Celsus was the third largest library of the ancient world, capable of holding 12,000 scrolls. Unfortunately, the statues you see in these images are replicas- the originals are in Vienna at the Ephesus Museum there; the Austrian Archaeological Institute was responsible for the restoration of the Library…. incidentally, they’re also continuing work to the present on the Great Theatre.

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Also in the vicinity of the Library are the Lower Agora, (pictured below) the brothel (love the title and description on the placard, below,)  and the Terraced Houses, which we opted out of due to time.

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Now this is what I call the lap of luxury (latrine):
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You may find the Temple of Hadrian (above and below) a little more glorious than the pre-modernity potties (to each his own). Architecture fiends, check out the central keystone (Look Ma! No mortar!).

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Here are some more beautiful sites (mostly around Curates Way I think,) including this stoae, directly below, the colors of which blew my mind and a cat, because you didn’t really visit Ephesus if you didn’t take pictures of the Cats of Ephesus (incidentally, the name of an article in the TCDD state train transportation complimentary magazine, and also the title of this lovely coffee table book… seriously).

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“Wow, this is a big archaeological site,” you’re thinking. “She must’ve had a difficult time picking photos that captured it’s essence so she didn’t make too long of a blog post.” Yeah. But there’s more (now occasionally featuring humans!):

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So after walking up the long path pictured above, we eventually reached the Upper Agora and the Odeon, one of the original homes of forensic mastery, and a debate nerd’s dream.

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I’ve skipped over lots of details (particularly for the history and architecture buffs (the differences between Ionian Greek and Roman columns, for example, both noticeable throughout the site) and maybe mislabeled some things… going back to write this post was like a going in a time warp back to the site, except it isn’t raining in my office and the view is a little different. Visiting Ephesus is more than overwhelming, with lots of information being thrown at you, and the magnitude of the site and the history it contains was a lot to absorb. I’d like to end the post here, to give you the reader and myself some relief, but the story isn’t quite over….

Once we reached the Odeon, my travel hombre and I turned around and headed back through the site, the way we came to catch our return minibus to Selcuk (downhill this time, instead of uphill). Everything was the same until we were near the Lower Agora and we spotted a sign leading off the trail we were on that said “Church of Mary.” A curious streak and the knowledge that we wouldn’t have time to visit the House of Mary later on spurred us to investigate.

Long story short, though I haven’t found a guidebook yet that mentions this, there is a 5th century church known as “Mary’s Church,” or Mereyem Kilsisi in Turkish, that is located within the Ephesus site! It is also known as the Church of the Councils because it is believed to have been built for the 3rd Ecumenical Council (of Ephesus) in 431. This church was also the seat of the Bishop of Ephesus through late antiquity. Needless to say, Miss RLST nerd was geeking out, and very glad to have been rewarded for getting off the (tourist-trod) beaten path.

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Following our exploration of the church we hopped on a dolmus back to the city of Selcuk, from where we caught another inexpensive minibus to the tiny resort-ish mountain town of Sirince. From Lonely Planet, “Once a Greek-populated mountain village, Sirince’s clustered stone-and-stucco homes, bucolic wooded setting and long winemaking tradition have made it popular…. Legend says that freed Greek slaves in the 15th century resettled here, calling it Cirince (Ugliness) to keep others away. However, by at least the 19th century it had become Kirinje. Under the new republic in the1920’s the name Sirince (Pleasantness) came with the exodus of the Greeks, who largely moved to a village they called Nea Ephesos (New Ephesus) in Northern Greece…. The local alcohol trade [remained], and today you can sample their unique wines (made from raspberry, peach, black mulberry, and pomegranate) in local restaurants and cafes.”

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These unique wines were the reason for our visit, and my travel hombre and I enjoyed glasses of cherry and pomegranate wine, respectively, over a delicious dinner overlooking a mountain vista at Sirincem Restaurant and Café. In fact, we joked then and to this day that it was the most the romantic setting for a platonic dinner date to ever be conceived. The wines we drank were made in house by the owner, a fruit farmer, and they brought us a complimentary fruit plate after dinner which quite possibly lived up to the waiter’s assurances that it included “the most beautiful apple you will ever eat.”

