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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....

Trip to Konya

by Fred Moore - October 2004

We're about to adventure on this long (Oct 9-11) weekend. Our good friends (Jim and Chelly) have invited us to tag along on their trip to Konya. This is the city made famous as the seat of Mevlana the founder of the sect of Whirling Dervish. It was also the capital of the Seljuk Turks for some 200 years. I'm told it's the fourth largest city in Turkey. Should you care to follow along on your map: look north and west of Adana to Pozanti, then west to Ulukisia, a little further west to Eregli, more to the west to Karapinar, then right smack into Konya.

Jim comes by to get us at 6:15 a.m., there's a little drizzle in the air; it hasn't rained here in five or six months so this is really nice. We ride with Jim back to his house to collect Chelly and we get underway. On our exit from the village, just off the base, we see one of the shops has been damaged by an accident right at their front door. The awning over the sidewalk has been nearly torn down by a car or truck driving through and taking out the canopy supports; it's quite a mess. We don't get far onto the main highway when Carol remembers she did not bring a scarf, a must for visiting mosques but we can buy one there when we arrive. I get out my camera bag to load my film and discover the camera battery is completely DEAD! This is not good; I never checked it before leaving! I will buy one of those too, when we arrive. Traffic is sparse at this hour and we drive through downtown Adana to connect with the autobahn. We can see the mountains off in the distance and they are snow capped and beautiful in the morning light as they are north and west and the sun is just now splashing them with our new day's bright morning; yes, the rain has already gone. Once on the autobahn we head north into the Taurus Mountains. There are a number of cotton fields along the highway and the migrants are already fully engaged in picking it, by hand. John Deere cotton pickers are in use here but still a great deal of the crop is handpicked.

What an incredible drive; we climbed for nearly an hour through hillsides that are in the reforestation program covered with new pines. As we wend our way more deeply into the mountains the view just grows more and more beautiful. The highway snakes through the valley alongside a river and on occasion we see the railroad track. Our first goal is to reach a little town called Pozanti; it's a small community in the mountains at the end of the currently completed autobahn. It actually occupies a fairly large valley opening in the mountains northwest of Adana. We stop there after about an hour's travel to stretch our legs and use the restrooms. The rest stop is a restaurant 'kafeterya'. You've traveled through this valley with us on another occasion as we traveled to Ankara by train. This is the same valley I described to some length as we rode the train to and from Ankara last spring. The air here is extremely cool and clean; the view is too awesome for me to do it justice with simple words. The bus stop is actually tucked into the mountainside. Chelly says this stop is to strengthen Jim's resolve for the next 19 miles of the trip. One must possess intestinal fortitude as they move on from here, not to mention the patience of Job.

Once we're refreshed and back on the road it gets much more challenging, we're no longer on the four lane expressway, but on a two lane asphalt mountain highway. Again we're following the valley floor and a much smaller creek bed, with little water flow. We now see the railroad bed only in snippets, as the tracks have moved much higher up the slopes, and well above us. Much of the time it's hidden in mountain tunnels. There are several train trestles along this route and a couple of them are well designed rock structures that complement the landscape around them. We have added views on this stretch of highway too, with the addition of autobahn construction underway along the route, (fortunately it doesn't impede our progress like the traffic does). The autobahn is being extended through this narrow valley. It makes for an interesting drive as the new construction is first on one side of us then on the other and there will be tunnels for the new highway where none currently exist. Without exaggeration, the most challenging part of this drive is the continuing climb and the truck traffic which brings our ride down to as little as ten miles per hour on some stretches. Passing is literally taking your life in your own hands! Mercifully this stretch of highway lasts only nineteen miles, but it seems far longer.

Now we've broken out of the mountains and begun to trek across a flatter, more forgiving terrain. The roadway continues as a two lane; but the traffic finds its tempo and the trucks, especially, can make much better time. It's not far before we make our turn west onto another two lane that crosses the central Anatolian plain. The sun has by now fully presented itself and the hillsides at our turn are golden grain stubble left from the recent harvest and reddish to gray earth. Chelly remarks of how the landscape color is tones of 'Milas', that is, the hillsides resemble carpet colors. This area is very agricultural and most predominantly grains. We've just come upon an ostrich farm, which is quite interesting; you see every Mosque in Turkey has at least one ostrich egg hanging in it. They claim it's to keep spiders out of the mosque. (I simply report what I'm told; I don't make it up!) I cannot confirm for you its effectiveness either. Not far now on the opposite side of the highway off on the not to distant hillside we see a massive chicken farm, eight buildings that must be 200 feet long. These are almost surely layer buildings. A short way further west we begin to see some small fields of cabbage, both green and purple. Also, along the roadway are a number of makeshift slanted ladder-looking display stands filled to overflowing with green cabbages the size of boulders! Some of the heads must be twenty four inches across and a foot thick! There's cabbage enough in one head for a family of five for weeks. The stands are so close together you have to wonder how any two make enough money to pay for the cost of producing these gigantic vegetables. Chelly talks of stopping to buy one; I can't tell how serious she really is. There is one massive amount of coleslaw along this highway! We're seeing a good number of flocks of sheep along this way as well, one we've just passed must have 100 sheep; they are being attended by two shepards on donkeys bringing up the rear. And there goes a four car commuter train going east parallel to our roadway.

