Thursday, November 22, 2007


Our last stop in Turkey. It takes us a while to orient ourselves in Antakya - our map is wrong - and then we have some hotel shenanigans, finally going back to one we had looked at first. It's sometimes cold in the evenings so we've been glad of heating. Besides air conditioning this room has the added advantage(?) of a TV - I check the time of the big match and what channel its on. European finals qualification at stake, and all that. Then we head out to get some lunch and wander around the town.
It's a smallish city on the banks of a river, and it's hard to imagine it had a population of half a million in Roman times. As the ancient town of Antioch it was home to one of the earliest christian churches. It also had wealth - the local museum exhibits (in a vague sense of the word) a huge collection of mosaics recovered from ruins nearby- sadly none are complete.
In between rainstorms we take a gander down some of the streets - it's much smarter and tidier than grotty Gaziantep, and not how we imagined it to be. After the First World War the city fell under French control as part of Syria. It then declared itself as an independent republic until Turkey 'absorbed' it in 1938. We thought it woud have a flavour of Syria about it but not a single plate of houmous can we find.
Gayle spots a cinema poster for Atonement and we go to the cinema for the first time in a long while - the film is sub-titled in Turkish, which is fine except for two scenes in French. We are unfazed. Back at the bus depot we have already been speaking French to get details of the bus to Aleppo. The film is okay but lacks the drama and excitement of the footie which is on when we get back to our hotel. And what can I say about the football? Well, Turkey looked a bit nervous but deserved their 1-nil victory over Bosnia Hercegovina. Mmm, wonder how England are doing against Croatia.........

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