‘You’re ‘avin’ a larf!’ I said, ‘With respect!’ (it pays to hedge one’s bets). In my opinion, for what that is worth, J is taking things a bit far with our exercise regimen. There we were, miles from home after a leisurely start and a leisurely drive; in the middle of nowhere; bombing along on some of the finest, smoothest, vehicle-free duel-carriageway roads you could wish for, when she insisted I pull over onto a farm track that had once been the original main road. “Come on, then’ she said, getting out of the car, ‘we’re going for our daily walk.’ I can’t begin to imagine what all those people on the road thought at the sight of us two pounding, first one way, and then the other – I couldn’t possibly tell you what I thought, either! Health and fitness? Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat is what I call it!
Anyway, duty done we set off again for our overnight stopping place here in Afyonkarahisar (Black Opium Castle). Because the roads have improved so much since we last came through we were here in really good time which was great because we’d be able to wander and explore at a nice, unhurried pace. Right? Wrong!
We started by ambling around the back streets of the old part of town which is a delight to the senses with beautiful old buildings (many are restored and lived in) and food shops of every description. As I walked and photographed, J remarked that we were on Kale Street – ‘Ummm!’ I mumbled. This was followed by ‘Be a shame to come here and not go up to the top.’ My blood froze as I stopped and looked up. I mean, have you seen that thing? Afyon is already 1030mts above sea level – isn’t it enough that we drove here without climbing up there!
So it was that we set off up the 550 odd, erratically spaced steps that lead, eventually, to the point where you have to scramble the last few hundred metres to the inevitable giant flagpole complete with giant flag. We were passed by hoards of polite and helpful students heading for the summit who would look at me with great concern, gently take my elbow and offer help. What kept me going was the occasional ‘How’s it going, old man?’ from J. ‘Yorkshire Bastard!’ Got me to the top though!
Was it worth it? Wellllll! Of course it was!
Coming down was much like going up – Jeez, my knees are sore! J says that if we lived here and ‘did’ the castle three times a week we’d be bloody fit. If we lived here I’d be pleading insanity!
This is a really nice town; it bustles with life and activity and I reckon the shops outshine anything I’ve seen anywhere in Mugla (sorry, no Turkish characters on this machine). Another highlight was finding a wonderful delicatessen which means we’ll have to come back this way to stock up on some really naughty goodies. Our shopping list will not include the derivatives of the beautiful opium poppy.
A&J (who are not in Okçular) originally posted on Archers of Okçular 1.10.2011