Tag Archives: Konya

Konya back to Istanbul to Tel Aviv to Haifa to Nazareth, Israel

1/19 – It’s time to say farewell to Konya, and move on. We hopped on a one hour Pegasus flight to return to the Asian side of Istanbul. Istanbul is a transportation hub, and we opted to fly to Israel instead of traveling overland. We will be in Israel for 10 days. It will be good to get back where it’s warm!

1/20 – Got up at 4am to get to the airport for our dawn flight.



We landed in Tel Aviv two hours later. The Ben Gurion Airport is big and sparkling. All the signage is in Hebrew, Arabic and English.


We passed through Customs and requested a paper visa instead of a stamp on our passports. Some countries refuse entry if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport. We’re not planning to visit any of those countries, but got the paper visa just in case.


The train station is right next to the airport, and we caught the 10:05 train to Haifa. The 90 minute ride put me right to sleep, so I didn’t get any pictures – sorry! Haifa is on the Mediterranean coast, with lots of beach, and looked very pretty from what little we saw from the train.

From Haifa, we caught the bus to Nazareth, and in an hour we were in the place where Jesus grew up. The bus let us off at the Basilica of the Annunciation, the very spot where Gabriel told Mary she would become the world’s most famous teenage unwed mother.

We will explore in more detail tomorrow.

Our goal today was to get to the bookshop that sells the guide for the Jesus Trail, that we will walk over the next few days.


Jim asked the proprietor her heritage, and she explained that she is Arabic, and that Nazareth is an Arabic community, the largest in northern Israel. The Arabic name is An-Nazeera. She said they used to be Palestinians, but when their grandparents agreed in 1948 to live in the new state of Israel (so they could keep their homes), they became Arabs living in Israel. She taught us our first words in Arabic: Marhaba for hello, and Shukara for thank you. These are similar to the Turkish words! We have found that these are the words we need most often, and we’ll get a lot of practice this week.

Tomorrow, we explore!

Konya – the Archeological Museum

1/14 – Close to Konya is the archeological site of Çatalhöyük, where artifacts as old as 9000 BCE have been salvaged from underground houses that pre-date the concept of a village (buildings with differentiated uses). Excavation has been going on since the 1960s. It’s a little cold to visit the excavation, so we decided to do the next-best thing and visit some of the artifacts at Konya’s Archeological Museum.

We navigated across town thanks to the Google Maps GPS on our phone. I really can’t imagine how we could have gotten this far without it. It’s another cold, grey-slush day. A little girl says Hello! as we pass. When I reply Merhaba! (hello) her face lights up with delight.

We pay 5 lira each admission, and the security guard flips on the light switch and motions us into a dusty room. We are the only visitors.

The first room is filled with Roman sarcophagi from the 3rd century CE.

The detail and preservation here is excellent. The carving is intricate, and depicts scenes from life.

There are also pieces of mosaic floor, undated (not much signage here).

The next room has the artifacts we came to see. Pottery from 1950 to 5000 BCE. Said another way, these pots are up to 7000 years old! This blows my mind.

An incredibly old bathtub.image

Here is an Çhatalhöyük artifact with red handprints, dated 7000 BCE. 9000 years old!image

The skeleton of a one year old child, buried with bracelets on wrists and ankles. Bodies were buried in baskets, under the floors of the houses. image

Here is a lamp, shaped like a bunch of gropes. Although I smile when I see attempts at English translation that fall short of the mark, I am very grateful for all the signs we have encountered that make the attempt. We would be lost without them! image

Konya – Today’s Mystery!

1/15 – We are staying this week at the Huzur Suites, a very new and modern building with efficiency apartments. It was especially important for us to rent a place with a kitchen, as we are here for a week, Konya is not a tourist town, and there are not a lot of restaurant options here.

This morning after breakfast, the electricity went out. We’ve experienced this frequently in Turkey, so we were not alarmed. The strange thing was that the wifi continued to work as we sat in the semi-dark, which meant that there was still power down in the lobby, just not in our apartment. Curious.

After a while, we heard the shouting of many male voices in the lobby. Of course, we couldn’t understand what was being said, but there was definitely a commotion. We stayed put until it quieted down, not wanting to walk into an unknown situation. When the voices abated, Jim stuck his head out and came back with a report – there were 10 policemen in the lobby!

