A Travellerspoint blog


Turkish Folk Tale


Today I would like to recount a Turkish Folk Tale told to me by my students.

We were discussing snakes and if Turkey had poisonous ones, and I was told that indeed she does.
There is one variety in particular which resides in the area of Adana and also other areas along the Mediterranean coast. They did not know the correct name, they described it as black and that it can reach 2 to 3 metres in length. Three of my students have physically encountered this variety in the countryside and all of them warned of how dangerous it can be.
I have since learnt that this snake is probably the Black Cobra, which does indeed live in Southern Turkey.
So from learning that there is a nasty variety of a LARGE snake here, they proceeded to tell me the Folk Tale regarding this snake.


The legend of Şahmeran comes from Mesopotamia. It has been told and retold in Mardin for hundreds and hundreds of years. The name "Şahmeran" actually comes from the Persian name "Şah-ι Meran," which means "the shah of the snakes". Şahmeran was half a snake and half a very beautiful woman. She was a snake from the waist down, but from the waist upwards, a beautiful woman. Her portraits are traditionally hung on walls inside houses especially on girls’ bedroom walls. It is believed that hanging her pictures brings good fortune for them.


Once upon a time, there was a tall and handsome boy called Tahmasp who lived in Mardin. One day, by mistake, he walked into a cave where thousands of snakes were sleeping. There he met Şahmeran.
Tahmasp couldn’t hide the fact that he was attracted to her although she was a snake from the waist down. Tahmasp remained in the cave for days on end, listening to Şahmeran tell incredible stories about the world and humanity. He was in awe, but when Azahmeran had told him everything and there was nothing left to tell, Tahmasp decided that he was missing the outside world and left. Even though Şahmeran didn't like this idea, in the end, she accepted it.

So Tahmasp returned to the land where he used to live. But one day, the king of that land got very ill. One of the king's assistants who was quite evil told the king that the only treatment that would cure him was to eat a piece of meat from the body of Şahmeran. The search began. Anyone who might know anything about Şahmeran was asked to come forward. One day, as Tahmasp was at the hamam, he was identified by soldiers who spotted snake scales all over his body. The soldiers brought him to the king's evil assistant. It turned out - not surprisingly - that the wicked royal aide's real aim was not to make the king better, but to hear about the secrets of the world straight from the mouth of Şahmeran.
Tahmasp was tortured until he revealed the location of Şahmeran's cave. So the assistant and the soldiers went to the cave and found Şahmeran who revealed her great secret, saying: "Whoever tears off a bit of flesh from my tail and eats it will be endowed with all the secrets of the world. But whoever takes a bit of flesh from my head and eats it will die instantly." No sooner were these words out of Şahmeran's mouth than the villainous assistant cut the half-snake, half-woman into two pieces, and ripped a bit of flesh from her tail. Tahmasp, horrified by what he had just witnessed, bit into a piece of flesh from Şahmeran's head so as to die immediately. But what happened instead is that the king's evil aide - having eaten a bite of Şahmeran's tail - died on the spot while Tahmasp appeared completely unaffected. It turned out that Şahmeran had anticipated the king's assistant’s plot and had seen to it that her lover, Tahmasp, inherited all her knowledge, while her enemy went to his death. However, in the wake of Şahmeran's death, Tahmasp was so bereaved that he isolated himself away from the rest of humanity.
Afterwards he is said to have become a legendary doctor, Lokman Hekim.

Posted by TravelnTurkey 01:54 Archived in Turkey Tagged children animals turkey snakes adana Comments (1)

Fethiye to Meis

Day visit to Meis / Kastelorizo

sunny 42 °C


Having decided to renew my visa at Meis this time, I travelled down from Istanbul to Fethiye for a few days holiday and from there would do a day trip to Meis via Kas.

Also known as Kastelorizo, the current official name in Greek is Megisti which means “Biggest” ,ironic really as it is only 4 square miles (10 km²) and is the smallest of the Dodecanese, but the biggest of the small archipelago; (Turkish: Meis , Italian: Castelrosso).
It lies roughly 1300 metres off the south coast of Turkey.
Over the Centuries this little Island has been fought over by many Nations. The island was conquered by the Romans, the Byzantines and then in 1306 by the Knights of St. John of Rhodes who built the castle with its tall twin walls and loopholes, making it one of the strongest fortresses of the Aegean Sea. The Egyptians, French and The Turks have also captured it at one time or another.