The temperature on this high plain is far more pleasant than in our sea level home; it must easily be 10 to 15 degrees cooler up here. Our Turkish friends indicated we would need jackets or sweaters in Konya but we'll see when we arrive. The countryside has transformed itself from the reddish earth of the last hour to now looking very gray. The landscape appears as if it were completely blanketed in cement dust. It certainly hasn't done much to change the agriculture look of the fields that stretch out miles on either side of us now though. But then there is a great deal of irrigation taking place around us. There are literally miles of concrete aqua ducts stretching out across these plains. We're now moving through an area where sugar beets tend to predominate the fields. Actually, the beet fields are interspersed with the grain fields. Every six or eight miles we pass a weigh station with wagon after wagon of beets preparing for weighing and off-loading. It's quite interesting; the tractor and wagon are driven onto a platform that is hydraulically operated and it tilts both tractor and wagon to a point where the beets easily slip out of the wagons onto a conveyor system to be deposited on a gigantic pile of beets. Several of these stations have 15 or 20 operators waiting for their turn to off-load. Some tractors are pulling as many as three wagonloads at once. Off loading however can only be accomplished one unit at a time. As we travel further into this countryside, we see the harvesters in the fields gathering the beets. Most of this heavy equipment is co-op owned and moved from field to field as the harvest dictates.

Aside from vast fields of grain and sugar beets, there is little else to see on our drive along this road. There's the occasional village but even they are small and quickly escape our attention except for the architecture. The village buildings are constructed primarily of mud brick; we can see the making of the brick as we pass through the area. There are vast piles of grain straw that has been ground to use as a binder with mud or dung. Dung is used with the chaff to cover the mud brick building once they're constructed. This will act as insulation as it smoothes out the exterior of the facility, think of it as stucco. The roof structure of most of these homes on the plain is thatch covered with either mud or dung in combination with grain chaff. Poles are laid across the top of four walls in a tic-tac-toe pattern to act as a foundation and then straw is forked onto the latticework to a 6 or 8 inch thickness. The straw is then covered with mud, either made from earth or dung. Whole villages have the 'gray look' of cement but few buildings in these enclaves are cement. The roofing thatch sticks out all around the roof and is in full contrast with the gray color of the walls and roof.

It isn't far now and we have come upon Karapinar, a small community that is quite famous for a particular design of Turkish carpet. (We've got two on our living room floor.) Jim is very kind and we leave the main road and take the street to and through the center of this small town. Unfortunately this little diversion has done nothing for us; we see neither carpets nor any stores that seem to harbor them. It's nice to know that the place still exists though and is apparently thriving although not to any great extent. In reality, the carpets that adorn our living room are no longer made here, as most carpets of this design are no longer knotted anywhere in Turkey, (ours are 50 to 75 years old) let alone here in this little village. It's a shame how this master fine art is fading into the past. OK, that was quick, we're merging back onto the main road, we were about ten minutes driving time through town. In less than thirty minutes we're entering Konya, our designated destination. It's 11:15 so it has taken just five hours for our drive. We were in no hurry and the drive was very uneventful, thankfully.

This city was the capital of the Anatolian Seljuks. As I've indicated, their most famous resident was this Turkish poet/philosopher 'Mevlana' who wrote and lectured on "Love of Human Beings". Although born in Afghanistan, he lived most of his life here between 1213 and 1273. One of his famous quotes speaks to his religious compassion:

Whoever you may be, come
Even though you may be
An infidel, a pagan, or a fire-worshiper, come
Our Brotherhood is not one of despair
Even though you have broken
Your vows of repentance a hundred times, come.

He lectured that death was the day of 'rebirth' and fully believed his death would take him to his beloved, 'the God'. He implored his followers NOT to cry over his body and not to look to the ground but to the heavens, as he stated it, my grave will be there!

Once in Konya we drive to the city center, confident that our hotel will be found there. We're all looking out for the hotel (the Sifa) but continue to be distracted by historical sites and shopping areas with carpets hanging from shop roofs and windows. You must know by now carpet collecting is a 'disease' of which one cannot be cured. Each piece has a history and a personal geography attached to it; so often I say, "if only this masterpiece could talk", that however, will be a story for another time. Anyway, we've not found the hotel and decide to pull to the curb and phone our very good University Student friend who lives here. Hakan is the son of our carpet shop owner in Incirlik Village just off the base. He's studying here at Konya's Seljuk University to become an English/German teacher.

It isn't more than fifteen minutes before Hakan finds us parked at the edge of the street and he joins us in the van and directs us to our hotel. It's funny; he comes to us on his bicycle and simply locks it to a signpost on the sidewalk right where we are without a second consideration. The hotel is about six blocks away but he thinks nothing of leaving his bike there to show us the way. As we see in short order, carpets on one side of the street indeed distracted us, as we drove right past the hotel on the opposite side of the street. Hakan gets out and goes into the hotel; he gets them to come out to the curb to move a car so we can park the van in front of the building. (As I've indicated so many times in the past, parking anywhere in this country, in any city in this country, is a challenge.) As odd as it might seem, the hotel clerk has no problem making room for us to park the van at the curb right here in front of the hotel. Once we're in place we drop our bags in the lobby and walk down the street to lunch. Our rooms will not be ready for about an hour anyway because we've arrived too early for check in.

