We passed many more mounds of apples, red, yellow and green, by the roadside waiting for collection for a company called Smart Fresh which had a number of storage facilities/depots in the area for the apples.
The town of Gelendost had a concrete apple for its symbol.
We also saw mounds of brown things which we thought at first were rutabaga but later realised were sugar beets when we saw several signs for sugar factories.
In Beyşehir we had a late picnic lunch by the lake. The local council had erected BBQ « pagodas » in the park, each one consisted of a roofed area over the table and benches, a BBQ chimney, a water supply and a rubbish bin – very civilised.
Then we drove to the old part of town to visit the 13th century Eşrefoğlu mosque. I particularly wanted to see this because it had a beautiful tiled interior.
C & I were told that we needed to cover our heads and shoulders so of course the ladies outside the mosque selling handicrafts kitted us out in suitable fashion. Once inside the mosque we discovered that we could have borrowed a headscarf each from a box provided for such purposes. Afterwards C and I each bought a winter woolly hat from their stall.
Inside 40 Cedar wood pillars, carved and painted at the top, supported the wooden ceiling. According to Wikipedia, at the center of the mosque there is a snow pit (the fenced-off area in the centre of the photo above). Up until relatively recent times (1940s), the pit used to be filled with snow from the nearby mountains. This snow both cooled the mosque during the summers and supplied the necessary humidity to the wooden infrastructure. On 15 April 2011 the mosque was included in the list of World Heritage tentative list. The justification statements is “Esrefoglu Mosque includes all the main elements of early Anatolian Turkish architecture. The building is the biggest, best preserved wooden columned and roofed mosque in the Islamic World.”
We got into the mosque just in time for me to photograph the ornate tiled section known as the mihrab (the equivalent of an altar in our churches) but it was prayer time and soon lots of men were coming in so we left. The women were confined to a screened off area at the back.
Behind the mosque was a new hamam. Being the only Turkish speaker in our group I was despatched to find out if it was open and how much it cost. The attendant explained that entry to the hamam was 12TL with a further 6TL each for a kese scrub and a soaping and 6TL for a massage. Usually the hamam is open to men or women only on alternate days but he told us he could make an exception for us. K asked if we all wanted to do it and we said yes. The attendant told us to come back in half an hour by which time the other customers would have left.
Back at the hamam each of us was allotted a changing cubicle and a key. We were told to get undressed and wrap a peştemal (a cross between a curtain with tassels and a sarong) around ourselves and to go into the hamam itself where we were left to sweat it out for 15 minutes. Inside the walls and floor were entirely made of marble with a series of carved marble basins and taps around the perimeter and with a large raised marble platform on which several people could have stretched out. K tested the acoustics of the next door sauna with a song. When we were deemed sweaty enough each of us was scrubbed down with a rough mitt (kese) – you should have seen how much dirt came off! Next a soapy balloon/pillow case was inflated and floated over us – this felt wonderful – and then we each had a full body massage which was none too gentle resulting in all of us squealing. The last step was to return to the main steam room where we rinsed everything off, dried and dressed ourselves. The whole experience took about 1-1/2hrs. Afterwards my skin felt really soft and smooth.
We drove back to our hotel, 12km out of town and right on the lakeside, just as the sun was setting but the sun went down behind the mountains and it wasn’t a particularly colourful sunset.