Home
Welcome

Please select your city:


Username
Password
Remember
Click here to register
Forgot Password?
     
Move to Turkey
Relocation Companies
Where To Stay
Hotels, Aparts, Suites
Learn Turkish
Instructors, Courses

Member interviews
What about yours?
Lisa from Kadıköy
Sarah from Sisli
Claudia from Fenerbahce
Nilgün from Suadiye
Aaron from Çekmeköy

From Members' Pen
Members' columns
Be a Correspondent
A Weekend Escape to Edirne
Siirt in Istanbul
Lemon Cheesecake
A Visit to Aya Yorgi and Heybeliada
Angelique´s Latest Trips
Advertisement Advertise here/Buraya reklam verin

Forums
Moving to Turkey
Relocation
Law & Legal
Health
Money affairs
Vehicles (Cars, boats, motocycles etc)
Communications, electronics, media
Children / Les enfants
Pets
Turkish Language
Tourism / Travel / Sightseeing
Educational Topics


e-coupons

Free newsletter

Your Name

Your Email

We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

An Antakya Weekend

by Fred Moore - March 2009

We’ve planned a long weekend away, we’re driving to Antakya to re-discover the local sights. We’ve been there before but with a tour group and simply want to see the sights at our pace and in our own way. This will be our usual adventure, we have some idea what we want to see and will see what we find as we travel.

We use the autobahn from Adana traveling east and south to Iskenderun where the autobahn currently ends. After paying our toll, we continue our drive on toward Antakya. As we approach the Antakya turn-off, I decide to go on to Samandagi on the seaside. A Roman general in Alexander the Great’s army established this coastal city of 40,000 around 300 BC! My primary reason for wanting to visit is that Paul’s missionary travels from Asia Minor to Cyprus left from Seleucia Pieria very near this port city.

Samandagi is only 22 Km from Antakya so not really too far out of our way. As I drive toward it, however, it seems more distant. Once I arrive in the city (remember it’s Friday) the streets are abuzz with daily commerce and traffic is chaotic. The streets are torn-up and potholes are the rule not the exception. Pedestrians, horse carts, push carts, cars, trucks and vans dart in all directions; no one seems to pay the slightest attention to traffic rules but then this is Turkey and that’s the standard. I drive through the streets looking for signs (guidance to my destination) while dodging the mass of humanity and the traffic moving around us. I feel as though my head is on a 360 degree swivel as I look in all possible directions at once; looking for that sign that will direct me to my ultimate goal but no sign ever materializes. As I'm more fully engulfed by the city and the ever narrowing streets, I find myself tense, frustrated and un-amused with the lack of direction offered us.

Carol insists I continue through the city but my patience has worn too thin and I want out of this circus of traffic and chaos. As we’re debating the issue, I find I’ve come full circle (thank you, God) and head back toward Antakya without finding the waterfront or the harbor I was in search of. I continue to ask myself, “WHY doesn’t Turkey use signs to some sights but have dozens to others?” As we’re driving back toward Antakya, Carol spots a historic sign (yes, one we weren’t even looking for) indicating a monastery off this main road.

I make a U-turn and head back off the highway to investigate the site. This is the Monastery of St. Simeon the Younger from the 6th century. He was stylite or ‘pillar hermit’, an individual who spends his existence upon a column or pillar for his entire life. The literature tells us “The night and the greater part of the day he spent in prayer, but twice a day he addressed the pilgrims who thronged about the base of the column, giving them moral counsel, settling their disputes, healing their diseases.” It further describes him bowing at the waist until he is able to press his forehead to his feet – ouch, that pains me simply thinking about it.