I arranged with one of the tour companies to be picked up in Fethiye early morning, and waiting outside Migros at 6.30am in the morning, it gave me some quiet time away from the hustle of the tourist resort to reflect.

Fethiye will always hold a special place in my heart for many reasons. How happy I had been living here, how sad I had been here at times, and how amazingly beautiful this place is.
In this town I had seen my family enjoying fun holidays, I had healed a broken heart, I had fallen in love and I had done, seen and experienced crazy times.

The transport arrived on time, and I was pleased I was the only passenger. The driver spoke perfect English, and kept me entertained with his stories on the journey. He stopped at the scenic places briefly so I could take photos. Then we swept down into Kalkan and collected 4 other passengers.
Finally we arrived at the Harbour in Kas.


Views of Kas from the Road

Kas is a place I will never tire off. It is so different to other Tourist towns. A little more “upmarket” and a different kind of clientele. My heart was a little heavy remembering a special weekend here at the Reggae Bar with a special person. Shaking off my melancholy I made my way to the Tourist Office to give my papers and pay the Fee.

I had a small argument with the guy running this place as they wanted the Visa fee in Euros, which meant the £10 note I had exchanged my lira for was actually useless. So changing yet more liras, this time into Euros, and muttering under my breath that I was actually paying more for my Visa this way, I left his office.

We boarded the boat after handing our passports over to the Captain, and I made my way upstairs, cornered a piece of the deck and settled for the short journey.
Meis is only 25 minutes from Kas on the ferry, and usually you have around 5 free hours on the Island before returning to Kas.
Even if you do not need a renewed visa, I would recommend it as a great place for a visit. So near to Turkey yet within a short time you are really in Europe.


Approaching Meis and the Harbour Area

Disembarking I strolled around the small harbour, captivated by the colourful houses which really give you a true feeling of being in the Mediterranean region. I passed a small building which houses the Duty Free…YES Duty free.
As I passed one small café I noticed a sign for sausage rolls. OMG Yes, I forgot this is not a Muslim Country. I sat quickly and ordered 3 !
Sated with 3, although they tasted so good, I possibly could have stayed there all afternoon eating sausage rolls, I decided I should now exercise them off.
At one end of the harbour walk is a small bar with some sun loungers and from the concrete area, people were diving and swimming in the most amazing clear waters.
I grabbed a bed, and proceeded to copy everyone else and relaxed with a drink and a cooling dip.
Of course everything is in Euros, although some of the shops did take Turkish Lira, I have to say I really don’t know if it was cheap or not.
Refreshed I dressed and wondered around for a while.
I know there are a few places that are must visits here, but the Temperature was in the 40’s and I did not feel inclined to wander too far from the waterfront.


The Waterfront and the Crystal Clear Waters

After visiting the Duty Free and stocking up, I made my way back to the boat.
I sat in a small café and was quickly joined by a couple of people who have retired to Kas, and their friends, some Turkish Captains. We ordered beers and snacks, and spent the last hour or so jovially recounting our experiences in Turkey.


Finally it was time to embark for the short journey back.

Arriving in Kas, as we disembarked the Turkish harbour Police checked our documents, and waved us off.
I meandered around Kas for a while, marvelling again at this wonderful slice of heaven in Turkey, and then it was time for the pickup to take me back to Fethiye.

The journey back was quick, with a different driver, and after dropping the others at Kalkan I was once again alone.

We sped along the Highway towards Fethiye and I glanced briefly at an old man across the other side of the road, walking with some goats and his dog, when suddenly the dog dashed across the road. My driver had no chance and there was an almighty sickening thud and then the car lifted as it went over the dog.
Panic stricken I imagined he would stop, but no, he calmly looked in his mirror and assured me the dog had got up and was walking. I turned to check, but all i could see was the old man hurrying across the road. Would I ever get used to the indifference towards animals here.

