Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Turkey

Istanbul, from Galata Tower near our apartment

Wow, what a trip!  So many people had told us how much they loved Turkey that I knew we would have a good time, but I don't think we really knew what to expect going into it.  The travel would be tough, the language is difficult, but we were ready for a vacation and looking forward to some time together.  We certainly got more than we could have imagined.

The first half of our trip was in Istanbul--an absolutely incredible place.  So much history crammed together, such unique energy, it really has to be experienced to be understood.  It has a European feel, but not all the way. There is definitely a different sense of life there than any other place I've been.  Very, very friendly and generous, not pushy at all.  Hard working but not caught up.  Comfortable.

Got a couple of short runs in.  Getting out and running in a new city, especially a foreign city, is so fun.  Everything just takes on a new feel.  It is people-watching at its best.  Seeing the fishermen on the waterfront or the hustle of the ferry terminals, the other tourists doing what we would be doing later in the day...pure entertainment.  

The view up the valley from our villa near Kalkan
After Istanbul we flew south to the Mediterranean coast.  We had rented a villa in the hills up above the town of Kalkan.  It was truly stunning.  Situated on a small little hilltop with a couple other (empty) houses, we really were in our own little world.  Lots of small little farmhouses with chickens and goats and sheep, it was a step back in time.  People have been living in these hills for 4000 years and with the exception of some asphalt and mopeds, it doesn't seem a lot has changed.  Lycian ruins  (as well as later Byzantine and Roman) are all over this area.

Our house was about 1750 feet above and a few miles drive from the sea below us.  The mountains rose to nearly 4000 feet up the valley from us.  Running up and over the pass (~3500 ft) there was lots of dirt/rock side roads that were fun to explore.  Most would shortly dead end at a pasture or a honey farm, but some would snake up further into the hills exposing views of neighboring valleys or the snow covered mountains further inland.  I never had enough time to adventure too far down these paths, but it was fun nonetheless.  Some of the most beautiful scenery I've been around.  

Some more photos:


Lycian tombs in the hills
The next valley looking back at the pass
Nice view of the larger mountains inland
The kids walking behind the house

I hope to go back someday...

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