Iznik and Gol Iznik, Turkey Week 119 July 6th - 10th 2013
Another 6am drive across Istanbul.

Headed for some quiet time near Iznik.

But first a glimpse of the Istanbul City Walls.

There are 22km of walls dating back beyond the 5th century Roman era.

We were looking in the wrong place.

There are few remaining hints of wall along the Bosphorus. Those remaining face Europe.

Too many towers for us to count!

The city was impregnable until a 6 week siege by the Ottomans in 1453 that heralded the establishment of the Ottoman Empire..

Across the Bosphorus again.
The motorways around Istanbul have totally automated tolls.

As best we can tell the "OGS" gates mean transponders in use and the "HGS" cameras.

They look expensive.

Once round the coast we headed south over some mountains to Iznik.

I've been looking for a new radiator cap for a few days after noticing water dripping from the radiator reservoir at times when it shouldn't.

The sudden steep (2nd gear) climb after a couple of hours driving caught me out and I had to stop, let things cool down, and add some water.

The mountain villages were a bit different to the city.
Half timbered mud brick houses at times.
Then an abortive attempt to buy a new radiator cap in Iznik.

Before I could stop the mechanic he'd released the radiator cap then put it back.

Finally accepted the Webasto heater was part of the system and started adding cold water to the header tank.

I turned the heater on so as not to get cold water into the hot engine.

No new radiator cap.

I now have the Turkish translation of "My radiator cap is leakig. Where can I buy a new one". And the location of a Mitsubish truck dealer.

Iznik is the former Nicaea.

Site of the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church in 325 AD.. 

Agreement on the Nicene Creed which summarised Christian beliefs.

I wonder where the consultants got the idea of mission statements and such like corporate paraphernalia from!

Looks like we have some exploring to do.

Internet in our lakeside car park camp has allowed some helpful research at last.

White for weddings seems universal.

It seems to be tradition for wedding parties to drive along the lake front, making lots of happy noise, and have photos taken.

So we took some too.
The walls are quite extensive.

Though not possible to walk on.

The hole cut through the tower allows motorbikes and pedestrians through.

It looks like at least some of the wall had a dressed stone veneer.
The Hagia Sophia (Orhan) Mosque.

Dates from 4th century and rebuilt in the 11th century after an earthquake.

Converted to mosque around 1331.

Couldn't help noticing the ratio of mortar to bricks.

Perhaps it wasn't just the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul that had problems.

The name of Mimar Sinan keeps popping up as a prolific Islamic Ottoman architect in the 1500's who seems to have been involved in many mosques and other monumental buildings.

This is one of the smaller domes in the mosque.

And the mosaic floor near the front door.
Exploring east of the town center we passed an hamam.

There are a few other old buildings remaining but the sound of a beating drum discouraged us from exploring further.

It was probably nothing but better safe than sorry.

Wedding or demonstration came to mind.

We passed the 2nd century Roman Theatre.

Commissioned by the Emperor Trajanus.

In the 8th century bits of it were used for other buildings.

The razor wire is a modern addition.

And so out the south west corner and along the waterfront to the camp.
Next day (Monday) we decided to seek a quieter place further around the lake.

Car parks with water and loo are fine, but their major disadvantage is the movement of cars and people, with associated noise..

Even though we didn't want to the sense that we couldn't put out the chairs and table was somehow confining.

We need "a destination" not "an overnighter". If we weren't anchored to Istanbul we'd simply be traveling east. Our "normal" pattern of moving between interesting places with occasional oases of calm as we meet them has been disrupted.

The internet gave us the satellite images which gave us several suggestions for camping.

And our reward, about 5km drive around the lake, was hours of simple pleasure watching this red throated grebe fishing.

Plus a special bonus.

We think they are two young grebes in this photo. The beaks aren't long, or sharp enough for cormorants (of which there are a few about).

Four in all, but just never all with heads up in the same spot at the same time.

As much interested in playing as fishing.

The wind rose and the next visit was from a potato farmer.

Give the tourists some potatoes and a smile.

Toss them (the potatoes) out of the truck to wash in the waves.

Wash the floor of the truck in between chasing bags lest they drift away.

Stack them up to drain a bit. Then toss them back in the truck and drive off.

Potatoes for tea .... and lunch .... and ....

And a little while later four ducks, which refused to pose and waddled by, studiously ignoring us.

Intent on going somewhere.

The other two are not in the picture!

I'm also sure we heard chickens (well hens anyway) somewhere near.

Next morning the gulls we disturbed when we arrived had returned.

So we disturbed them again by pointing the camera at them.

"black headed" gulls?

They moved 50m along the beach.

Then the heron arrived.
So the gulls relaxed.

And went for a swim.

The lake water is relatively clear, but just a little murky for us to swim, and too murky for filling water tanks if it was necessary..

But this little fellow can't swim so pecks among the rocks at the water's edge.

We've begun to realise that perhaps the wind gets up every afternoon here.

Not really an idyllic spot but there's plenty to keep us occupied.

And then the light changed.

Just a little bit.

Sufficient to see the colours and markings a little more clearly.

Unfortunately the heron is nowhere to be seen.

We watched a cormorant through the binoculars failing to swallow an oversize fish, which it then ate in bits.

Too far away for photos.

More potato washers today. Our potato stock has grown.

If nothing else we'll have enough potatoes to get to China.

Another day, another bird. Lots of fun playing with camera settings in the hope of catching birds in flight.

Temperatures are a bit lower. 25 degrees in the morning. Sticky humidity at 60%. A slight breeze.

The gulls are nowhere to be seen.

There are many more species around.

Oh for some internet research.

Grubbing around among the stones is a bird we've never imagined before, let alone seen.

A solitary specimen.

Some sort of horizontal woodpecker? 

Not the least bit interested in observing us.

It keeps the regulation distance from our mobile hide that all birds seem to adopt.

Just out of good photo range for us.

We will now head back to Istanbul to pick up China visas (hopefully).

Agent says application submitted ok and passports will be available Friday afternoon.

Istanbul (Three) and Hagia Sophia Museum, Turkey (Two) Week 119 July 11th - 12th 2013

Tony LEE Fri, 12 Jul 13 22:08:00 +1000
The Hoopoe (Upupa epops) is a colourful bird that is found across Afro-Eurasia,

Google image search found it eventually. Interesting bird.

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