T U R K E Y

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Aegean & Ephesus

Meke Volcano & Hasan Dagi

Fotografie:

Pamukkale & Laodikeia

Ihlara Canyon 

Verena Schulthess

The Lakes & Yazili Kanion

Central Cappadocia 

Konya & Mevlana

Nemrut Dagi & Van Lake 

Gallipoli Peninsula

21. August 2019 – we are at the Turkish border near Ipsala early in the morning. There are still only a few vehicles at customs. After the money exchange we line up. The customs clearance is absolutely correct. Our MAN is inspected outside (stowage boxes and rear stowage) and inside (refrigerator and cupboard) and found good.
We reach our destination of the day, Troia, on a modern four-lane main road across the Gallipoli peninsula. A first rest brings us to the sea on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Dardanelles Battle

In the winter of 1814/1815, the Allies attacked the Ottomans to gain access to the Black Sea. The Gallipoli Peninsula became the scene of a cruel positional war. Due to the high losses and war costs, the Allies finally gave up – leaving behind many military cemeteries. Among others, troops from England, France, Australia and New Zealand took part in the war against the Ottomans. And this only in order to be able to attack the German Empire “from behind”, i.e. from the Black Sea area. And that’s why so many soldiers had to die?

Dardanelles

The ferry from Eceabat to Canakkale takes us from Europe to Asia in about 30 minutes. The Strait of the Dardanelles is one of the busiest waterways in the world. Up to 80’000 ships pass through the strait every year.
On the Asian mainland we still drive today to Troia, not because we want to visit Troia, but to spend the night on the forecourt of the Troia pension and restaurant with excellent Wi-Fi.

Troas

To get into the mood for Turkey we drive today comfortably through the Troas, the lovely, hilly landscape between Troia and Behramkale (Assos). We make a short visit to the excavation site “Alexandria Troas”. Turkish students are still busy with excavations here. At the moment they are digging in a place that is supposed to have been a bed – unfortunately we are not allowed to take pictures. Since the city stretched from the excavation site to the sea, there is still a lot to do!

Oeren

Today we drive to Ören, right next to the pretty country town Burhaniye. The journey from Kücükkuyu until then is exhausting. The six-lane main road is interrupted every few kilometers by Redlight signals (traffic lights) and mostly they switch from green to red at our arrival.

Camping Altin

After all, the camping “Altin” recommended to us by Italian motorhome owners turns out to be a jewel. Although the place is full of Turkish tent, caravan and RV campers, we may still place ourselves on a free spot. Not only the friendliness (and curiosity) of the Turkish fellow campers surprised us, but especially their peace and order. We experienced Greece as a very loud country with many night disturbances until in the morning at 5 o’clock. Not so in Turkey!

The “German-Turkish” camping site boss arranges a taxi chauffeur with some knowledge of English for us the next morning, who helps us a lot with the exchange of money, with the purchase of the motorway sticker and the SIM card of TurkCell. Then we start – we want to get to Selcuk (Ephesus), which we manage until shortly before sunset.

Ephesos

Ephesus was already a cosmopolitan city when Athens was still a deep province and Rome was not even founded. In its zenith Ephesus counted about 250’000 to 500’000 inhabitants, which was almost unimaginable for that time. Ephesus was very rich, which is why she was also called “Bank of Asia”. The port was the gateway to Persia and Anatolia, so trade flourished. But also the cult around the fertility goddess “Artemis” contributed substantially to the wealth of the city. Whole columns of silversmiths lived from this cult by making silver images of the goddess, Artemis, who was called “Diana” by the Romans.

A true Story

The apostle Paul worked in Epheso for about 3 years. This activity excited the silversmiths as they feared for their good business. They instigated a revolt against the apostle Paul. The whole town was in turmoil and stormed into the theatre, dragged two of Paul’s companions with it and shouted for two hours “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”!

