Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lokum

Lokum - Turkish Delight to you and me -  has its roots in a culture that is almost as old as Anatolian history itself
Lokum is slightly chewy, not particularly sweet, and has a subtle flavour. Both the taste and texture is far removed from the Turkish Delight sold in the UK 
Its name in Ottoman is 'Rahatü'l Holkum' meaning contentment of the throat, it has been made in the Anatolia region for over 15 centuries
During the 17th century the fame of Lokum spread throughout the Ottoman Empire and in the 18th century it arrived in Europe. Lokum usually has a secret ingredient known only to its maker
Many natural flavours are used in Lokum from rosewater to pomegranate, lemon to bergamot. Sometimes it is filled with nuts, pistachio, hazelnut, etc and can be coated with coconut flakes, sesame seeds or a light dusting of icing sugar
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Is your mouth watering?
I shall be away from the computer for a few days. We are heading off to belatedly celebrate H's birthday from earlier this week 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Messing about on the river

The river at Dalyan meanders through the Lycean countryside before reaching its final destination, the Mediterranean Sea. As it nears the end of its journey the river widens into a fresh water lagoon. The water is filled with jumping fish, and edged with tall reeds and pampas grasses which flicker and sway to the movements and sounds of countless birds - storks, hawks and small songbirds - an idyllic nature reserve. 
As our 'Dokmusse' fishermen's boat, navigates the maze of reeds we become aware that more ancestors from 2400 years ago are once again looking down on us
Rock Tombs from the Carian realm
but its onwards towards the sea for us


What a surprise it was to discover ourselves docking at a large sand spit separating the river from the sea.  We had assumed that the river would flow into an estuary and then out to the Mediterranean but suddenly we found ourselves standing on Iztuzu Beach, an area of Special Environmental Protection.
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Iztuzu Beach is one of the main breeding grounds for the loggerhead sea turtles. The level beach enables the huge turtles to haul themselves up during April and May to dig their holes and lay 50 - 150 eggs roughly the size of ping pong balls, then leave them to incubate for about 60 days.
The beach has been saved from development by June Haimoff, an Englishwomen. From the mid 1970s she lived in a hut on the beach for several years in her quest to protect the area for the turtles. Amongst her supporters were English Conservationist, David Bellamy, and Prince Phillip. 
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The baby turtles have a natal homing instinct to the beach where they hatch. The eggs are all asexual, the sex of each turtle being determined by temperature: high temperatures make female turtles and lower temperatures make male turtles.
When the hatchling turtles emerge they are disorientated if they see a light source other than the sea. To have lights from any developments such as hotels would be disastrous for them.
Turtles are on the endangered list, and it is no wonder when you consider that their sexual maturity takes 25 - 30 years and that only 3 - 5% of them survive for that length of time.  
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A mature loggerhead turtle
Time to catch the Dokmusse
and head off for lunch

Sunday, 16 November 2014

The ancient cities of Myra & Simena

Greetings courtesy our lovely driver 'Omar' - a patient, delightful man, with a ready smile, and a fantastic pair of eyebrows.
It was from Demre that the cult of St. Nicholas spread around the world - he was known for his charitable nature and humility. This statue in Demre town square shows him looking like the familiar figure of Father Christmas, however, the image below from a wall painting in his church is probably a more accurate portrayal of him
The ancient Byzantine church in Myra (now Demre) is where St. Nicholas was appointed Bishop in the 4th century. He is an especially important figure within the Greek and Russian Orthodox church.  The church of St. Nicholas dates from 400 - 1100 - it is where he was interred, and his desecrated sarcophagus can still be seen. His bones are said to have been stolen by seafaring raiders from Bari, in Apulia, Italy. Some of them now reside in Bari and some in Venice. However, legends often give several alternative stories, one of which states that Norman Crusaders stole the bones which are now buried in a grave near Thomastown, Ireland!
Although some restoration and archaeological work is being carried out, the church has suffered the ravages  of countless wars and attacks over the centuries. It was damaged during an earthquake in the 8th century, and in the late 12th century there was a terrible flood causing the city of Myra and the church to be filled with floodwater and alluvial soil. Today's city lies approximately 6 metres above the ground level of the church.
The wall paintings show St. Nicholas depicted as a bishop in the first ever ecumenical council in Nicaea along with other bishops
The First Council of Nicaea was convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine The Great in the summer of AD 325
This wall painting appears to show Constantine wearing a crown on the righthand side and St. Nicholas on the lefthand side of the cross
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A mosaic of Constantine from a lunette in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Many of the wall paintings also show scenes from St. Nicholas's life, and his miracles
Just north of what is now the city of Demre lie the remains of ancient Myra. The foundation date is unknown as there is no literary mention of Myra before the 1st century BC when it is said to have been one of the six leading cities in the Lycian Union. It is believed, however, to date back much further as there is an outer defensive wall which has been dated to the 5th century BC.
Myra is known for its Greco-Roman Theatre, the largest in Lycia, set against a dramatic rocky backdrop. Its double vaulted corridors are still preserved and it has 38 rows of seats. Its facade was richly decorated with theatrical masks and mythological scenes.
The decorative pattern in the centre of this frieze is known as egg-and-dart moulding a standard feature of the Ionic order
On the rock face behind the theatre sits the dramatic necropolis of rock cut tombs. Most of the tombs date back to the 4th century BC and many contain funeral scenes in relief, some scenes portraying the daily life of the deceased. There are still traces of red, yellow and blue paint, so the entire cliff face must have once been a riot of colour. They are called house type tombs and even the beams of wooden houses have been faithfully reproduced in stone.  
A boat trip from the village of Kaleköy (castle village) revealed the half submerged ruins of the ancient sunken city of Simena, dating back to the 4th century BC. During the 2nd century AD there was a downward shift of land caused by a terrible earthquake which resulted in half of the city being thrust downwards and submerged into the water.
The boat passed by the village of Kaleköy dominated by a well preserved castle built by the Knights of St. John when it became a crusader's outpost. Later it was occupied by the Ottoman Empire.
Along the rocky coast could be seen a necropolis of distinctive sarcophagi dating from the Roman period
Nearly two thousand years after the earthquake and a square entrance portal from the ancient city of  Simena still stands defiantly
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Visible remains under the sea. Cut off except by boat from the rest of ancient Simena, it is now home to feral goats 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

"There are no foreign lands, it is the traveler only who is foreign" Robert Louis Stevenson

Walking amongst classical remains from antiquity, seeing some of the earliest Christian monuments, and strolling through yet another surreal landscape was memorable. 
Sleep deprived - will return shortly. 
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments on the previous post.