We drive this winding narrow stretch of asphalt up the mountain. We pass through citrus and olive groves one after the other, ascending one hairpin turn then the next. Of course it would have to happen; here’s a huge dump truck coming down the road and right on this hairpin curve. I simply stop and let him make his turn; good that was fairly easy. Further on now, there’s what appears to be an observatory on a bluff off on a lane to our left, then off to the right we see what appears to be a dump (trash all over the hillside and some of it is on fire). How tragic this beautiful hillside is blighted by this dump! There’s a truck on site so someone is actually tending the place. We continue our climb and on the left come to a small stone quarry; the road continues its rolling and turning as we ascend higher on the mountain. I begin to wonder, as we climb and the road deteriorates, whether we’ll actually find anything at the end of our quest. Just then there’s another sign pointing us straight ahead. I find it rewarding we’ve met only one vehicle so far and initially so we’re on our own up here.

The weather is not wonderful today, the clouds have severely hampered our visibility and that’s quite unfortunate because what we can make out through the haze is awesome mountain landscape. There’s the Orontes River meandering through the valley far below us, barely visible, but there. When we were in Samandagi we were driving over the plain of the Orontes River Delta. Antakya is the major city on the Orontes plain. Ah, there, just off in the distance to our left we can see what appear to be ruins on the mountaintop. One more curve and another slight climb and were deposited at the foot of the ruin. To the left of our parking area is a slope maybe 1,500 or even 2,000 feet down; it’s gently terraced landscape for a couple hundred feet below us and then more hills and valleys all the way to the river on the valley floor.

We turn our attention to the rock wall immediate before us; we circle it and walk the path leading us to higher ground. As we consume more of the sight we find a very extensive ruin. The vest complex of rooms and halls is far larger then you might expect from your initial view. Our literature indicates the complex contained 3 churches within its walls. We enter the monastery building from what appears to be the main entry and through a couple rooms to stand before this huge pedestal. It’s easily 15 feet in height and must be the base of the pillar St. Simeon is to have lived upon. Adjacent to it opposite from our entry is a stone-carved stairway rising to meet its height. It’s obvious from the literature numerous earthquakes have taken a toll on this complex; the pillar is far shorter today than it would have been in the 6th century.

We walk around the interior of this complex; there are numerous rooms, many large, others smaller. There are capitals lying about in one main hall that are quite unusual to us; we’ve seen untold numbers of these ruins across Turkey but never to my recollection have we seen capitals carved in the design of baskets. Fifteen centuries have worn down these ruins all around us but even the aged carvings are beautiful; it’s easy to imagine how elaborate this monastery once was. I still have serious trouble getting my mind around these magnificent wonders being built on high mountain plateaus like this one. Were these exquisite carvings brought here from below or were the raw stones brought here and carved to order on site? How much manpower was enlisted to construct an edifice of this magnitude on this mountain peak? I can barely reach around this capital at my feet and as it rests up right it must be 2 feet high. There are several strewn about this space and each is resting where it dropped or was rolled ages ago.

As I continue to walk the individual halls and the perimeter of the complex, I imagine the throngs of pilgrims milling about awaiting the next insightful oration from the ‘gifted one’ astride the pillar. Listen, the crowd is a cacophony of language; Persian, Arabic, Greek and others. Imagine St. Simeon turns arms out stretched far above the crowd, all go silent as they await the great orator’s words of wisdom. At the same time I wonder who in their ‘right-mind’ would come from days or weeks away simply to listen to the ramblings of a demented hermit living on a column? It could only be a cult following, a figure of this type held in high regard – it had to have been another age indeed.

There are several metal grates throughout the ruin and it appears that there has to be a lower level. This one, for example, has a tree growing through it; obviously it hasn't been explored for some years. This tree must be as big around as my arm and from below it has grown several meters above the grate. I concentrate over the opening for a moment and I think I can finally see the bottom but I’m not completely certain. I know in other ruins we’ve visited we’ve descended into lower levels or basements, if you will. This site obviously has something under our feet but we’ll not get to see it.

Once around the back of the complex, Carol is looking off in the distance and through the clouds on the distant mountain top she points out several wind turbines; there must be a dozen or so turning ever so slowly over there. Do wish it were clear enough for a photo across this vast ruin to that opposite mountain; 6th century ruin meets 21st energy project on twin mountain peaks here in south central Turkey. We stand here surrounded by the distant past gazing at our future; where else but Turkey would we have such an experience? I’m immediately struck by how truly insignificant we as humans are as I stand frozen in time between these two vastly different technologies. This monastery ruin from the 6th century will be here to see the demise of that 21st century wind farm across the way; it’s mind boggling!