Hakan has found the hotel for us and reserved us two rooms (cost him $7 to do that). It's not a tourist hotel but plenty adequate for Turkish transplants like us. The location is great; many of the tourist attractions are within close walking distance. It's 110,000,000 Turkish Lira or about $75 for two nights and that includes Turkish breakfast. We're simply interested in clean sheets and a shower; anything more elaborate is simply overkill. We would much prefer to spend our money on other things, carpets as an example. HaHaHa. Since we've opted to do lunch, we walk not far down the street to a Tandur kebap place we've noticed as we drove by; this is a special roast of lamb that we've not eaten since we lived in Ankara so many years ago. The lunchroom is quite small, only five tables, but we are seated and in no time have our lunch. As it happens, the portions served are quite small and the meat is simply ok, so the portion size turns out ok too. The cost is a bit of a shock, far too much for lunch but when you don't know your location you simply take your chances. We do much better on meals as the weekend progresses.

We return to the hotel after lunch and our bags have already been deposited in our rooms. We go up to hang things in the wardrobe and make restroom visits and meet once again in the lobby with Hakan who will show us around 'his' city. We spend a good deal of the afternoon walking between one mosque and another as we visit the older mosques of the city in our immediate walking distance. The first mosque we visit is a very short walk from our hotel, The Aziziye, first built in 1676 and then restored in 1867. This Mosque is noted for its very unusual minarets; they are quite a design statement with the top portion of each minaret resembling an ornate birdcage. Next we walk four blocks to the Serafeddin Mosque built in the 13th century. Our final visit is to the Hadji Hasan Mosque built in 1409. All of these buildings have been restored at one time or another over these many years but remain fully engaged in the preaching of Islam. Visits to these historical buildings require only a desire to see some great ancient architecture and in some, beautiful carpets. Many of the age old mosques are still carpeted with a multitude of antique rugs from the region where the mosque is situated. We're not at all disappointed; the carpets are truly a feast for the eyes. Unfortunately, I could not photograph any of the carpets in the older mosques because the light was just not available and I did not carry a flash unit. Women are required to wear a head cover as well as shoulder cover when asked to do so and men should be in long paints. There are so many more of these throughout the city but it's getting late and we have many other things we wish to do.

We need to make our way back to the hotel but on the way we're momentary detained by the site of a church, Greek Orthodox we believe. Unfortunately, it is not available for our visit; it's only open a couple days a week for a short time and not on the weekend. Most curious! Anyway, we circle the block where it sits and head back to the hotel. Just around the corner though we realize we've come to the location where Hakan secured his bicycle three or four hours ago; still there unmolested, he stops to retrieve it. As we continue on, he walks his bike along with us. He's telling us now about his University and the fact it has 84,000 students. He further informs us that the campus is spread across the city in numerous locations. His immediate part of the campus is science, teacher education and religious instruction. He of course, as I mentioned, is in the educational college for English and German teachers. He's a junior and he is also telling us how one day a week he goes to classes for eight hours and another day he does nine! Ouch! When I was doing University I thought an hour and half class was painful. He fortunately is not in the same class for the whole time but eight or nine hours a day at school is still far too much for me to think about.

Now back at the hotel, we freshen up and rejoin Chelly who has stayed behind to get in a nap, seems she got little sleep the night before this trip. Jim and Chelly live in the village off base and there happen to be a very loud party near their home last night, they believe it was a wedding celebration, they can become very festive events and nightfall doesn't usually dissuade their partying at all. So, now with Chelly a part of our party again and Hakan's bike secured in front of the hotel we decide to take some time at the carpet shops in the immediate area. It's not hard to get involved in this endeavor, as we're approached on the street by a number of vendors who want us to visit their shop with promises of great deals and unique selections. Boy, if we heard that line once, we heard it a dozen times this evening. Hakan has offered to take us by this little building tucked in behind the others where carpet repairs are done. We have stairs to climb and we ascend them to the second floor, as we climb we begin to get wind of a most unpleasant odor. There's a carpet repairman boiling a large pot of water on a gas cylinder. The pot has a skein of wool and a rusty orange die boiling in it, as he tries to match a color in an old carpet he's fixing. We watch him dip out the wool a few times and test the color against the old rug lying in a heap beside the container. His challenge is great, and chances are he has been at this most all day. This building is small and the floor we've come up to has eight small rooms; these carpet repairmen are using only three. I notice in one room a young man is tearing through a tangle of wool yarn that he has just removed from under a workbench in one corner, this appears to be yarn from old carpets or kilims and it must be a meter thick. He's working to extricate a piece of burgundy yarn to use in the carpet repair he has in front of him. We've had a piece or two repaired over the years and these young fellows are masters of a dying trade. When a carpet is being knotted on a loom the knotting works up from the floor; new knots are simply added all across the loom as the carpet takes form. In this repair setting, the carpet is stretched over a wooden frame and if it's a hole being filled in, the repairman must work in that hole; he doesn't have the luxury of having a fully open path to manipulate the knot he has to tie. Suffice it to say; I'll not take their job anytime soon nor will I belittle what they accomplish each day in this little room. Hakan has specifically brought us here to meet a friend of his but the shop is locked up. It certainly was not a wasted visit however; meeting with these repairmen is a great lesson. We bid them a good day and descend the stairs to look into other shops on the ground floor.