Only the town clerk was able to calm the crowd with a wise and prudent speech in which he said: “Men of Ephesos, where is a man who did not know that the city of Ephesos is the temple keeper of the great goddess Diana and of the image fallen from heaven? Now that this is undeniable, you should remain calm and do nothing hasty. For you have brought these men here who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of your goddess. But if Demetrius and the artists who are with him have a complaint against anyone, days of judgment will be held, and there will be governors; may they sue one another! But if ye have a desire concerning other matters, it shall be dealt with in the lawful assembly. For we are in danger of being accused of this day of rebellion, because there is no reason with which we could excuse this gang together! And when he had said that, he dismissed the assembly.

The town hall in the upper town
Down the Kuretenstreet to the Celsius Library
Celsius Library and Lower Market Square
Public latrines and fresh water pipes
The road to the harbour and the theatre

Finally the magnificent harbour began to silt and Ephesus and its splendour disappeared!

Pamucak Beach

It is about five kilometres from Ephesos to the beach of Pamucak, a long and wide sandy beach that the locals also like to use. We stood here safely, surrounded by locals at the weekend. With the success that we were asked four times to free the vehicle stuck in the sand. As an encore: every evening a beautiful sunset.

Must be married …

At every imaginable, somewhat romantic place, sometimes in the midst of rubbish, you can meet bridal couples with their photographers. Photographs are taken deep into the night. Usually against the sunset, in an avenue, with forehand background, torches, chains of lights, fireworks, drone etc..

Pamukkale

The journey from Ephesus to Pamukkale leads through the valley of the Menderes. We want to see the river, which is why we follow the narrow 09-25 from Aydin.

Where to stay?

We read that at the north parking lot of Pamukkale one could stand overnight for the proud price of 30 Lira. We are already in pyjamas when the night watchman sends us away: “No Camping”. That what we do is not camping but we cannot discuss due to lack of Turkish knowledge. So we move to a place directly below the sinter terraces (37.928755, 29.114150), which we have seen fortunately casually during the day. Otherwise it would be difficult to find a clever place in the dark.

Hierapolis

We start the visit of the Pamukkale sinter terraces at 8 o’clock in the morning at the north parking lot. The tour starts at the extensive necropolis of Hierapolis. There are still few tourists on the way and the morning silence fits to the necropolis respectively to this unique cemetery.

This monumental cemetery is about one kilometre long. When you walk you think about where you are coming from and where you are going. Where are all these people buried here now? At one of the “idyllic” tombs the questioning thought shoots through my head: “Gate to heaven?

Already Hittites and Phrygians appreciated the local healing spring. But it was the Pergaman (Pergamon) King Eumenes II who founded the ancient city of Hierapolis at the healing spring – in competition with nearby Laodikeia.
Since we don’t want to count too many stones, we only roam the part of Hierapolis that brings us to the sinter terraces of Pamukkale.

The sinter terraces – highly praised tourist trap?

The sinter terraces disappoint. We already knew that the nature experience is “desecrated” by the many tourists. It was new to us that most of the sinter cups are bone dry, because the many hotels in the area tap the spring water for their pools. When we last came here nine years ago, the terraces looked very different. Disappointing! Obviously it’s all about profit. We therefore decide not to stay any longer and to continue the next morning.

Laodikeia

Laodikeia corresponds to the biblical Laodicea – we take the excavation site with us when leaving Pamukkale. Hardly any visitors, we are almost alone. But that’s not the only reason why we are thrilled. In the past nine years many columns were erected again and the perhaps oldest church of the world, which was built around 320 AD, was made accessible again. The reconstruction work is still in full swing, so that a visit will certainly be worthwhile again in a few years’ time.
We start our visit by the Syrian road with its beautiful columns, which announce the wealth of the formerly 5 km2 large city.

Wie weit der damalige Städtebau entwickelt war, ist auch an der Laodikeia Kirche erkennbar. Die Stadt besass ein zentrales Frischwasser Management und – wie Ephesus – ein Abwassersystem. Die Wasserzufuhr durch die Tonrohre wurde ebenfalls freigelegt. Das widerspricht doch eigentlich der Neandertaler Theorie, die meint, wir wären die höchstentwickelte Zivilisation?

The Lakes

Salda, Yarisli and Burdur Gölü

During the planning of this part of the journey I became aware of the lakes between Denizli in the west and Konya in the east. I didn’t know before that Turkey has so many lakes. So we want to go there. Each of the lakes has its own colour and ambiance.