What a reward, the drive was well worth the time and we have to get on with our day. Just as we get back to our car another car pulls to a stop and two gentlemen emerge to walk through the sight. We greet them without receiving a response but wish them as much reward as we experienced walking through the ruin. They obviously weren’t Turkish! We get into our car and look this site up in our book; no luck, it’s not listed in this one as many other sites are not. We turn the car toward Antakya once more and in just a few minutes were heading into the city.

Antakya is a city of 180,000 people and is world famous for its Mosaic Museum (it contains a vast collection) as well as Christian beginnings. We’re driving in the city now and looking for Ataturk Street and as I continue to ramble about no signs we find NONE! OH, wait, I believe Carol has noticed a tiny little sign on the cross street here and we’re going in the wrong direction. I make a U-turn at the next roundabout and head back the other way. In just a few blocks we find the museum and note our hotel is right there around the circle. We pull up into the reservation alcove in front of the building and I go in to check-in.

We’re staying at the Buyuk Antakya Otel, right here in the center of everything. The Orontes River runs behind the hotel and the Mosaic Museum is less than half a block away. I leave our car with the doorman and he will park it for us. He takes our bags inside and escorts us to our room on the front side of the hotel. The bathroom is well appointed and looks NEW. The room is small and narrow, it has a balcony looking out over the street. We have two chairs and a table, a flat screen TV on the wall over the desk and a snack bar. It’s a nice room and looks very comfortable even though somewhat cramped. The door key (card) access is interesting; the card has only to be held up to the latch and it’s read electronically. One must insert the card into a switch box on the wall once in the room to engage the electricity. This is a great energy saving I’m sure but it does nothing for heat or cool while one is out of the room.

We tip our hotel porter and put our things away before going for a walk in the city. We leave the hotel through the riverside door and cross the river on a new pedestrian bridge. There’s a major construction project going on around this area of the river to enhance the city’s central walking area. Several billboards show what the river and bridges will look like once the project is completed; it will be very lovely. Immediately across the river we have to cross a street and we start down the walk looking for lunch. We hesitate in front of a chicken kebab house (Calikusu Doner Salonu) because their doner of chicken looks very tasty and we’re invited in; it’s a tiny little place and we’re directed up a very narrow staircase to the second floor. Up here are seven tables in a confined space and we take the table immediately at the top of the stairs. We order two chicken wraps and when they appear moments later we’re shocked at their size and their content. We discover as we eat them they are delicious but very heavy; this wrap includes the French fries and pickles! I tell Carol we’ve been given the full plate in the form of a sandwich. We’re not used to this, but the sandwich is good and the cost is minimal.

That was very filling and we need to walk it off, so we enter the many alleyways of the covered bazaar just across the pedestrian walk from this restaurant. There appear to be a multitude of passages here attributed to at least three different bazaars (I learn that later). We walk through one alley and on to the next and then another. We spend two hours simply taking it all in and we discover later we saw only about half of the complex that can be explored. These alleyways are your typical bazaar collection: clothes, shoes, hardware, copper shops, gold shops, kitchen shops, wood stove shops, pet shops (birds mostly), material/fabric shops and we even located a fish market down one alleyway. There are little kabob stands, tea stands and general dry goods shops throughout. It seems to us if you need it and can’t find it here, there’s something quite odd in your pursuit.

These shops are the precursor to the modern day mall but with far more character. Simply speaking with the proprietor of one of these shops gets you a friendly conversation and cordial invitation to come in and have tea or other refreshments; there’s no sales pitch and no pressure of any kind, it’s simply hospitality and genuine friendship. While walking around, Carol bought some fabric, a few wood serving spoons and an evil eye key chain for a gift. The atmosphere in one of these places is abuzz; in the states we talk about ‘personal space’, there’s no personal space in a bazaar, none! You’re pushed, you’re nudged, you’re even stepped on occasionally and no one pays any mind to it; it’s not meant to be rude nor offensive, it’s simply the way of the old bazaar.

