Mom and Dad Experience Anatolia

Hos geldiniz!

Hos geldiniz!

In March my fantastic parents finally made the long journey to check out my adopted country and see for themselves what is so great about Turkey. They know I love it here, but I think they were a bit uncertain as to why. Now, after two and a half weeks of full on Turkish adventure, they can much better understand. We had a wonderful time, and packed in quite a few experiences. From the moment they arrived in Adana, they were shown that inevitable Turkish hospitality, fed well, and though they got some relaxing in, were generally overwhelmed with the beauty and diverseness of their surroundings. Oh, and I think they liked seeing me, too.

Our first stop, for dinner

Our first stop, for dinner, and mom showing off her new evil eye necklace.

I love hummus, so although it's not as common on a Turkish table as people might think, we got some, topped with hot pastimra

I love hummus, so although it’s not as common on a Turkish table as people might think, we got some, topped with hot pastimra

Finally visiting my Turkish home in real life

Finally visiting my Turkish home in real life, with an array of welcome signs prepared by my children’s class.

My father, ever fascinated with the history of everything, particularly people and language, kept us on our toes figuring out which cities used to be called what, which people inhabited which places at what times, and why certain words are now what they are. My mother, amused by the tiniest details, was constantly delighted, discovering heart-shaped rocks on the path, reveling at the markets, both traditional style and the everyday supermarket chains, gathering shells on the seashore, and analyzing flowering shrubs she had not encountered before. They both picked up a handful of Turkish words and learned—by trial and error—when to use them. They were dined, driven, led, and guided, and I tried to make sure they had a relaxing yet engaging vacation. I don’t think there was ever a dull moment.

Dad checking out the fruit growing off the balcony in Tarsus

Dad checking out the fruit growing off the balcony in Tarsus

Mom's gathered seashells from a beach in Mersin

Mom’s gathered seashells from a beach in Mersin

A quick synopsis of their trip, in somewhat relative order, includes:

feasting on meter-long Adana kebab and a table full of meze,

Their first kebab, so it might as well be, oh, say, a METER LONG and served with all kinds of other delights.

Their first kebab, so it might as well be, oh, say, a METER LONG and served with all kinds of other delights.

sipping Lion’s Milk, or Turkish rakı,

Mom tries rakı

Mom tries rakı

Dad tries rakı

Dad tries rakı

coffee at Özsüt,

Coffee with Efe at Özsüt

Coffee with Efe at Özsüt

tea on the Mediterranean in Iskenderun (formerly Alexandria near Issos and later Alexandretta),

First glimpse of the Mediterranean in Iskenderun

First glimpse of the Mediterranean in Iskenderun

On the sea in Iskenderun

On the sea in Iskenderun

Atatürk statue in Iskenderun

Atatürk statue in Iskenderun

an adventurous drive through Hatay,

Driving through olive orchards in Hatay

Driving through olive orchards in Hatay

an afternoon spent wandering through the Antakya bazaar,

browsing the bazaar in Antakya

browsing the bazaar in Antakya

Getting simit in Hatay

Getting simit in Hatay

a tour of mosques and churches in Antakya (formerly Antioch),

Mosque in Hatay

Mosque in Hatay

Church in Hatay

Church in Hatay

The Catholic Church with a minaret in the background

The Catholic Church with a minaret in the background

The famous St. Peter's Church is STILL closed for various reasons... but it's back there!

The famous St. Peter’s Church is STILL closed for various reasons… but it’s back there!

observing ancient mosaics found in the region,

Visiting the Archeology Museum in Antakya

Visiting the Archeology Museum in Antakya

Analyzing the mosaics

Analyzing the mosaics

Mosaic up close

Mosaic up close

Really analyzing

Really analyzing

an after-hours tour of the Catholic Church,

about to take a tour after visiting hours of the Catholic Church in Antakya

about to take a tour after visiting hours at the Catholic Church in Antakya

Inside the Catholic Church

Inside the Catholic Church

a personal invitation to attend service at the St. Paul Orthodox Church,

Outside the Orthodox Church in Antakya after attending a serice with our eager host

Outside the Orthodox Church in Antakya after attending a serice with our eager host

dinner in Antakya in a highly recommended restaurant with a good view and instructions to the wait staff to treat us like family (and to send free künefe),