Incredibly we find a 'sample' carpet tacked to the wall of one shop downstairs; this is significant because what I'm talking about here is a complete carpet with an incomplete design. Think of it in terms of an embroidery sampler, made on a specific regional theme to demonstrate a family's carpet knotting style; these pieces were hand crafted by the family to show a visiting dealer what their carpet's borders and central designs would look like. We were told during our last stay in Turkey that these pieces were showing up on the market because the youth of this country are no longer interested in producing carpets, they are moving out of the country sides and taking 21st century jobs. The craft and tremendous art of carpet knotting is going commercial and moving east into the 'Stans', Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and so on. The types of carpets we're seeing today will be relics of a dead past in twenty to twenty five years! A carpet dealer across the hall from this shop has become interested in our knowledge of carpets. He informs us he can get his hands on a number of these 'sample' carpets, I'm very skeptical of his claim but assure him we would be very keen to see any he might find. He tells us to come back in an hour or so, Hakan goes him one better and takes out his cell phone to load the carpet shop number into it. He also gives his number to the shop's owner. We decide it's time to move on, however as we're leaving this shop the gentleman Hakan wanted us to see has appeared, so up the stairs we head once more. He unlocks his shop and we step inside. This shop may be twelve by twenty feet square, but he has some really nice pieces, including one very lovely old sample carpet about 14 by 26 inches. He orders us a round of tea and I begin to remove a stack of small carpets from atop a chest. As I pull them off the stack I make a new stack on the floor in the middle of the shop. When I'm through I have a stack of small rugs nearly a meter high. There were a number of beautiful carpets in the stack but we resisted temptation and only a couple truly drew me to them. Again, as I usually do, I thanked the man for letting me turn his shop upside down and we paid him for the one we chose and departed.

Word has gotten out that we are prowling in the area and we're buying carpets, seems everyone has better carpets and better prices than the shops we've just visited! We'd checked out only a few shops and we'd seen a great many carpets of interest, pieces we would be looking at again before the weekend was out. Now we've decided to transition from carpets to dinner. Directly across the four lane divided street in front of the hotel is a restaurant with the same name as the hotel. I'm thinking we're dealing with a name that is related to the section of the city we're in but I cannot attest to that. The food is better than lunch and the price is better too. Once we've completed our meal, we visit a few more carpet shops however because we're tired after the trip and from walking the city checking out the historical sites, we visited only a few. We wind up in a shop called 'Natural Hali', a small second floor carpet store with some beautiful old pieces with a shop owner who is not pushy, nor demanding. We're very comfortable here but the evening must end and we decided to return to our hotel. We'll start fresh in the morning. We go to our room and simply crash.

It's a new day, we made arrangements last evening to meet Hakan at the hotel for breakfast but I simply cannot last until 9. I had gotten up at 5 as I usually do at home and I went for a walk in the city. It's curious, as I was leaving the hotel for a walk, I stepped out onto the sidewalk and at once all the streetlights went out. I lifted my foot back into the hotel but to no avail, the lights simply remained dark (hee, hee)! It did not deter my adventure however; I walked for several blocks in four directions from the hotel. The first thing I noticed as I looked up and to the east (the direction I was walking) was the crescent moon and star just below it, in the sky above the large mosque a half a block down the street from the hotel. I note that only as something to see because the Turkish Flag is a red field with a single bright white crescent moon and star. I've always imagined that to be the inspiration for the current Turkish Flag. On my entire walk, I found only one older gentleman preparing for the day by getting his products out onto the sidewalk in front of his shop for sale. I remember too, today is Sunday and few people would be starting early today. The only other things open were a couple of taxi stands. Another thing I noticed is a good number of bundles of newspapers in font of several shops awaiting the shopkeepers; a formal sign the day was already underway for so many other people who work in the background and go unnoticed. I met only a few souls making their way to or from wherever and saw just a handful of vehicles plying the streets. The call to prayer (a five-times-a-day occurrence) had already taken place so the sound of the morning was nothing but the light breeze in the urban landscape; only a plastic bottle tumbles across the pavement disturbing the morning tranquility. As I walked in the dark, I was awed by the light of the moon, as it glistened on the years-worn brick that made up the sidewalk. The air was cool and, as compared to Incirlik, very pleasant for a walk at this hour of the morning; I was out for about an hour.

