Monday, June 08, 2015

Finding Serendipity in Turkey

Rock tombs on the shore of Lake Bafa, Turkey

During a nearly month-long trip to Turkey, Lori Hibbett and I drove a car across the countryside to see ancient historic sites. We left a few days free in our itinerary to have the flexibility to follow whatever interesting side trips came up along the way.

While visiting Selçuk to visit the ancient city of Ephesus, our hosts at Hotel Bella recommended that we visit Lake Bafa. We had no idea what we would find when we get there, but we booked a couple of nights at the pension that they recommended, Agora Pansiyon.

Lake Bafa is a large saltwater lake, formed when the mouth of a bay field with silt. Hills covered with decomposing granite boulders and olive trees lead up to nearby Mount Latmos. The formation of the lake land-locked the ancient port of Heracleia, also known as Heracleia under Latmos.

Monastery of St. Mary on an island in Lake Bafa
Ancient fortifications dot the hillsides and the lake shore, and many tombs cut into solid stone still have their heavy rock lids askew on top. An island just offshore holds the ruins of the Monastery of St. Mary, dating back to the Byzantine era.

We explored the shore at sunset, then returned to our pension for dinner of fresh fish caught in the lake.  After dinner we returned to the lake for some night photography.

The nearby town of Kapikiri offers hiking trails which lead onto the mountain through small olive orchards, tended by local families and passed down for generations.  One of our hosts at Agora Pansiyon, Mithat Serçin, drove us over to Kapikiri to lead us on a hike.  One of the trails leads to the ruins of the Yedilir Monastery, which has an overhanging rock which housed a small chapel.  The walls which enclosed the chapel are gone, but various bible stories are still painted on the underside of the rock overhang.  A pile of rocks nearby was used to house beehives, for gathering honey.

Rock overhang near Yedilir Monastery ruins
On the way up we stopped to see ancient cave paintings, at one of nearly 200 sites cataloged on this mountain.  The area has been occupied by people for thousands of years.  On the way back down the mountain, we found a baby tortoise on the trail, smaller than a walnut!

It definitely can be productive to leave some portion of your trip to chance, to serendipity, and see what unexpected bonuses pop up along the way.

I don't have room for many photos in this blog post, so I'll post more to the new DripThat app, currently available on IOS devices (coming soon for Android).  Like a cross between messaging and social media, DripThat is perfect for travelers, for telling stories through pictures and video clips.

Lake Bafa at sunset

This information is on behalf of dripthat.