April 20, 2005 - May 04, 2005

Day 09
April 28,  2005 Egirdir, Turkey
The text and the picture is submitted by Dorothy Weaver

We awoke to a beautifully sunny but breezy morning at our island hotel in Egirdir.  Cindy and Dorothy caught some sunrise photos – fishing boats, tables by the sea, and the early morning light reflecting on the village across the water.  After a hearty breakfast (Julia was delighted to get a hot egg!), we started out at 8 a.m. for a hike in Candir Kanyon.  (Ann stayed behind to photograph the town.)


Before leaving, we picked up Resul, a guide from the Department of Tourism in Isparta.  As we drove out of town, the local weekly market was starting and we saw everyone pausing for a moment of prayer before the opening.  Even the folks in the local restaurants were participating.  It was a touching sight.

On the drive, Resul gave us the following information about the area:

n    Egirdir is a 2500-year-old town and was the capital of Turkey in the 3rd century AD.  He pointed out the theological school at the mosque with the unusual feature of a passageway through the bottom of the minaret.The area has 27 lakes.  Egirdir Lake water is clean enough to drink since there is no sewage drainage to it.  The lake is 60 meters keep and is a source of bass, carp, and crayfish, some of which is exported to Europe and the U.S.  It also produces hydroelectric power in spring when the water level is high.

 In June, July, and August, the area attracts a large number of tourists, mostly from Turkey and Europe.  The lake provides a cool respite from the summer heat of other parts of Anatolia.

The area is the apple capital of Turkey – 100,000 tons a year.  About 10% is made into juice, and we drove past the juice factory.  They are now planting dwarf trees for easier harvest and introducing new varieties that ship better.  We were lucky to be in the area when the trees were in bloom, providing a beautiful (and fragrant) foreground for our photos of snowy Mt. ____.  Meli told us that this view was Ataturk’s favorite scene in all of Turkey, and one her mother had painted.

 Resul said that Egirdir is the longest town in Turkey, and 900 meters above sea level.  For our hike in Candir Kanyon, we descended to 300 m. on curving roads (poor Hussein!).  As we descended, the climate moderated to a subtropical one that allows production of oranges and peanuts.  We also saw lots of greenhouses for winter vegetable production.

 Egirdir also [produces rose essence which is exported for perfume production.  Unfortunately, we were too early for the roses to be in bloom!

We passed a number of new housing developments, despite a declining birth rate in Turkey.  Resul said many are being purchased by Russians.

This is also an area of Christian walking pilgrimages.  St. Paul walked through this area on his way to Antioch.  Originally, this was the road to Babylon!  The area has the longest walking path in Turkey.

Meli and Resul explained that in Turkey, boys are circumcised between the ages of 5 and 10 years.  It is quite a celebration, with a large party after much like a wedding reception in the U.S.  (And, yes, they use anesthesia!)

There is also much wild boar and bird hunting in the area, closely regulated by the government to prevent decimation.  The boars were introduced long ago by the Austrians and are a continuing problem for farmers (including Meli!).

 Of course, all of these comments by Resul were interrupted by shouts of “DUR!” so we could photograph nesting storks, wild goats, stone houses, gorgeous vistas (including some layers!), and wild flowers (cistus, daphne, euphorbia, etc.).  Hussein began to consider us mad (again!) and Meli feared we would never reach the canyon.  So she finally instituted a “ No Stopping!” policy for the rest of the trip down.

We arrived at the canyon floor at 11 and munched our saran wrapped box lunches at the stream before setting out on the lovely hike.

The hike was serene and lovely, through pine forest and by the side of an in intensely turquoise (what else would you expect in Turkey!) stream.  We saw groups of other young hikers and a Turkish mountain rescue team practicing their skills.

At 1:15 we started back to Egirdir where we made a quick shopping stop for rose essence products.  We also snuck in a welcome ice cream break!

We had free time from 3:30 to 5, when some of the group went with Meli and Hussein in the van back for sunset shots to the “red tree village” we had seen on the drive in the day before.  Others explored the town of Egirdir or relaxed by the lake.

Dinner at 8 at the hotel, then off to bed for rest for another busy day!