The Salda Gölü, a crater lake near the village of Salda, captivates with its deep blue and turquoise. It is not surprising that the main beach near Salda is called “Maldives Beach”.

The Yarisli Gölü is almost dry towards the end of summer and presents itself in pastel colours. There are supposed to be flamingos here during the winter months. Anyway, you can go to an observation post at the lake after the village Yarisli. All around, the scars are beaten into the mountains. The marble quarries shine in bright white.

A little later we take a lunch break at Burdur Gölü, which is also popular with ornithologists. But beware, the ground along the lake is not as stable as it looks.

Yazili Kanion

Since the Salda Gölü the journey goes through more and more rural areas and on the road 15-25 between Taskapi and Yesilbaskoy over a nice mountain pass. The road 32-26 winds narrowly and steeply up into the mountain world and down again into the huge rock basin of the Yazili Kanion. Here we experience the probably most oppressive night of our journey so far at about 38° and no wind on parking lot no. 2…

Nevertheless we take our time in the early morning for the hike into the gorge. At the beginning we are almost alone, later we hike busloads of mostly Turkish tourists into the canyon again. We enjoy the noise of the cool water and at the end of the hike we enjoy a grilled trout in the improvised open air restaurant.

Egirdir and Beysehir Gölü

Behind the small town of Egirdir, on the way to the peninsula, we find a quiet parking lot where Turkish campers with their camper vans can park for free. We join them and are welcomed friendly. Here we like it so much that we overturn our plan to stand free at the lake and spend two nights here.

Between Egirdir and the Beysehir Gölü we stop at the roadside to supply ourselves with fruit. Wonderful, the fresh ripe fruits and the fresh vegetables everywhere. A likeable older couple, also offers us cooked corncobs, seasoned with salt, which taste excellent.

At Beysehir Gölü we spend a night at Karuburun beach. It’s a pity that this otherwise beautiful place is so littered. Nevertheless, some bridal couples don’t let it get away from them to stay in scene until late into the night.

Konya

The conservative metropolis of Konya – the old Iconium – is regarded as the guardian of the country’s customs – according to our “Müller travel guide”. In any case, it is rich in trade and industry, which is already revealed to the approaching traveller in the excellent road system.

The city of Konya has set up a free motorhome parking space (Karatay Belediyesi Karavan Parki). Coordinates: 37.86947, 32.55037. Each pitch has water (chlorinated) and electricity. There are also clean toilets and showers. You can stay up to three nights. Unfortunately, the beautiful and well-kept pitch is located directly at a large intersection and is therefore quite noisy during the day and at night. The free registration takes place right at the entrance to the municipal amusement park (Karatay Belediyesi Sehir Parki) with pick-nick areas and many carousels and tracks.

At the entrance to the park you can also order a taxi – you might even get a cay tea – and within 10 to 15 minutes you can reach the city centre.

Mevlana Monastery

Our first city visit starts at Meydan with the impressive Selimiye Mosque and the Mevlana Monastery.
In the picture on the right you can see the Selimiye Mosque in typical ottoman style with an open porch, in the background with the turquoise dome the Mevlana Monastery.

On the Meydan, the big square, it is colourful, but quiet, to and fro. After the prayer, the men stream out of the mosque in deep conversations, others wash their feet in the “holy” water, fill pet bottles or drink at the fountain.

Unfortunately we are not allowed to take pictures inside.

The “Brotherhood of Dancing Dervishes” was founded by the Islamic mystic Calaleddin Rumi from Afghanistan. He was called “Mevlana – our Master” by his followers.

This Islamic current strives to unite with Allah through the extinction of the I. This was done by spiritual immersion, deprivation exercises and ritual dances – er dervish dance. For more than 650 years the Mevlana Order had a great influence on all classes of the population, but especially on the rulers. Since the Order resisted the reforms of the new Turkish Republic, it was banned in 1925 like all other Sufi brotherhoods. A year later the Mevlana Monastery was reopened as a museum.

The famous dervish dances can be seen in Konya at the Mevlanakloster from Thursday to Saturday evening in the rose garden. We have done without it and show a picture of Hulki Okan in the following. The grey cylindrical cap means the gravestone, the white, whirling skirt the shroud of the dervish which died in itself.