Antakya has delicious food of all sorts

Antakya has delicious food of all sorts

Dinner in Ancient Antioch

Dinner in Ancient Antioch

Kunefe, a delicious specialty of Hatay

Kunefe, a delicious specialty of Hatay

fortunes revealed in Turkish coffee grinds,

Ready to discover her fortune

Ready to discover her fortune

a very authentic hamam (Turkish bathhouse) experience in the old town of Tarsus,

Hamam-ing it in Tarsus

Hamam-ing it in Tarsus

sipping a cup of kaynar, a piping hot cinnamon-walnut beverage, in the old caravansari in Tarsus,

a piping hot cup of kaynar

a piping hot cup of kaynar

sipping kaynar post-hamam

sipping kaynar post-hamam

a walking tour of Tarsus,

Cleopatra's Gate in Tarsus

Cleopatra’s Gate in Tarsus

In front of Cleopatra's Gate

In front of Cleopatra’s Gate

Tarsus American College

Tarsus American College

Tombstones at Tarsus American

Tombstones at Tarsus American

St. Paul's Church

St. Paul’s Church

Paul's Well

Paul’s Well

Ruins of Paul's home, next to the well

Ruins of Paul’s home, next to the well

The Ancient Road in Tarsus

The Ancient Road in Tarsus

a preview of the newly-opened structure where Daniel (you know, from the Lion’s Den) is buried and apparently lived,

The Tomb of Daniel

The Tomb of Daniel

Walking carefully on the glass floor over ruins at the site of Daniel's tomb

Walking carefully on the glass floor over ruins at the site of Daniel’s tomb

Ruins around Daniel's tomb

Relics around Daniel’s tomb

a delightful dinner prepared by Eda’s Aunt Öznür, complete with içli köfte, yaprak sarma, patlican dolması, and hummus, and breakfast the next day, complete with lady bug toasts,

dinner in Tarsus

dinner in Tarsus

Darling lady bug toasts

Darling lady bug toasts

Their special heart-shaped bush

Their special heart-shaped bush

a glimpse of Pompeiopolis, the Roman ruins near the beach in Mersin,

Dad "hanging out" at Pompeiopolis, Mersin

Dad “hanging out” at Pompeiopolis, Mersin

Roman ruins in Mersin

Roman ruins in Mersin

coffee and tea on the beach in Mersin,

Coffee break on the beach

Coffee break on the beach

an evening in citrus-filled gardens of Eda’s uncle,

surrounded by citrus in Mersin

surrounded by citrus in Mersin

the garden and the sea in the distance

the garden and the sea in the distance

A flock of sheep greeted us as we pulled up.

A flock of sheep greeted us as we pulled up.

a delightful dinner of kuşbasşı and everything else in Eda’s uncle Mahir’s home,

Sitting down to dinner in Mersin

Sitting down to dinner in Mersin

Delightful homemade hummus

Delightful homemade hummus

Fantastic hosts

Fantastic hosts Mahir and Öznur

a train ride back to Adana,

The Tarsus train station

The Tarsus train station

class visits at Adana Science and Technology University,

Visiting my university

Visiting my university

Sitting in on classes

Sitting in on–and participating– in classes

Hanging out with M2

Hanging out with M2 class

Visiting B2 class

Visiting B2 class

Spending time with my site mate Ben

Spending time with my site mate Ben

Meeting B1 class

Meeting B1 class

Hanging out with F1 class

Hanging out with F1 class

Meeting M1 class

Meeting M1 class

Visiting Efe in his office

Visiting Efe in his office

a party thrown just for them at the university, complete with homemade Turkish food students brought,

Feasting at the party at Adana BTÜ

Feasting at the party at Adana BTÜ

Turkish food made by students or their families

Turkish food made by students or their families

Hungry students

Hungry students

Entertainment at the party

Entertainment at the party

as well as private dance lessons,

working on our moves

working on our moves

Teaching dad the moves

Teaching dad the moves

meeting my university students as well as some of the children I’ve been teaching,

with some of my 9 and 10 year old students

with some of my 9 and 10 year old students

cooking lessons for yaprak sarma (stuffed grape leaves, sometimes referred to as ‘dolma’ in the US),

cooking with my mom

cooking with my mom

driving and walking tours of Adana,

Adana's Central Mosque and Park

Adana’s Central Mosque and Park

Visiting places in Adana with their local guide

Visiting places in Adana with their local guide

Overlooking Central Park in Adana

Overlooking Central Park in Adana

homemade lahmahcun and other delights in Müco’s home,

Dining at the Ersoy's

Dining at the Ersoy’s

an exclusive interview with university staff,

Shooting an interview on film for the university

Shooting an interview on film for the university

meeting with the university president,

Meeting with Prof. Dr. Adem Ersoy in his office (photo courtesy of Adana BTÜ)

Meeting with Prof. Dr. Adem Ersoy in his office (photo courtesy of Adana BTÜ)

    Meeting with Prof. Dr. Adem Ersoy in his office (photo courtesy of Adana BTÜ)

Meeting with Prof. Dr. Adem Ersoy in his office (photo courtesy of Adana BTÜ)

the fanciest cappuccino Dad had ever seen at Mado,

Dad was elated with this fancy cappuccino

Dad was elated with this fancy cappuccino

intestine tasting, in soup form,

It's not şırdan, but it's close enough for this visit

It’s not şırdan, but it’s close enough for this visit

a classic breakfast in the mountains near Pozantı,

Breakfast in the mountains

Breakfast in the mountains

complete with an appearance by the chef himself, Mr. Mustache (his ‘stache had recently been trimmed, for some reason),

With the Chef himself

With the Chef himself

a stop at Müco’s summer home in the mountains,

in the mountains in northern Adana

in the mountains in northern Adana

as well as at Şekerpinar, where the water runs cold and a German bridge carries fast-running locomotives through the serene mountainside,

Seker Pinari

Seker Pinari

One of several German bridges in our region

One of several German bridges in our region

a road trip north through Niğde,

Traveling around the Cappadocia region

Traveling around the Cappadocia region

Next time by bike!

