One of the most striking things about the seaward entrance to Suakin is the dominance of a whole bunch of buildings that look as though they have been shot to pieces. This is Suakin Old Town and the reason these decrepit buildings look so ramshackle is because they are made of coral and collapsed in an earthquake. Some more pics for your entertainment…
Contrasts again. The richly self-indulgent road south of the line turns into a dusty careworn main road on the Turkish Cypriot side. No Starbucks, Top Shop or McDonalds to be found here. Stepping off the main drag we are in a monstrous slum of poverty and wasteland.
The once garish colours are now reduced to a uniform greyness; a 1970s monochrome war torn news report from the BBC frozen in time. The roads are strewn with detritus and weeds grow uninterrupted up through the asphalt and concrete, cocking a snook at man’s feeble attempt to control nature.
The ensuing scene could have been used for a remake of the film ‘The Exorcist’ as I swung through an 180 degree arc, like the hammock was made of elastic, jerking violently in every direction. Fortunately my head didn’t twist round and curse obscenities, and neither did I throw up purple sick, though I did feel like scratching ‘Help Me’ in my stomach. Like Linda Blair I didn’t get much sleep that night.
With Lebanon across the water and Israel a short hop eastwards, this was a far cry from the usual packed Turkish anchorage, to which we’ve grown accustomed.
The only constructive thing we did was visit the Apostolos Andreas monastery, a beautiful little building with a natural water spring and a couple of nuns. As the following photographs illustrate it is an extremely photogenic place indeed.
This is also where the paragliders land and hours can be spent watching their graceful sails catch the thermals. They land on the ‘marina’ strip, which is worth a mention. In our pilot guide the author says “At the time of writing work is proceeding slowly on the construction of the marina”, the text of which is accompanied by a photo of the unfinished marina. He states that he was given a completion date of 2001. Well, it’s 2008 and the ‘marina’ looks exactly like your photograph from 10 years ago!
The prehistoric temples were as stunning as anything on Malta, but having already seen a couple of sites and the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta (which houses all the goodies, including some superb statues from 5500 years ago, including my favourite, the “Venus of Malta”) we were less stunned than we should have been. Don’t let that put you off, though, it’s an awe-inspiring site and built on a great spot overlooking the island.
Despite my blatant atheism I do love a good cathedral and this does not fail to impress. Whilst one spends many a moment wandering around, mouth open agog at the many splendors that adorn the walls and ceilings, for me the highlight were the marble tombs in the floor.
The next day was another early start and after a big Turkish breakfast served in the garden under fruit trees we set off for Didyma. We found our way there quite quickly and once again arrived before the official opening time and before anyone else. What can I say about Didyma? The site dates back to 8th century BC, but the ruined temple seen now is of 4th century BC origin.
The stadium, which seats 30,000 people, left us both speechless. The two agoras, temples, palaces, colonnaded palaestra, odeum, bath houses and other structures kept us absorbed, but again, it was the theatre that charmed us. It has been built in one of the two bronze age mounds found on the site and is in great condition, with carved names on some of the seats and an impressive throne-style chair in the middle of the front row.
It is difficult to choose a “best bit” because the city as a whole works so well, but the theatre takes some beating. Situated near the top of the ridge, with views looking steeply down across the valley for miles and miles it seats 12,000 people.
Introduction to our Turkish Road Trip Welcome to the land of tractors and silver-domed mosques. The south Aegean and western Anatolia region is a beautifully rustic area in south west Turkey that hosts some of the most magnificent Roman sights in the whole of the Med. They say Turkey is an open-air museum with more Greek and Roman antiquities than … Read More
We stumbled round the rocky path and into an open plain, decorated with scrub, fig trees, old engines and goats, until we were presented with an oasis of vegetables within the confines of an ancient wall. In this compound stood a tiny brick shack and to get to it one had to walk across a wooden plank that spanned a huge, deep well. We were introduced to a grandmother and her daughter, both of whom lived in the shack and maintained the garden, and the daughters and son of the local goat herder.