Alaaddin Tepesi

Unfortunately, the interesting Selcuk excavations on the castle hill are closed due to construction work, which is why our visit takes less time than planned. We see the Alaaddin Keykubad Mosque in simple, typical Syrian-Arab style and the beautiful, well-kept garden. Afterwards shopping is on the program.

Shopping

It takes a while before we find a shop that sells conservative female clothing that Verena needs for Iran. In the “OBJE” at the Atatürk Caddesi, near the confluence with the Alaaddin Bulvari, we find what we are looking for. The sales staff is very reserved towards us at the beginning – they are trying to help us. Finally one of them takes courage (the one in the pink dress) and in the end all the saleswomen stand around us laughing and friendly.

The “headdress” is still missing. One of the saleswomen leads us there, just around the corner. Here follow the headscarf and the headband with integrated accentuation of the back of the head. (Beauty must also suffer in Islamic countries)

Bazaar Quarter

At the end we stroll through the “tidy” bazaar quarter with the Aziziye mosque rebuilt in rococo style. In the advertising brochure the bazaar is mentioned as a place where mainly bridal couples would go shopping.

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Meke Gölü

Enough of the city – finally we arrived at Meke Gölü at an altitude of 1000m. From the Gölü (lake) around the Meke volcano only a dried salt crust can be seen, because the lake often dries up during the summer months. Nevertheless, the volcano in the volcano is impressive. It is said to have been formed by a double eruption. We enjoy the (temporary silence) at the crater rim. Soon a bad weather front passes by, which brings some drops of rain at night.

One should not stay overnight at the crater edge, so in iOverlander. So we set off at dusk to find a place for the night.

If we already had a nice encounter with a boy and his uncle, who smells like whisky, a Turkish passenger car actually wants to overtake us on the narrow, single-lane gravel road. He honks his horn and flashes wildly. We stop at a bulge. He drives right next to us, gets out with his colleague – stands in front of our MAN and takes two or three photos, waves happily, gets in again and drives back to his evening party place..

We experience such and similar situations almost every day. People often wave to us on the field, at the roadside or from overtaking vehicles. It even happens that the driver of the overtaking vehicle leans out of the window to be able to look at us from the front.

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A pro pos evening party. A rather unpleasant phenomenon are the evening parties in beautiful, secluded places, like the Meke Gölü. Towards evening and in the night until 3 o’clock in the morning or even later passenger cars arrive at these places. It is then a constant coming and going. Often it is not very loud, but when we are standing there, we are usually looked at with the spotlights. Yes, once someone stood in front of us, probably to be able to read our license plate etc.. Then you don’t feel safe any more, you are also disturbed in the night’s rest. Worse still: as beautiful Turkey is and as lovable the people are, in the most beautiful places there is often a lot of rubbish, so unfortunately also at the crater rim, around the volcano. in the east a little less than on the west side.

Hasan Dagi

On side roads the journey continues to Hasan Dagi and from there to Ihlara Gorge. The Hasan Dagi stands at the periphery of the cappadocian highlands with altitudes around 1200m. It is considered, together with two other volcanoes, as the “creator” of the Cappadocian landscape, since the ejected ash rain became a tuff rock, which can be easily worked. In this sufficiently firm, but also not too hard rock, settlements and churches were carved into the rocks in Byzantine times and earlier.

Ihlara Canyon

On the way to the heart of Cappadocia we pass the Ihlara Gorge – a jewel in the Cappadocian steppe. The gorge is up to 150m deep with steep walls. Probably the Melendiz river originally ran underground, hollowed out the soft rock more and more and finally formed this gorge by collapse of the ceiling, whose rock walls rise up to 150m.

Around 800 AD, Byzantine monks sought protection from persecution by the more and more invading Arabs and settled in the Ihlara Gorge. About 50 rock churches have been found in the gorge to this day. Some of them are accessible. We limit ourselves to the three best preserved churches.

On over 300 steps you climb down over 100m into the gorge. But this sounds worse than it is, because the steps are very pleasant to walk on.

Agacalti Kilisesis

It is considered to be the oldest church in the valley and was probably painted in pastel colours by an untrained hand. The pictures show the resurrection of Jesus.