Pulling into Fethiye, the sun was setting, and I thanked the driver and quickly checked the outside of the car. There was a tiny indent on the front bumper, but that was it.

As I was leaving for Istanbul the following morning, I wanted to savour the last few hours in Fethiye so I made my way to the Harbour where I ate a fish meal, and people watched before heading back to my hotel.

Posted by TravelnTurkey 12:49 Archived in Turkey Tagged animals boats travel turkey visa border kas meis Comments (0)

“Fire in the Mountains”



For a long time I had heard of the “Fire in the Mountains” near Antalya and had wanted to see this phenomenon with my own eyes.
Known by the local inhabitants as the Yanartaş (burning stone), it is caused by natural Methane gas escaping from the rocks.

I had done some research and found out it was a Mountain near Olympus and Cirali.

I finally had the opportunity just before I was leaving Turkey to come home for a visit.
My Turkish friend and I left Fethiye to spend a few days in Olympus, before going onto Antalya to the airport.

My friend was also very curious to see the flames, as he totally did not believe this was possible. A fact I found very amusing. Firstly he had never heard of “Chimera”, which I was amazed at, as a lot of foreigners know of this place but this was his Country and he did not know about it. Secondly, he was convinced it was a “sham” for the tourists. So eventually I persuaded him to accompany me and see for himself.

We drove down into Cirali looking for a small hotel. I really wanted one with a pool, but the main ones along the front where way out of our price range.

Finally we found the wonderful “Canada Hotel”. Set back a bit from the beach on the road into the village, it is run by a Canadian Woman and her Turkish husband.

Very clean with a wonderful pool, and great food, the setting is lovely, tucked away in a quiet spot, and very peaceful.

It is about a 20 minute walk through the Forest to the beach from here.


We had been told the best time to visit the mountain was as the sun was setting, as it is cooler for the climb, and the fires are more dramatic in the dark.

So filling a backpack with some Beer and snacks, we drove to the base at the North end of the village. Here there are signposts to the burning flames of the Chimaera. If you are staying in the village or in the Tree House areas, there is a tractor and trailer, which will bring you to the base.

Historical info : The famous myth of Bellerophontes is said to have taken place here.
When he arrived in Lycia, Bellerophontes found out that every night the Chimera, a monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a dragon, terrorized the village taking the children, women and livestock away and leaving their bones alongside the mountain.
Bellerophontes became the hero killing the fire-breathing Chimera from the back of Pegasus, who not only carried the hero but actively participated in the battle himself.


There is a something special about this place that draws people to want to undertake the steep climb of this mountain. The climb is about 1 km uphill, and it consists of a series of wide very steep rock steps and it normally takes about 20 - 30 minutes depending on the individual.
I have to admit I had to stop 3 or 4 times to catch my breath, as it is very steep in some parts. On the way up, we passed trees laden with small pieces of cloth. When I asked I was told that they were prayers, given to Allah asking for help, or a small thank you.

I am also ashamed to say that twice I was passed by elderly Turkish Women looking fresh as daisies!

We did this climb in late September, and I imagine that late Autumn or early Spring would be the best time to attempt it, as the weather is a little cooler then.

Closer to the flames the path opens out to the natural terrain of the area.

It is more difficult walking back down and a MUST is good walking shoes. No flip-flops or high heeled shoes. We found that a torch was a must, and the best ones are the ones you wear on your head, as this leaves your hands free for the climb.

Staggering, gasping and crawling the last bit, we finally arrived at the top. It opens out here into some flattish areas with small pockets of flames everywhere.

It was still daylight, and difficult to appreciate them at their best, so we found a flat spot, spread out a blanket and cracked open the beers.
The views down over the bay are worth the climb alone, plus it is noticeably cooler at that height. It's about 180 metres above sea level.
The sun slowly started to set, and the fires seemed to dance alive.


I can understand now why people make the climb. It was a magical sight.

My Turkish friend, inspired by a few beers, and who was still not convinced, started poking sticks and other things into the holes, to catch the Man who must be underneath the rocks lighting the fires. It was an amusing sight.

