A Rainsoaked Adventure
by Fred Moore, January 2009
It’s Friday afternoon and we’ve decided we need a weekend away from Adana to recharge our batteries - HaHaHa. We head for Susanoglu and the Mediterranean Resort Hotel (3 star), it sits right on the beach. We have a suite overlooking the sand and the sea. We know there’s rain in the forecast but they aren’t always fully correct and we aren’t concerned about the weather because we simply want to relax and enjoy life.
We take the autobahn from Adana to the west until it terminates just beyond Tarsus. Then we’re on the two-lane highway headed for Erdemli and our hotel. We arrive at the hotel as the sky falls dark – it’s cloudy but we’ve seen little rain. One of the hotel staff comes running down the steps from the lobby to collect our bags – thanks. I’m not certain how he saw us because we parked on the side of the building but I’m glad he’s here to help. But then, with the median we have to drive well past the hotel and circle back to get here, so he could have seen us pull in.
We’re greeted warmly at the reception desk and I sign a card the clerk pushes toward me. We’re led to the elevator and deposited in suite 403. I thank the young man for his assistance and wave him off with a generous tip. The sitting room is overwhelmed with a massive L-shaped leather sofa; an oval coffee table, a twin bed and a credenza with a tiny refrigerator under it and a flat-screen TV a-top it. Behind the sofa is a large sliding double glass door/window overlooking the panorama of sand and sea. There’s a tiny curved balcony outside these doors that defies purpose; you can stand on it only if the door is open. This was obviously designed for summer use, NOT winter. Opposite and diagonal from the entry door is another glass door to a small balcony on the corner of the building that is capable of holding both of us, should we want to stand out on this cool windy evening. Just beyond the TV is a door to the bedroom and to the left within the room is a door to the bathroom. The bedroom is very nice with a half wall of closet and half wall of full-length mirror at the foot of the bed. There are two windows in the room at the side of the bed opposite the bathroom. Also at the foot of the bed is a cushion seat for your convenience. The bed has a headboard and two night stands on either side with night lights above each one.
We walk well beyond the 100 meter suggestion and find no kabob café or little stand even. We realize this is a tourist community for the most part and is only fully functional during the summer months when the population doubles or even triples. As we walk the sidewalks, I can’t help but notice how high they are and at each street how difficult they are to get up and down. It would hardly be possible for anyone suffering a handicap to be out on these sidewalks; the attempt at ramps are far too steep and with the rain, they’re extremely slippery and totally unsafe.
We walk for half an hour first away from the hotel on this side of the street and then we cross to walk down the other side back toward the hotel. Finding NO kabob places, we stop at a small supermarket and buy a few snack foods to satisfy our hunger – we know it’s not good but we do it anyway. Carol gets a couple bananas & a couple packets of nuts and we both get ayran and I get some, no don’t listen, chips. We could also get in the car and go to another village in one direction or the other and find dinner – we chose not to do that however.
We’ve leapt up and down enough ten-inch (25 CM) curbs and decide to return to the hotel. Once more we step down off the sidewalk into the street and dash across the highway to the median – we dash because the cars along here are whizzing through this city. I simply will never understand why drivers have to go so fast in a community setting like this! There’s extra risk this evening too because the road surface is wet and there’s water standing in large puddles everywhere.
Once back in our room we try to watch some TV and eat our purchases – I have to call down to the desk because the remote for the TV responds to NOTHING we do. It’s funny; we’ve been in hotels the world over and almost without exception the remotes NEVER function! Why is that? Anyway, the young man comes up, toys with the dastardly device only a moment and we have both picture and sound! OK, so I’m technology challenged – I’m sure the young man is amused but he leaves without comment.
We get caught up in some fairly mundane American import sitcoms and stay up far too late. Why did we sit through all of those you ask; curiosity mostly – you see we don’t have a TV and it’s curious to us what’s on occasionally. I always wonder how anyone can sit through so little programming and so much commercial chatter without going mad.
It’s morning, it’s raining, and the sea is raging even more forcefully than last night, if that’s possible. We dress and make our way down stairs for breakfast. This is nice; we’re sitting on the beach level with a full wall of glass to enjoy the full panorama of pool, beach and waterfront. There’s a small impediment to our clear view; a brick wall with a black wrought iron fence between the hotel pool and the beach making it difficult to truly see the waves wash up on the sand. We were considering a walk on the beach this morning but with the wind and light rain we’ll simply pass on that idea. Carol draws my attention to the beach - there’s a gentleman trying to fish out there! I have no earthly idea what he expects to catch as he casts several times into that foaming torrent of sea. With the rain, strong wind and sea spray, he looks totally out of place on the beach. I have to imagine he’s done this a time or two in the past and thinks nothing of it; he’s being whipped by his rain gear and watching him just reinforces our not going out there.
