To the west of Mersin is where most of the tourist areas, frequented by Turks from Konya and the more Eastern parts of central Anatolia or the less well off Anatolian Turks, lie. It’s west that we most often head when we’re here, but as we now only have the option to come during summer much of the historical stuff is just too hot and shadeless for me to manage more than 5 minutes. Husband had suggested that we get up at unGodly hours to wander around various areas filled with numerous collapsing walls, but I’m not that mad.
We did go to Cennet Cehenem (Heaven and Hell) near Narlikuyu in summer once, but as we walked down the steps the humidity just seemed to get worse not better and with the kids we called it quits. The next year in spring and them being a bit older made it more doable. Even so, once inside the cave it’s rather slippy and precarious, not a place to go without good footwear. Though watching others negotiate it in flip flops can be amusing. You can go quite far into the cave and it is really cool, both in temperature and otherwise, being there. However, this year being so hot we weren’t drawn there beyond going for breakfast at our favourite place up the hill at Bayram.
One place that I do like to visit when we are here in summer is the Lamos Kanyon, near Limonlu (great name, with lemons or lemony, would so love to be able to say I lived in Lemony). Unfortunately you need to have a car to get there and the road up to the canyon is not good, though this year it finally has tarmac. One thing that is slightly troubling about the drive up there is the fact that many people go for barbecues and drinking; sounds good, but not when you think that there isn’t really a culture of the designated driver here. Nor is there any heed paid to laws banning texting or calling on your mobile while driving. The road is barely wide enough for two cars and many Turks feel completely justified to hog the middle of the road and see no need to move when cars approach. That said the drive up is definitely worth it, scary at times but worth it. The road periodically falls away to reveal the full depth of the canyon where the mountains are formed of prehistoric sediments when the ground was submerged by sea water. Apparently a great place for fossil hunters.
When we go up the canyon though we head for the oddly named Doctor’s Place (doktor nin yeri). It’s very popular, especially on a Sunday-why do I keep choosing the busiest times to go to places? Perhaps because husband is trying to sort out the seemingly never ending toilet saga on week days. Anyway, we like doctor’s place because it’s right on the river that cuts through the canyon. It’s picnic place and a limited restaurant. Those, like us, wanting the restaurant cross a rickety wooden bridge/footpath over the river to platforms (again rickety) that hang over the river with low tables and cushions to sit on. The picnickers are on the other side of the river or further up and can get barbecues to cook the food they have brought with them. It’s very noisy, the rivers flows fast over rocks down the canyon making a terrific racket. It’s also rather smokey what with the number of barbecues on the go and the fact that the restaurant food is only really barbecued chicken or trout. Last year the trout tank was next to the walkway across the river but they moved it this year.
Our boys love to dip their feet in the icy water of the river, sometimes just sitting on the edge of the platform while at others deciding to leave me with my heart in my mouth as they go in deeper and walk the edge over the stones and rocks. On the other side are the ‘manly men’ who after several drinks are diving right in to the deeper pools. Way to cold for me, but even with the sun at it’s height the spray of the river makes it a refreshing place to be. If you burn easily then don’t forget sunscreen as the shade is provided only by the dappled leaves of the trees and the odd parasol. The restaurant only takes cash and the entrance fee is taken off the bill if you’re not picnicking. I think next year we might take our own picnic as the prices are getting higher.
Close to Doctors place there is also a pretty little mosque. Decorated with traditional tiles and quite well painted. The boys love to go and have a bit of a play in there. Last year they put on the imam’s robes and turban that are left hanging on a coat rack. This year Lai Lai decided that the little window was a great serving hatch to hand me his strawberry pies which contained strawberry sauce, cotton wool, and other inedibles he could think of. Thank goodness they were only imaginary.
There’s probably a lot more of the canyon to discover, and we may do that when the boys are bigger. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and there are other restaurants and cafes dotted about. The roadside does have villagers selling honey, pomegranate molasses (lovely bitter stuff none of the sugar laden stuff you get in supermarkets) and carob pods fresh from the trees, which are a favourite of Fatso’s. There are also local banana plantations on the way up, a real treat as they are small and sweet.
Lamos kanyon is a little gem, yet again ignored by the travel guides.