In September 2005 after finishing our umrah, we left the searing heat of Saudi Arabia and whizzed to Turki. We landed in Istambul and were welcomed by pleasant weather. Istambul, what a marvelous city it was. A combination of modern and classical architecture that was both dark and sweet like Turkish coffee. Our first stop was Hagia Sophia, a museum that was a basilica built by Emperor Constantine during the Byzantium Era. Surrounded by lush garden and fountains, it truly was a relaxing place. Plus, another great architecture, the Blue Mosque was just next door.
We then continued our trip to Ankara and straight to Capadocia. On the way we stopped at several Caravansarai. These caravansarais were used during the ancient time as resting places for travelers. Imagine Silk Road during its glory. The buildings were made of limestone with carving on the walls. Inside there were hallways, dark and cool, protecting people inside from the searing heat. Nowadays, many of the caravansarais were used to host varieties of shows such as Dervish Dance, bellydancing, or simply sisha cafes.
Next stop was Capadocia’s Open Air Museum. During the old times Christians were prosecuted by the Muslim government. So they ran and hid by building their homes inside and under the cliffs. Next to the Open Air Museum were the Faeries’ Chimneys; minarets of limestone carved by wind erosion over thousands of years. Some of the chimneys were still residents for the local people.
After that we went to the Museum of Archaeology where there were many interesting artifacts. But what captured my eyes the most was a statue of Astarte, goddess of fertility. Carved from a single block of white marble, the statue portrayed a standing Astarte with eggs hanging on her torso, symbolising prosperity and longevity. I photoshopped the image and darkened the background to enhance the statue.
Off to Ephesus we went to see the great Ephesus Library. Of course it was a ruin, but during its heyday, Cleopatra was reportedly jealous because of the architecture and collection of the library. Oh Turki… Turki… never once I regretted the time I got allergy for eating fresh yoghurt with honey and poppy seed, after all sometimes sacrifices were needed in order to enjoy good food in life, even if it included allergy pills. Goodbye my grilled eggplant with meat sauce. I’ll come back and eat you again in the future….