Çıralı, Antalya, Şirince: May–June, 2008
Saturday, May 24
Ayşe and I arrive in Antalya on an overnight bus from Ankara. We catch a minibus along the coast and get off at the Çıralı junction. A dolmuş is waiting there. The fare to the village would be 5 lira each, if we waited for more customers to come along; but for 25 lira we can go right away. Instead we call Alp Giritli (on cell phone) to come pick us up.
This will be the third year that we visit Giritli Pansiyon before Antalya Algebra Days. The Giritli's place is magical. To be out of the city, beside that stream, among those trees: it is something I have wanted for the last year, without always recognizing it. (The photos below were taken the following Tuesday. The second shows the pension itself: Ayşe and I had the room with the red door.)
This year we can look forward to sharing the experience at Çıralı with Rahim and Andy and their little girls Sophia and Anar. The family have come from Canada, with the excuse that Rahim will give a talk in Antalya; they have already been travelling in Turkey for a couple of weeks. Today they will come to Çıralı from Patara.
Sunday, May 25
We all walk to the beach and over to the ruins of Olympos before returning to the Ceylan Cafe in Çıralı for lunch. Adjacent to the cafe is a grove of pomegranate trees. That's nar in Turkish, and apparently anar in Persian: so we photograph Anar with the flowers.
Monday, May 26
As last year, Ayşe and I hike to the Yanartaş (Chimaera) from above along the Lycian Way. The skies are clear, unlike last year. At the stream crossing, we meet two groups of hikers confused about where to go: we set them straight. (You cross the stream on a wobbly log, if you don't want to get your feet wet.)
Rahim and Andy considered taking Sophia and Anar on this hike, but they were probably wise not to. There are sections of the trail that once accommodated four-wheeled vehicles: probably these would be fine for the girls, whether carried or running free. But on some narrow footpaths, one would perhaps want neither to carry the girls, nor to let them make their own way without safety ropes.
So our guests will get a ride with one of the Giritlis to the lower entrance to the flames. From there it is a climb of some 300 meters (mostly on big stone steps) to the flames themselves. I guess that Ayşe and I will reach the flames in two hours. In fact, we take five minutes more than this. Well, Andy and Rahim have not promised to wait for us anyway: it depends on the restlessness of Sophia and Anar. Perhaps in haste to catch up with the family as they head back to Çıralı, I neglect to photograph the flames themselves. (I couldn't photograph them last year, because our camera batteries were dead.)
We find our friends at the lower entrance, where the girls are fascinated by the chickens running around, as they had been back at the pension. We all walk the four kilometers to the Ceylan Cafe for lunch before visiting the beach.
Tuesday, May 27
We must move to Antalya proper today. Meanwhile we make a last visit to the beach and the Ceylan Cafe. Zeynep Giritli points out that there are other good places to eat in Çıralı; but since we are known to the Cafe's Rabiye hanım, it would be hard to walk past and go elsewhere.
Alp must take us up to the highway in two groups. So Ayşe and I catch a later bus to Antalya.
Friday, May 30
The Antalya Algebra Days excursion this year is to the upper Düden Falls…
…and then Termessos. (There was an alternative boat trip for those who wanted to “have fun.”)
Saturday, May 31
After the first talk of the morning, I meet Ayşe, Sasha, and Patrick in a park on the way to the old city of Antalya. We all continue to the old city together, where Sasha looks unsuccessfully for vests made of sheep's fleece. Perhaps it is the wrong season. A purchase of a leather vest is almost made, but then the sellers claim that the agreed-on price was only good for a cash payment. Elsewhere, after lunch, a man is prepared to make a fleece vest and deliver it to the hotel; but Sasha is leery of making such a deal.
We have lunch outside at an uninspiring place just inside where the old city walls were. Ayşe, my mother, and I ate dinner there several years ago in the winter, but the name and presumably the management were different then. Now the “fresh” orange juice is pulpless and bland and poured from a jug supposedly obtained from another restaurant. We catch a taxi back to Antalya Hotel for the afternoon's talks.
Monday, June 2
On Sunday, a number of us moved to the Nesin Mathematical Village outside Şirince. Some travelled by plane; others, by bus.
On Monday, we walk into Şirince for gözleme “made to heavenly perfection” at the Özlem Cafe before catching the dolmuş into Selçuk to see the sights: the İsa Bey mosque and the ruins of the St John Basilica.
The garden of the mosque is wonderful as usual, but it seems browner than last year. When I ask the imam in Turkish about this, he explains that, because of the drought, they were doing very little watering. That's funny: back at the Mathematical Village, Sevan Nişanyan had claimed that Şirince (and hence, I should think, Selçuk) had received a lot of rain this past winter. Well, the imam had a friend in the meteorology service, so I suppose he should know what he is talking about.
The imam is non-doctrinaire. When he invites our whole group into the covered part of the mosque, he tells the women not to bother covering their hair: “God is not on the head; God is in the heart.” I thought I heard him earlier refer to Mevlana. (In a list of languages that he knew something of, English was at the top; but he mainly spoke Turkish, with Ayşe and me.)
The imam points out that some of the columns supporting the roof were salvaged from Ephesus. He notes a small part of the wall where the old frieze has been recovered; old prints show the frieze running all around the space. These prints also tell us, apparently, that the mosque courtyard used to be entirely paved with stone.
