|South Eastern Turkey - Gaziantepe
I think ever since my first trip to Turkey I have wanted to go to Nemrut Dağı (Nemrut Mountain) to see the 1st C. BC site with the giant stone heads which are the most publicized image of Turkey. The mountain road is snow covered and the site can only be visited in summer, and seeing this was my first summer trip to Turkey I was really hoping to get to the east. I had exhausted plans A, B, C, D, E, and was on plan F when I suggested that Cathy join me in a visit to the east. We didn’t have time to make plans till after the main part of the conference, but somehow we managed to create an itinerary, book flights, arrange car rental and book accommodation for our 5 day adventure.
We flew in and out of Gaziantep and rented a car from there when we left the city. We arrived in the evening and I paid the taxi driver who took us to our hotel. As we were heading up the lane to our pension, the taxi driver ran after us – in the dark I had either left my wallet in the taxi or dropped it as I left the car, and he was running after us with my wallet in hand. We were VERY impressed.
Our pension/hotel was relatively inexpensive so we were delighted to discover we had a great boutique hotel and our room was very comfortable, clean and quite lovely. One of Gaziantep's most popular restaurants was right next door, and we went there for some local specialties (including baklava). It was an amazing meal! So with an honest taxi driver rescuing my purse and a great meal it was a superb start to our trip.
We were very close to the local bazaar, so exploring it was our first task the next morning. We were blown away by the amazing copper and tin items created in tiny hole-in-the-wall stalls, as well as the usual bazaar stuff such as spices, dried vegetables. etc. We also discovered a traditional coffee house (amazing Turkish coffee) and some old churches now turned to mosques (of course I had to see those).
One of the highlights of Gaziantepe is the fabulous Mosaic Museum - the largest mosaic museum in the world - opened in 2012. It showcases mosaics from a Roman site only found in the late 1990's when the town of Zeugma was flooded by one of the many large Dams constructed in Eastern Turkey. Some of the mosaics were enormous, and recreated with the frescoes which surrounded them in the original Roman site. At the end of our round trip we visited the Zeugma area and the modern town which was partially covered when the Euphrates was dammed.
Our one day in Gaziantep passed very quickly and when 4:00 pm rolled around and we needed to pick up our rental car and leave town we were sad indeed. Gaziantepe was definitely a hit with us.