A CAPE BRETONER IN TURKEY

Rec­og­niz­ing that spe­cial place that makes you happy

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - Ar­lene La­hey

Ar­lene La­hey shares her Mid­dle East­ern ex­pe­ri­ence.

In my eight months in Turkey, I have come to re­al­ize that for me there are cer­tain places that seem to fit more than oth­ers.

While my time in South Korea was a valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence I al­ways felt like a vis­i­tor. Turkey is dif­fer­ent. That’s not to sug­gest that Turkey is my now per­ma­nent home. Rather, it’s to ac­knowl­edge the im­por­tance of look­ing for and, most im­por­tantly, rec­og­niz­ing when you’ve found a place that makes you happy. This feel­ing of con­tent­ment un­der­lies the sense of ad­ven­ture with which I am ex­plor­ing Turkey. Week­end ex­cur­sions to his­toric sites and trekking through the moun­tains help me to ap­pre­ci­ate Turkey’s di­ver­sity.

Travel in Turkey is easy. For the equiv­a­lent of about $30 Cana­dian re­turn, I trav­elled by bus to the Cap­pado­cia Re­gion of Turkey. This ap­prox­i­mately three-and-a-half-hour bus ride each way was re­mark­able for the cus­tomer ser­vice of­fered to pas­sen­gers.

At reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, an em­ployee of the bus line walked the aisle of­fer­ing us free drinks and snacks. Even the bud­get air car­rier on which I flew to Izmir re­cently, for ap­prox­i­mately $140 re­turn, of­fered pas­sen­gers non-al­co­holic bev­er­ages and a sand­wich. Think about that for a minute.

Oh, Cap­pado­cia: The Cap­pado­cia Re­gion of Cen­tral Turkey is an other-worldly land­scape. This an­cient and his­tor­i­cal re­gion, sculpted by ero­sion, is fa­mous for its strik­ing cone­shaped, honey-coloured rock for­ma­tions where cave dwellers once lived. The vil­lage of Göreme, where I stayed when I vis­ited in March, is part of the re­gion’s UNESCO World Her­itage Site. Just be­fore the en­trance to the vil­lage is the Göreme Open Air Mu­seum, a com­plex of rock-cut monas­ter­ies ad­ja­cent to each other, each with their own church dat­ing from the 10th to 12th cen­turies.

Each church is dec­o­rated in­side with colour­ful fres­cos de­pict­ing the life of Christ. Vis­i­tors are pro­hib­ited from pho­tograph­ing the fres­cos so as to pre­serve the still colour­ful yet del­i­cate im­ages. In ad­di­tion to vis­it­ing cave struc­tures, vis­i­tors to Göreme can choose to stay in ho­tels with rooms that are carved and shaped from these his­toric dwellings. In town, you can eat de­li­cious Turk­ish food in­clud­ing a Cap­pado­cia spe­cialty called testi ke­bab, a meat and/or veg­etable dish cooked in pot­tery which you then break open us­ing a tiny ham­mer. It goes well with wine from the re­gion.

Eph­e­sus: A UNESCO World Her­itage Site, Eph­e­sus al­lows vis­i­tors to walk through his­tory. The site is the lo­ca­tion of suc­ces­sive an­cient Greek and Ro­man set­tle­ments dat­ing from around 10th Cen­tury BC and was once one of the most im­por­tant cities of its time.

Lo­cated about three kilo­me­tres from the town of Selçuk, the en­trance to Eph­e­sus is within walk­ing dis­tance but the site is best seen with a guide who can drive you around. Close by is the House of the Vir­gin Mary, a Christian and Mus­lim shrine, where ac­cord­ing to leg­end Mary spent her last days. Dur­ing ex­ca­va­tion parts of a stone foun­da­tion dat­ing from 1st Cen­tury AD, about the same time Mary would have been alive, were dis­cov­ered.

Shall we hike? Hik­ing is an in­ex­pen­sive way to get out of the city and ex­plore ar­eas around Ankara and even fur­ther afield. Nu­mer­ous tour com­pa­nies of­fer hikes that range from six kilo­me­tres to 16 and cost from 50 to 100 Turk­ish Lira (ap­prox­i­mately $15 to $35 Cana­dian). Some of these hikes are geared to tourists and re­quire only a pair of com­fort­able shoes.

A good pair of hik­ing boots, wa­ter­proof pants, and pos­si­bly a walk­ing stick is needed as you will likely be jump­ing over brooks, climb­ing snow-cov­ered moun­tains, or care­fully zig-zag­ging down the moun­tain you just climbed, snow cov­ered or not.

For oth­ers, the ones I pre­fer, a good pair of hik­ing boots, wa­ter­proof pants, and pos­si­bly a walk­ing stick is needed as you will likely be jump­ing over brooks, climb­ing snow­cov­ered moun­tains, or care­fully zig-zag­ging down the moun­tain you just climbed, snow cov­ered or not.

One of my favourite hikes was in and around Tokatlı Canyon in Safran­bolu, an­other of Turkey’s UNESCO World Her­itage Sites, lo­cated in the west­ern Black Sea Area. Safran­bolu is fa­mous for its Ot­toman ar­chi­tec­ture and for Turk­ish de­light or locum. As is so much of this coun­try, it is a stun­ningly beau­ti­ful area.

Next up is an August trip to the east­ern Black Sea Re­gion, and my weekly hik­ing ex­cur­sions.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

This is the Cel­sus Li­brary at Eph­e­sus, Selçuk, built in 117 A.D.

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

This is a cave church at Göreme Open Air Mu­seum, Cap­pado­cia.

RIGHT: This is the scene look­ing down at the wooden walkway in Tokatlı Canyon, Safran­bolu.

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