Our feet and legs have had enough for a while, we head back to the hotel to regenerate for later. Back in the room now I turn on the TV, or try to, it’s another frustration, the remote does nothing! I give up and fall on the bed to relax; a little while later some employee stops by the room and needs to play with the key of the balcony door; I saw nothing wrong with it but he works for a few minutes and then leaves. Just before he walks out I say, wait, what’s with this TV? He steps to the desk and picks up the control and punches a few buttons, nothing, good, I don’t feel quite so bad. He turns his attention to the side of the device and pushes a button, then pushes the control buttons, there now, we have TV. I flip through twenty channels and as always find nothing; BBC World is one channel I could watch however it’s the only one that has no sound. The news is on but I won’t hear it. Again, I turn it off and drop back on the bed.

It’s dark now and we decide to go out for a walk and look for a place to have dinner. We find a little kebab house (Keko’nun Yeki Kebabci) and go in for a meal; we order ayran, soup and their kebab special. Our kebab is somewhat different from that we’re used to in Adana; it looks like an Adana Kebab but it’s darker in color and is a little tougher. The soup is great and the kebab tastes fine as well. The cook has come to the table (I believe he’s owner as well) and asks how we like everything and then wants to know where we’re from. We tell him Adana and he seems puzzled so we tell him America; he wishes us a hearty welcome and we talk for a few moments about our travels in his country. We spend about an hour eating, settle our bill and walk around the area some. It’s dark and most shops are closed or are closing so we head back to the hotel.

Morning comes with a gentle brightening of our room; it faces west so we don’t get the usual blast of sunshine. This morning we’re not going to see the sun anyway because it’s overcast. We freshen up and make our way down stairs for breakfast. The buffet is plentiful and well presented; Carol makes her selections and I make mine. We sit next the window overlooking the main street and enjoy a leisurely meal. We talk about what we’ll do today and wonder how the weather will be. We decide our first move will be to return to the covered bazaar to explore more of it. We return to our room and Carol gets the camera; she wants to take photos in the bazaar today. We leave the hotel on the riverside and cross on the pedestrian bridge. Once across the river we enter the bazaar just across the street. It’s only a little past 9 am so some of the shops aren’t open yet but there are plenty preparing to do so.

It has begun to rain and we’re glad we’ve chosen this morning’s walk under cover. The wind is blowing quite hard and the rain, though intermittent, is steady. As we walk through the alleyways, the rain and wind are getting stronger and even though we’re mostly covered we’re still getting a little wet. The fiberglass covering in some areas is broken and unattached from the framing above us; the wind is doing its best to tear what remains totally off. Oh, look out there goes a plastic lid from a cheese bin, what a wake-up call that presents as it slams into a hardware display of merchandise. Then the ceiling rises up and the rain pours through, back up, no move closer to the building, there stand still, yuck, this is really bad this morning. We dash across the alleyway and down another pathway stopping to look into a gold shop window. Carol admires a gold stone-filled evil eye pendant and we stop to inquire of its price. This gold shop (Salih Kuyumculuk) is quite small, a simple cube about six feet square (maybe two meters square). Fazil greets us as we enter his space and Carol points out what she wants to see. He gets several of them from the window and displays them on his counter. After just a few minutes Fazil asks if we would like to have tea. He indicates he has bag tea in the shop and too offers standard Turkish style tea that he can call out for; we opt for his, it’s just pouring rain like mad and we see no reason for him to get someone out in this!

He collects the tea bags and two plastic cups from under the counter and fills them at his water cooler. This cooler is both hot and cold water and in minutes we have two very nicely colored cups of tea. Carol looks at five or six different designs and we check the prices on several. The rain and wind continue to beat down on the bazaar covered roof and the sound of thunder manages to crash through the torrential downpour. Carol finally settles on one of the pendants and we pay Fazil and finish our tea. Fazil wraps the pendant in a tiny plastic box emblazoned with his shop name and then tucks it into a small fabric string tie bag. We thank him for both the tea and the pendant and we’re off down another passage.

