A couple of years ago we went on a road trip in Turkey at this time of year but I never got round to posting about it. This year’s sacrifical Bayram has just finished so it seems appropriate to post it now.
Today was the most important day of the Kurban Bayram (sacrificial Bayram) when families sacrifice a sheep, goat or cow and divide the carcass up between the family and other less fortunate people. Wherever we saw a group of people gathered out of doors they were busy skinning or cutting up a carcass and in some places we caught sight of blood in the drains – not a pretty sight.
scenery en route to Tarsus
At Nigde we found ourselves on a motorway that wasn’t even on our map! We passed fields and fields of dark green cabbages. The 3 lane on each side motorway took us through a series of tunnels, 8 in all, a phenomenal feat of engineering. Once through the tunnels, Akcaktekir looked like an Alpine town and the trees were now clad in their autumn colours.
One of the dashboard warning lights came on so we stopped in a service station to phone Hyundai’s 24 hour helpline. They said we could keep going but if the engine speed changed we should call again and with some trepidation we hit the road and completed the trip without any further problems. We were pleased and surprised to discover that use of the motorway was free because of the Bayram holiday.
Once in Tarsus (birthplace of the Bible’s Paul of Tarsus) we found our hotel without too much difficulty, located in the historical part of town and within easy walking distance of most of the main sights.
entrance to the Tarsus Konak hotel
Inside the hotel were a number of these shirt-shaped decorations. They are based on shirts produced in Tilsim and feature on ceramic plaques and jewellry.
We visited St Paul’s well – not much to see there,
the covered Bedesten (market),
where we saw these pictures of a mythical monster called a Sahmeran
a stretch of ancient Roman road,
St Paul’s church memorial (painted landscape murals),
the Ulu camii (main mosque), noteworthy because its minaret also doubles as a clock tower
the local hamam,
another Christian church that had been converted to a mosque,
It was very quiet everywhere because of the Bayram and the only people about seemed to be the many men busily cleaning animal skins in the streets. We tried hard not to look at these.
We had dinner in the hotel and then walked down ‘bar’ street next to the hotel, had a drink in a bar and watched football. C said she didn’t feel very comfortable walking around the streets near our hotel especially in the evening as it only seemed to be guys going into the bars.
Next day we met the Sahmeran outside a shopping mall
I thought the hotel we stayed in there, was the nicest one of the whole trip. It was in one of the historical houses with lots of attractive sitting areas and interesting artwork and pictures on the walls – several examples of Ebru (the art of marbling using coloured inks/paints on paper) as well as some interesting coffee table books. According to one such book, ‘Topkapı saray’dan Tılısımlı gömlekler’ (Tılısımlı shirts from the Topkapı saray) the decorative ‘shirts’ on the walls were based on similar shirts. These shirts feature largely in wall decorations, ceramics and jewellery all over Turkey. It was here, in the covered market, that we also came across images of the mythical creature called a şahmeran, which seemed to be part mermaid and part sea monster.