|Yesterday, we left Sultanhani about 11am and we found the Municipal Caravan Park (N 37° 52’ 11” E 32° 33’ 0”) in Konya at about 12.30pm. This is not a camping ground but it has electric hook-up, water, a portable block shower and toilets. The hobby gardens security next to the site monitors the gated area. And it’s free! All day there are people coming and going to the large hobi bahçeleri site – these are like English allotments where families can grow vegetables. Despite this and the site’s proximity to the main road we found it very peaceful here.
We intended to walk into Konya to visit the Mevlana Museum and check out the Sema ceremony (Whirling Dervish) which on Saturday is free. The walk was quite a bit further than we thought, and by the time we got into the information office and found out about the bus transport, where to buy a bus card (the buses don’t accept cash), and where the Cultural Centre was, we decided to leave the museum till tomorrow. The Number 36 bus we were advised would take us from the campground to the centre, but we couldn’t work out where to catch it back from, despite walking all the way back along the bus route. We relaxed back at camp for a few hours, had hamburgers for dinner and in the end we caught a Number 42 bus at about 7.30pm a short walk from the camp, which got us to the Cultural Centre just after 8pm. We had a drink and a wander around the booths selling Mevlana memorabilia before going to our seats a half hour before the Sema ceremony was due to start at 9pm. This is not entertainment but a religious ceremony, and the music and chanting was not to David’s taste but the Whirling Dervishes were something Sue particularly wanted to see. It finished at 10.30pm and we were lucky enough to have a taxi pull up in the carpark outside, so we were driven back to the campground at speed (I think our driver wanted to get back to pick up another fare!) for 13 TL.
This morning we walked to the bus stop and waited 45mins for a Number 36 bus (they are not frequent like the dolmuş but we didn’t see those like we have everywhere we’ve been in Turkey up till now). We were dropped right by the Mevlana Museum and spent an hour of so looking around there. It is not really a museum – more like a memorial for Mevlana (his tomb is here), his family and friends, and the religion – but this place is second to Mecca for Muslim people, and we saw lots of praying and weeping from the devout.
Following this we walked through the bazaar and then to Alaaddin Park, which is a nice green, shady man-made hill on which sits a huge mosque, the oldest building in Konya. It was at least 30° so we cooled off for a while in the shady park before heading to the otogar. After waiting again for a long time we caught the Number 36 bus back to camp.