Sunday, November 30, 2014

Side, Kitties, Goats, & Thunderstorms

After leaving the Cappadocia region, we headed south to explore some ruins along the Mediterranean coast.

After a brief stop in Konya (where Ferit and I enjoyed a wonderful cafe near Alaaddin Hill while Mom toured the Mevlana Museum), we headed for the town of Side (pronounced "See-Day").

Side is well-known as a resort town. Fortunately, the height of the tourist season had come and gone. Unfortunately, Side was nonetheless quite touristy, with its many souvenir shops and foreigner-focused restaurants still in full-swing.

Side is also well-known for its Roman ruins. Probably the most well known of its ruins is the Temple of Apollo. Though not much of the temple remains standing, it offers a magnificent view, with the Mediterranean in the distance.

The Temple of Apollo.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Around Cappadocia

We spent one of our road trip days exploring a few areas within the immediate vicinity of Cappadocia.

One of these areas was the Ihlara Valley. The valley, which lies at the bottom of a 100 meter-deep, stream-lined gorge, contains thousands of ancient cave dwellings and hundreds of ancient churches along its ten mile length. Constructed in the Byzantine era (330-1453 A.D.), the cave structures were used by the early Christians who sought escape from Roman soldiers.

Me and Ferit, in one of the cave churches.
Notice the ancient paintings on the wall behind us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Magical Cappadocia

During our road trip, we stopped for a few days in Cappadocia. Wow, what a magical place!

Cappadocia is heavily salt'n'peppered with these interesting "fairy chimney" rock formations. All sorts of cave homes and churches, some hundreds of years old, have been carved into the rocks.

A view from a cave window.

Izmir, A Hamam, Ankara, & The Salt Lake

Ferit had arrived at a good pausing point in designing his family's home, so we were ready to embark on our road trip.

As Ferit and his mom needed to tend to some matters in Acipayam, Alaattin, and Izmir, our road trip began with a visit to these three locations.

On our drive from Alaattin to Izmir, we stopped for a picnic at a roadside playground.
Left to right: My mom, Ferit's mom, and Ferit.

While Ferit and his mom took care of some business in Izmir, my mom and I had some time to explore the third largest city in Turkey.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Ghost Town & The Blue Lagoon

One afternoon we drove to see the ghost town at Kayaköy. The town, located on a mountainside, has a very interesting history.

Kayaköy -- the ghost town.

You may recall from my Hanging Out in Thessaloniki post that we visited the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk when we passed through Greece. At Atatürk's birthplace, I learned about the compulsory population exchange that occurred shortly after the Republic of Turkey was established. As part of the exchange, the Muslim population living in Greece was exchanged with the Greek Orthodox population leaving in Turkey. The purpose of the exchange was to achieve ethnic-national homogeneity.

Hanging Around Fethiye

My mom came to visit Turkey for two and a half weeks in October and November. Prior to her visit, my mom thought Turkey was all about scarved people riding camels across deserts. I think it's safe to say that my mom's visit provided her initial thoughts to be rather inaccurate.

The original plan was to take a road trip with my mom around Eastern Turkey, a place that neither Ferit nor I had yet visited. Alas, about a week before my mom's arrival, we started receiving emails from the US Embassy advising US citizens to use extreme caution when traveling to the east; there had been demonstrations related to the fighting in Syria, and some of the demonstrations had resulted in casualties.

Given that we'd be traveling in an automobile with German plates, it'd be quite obvious that we were foreigners. And given that the automobile was a BMW, it'd look as though we were rich foreigners. We decided it best to take our road trip in central Turkey instead.

But before we could leave for our trip, Ferit had some work to do. He had been designing a new family home to be built in the village of Alaattin, and he needed to get to a certain point in the design process before he could slip away for the road trip.

For about a week, Ferit plugged away on his home designs while my mom and I kept ourselves busy in Fethiye, the coastal town where Ferit's mom lives. Fortunately, Ferit was able to peel himself away from his work in the evenings to serve as our tour guide.

Ferit, hard at work designing his family's home in the village.

My Bayram Mission: Save the Goat

[NOTE: This post contains graphic photos of an animal sacrifice. Sensitive readers should exercise caution.]

As mentioned in a previous post, in early October we travelled to the village of Alaattin to celebrate the Kurban Bayram ("Sacrifice Holiday"). This is a four-day Muslim holiday during which the sacrifice feast is celebrated.

There are some stories that I vaguely remember from my vacation bible school days. The story of Abraham is one of them. As described in the Old Testament, Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his first-born son, Isaac, as an act of faith and submission. Abraham brought Isaac to the alter. But before Abraham brought the knife to his son, God replaced Abraham's son with a lamb. An animal was sacrificed in lieu of Abraham's son.

The story of Abraham is the same in the Koran, though Abraham is called "Ibrahim" and Isacc's son is named "Ishmael." During the Kurban Bayram, Muslims sacrifice animals to commemorate the Prophet Abraham and his devotion to God.

We acted out the upcoming animal sacrifice.
I am the unlucky animal. 

The Kurban Bayram is about community, visiting family and friends. It's also about charity, giving clothing and food (including a portion of the sacrificed animal) to the less fortunate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Circumcision Hat

If you recall from my last post, A Trip to the Village, Ferit and I travelled to the village of Alaattin, where Ferit's family is from. While at the village, we came across this cute little blue hat. We couldn't resist taking turns rockin' the hat.

Ferit rocks the hat.

A Trip to the Village

My mom left Turkey a week ago, and I have many, many posts to write to get you up-to-speed on the latest happenings. But, before I write about my mom's visit, I'm going to take you back to the first weekend in October, when we traveled to the village of Alaatin.

Alaattin is the village where Ferit's family is from. We went to Alaattin to celebrate the Muslim Kurban bayram. Yes, my friends, this is the much anticipated holiday during which animals are sacrificed. Woohoo!

This was one of the homes in Alaatin, not too far from the center of the village.
Of course there were fancier homes, too.

Traveling to Alaattin was a bit of a culture shock for me. Most of the traveling we had done thus far within Turkey was to urban places. But this was the first time that we traveled to a part of Turkey that had hardly been influenced by money, tourism, or the western world. Visiting Alaatin was the first time that I understood why Turkey is considered to be a "developing nation."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Happy 2nd Re-Birthday to Me!

Happy 2nd Re-Birthday to Me!

It has now been two years since I took the plunge and quit my job. As this event was pivotal in achieving my new lifestyle, I like to celebrate this re-birthday! Happy 2nd re-birthday to me!