After stuffing ourselves we hopped on the last bus back down the mountain to Selcuk, followed by the last bus back to Izmir where a well-earned night of sleep met us before the long bus ride back to K-Town the next day. A fittingly surreal, once-in-a-lifetime day to end a surreal, once-in-a-lifetime vacation! 

Kurban Bayrami Part One: Antalya

In the middle of October, we had a total of 10 days away from school for the observance of Kurban Bayrami, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, perhaps more commonly known in the States by its Arabic name, Eid al-Adha. I had a lot of fun discussing the holiday with my students, who are continually surprised by even my most rudimentary knowledge about Islamic and/or Turkish social, cultural and religious practices. My students have a full range of spiritual/cultural/religious backgrounds, including staunch atheists and/or secularists, those who are nominally Sunni or Alevi, and some who are quite pious. In any event, it was interesting hearing from them about the relative importance of the holiday for them, what cultural practices they follow during the holiday (such as visiting family, gifting sweets or money to young children, hand-kissing of elders, etc.) and their impressions of the holiday’s theological importance. I actually had a rather mischievous student attempt to trick me into reciting the Shehada (Islamic profession of faith, recited, among other things, for conversion to Islam). He was a little taken aback when I swore that I knew all the words, refused to “repeat after me, teacher!” and then taught the class the meaning of the word “intention” and its importance as a theological concept in Islam.

Kurban Bayrami is one of the most important holidays of the year, and most everyone travels to be with their families during the week. We continually made the joke that it was Christmastime; the visibility of the holiday in media and everyday life was similar, with politicians placing billboards expressing holiday greetings, special TV advertisements focusing on family, fliers advertising special prices for livestock, especially around mosques, etc. Though opportunities existed, I opted not to participate in the holiday festivities with a Turkish family, and instead took the chance to do some major traveling with one of my K-town Krew Kohorts. This post will cover the first part of trip, to the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya; the next leg of or trip will be covered in a separate post or two.

Antalya

Our Bayram road-tripping began on a long bus ride to Antalya, the capital city of the province of the same name, in south-central Turkey, along the Mediterranean Sea. Antalya is just one coastal city among many that make up what is known as the Turquoise Coast; resorts and beaches abound, crusie ships come through frequently, and one can enjoy a traditional boat ride in the Akdeniz (Mediterranean) (we didn’t… yet?). Some background on the city, courtesy of Lonely Planet:

“Antalya was named Attaleia after its 2nd century founder Attalus II of Pergamum. His nephew Attalus III ceded the town to Rome in 133 BC. When the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the city more than two centuries later, in 130 AD, he entered the city via a triumphal arch (now known as Hadrian’s Gate), built in his honour.

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There followed a succession of new ‘landlords’: the Byzantines took over from the Romans, followed by the Seljuk Turks in the early 13th century. The latter gave Antalya both a new name and a new icon—the Yivli Minare (Fluted Minaret).

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The city became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1391. After WW1, the empire collapsed and Antalya was ceded to Italy. In 1921 it was liberated by Ataturk’s army and made the capital of Antalya province.”

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The sites pictured above are located in and around Kaleçi,the historical district in the city; we visited the area in the afternoon of our first day there, following at morning at the beach. One of the first sites you see approaching the area is called Kale Kapısı (Fortress or Tower Gate), which was built in 1244 AD.

IMG_0660 IMG_0667There is an entire bazaar of doner shops nearby, which we stopped into for lunch.

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That evening we found ourselves at the waterfront:

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Though a major tourist destination, signs of Bayram were visible across Antalya during our visit:

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Fulbrighters were criss-crossing the country all week, and we managed to assemble big crews for meals (including piyaz, a famous Antalya dish, pictured below,) drinks, and a peaceful evening on the beach at sunset, re-connecting and swapping teaching tales.

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In Antalya we were also blessed with some beach time- soaking in those Mediterranean rays before the Central Anatloian winter chill hit (how I’m missing that beach now!)… to paraphrase Vonnegut, if this isn’t lovely, I don’t know what is:

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