He spent ages running from one Methane hole to another, extinguishing the fires, only to be astonished when they magically relit themselves.
We stayed a while, sipping our beer and watching the Turkish Families using the natural barbecues to cook sausages and chicken.

Coming down is a whole new experience, especially with a few beers under your belt !

This is a high conservation area, and still unknown to a lot of tourists. I do hope it retains this charm.

One other place we found was a Nightclub high in the rockface at Olympus, called Babylon Town. Dancing all night under the stars with a cool breeze was great.

Quirky but fantastic location.


Posted by TravelnTurkey 09:00 Archived in Turkey Tagged mountains beaches travel turkey antalya olympus Comments (0)

Border Run

Istanbul to Derekoy

There comes a time after 11 weeks in Turkey when the “visa renewal” of a tourist visa, pops up its ugly head.
Before I worked for a “good” school, which went through the resident visa process for its Teachers’, I had to leave the country for a few hours every 11 weeks.

Twice, whilst in Istanbul, I drove to the Bulgarian Border.

Having investigated all possible border posts, I learnt the biggest and easiest to get to was the busy post at Kapitan–Andreevo/Kapıkule, 18km west of Edirne.
Other friends, who had taken this route, spoke of long delays behind huge lorries, as this is the main crossing point. Not to keen on the idea of sitting for hours behind lorries and coaches, I researched further and found a small crossing called Derekoy, up in the mountains.

I hired a car for the weekend, printed off the directions from Google, filled the tank, and with a lot of trepidation set off.

I was living on the Asian side of Istanbul, and Google told me it was approx 4.5 hours there.

I hadn’t even left Istanbul when I encountered first problem. The bridge over the Bospherous is a toll bridge. I had lots of change ready in the glove compartment. Unfortunately, unknown to me, the toll only works with a card, which has to be purchased at the office on the bridge. I dutifully followed the lines of traffic to the toll booths, and it was only when I reached the booth that I learnt about the card system. Now I had a problem. Traffic was queuing behind me and people were getting out of their cars to see what the delay was. Very embarrassed I had to try and turn the car around and get back to the bridge office to buy this damn card.

I found the Bridge Office, which was a small, smelly place full of seemingly angry men. After being shown the correct window, I asked for the card, and he said 30 lira. My Turkish at this point was very limited. I tried to explain I was only going over once and back again, and I would never need the card again, but to no avail. It seems you have to buy a month, I think, or not at all.


So card in hand, purse lighter, and angry at the red tape again here, I set off again.

Driving in Turkey is not as bad as people will have you believe. I have driven extensively around the South Coast, but had always been wary about driving in big cities, as so many people had advised against it.
My philosophy after driving here for a while is to join them. Switch your brain off and go with the flow. No, they are not predictable, yes, they will do everything you don’t expect them too. I have only twice been put into a difficult situation on the roads here. Once, on the Fethiye to Mugla road, I was turning right and nearly wiped out a motorcycle, trying to overtake me on the inside. Lesson learnt; they will overtake you on both sides if there is room.

The second occasion which caused my heart to skip, was when I was going in fast traffic on the main highway in Istanbul. The traffic was flowing well, and I was keeping up at around 80 km hour, following a white minibus. Suddenly the bus stopped in front of me. I had to slam the brakes really hard, and swerve into the next lane, causing another driver to have a skipped beat of his heart. Missing his back end by literally inches, I swore like crazy at the minibus, only to discover as I looked back, it was in fact a Dolmus ( Type of public transport), and usually they are yellow in Istanbul. Another lesson learnt. I now never follow any kind of minibuses.

I actually enjoy driving here, as you have to be so alert. It retunes your brain into becoming a better driver, I think. You are constantly forwarding planning the moves of all the drivers around you. Forward planning is one thing Turkish drivers are incapable off.

There is now actually a scheme for learner drivers here, and more and more I see driving school cars on the roads. Hopefully this will bode well for future drivers.

So making my way from the bridge to the outskirts of Istanbul, I had to go through some great areas.

I drove along the front through Besiktas, then across the Golden horn bridge and followed the road along the Golden horn for a while before picking up the main E80 out of Istanbul towards Bulgaria. The main problem with driving here is you have no chance to admire anything. Never risk taking your eyes from the road for even one second here.

