Among the Gods....
This morning Stelios woke up feeling better. He was not at its best but at least he could ride. The rest of us we were enjoying a rich breakfast, Stelios took a packet of baked toasts in his arms... great company! Before we depart we agreed to take a last visit by foot in the town. We entered the central market where shops have already opened selling their goods, from fruits and vegetables up to clothing, lace and copper made items.
The narrow alleys leaded us to minaret of Ulu Camii. Is the oldest in town and among Anatolia. Constructed by stone with a unique color coming from this areas, it posses an internal yard which lies now empty. We avoided to enter the minaret because we were wearing shorts and we didn’t want to disturb anyone. The entrance of the minaret lies in a narrow alley and the way to spot it is the very high minaret tower who mark the entrance. Via the narrow alleys we return back to our hotel to prepare our stuff.
At 11:00 am we left behind the old part of Mardin, we crossed the new part of town and took the road to Diyarbakir, 95 km’s away. The scenery as yesterday, treeless fields at 1200 meters of altitude with very limited vegetation. The heat is getting into our bones as we descent. The road condition is good shape making riding pleasant. Reached Diyarbakir and we crossed it via the ring zone. The town is known –unofficia – that is the capital of Kurdish people and very often becomes a battle field. Also, is known for the growing of water melons at the banks of Tiger river.
We followed the signs for Siverek. The road has 2 lanes each side, very good condition so let us to use higher speeds. The scenery unfriendly and wild us we were in the middle of a big plateau in a volcanic area. Vegetation is nowhere and the ground is covered by stones, totally unfit to grow anything. The road is an endless straight line and despite the monotony, emits a charm. We crossed the nice town of Siverek following the signs for Feribot.
Reaching the docks at 3pm and according the published timetable, we should wait for 30 min. The ferry got almost full and very limited space was available at the front door, also 2 vehicles were waiting for embarking. When the ferry people saw us, they sign us and let us embark at the very front. We embarked in front of the other passengers wondering look, payed the fee of 10 TL/motorcycle and we crossed on the other side of Euphrates river. The last years has begun a construction of a suspended bridge so crossing can be conducted easily. It seems that very soon the bridge will be given to traffic.
Our river crossing lasted 10 min, perhaps even less. We disembarked and directly to the village of Karadut 10 km’s distance from the peak of Nemrut Dagi. Road was narrow but the route enjoyable, scenery is paying us back as we crossed rocky areas and small gorges. At some point we reached the little village of Karadut and the asphalt becomes cobblestone. We continue and soon after passing the village we reached the Kervasaray hotel – Camping. We met mostly accommodation with rented rooms, not more of 5-6 of them overall. They have usually inner space which the name it as the camping area.
Hotelier showed us 2 brand new rooms in a new wing which are really nice. Pricewise –including breakfast and dinner– is good so we decided to stay. We arranged our things and the sympathetic hotelier advised us at 5:30 pm to go on the mountain peak to watch the sunset. We had the impression that we were the only guests until a couple of Japanese women of the range of ages 68 till 91 years old arrived. As we founded out they are on a road trip to Turkey with a driver a middle age German guy which received them in Constantinople. Chatting with them exchanging journey info and other considering travelling. Funny thing is that the Japanese women are really exhausting the German driver because every day they wake up at dawn so enjoy the sun rise. Chatting also with the German driver was really interesting with bits of humor: «I am travelling with 3 Japanese» the German said. « Us as well» Stratos replied meaning of course our 3 Japanese motorcycles.
At 5:30pm following the hoteliers advise we climb at the peak of Nemrut Dagi. A few kilometers further from our accommodation place we met a kiosk which we paid 11 TL so enter the area of Nemrut Dagi. The route reaches at 2200 meters height at a parking space, from up there, 2 paths are starting leading you to the western or eastern balcony.
Lots of people were climbing to the top and most of them chosen the eastern side. We chosen the western side to avoid crowd but it seems its longer than the other one. The whole landscape it was amazing and the sun beams were giving us wonderful colors making our photo cameras work hard. Negative part of it is that is so crowed that the whole charm of the place is some kind lost.
The Nemrut Dagi peak is among the most famous landmarks of the country. The massive marvel heads lying there were made by the king Antiochus A, the God – as he was claiming – which ruled the kingdom of Commagene. The story goes that the king ordered to make 3 massive plateaus (eastern, western, north) at the mount peak. Colossal statues of the king and the most main gods (coming from Greek and Persian mythology) of the kingdom were constructed at the same spot making the peak as a worship place. The place was accidentally discovered by a German engineer Carl Zester. Since then excavations from Americans, German and Turkish archeologist were conducted. In 1987 UNESCO included the place to its heritage sites.
In the western and eastern plateau there are large statues of Antiochus among statues of the Persian Zeus (Ahura Mazda), Apollo (Mithras), Hercules and goddess Fortuna, the same in Greek mythology of goddess of Luck. These statues have Greek style of art and their clothes are of Persian/Armenian style. Next to the 5 statues are 2 other statues as guards and are illustrated as an eagle and lion. On the back side of the statues are small inscriptions in Greek with accurate instructions how to worship the king when alive and after his death. In the north plateau there are some columns which are not scarped and its believed that were meant for the ancestors of Antiochus A.
As the sun was hiding behind the mountains we started to descent from the place and towards our hotel where dinner was waiting us. Soon we are all on the table with the Japanese next to us. Food was including soup, green beans and chicken, delicious and filling. Relaxed after our meal we started chatting with the Japanese asking us about our journey to Georgia and Armenia which found them very exited about it. Poor German guy, he has long way to go with them and definitely he will suffer... Later on we asked them to write us in Japanese our clubs: Moto Riders club & Moto Adventures. Seemed to suffer a bit because there is not a direct translate as their letter/symbol means a word.
Later in the evening we are back in our rooms, tomorrows day is expected to be a hard one with lots of distance to cover until Cappadocia.