Not long after my return to the room, Carol got up to prepare for the day ahead. While she was about her task I sit making notes for this article. I looked around the room; there's a wardrobe, a small wall mounted TV over it, a desk with chair and a mirror attached to it, our two twin beds and a nightstand between them. The wardrobe doors didn't function in unison so one banged the other as it closed but it did fully close. On the wall above the nightstand was a semicircular light fixture with a glass facing, a bulb and a drawstring; in my mind it was mounted upside down but no matter, it didn't function anyway. On the stand was a phone, I didn't check for it's operational capability. I opened the drawer to the stand (I don't know why) and there was no Gideon Bible, HaHaHa. Our bathroom was interesting, about 5 feet square with sink, commode and shower. The shower was in the corner; it had two curtains forming a square with the corner of the room. The shower itself was more of a drizzle than a spray but certainly adequate, it got the job done. Carol and I headed to breakfast; it was set from 7 until 10. We were there at 7:15 as we gave the hotel folks time to get ready; we know enough to know that 7 does not necessarily mean 7, rarely is anything early and sometimes 7 means 7:30. One learns to 'go with the flow'; flexibility is key to stress-free living here. I had no idea what to expect, only in general terms, so I had no camera as we got into the elevator to the fifth floor. Breakfast was in the penthouse with a good view of the cityscape. I use the adjective 'good' because unfortunately Konya heats their buildings with soft coal and the pollution level this morning is fairly high. This will be changing as gas lines are being installed across the city and in a year or so gas will heat the city decreasing the pollution a great deal. We can see pretty well in our immediate neighborhood but as our eyes move up toward the horizon the hillsides to the west of the city are in a haze. What a shame that is because it's quite beautiful with the sun just making its appearance through the clouds.

Breakfast is the standard Turkish fare on an 'L' shaped table arrangement in one corner of the room. The juices are at the head of the layout, glassware next (glasses and cups) for tea or coffee, a dish of sugar and one of instant 'Nescafe' coffee, an urn with hot water and tea, then the plates. Next are the cucumbers and tomatoes both sliced, along with a number of varieties of olives. Also, there's the normal white (feta) cheese, a dish of yogurt, some thinly sliced salami that looks a lot like two inch diameter bologna and bread. You can also get boiled eggs, if you so desire. Interspersed with these things are butter, honey and jelly packets. This may sound a little odd to you but we do extremely well with this layout. The instant coffee is quite tolerable if you 'must' have coffee, as I do. I drink the tea as well, but not as much I did in the past two stays in Turkey, it tends to give raise to more migraines for me. I get enough of those without helping myself to them.

I'm sitting here looking over Carol's shoulder at a hazy hillside in the not too distant cityscape. It appears to be brown velvet; it's smooth and barren all the way to the top. Contrasted with the multitude of rooftops at all levels, making a jagged view to the hillside. This whole area is filled with hotels; we can see at least six from where we sit. The morning is cool and so is this penthouse room and the Turks have decided to turn the heat on. I'm sitting here in my short sleeves and it's great. Most of the hotel guests are in heavy sweaters and light coats. There is a TV sitting across from us and it has the equivalent of MTV playing; it's called 'Top 20 Hits'. There are a couple very beautiful ladies on these video clips; the music is quite traditional however and it's not all that great sounding at this hour of the morning. I have a music challenge though and to me there are only two kinds of music, good noise and bad noise; some of this is pretty bad noise. I do have a favorite Turkish artist though and her music is quite good.

We went to bed last night about 9 p.m. after a very full day; we must have walked a couple miles just within the vicinity of our hotel. Today we plan to repeat that performance and do a few more sites and a few more carpet shops. It's funny, I'm not all that organized this trip; I sit here writing on a Turkish language tourist brochure because I left my note pad locked up in the van down at the curb. I don't wish to bother Jim and Chelly about it though so this brochure works fine. When we finish our breakfast Carol and I decided to go for a walk, as we're plenty early for our 9 o'clock breakfast rendezvous we set up last evening. We simply make a square mostly around our hotel and find that very little is open even now, but then it's Sunday as I said and most things won't open before ten. We do discover that there are far more hotels than we could even see from the penthouse. It's obvious this part of Konya gets a lot of tourist business. We make our way back to our hotel and meet Jim and Chelly in the penthouse for breakfast; since we've already done breakfast we simply have tea and wait on Hakan to make an appearance. We don't wait long. Once Hakan joins us, he too has breakfast. We take our time and enjoy one another's company and talk about what we plan to do with the day before us. We decide first we'll do the Mevlana Museum. Carol and I have not been to Konya in 20 years and we visited the museum then but don't remember a whole lot except the exquisite antique carpets.

After we've finished breakfast we cross the street to the carpet shop we thought the most of last evening. We do the obligatory greeting as we enter the shop on the second floor; we told these gentlemen last night we would surely return. They have several pieces we're very keen to see a second time. We were looking at their selection in the late evening and it's quite difficult to see the true color and value of a piece in artificial light; we much prefer to see our carpets in direct sunlight. Once we have tea, the rugs we've shown some interest in are collected and carried to the roof for viewing in the sun; that's simply up one more level. The morning sun is full and all of these pieces are radiant, Carol and I make our cut and we'll take the most unusual central Anatolian carpet we've seen in twenty years. We're fairly confident it's a Guney, even though our dealer says he's unsure. Jim and Chelly are vacillating over two other beautiful pieces, one carpet and one kilim, both with some degree of age. This shop has some exquisite older carpets; true masterpieces. I've photographed this collection on the roof, as they are not something we will see a second time in our life. We've been into and out of countless carpet shops throughout Turkey in the past twenty years and we've learned the hard way; if you see a piece you appreciate and a price you can meet, take the piece now, because a second opportunity rarely presents itself. Our buys are made and folded for us; we thank them and take the pieces to the van.

