Nothing in sight but sand and more sand, And a few desert plants.

Escape to a Bedouin camp

Next on our list was the Desert Safari Tour which apparently was one of THE things to do in Dubai. I would have been happy to have simply been able to play with sand in the desert and our birthday boy was probably more excited about an experience in those big Desert jeeps – I cannot even remember what they’re called anymore although I did get quite an intensive lessons about jeeps and their specifications as we drove outside the city to the middle of nowhere.

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We’re not the only ones to be excited about being in the Arabian desert

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Splashing out in the Land of Luxury

– within limits.

Is bigger really better? The Emiratis definitely seem to think so. I ended up spending a week and a half in the emirate of Dubai this summer and I have to say, it was definitely much bigger than I expected. Was it as cultureless and soulless as I expected? Yes. Did I still enjoy it? Yes.

Impressive architecture at the Mall of Emirates
Impressive architecture at the Mall of Emirates

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Persuasion

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife….” (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

In my case, it is a truth acknowledged in my family, that a single woman of a certain age, regardless of her good fortune or not, must be in want of a husband. Despite my plans to stay in Turkey for summer, I ended up going back home to Mauritius due to some unexpected circumstances. You never quite realise how much you miss home until the time you’re actually back and getting spoiled by everyone. My family – when I say family, I’m including everyone up to the fifth cousin once removed – is however one of those things in life that is best in small doses.

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Beehive houses

Retracing the steps of the Prophets

After a hearty breakfast – including a very hot and spicy scrambled egg (the waiter introduced it as pepper jam) which definitely gave us the wake-up call we needed – we set off for some more exploration. The plan for the day: go to Harran, a small village nearby, which once used to be a major city in Mesopotamian times and after. Aside from being one of the continuously inhabited spots on Earth, it is also famous for being the place where the prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) lived for a few years during his life.

Stuffing ourselves before our tiring day ahead
Stuffing ourselves before our tiring day ahead

At first, we were going to get the hotel to arrange our visit to Harran, which would have been quite at an affordable price but given the expenses accrued from our organised tours and the fact that due to road construction and renovations, we wouldn’t have seen much of what we wanted anyway, we decided against. Continue reading

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The City of Prophets

When we started this trip, it was more curiosity than anything that led us to South East Turkey. At the time, only a few months ago, there was none of this unrest that is currently happening in the region right now and it saddens be so much to read about all that is going on there at the moment. Şanlıurfa, or Urfa as it is known, is definitely one of my favourite places in Turkey and I cannot wait for when I can go back there again. It definitely has this Middle East atmosphere that most of Turkey lacks, that there are times you do tend to forget that you’re still in Turkey, especially since Arabic and Kurdish seem to be more prominent than Turkish itself in the city.

No Turkish? No problem.
No Turkish? No problem.

We went down to the first shop we saw to grab some kurabiye, which served the purpose of lunch, or was it dinner? – we could hardly keep track of time by that point By the end of the whole trip, our eating and sleeping patterns had been thoroughly messed up and we didn’t even taste the famous kebab from Urfa that everyone kept talking about. Not that I’ll be able to now, since I’ve recently turned fully vegetarian. I digress. Continue reading

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At the dawn of civilisation

We were quite looking forward to our beds after our amazing but quite tiring night adventure and if we weren’t so hungry, we probably would have headed straight to bed without eating anything. Breakfast wasn’t an impressive affair and we half wished we could have ate at one of the many Kurdish cafés we had stopped by during the morning tour.

The plan was to sleep for a bit then take the bus to Adıyaman from where we could then take another bus to Şanlıurfa (or Urfa), which would be our last and final stop for this trip. As much as I wanted to explore more of this side of Turkey, it would have to be for another time. Our driver had an uncle who owned a hotel in Urfa and arranged for us to have an extremely good discount, to which we simply couldn’t say no – because of course it’s completely normal to ask for discounts for someone you’ve only just met.

A rustic Armenian house converted into a hotel - Aslan Guest House
A rustic Armenian house converted into a hotel – Aslan Guest House

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Taking on Nemrut (II)

Suddenly, getting up at 2 am for sunrise on Mt. Nemrut seemed like a very bad idea. As we got ready to go out, we couldn’t help but wonder why we didn’t choose to go see sunset given how much time to spare we had the previous day. Of course, a few hours later, we’d be telling a different story.

Climbing Mt. Nemrut  at 3 am. Photo: Laure
Climbing Mt. Nemrut at 3 am. Photo: Laure

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Taking on Nemrut (I)

Feet firmly on the ground after nearly escaping death – Turkish drivers are probably the most scary drivers I have ever come across – we got on yet another bus which would take us from Adıyaman to Kahta, where our hotel was. We were staying at Komagene Hotel which had tour packages for Mt Nemrut. Tours are not usually our style but we thought that it was quite a good deal we were having and we simply couldn’t figure out how to get to the mountain for sunrise without arranged transport.

Quickly settled into our room which was quite cosy, we still had a lot of time until that 2 am wake up call which would be when we would actually head up to the majestic Mt. Nemrut. So we decided to go down to the lake formed by the Atatürk Dam, found on the Euphrates River, on the border of the Adıyaman and Şanlıurfa provinces. We got a lift from the hotel who usually shuttles guests to the lake (but not from) and in true idiot style, we ended up at the lake, at midday without any water or anything else.

Atatürk Dam Lake
Atatürk Dam Lake

The sheer blueness of the lake was amazing ; I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. It was quite refreshing to dip our toes in our water and just take in the view that was in front of us. I would probably have gone for a swim if I could.

It had already been in a while since we had eaten anything and hunger was starting to set in. Our only option was the restaurant by the lake, probably the only restaurant in the area for miles. As we munched on the food and took in the beautiful scenery, we started thinking about how to get back to the hotel. We weren’t really looking forward to walking back and hitchhiking back would have been an option – if there was anyone around. We ended up getting a ride from the restaurant owner and there we went, on the bendy roads leading to Kahta listening to some Kurdish songs.

Some lovely kebab for lunch
Some lovely kebab for lunch

 

Following the river back to Kahta
Following the river back to Kahta

Back in Kahta, we still had some of our food supplies (which we had bought from the train ride) so we just got bread to go with them and ice cream just because. With ‘The Proposal’ playing, we finished a whole tub between us two and had one long nap – or at least I did, in preparation for our early morning ‘climb’.

Too many apricots to count

In the land of apricots

As the view from our window transitioned from a very sandy mountainy landscape to apricot orchards, we knew we were about to reach our destination. Malatya is known as being the capital of apricots, exporting tons of them worldwide. I definitely had an apricot overdose during my brief stay in Malatya, even if, as they said, the harvest hadn’t been quite good that year.

A massive apricot in the middle of the city
A massive apricot in the middle of the city

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Journey to the East

About two months ago, we were sat on a train, embarking onto a new adventure in south east Turkey, and to be honest, that was one of the weirdest train ride I’ve ever had. We thought it would be good to finally check out the old Turkish trains, and it was also much cheaper that taking the bus but longer – yes they really are old. It was still Ramadan at that point so we had stocked up on loads of food to break our fast on the train, and off we were to Malatya, our first stop.

Loving the view from the train!
Loving the view from the train!

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