As we continue to walk through the bazaar, the rain and wind seem to die down but then as quickly rises to a downpour once more. Carol takes several photos as we walk and she stops to get one at an intersection of alleyways when a gentleman behind her says to his friend, “just tourists taking pictures”. Carol turns to the guy and says, “yes, tourists but we live in Adana.” Her Turkish takes the guy by surprise and they have a few minutes of conversation about what we’re doing and how long we’ve been in Turkey. We all share a laugh about his comment and bid them all a good day. This is another great exchange of friendship in the middle of our morning.

We happen upon a restored caravan saray called Defne Han (should be spelled Daphne but isn’t) and decide to stop and take a look inside. There are a number of photos around the interior showing us what the place looked like before the restoration. A shopkeeper sees us looking at the photos and Carol taking photos and comes to talk with us. He tells us the Han is 800 years old, yes, I said 800! He points out some of the old and then the new; the restoration has been accomplished quite nicely and the shops that fill the place now keep it well maintained.

The wind has died down now and the rain is far lighter so we decide to make haste toward the hotel. We need to get off our feet for a little while before we venture out further. Back in the hotel we sit in the lobby and watch the pedestrians on sidewalk while we relax. People watching is a fascinating study and we do it everywhere. After a couple hours it appears the rain has stopped and we head out again for lunch. This time we set out in the newer part of the city out in front of the hotel. We walk for ten minutes maybe and Carol says, “look at that gigantic chicken doner, let’s have lunch here.” The place is called Café 2000 and as we walk in we are met and escorted to a rear dining room. Our waiter is Black and we wonder where he might be from; before we have the thought he says to us he’s from Somalia. He indicates he’s escaped the ruin of his country for Turkey.

We order a chicken doner plate and two ayran for lunch. It’s just minutes and we have two very large plates placed before us; oh my lands, this is a lot of food! The chicken is resting on a bed of rice and French fries. There’s a chopped lettuce, tomato, cabbage and onion salad to one side and paper-thin flat pita bread spread with hot sauce on the side. The chicken is crispy and wonderful. We talk about our afternoon and decide what to do next. Several patrons come and go as we enjoy this abundant lunch. I ask for the check and get a very pleasant surprise there as well; it’s very reasonable for all we’ve just consumed.

We leave and walk further up the street and then cross over to the other side. It’s spitting rain now again so we move a little more quickly to visit the Mosaic Museum just a block in front of us. We make it to the museum before getting very wet and just inside the door pay the entry fee (8 Lira each). NOTE: you may not enter with a tripod and you may not use flash in your photographs, plan accordingly. We’ve been here before on an official tour but today we get to spend as much time we care too. Immediately beyond the toll station is a guard who wants our tickets and then we’re free to move on. Further into the building on our left is the sarcophagus display room: DO NOT MISS THIS EXHIBIT! I can’t begin to do the exhibit justice in mere words. It’s known in archaeology circles as the Antakya Sarcophagus. This is a columnar sarcophagus with seventeen columns depicted. It’s approximately 8 and a half feet long, 4 feet wide and 7 and a half feet tall.

This sarcophagus is sculpted marble quarried in central Anatolia and the carving around the sides and ends must have taken YEARS! I had totally forgotten this awesome exhibit from our first visit here; the detail and stories depicted on this chest have no equal in my mind. I can’t tell you today how many of these we’ve seen over the years as we’ve traveled throughout this country but I can state unequivocally that NOT ONE has the grandeur of this one. The literature tells us the box dates from Hellenistic times. It also tells us it came to light only in 1993 as an apartment foundation was being excavated south of the city of Antakya. My heart skips a beat as I think of the heavy equipment being used in that excavation and how it could have damaged this exquisite piece of ancient history.

