Urgent and Important

Urgent and important – sometimes there just isn’t enough time (or inclination) to deal with both. To do another ‘Iran Life’ post (urgent – well, sort of) or bog off for a couple of days head-rest (important)? To clean up the workshop after building Gülay’s exercise machine (again, sort of urgent when you consider the state it was in) . .

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don’t look!

(rescued from Archers first posted June 2014)

. . or go walk a mountain with a friend, photograph some flowers (even though I forgot my main camera); eat fresh-caught trout in a village restaurant in the mountains; visit an amazing eco-project and generally chill?

Sod the urgent, we said . . let’s do the important!

So, off we went to Burdur which is a rather unlikely place to escape to, even if it is for only a couple of days. Actually, the town and province is now home to a certain ranking bureaucrat of our acquaintance and visiting him is not just a pleasure, it is always an interesting experience. We had often said to ourselves that we really ought to go and explore the ‘other side’ of Burdur lake and the mountains and so it was that with a little ‘official’ guidance we spent the day doing just that.

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Lisinia Project – general view towards Burdur Lake
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looking towards the wildlife rehab area

We started at the Lisinia Project, a private initiative founded by veterinarian Öztürk Sarıca and manned by a team of enthusiastic volunteers. The project aims to resurrect the barren soil of the area and return it to full, organic production. So far they are doing a great job! Using organic foods, herbs, etc they research and demonstrate the links with processed foods and artificial fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides to cancer and other diseases. As a vet, Öztürk also takes in injured and sick animals and birds and treats them, either readying them for release or providing a permanent home. From an over-friendly wild pig to injured raptors to a stork with an artificial leg – from organic herbs and fruits to organic rose essence, you can find it here. We loved the place and we will be going back. Here’s a link to learn more.

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rose essence distillation plant
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smelling the roses
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Aargh, Jim lad! (stork with artificial leg)
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this little piggy stayed home!

From Lisinia we clambered a small, rocky hill overlooking the lake – a chance to blow the cobwebs away, photograph the view and enjoy the relationship between J and our bureaucratic ‘son’.

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view to Burdur

Then it was off, up the big mountain for a long way on roads that do not appear on maps or Tom-Tom devices! J and I love villages and village people, a fact well known to our host. Eventually, the track ran out at a smallholding cum fish farm cum very basic restaurant – the sort we love – no frills, no fancy waiters trying to be witty and no fancy prices! Salad made from veg pulled from the garden and fried trout that had been looking forward to a future ten minutes earlier! No GMO, no added hormones, no nasty chemicals – trust me, there is no finer meal than that!

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the restaurant at the end of the universe

We set off for an after-luncheon walk but were rained off by the same storms that flooded parts of Denizli and Aydin, although we only caught the edge of it. So, a lot more tea and coffee was drunk and much talking and dossing about done. Later, we moved back to the city side of the lake and climbed the mountain there. J and our host made it to the top and I got to within a few hundred metres – with so many photos of flowers to be taken, a few hundred metres was not a bad price to pay. Anyway, they used the tracks whilst I was scrambling about in the rough – well, that’s my excuse. A few pics because I know you love this stuff!

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balancing bug Burdur

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Russian Marbled White – Melanargia russiae far from its home in the east

Finally, in order to ensure that the important didn’t get in the way of the urgent, we detoured to a certain winery of our knowledge and filled the car with cases of the finest to restock J’s decidedly bare cellar. Now that really does smack of efficiency – combining the urgent and the important with the essential!

Alan in Okçular

ps workshop’s done too – forty winks before the boss breezes in and catches me – fat chance!

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Sagalassos Rising

It’s at least twelve years since J and I were last in Sagalassos – I remember it well, I was cold and wet and miserable! 1600 metres above sea level up Akdağ in the Toros range it is a city of the clouds. (this salvaged story originally posted on Archers of Okcular in March 2013)

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At least it was until bubonic plague, a couple of earthquakes, problems with water supplies and economic decline led to its demise. It was finally abandoned in the mid 7thcentury CE. When you consider that the place must have baked in summer and drowned in winter its a wonder it lasted as long as it did. Mind you, when its not cloudy, the views are fantastic!

Sagalassos was built by Pisidians who were, to put it mildly, anti-social war mongers and all round bad neighbours. (as I read this five years on with John Bolton now sitting at the right hand of ‘god’ I’m thinking that nothing much changes) It was the second city of Pisidia after Antioch ad Pisidia which lies near the north end of Lake Eğidir in the town of Yalvaç. Known as the ‘People of the Sea’, Pisidians were about as unruly a bunch as could be imagined – troublesome and rebellious. Many came and many tried to incorporate them into this or that empire or kingdom, however they generally left feeling deflated and defeated. Alexander had a bit more luck than most when he captured Sagalassos but Termessos never lowered its ensign and he had to wander off and conquer the rest of the known world by way of a sop to his ego! Eventually they did incorporate into the Roman Empire.

Anyway, again I digress from my storyline – where was I? Yes, twelve years ago we arrived at the site on a miserable, rainy day – the place was awash and deserted apart from the ever-present guardian who collected our entrance fees.

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I have no photo from that time here’s one a couple of years later from  MyTravels2.blogspot.com

In 1990 a Belgian led inter-disciplinary team had taken on the task of excavating the site – there didn’t seem to be very much to show for a decade’s worth of summer holidays spent with trowel and paint brush kneeling in a pool of sweat! In truth, the onset of the sequel to Noah’s flood may have washed away our enthusiasm for much wandering about.

Twelve years on the transformation at this on-going project is amazing!

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Roman baths from processional way – you can clearly see what was above ground

Where once all we saw were a couple of grey old blocks of weathered stone now stands exposed the Roman bath house, uncovered from centuries of debris washed down from the mountains. The Nymphaeum is a triumph of excavation and restoration – even the fountain has been returned to working order!

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superb restoration of Nymphaeum – Antonin’s Fountain

Working on the principle that if at least 80% of the original structure can be pieced together from the bits lying around then a restoration, using some of the most advanced techniques known to science and engineering, will be undertaken, this team is working a minor miracle.

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Emperor Hadrian
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and J with Emperor Marcus for scale

Original sculptures of figures and panels are on display at the award-winning museum in Burdur. Here you will see colossal statues, heads and even sandaled feet of such fine workmanship it will take your breath away.

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The detail is staggering! Where appropriate, exact copies using laser-guided techniques are carved from solid blocks of fibreglass and placed in their original positions at the site. It might seem intrusive, but it works! The mosaics at the Neon Library were closed to us solitary visitors and the amphitheatre remains as is, a pile of blocks waiting for its day.

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Neon Library (best I could do through the grill and no discount on the ticket price!)

Because of its location, Sagalassos was never plundered for building materials – most of the pieces of the jig-saw are still there, scattered by earthquakes and buried by landslip, waiting to be given back their place as the city comes back to life. It represents, perhaps, the finest chance ever for scholars as well as we plebs and peons to gain a real insight into how a Roman era city looked and functioned. I’m really looking forward to 2025 when we make our next visit! Sagalassos – rising indeed!

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detail from Nymphaeum
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‘Dancing Maidens’ Letoon
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digital reconstruction of the city in its prime

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ps J and I have been back here often since this was originally posted. Reconstruction continues, safe walkways have been laid down and detailed information boards put in place. There is ever something new to be delighted at.