Giant carved heads, incredible valleys, camping on the Mediterranean, and a heavy dose of Roman ruins

nemrut

 

I’m feeling a bit lazy and nothing of spectacular interest has happened since leaving the Kurdish areas, so I'm going to cram a lot of places into this post. It’s pretty much just been hitchhiking (ridiculously easy) from place to place, seeing really cool things, and liking Turkey and Turkish people more and more.

After visiting Nemrut, which was an ancient burial place on top of a hill for a king with remnants of huge carved heads visible today, we went toward the uber-tourist destination of Goreme. The formations of stone in the valleys of Goreme were pretty astounding (including realistic-looking phallic formations), but the profound tourist stench of the place made it a little less interesting. After there, we decided not to go to another major tourist draw in Tukey, Pamukkale. We took a stop in Konya, famous for the museum dedicated to the Sufi poet Rumi.

 

 

 

From there, we headed down to the Mediterranean, stopping first in a town called Kaş (pron: kash). We found a nice campground there along the coast in an olive grove and spent a few nights including a sea kayaking trip to some Roman ruins and renting a cheap scooter and cruising along the coast.

From there, we hitched to a secluded beach/valley called Kabak. Kabak’s main draw was its undeveloped status (we had to use a dirt path to get to the guesthouse we camped at) and incredible food provided by the guesthouse. It was seriously beautiful, but the beach was a bit rocky. I did some serious work cleaning up and adding info to the Wikitravel article for Kabak since it was in rough shape, as well as creating the Wikitravel article for our next destination we hitched to, Aphrodisias.

 

 

Aphrodisias was an impressive set of Roman ruins that, at least when we arrived after our ride in a milk truck dropped us off, was completely deserted and a steal considering the entrance was like $5 and the museum with Aphrodisian sculputures was freaking awesome. We were glad we picked to see Aphrodisias instead of the most popular Roman ruins in Turkey, Ephesus, which is way more expensive and crowded.

Aphrodisias is in sort of an isolated area, so we just camped outside the park near the small village nearby and hitched out in the morning. After Aphrodisias and a long hitch on back roads we went to another town famous for its Roman ruins: Bergama. Instead of camping we decided on a small pension and hit the major sites of the ancient Pergamon including an Acropolis (which we found a “creative” way to get into without paying the extortionate entrance fee), the Red Basilica, which was one of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation, and the Asklepion, an ancient Roman medical complex which interestingly turned away dying people and pregnant women. Considering those are the bread-and-butter of modern hospitals, you can bet medicine has come a long way since then. A little factoid: that creepy snake you always see on medical logos is actual the symbol of the god Asklepios, to whom the temple was dedicated. Walking the streets of Bergama was also a pleasure. Overall, I'm liking Turkey more and more the longer I'm here.

Next stop: Istanbul.

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