The morning has slipped by some now and we walk down the block to the pivotal Konya attraction, the Mevlana museum and Hakan gets us in at student rates using his university status. We enter the courtyard and it's jammed! There are tour groups from France and Spain along with hundreds of Turks. This is considered a pilgrimage for many Turks, so getting here once in a lifetime is very important to them. Once in the courtyard, Hakan directs us to the entrance to the main building where we are made to cover our shoes with some plastic bag type thing. Carol and Chelly are trying to enter carrying their shoes but they are turned away and told to get these plastic bags on their shoes. There is a complete gaggle trying to enter all at once as if the entry doors will somehow balloon to allow twenty people through simultaneously. It never ceases to amaze me how Turks queue up to get through any entrance; single file is an anomaly if you find it. The hall just inside is quite large, so once we've made it through the main door my comfort level returns, I get back my personal space. Remember, most of what we're viewing now is from the 13th century. There are a great many artifacts for our eyes to consume, first on one side of the hall then the other. The hall is probably twenty feet across here and maybe a hundred feet deep. On our right side are primarily draped coffins of notables of the period all arranged on a stage that goes the full length of the hall, a number of them women. On our left are display cases filled with clothing, books and adornments of the Dervish. As we move deeper into the building and just before we have to make a turn to the left, on the right is the centerpiece of the entire collection; this is the space given to honor 'Mevlana' and his son the founders of the sect of Whirling Dervish.

As we make the left we are deposited in a larger square hall that again houses numerous display cases. If you tilt your head and look straight up there is a vaulted dome ceiling high overhead with gold letter writings from the Koran; the artistry of the ceiling is just awesome for lack of a better term. We too are confronted with a number of alcoves displaying antique carpets from the period; these pieces are magnificent! Once we make our way around this hall we move into the next to see more display cases holding a number of priceless poetic manuscripts, some written by the poet/philosopher in his own hand. Along a back wall are a number of framed, glass covered silk carpets and one kilim. Needless to say this museum was well worth our time. After getting through all of these exhibits we depart this building and cross the courtyard to a second containing a number of other smaller less spectacular displays and dioramas. This building is much smaller and we simply enter a corridor along an outside wall and traverse the length of the facility making one right angle turn. On our right, the full length of the corridor, it's basically a gallery; and today we're confronted with a display of Konya art pottery. Carol is quite taken with the designs (most are taken from antique carpets) and she buys a piece as a souvenir. It's the size of a salad plate slightly bowl shaped and it's hand painted in greens, blues and reddish oranges.

Once we're clear of the gallery we're again in the courtyard and we make our way to the exit. We come out onto a side street as opposed to the main street where we entered. We walk toward the square not far from the museum entrance and start down another side street where we can see all matter of commerce displayed in front of the numerous shops. Much more of the city is open for business now. One of the shops is a very large candy store, Turkish delight by the kilo. Carol and Chelly both make the owner very happy with their bulk purchases. It's near lunchtime now and at the end of the street we find a very inviting restaurant and in we march. The place is fairly crowded which is a good sign of the food we're about to order. Chelly and I are having some challenges with stairs by now; we've climbed up and down a great deal of them since we've arrived here. The waiter who first greets us wants us to go upstairs, but we respectfully decline. The only alternative tables are against the window and in the direct sun, but we simple do not want to climb any more stairs, so we start for those tables. Before we actually move our feet, a single gentleman sitting at a table for six is urged to relocate. This is typical Turkish hospitality, we're truly grateful but also feeling bad for displacing this guy. It appears he is not upset at all and we all thank him in our finest possible Turkish and we sit. We order lunch and are presented with the best meal we've eaten anywhere in a good while. When we request the bill at the meal's end we are further delighted by the cost; we had just consumed the best meal ever (not to mention plenty of food) and for half the cost of our lunch the day before.

Fortified with an excellent meal we head back to the hotel to get the van. This afternoon Hakan is going to introduce us to his university campus and his favorite tea garden in the hills above the city. While milling around the van before we leave, a number of cars have passed on the street fully decorated. Today is Sunday; it's a big wedding day in Turkey. The groom's car is generally adorned with ribbon steamers, some form of material lace, and flowers, some artificial, others very real. These cars can be very elaborate for those who wish to demonstrate or flaunt their wealth. We see the whole spectrum of income today, from the affordable Turkish Fiat clone to the German Mercedes.