Also contained within this room are the artifacts extracted from this sarcophagus; a marvelous black amber bracelet, a gold jewel encrusted ring, several coins and the remains of two women and a man. We’ve spent considerable time admiring this one exhibit but now move into the first mosaic exhibit hall. The walls are covered in individual pieces and the hall has a central display of busts and other sculpted works. The next is a smaller hall full of mosaics and then a larger hall once more, this one with a large Roman soldier on a platform and many more mosaic pictures. Once through this third exhibit room you come to the central and most magnificent hall.

In this large hall a massive floor mosaic greets you, approximately 35 X 25 feet. At the far end of the room in the corner is a spiral staircase – you can ascend to a platform where you can fully grasp the majesty of the piece on the floor. The entire hall is filled with individual mosaics on the walls as well. Carol ascends the stairs to get photos of the floor mosaic – I remain below.

Just beyond this hall is a smaller one again with a few mosaic pieces and a number of sculptures. Beyond this exhibit room you are in another room filled with artifacts and then another small room to the right filled with display cases full of coins; gold, silver, bronze and copper depicting Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman era. An adjacent room with display cases exhibits Roman glass, pottery and other artifacts. This museum is noted for mosaics but the other exhibits are worth your time as well. We wend our way back through the halls we’ve just visited and come to the door to the courtyard. Out here it’s still wet but not raining at the moment; there are a number of mosaics and other artifacts on display that are worth a look. There is one especially nice mosaic out here with birds in it.

After we spend a couple of hours in the museum, we leave to find a taxi. We want to visit St Peter’s Grotto – it’s primarily a cave church. It’s purported to be and has been established as the first place the word ‘Christian’ was ever used. The stone facade on the cave was constructed by the crusaders, erected sometime between 1100 and 1250. This visit is another 8 Lira not including our taxi to and from the mountain. We’ve arrived just behind a group of tourists so the church is full as the tour guide explains the significance of the cave. Carol gets a few photos and we leave just a few minutes after we’ve come.

We descend the hill and reclaim our taxi and head back to the hotel. Just across the street from the hotel is the Edem Dondurma (ice cream) Café, a pastani (sweet) shop and we decide to have tea and some refreshment. I get lemon ice cream (wonderful) and Carol gets tiramisu (a chocolate-dusted square of pudding). We enjoy the relaxing atmosphere and talk about what we should do next. This is obviously the place to be; the people coming and going here are constant. We settle our bill and make our way across the street to our hotel.

We decide to relax for a while and simply enjoy our time away. The rain has cleared the air and the temperature is perfect. We go to our room and read; Carol reads her novel and I’m reading the book I bought about Antakya. It’s funny really, we have books about Turkey and we even have a book about Hatay but one can never have too many books on the history that surrounds us in this ancient land. I find a book I don’t have and purchase it; usually they add something to those I own and this one is no exception.

Darkness has blanketed the city and we decide it’s time for dinner. We talked earlier of going across the river to the Hatay Sultan Safrasi; it appears to be a very fine dining restaurant. It’s immediately across the river from the exit of the pedestrian bridge. We enter the building and have to step down a couple steps and are escorted to the kitchen counter to see the selections. After a few minutes we’re escorted back to a table; the place settings are all there, plates upside down with flatware and glasses ready for use. The table is covered tastefully with a cloth in a muted chartreuse, quite lovely. There’s a balcony above and in front of us that carries toward the front of the restaurant on our right as we enter; several families appear to be enjoying their meals up there.

We have soup, salad and main dishes; I have shish kebab (very good) and Carol has chicken sauté. The place is comfortable, friendly and extremely clean. We’ve put this on our to-do list when we return to Antakya. After an hour of good food, great conversation and a relaxing dinner we return to the hotel. I hit the TV control and we have sound on BBC World so we watch the news. Then we decide to go for a walk on the street that fronts the hotel. We walk several blocks north and then cross the street to return to the hotel. Many of the shops are open and several seem fully engaged in business; most of the businesses look very modern and the clothing shop windows are ultra modern displays. We’re always impressed by the window displays across Turkey in all the cities we visit; the creativity is marvelous. That was very relaxing and when we return to the room we retire for the evening; we’ve had a very full day.