Over at the St John Basilica, as there seem to be guards hanging around, perhaps we cannot bring in beer as last year; but Nina and Piotr find that we can have a drink on the roof of a pension across the street. From there one can see into a storks' nest atop a power pole.
Sevan Nişanyan basically built the Mathematical Village, which apparently sits on Kayser Mountain. Red signs identify its buildings; but a similar red sign at the entrance road reads "Warning: Sevan may come out." We see this when we return in the evening. Perhaps it is an allusion to his driving style. The sign is later removed.
Tuesday, June 3
A bus is arranged to take us to the supposed house of the Virgin Mary and then Ephesus before a visit to a national park for a swim in the sea. First the bus has to get out of the Mathematical Village. The driver is supposed to meet us in Şirince, but there is a misunderstanding. So he drives all the way to the math village, where, it appears, there is no space for him to turn around, and moreover he gets stuck in the gravel. A tractor pulls the bus out of the gravel, but the problem of turning remains. Eventually the driver figures he can turn if he runs over a young planted tree (visible in the first photo below). The tree may however survive.
The visit to Mother Mary's House is probably a waste of time and ten lira, unless one is a believing Roman Catholic or a student of religious devotion. Throngs of the devout do visit. It would appear that they are being gouged, as Ephesus itself costs only ten lira.
(By the way, the George B. Quatman mentioned at the bottom of the plaque in the photo is perhaps the grandfather of the Lima, Ohio, attorney of the same name and address, whose license, in 2005, was recommended for suspension “for six months for professional misconduct involving alleged inappropriate sexual touching and comments directed toward a female client.”)
Once we are inside Ephesus, and our group has split up, Ayşe and I pay the extra ten lira each to visit the terrace houses, covered with an elaborate roof. Pompeii was abandoned because of a volcano; these terrace houses, because of earthquake. There are floor mosaics and wall paintings: it is all spectacular.
Having entered from the south, Ayşe and I have given our group (and our bus driver) an hour and a half to meet at the north entrance. Two hours or more might have been better.
It is a long drive to the beach, but the time spent in the bus seems worthwhile in the end, as the beach is within a large national park with few visitors. The beach is only shingle, and the water is a bit rough for the Aegean, but I think everybody gets wet except Angus, who seems content to sit in the sun: he has already explained to me that he didn't get much swimming experience, growing up on the west coast of Scotland. Carol gets a number of us to look for heart-shaped stones, to be added to the collection of a friend.
Sasha points out to me a nearby ridge that must have served as a quarry for the Mathematical Village. I go over there for some snapshots. The ridge is alive with birds, insects, reptiles, and at least one mammal besides myself and Şükrü: a squirrel. In addition to lizards, I spy two small snakes, of two different species. Without a zoom lens, I don't get great snaps of the Village, but you can see it (in two pictures below). I photograph my boots, so that I might show my shoemaker what I use them for.
In the late afternoon, Ayşe and I go to Selçuk with Carol and put her on a bus to Cappadocia. Then we visit the meager remains of the Temple of Artemis, which we should have visited yesterday. Up the hill are the İsa Bey Mosque, the St John Basilica, and the castle. A gander doesn't pay us much mind as he brutalizes the goose he is trying to mate with. But a peacock flees the camera. Back in town, on Uğur Mumcu Love Street, we see that a monument to the assassinated journalist has his manifesto in Turkish and English. We dine in the open air at a place we know, then catch our own overnight bus to Ankara.
In talking about the potential of the Mathematical Village in the morning, Carol suggested that some mathematical visitors might be “high maintenance,” not pleased with the somewhat primitive living conditions. Carol may have been thinking mainly of the current lack (perhaps to be remedied later) of a library with at least computer access to journals and a printer. But I know from my own experience that some people are simply bothered to be away from a city. Moreover, most of the sleeping accommodations at the Village are in dormitories with many beds, but no mirrors; toilets and showers (and Turkish bath!) are in another building; there are insects flying about.
In my mind, I ridiculed anybody who couldn't handle Village life. Yet on the bus to Ankara, I find much to complain about. A movie is shown, and the sound is loud, at an hour when many people might want to sleep. The muavin responds to our complaint by saying, “Eighty percent of the passengers want to watch a movie.” Ayşe says, “If they want to have fun, let them go to a cinema or a disco; some of us have work to do tomorrow.” (We ourselves must invigilate and grade a calculus exam.)
We give up on sleeping and get out our novels. The overhead reading lights don't work: this requires another call to the muavin.
At one point when I am trying to sleep, a man across the aisle and one seat back plays with his worry beads. Their clicking is not so loud that I can complain without embarrassment; and yet I am bothered. When the sound seems to get especially loud, I take off my eye shades and look around: it is only the woman opposite me opening a candy wrapper.
Later in the night, when the movie is over and all of the lights are out, there are more noises. One is as of styrofoam pieces rubbing together; the other is as of clinking glass bottles. Ayşe calls the muavin about the former noise, and he stops it; but it comes back. As for the sound of glass, I think that somebody knows exactly what it is: it is right above somebody; why doesn't that person do something about it?
The Nesin Mathematical Village is touted as a place “away from any distraction such as TV, radio or music”. The kitchen and dining areas, where most noise might occur, are placed well away from most of the other buildings. Our bus ride back to Ankara is a reminder that many people are indifferent to silence; or perhaps they don't even like it. In that case, who is the more intolerant?
I do get some sleep on the bus, enough to see me through the next day.