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Picture perfect day in Anamur

(written by Dave)

We’ve had a fantastic day here today on the south coast of Turkey.  As noted yesterday, we decided to spend a day relaxing in Anamur.  We are just about as far south as we’ll get on the European leg of our journey.  Anamur is close to the most southern point in Turkey.  Technically, the city of Antakya is further south but being right near the Syria border, we are not going that direction.  From here, it is all uphill – technically north, but it feels uphill.

We slept well; both of us were tired from yesterday’s big ride.  I looked at the bike computer this morning and we actually had been on the bikes for more than 6 hours, not counting breaks.  It was not that long a day mileage wise but the road construction meant lots of braking on the downhills and lots of concentration – no easy miles – thus our fatigued state.

We had brekkie at the Esya pension, typical Turkish menu except with the addition of Chinese lantern flowers/fruit.  We’ve seen a few these in Turkey but had not figured out how to eat them.  It’s pretty simple really; just peel off the paper and a smallish cherry like fruit is exposed.  Pop the fruit in your mouth and you get a sweat/savory mix that is quite nice and they have no pits.  After brekkie we played a bit with the pension kittens.  They have three 2 month old kittens here in the pension.  The mother was killed in a dog fight but the mother’s sister seems have adopted the cats as her own.  They sleep with her and she guards them quite protectively.  Mostly they were sleeping today but one managed to wake up for Nancy to cuddle.

After playing with the cats, the mother (ES of the ESYA for Esmehan), father (YA of ESYA, Yakup) and their son entertained us in their outside garden.  Yakup speaks Turkish and French, Esmehan speaks Turkish and their son speaks Turkish and English.  The conversation bounced between all three quite freely – we particularly enjoyed speaking with Yakup as it helped us rekindle some of the French we learned in Nice.  Their son later walked with us to the grocery store where he helped us decipher an additional month’s charge on our pre-paid mobile phone.  No French needed for this activity but good Turkish and English sure helped.

Next stop for us was Mamure castle.  It is only 2k walk via the beach but 8k via town.  Our host family was not quite sure we could get through on the beach as they usually go by car.  We decided to give it a try and it turned out to be a beautiful walk along the shoreline – the massive waves of two days ago are all but a distant memory with today only producing gentle lapping seas.

We reached the castle and were greeted by Recep, the castle gardener.  He was very friendly and offered all sorts of information.  Before we even entered the castle he pointed out some mulberry trees that he had planted years ago that were now in full berry.  Neither of us had ever tried mulberries so that was quite a treat.  They were also had a little sweet and savory mix, with the black/ripe ones being the sweetest.  Recep next provided us with a tea/cay and a quick history lesson of the castle.  We have to admit that we are both a little jaded by previous offers of tea and free information.  In Turkey, so far at least, we always seem to conclude these conversations with the offer to purchase something.

But that was not Recep’s gig.  He just wanted to make sure that we got the most out of our castle visit.  And boy did he ever.  For the next hour or so, he gave us a personal guided tour of the entire castle.  Along the way he would point out the perfect places for me to take pictures (including instruction on landscape or vertical orientation of the camera, plus telling me to wait for 10 seconds so that a person would move out of the frame).  I could barely keep up with he and Nancy and they moved quickly from one part of the castle to the next.  Recep would say, “this way mam” and they would be off before I had time to even take a picture.

We’d read a lot about the castle before visiting it so we had some idea of the history.  The castle was built by the Romans in 100 AD.  It fell into gradual disrepair until 1221 when the Turks captured it and significantly built and re-built.  Eventually, it fell into Ottomans and remained somewhat active until WWI.  It had no military use today but being used for so long means that it is in pretty good shape today.  In fact, it is in better shape now than almost any other site we’ve seen in Turkey.  Recep quite proudly  told us that about 25,000 people per year visit the castle.  To us, this seemed way too few.  It is a great sight and being in such good shape means you need much less imagination to guess what it might have looked like.  The bulk of the castle is “only” 800 years old so that could be part of it.  Or perhaps this part of the coast is too remote.  Maybe all that road construction we passed yesterday will open up the floodgates.  However it works out, we felt privileged to have met Recep and gotten such personal treatment.  He is only the gardener but really, he should run Anamur tourism council – his enthusiasm alone would certainly add to their visitor count.

We eventually made our way back to the resort area near our pension.  To be fair, this is more of a local village than resort area.  It is away from the main town centre of Anamur and it is where all the hotels are but it is very low-key and local.  According to our host, almost all the tourists here are from Turkey.  They have a nice seaside park and lots of families were out enjoying the sunshine.  We had great pide and lahmacun at a local restaurant.  We’ve seen both pide and lahmacun called Turkish pizza so I’m not sure which is which.  All we know is that both are delicious.  They almost always come with a nice big plate of fresh salad or greens and they don’t have much (if any) cheese.  So, tasty and pretty heathy – not a bad combination.

Nancy is napping now and I’m off to oil the bikes.  The owners of Esya are vacuuming – this place is spotless.  We hate to leave but more adventure awaits us tomorrow as we head towards Aydincik.  It is a shortish ride but our countrywide Turkey map shows 12 and 14% road grades – actually on the map.  Anytime you get road grades mentioned on a national map, you know that they are serious.  I just hope that they haven’t blasted the road to bits like they did yesterday.

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5 responses to “Picture perfect day in Anamur

  1. It sounds like a perfect day to enjoy the sights and people and kittens of Turkey!

  2. Love the castle pictures! Sounds like a great day off. We are having Summer here – 80F degrees here! Great day to get the yard in order. Good luck on the 14% grades tomorrow…

  3. Good place for a day off! Castle looks pretty well preserved. Glad you have good weather and hope it holds for the northern ride. Marion says Hi!

  4. The castle looks amazing. I am loving reading your blog and looking at the pictures. I really enjoy the food info!! The Chinese lantern fruit that you tasted is a type of the “Physalis fruit” . There are other varieties of this fruit – Cape Goosbery and Tomatillo are other varieties. You are welcome to stop of here when you are in the UK. Faye

    • Hi Faye, thanks for checking in and thanks for thePhysalislessons. I think that they are bit of anacquiredtaste. We may take you up on the offer – not sure when we’ll be in the UK but the Olympics may make lodging hard.

      ________________________________

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