From Pamukkale our route took us across flat plains through vineyards and maize fields with high mountain ranges on either side.
This was south west Anatolia and we were heading towards the area known as the Lake District. We passed along the edge of lake Acıgöl, blindingly white with its salt pans and then across more large-acreage fields, a sparsely populated countryside this. As we passed walnut trees, the hill sides became greener, and we found ourselves in a rolling landscape, planted with coniferous and deciduous trees. At Goltaş gar we came across the first railway station we’d seen – for goods trains – and there was a huge cement works which K said looked more like a ruin.
Isparta is the centre for the production of rose oil (attar of roses) but there wasn’t a rose in sight except for the huge concrete rose planted on a roundabout as the town’s emblem and the roses painted on the sides of buses.
Smells of wood drifted up from the sawmills and apples, melons, pumpkins by the mound were on sale at roadside stalls.
We came down from the mountains towards the lake,
which is Turkey’s second largest freshwater lake, but decided to detour off our route to go higher up towards Bağoren where there were several large villas close to the lake’s edge and where we saw lots of coots and grebes on the water.
In the rushes near the little stone harbour lurked black frogs and dark green frogs. A heron rose noisily from the reeds, disturbed in its hunting, by our arrival.
Then we drove back south and stopped for a picnic lunch by the beach – it would have been a perfect spot except for the piles of litter everywhere and no bins. Following a small road parallel to the lake we found our way barred by the barriers to a military complex. We subsequently discovered that it was a commando training centre.
There was no mistaking which country we were in with this huge flag painted on to the landscape.
We arrived in Eğirdir on market day. Two tiny island are joined to the town by a causeway and the further of them, Yeşilada (green island) was where we were going to stay in Ali’s pension right at the end.
After checking in, we returned to the town and walked through the market. Much to our surprise, for we were a long way from the nearest coast, the fish stalls were well supplied with sea fish as well as local bass and carp from the lake.
The portal was apparently removed from the original Eğirdir caravanserai. We walked through the archway of the 14th century Hızırbey Mosque, whose arched minaret is considered unique.
We went in search of a cup of coffee in a rather fancy looking place whose armchairs were upholstered in bright red and turquoise plush velvet overhung with huge chandeliers. It seemed very out of place in the town but the coffee was good so we weren’t complaining.
Who do you consult when you arrive in a new town and you want somewhere to eat? my travelling companions persuaded me to accost the nearest policeman. Ideally we wanted a restaurant where we would be able to get a glass of wine with our dinner and we thought he would be sure to know of a suitable place. Indeed he did although when we went to investigate the hotel he recommended we didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes and decided to eat in another nearby hostelry whose staff had tried to persuade us to stop for a drink every time we we passed. We had a very good meal and were glad to huddle close to the wood fire as it got very cold that evening. One of the waiters told us how snow had lain on the ground for over 3 months one winter and it had been possible to drive trucks across the ice on the lake…. a suitably chilly note on which to end the evening.
The next morning I went for a walk near the pension. The area was supposed to have some fine old Greek and Ottoman houses but the ones I saw looked anything but.
The ground floors were constructed of stones and the upper floors were wooden and covered with rusting metal sheeting nailed to the outside for protection in wet weather