It’s early morning but the room is full of the new day and we pack our bags for the trip home. I make two trips to the car with our things and have to wait for breakfast to open; the buffet is from 7 to 10 each morning, I’ve gotten Carol up too early. Since I’ve taken everything to the car we simply look at TV for a few minutes while we wait on breakfast. Down stairs now we collect our plates and fill up on the wonderful selections offered. We take a seat next to the window; it has rained in the night and is still drizzling to some extent. I have a plate of tomatoes and white cheese, I really like the white cheese for breakfast. On the table there’s granulated sugar so I get extra tomatoes because I love them with sugar. Carol takes a small spoon of nearly every selection but she’s far more adventurous than I am when it comes to food.

After a leisurely meal I go to the front desk and hand in my room card for the bill. The gentleman asks if all was well and I respond that it was very nice indeed. I pay 300 Lira (about $175) for the two night stay (4 star hotel) and we depart. As we find our way out of the city we make a note that we will return and we’ll stay in this same hotel again; the location is simply perfect. Again, I’m frustrated with the lack of signs; the only one familiar is Samandagi so we head that way knowing it will get us to the main highway headed home. As it turns out we’ve driven 20 kilometers when we could have probably only driven 12 IF a sign to Adana had been available to lead us out of Antakya.

We’re now on the highway headed north; the air is fresh and crystal clear with a little soft rain intermittently. We’re driving across the Orontes Delta; the landscape is multi-colors of green and the mountains to our left have clouds dancing around them. Thirty minutes now out of Antakya and we begin our climb up the mountain to Belen, a city hosting the ancient Syrian Gate, the mountain pass of ages past. As we ascend, the road turns gracefully through the lush green hills and on this turn we MUST stop for a photo. What an awesome view of the Orontes Plain below, not to mention the mountain peak just above us. The rays of the sun piercing the clouds over the plains below make an especially stunning panoramic view.

We continue to climb now; the road crisscrosses this mountain face and we’re confronted at every turn by one picturesque scene after another. As we make this next curve I have to stop once more; the sun is shining on the little village of Kiki above us and the clouds clinging to the mountain make a striking photograph. We’re in Belen now just over the crest of the peak and it’s beginning to rain again. There’s a sign for a caravan saray so we pull off onto a side street and drive up a short grade and there it is; oh darn, not open so we descend down the other side and connect with the main road again. I have to make a rest stop now and there’s a service station; I pull in and get out in the drizzle. When I open the door of the restroom to return to the car it’s pouring; it’s coming down in sheets and I’m at least fifty feet from the car! I wait a minute hoping it will past over quickly; it slows a little and I make a run for it. When I jump into the car Carol is smiling broadly and I have to ask if she thought that was funny; I certainly didn’t. We have a laugh and I pull back onto the highway.

We’re back near Iskenderun now and I decide rather than turn toward the autobahn I will take the coast road through the city. It’s raining a little now and the streets are flooded but the traffic is light and we haven’t come this way in a long time. As we continue our drive the rain subsides and the sky lightens up. We stop in Payas to see the castle that we visited some years ago; that’s a bust, the road is closed. It appears the city is rebuilding the road and making a parking area for tour buses and the like. We simply turn back to the highway and head home.

Look, just ahead; Carol is pointing out a historic sign with that autobahn sign over the road in front of us. We’re on the Issos Plain where Alexander the Great defeated Darius in the Battle of Issos in 301 BC. We turn left and head out this wet gravel road. Just over the railroad track there’s a historic sign with paragraphs about Issos; it’s all Turkish. The sign is in pretty bad shape from rust and neglect so half of it is unreadable anyway. We drive on and in minutes see the roadside on the left lined by a Roman Aqueduct. This is in a serious state of ruin but in its day it must have been magnificent running from here to the mountains in the background.