Our breakfast comes now – there’s no buffet here in the winter (there are few guests in the hotel this time of year also). We simply have a plate set down before us: there’s a boiled egg perched atop a small egg cup, a half tomato (cut in two), a small slice of cucumber. There’s a tiny salt-dish with a few olives, four packets of condiments (jam, jelly, honey and butter), white cheese, yellow cheese and a thin slice of the standard processed meat (something akin to bologna). We’re each brought a cup of tea and a glass of water. We’re also brought a large basket of bread (it has a linen liner that says, “Bread” in English). Once the waiter has gone, Carol and I re-distribute our breakfast. Carol gets my egg, the olives and my yellow cheese; I get her white cheese, the tiny slice of meat and her butter. Oh yea, she also gets my tea since I don’t drink tea or coffee any more.
We enjoy our leisurely breakfast and watch the intermittent rain and the raging waves. The water is obviously churning up the sand because some of the waves are brown. After our meal we ascend the stairs to our room and collect our camera and tote bag for today’s unchartered adventures. I want to fill-up with petrol this morning and try to find a historical library; I’ve seen the sign a number of times on our drives this way but have never turned to investigate the site.
In the car now, we start east on the highway in search of my library sign. We get to Narlikuyu and I decide to turn up into the hills to visit the Asthma Curing Cave. We’ve stopped here before but never for the cave visit and decide since it’s raining why not go underground. We park as close to the building as we can so we can dash under cover as quickly as possible to avoid getting too wet. A gentleman directs us to the cave entrance and we descend a dozen steps to the mouth of the cave. We’re immediately confronted with a spiral staircase in steel that drops some three or four levels below our feet; I descend maybe five steps, my glasses go foggy from the hot humid air rising from within and we jointly decide we’ll not descend further. The fog has nothing to with our decision nor does the heat, it’s the stairs!
I read in the literature that the stairs descend 65 to 70 feet below the surface. It also indicates the cave temperature is generally, between 55 to 60 degrees, while the humidity ranges between 85 and 98 percent. Legend has it that the cave brings some relief to asthma sufferers. I think the gentleman is a little disappointed that we don’t descend (we explain our knees won’t take the stairs) and he offers us tea in the café which we happily except. After tea we browse the tourist shop and Carol buys a tote bag. We’ve been here about thirty minutes and the rain is lighter now so we get to the car and drive back toward the main highway. We drive nearly back to Erdemli and we find NO library sign; I decide to turn back. I was certain the sign was closer than we’ve already driven but it appears it must be further east and I don’t want to drive any farther east. Not long after we head back west I pull into the Petrol Ofisi I’ve used a number of times before and fill-up for more interesting travel.
We’re not disappointed, not far up this windy rolling stretch of asphalt we see what appears to be a tomb off to our left and just up the road a tower off to our right. We drive the short distance to the tower on the right and park the car. We walk out toward the tower; there’s an official sign telling us this is Gomec Kulesi and unfortunately it’s not listed in my literature. As usual I’m a little frustrated with the lack of information available on a ruin we simply happen to visit. I believe anything that has stood the ages like this tower should at least be listed in the literature so we can gain more insight into the region in which we live.
I have the professional tourist guide book by Celal Taskiran and can’t find any reference to this tower or the obvious ruins surrounding its base. This book, “Silifke (Seleucia on Calycadnus) and Environs” is a very fine one for this area of Turkey. It addresses a multitude of sites that cover these hills from Silifke to Mersin and back! I’m certain there are many more scattered ruins among these that are not highlighted in the literature; Turkey simply abounds with historical monuments like this one that lose their significance over the ages and get no mention in ‘tourist’ literature.
We spend just a few minutes wandering around the tower and the surrounding ruins before getting back to the road. We’ve gotten pretty muddy and use the grass at the roadside and some rocks to scrap our shoes before getting back in the car. We contemplate the walk to the other ruin and decide we’ve gotten muddy enough today and pass on the opportunity. We turn around and head back to the coast road. Once back on the main highway we drive west to Silifke for lunch.
Carol has talked about buying some yarn on the drive here, so while we’re here we walk down one side of street and then up the other. There doesn’t seem to be a store with any yarn, we wonder if maybe it’s all in the old city; just then, Carol says, this store has yarn. We walk half way into the store and find the stairs (the yarn is up there) and ascend to look through their selection. Carol finds what she wants and some other things, we go back down to the check out and we’re off up the sidewalk looking for somewhere to have lunch.
Again, we feel as though we may be in the wrong place for eating as well, when Carol spots a little café and we go in. We’re directly across from the Guksu Hotel and forgive me; I forget to get a business card for this wonderful little place. We each have a bowl of soup and a glass of ayran. The soup is piping hot and very tasty and we pay less than $5 for lunch (you can never go wrong with a bowl of soup anywhere in Turkey). As we leave it begins to rain again but the car is just across the street from us so we run for it and then head toward Tasucu. We’ve decided we want to try and find the harbor where you can catch the ferry to Cyprus/Kybris.