Sümbüllü Kilise

It has a hewn exterior facade. Inside it was once decorated with ornaments. Frescoes can be seen in the small chapel next door. The actual church room was on the upper floor, which is accessible by a narrow staircase.

Yilanli Kilise

It is the largest of the churches visited. Its interior decoration is painted in strong colours. But it is pitch dark in this church and we can only take pictures thanks to a LED spotlight. The pictures show all sorts of “saints” and martyrs as well as an angel with a scale in which the sins are weighed.

Hike through the Ihlara Gorge

After the church visit we enjoy the 3 km long walk down the gorge to the village Belisirma, from where we take a taxi back to the main entrance for 25 Lira. The gorge is densely overgrown and the flowing water is good after many dry landscapes. In the middle of the nature reserve we come to a “Bufet” – 1001 Bufet, we think. You can hardly go anywhere without someone who wants to do business with a buffet. So also here. Fruit juices, drinks and small meals are served.

On the way to the heart of Cappadocia

Güzelyurt

Until the First World War, 1000 Greek and 50 Islamic families lived together in Güzelyurt. In addition to the Klostertal, which we did not visit, there is the Yüksek Kilise, also called Analipsis Church, in a beautiful landscape. It was built towards the end of the 1800s, has some monk cells in an annex and is still in quite good condition. The frescos were painted over white, so that it looks like a simple mountain church without ornaments to us. We enjoy the silence and the wide view up to the volcano Hasan Dagi, which helped to form this landscape.

At the other side of the 1770m high Sivrihisar Pass, on the left in the open countryside stands the red, the Kizil Kiliese, a Byzantine long building cross church built between the 5th and 7th century. It is still standing, but is no longer in good condition and lettering from the spray can spoils the once pretty building. All in all, however, it is also a synonym for transience. Even more, the countless cave and free-standing churches raise the question: How many churches does man need?

Warm people

At the Kizil Kiliese we once again meet warm people. Simple farmers guard a few cows and fill the chaff from the grain harvest into sacks. We have already experienced similar lovable encounters before. A farmer who spontaneously and without cause gives us a melon, another who greets us as we stand in a field and take pictures, nomads who wave to us warmly and many more …

Gaziemir underground City

There are underground cities not only in the heart of Cappadocia, but everywhere in the area. Well, we find the word “city” somewhat exaggerated, would rather call it an underground settlement. The one in Gaziemir is very worth seeing, also because the ceiling has partly collapsed and you can get a better picture of a mole settlement.

The stables offer space for at least 25 animals, each with its own feeding trough. For passing caravans there are guest stables for camels, a large kitchen, a wine press and much more. The way to the church was not far, because it was carved into the rock directly next to the winery. Anyone who thinks that it must have stunk down here is mistaken, because the whole complex was ventilated and ventilated over several floors with a sophisticated system.

The heart of Cappadocia

To the heart of Cappadocia belongs not only the most famous village “Göreme” but much more half a dozen villages and towns. This region is so strongly divided that at the beginning it is not easy to find your way around. The main thing is that the region consists of a high plateau of tuff, which has been washed out at its edge by erosion, creating small valleys in different colours and with different sculptures, which are still being created. At the same time, this tuff was used to carve houses, workrooms and churches. These offered ideal hiding places, but also air-conditioned rooms in summer and winter. The region lies at an altitude of 1200m. In summer it gets very hot, in winter very cold.

First we drive to the beautifully situated Kaya Camping with its really good infrastructure. Early in the morning we are offered a first class spectacle as the perhaps 100 hot air balloons glide almost silently over the landscape.

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Devrent Valley

After a two-day stay at the campsite we are drawn to “freedom”. First we visit the Devrent valley with its fairy chimneys. We did not see any fairies, but some sculptures, which resemble a seal, a camel, an index finger, etc..

Zelve Open Air Museum

Those who still want to see the apartments and churches of the Zelve Open Air Museum should hurry. Here the erosion plays an important role, as whole rock walls break off. This is also the reason why you can see many flats in cross-section and already a part of the area had to be closed.

Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, Ottomans and Turks lived in the caves. It was not until 1953 that the last inhabitants moved out, because due to erosion life in this rocky corner became too dangerous.

An Angel Story

We spend the night at a place above the Love Valley. But during the night so many Turkish cars pass us on this dirt and dust road – up and down – that it gets uncomfortable. When at midnight such a dear colleague stands directly in front of our vehicle and lights us with his headlights for the longest time, we are definitely not comfortable anymore. In nearby Cavusin we saw a “parking lot” and now we want to go there. But this one turns out to belong to a ceramic shop, so it doesn’t work. The “parking lot” opposite is a street estuary. There we drive in. Suddenly a dark figure appears and means to stop us. We expect to be sent away again. But the opposite happens. He makes a sleeping movement with his hands, we nod, whereupon he shows us a bulge on a dirt road, where we can sleep and finally sleep well.

Market in Avanos

There’s a nice market in Avanos on Fridays that’s worth a visit. Lots of fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, spices, household and other goods. The big parking lot, where also “Big Rigs” can drive and park without any problems, is located in the centre, right next to the market area to the east. Unfortunately no pictures.

Love Valley

In the light of the evening sun we walk through the Love Valley. Like everywhere, here too, we are not alone. And although driving would be forbidden, vehicles drive through the valley and at one of the beautiful fairy towers even in the middle of the nature reserve a “Bufet” is built up again. It’s a pity that you can’t even let nature stay. From our point of view, this is a little detrimental to the experience.

Hike through the Zemi Valley

A last hike leads us through the beautiful and quiet Zemital with its plantations and the famous El-Nazar church.

At the El Nazar church also a part of the front was broken in, but this fairy tower church was lovingly restored and is worth seeing in our opinion. The guardian opens the church to us and when we cannot get out for a longer time due to taking pictures and filming, he looks a little grumpy and thinks that taking pictures in the Unesco World Heritage Site is forbidden…

Sunset Point

We spend the rest of the nights near Sunset Point, above the Red Valley. Here we stay undisturbed. After the hike to the Zemi Valley the weather changes and it is time to say goodbye to Cappadocia.

Yaşar Kardeşler MAN Servisi – Kayseri

Our next stop is Kayseri and there the MAN workshop of Yasar Kardesler. Here we give our MAN a breather and have some work done for 6230 Turkish Lira (Euro 100):

  • Fill up the oil of the planetary gears on the front axle – the oil is drained off and completely refilled.
  • Add oil to the steering knuckle pins.
  • Thorough vehicle washing
  • Grease cardan shaft

Additional work carried out free of charge:

  • Light checked
  • Contacts on vehicle batteries checked
  • Endangered electrical cable protected
  • Defective rear lamp repaired
  • Engine oil refilled
  • Windscreen wiper Refilled with water
  • Air pressure display, connector treated with contact spray

In addition, we were invited to lunch for free and were taken by the boss to a butcher’s shop where we could buy the famous Kayseri meat products without having to drive into town. Good mechanics who really took care of the vehicle. Communication was only possible through Google translators. Once the chief mechanic wrote me the following: …but you did that wrong, you artist you!

All very sympathetic. New tea (Cai) was served every 15 minutes. So we can only recommend (yes, also the tea). Many thanks to the company Kardesler!(ja, auch den Tee). Herzlichen Dank an die Firma Kardesler!

Nemrut Dagi – The Mountain of Gods

Nemrut or “Nimrod” was the first great tyrant on earth. He was probably also the tower builder of Babel and around him a first idolatry arose. So it is not surprising that the mountain of gods bears the name of Nimrod. On the summit of this mountain, at an altitude of 2150m, is the largest burial mound in the world. Gods of stone guard the burial mound, the tumulus piled up of gravel. However, the heads of the gods no longer lie on their bodies, but on the ground. Antiochos I (69 to 34 BC), buried here, guards his own grave as a stone god, together with Heracles, Apollo, Zeus and the Tyche of Kommagene. The guard command made of stone is placed on both the west and east terraces, whereby the east terrace still has a fire altar.

Since we are a little earlier at the mountain, we think we only have to share the mountain with a few others. But then the masses arrive exactly at sunset.