The manager saw Jim and came to the door to ask if everything was alright. Jim indicated that we had no power, and the manager seemed to be surprised at this. He flipped a few switches in the hall, but nothing happened. The voices rose again and he hurried off.

We were just wondering how we were going to heat up our lunch without electricity, when the manager knocked again. “Pack up 10 minutes”, he said. “New hotel.” Really! Whatever could be going on?

We did a mad scramble to pack up all our stuff, and Jim emptied out the fridge and the freezer. We were staying four more nights in this town, so we had plenty of provisions, including a frozen chicken that was going to be tonight’s supper. In 10 minutes we were ready to go.

2015/01/img_6399.jpgHuzur Suites, all locked up.

We hauled our packs and groceries to the lobby, and the manager indicated that we should go with the desk clerk. “Sorry – problem, ” was all the English he had. We walked past the policemen, got into the clerk’s car, and he drove us across town. “Very nice hotel”, he said, trying to make conversation. Jim said, “no hotel, apartment”, several times, as the young man assured us he was taking us to a very nice hotel. He stopped at the entrance to what I’m sure was a very nice old hotel,and surely not an apartment. We insisted again that we needed an apartment – after all, we had prepaid for the week, and refused to get out of the car. The poor clerk dialed on his cellphone, and then, after a hurried conversation, turned the car around. “Apartment,” he said.

So now we are at a new place, Es Güven, not too far from our old place, with a very nice kitchen and not a clue as to what happened. But we’ll have chicken for supper tonight!

2015/01/img_6400.jpgOur new home.

Konya – the Mevlana Museum

1/12 – Happy to say that the temperature rose to the 30s today, so the ice melted off the streets, and turned the sidewalks to dirty icy slush. Reminds me of growing up in New York…


Today we set out from our apartment in the opposite direction, and it turns out we are only a few blocks from the city. Our street is very quiet, as we are on the far side of the city cemetery.


We haven’t seen headstones like these before.

We’re on our way to see Rumi’s tomb, at the Mevlana Museum. Mevlana means Master, and refers to Rumi. You can see the green spire (tower?) of the museum in the distance. The spire is the same color green as the decoration on the headstones. I looked online, but was unable to discover any info about this.


Here’s a funny thing. At the entrance to the museum is a ticket booth and a sophisticated electronic turnstile. We stand a moment, trying to puzzle out the price of admission, which seems to be 50 lira ($22) plus some sort of museum card. We are mentally figuring what the total cost might be, and that this is the most expensive museum we’ve encountered, when the person in the ticket booth smiles and says the entrance is free. Free? Yes, and hands us two fancy tickets, which we scan to get through the turnstile. Most curious!


Once inside, the first thing we saw was an invitation to visit Rumi’s mom. What a nice thought!image

The museum consists of several mausoleums. We headed to the main building, where Rumi’s tomb is located.


Inside we found the sarcophagi of some of Rumi’s relatives and close followers from the thirteenth century. Sufi turbans decorate each one.


Some look like Sufis seated at prayer.


Rumi’s sarcophagus is covered in golden brocade and the area is beautifully decorated.


The museum contains a mosque, and a collection of illuminated Qur’ans, ranging in size from very large to a little octagonal one the size of a silver dollar.



We saw the Mevlana’s Sufi robe and turban.image

As always, I was attracted to the intricate designs on the walls and ceilings.

The rest of the museum showed us Sufi artifacts, including the instruments played during the whirling dance, and some seriously heavy prayer beads.

The cane-like thing is a chin rest, so Sufis in training could take short naps without laying down!

There were dioramas that showed how Sufis were trained for 1001 days.

As we left the museum, we were invited in for tea at a ceramic shop with gorgeous handpainted plates (my favorite!) unlike those we have seen anywhere in Turkey. The proprietor, Issa, was very knowledgeable and shared much about the Mevlana, Islam, and porcelain.

One of the down sides of backpacking is that we have to resist the urge to buy pretty things, as we can’t carry them around, and shipping cost back to the states is prohibitive. We’ll have to be satisfied with the memory of these beautiful plates…

All streams flow to the sea

From Jim – whirling looks better on video!



Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, known in the West as Rumi, was a 13th century, poet, Islamic scholar, and Sufi mystic. He inspired the Mevlevi, a Sufi sect known as the whirling dervishes. Sufism is practiced within the context of Islamic culture.

Rumi’s poems have attracted international attention — inspiring many to follow the inner path.

