Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Turkey 2010 - Part V - History, Markets and a Big Mistake or Two

After our “busy” day in Kas, we decided to do nothing the next day. But me being me, I had to do something. Being Sunday, my friend and I drove into the village of Akbel for the weekly market and had a good stroll around (taking all of 15 minutes). We picked up some fruits and vegetables and then stopped at a cheese merchant where I bought some rather salty sheep’s milk cheese and a very mild goat’s milk cheese which is ubiquitous in this area. After our purchase I saw a large garbage can filled with something white. It turned out to be the most flavorful, thick and rich yogurt I have ever tasted.


Then we stopped at the local shops to pick up some bread and wine. I wonder why it is so easy to purchase wonderfully fresh and tasty loaves of bread for about 25 cents in the middle of almost nowhere, but are charged $2.00 for a loaf of tasteless, preservative laden, bread at home.

We decide not to make lunch but to have takeaway. So we head up to Place of Huseyin figuring they would be open for lunch. No such luck. But just as we were sitting in the car figuring out where to go, that pretty young girl with the wonderful smile comes bounding up from her house quickly followed by Baba (Huseyin) and his brother’s wife. Place of Huseyin was now open for lunch! We order kofte, salad, chips and eggplant and have a beer while we wait. But, of course, this is Place of Huseyin, so I assume babysitting duties – rocking the 4 month old girl in her stroller while I enjoy my beer and the view.

We take our tray of food (we have to bring the dishes back) and sit poolside at the villa enjoying a wonderful lunch. Time for some reading and a nap (it is all such hard work). Oh, where to go for dinner to celebrate one of our friend’s birthday? I know Place of Huseyin!

We arrive for dinner and explain we have a birthday. No problem. Baba will get us pasta. Huh? Is that some sort of weird village tradition? No, a quick phone call to his friend (it does seem out of place having Baba whip out a mobile phone in such a rustic setting) and he explains pasta means cake. I order sea bass rather than the trout. It was good, but not as good as the trout.

Off to the sitting area for birthday cake and a drink. And, once again, the family joins us. Now I know I can amuse the kids with the Teeter game on my phone. The pasta was excellent.

Monday, after breakfast, we headed off to explore the ruins at Xanthos and Patera (the birthplace of St. Nicholas). It was far more interesting than I had thought it would be.

At Xanthos, almost as soon as we stepped foot onto the site an older man speaking broken English approached us and started to explain Xanthos to us and explaining it went through 3 different periods: Lycian, Roman and Byzantine with the two older periods ending with mass suicides rather than being captured. We liked this man who had a dry sense of humor, so we allowed him to lead us around. He repeatedly reminded us that all of the relics (jewelry, etc.) were taken to London…even, he joked, the water from the Roman pool. There were two different water systems: Lycian wells and Roman clay pipes. Both systems relied on the water flowing from the mountain in Islamlar rather than the Xanthos River.

But the most interesting part of Xanthos was watching the archeologists at work. Some with hand tools, one with a brush and heavy equipment moving newly uncovered blocks of marble (local) and granite (imported by the Romans). It was also a bit disappointing to learn that the large areas of mosaic tile have been discovered, documented and then covered over because tourists started to steal the tiles.

Before we departed, we gave our "guide" a tip.  When we reached the car he was sitting under a tree with two beers and a big smile.  We were all happy.
Then it a short drive to Patera and its fairly large amphitheater and other buildings which are being restored…and we watched as they formed the blocks that were missing out of a white concrete right on site. But as the heat was oppressive it was a short visit. I think this site is just now being developed for tourism as there aren’t even any paths or in place.

Back to the villa for a lunch made up of the tomatoes, cheeses, etc. we bought at the market yesterday. There we make an executive decision – we will drive up the mountain and find a new restaurant. We head off (after the requisite swim, reading and nap periods) and find a trout farm, but no new restaurants of interest.

As we head back down the mountain we see Chops. Curiosity got the better of us after seeing all of the signs (one being our landmark for the turn up the road that doesn’t exist on my GPS. The place looks a bit more upscale than the other places, but I am put off by the television being on. The menu looks OK, but it is significantly more expensive than the other restaurants in Islamlar. We hem and haw, but decide to stay. BIG MISTAKE. The portions were small…much smaller than the other restaurants and, while the food was not bad, it was just so very ordinary. High prices, small portions and marginal food are not a good combination.

My wife decides the best thing to do is stop by…you guessed it…Place of Huseyin for a nightcap. BIG MISTAKE (but a good one!). Our disappointment in Chops was quickly forgotten as the family arrived, we talked and drank…and drank...and had a fun time. We said good night, promising to return the next night (our last in Islamlar) for dinner.

The party continued until…well, to be honest, I don’t have a clue!