Next time by bike!

The mountains are just gorgeous.

The mountains are just gorgeous.

Passing through a village

Passing through a village

We were lucky to have gorgeous sunsets--and sunrises!--along the way

We were lucky to have gorgeous sunsets–and sunrises!–along the way

treks through valleys and caves in Cappadocia,

Open Air Museum, Cappadocia

Open Air Museum, Cappadocia

Mom enjoying the view

Mom enjoying the view

lovely landscape all around

lovely landscape all around

trekking through Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia

trekking through Ihlara Valley in Cappadocia

Ceiling art in former cave churches

Ceiling art in former cave churches

Enjoying the view in Uchisar

Enjoying the view in Uchisar

Wandering Cappadocia

Wandering Cappadocia

Mom and Dad in Cappadocia

Mom and Dad in Cappadocia

Pigeon Valley

Pigeon Valley

tours of boutique cave hotels in the region (including Cappadocia Cave Resort and Spa and The Museum Hotel),

Cappadocia Cave Hotel and Spa in Uchisar is truly incredible

Cappadocia Cave Hotel and Spa in Uchisar is truly incredible

A regular awesome room at CCR

A regular awesome room at CCR

Even a great view from the indoor swimming pool at CCR

Even a great view from the indoor swimming pool at CCR

Museum Hotel combines artifacts with comfort and a scenic atmosphere

Museum Hotel combines artifacts with comfort and a scenic atmosphere

Disappearing pool at The Museum Hotel

Infinity pool at The Museum Hotel, overlooking the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

A yarn demo outside a hotel in Göreme

A yarn demo outside a hotel in Göreme

traditional kebab served out of a clay jar,

Trying various dishes at Dibek, my favorite restaurant in Goreme

Trying various dishes at Dibek, my favorite restaurant in Goreme

Cappadocian wine tastings,

This region is known for its wine production.

This region is known for its wine production.

Cappadocian wine at dinner

Cappadocian wine at dinner

a hike up the Uçhisar Castle,

at the top of Uchisar Castle

at the top of Uchisar Castle

At the top

At the top

Uchisar

Uchisar

Descending Uchisar Castle

Descending Uchisar Castle

a flight from Kayseri to Izmir, then two nights in Izmir, the Pearl of the Aegean (also ancient Smyrna),

taking off from Kayseri to Izmir, on their own!

taking off from Kayseri to Izmir, on their own!

a tour throughout Ephesus and to St. Mary’s home,

touring Ephesus on their own

touring Ephesus on their own

a perfect dinner with my boss and friend Efe, who spent time in Oklahoma last summer, and his family, which included tastes of much of the best Turkish cuisine,

A beautiful table

A beautiful table

Homemade manti

Homemade manti

A delightful dinner at Efe's

A delightful dinner at Efe’s

A smart young host

A smart young host

Amazing homemade gift

Amazing homemade gift

Dessert is served

Dessert is served

banana milk at Kazım Büfe,

Pouring out tall glasses of goodness

Pouring out tall glasses of goodness

Banana milk is just GOOD

Banana milk is just GOOD

visits to various types of grocery stores, shops, homes,

street shopping in Tarsus

street shopping in Tarsus

tea here, coffee there, more tea somewhere else.

Tea in Antakya

Tea in a store in Antakya

Tea in Cappadocia

Tea in Cappadocia

Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee

Special tea with lemon

Special tea with lemon

Sipping a special tea from the mountains near Pozanti

Sipping a special tea from the mountains near Pozanti

Delicious coffee

Delicious coffee

And of course this doesn’t cover it all!

Extra special thanks goes to all the people who made this such an unforgettable experience for my parents, particularly our expert chauffeur, tour guide, historian, as well my adopted Turkish brother, Mücahit; my most hospitable, fun and charismatic adopted Turkish sister Eda; my interested, informative, helpful boss and friend Efe; and all my fantastic students at Adana BTÜ, as well as my colleagues. Her şey için çok teşekkür ederiz!

Mücahit

My Turkish brother Mücahit

Eda

My Turkish sister Eda

Efe Hoca

Our friend Efe Hoca

After all this, we took off for Istanbul to finish off the last days of their trip, but that will come in another post, inşallah. As you can see, good times were had by all. Now I awaiting their NEXT journey to Turkey, as are all their new friends and “family.” Hepimiz seni bekleyen! (We are waiting on you (to return)!)

I think they love Turkey, too!

I think they love Turkey, too!

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