When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Konya and More

This map shows our general route through Turkey from Istanbul to the border.

We left the previous web page while at the center right of this map. Now we are headed southwest and then turn north over the next week or so. Our Turkish motorcycle insurance runs out in 10 days and we need to be back in Greece by then. We have several things planned to see and visit during that time.

 

 

 

Our first stop was a caravanserai that was built in 1228. It was the largest in Turkey. These were built every 40 km. (25 miles) along caravan routes. Forty km. is one day’s walk for a camel..

 

 

 

 

The inside had a large courtyard surrounded by rooms built against the outside walls and then this huge building at the back. No explanation of the use of these was available.

 

 

 

 

We stopped in Konya to see the Mevlana Museum and a demonstration of the Mevlana rites. It is Friday (the Muslim Holy Day) and prayer is being held at the mosque. The museum is the building to the left and our hotel to the right. Mevlana was the man who in the 1200’s started the religious ceremony known to westerners as the “Whirling Dervish”. We viewed his tomb and saw items from his time. But the public ceremony was only on Saturday night and we will be gone by then.

 

Lunch was a couple of Turkish “pizzas”. Very thin unleavened bread with sauce, meat and cheese spread on top. Long and narrow instead of round and served on a long board.

 

 

 

 

The next day we continued onward and through some mountains. The center of Turkey is a big, fertile plain. The north, between Istanbul and Ankara is mountainous as well as the southwest part of the country.

The van to the right had passed us about 20 minutes earlier cutting through traffic, tailgating and just being an ass. Many Turkish drivers pay little or no attention to speed limits, lane markings, or other safe driving points, but this guy was worse than all. Turkish drivers, particularly in cities, crowd and cut in to existing traffic. The traffic is thick and if you want to enter the stream you cannot wait for an opening. Put your fender in and the other guy will now have to give way or hit you. In the country the traffic is much lighter but it can be any kind of vehicle from a tractor to a semi truck. Some cars are the size of a Smart Car but don’t have nearly the power. They are slow and driving on the shoulder. Others are high-end SUV’s and are driving well over the speed limit. The van above was probably coming up behind a semi truck in the right lane, cut left in front of the second van and found a slow truck in front of him too close to stop. That’s the way he was driving when he passed us. Driving in Turkey is not inherently dangerous. They are used to all this that we found strange. They are aware of what is happening around their vehicle. They know how big their vehicle is and where it can fit. So if they line up 3 or 4 wide at a red light on a 2-lane road there is no problem. If they stick their fender into the line of stopped or slow cars the others will yield. At home in the USA driving like that would probably get you shot in a Road Rage incident.

The highways and main boulevards in town are in very good to excellent condition. The side streets and lanes in the old cities are narrow, rough, bricked, twisty and bad for a large touring bike. We got caught in them several times because there was no choice but to go forward when the main road entered a village.

Our next stop is at Hadrian’s Gate in Antalya on the south coast of Turkey. Hadrian was a Roman Emperor who built monuments all over the empire. We have walked on his wall in England, visited his palace in Rome and now trying to see his gate in the city wall. The gate is just under the word “Antalya” and our planned hotel is under the word “Stone”. The blue line is our route. We came in from the right, exited to the top left. The wall runs along the one-way road going south down the left center. After an hour of fighting traffic, brick roads, one-way roads, do-not-enter roads, pedestrian roads, double and triple parked trucks/cars, scooters/motorbikes running everywhere, we gave up and tried the Atalla Hotel, but no empty rooms. So we left town without ever seeing the gate itself.

Our next stop is much, much more relaxing.

The roads that run through the hills have lots of these little booths selling food and tea. They have seating areas and small pot-bellied stoves. There are also other booths that are selling in-season fruits and vegetables on the roadsides.

As we travel we stop and take a butt-break about every hour. Usually we stop at a gasoline station or cafe and have a soft drink or coffee. Because there are so few GoldWings in Turkey (they cost about USD $40-50 thousand) and that we are foreigners, we become an attraction ourselves.

 

 

 

We are going to the Saklikent Gorge National Park.

