TURKEY: HALFETI, RUMKALE & URFA

Posted November 28, 2009 by David McGuinness

My driver, Murat, picked me up at 8.30am after my final buffet breakfast at my hotel, something I’m sure I will miss. We drove about an hour and half to the village of Halfeti, though some beautiful landscapes, the most beautiful of which was the descent into Halfeti itself. The village clings to the side of a hill on the side of a beautiful lake surrounded by cliffs. We met with our boatman and headed across the lake and up the river. The scenery was lovely and the boat decked out in Turkish carpets and comfy chairs.
 

Murat hugged the front of the boat and I grabbed one of the comfy seats. As we the village of Rumkele came into view I could only gasp at the beauty of the village, with its honey-coloured houses and simple but beautiful minaret sloping gently up on the hillside. We stopped for a tea and to admire the tranquility before heading back towards Halfeti. After Halfeti we drove for about an hour chatting in Murat’s broken English and my hundred words of Turkish, before we arrived in the holy city of Urfa. I said goodbye to Murat and set out to explore.
 


I wandered through the old town with some beautiful stone buildings going back more than one hundred and fifty years and down to the bazaar. The bazaar is a riot of colour in the textiles and fruit and vegetable sections. Any time I got lost I would ask for what I was looking for and a small child would be summoned with a whistle and lead me with an inquisitive smile to where I wanted to go. Tucked away in the heart of the bazaar is a little square where men drink tea and play cards, chess, backgammon and other games I didn’t recognise.

 

From there I headed down to the mosque quarter where a whole series of beautiful mosques are spread across a lovely park. Urfa is also a place of pilgrimage and there were plenty around. From there I headed towards the citadel and met with Ismail, a friendly local guide who offered to show me around the citadel and some more of the sights of Urfa. The citadel itself is nothing special but the view across the city as the light began to fade were stunning.

The next stop were the two rectangular ponds that are home to holy trout (I swear I’m not making this up!). The pilgrims buy fish food by the side of the water and feed the rather large and plentiful trout in between visiting mosques. After speaking a bit more with Ismail we decided to go to Harran, an Arabic village with some ancient ruins and beehive houses the following morning and to Gobekli Tepe – an ancient archeological site that first came to light two years previously – in the afternoon. Now it’s time for bed!

This blog is part of an Off-The-Beaten-Track Travel Diary. Click on the links below to navigate through this journey.

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