We drive from the south-east up to the mountain, take the steep but paved road through Karadut to the pension Karavanserai at an altitude of about 1300m, where we stand for two nights and enjoy the view. For 100 Lira we afford a taxi to get to the summit of Nemrut.

Euphrat and Tigris

After the visit of the Nemrut Dagi we drive straight to the east. A short stop at the two ancient rivers Euphrates and Tigris is not to be missed. Both rivers flow from the Anatolian highlands down into the Mesopotamian plain. They played an important role in ancient times and perhaps still play it today as they are dammed by Turkey. Only thanks to the Euphrates and Tigris were the ancient advanced civilizations in Mesopotamia (Mesopotamia) possible.

Euphrat

In Turkey, the Euphrat is called “Firat Nehri” and have merged here into the “Atatürk Reservoir”. With its longest tributary it is 3380 km long. It rises in the inner Taurus Mountains, flows through the Mesopotamian plain, Syria and Iraq, and finally pours into the Persian Gulf.

Encounter “in the Bush”

As I film the Euphrates, I hear the voice of my wife and a man. What’s going on? I look for them and find them behind bushes and trees at the edge of a vegetable field together with a couple of farmers. The two loved ones shower them with their self-planted vegetables. When I also appear, the man offers me a cigarette and I have to try the homemade sheep cheese. The longer we stay with them, the more they stuff our plastic bags with vegetables. The communication with Google translator doesn’t work, because they obviously have trouble reading and writing. We try to mean to them that we don’t have children at the table who eat with us. Finally we return the favor with a Swiss chocolate and say goodbye with a mutual hug (man-man, woman-woman).

Tigris

After crossing the top modern Kurdish town Diyarbakir we cross the Tigris, here called Dicle Nehri. Unfortunately we can’t really reach the river, but we don’t want to take a detour, because today we want to get as close as possible to the Van Lake.

Somehow I’m not in such a good mood today. My right calf hurts and I don’t know if it’s a thrombosis or just a muscle strain from the last hike. The road from Diyarbakir to the mountains is hard to drive. I have to go up and down all the time and the gradient is so steep that I often have to shift down so that the back pressure brake stops the vehicle. We clearly miss a retarder brake. In addition, the whole distance is wave-shaped, so that the vehicle bobbles up and down continuously. Simply laborious. But we pull through and finally land in Bitlis.

Bitlis (1 von 1)

At Van Lake

Finally the time has come and we are at Lake Van, more precisely in Tatvan. This lake has always fascinated me and now we are here! But I’m not that happy. My calf of my right leg still hurts and we think we see a slight blue discoloration, which could be an indication of thrombosis. We are insecure. Back to the hospital with long waiting times? Where are we going? On the other hand, in the uncertainty, we do not want to enter Iran either.

Tatvan Can Private Hospital

On Google Maps we discover a small private hospital – and drive there. From the outside it doesn’t look very promising, but inside it looks clean, tidy and well groomed. Since the lady at the reception doesn’t speak English, she lets another lady come who doesn’t speak English either, but leads us to a young dynamic gentleman in the hospital. It is the hospital director himself and he speaks fluent English. After a short hearing he takes us directly to the cardiologist who is responsible for my examination.

I have not to wait a long time. Of course, as a cardiologist, he also listens to the heart, then checks the calf and orders a blood test and an ultrasound examination of my veins. Everything is well organized and documented. The vein examination is negative, which is positive in the medical language. We still have to wait for the laboratory results. Meanwhile, the director invites us to a tasty lunch in the canteen and then to coffee in the cafeteria. Finally I receive the final report: No thrombosis and a prescription for an ointment and painkillers.

Many thanks to the director, Şener Akbay and to the cardiologist, Dr. Kenan Ates and the capable staff of the hospital.

Deniz Camp Gevas

The Deniz Camp is rather a huge excursion restaurant with standing possibility for campers. Thanks to the newly built up place at the small harbour, we can stand away from the restaurant directly at the lake. Here we prepare for the entry into Iran and enjoy some sunny days at the lake. We also get the clogged toilet in order, fill up with water and diesel, buy the last groceries and then set off on the 140 km long way to Kapiköy, at the Iranian border.

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