 

The gorge cuts into a bluff that is 300 m. (about 1,000’) high. Think of the letter T turned upside down. The crossbar is the bluff and the vertical is the gorge. At the entrance it is about 10 m. (33’) wide. Inside is a wide area containing an island with a cafe and then narrows for the hike onward.

Left is looking in, right is looking out.

The water is heavy with silt as if it is glacial runoff but there are no glaciers here.

We are staying at the resort at the entrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the entrance downstream there is tubing with a van to bring you back to the resort. Notice the female Muslim swim wear.

 

There were seating areas under the trees for lunch. Even though this is early October the resort was doing a good business. We rented a cabin and spent the night.

 

Another, even more famous, area is the Pamukkale Thermal National Park. These travertine pools are formed by the seepage of the mineral filled water.

Supposedly the water is over 36 Degrees C. (97 F.) but it was cool to our feet. The most picturesque pools, the Cleopatra Pools, were empty. They are in the upper left of the picture above and in the center at left.

Kathy walked to the top by herself. Since I broke several bones in my left foot when we wrecked our previous GoldWing in Italy, and they didn’t heal properly, it is very painful for me to walk barefooted. There is no padding between the major bones and the skin on the bottom of my foot. The only place I walk barefooted is to take a shower!

 

 

 

 

Another day and we are off to see history. We head due south from Pamukkale to Aphrodesias. We could have gone around the mountain in the distance by going either right or left. The main roads go both directions and are twice as long but I think it will be more fun to ride over the mountain.

About half way up is a small village. Thanks to the GPS we found our way through the steep, narrow and twisty streets. There is a YouTube video of this part of the ride over the mountain. We started out, and ended at, a about 200 m. (650’) in elevation and topped out at 1400 m (4,600’).

The top was covered with pine forests and we saw tiny cabins for wood cutters.

The views over the valleys were terrific.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farther down the back side were sheep pasture and olive groves. And many more curves and twists. We only met one vehicle on the entire ride.

This trip over the mountain was a very pleasant change from the divided 4-lane highways we have spent most of our time on.  The road is not in bad condition but is not on the high priority list for maintenance. The divided highways are in very good to excellent condition. The toll road (which we ride later, is super fine and fast). It is once one gets off onto the ancient lanes, paths and roads that it all goes to pieces.

 

 

 

Aphrodisias is a Roman city with a temple to Aphrodite, hence the modern name. It is also famous for the around 700 sarcophagi that have been found in the area. These all have been locally made during the second and early third century AD.

 

 

 

Many structures were excavated during the 1970’s. This one originally was 3 stories high along a 90 m. (200’) courtyard. The facade had relief carvings along the top two stories. Over 70 of the carvings were found where the building had collapsed and was excavated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there is a theatre seating thousands of  spectators. Kathy is in the emperor’s throne in the center front seat.

 

 

 

 

This is the Agora. Think “shopping center”. It had a pool 170 m. (560’) long down the center with shops along each side.

And prices were set out in a proclamation. A first class oxhide was 500 denari. Wages were set too. A lawyer got 250 to file a suit and 1000 for court time. Hundreds of these were all laid out, literally carved in stone, at the entrance.

 

Emperor Hadrian had the big bath house here built by his command. (That guy got around.) In this picture you can see some of the stacked brick pillars that held up the heated floor. Hot air was circulated under the floor to keep your feet warm in this room. Bathing was a public event and consisted of visiting several rooms running from warm to cool air and water before one was done.

 

 

Right is what’s left of Aphrodite’s temple.

Here is the old gal herself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The city was famous for the cult of Aphrodite and for the quality of the craftsmen who made the marble sculptures.

 

Another day of travel through rolling hills and farm lands will bring us to another, even older, city ruins.

It dates from the 16th century BC. It is mentioned in the Christian Bible.

We are going to Efesos.

 

 

But first a little side discussion. I haven’t mentioned Turkey’s cats. They are everywhere. In cities, in towns, in ruins, in restaurants, in everything. Nobody owns them. Nobody keeps them as pets. They are friendly and want to be petted and will beg for food. There are even some places where there are donation boxes set up so you can donate money to the feeding and care for the cats. Dogs are the same except there are not as many of them. Some of the males have a plastic ear tag showing they have been fixed.

