12.03.2013 - 12.03.2013 17 °C
We got a nutritious start to the day with a full Turkish breakfast. Today it consisted of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and oranges, olives, a slice of very young cheese, another packaged slice of prepared cheese, a few different cookies, and a chocolate. This was accompanied by a loaf of sliced bread and a large omelette that we shared between us. Of course this whole assortment of eats was washed down with as much Nescafe or tea as we liked. If you can believe it this was a slightly smaller breakfast than we were served yesterday. We sure didn’t need to stop for an early lunch.
We drove for an hour paralleling the coast (but not in sight of it) and found this section to be very densely populated with all sundry in terms of vehicles. As we made our turn northwards towards Turkey’s interior the population density and traffic became quite sparse. The mountains and hills of Turkey seem like a pretty tough place to eke out a living. From what we witnessed, goat herding is a common occupation in this area along with some logging of pine and some quarrying of stone and marble. As we left the coast we ran a short gauntlet of roadside fruit sellers about half way up the first set of mountains. We were surprised to see so many bananas for sale along with the many oranges. With so little traffic and so many competitors it did not seem a profitable occupation. We stopped to pick up a few oranges but were disappointed that they fell far short of the sweet ones we had come to enjoy in Kas.
As we neared the highest summit in our drive to Konya (1800 meters) we encountered a blanket of snow on the mountains and some even along the road. We were certainly leaving the Mediterranean behind us. Yet, even though the mountains were white, one still couldn’t shake the mental image of an arid, grey and pine-dotted landscape landscape beneath it. You could just tell that in a few short months the heat would be insufferable here. Whenever we saw a small town or settlement we were mystified as to how such a rocky landscape could support people.
About 75 kilometers before Konya, the landscape gave way to stony rolling hills which slowly lost their amplitude, yielding to some slightly more fertile but lightly cultivated land. The pine trees gave way to patches of deciduous trees. After 40 kilometers of unvarying terrain Konya just suddenly appeared before us with nothing really indicating why it should be located here rather than somewhere else in the flat expanse.
The outlying area seems fairly new and consists of some fairly large single and multifamily dwellings –some of them upscale. This quickly changed to a uniform landscape of 4 to 6 story apartment buildings with the vast majority in excellent repair. As with the newer parts of Antalya, the city of Konya seems geared for a lot of car traffic. The road ways are incredibly wide and traffic flows pretty freely. In some ways the town reminded us of Edmonton.
Our hotel is located near the historic quarter of town where the traffic is more chaotic so some of the buildings are older and bit dilapidated although our hotel is quite well-kept, modern and expensive by Turkish standards. Unfortunately, we could not find any deals on the Internet when we looked for a place to stay. So we are paying something approaching prices in Europe (about 100 hundred dollars) which is an adjustment for us. Tonight we are paying for a single hotel room the same amount we paid to have a four bedroom, three bathroom villa with a pool right on the ocean.
The hotel staff speaks little to no English but the front desk manager is pretty resourceful. Muriel went down to ask about how to get some heat in our hotel room. He invited Muriel behind the desk and asked her to type her questions into Google translate. Muriel also got some information about having breakfast in the morning. To explain the times that breakfast was served he used his desk calculator to show the times. Technology really breaks down barriers. By the way, the heat is centralized boiler heat, so they don’t turn it on until the evening. We have just gone from slightly cool to very hot in a matter of minutes (Muriel and Abby are happy while Hannah and I are fanning ourselves in our shorts). We think we should take our showers this evening as it seems we may only have hot water when the heat is on.
We have not explored much of Konya yet. We are close to an incredible historic square where the poet Rumi is interred but I will leave details about this area until tomorrow. In our wanderings we have noticed that the population here is far more conservative than the coast. The number of women wearing head scarves outnumbers those not wearing scarves by at least 10 to 1. Many more women here are wearing coats and dresses that come down to their ankles unlike the wide variety of western fashion we found on the coast.
The Konyans seem to love their sugar as our neighbourhood abounds with sweet shops. They sell candy that looks like very large peppermint balls but the white ones are flavoured with bergamot instead of mint. They come in a wide variety of flavours and colours and the shops are ready to sell them by the bushel. From what we have experienced thus far some prices are a bit lower than the coast. We had a large and late lunch since we did not get into Konya until 2 pm. So for dinner we were looking for just a small snack. We ate at a very popular doner restaurant. Hannah wasn’t hungry so just the three of us went. We each had a hot doner submarine sandwich and a bottle of water. The price was a mere four dollars Canadian (not each but for ALL of our meals).
We are winding it up early tonight and look forward to seeing some historic sites tomorrow.