We walk to the Kulturmerkesi (Konya, Turkey), where the dervishes whirl every Saturday night. It is snowing heavily and very cold.

The dervishes file in wearing black cloaks. They bow, are seated, meditate during a vocal recitation and a flute performance.

After ritual bows, they remove their black cloaks, symbolizing casting off the ego.

The Sufi master leads a series of greeting bows, involving about ten dervishes in a circle. The dervishes cross their arms, grasping their shoulders — symbolizing the oneness of God. They then began whirling, in turn, in a ritualized manner.


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Konya – Rumi and the Mevlevi

1/10 – Our friends are asking why we chose to travel to this cold and snowy spot, when we have been trying so hard to avoid winter weather. The answer is Rumi.

For those who do not live with Jim, and may be forgiven for not knowing, Rumi was an Islamic theologian, Sufi mystic, saint and poet who lived in the 1200s and was the inspiration for the Mevlevi, or Order of the Whirling Dervishes. He believed that music, poetry and dance were pathways to God. He embraced all religions. His poetry has been translated into many languages, and is still read, performed and enjoyed today all over the world. His words have graced a thousand posters. His tomb is here in Konya.image

Every Saturday evening, the Konya Kultur Merkezi opens their doors to anyone who wants to experience the Sema, or ritual dance of the Mevlevi. There is no charge. We trudged through the snow and bitter cold to join a hundred others who came to share the experience.


We had witnessed an abbreviated Sema in Istanbul, with three dancers and three instrumentalists. Here there were a dozen instrumentalists and singers, and 25 dancers. The Mevlevi train for 1001 days. During the westernization of Turkey in the early 20th century, the Mevlevi were forbidden to practice. It’s only since the 1990s that they have been permitted to share the Sema in public again.

The Sema starts with a period of prayer and reflection, while music plays softly on flute, strings and drum.


The dancers start with their hands clasped tight on their shoulders, forming the numeral 1 for the One God.


After bowing and receiving a blessing, the dancers begin to spin, unfurling their arms slowly. Their left foot remains in contact with the earth, as they propel themselves around with their right. Their arms reach up toward the heavens. Their eyes remain open. They each whirl at their own rate, not in time with the music or with one another. No one falters. They range in age from smooth-skinned teenage boys to grey-bearded older men. They whirl for a long time, resting briefly between four passages of music. image

Everything in nature revolves, from the motions of the earth to the particles of the atom. By consciously revolving, the Mevlevi seek to ascend spiritually toward the perfect love of the divine. image


At the end of the dance, passages from the Qur’an are read, a prayer is recited for all the departed, and the dancers silently file out of the auditorium.

A peaceful and joyful evening.image

Antalya to Konya

1/9 – Well, Friday turned out to be our lucky day. We caught the shuttle to the otogar, and got on the bus to Konya with no problems. This time, the bus kept going north, and soon we were in the mountains.



The temperature display on the bus read -11C / 12F.



We arrived in Konya by 4pm, and took a taxi to our new apartment at the Huzur Suites. The online photos showed a new, upscale building, and we were looking forward modern conveniences like hot water on tap. What the picture didn’t show was that the hotel is on an empty street, not near downtown. We’re not near ANYTHING, and the streets are still covered with ice from the blizzard, so walking any distance will be a challenge. This is going to be interesting!image

The young desk clerk looked very nice, but had not a word of English, and no map to give us. We needed to find a market and get some provisions for our nice, modern kitchen, as supper time was fast approaching, and it was getting dark. When the words market and supermarket didn’t register with him, I tried naming Turkish supermarket chains. Carrefour? Sok? Bim? Ah yes, recognition! Bim – he pointed down the street.

We bundled up and set off in the direction indicated, taking baby steps on the ice so we wouldn’t fall. Did I mention that it was COLD? I tried to talk to Jim, but my lips were frozen. Neither of us has gloves. About a third of a mile down the road, we came to a sad little market, with no produce, meat or dairy. We bought 10 eggs in a bag (yes, a plastic bag of eggs), a liter of water, a packet of Knorr chicken soup and a loaf of bread. That will get us through supper and breakfast, and will have to do until we get better directions.

We went back to the hotel and I showed the clerk our bag. “Not Bim”, I said. He indicated that no, the Bim was farther down the road. Sigh. We’ll try again tomorrow.