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Published: July 11th 2016
Hello my fellow travellers!
This is an old trip I did with my parents and my uncle, Anders in 1995. One of my fondest memories from this trip, which was my first time in the Middle East, is from when we were vising the Roman Forum that date from when Side was the capital of the Roman province Pamphylia.
Not only did I get to witness the magnificence of the Roman Empire for the first time but right next to the ruins was two camels with their handlers. I was absolutely ecstatic and rushed over there only get thrown on top of a camel before the count of one. The rest of my family was far more reserved and started haggling about prices and eventually a deal was struck and all of us soon found ourselves mounted on the back of a camel. The handlers sure knew how to charge us though and especially my mother was quite peeved about the cost.
During our stay in Turkey the hotel that we stayed at, Hemera, arranged several good shows for us, one of these was an amazing show of a Fakir and his beautiful assistant. He showed us a
lot of impressive moves as his body and mind have been forged by his will and belief. A Fakir is a holy man, a man who needs nothing but god, a man to whom god is one and all and sufficient for life. The show was very impressive, this man certainly lent credibility to all that I had heard about the Fakirs and I would love to witness such a show again.
Another great act that was arranged by the hotel was a belly-dancer. She was very skilful and sensual, and she really managed to bring a good sense of humour into her dance. For example she pulled several German tourists into the act, dancing with them, at them and even on top of them! Another fun example came from my own family, my uncle was tricked into stuffing some bills into the lining of her dress (eagerly cheered on and encouraged by my mother). This didn't go as planned as the rhythmic, sensual and quite speedy movement of the lady sent the bills flying across the room. My uncle was bright red in the face, although I can't swear to if he was blushing or just excited, most
Hotel Hemera, Side
likely both considering the circumstances.
I would certainly love to see a belly-dancer perform again some day, for me this sensual, skilful and somewhat mysterious art is a true part of the oriental culture. This wonderful lady's performance really lit up the room with heartfelt laughter and genuine smiles of adult and child alike. This performance is one of my fondest memories of the trip.
The hotel also offered a lot of different kinds of entertainments, not only the fakir and belly-dancer performances. We also had access to a tennis court, gaming machines and a pool table. Despite the fact that we are all terrible at playing pool, not to mention my father having the strangest shooting technique in world, we really enjoyed ourselves and spent quite some time by the table.
We also decided to take a two day long trip up to Pamukkale which is a beautiful natural area with magnificent hot springs. The first day we started with a visit to Lake Salda, one of the deepest lakes in Turkey and a popular excursion spot.
The next stop on the tour was a carpet weaver where we got to see the manufacturing of
silk as well as several gorgeous carpets that was handwoven with tremendous skill. The owner of the place gave us a lot of interesting information about how carpets are made and personally showed us the masterpiece, the Mona Lisa of carpets as he called it. When asked how much it cost he simply said that it's not for sale. My uncle did however buy another carpet that was for sale and then jokingly said that once he got home he would have to put it in a safe because it was so expensive.
From the carpet weaver we made our way to Denizli where we checked into the accommodation for the night. It was a cosy little hotel and both us tourists and the travel staff enjoyed ourselves, relaxing amongst the soft pillows that covered the floor. The guide however preferred the open fire to warm his cold behind.
The morning after we set out for the nearby Pamukkale and the ancient city of Hierapolis where the famous Cleopatra's Pool is located. The entire area is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and it was quite an experience to visit it. It's truly beautiful and
I highly recommend a visit to this place, I just wish that the photos that remain from this time would do it a semblance of justice.
The waters of Cleopatra's Pool is said to remove 20 years of a woman's age so we are eagerly awaiting the results of that! Ever since this place was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site great measures have been taken for it's conservation, this included demolishing several hotels that had been built on top of the ruins of Hierapolis. Good riddance in my opinion, it's also forbidden now to enter that pools at Pamukkale with shoes on to protect the deposits in them. Thanks to these measures the place looks absolutely stunning in it's bright white colours.
While we were living in Side we also took some time to visit the neighbouring city of Manavgat to visit their famous market. We spent a full day there, rubbing elbows with locals and tourists alike, haggling about prices. My uncle found a beautiful tea set to bring home while I kept polishing my bargaining skills and increasing my collection of animal statuettes that I started in Tenerife.
I managed to buy several
brass animals, including an absolutely stunning eagle that spreads it's wings while perched on a branch, I still keep it to this day. It sits proudly out on my porch, looking out over my backyard, keeping my home safe with it's vigilant gaze.
Of course our shopping brought about a heavy thirst so we did stop for a few beers here and there to refresh ourselves. Some beers would also help to keep us going through this long day of shopping. I unfortunately had to satisfy with softer drinks due to my age, but I enjoyed myself any way. The staff at various places was really kind and one of them even sent a young boy scrambling for snacks across the whole town to meet our needs, that level of service is amazing.
Another memory that I have, strangely enough, retained very well from this trip is that of my Game Boy. Just as with the trip to Tenerife I brought my Game Boy with me and I spent hours laying in the sun playing with it. I still remember a lot of the games I played on it and I had brought several cartridges with big game
collections on them with me, including the one I bought in Tenerife. It might seem like a strange memory of a foreign and mysterious country, but it is a strong and happy one.
It wasn't all sun and games though, we actually got hit by a pretty intense storm on our very last day. It was so violent that all flights had to be grounded and we had to remain in Turkey for an extra night. The hotel was nice enough to provide everyone with lodging and food free of charge. It actually turned into a rather cosy evening, sitting inside the restaurant with an atmospheric lighting, eating a delicious meal and listening to the storm raging outside.
The morning after the weather had cleared and the sun once again shone brightly in the sky. We all boarded the bus and returned to the airport for our flight back to Sweden. I really enjoyed my first taste of the mysterious Middle East and it certainly wouldn't be the last time that my travels would take me to this part of the world.
Until next time I wish you all peace and happy travels!
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