Trip Start Mar 26, 2011
Trip End May 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Arkol Renaissance Boutique Hotel

Flag of Turkey  , Sanliurfa,
Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today was a tour day.  First we went to Harran which is close to the Syrian border....the closest we will get.  We visited a village with conical houses....a heritage site where the village people let us into their houses and we could see what the rooms looked like, some traditional tools were hung on the walls.  They also had  traditional clothes and scarves for sale as well as jewelry.  I bought a purple-tinted scarf because they wrapped it around my head and it was hard to refuse...plus, I like scarves.  And then I bought what they said was a handmade agate necklace...the kind they would wear to a party.  We enjoyed looking at their traditional dresses with glittering appliques and their colorful purple head scarves.  These particular houses were more like shops than homes but it was fun to visit them anyway.

After our visit to the houses, we visited the medrassah site that had part of a minaret still standing as well as some walls.  There were goats grazing around the site and nearly everyone spotted some pottery shards as we walked along.  From there we went to the castle where we looked at the ancient arches.  Erwin felt that they looked Frankish.  Kamil said that the castle had been built in 1195 (I think) by the early Turkish.  After our visit to Harran, we headed back to Urfa...this took about an hour.  We looked out at the flat alluvial plains irrigated by water systems.  Kamil said that cotton was grown here.  I think I saw some sort of grass...it was green.  Could it have been wheat or some other grain?  I am not sure.  Along this route there were also a number of tumuli or tells....sites where numerous different civilizations had settled and built up a hill.  Archeologists have begun to explore them and identify the various civilizations.  There is also a huge historical association with the Bible here.  I didn't realize that this part of Turkey is considered Mesopotamia  because it is between the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates.  Abraham is said to have lived in Harran for 10 years before moving to Palestine and I think Erwin or Kamil said something about Job being here as well.

After we got back to the hotel, we had some time to "freshen" up.  I decided to upload my photos ... at least those on the sd card I finished on my SLR.  I managed to finish that and eat some of my acquired food supplies for lunch.  Then we headed out for the castle in Urfu.  We walked up the stairs again.  It seemed harder today.  But today we entered into the museum part and saw the moat around the castle as well as the remains of the castle more closely.  It is a fantastic view of the city from up there and each photo of the view seemed superior to the one before....or so it seemed.

After the castle, Kamil took us to the Roman mosaics just uncovered 4 years ago.  It was so exciting to walk on the walkways above the mosaics as workmen were working on them.  Some sections were missing but it was incredible to see some parts so perfect.  There were figures of people - Odysseus was depicted --- as well as various recognizable animals.  There was one large mosaic with an African theme and the border was very similar to African fabric designs that I have seen. 

After the mosaics, our group split up.  Erwin led Catherine and me to the market before going off on his own.  Catherine and I tried to find the craftsmen she had previously seen and succeeded.  It is always hard to manage photographing people in these situations.  Some of the men didn't seem to mind but at the end of our tour, some men were gesticulating rather angrily but stopped when they saw I was only taking photos of the bags of spices.  I ended up buying a few things so that now I don't have much Turkish money left.  I think that is the end of my souvenir shopping in Turkey.  Markets are always fun.  Some people are very friendly...some only want to sell you their wares which is understandable.  One man happily demonstrated how his mousetrap worked by catching his finger in the trap.  We saw blacksmiths, tinsmiths, shoe repairmen, and carpenters.  The market itself is partly indoors, partly covered by awnings of some sort and partly along narrow streets or in courtyards tucked among the other streets.  I always like the spice vendors because of the wonderful smells.  We didn't run across much produce but saw another wagon of beautiful fresh tomatoes.

At some point we realized we needed to head back in time for dinner.  We only had to ask directions once and made it back quite easily.  Again in a short time, we were off to our respective dinners.  I joined most of the others to go to a restaurant Tom & Pam had discovered.  It had live music with singers.  The meal didn't go off completely without incident since main courses came before starters and were sent back, only to come back lukewarm after the starters had been eaten.  I had pomegrante juice which is a specialty here and very enjoyable.  After dinner, we briefly went to a bar and had beer or raki and the pub people showed us a video on a local archeological site that goes back 9000 years.  We all hope that we can get to see it on our way out tomorrow.

It will be a relatively early start and I still have to pack up.  I am leaving that until tomorrow am so I had better get to bed NOW.

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