Road Trip to Cappadocia
27 April 2013
April 26, 2013 Turkey Road Trip—Day One
Marmaris to Edgirdir
We were waiting at 0630 for our bus to start our 6 day trip into the SE of Turkey to the ancient area known as Cappadocia. Our bus arrived and it was a new 24 seater, very comfortable with A/C and nice seats. All of the other passengers were cruisers and we knew one couple already. Our guide introduced himself as Taz and not only did he speak English very well, but he had a great personality—joking and informative at the same time. We headed down the coast to a town called Gocek where we stopped for a comfort break and a bite. The area we passed through was full of pine trees and green pastures—not what we expected to find in Turkey. We really did not have any pre-conceived ideas of Turkey, maybe some camels, mustachioed dark men (and hairy ladies, too), and sand dunes. We were amazed to find pine forests and green meadows with rivers and streams flowing down from snow mantled mountains.
After our break, we stopped at the ‘Wooden Mosque’ where we were given a personal tour by the head Imam or priest—he even sang some of the Koran for us. We continued on to the town of Isparta—which was settled in ancient times by the Greek Spartans. Here we stopped for a look through the Bazaar and some really good baklava. We drove onto the ruins of a great Roman town called Sagalassos, located high in the West Taurus Mountains at 1450-1700 meter altitude. Sagalassos controlled the trade route from Asia and had been a settlement since the Hittites in 14th century B.C. Sagalassos was extremely important to trade and Alexander the Great conquered the town in 333 B.C. Then the Romans took control of the town under the rule of Emperor Hadrian.
The Romans built Sagalassos as a Roman town with a market area, senate and baths, and a beautiful fountain. The Romans fortified the town with soldiers to guard the trade route over the mountains and to collect taxes from the rich caravans. Unfortunately, earthquakes in 518 and 640 A.D. completely destroyed the town and it was abandoned. The town was found in 1706 by the French explorer Paul Lucas and it is currently being restored by the Belgian University in Leuven. We arrived, after a harrowing narrow mountain road, high up in the cool mountain air, to find a treasure trove of ancient relics—some just lying at our feet.
After hiking around the ruins of Sagalassos for a couple of hours, we boarded our bus for the long ride to Egirdir which is located on a huge fresh water lake—one of many in the ‘Lake District’ of Turkey. Along the way, we stopped in Antalya for a great pide lunch. We had a great dinner over looking the lake and spent the night in the nice Atingol hotel (or, Otel as they say in Turkey). The next morning we would have a long ride to Cappadocia.