Sunday, February 24, 2013

A stopover in Kamyaran - Kurdistan, Iran

Two of our friends posed with the local Kurdish men
A beautiful scenery on our way to Kamyaran
Vegetables on sale by the side walk
We made a brief stop in the town of Kamyaran on the way to Palangan. Kamyaran is a remote Kurdish town, 65km south of Sanandaj. It is a small town but lively with daily activities going on like any other towns. The southern part of Kamyaran is connected to Kermanshah, while the eastern and northern parts are mountainous with beautiful valleys.  It was  early morning when we arrived in Kamyaran and the air was fresh. 

We had to stop as some people wanted to go to the toilet and others needed a stretch.  Anyway, it was a good opportunity to browse through the town and to have a glimpse of the daily lives of the people. The main street was busy with locals shopping for their grocery. Most of the men were clad in their traditional huge Kurdish pants. Fresh fruits and vegetables were just laid by the sidewalk for sale. Our Persian friends took time to communicate with the locals selling their goods on the side walk. 

Although, I understand nothing  out of their conversation, their warmth and friendliness are obvious.  In another occasion we went to a madrasah (religious school) and ask a person there if we could use their toilet but surprisingly, we got invited for lunch! It was such a short stop in Kamyaran and we had to decline the invitation politely.  Despite the strict body check, detailed camera screening and serious luggage inspection at the airports, I still cannot imagine how the locals are such a contrast to the authority!  

Nuts and dates on sale
Fruits and vegetables vendor on the side walks
The madrasah, where we got invited for lunch at one of the local's house
The street in Kamyaran
The local man dressed in his ethnic attire
In big baggy pants
The friendly vegetables seller
The streets were busy in the early morning

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Home of Rumi - Konya, Turkey

"We heal ourselves with Your remembrance, and should we forget, we are in relapse" - 
Jalaluddin Ar Rumi

We took Suha bus service from Goreme downtown to Konya. It was a comfortable 3 hours journey and that was the best option since there was no direct flight from Kayseri or Nevsehir to Konya.  Flying from Goreme to Konya would require us to fly to Istanbul and then fly to Konya. But it was not a hassle traveling by bus as the service was excellent.
The sculpture of Dervish perfoming 'sema'

Konya is known to be one of the oldest conservative city in the world dating back to 5,000 years. In fact archaeologists in their excavation have shown that the region was inhabited as far back as the late Stone age of BC 7,000 and that includes the settlers of the Bronze Age civilizations like the Hittites, Persians, Romans and Byzantines. Around 50 AD, St Paul and St Barnabas came to the city in one of their journeys in Asia Minor. Konya first exposure to Islam was during the time of Caliph Muawiya but their adoption to Islam was after the victory of the Seljuks in 1071. I imagined Konya to be an old conservative city but indeed I was wrong.

As the bus approached Konya, I was surprise to discover that the city was huge, modern and clean. What brought me to this city was purely the fact that the renowned Sufi, Jalaluddin Ar- Rumi once lived here. We wanted to visit his tomb and some historical sites. We booked a hotel not far from Aladdin Mosque and pretty close to the shopping streets in Konya, so everything was in a walking distance.

The people we met on the streets were very friendly and some were exchanging smiles with us as a gesture of welcoming I suppose. Konya is very different from Istanbul, most of the women on the streets are wearing scarfs or hijab and as result there are many shops selling huge collection of beautiful scarfs. The scarfs are much cheaper than those in the Grand Bazaar in Istambul.
The bus from Goreme to Konya is very comfortable
The spicy and greasy meal that brought my stomach upset 
Busy streets of Konya
The bustling bazaar
Gold shops lined the street in Konya

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Touch of Greece - Kos, Greece

The hydrofoil that swifts us to Kos
Greece is known to be a beautiful country and to write on Kos alone of course would not be a representative view. But I took the advantage of my presence in Bodrum to extend my trip to Kos, the nearest Dodacanese Islands of Greece. The hydrofoil from the Bodrum harbour transported us to Kos in just 15-20 minutes. We left Bodrum at 9am, arrived in about 20 minutes and leisurely returned to Bodrum by 5pm. While we read about the unrest in Athens, nothing seemed to bother this peaceful small Greek island.

The port in Bodrum in the early morning
Kos is said to be the birth place of the ancient physician, Hippocrates and right in the center of the town is the Plane Tree of Hippocrates and the Hippocratic Museum was built as a dedication to him. The town of Kos is situated at the eastern coast of the Island and populated by approximately 18,000 permanent residents. Modern constructions stand side by side with the restored historic buildings. It was reported that the town was established in 366 BC and it flourished during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. There are 2 mosques in the center of the town which reminds us of the Ottoman rule that lasted for 4 centuries, from 1523 to 1912, Although, the mosques (built in the 18th century) in the center is now not functioning, it remains as historical and architectural landmarks of the past. There is another mosque, Hajji Hasan Mosque with a huge and impressive minaret but we were not able to locate this mosque. Built in 1786, this mosque is located in Lotzia square, behind the plane tree of Hippocrates, and it has two floors. 

Mosque (converted into cafe)  in Elftherias Square
 Many boats and yachts are berthing in the Marina and it has a capacity of accommodating about 250 vessels. Hence, there are stores in the island which sells marine equipment and they provide repairing services for the vessels. We saw a number of booths selling island hopping packages since from Kos we can actually do islands hopping but we need at least to put up a night in Kos. There are many other Dodacanese Islands around Kos but we just don't have the time to do it. Getting around the island is fairly easy. There is a bus in the town that can get you to other parts of the island. First, we walked all over the town center and then we took the open train bus for €2.90 to tour the town thoroughly.

The Marina of Kos

Nice to sleep on a cold autumn afternoon
It was late Autumn and the weather was pretty cold. Kos was a bit quiet, the beach was empty unlike Summer when the British holiday makers would flood the island. In fact the cheap airlines Easyjet has a direct flight from London Gatwick to this island. The only exciting part that could kill our time is to ramble through the bazaar full of souvenirs shops and cafe. Things are quite expensive but this is expected in any island.

The interior of the hydrofoil
Elftherias Square

Alook at Bodrum castle before we left

Shopping Bazaar


Colorful bracelets

Rental apartments lined the streets of Kos

Flowers contrasting the white wash buildings

Beautiful cafe

Men busy repairing their net

Quiet road side cafe