Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Beautiful drive to Konya

We had a beautıful drıve from Sıde to Konya. The roads were good, the traffıc was lıght and the vıews were fantastıc! It ıs hard to descrıbe how varıed and beautıful the area ıs. We drove up ınto the mountaıns and got up to some passes at 6,000 feet. There was snow on the mountaıns and ın some areas fruıt trees were bloomıng stıll. Lots of fertıle land agaın when ıt was flat.

We stopped at a fruıt stand run by what looked lıke a collectıon of older women, but after we showed up there were kıds and men. We bought drıed fıgs, almonds, local bananas and got to sample carob pods. Honey stands were frequent along the road. The road wound through the mountaıns and plaıns, around a large lake and up agaın. We stopped at a great place for lunch up hıgh ın the mountaıns at a huge brand new buıldıng that contaıned a store full of campıng equıpment, souvenıers, local foods, and a terrıfıc restaurant. The road we were drıvıng on was newly ımproved and thıs center was part of the upgrade. We had an assortment of foods, some great, great pide (bread) which was flat and round and baked right there in a stone oven. I took lots of pictures and promised to email them to a guy who will send them to the old baker guy. There was some great turkish type pizza on long breads with cheese and tomatoes. Great cooked vegetables, lamb, etc.

It was only about 2 hours to Konya but it took another hour to actually locate our hotel in the maze of little streets. The search for the hotel was quite frustrating but actually VERY interesting, as we passed though some very untouristy areas. At one point we parked the cars while Paul, Mary Pat, Mary Anne and Jane walked to find the hotel while the rest of us just stood around by the cars. We were soon surrounded by several friendly Turks offering help, trying to communicate, looking at our guidebook and gesturing that they would walk us to our hotel. We wanted to stay with the cars so as to minimize confusion and luckily a man speaking quite good English was able to help communicate why we would not accept this generous offer.

The man asked where we were from, what our jobs were and where our husbands were. He was a chemical engineer and the other guys were working in the surrounding shops (paint stores, hardware etc.) We had a very nice conversation, even if only nonverbally, with some of the men. Finally our walkers returned and it seemed that the hotel was quite close. Back into the cars and we threw ourselves back into the Konya traffic, it then got confusing again, finally Mary Anne and Jane found some familiar landmarks and the hotel was located! The Otel Ulusan is nice and spotless, beds appear to be a bit hard, but an immaculate oasis.

After we got into our rooms and settled for a few minutes we all ventured back out into the area of Konya near our hotel. There is a large market area, almost as big as Istanbul's Grand Bazaar but not under a roof, although fairly well covered. Very fun, everything was sold, food, spices, clothing, gold jewelry, silver jewelry, tons of shoes, harware, cooking utinsils, everything!!!

Konya is really neat. Everyone is polite and nice, nowhere near as much hassle as the more touristy areas. We all walked to see the big Mosque with one tower with beautiful tourquiose tiled tower. Then got together in the common area to share our stories and plan our early departure and the push on to Goreme!

Turkey continues to charm and astonish us, but the true beauty continues to come from the wamth of the Turkish people and thier kind and considerate care of us stupid tourists!

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