We've rearranged our purchases in the rear of the van so we can bring up the third seat back; we need to make it more comfortable for all of us to sit because Hakan will ride navigator for the afternoon. Jim eases us out into the traffic flow and we follow Hakan's direction across the city. It isn't 20 minutes before we arrive at the campus. Our trip has taken us through a very affluent neighborhood. There's even one gated community of single family houses that would blend seamlessly with homes in any American subdivision; I'm amazed to see this style of architecture here in Turkey. Hakan has explained this area as a wealthy district of Konya and it shows. Jim is making the turn off the street and we're entering Hakan's specific campus compound. We park in one of the few spaces available; obviously driving to campus is reserved for a small number of individuals. I didn't think to ask but with only maybe 20 slots, I say these are probably faculty parking only and today is not a class day. Hakan tells us this campus dates from the seventies, yes, only thirty years, not centuries. We walk through a central courtyard and reach the building where Hakan takes his studies. He says the door is probably locked but reaches for it anyway and it's not, so we enter to get a better look. The facility looks its age, it appears recently painted but too, it has a tired feel. Even with large windows and translucent glass doors the corridor, which stretches the width of the building isn't awash with life. The walls are quite barren and the decorator's choice of color transports me back some thirty years to my first military barracks on the island of Okinawa, Japan. Hakan points out the cafeteria, the copier room and tells us his classes are on the second floor, we do not go up stairs. Through a window he points out the school of religion, I too didn't think to get a clarification on this so can't tell you what kind of religious training is provided there, I simply assume Islam.

Back out the door we entered, Hakan points to another building (bright bold blue, with yellow, red and green accents) facing the courtyard; it's identified as the snack bar. Jim and Chelly have picked up some horse chestnuts from the courtyard trees; they're lying all over the area. They have that bright beautiful shine of freshly husked chestnuts. Hakan cautions us against eating them; I certainly wouldn't anyway, but he tells us they're not the ones roasted by street vendors during the New Year holidays. I find his comment fascinating because they certainly look identical to me, I didn't know there were two varieties of the nut. Carol will eat them during the holidays when the meat of the nut is transformed into a very sweet, honey soaked, foil wrapped delight. After tasting one I've decided to pass in the future; I think they're simply disgusting. I have to be very careful here though because the Turks will offer them as a gracious gesture of hospitality come their holiday season, they're a traditional holiday season gift.

OK, we're back on the road headed for Hakan's favorite teahouse and garden. As soon as we leave the edge of the city we begin to climb the gentle slope of a hill, in short order we've reached the top and there are several tea gardens available as well as a small parking area. Again, commercial planning inherently ignores the reality of parking. There was a time in the not too distant past when cars were much less affordable and parking was not a necessary consideration; however that is no longer the case. Anyway, we park the van at the opposite end of the hilltop from where we entered and walk back to the entrance area where Hakan is leading. There are a good number of cars parked along this very narrow street beside these teahouses. We pass by a couple of 'wedding' cars, one of these, a Mercedes with a massive double decked flower arrangement (it gives the appearance of a wedding cake) astride the roof! This car is also adorned on the hood and trunk lid with other large flower arrangements. We're all taken aback by this astounding display of live flowers on a car roof and wonder how in the world did they drive this car anywhere with this massive arrangement atop it? The flowers did not appear torn up at all. The other cars we noticed in comparison were very modestly decorated. On the back window of each car are two paper lace doilies with the bride and groom's initial pasted on them in brightly colored ribbon, both doilies are just slightly overlapped. Needless to say even the lesser ornate trappings of flower and lace are a celebration of 'their special day'.

Hakan has picked a winner; aside from a very smoky fire in the valley below us with the smoke drifting our way, the view is breathtaking. The place is jammed with celebrants. Some are here as we are to simply enjoy the beautiful cityscape, others are a part of one wedding party or another, teenagers are here with dates and older couples are sitting about the area, all here to bask in the ambiance of the location. What a wonderful afternoon treat this is for us. The company is great, the tea is excellent, and the view unparalleled. We spend about an hour here and we're continually seeing a change in occupants; folks come get their refreshment and enjoy the time together, but then quickly move along to allow others the same privilege. In like manner, we finish our drinks and decide to make room for those still trying to get the first view of the late afternoon.

Refreshed and truly awed by this hilltop paradise we leisurely make our way back to the van and head back into the city. Hakan has another little place he'd like for us to visit since we're all discussing dinner. This little outdoor café is not far from the university and Hakan and his friends come here to 'hang-out'. It's very much like a delivery pizza place in the States; the only seating appears to be outside in front of the waiting area and kitchen. This pizza, unlike the round we're used to, comes in narrow two to three inch wide pieces and is actually pita bread in meter-long strips. We have one piece topped in only cheese, one with meat and cheese and a third with only meat. It's very tasty and if we lived in Konya we'd certainly return to this place. Hakan says it's cost effective for the university students. We notice though there are many families in attendance this afternoon. Carol and Chelly are commenting on a table with three generations, Grandmother, daughter and granddaughter. There seems to be as much carryout as there is being eaten here on the property.