As I left Istanbul behind, the traffic gets lighter and lighter, until for miles and miles I was alone on the road.
I stopped once at a petrol station, had the obligatory free tea, stretched my legs, and then continued.
The country side is fairly flat and monotonous for hours. Music or the radio helps here, as this is a very boring bit of the drive.
The plan was to turn right off this main Edirne highway at Luleburgaz, go through Kirklareli, then out the other side on the road to Derekoy.


I managed to take the wrong turning off the Highway as this is one of those occasions when the sign for Edirne, points in both directions. Anyway, after half an hour of driving on this turn off, a local garage owner explained I was going the wrong way. I sighed, and turned around again, and returned to the point I had left originally.


I don’t really have a lot to say about the cities/towns I briefly passed through. I was on a mission, and not interested in sight seeing. The countryside is beautiful. Going towards Luleburgaz, the coast is on the left, and there appeared to be some pretty villages going that way. Luleburgaz is a small, nondescript place. It seems to be a passing through place.

The road opens out in front of you as you head towards Kirklareli, and you get a hint of the mountains ahead. I remember passing a huge Military establishment, but again, that is not unusual here. There are rivers and small lakes galore. It seemed to be mostly an agricultural area, with livestock scattered about.


Kirklareli is a fairly large city, typically Turkish, and the road passes through quickly. Having manoeuvred through Kirklareli I found myself on a small road, which got smaller the further I went.

I started to climb, and climb. This was a real mountain region. The views were breathtaking, and I did stop briefly to take some photos, but ever mindful, I needed to return to Istanbul before dark. Driving in the dark here takes on a whole new meaning of “terror”.


The road runs out of tar and becomes a kind of tar/dirt track. Single lane, climbing the mountain side.

Eventually it opens out again into a modern tarmac road as you approach the border crossing.

There is a small carpark outside. I parked, collected my papers together and approached the sentry box.

Small is the definitive word for this border crossing.

One small sentry box, one barrier, and that was it.



Much to the amusement of the sentry guy, we chatted for a few minutes, and he said it was not “normal” for people to walk through on foot. Seeing my face drop, he smiled and lifted the barrier.

After a 2 minute walk uphill there appear a couple of wooden offices.

One is the smallest duty free I have seen, more like a cigarette booth.

I made my way into the other larger wooden hut, and saw the signs for exit visas.

There were 2 small windows. One showing exit, the other entry.

I went to the exit window. He scrutinised my papers and stamped exit.

Then I went to the next window, clutching my money for an entry visa. The same guy, changed his hat, and opened the window. I did smile at that point.

He once again took my papers, but this time was all over them with a fine tooth comb.
He smiled, and asked very casually, “where are you working” I had been prepared for this question, but his quiet manner nearly caught me off guard. “No, not working, just visiting” I replied, smiling.

He chatted with me a bit, asking about where I had been in Turkey, why was I here ( A friends wedding I had said) and in the middle of the casual chat, dropped “where did you say you were working” into the conversation. Wits about me, I smiled and reiterated “ not working, just I love your country so much; one 3 month visit was not enough”

Huge smile crossing his face, he took my money, gave me an entry visa and stamped it.

I walked out slowly, nonchalantly, I hoped.

I had a quick look at the Duty free, but they only accepted cash, and I hadn’t prepared for that, just having cards on me.
Smiling at the sentry guy, he raised the barrier, and I was once again legally allowed in Turkey. This whole thing took 15 minutes.
The downside was I now had another 4 hour drive back to home.


The next time my 3 months was up, I had decided to visit a Greek island. I felt I was pushing my luck to try Derekoy again.

Posted by TravelnTurkey 05:26 Archived in Turkey Tagged istanbul visa border derekoy Comments (2)

Adana to Karataş



I always try and hire a car at some point, during the summer months to try and explore the area I am in. It is not always easy to travel around whilst working here, so when I can I grab the opportunity and set off with dog in tow.

Being a newcomer to Adana, I have been asking around where are good places to go.

Karataş was one town that was mentioned, as it is on the sea.