Now, on to Efesos. This is the main street between the upper and lower parts of the city. It is paved in marble.

This mosaic floor fronted the row of shops on the left and was just off the main street which is to the right of the columns.

Some buildings were tall and elaborately carved.

 

 

 

 

 

And we must not forget the toilet. This was also a communal process, like bathing.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there is a theatre that seats thousands of spectators. This one is still in use. The stage and some of the seats have been refurbished.

 

 

A large building had been erected over a series of houses near the center of the city. This was an upscale subdivision as can been seen by the wall paintings and floor mosaics. A glass-floored walkway led us through and up over the excavations, which were ongoing.

A separate ticket was required for this but we had bought the 2’fer ticket not knowing what it all included. We’re glad we bought it.

 

 

One final stop at the souvenir shop with the “Truth in Advertising” 1st place award.

Onto the toll road and we are making a run for Greece.

 

 

The toll road is super fine and high speed. We ride it for about 250 km. (150 m.) before we exit. We ride up to the toll booth and there is no person to take our money. Not even a place for such a person to be. It is only electronic pay. We sit at the drop down crossbar and a lady in a vest comes over and pushes a button high up on the side of the booth marked “help”. A voice answers and she has a conversation and finally pushes another button and hands us a receipt-like paper with Turkish writing all over it. We take it and the crossbar raises and we go on.

That night we use Google to translate the paper and it says we have to go online and pay. I go to the indicated web site, fill out the form and it says they have no record of us. So I screen shot that message and put my phone away.

When crossing borders there are two stages to go through. One, exit the current country and, two, enter the next country. We are leaving Turkey and have passed several hundred semi trucks along the shoulder of the road, all lined up like a railroad train, waiting to cross the border. There is no car traffic but there is a row of a dozen or so booths across the road. We pull up to the booth on the left with the green light and give the guard our passports, our covid cards, our bike registration and insurance and show the Turkish government entry form we filled out a month ago. After several minutes he stamps our passports and sends us on to the next row of booths. We ride about 200 meters (200 yds.) and hand all this to the second guard. He gets upset. We have a highway toll we have not paid. I show him the screen shot, but he keeps pointing over his shoulder and says we have to go back and pay. We ask where and he points over his shoulder back where we came from. So we go back, the wrong way for traffic, and find a safe place to park. We start asking official-looking people where we should pay. Everyone points in a different direction. One person even sent us into the duty-free store to pay. Finally we find a window on the far side of the row of booths where a couple dozen truckers are standing around trying to get their papers stamped. Several are talking at the same time and most are just waiting in line. I get in line too. Kathy has been doing her own search for a payment office and soon joins me. She suggests (super smart lady that she is) trying the web page again. So she stays in line and I go aside to retry the highway department’s web page. Now it has heard of us and lets me pay with a credit card.

We now walk back to the bike, put on our gear on and head to the second row of booths again. We are now third out of five vehicles. The guard has a problem with vehicles one and two, which are together, and sends them back. They can’t turn around and must back out, meaning the whole line must back up so the two front vehicles can go back, the wrong way for traffic, and solve their problem.

We are now at the booth, again, and hand over all the same paperwork. After several minutes it is handed back to us and the crossbar is lifted and we go on.

A kilometer (a little over a half mile) and we are at the Greek guard station. We give the guard our passports, our covid cards, our registration and insurance and he stamps them and returns them. We advance 10 m. (30’) and show our covid cards to the medical personnel. They approve and take nasal swabs for a covid test. We then advance 10 m. (30’) and customs says “Welcome to Greece” and waves us on.

We spent at least an hour getting out of Turkey. But that was less time than it took to get into Turkey. And about 5 minutes getting into Greece. Again, Greece has some of the most pleasant, helpful border agents we’ve seen anywhere.

Now we are in Thessoloniki and it is pouring down rain. We are here for two days. It is Sunday, we can’t get laundry done until tomorrow and we are already on our second day on this set of underwear. But the rain is supposed to last for two days before turning to showers. So hiding out in a hotel may not be so bad.

Our next update should be from Athens. We are taking the scenic route and going to stop and see our friend Lefteris on the way. He is the GoldWinger that rescued us when we broke down in Bulgaria in 2008.