Thursday, May 06, 2010

From Burqas to Bikinis

Morning view from our bedroom window on the home-stay - mountains, lake, rosy light.
Day two on the Silk Road began with a poppy seed centered breakfast at the home-stay (poppy seed rolls, and poppy seed butter to put on them). Next we took a long stroll around the village, where the locals mostly watched us with a curious eye. We saw the town square (where people were herding cows out to pasture), the cemetery, many houses, two men-only cafes, and numerous women sitting on the curb waiting to be picked up for field work. We visited the village elementary school, grades 1-3, where there are 7 students and one teacher holding down the fort. Next year this school will be closed due to too few students to sustain it, and these kids will be bused elsewhere. They were smart and unafraid of us, showed us their school work, sang us a song or two. Delightful!

We said a last goodbye to our host family and headed off down the road. As we drove southeast, the landscape changed dramatically. We began in the lake area, and passed some more beautiful lakes along the way. Then we came into the Toros mountains and came through a long mountain pass that was like being in the Sierras, with pine trees and rocky crags around us.After lunch we visited the archaeological museum near Antalya, where there was a magnificent collection of marble and stone sculptures from ancient times, both pre-Christian and early Roman eras. Turkey, it turns out, has more ancient archaeological sites than almost anywhere, since this area was the cradle of civilization and crossroads between Europe and Asia for many thousands of years.Late in the afternoon we came into Antalya, a resort town on the Mediterranean sea, where we stay for two nights. We stepped out of our van in front of a shop displaying a wide array of mannikins in skimpy bikinis, and the streets were swarming with the young and the fashionable, both locals and tourists from all over Europe and Russia. Girls with loose hair flowing, strapless sundresses, and plenty of leg showing were everywhere, quite a culture shock after the last several days. Then we entered the old city through Emperor Hadrian's triumphal gate. What a country this is! So many contrasts and extremes.

Now we could easily be in any chic Mediterranean resort in this Turkish Riviera town. There are palm trees, bougainvillea, roses, citrus and pomegranate groves, oleander. There is plenty of beach and a big marina area. Hawkers abound, trying desperately to sell us trinkets or bring us into their shops and restaurants. They call to us in German, French, Russian, English, cajoling and pleading. We wave them off and continue walking. Tomorrow we get some free time!

-- Posted from my iPad

Location:Ă–mer Efendi Sk,Antalya,Turkey

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