So today, I chucked a bag in the car with swimwear etc and the dog, along with her bag, which consists of water, a bowl, wet wipes (In case) and an old towel.

I had checked out maps the night before, and had a rough idea of where I was heading. The problem driving in cities in Turkey isn’t so much that you could get lost, it is a definite forgone conclusion that you will get lost. Every city I have driven around in Turkey has been the same. The problem is ROAD SIGNS ! Or lack of.

Now I understand that of course the locals know where every road goes. But it seems that the Turkish City councils really do not expect out of towners to drive around their city. So the main problem lies with a road sign that sends you one way, and you sigh with relief and recognition of the name, and dutifully follow the sign. Except that at the next main junction suddenly the place you were going to has either disappeared or is strangely pointing back the way you have just come from.

The problem then is you have no time to try and rationalise it out. Turkish drivers are impatient and aggressive at the best of times, but try sitting at the lights a second longer than amber to try and find another sign, and suddenly you have Armageddon going off in your ear, as every car, bus and bike behind you lets you know the lights are changing.

Anyway karatas is actually signposted, just as you are leaving Adana..of course!

Fortunately having travelled on the bus nearly every day since being here, I had an idea where I was going. Find the Mosque, there will be the bridge, and I will be on the right side to leave Adana. Sure enough, the signpost is after these milestones.

So now I can begin to relax, and assure the dog, all is OK.

The road from Adana passes through the agricultural areas. There are miles of flat fields, growing either Maize or Cotton. As far as the eye can see the fields stretch ahead. The road, as is always the case here, once out of the city is quiet and not too many road works.


I passed many disused Manufacturing Factories, rusting and rotting away. The main Industry of this area was clothes manufacturing, hence the cotton fields, but these days so many have shut down as the industries have moved to China or other cheaper countries.

It is quite a sad sight and I pass stalls selling melons or sweet corn every 100 yards, and wonder if these guys are just trying to survive now the factories have gone.

There are a few women in the cotton fields and I feel for them in 40 plus degree heat.


Cotton Plant

Then suddenly the road starts to enter a built up area. Some small shops, a couple of Banks, men sitting under trees drinking tea and playing backgammon, and then I see the ocean. We made it!

I drive along the front, turn back and park behind the beach.

I marvel at the fact it is actually all soft sand, a rarity in Turkey. Oh the brochures will show you wonderful pictures of beaches, but most are shingle, something you can’t quite see in the pictures.

I let the dog out and we both gasp at the temperature. The cars air conditioner was working very well.

There is a small café on the beach, and as I always do, I ask if the dog is allowed on. He smiles with his 2 teeth and says of course. I sit at a table, give the dog a drink, and order a snack.

Some Turkish people have ordered fish, and I watch as the helper runs across the sand to a fisherman, and returns with 2 very large fish. He cleans them expertly and a few minutes later they appear on the plates, along with the usual ton of salad and mezes. It’s to hot for my appetite to accept that much food, so I settle for a cheese toasty.

I watch the few people on the beach and in the sea. I notice that people are walking a way out before they start to swim. The water is very, very shallow for quite a long way out.
We find a sun bed and the man appears to put up the umbrella. I often wonder where they hide, as they seem to just appear from nowhere when you choose a bed.


We spent some time playing in the very clean, shallow, warm water, with some local children. They are always fascinated at a dog in the water. Parents tut loudly, and I ignore them, as always.

When I could feel my skin saying enough, we packed up, thanked our host in the café, and piled back into the car. I drove around the town for a bit.

It is small, quaint, and a working town. Not so much tourism to be seen. There are a few hotels, but small.
I would go back and stay there if I had the time and opportunity, as it was really my kind of Turkish resort. No tourists, no loud music, and uncluttered beaches.


I got lost coming back into Adana as the bridge sign was the wrong one, but after a ten minute drive the wrong way, I found the right turn, and we arrived home without any incidents.

I am a little surprised there is no tourism there, as Adana Airport is only 45 minutes away; and after all, people travel 3 hours from Dalaman to Kas, to sit on rocky beaches, but inside of me I hope it stays hidden and secluded for a while longer.

Posted by TravelnTurkey 10:39 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 6) Page [1] 2 » Next