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Yusuf home alone

Lonely moments like those on the limestone terraces of Pamukkale were the exception for Josef »Jussuf« Seitz. In Turkey, the stranger is a welcome guest – and often the center of the action.

Josef Seitz


Just a few stones. There is nothing more to see. The longer I walk over the ruins, the greater my disappointment. Are these supposed to be the remains of the legendary Troy? Ever since I read the stories about the Saxon pastor’s son Heinrich Schliemann as a boy, who actually discovered old Troy based on the information in the traditional heroic sagas, the legend about the Trojan horse has become the epitome of all secrets for me. And since a few months ago the gold treasures found here during the excavations, after having been lost for decades, have reappeared in Moscow, a shudder ran down my spine. The old curiosity was awakened again and my destination was determined: Turkey. Now, however, my – romantic – ideas fade with every step. There is hardly anything left of the former splendor of the seven cities that have been built on top of one another over the millennia. On lonely side roads, all of which lead south from Troy, I try to avoid the lively long-distance traffic on the main road. Every now and then small dusty villages where time seems to have stood still at some point. Just a few simple houses, seemingly randomly grouped around mosques, the minarets of which jut out into the blue sky like colorful rockets. Before Assos, the wide fields through which the road ran so far slowly change into a stony, hilly landscape, transforming into an inhospitable rock field, which only serves frugal sheep as pasture. Finally the path winds up to Bergama through mighty pine forests, in which gray boulders are scattered over the slopes, then winds itself as a winding asphalt ribbon from hilltop to hilltop. It has long been dark when I arrive at the ancient ruins of Ephesus and the Facilities are closed. Only a few souvenir and carpet dealers roast their evening meal on a small grill in the parking lot in front of their shops. One of them speaks German and spontaneously invites me to dinner. Another piece of meat ends up on the grill, and finally on my plate – even though I’m full of paper. After a while, our group is joined by a taxi driver who has a friend who owns a guesthouse. A few minutes later he guides me at a breathtaking pace in the pitch dark night to the small hostel. As a matter of course, the taximeter remains switched off. It is a great honor for him to be able to help a German guest. The next morning I stroll through the ancient remains of Ephesus, once one of the richest cities in the Greco-Asia Minor world and today the largest and probably most interesting field of ruins on the west coast. At times over a quarter of a million people lived here, and from the top row of seats of the gigantic theater, which had space for over 24,000 spectators, I can only marvel at the visible dimensions of this complex, although only about ten percent of the actual city has been exposed to this day. A 530 meter long marble street, the Arkadia, leads to the old port. Kureten Street branches off to the left, on which, in addition to various remains of temples, there is also the mighty, reconstructed portal of the world-famous Celsus Library, the real attraction of Ephesus. Numerous important writings have been collected here since the beginning of the second century. As impressive as the whole scene is, after a while it gets too loud for me. A never-ending stream of tourists pulsates hectically between the columns, statues and rubble. Guides shout their explanations to the wind in all languages, and around noon it gets too hot in motorcycle clothes for antique interest. Time for a cooling breeze to blow through your visor again. Behind Bodrum, a tourist-oriented small town made up of nothing but whitewashed, cube-shaped houses, a little road with little traffic leads via Karaova to Oren, where the asphalt surface suddenly ends. Far away from the hustle and bustle, the piste winds through a harsh mountain landscape that later plunges into the azure blue sea. In the many villages that I pass, children are dressed like little pashas in brightly colored shawls. While taking a break in a tea house, I learn that today is the day of national unity, which is also the day of the children who take part in parades in their brightly colored clothes or put on plays in schools for their classmates. that a big coach drives ahead of me as I pass the pensions and hotels of Pamukkale. So the many intrusive smugglers only discover me when it is too late for them to stop me and talk me into some room. Now in the off-season the boys rush like vultures on every potential guest. It’s over and over with the rest. But I have the white limestone terraces almost to myself. Hot spring water flows like a cascade over the individual rocky steps, which have been enchanted by the shiny limestone deposits into a fairytale-like structure. Natural pools have been created in some places – great for a hot foot bath. In the meantime, however, the many hotels in the area consume most of the water from the springs, which meant that the dirt could no longer be washed away from the tourists’ shoes. Slowly but surely a gray veil fell over the snow-white limestone in some places – until the authorities enforced that the limestone could only be walked on barefoot. Although the route from Denizli via Yesilovo leads through an interesting mountain landscape, the route itself is pretty boring. After Tefeni, I’ve had enough of the almost straight road. I turn off at a hand-painted sign onto a mountain slope that should lead to Lake Sogut. But after just five kilometers, the route divides into three parts without any signposts. The first attempt on the left fork ends in front of a few houses made of gray rock. The motorcycle is immediately surrounded by many farmers and I am greeted with a handshake like an old friend. Surprisingly, even here in the deepest hinterland, someone speaks a few words of German. I ask about the way to Antalya, and suddenly a polyphonic wave of explanations floods over me. Obviously I didn’t understand everything, but the route that leads over red-brown land and later over a wide plateau, even if it turns out to be a long detour. I don’t reach Antalya until the late afternoon. In the dirty street canyons, however, there is no Mediterranean atmosphere for me, and so the city, which is often praised as the ultimate holiday destination, remains just a stopover for me. Instead of staying in a room in Antalya, I spend the night on the beach near Manavgat. In a sleeping bag on the boards of a crumbling beach hut, I let myself be lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea. Alanya is very different. Below the castle, which sits on a rocky cone interrupts the coastline, a kilometer-long beach arch spreads out, behind it the deep blue sea. A gleaming white yacht leaves a milky trail through the water, and behind the city the mountains rise almost seamlessly. With a little imagination, a mixture of Austria, Rimini and the Caribbean. Not even the rows of hotels on the beach disturb. From Alanya there are no wishes unfulfilled for motorcycle travelers either. For more than 250 kilometers the road prances curvy along the steep coast to Silifke, from where I follow a mountain route up to Mut. It leads along the Goksu River, in which the old Barbarossa is said to have been drowned in 1190. Little by little the landscape becomes more and more desert-like, more and more barren. The outlines of ash-gray table mountains shimmer in the hot, dry air. In the distance I can see a couple of small mountain villages, whose houses made of gray clay hardly differ from the rocky background. After a while I reach the small town of Haciahmetli. The only splash of color in the area is a red and white checkered minaret that sticks into the sky like a raised index finger. A few curious people immediately gather around my motorcycle, including a few women who spin thick threads of goat hair with a simple wooden cross that turns on a short rod. Although I cannot communicate with the locals, after a few minutes I am kindly invited to tea in a small apartment. The furniture consists only of an old tin stove, surrounded by thick cushions on which I and the whole family can sit. With the help of a dictionary, I try to speak at least a few words, which is clearly a pleasure for everyone. As a farewell, my hosts want to give me a few kilos of apples with me on the way – because I promised to send a photo. You are really disappointed when I have to refuse because I simply have no more space for the big box on the motorcycle. In the evening I reach the coast again, but early the next morning I steer the Honda back into the mountains at Erdemli’s . According to the map, this is an interesting piste, but it unexpectedly leads me back to the starting point on the coast after a bumpy ride up and down the valley. I try again. After a rather boring drive to Guselok, the landscape changes suddenly, becoming a gray sea of ​​rocks in which a few trees protrude like bizarre structures from the bare rock. It goes through a cold mountain stream and then in wide arcs and further up into the mountains. I try to memorize the many unmarked branches because I don’t know whether the path I have just taken ends somewhere and I am forced to turn back. After about 30 kilometers I’m pretty sure that this piste is definitely not the way to Arslankoy. Suddenly I hear the rattle of a motorcycle from the valley. And indeed two Turks come up the mountain on an ancient Russian isch. When they discover me, they are amazed as if I were Mohammed personally. Despite the difficult communication, they can explain to me the right branch to Arslankoy. But my joy only lasts two kilometers, then it’s finally over. A trench, two meters wide and just as deep, runs across the path. Heavy rains simply tore the road away. With the Honda there is no getting through here. I turn around and at every fork I try to remember which direction I came from on my way there. In the opposite direction everything looks very different. But at some point, almost by chance, I discovered the expressway that leads to Antakya. The lively city just before the Syrian border is festive mood. Almost every family, I am told in a tea house, would slaughter an animal today as an offering. Already on the way I noticed a lot of trucks carrying hundreds of goats and sheep into the city on their loading areas. The growers I see in the city’s great market are doing business of the year today. Almost every house has cattle for slaughter, sometimes on a tree, sometimes on a tripod, and sometimes even on the roof of a bus shelter. When I stop to take a picture, I am immediately invited to dinner. In no time at all, my new hosts spread roasted meat, salad, yoghurt and cake in front of me. Refusing something could be offensive, even though I had just had breakfast. Sometimes hospitality can be exhausting.


