DENİZLİ TO KONYA We got up at 8:30 and sat out on the patio for an hour or so drinking tea and talking. Sulieman took Linda and I along with 2 Germans into town to look around and to change money.
At the bank we changed £50 for 282,000TL and sat and drank çay1 while we talked to an old man and woman from out in the country. Sulieman had to show the Germans some jewellery shops so Linda and I spent an hour or so looking at leather jackets then bought a kebab each and waited for them outside the Post Office.
Once we were back at the pension we collected our gear then sat on the floor of the office playing backgammon. Sulieman and his family invited us in for a meal, eaten on the floor from communal bowls of yoghurt, tomatoes, bread, fried potatoes, eggplant and peppers. After we had eaten we settled our account on my Visa and Sulieman asked us to come back and work for him for a month, if not this year then next! We said we might. He ran us down to the bus station and we fished him 3 Canadian tourists. In return, he got 5,000TL knocked off each of our fares to Konya and we said goodbye.
The bus was a large and comfortable Mercedes and once we left Denizli we headed out past Pamukkale and up a long, wide valley. The bus made its first meal stop after only 20 minutes at a roadhouse and as it was cold and beginning to rain I grabbed some warmer clothes and our shoes out of the packs.
As the bus travelled further inland we passed through areas of intense-farmed land, the crops healthy and well irrigated by networks of elevated concrete channels. The patterns and colours were of greens and browns, and the lush orderliness of the crops was a stark contrast with the brown rocks of the scrubby and rugged hills on the sides of the valleys. At one point we passed a salt lake called Acigöl Golu, then later on in the afternoon, after passing through a series of torrential downpours, we crossed over a pass and emerged above the beautiful Egidir Golu. The storm clouds were breaking up and letting patches of late afternoon light through to illuminate the pale blue waters of the lake while all around, the broken shapes of the mountains were cast into deep blue shadow with the black storm clouds obscuring their tops and in places rolling down to the lower slopes.
On the right hand side of the road a huge and broken cliff face towered over a heavily-guarded army base and the small village of Egirdir which was built on a tiny peninsula jutting out at the base of the cliffs. As we drove up the eastern side of the lake, the lightshow playing on the water from the sun and clouds was both spectacular and beautiful and the mist-shrouded bulk of the mountain range beyond formed a gloomy and foreboding backdrop.
We left the lake after about ½ an hour and headed north-east up a long valley, gradually turning to the south-east as we crested a rise and began descending another valley through the village of Sakikaraazac and along the easter shore of Beysehir Golu. On the far side of the lake rose the snow-capped summit of the 3,000 metre Mt. Yeneser, just visible in the gathering dusk.
Soon after nightfall we stopped at a roadhouse for tea then Linda and I both slept for the last 1 ½ hours of the journey.
Konya is a large city, its origins rooted deep in the long history of Turkey and our first glimpse of it was as a sprawling mass of lights as we crested a pass above the city.
Once we had left the bus we were surprised not to be mobbed by touts with offers of rooms so we asked at a desk in the bus station where we could find hotels then caught a Dolmus into Mevlana: the city centre. We checked into a hotel called the Otel Mevlana along with an English couple who had been on the same dolmüs2 and shortly after that we crashed out exhausted.
1The Turkish word for tea is written as çay but is pronounced “chai” just as in other languages. As well as the usual black tea, sweetened with sugar but not containing milk, Turkish çay is often made from apples. The taste of elma çayi (Apple Tea) is one of those redolent memory-generators that has stayed with me to this day, reminding me of sunny Turkish cafes, old men smoking hubbles, and busy streets where boys run to and fro with silver trays laden with small glasses of fragrant çay.
2A dolmüs is a shared taxi, usually a van of some kind. The name derives from “dolma” , the traditional Turkish stuffed vine leaves. A dolmüs is always stuffed with passengers!