Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Burnley Tea Towel

From Selçuk we had an uneventful journey to Pamukkale. In fact it was the dullest journey we've had in Turkey, not helped by low cloud on the surrounding hills. Pamukkale is a tiny place overflowing with hotels and restaurants and sharks. After finding a good place to stay we headed off up the hill to walk through calciferous pools of thermal water. The hillside is a solid white waterfall. Above it are the ruins of Hieropolis, which became a Roman spa town because of the hot spring waters. Perhaps because it is less well-known than Ephesus we actually preferred it. The setting was great and the site was well-labelled. The main street had been rediscovered after 2 metres of calcified rock had been dug up and beside it was a huge agora (market/meeting place). Above the town was the reconstructed amphitheatre and another uncovered road led to an octagonal basilica built on the spot where it was believed Phillip the apostle was killed. We wandered happily around in drizzle and occasional rain before descending the slopes back to the comfort of our pension.
The next day we moved on, taking a long ride to Konya. We arrived in the dark and staggered around looking for the tram into the centre - it seems they're not so big on street lighting round these parts. Anyway, we finally found a hotel that was a shade pricey but toasty warm. A misty night had developed as we sauntered down the high street in search of a magical Indian restaurant. It was not to be so we settled for the good ol' Kebab Salonu. An english-speaking waiter was assigned to us upon entry and he was very friendly. At the end of our meal he got chatting and talked about some English friends from Burnley who had sent him a "tool". We asked about his english and he explained he used to work for a handicrafts shop. He had a map of the city, and as we walked out of the restaurant he carried on talking ceaselessly and took us across the road and down a side street to....a carpet shop. We both wanted to laugh out loud. Inside he showed us his Burnley "tool" - a tea towel pinned to the wall, and then simply because we had nothing else to do we sat there and let his friend show us some carpets. We said we weren't buying and we recited back to him all the usual fluff we get about double-knots, Kurdish kilims, silk embroidery etc. - in fact it's surprising how much we've picked up along the way. After a polite 10 minute rest we said goodnight and left. What a great line though - the Burnley "tool".
Konya is the home to the whirling dervishes - a kind of muslim off-shoot - and you can visit the tomb of the founder, a 12th century Afghan who settled here and began the cult of spinning, inside a Seljuk mosque. The tomb was busy with Turkish tourists and faithful and schoolchildren but I was disappointed by the velvet-covered coffin - I thought they could at least have had it rotating at a stately pace...........

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