On and off during this whole meal Hakan has been trying to contact his roommates on his cell phone. He has invited us to come by his apartment to see where he lives and to meet with his fellow students. We look forward to meeting his roommates because Hakan is a very respectful young man and we know he would be rooming with like young men. Now I must apologize, I do not remember the names of these guys. Hakan rooms with four others from across Turkey, one from Istanbul training to become an English teacher, one from Karpuzlu who will be a Turkish teacher, one from Izmir who will teach geography, and the last from Manaster who will teach science. It's interesting as we enter the 'solon', Turkish living room, we're confronted with five sofas; one on the wall to our left, two on the wall facing us, one with it's back to the windows on the right and lastly, one against the wall facing the two we're currently facing. Immediately to our right on a stand is a TV, and in the corner to the left and front of us is a five tier bookshelf. We all take a seat across the room on the sofa closest the bookshelf. Hakan sits on the sofa to the left, the other in the opposite corner across the room. It isn't long after the introductions that we are presented with a full plate of fruit; each of us is given a peach, a pear, two oranges/tangerines and a clip of grapes! I don't eat this much fruit in a month! I simply eat the pear to be polite. Carol, Jim and Chelly do much better consuming the selection on their plates. Time quickly escapes us, as is usually the case when one is enjoying a very pleasant evening with friends in conversation. It's well after nine and we need to get to the hotel, so we thank Hakan's friends for the fruit and wish them great success as they continue their studies to be teachers in Turkey.

Once again we're at the hotel and Hakan has to solicit help in getting us a parking space. Even at this time of night that presents little difficulty and just few minutes after we arrive the van has a space. Since Hakan has classes all day tomorrow, we say our farewells, thank him profusely for giving us his weekend and bid him a good evening.

Our morning routine is much the same except I don't go for a walk and we all meet for breakfast at 7:30. After we've eaten we do our bag drag, pay our room bill and load our bags in the van. We've decided we'll not leave before lunch and go immediately across the street in search of more carpet shops like the one we most enjoyed last night, Natural Hali. Across from the first mosque we visited on Saturday was a carpet shop that we decide warrants a visit. We saw a lovely 'Senna' kilim hanging just inside and we want to see it more closely. As we turn the corner of the street where this shop is, we notice a good number of pieces have been hung outside this morning. After reaching the shop we go right in without taking any close look at the carpets displayed out front. The shopkeeper almost immediately gestures toward the stairs, Chelly and I pass; Jim and Carol go up to see if there is anything we want to see. As it happens there are plenty of nice rugs here but the prices dissuade us from considering any of them. As a matter-of-fact, I didn't even bother to ask after the piece I came to check out. As quickly as we came, we move on. There are plenty of other shops to be visited and carpets to be exposed to the air. However, Carol and Chelly have a more practical idea and we slip down another narrow side street into the bazaar area of the city, again only a block from where we've just left the carpet shop. The ladies are looking for yarn of all things. I spy a shop just ahead of us that has plastic bags of yarn hanging out front, we make for it and the ladies disappear inside. More than a dozen skeins of yarn later, out they come. We leisurely walk away from the yarn shop and almost immediately Chelly spots a shop for baby clothes; this becomes target two on this diversion. After fifteen or twenty minutes of Jim and I pacing the street out front of this shop, Carol and Chelly emerge with other bags to carry. The ladies are all a glow over these purchases and want us both to acknowledge how cute these little outfits are, OK, they're cute, now let's get on with it.

Our walk through this area continues but still we don't make good time because the ladies have found a number of fabric stores that need their attention. Chelly decides to purchase some very lovely burgundy corduroy (small cord) fabric for a dress. In the same shop Carol finds a fabric that looks like a veneer for a 'Gateway Computer' box. This fabric will become a part of a quilt for the grandson not yet born. With those buys completed, we all again start down the street. It isn't far and we exit the bazaar and we're confronted with yet another carpet shop. This one is so cluttered there is only a haphazard path through the place. We study a couple of pieces we can see tacked to the walls but do not linger long; it's simply too large a mess. If the man were to show us anything it would almost certainly have to be done in the street outside!

After departing this warehouse of treasures we slip down another narrow side street and come face to face with several more carpet shops. Each of these will require a visit; we must not ignore the possibility of finding a 'deal', HeeHee. The first of these we choose has a multitude of antique carpets and shelves of antique Anatolian Pottery; the prices quoted take our breath away! Jim and Chelly are very interested in the pots displayed above the stacks of carpets but pass them all. This fella has some classic Turkish antique rugs, and his prices make it clear, he's not interested in selling anything; not one piece thrown out for our review is less then $2,000 and most have a range between three and six thousand dollars! If he were to score one sale, he would make his annual rent I'm certain. In another shop now we get an additional dose of fine carpets. We're beginning to become intoxicated by the breath and depth of old carpets in this city. With that said, I ask the shopkeeper here to expose only a few pieces, one, a very large kilim. The piece is probably eight by twelve feet with a green on black border and red interior field with several roses. This one caught my attention because it is extremely rare and Carol and I have its cousin in our collection. To my utter amazement he was asking only six hundred dollars, I probably could have taken it out of the shop for five hundred.

We've about run the morning completely off, so we decide to stop with this shop and do lunch. Since the food was so good at the lunch place yesterday, we decided to make a return visit; we wanted to top off the trip and say farewell to Konya there. We have a leisurely lunch though and savor every bit of the experience. After we eat we make a slow retreat to the van, none of us are really in a hurry to leave. Konya fades in our rearview mirror at just past noon. We've had a great weekend!




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

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Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
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A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
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Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
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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
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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
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Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
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Focus On
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
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