There’s a ruin on a hill toward the end of the aqueduct but today is NOT the day to explore it. The rain has made walking out across the field a little too uncertain – we’ll return here one Sunday morning when summer comes and rain is a distant memory. This is a great discovery though and will need to be explored.

We’ve had a wonderful weekend away and we’ve seen things we’ve seen before and things we’ve never seen. We’ve eaten too much and walked too much but have enjoyed it immensely. As usual, we have memories that will travel with us always.




Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world

Would you like to add your comment about this article? Click here!


Editor's Picks

Şile On the Asian shoreline of Bosphorus, just 70 km away from the city center, Şile’s widespread sandy beaches. more...

Summer and Child Health Pediatrician Beril Bayrak Bulucu’s article is titled “Summer and Child Health”. more...

Home Sweet Home Wondering how to change a house into “Home sweet home”? Here are some clues to help you settle in a foreign town. more...

Burhan Doğançay Burhan Dogançay is primarily known for a body of work that grew out of his fascination with urban walls. more...

Piyaz – Haricoat bean salad Zeyda would like to share with you her Haricot Bean Salad recipe. more...

What Gift to Take When… In summer number of wedding, engagement and circumcision ceremonies increase. What gift to take when... more...


Latest Articles
Puppet Festival in Ankara
Filmekimi 2018
Istanbul Design Biennial
Contemporary Istanbul
Istanbul Clarinet Festival
Bilkent Brass Festival
Ayvalık Choral Festival
25th Aspendos Festival
Bodrum Jazz Festival 2018
Summer Festival at Bachçe






 

Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya

Focus On
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world




Rhythm of Town

Events calendar
Valentine's Day
Istanbul Live
This Weekend in Istanbul
Ankara Live
This Weekend in Ankara
Social Clubs in Ankara
Restaurants and Cafes in Istanbul
Restaurants and Cafes in Ankara
Sightseeing in Istanbul
Sightseeing in Ankara
Various Discoveries
Best of...
Art and Culture in Istanbul
Art & Culture in Ankara
For Kids - Istanbul
For Kids - Ankara
Hobbies Istanbul
Hobbies Ankara
Sports
Biletix System
Films on cnbc-e


Turkeywide

Sustainable Living Film Festival
!f Istanbul Film Festival
25th Aspendos Festival
International Izmir Festival
Gümüşlük Festival
Bodrum Music Festival
Bodrum Jazz Festival 2018
Ayvalık Choral Festival
Filmekimi 2018
Turkish Ruins
Mount Ararat Trek
Seeing the Truth
XJAZZ Festival
Izmir European Jazz Festival
Filmmor 2017
The Flying Broom Festival
Gümüşlük Festival
Bodrum Music Festival
Bodrum Jazz Festival
Filmekimi 2017
In Other Cities
Baksı Museum
It´s Time to Take Pictures!!
Photo of the Month
Inside Out in Istanbul
Sand Sculpture Festival
Mandatory Health Insurance for Expats
Impossible Fairies - Out Now
Istanbul Contemporary Cuisine
Changes on Work Permit
New Year
Turkey's TOP 10s
Summer-house
Anzac Day
İzmir Wild Life Park
Antalya State Opera and Ballet - March
Izmir State Opera and Ballet - March
Registration of Canadians Abroad
News From The Expat Harem
Latest Amendments in Land Registry Law


Events Calendar

<< Oct 2018 >>
Su
Mo
Tu
We
Th
Fr
Sa
 1
 2
 3
 4
 5
 6
 7
 8
 9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31

Shopping
Shopping in Istanbul
Shopping in Ankara
Product showcase
Shopping corner

Weather

Istanbul

Ankara



Advertising/Reklam
Add "mymerhaba" to my favorites | make "mymerhaba" my homepage
About "mymerhaba"
| Thanks to | Contact Us | Links | FAQ
copyright "mymerhaba" All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
This site is best viewed with Internet Explorer 5 or greater with minimum 800*600 resolution

powered by IDserv
Website Security Test