Arrival: The journey by land via Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria is around 1950 kilometers from Munich to the Turkish border and takes around three days. A transit visa is required for Romania and Bulgaria, which can be obtained from the respective embassies or issued relatively unbureaucratically at the borders. The visa fees for Romania are 35 marks, for Bulgaria 51 marks. Depending on the accommodation costs, this approach is only slightly cheaper than the two and a half day ferry crossing from Venice to Izmir. The ticket with bed and full board costs around 665 marks per person including motorcycle at Turkish Maritime Lines. Information from all ADAC offices. Travel time: The best travel time for motorcyclists in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region of Turkey is from mid-April to mid-May. From mid-September to the end of October, the temperatures are also acceptable again. In the summer months, the mercury column can rise to over 40 degrees. Overnight: Along the coast and near the ancient sites, there is a large selection of guest houses, motels and hotels. In pensions the room price starts at ten marks in the off-season, in motels at 15 marks. Hotel rooms are available from 20 marks. In the main season ten to 20 marks are to be added. The price rarely suggests the quality of the room. So have a look beforehand. If you want to get to know a Turkish apartment, you can take a room in the Varol-Pansyon in Tevfikye near Troy. The friendly owner, who speaks German very well, rents out three private rooms including breakfast for eight to ten marks per person. The tip: the Hotel Ada near Alanya with a great view of the sea. Further information from the information department of the Turkish Consulate General, phone 069/233081. Literature: Good information and interesting stories about the country and its people are available in the Merian edition “Turkey” from Hoffmann and Campe Verlag for 14.80 Marks. The “Turkey Handbook” from Reise Know-How is brimming with tips for 32.80 marks. The RV map “Turkey” on a scale of 1: 800000 is suitable as a map. It takes two weeks to cover a distance of around 2500 kilometers

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