Monday, June 17, 2013

Three and a half months later

What to do on this Sunday?
Wake up late and get lazy?... Too much of that in this past few days.
Watch the last episodes of my favorite TV shows?... I can do that anytime.
Go to the Zoo with my Ukrainian couchsurfer?... I don’t like animals in cages.
Let’s go to Rumkale!

Birecik castle

In Birecik, halfway to Halfeti something unexpected happened: For the first time, a woman gave us a lift! I was stunned, and wanted to share my appreciation, so I was just asking Adem to translate my gratefulness for her courage when we had a accident... Just a small crash, quickly solved by some shouting in the middle of the road, and it wasn’t even her fault. Turkish driving is gender unbiased, equally terrible. I collected some material on the subject, if I have time I’ll get back on that on a future post.

Some bargaining made it cheap to go on a boat trip.

The half submerged mosque in Eski Halfeti

And there it is, the medieval Rumkale! From the place with the best view to the ruins.

It was a magnificent seven-gated fortress on Euphrates (Firat) river, and its name stands for “Roman Castle”. It is now located in a new peninsula, formed by the reservoir of Birecik Barrage, built in 2000, 150 meters above the level of the water.

Batıköy, submerged village like Halfeti

A little fun on the way back

I had to ask...

The question is: So near form Gaziantep, we’ve been in Halfeti before more than once so we knew the “tricks” of the way, we travel thousands of miles to nice places but that doesn’t even compare to this and I’d seen the photos of this place before… Why did it take so long to go come to Rumkale?!


Friday, June 14, 2013


End of school year celebration

This morning it was the 2012/13 school year closing party. Now it’s time to go to the beach, the cinema or the park, play with your friends, go to your hometown, be with family living away, or just do absolutely nothing… It’s up to you :)

Zeynep and Kübra
The closing celebration had several speeches from the school Principal and other teachers, and a mention to me for which I am deeply grateful. I could tell by the emotion of the finalists how much they loved to study at Abdulkadir Konukoğlu Lisesi.

Almooost right... Congratulations for the effort

Ismail Hocam always guided me during these months
How lucky was I to teach the sweetest kids there is. I hope they learned and had fun with me as much as I learned and had fun with them.

And the Winner is... Afra Çücük and her Hasankeyf sunglasses

Merve and... Wait, I know those glasses!
When I graduated from University it was cool when people called me Engineer, but I never felt as proud as when I am called Hocam (means Professor).

For the ones I won’t be with this summer, good luck! Enjoy your vacation as much as you can because next year there is more to come.

Thank you for everything! I will miss you all.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The heat of an almost revolution


Kızılay, Ankara


Tales from the East

5.30h in the morning and the usual suspects’ fingers were already pointing to the road. First destiny, Tatvan, on the west shore of Lake Van. It took just 3 cars to make approximately 600km. It was not just luck, we are getting good at this...
With size and all the architectonical differences aside, Tatvan view from and to the lake resembles a little bit of Lausanne, in Switzerland, where my family lived for some years before I was born. It is the best place to observe Mount Nemrut, the other one, the volcano that (no one is sure how many) years ago erupted, blocking the surrounding rivers and causing them to flood forming Lake Van, the biggest in Turkey.

Mount Nemrut

With our host in Tatvan Eerda

The plan was to go from Tatvan to Van by the Ferryboat that makes that crossing every day, but fortunately that day the only connection was at night, so we decided to go by road, by the south side of the Lake. Fortunately because I know what to expect from the Lake, but if we didn’t go by the road we didn’t know what we were losing on the shore. On the way, Fafy covered the Lake on our left side and I covered the landscape on our right.

Akdamar Island

There is an ancient Armenian proverb that says: "Van in this world, paradise in the next". When we got there we understood why they used to say this. This huge city managed to grow extending harmonically on the shore of its homonym Lake, without almost any interference on its natural surroundings. Here the Lake is always present, it’s part of the identity of the city.

Van was the capital of the Urartian Kingdom in the 9th century BC, being the main settlement centered on Van Castle (Van Kalesi).

Here there are Urartian cuneiform inscriptions dating to the 8th and 7th centuries BC. The next photo shows the biggest one that we found, and the one after a hand-made little sculpture of the Urartian alphabet deciphered, kindly showed by a German couple that we met there, and that explained us the whole story of this proto-Armenian kingdom and the citadel.

Best photo

Due to its location near the borders of the Persian, Russian and Ottoman Empire, Van has always played an important role in the politics of the Ottoman Empire. There were conflicts in this site and unfortunately the old and original Armenian citadel is in ruins now.

Our host in Van, 29 years old, general manager of an enterprise already, my hero!

On our way to Doğubeyazıt:

First glimpse of Ararat

A sea of volcaninc stones

Ishak Pasha Palace, or as it is originally designated İshak Paşa Sarayı, is the last remaining standing Ottoman palace in Anatolia. Its construction started in 1685 and took one century to complete. It is located in a steep hill in the centre of the old town. As it was built in an era when castles were no more effective strongholds and firearms were developed and were abundantly available, its defense towards the hills was not a priority. Instead of being built to serve as a defense structure, it is one of the wealthiest samples of Ottoman architecture.

Inscription of The Lion, a Turkish coloquial metaphor for man strength and bravery


Next, photos of the ruins of the Doğubeyazıt Urartian castle.

Best photo #2

Doğubeyazıt has the best view to Mount Ararat (Ağrı Dağı), and this is the closer we got to Iran and Armenia. The Mount is a dormant volcanic cone with two peaks, Greater Ararat, 5 137m, the highest in Turkey, and Little Ararat, with “just” 3 896m. It was first climbed in 1829 by Dr. Friedrich Parrot and Khachatur Abovian.
In Judeo-Christian tradition, this place is associated with the "Mountains of Ararat" where, according to the book of Genesis, Noah's ark came to rest after the Great flood.
With "Fox Mehmet"

Ararat in the morning

I even got to drive! Apparently the only thing I wanted but won't do in Turkey is go to a football match

The landscapes change, the history of the places vary, but the pattern remains the same, the people we meet are always extremely warm and our adventures are only possible due to their will to help us. This travel had a constant: Blue. From the Sky to the Land and in several tonalities. This color has been present all my life. I lived all my life by the shore and here in Turkey I hadn’t before seen so much of it.