We drive for only twenty minutes before coming to Tasucu and then we drive toward the city center looking for the harbor. In minutes we’re in a park and next to the water. I’ve seen a very interesting bronze sculpture and decide to park so we can get a photo. It’s a hand projected from the ground with a dove in its palm about to take flight. There’s a round collar at the base of the sculpture that is emblazoned with what appear to be olive branches and I interpret this to be a plea by the artist for peace in the world. I would love to know its origin and meaning.
Back on the harbor front now I notice three very large ferries moored together that look to be for human transport but we see no vehicle transporters. Then Carol says to me – look over there as she points over the top of the pleasure craft toward the opposite end of the harbor from where we now stand. We walk back to the car and drive off in the direction we believe to be the vehicle ferry landing.
In less than a block we come upon a sign indicating there’s an Ataturk House to the right; as I turn it’s right there in front of me. I’m taken aback by the appearance of the Ottoman era house – it’s covered in aluminum sliding! I think about that for a few minutes and decide, why not; Ataturk was a forward-looking progressive leader of his day. We’re not certain it’s open but Carol gets out to take a photo and returns to tell me it is. I park the car and we venture around the front into the entry door. It’s one Lira each to visit; I pay and the young woman at the desk takes us through the house. We begin by ascending the stairs to the upper floors. We’ve visited many Ataturk Houses throughout Turkey that were at one time used by him and they all have one thing in common, they're quite austere in their furnishings and décor. Ataturk was a man of tremendous intelligence, unparalleled persuasive leadership and a heartfelt dedication to his country. You would expect to see far more luxurious décor in his many residences, but opulence was not his style.
Back on the street now, we continue toward our original goal, finding the vehicle ferry harbor. In minutes we’re at a gate that indicates it’s custom-controlled and we decide it must be the place. We can see the very large ferry over the fence and buildings so decide we’re in the right place – mind you – we don’t know for certain, but it feels right. We don’t return the way we came; we want to find out where the road away from here actually comes out so IF we’re correct we can find our way back without going through the city. In minutes we’re back to the main road and have a landmark for future reference. There appears to be some sort of abandoned manufacturing plant here at the turn off. We get back on the highway and head back toward Silifke. Just outside of the city we notice a historic sign for Aya Thekla and do a u-turn to find out what might be there.
We’re very pleased we took the time to stop – I’m also able to purchase a more current printing of Celal Taskiran’s book. It’s raining far more now so we get back to the car and get on our way. We head back toward our hotel and decide while driving we will go to Narlikuyu for a seafood dinner. We go to Kerim Restaurant and have grilled leverek (sea bass) and side dishes (there’s more food than we can consume as always). We’re sitting inside today; usually when we come here we sit on the patio just above the water’s edge but the waves are raging even in this small protected cove today. Water is slamming the edge of the patio where we usually have lunch or dinner. The water is coming up the patio several yards each time the waves crash the concrete. We sit and enjoy our dinner and talk about our day; we’ve filled it to over flowing and simply marvel at all there is to see each time we venture out. We’ve learned that without a whole lot of effort one can learn new things everyday in this country. A drive to virtually any location will bring you in contact with a “yellow” historic sign or as most are now, brown sign, and you can turn to discover wonderful sites of our distant past.
We finish our dinner and settle our bill; we hurry to the car through the rain and head back to our hotel. Once back in our room we turn to the TV for more mindless escape but as usual I have to phone the front desk for assistance because the remote leaves me frustrated. The same young man appears to show me the thing works fine and he leaves thinking I must truly be daft. Ok, so I don’t know what he’s thinking but it’s obvious there’s nothing wrong with the control; it’s simply the old guy trying to use it! Again we’re fully engulfed in the mind numbing TV, the raging waves crashing on the sand and the wind and rain on the windows. After a few hours and due to all our adventures today we decide to retire for the evening.
Oh. I must have slept well, it’s already 7:00 and I’m just discovering the new day; of course there’s no sun to wake me so I’ve simply slept through morning. Carol stirs and I tell her the time and we get up and freshen-up for breakfast. We go down and take the same table as yesterday and get the same collection of food. There’s no tour group today and only a couple Jandarme having their tea. The rain isn’t serious but still very steady. We eat leisurely and talk about our day ahead. Once we’re finished we go to our room and pack all our things. I’ve decided to get back to Adana. We’ll not take the autobahn though -- I want to go the coast road all the way back.
Our bags are packed and in two trips I’ve got them down in the lobby; I pay for our weekend stay and we head out. We drive three and a half hours in the rain to get home. We make no stops but drive slowly and enjoy the morning. Once through Mersin, we decide to stop for lunch at Elem Lokantasi – a restaurant south of the Hilton Hotel in Adana on the road to Karatas. This is a wonderful way to top off out weekend get-away. We’ve learned a few new things and simply gotten out of Adana once more.
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Alexandre Vallaury - Architect Alexandre Vallaury was born into a Levantine family in İstanbul in 1850. Apart from the years he spent on architecture education in Paris, he lived in İstanbul for the rest of his life. more...
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