Ferda’s cousin, Tülin, lives in Antakya, and Ferda had a few days off work so we made last minute plans to visit Adana and Hatay. This area is one of the most densely populated in Turkey. It is also ethnically, religiously, and linguistically diverse. Being part of the Fertile Crescent there are lots of old sites, and if you’re into Biblical history, well, there’s a lot for you, too. Oh, finally, some Turks visit Adana just for the food, and Hatay’s cuisine is heavily influenced by Syria, making it a bit different from what’s found in the rest of Turkey.
Reflecting on the weekend we had a rather diverse range of experiences in a short amount of time. Some sites we visited include a 3000-year-old early civilization site (at Atçana), a 900m Roman tunnel used to keep Antioch’s port from silting up (the Vespasianus Titus Tunnel at Seleucia Pieria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), a well-preserved Mimar Sinan (Ottoman era) kevrvansaray/hamam/castle/mosque complex in Payas, a 19th century Catholic Church in Antakya, and Turkey’s largest mosque, a modern building in Adana. Unfortunately Antakya’s new Archaeology Museum wasn’t open yet when we were there, and the Church of St. Peter was closed for restoration. We had a fantastic Adana kebab in Adana, Antakya’s famous künefe in Antakya, and some great meals with Tülin’s friends in Reyhanlı and Samandağ. Tülin’s friends in Samandağ speak Arabic at home and make their own rakı. Go figure.
Let’s see if I can find some photos. Adana’s Sabancı Merkez Mosque:
I’ve lost track of how times I’ve visited İstanbul, but there’s definitely still more to see. The goal of this quick weekend trip was to visit Ferda’s brother and his wife, Bektaş and Seda, before they moved to İzmir. I think they really convinced us to come by saying we’d go out for Thai food one day, something we can’t find in Antalya. However, that didn’t happen, the reason being they live so far from the center. I certainly understand the reluctance to drive two hours for a meal, but I don’t understand why anyone would want to live in İstanbul and yet be so far from any of the things that make the city an interesting place to be. Perhaps that’s why they’ve moved to İzmir.
I did get to spend a full day in the historic center before taking a 90-minute bus ride west to Bektaş and Seda’s house. I had taken an overnight bus to İstanbul and started the day with a ferry across the Bosporus to get from the Asian side to the European side.
Fatma’s been excited about climbing Geyiksivrisi for some time now. We had a date set a couple months ago, but something came up, and we cancelled. This week Barış and Tüğçe invited Fatma, Ferda, and me for dinner, and we made another plan for Geyiksivrisi. Tüğçe was super keen on camping so we decided to go up the night before and camp at Trebenna Antik Kenti. That ended up working really well.
We rented a car and picked up Tüğçe as she got off work Saturday afternoon. We were up at the Trebenna ruins in time to put our tents up and take a quick tour around the city before it got dark. There’s quite a nice view of the cliffs at Geyikbayırı from the outcrop where the ruined city sits. We had some good wine from Foça and a wonderful camp fire.
Kocain Cave is a nice, short excursion from Antalya — a short day trip if you do it by car like I did, but a bit ambitious to do in a day by bike. The route is pleasant with little traffic so it’d be a great route to choose for a bike tour heading north out of Antalya. The cave is a few kms off the paved road above the village of Ahırtaş. The dirt road was rough enough that we choose to walk most of it to get up to the cave itself.
Over four years ago Kurt and I ventured into the stunning mountains SW of Antalya, surprised to find such long climbs and beautiful views. It was a cold week in February. This year in a warm week in March I headed up the same road that Kurt and I had descended and spent a few days exploring the labyrinth of dirt roads in the steep mountains just SW of the city where I’ve spent most of the last four years. It’s still the only bicycle tour I’ve done this year, and I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t even have another one planned at this point.