Have been in Antakya for the last couple days. Will leave tomorrow. Might
spend a night in Iskenderun on the coast, or might head back to Istanbul via
Ankara (where I hope to spend a day) by train.
Antakya formally named Antioch, of great import to Christian history. (If
you look on a map, I'm in the that finger of land that extends down from
Turkey between Syria and the Mediterranean.) Not much in the town of great
beauty; mostly just modern, cement based, instantly aged, utilitarian styled
buildings. Things stitched together, rickety, somewhat polluted. The town,
however, surrounded by impressive mountains. Have met a young Arab man, who
has shown me around (saw some spectacular thousand year old ruins (build by
Christians; destroyed by Muslims) on top of a mountain not far from here,
from which vantage point we could look out over the Mediterranean (and a
setting sun) and also to the south at a snow capped mountain that stood
between us and nearby Syria). Last night joined him and his friends. We
ate this heavenly kebab wrapped in thin, fried (in olive oil) unleaven bread
(the whole thing called Durum), then I watched as they played a card game
akin to Bridge. (Did you know that Bridge was invented in Istanbul some 150
years ago by a few British soldiers stationed there during the Crimean War?
The name came from the fact they crossed the Galata Bridge [not far from my
place] each evening. [Florence Nightingale (sp?) also stationed in Istanbul
during that same war, which was when she made her name.]) Two of the players
were Christian, one was Turk and the fourth my "new" Arab friend. This
provence, Hatay, is apparently the most diverse one here in Turkey, in an
ethnic, cultural, religious sense.
Boat ride over from Cyprus an ordeal. Seas rough. Took twice as long (4
hours instead of 2) as advertized. I got worried when the stewards passed
out small plastic bags as we left port. I lasted about an hour and a half
before I used mine, but was part of a vast majority of fellow suffers. I
guess I didn't inherent sea legs for my old man.
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