Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead


This is the 9th in a series of articles about a trip to the interesting country of Turkey.



Charles N. Stevens

A peek out the window reveals a full moon with a wide boulevard of twinkling water beneath it. The needles on the moonlit pines are still, a sign at least that our trip to Pamukkale might be windless.

At 8:00 when we finally leave, only a few fluffy clouds float in an otherwise clear sky. Today we head inland, toward the east. I feel sorry for the stiff, bundled people who walk by the side of the road in the cold, their breaths puffing like steam engines. Almost comfortably warm in the bus, we listen to enchanting Turkish music about the Silk Road. Outside, women stand in a tractor-pulled trailer with one kerchief over their heads and another around their mouths. Coal smoke tumbles out of the stove pipes of nearly every humble house as horse carts move along the side of the road with donkeys carrying fat loads of sticks.

We again pass through the town of Soke, its main streets decorated with Spanish orange trees, their branches loaded with fruit. A man sets up a samovar in a coffeehouse. Many men but few women hustle to work. Purple and robin’s egg blue seem to be favorite colors for houses.

In a rather desolate place beyond Soke, the highway cuts through a gap in a long, crumbling stone wall. When I ask our guide what the wall is, she says, “It’s the city wall of an ancient place called Magnesia. A very famous battle was fought here.” Nothing more is said, and I‘m left to wonder about the battle and the history of a city that has disappeared except for part of its walls.

We pass through Orto Klar and Germinsik where the air is heavy and hazy with coal smoke. People wait for a train in the murk, the women wearing colorful “baggy pants”. In the large city of Aydin, smoke nearly hides the minarets that poke up into it. The town is a curious mixture of old and new where automobiles use the same streets as flocks of goats and horse-drawn carts. Women wearing strict Muslim garb ride in one of the carts. On the edge of town sheep and goats graze by the side of the road. Magpies, wagtails, and grey-fronted crows inhabit an olive grove. On our left rise mountains covered with snow and shrouded in clouds.

We pause at a roadside stop called Meandrous where we sample sesame

candy, Turkish delights, and dried figs, all of which are exceptionally good.  Moving on, we travel through miles of olive groves, orange and tangerine trees and leafless fruit trees. The road parallels the railroad track where we finally see one passenger train. We pass by Nasli with its olive groves and cotton fields then Kusugak where we see cows walking along a farm road. The town of Horsefly specializes in fruit stands which sell the citrus of the area. Angled-up boxes of tangerines, oranges, grapefruit and lemons add color to the side of the road. We zoom by a road leading to the ruins of Aphrodisias, a city named for the goddess Aphrodite, about thirty miles away. We hear that this city was larger than Ephesus and that virgins slept in the temples The important portions of the city had been built in the first century, and the people became famous for the quality of their statuary.

Gencelli specializes in pottery shops, the colorful red, green, and purple pots brightening up the roadside stands. By the time we reach Buharkent clouds dominate the sky, and patches of snow lie on the ground. We pass a river issuing from a hot spring, its steam laying down a writhing cloud marking the turns and twists of the river. The cloud extends far into the distance across the bleak land. Nearby a shepherd tends his sheep. He is dressed in the same kind of sheepskin that we had seen the day before. More and more snow covers the ground.     After crossing the Meander River, we reach the ancient city of Hierapolis, first stopping at the burial grounds. Everywhere are huge sarcophagi, tumuli and what appear to be the ruins of stone mausoleums. Many of the sarcophagi are tilted or turned by the ages. As if to soften the ravages of years and the specter of death, the stones of each tomb are capped with a rounded mound of fresh snow. We walk around in the snow, crunching it beneath our feet, looking at the carvings on the lichen-splotched sarcophagi.

The Romans built Hierapolis because of its proximity to healing hot springs which we now see at Pamukkale. The springs feed pools which run over into lower pools in giant stairsteps of snow-white minerals and stalactites down the side of a hill. All is draped with snow except the hot bluish pools that steam in the winter air. Hot, steamy water trickles in a rivulet near where we watch.

Our feet squeaking in the snow, Dolores and I walk up a long road to the ruins of the snow-decked theater, passing hawkers on the way who try to sell us all the usual wares. By the time we reach there, we are completely alone. In the cold, quiet air we look at the old theater and try to imagine what it was like then. Beautifully carved stones lie all around us, each one topped with fresh, clean snow. In the quietness we hear the shots of hunters far away and then the mystical noon prayers from the mosques drifting over the snow fields.

MONTEREY PARK AUTHOR PUBLISHES 4th BOOK – Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s:

Charles “Norm” Stevens, a 49 year resident of Monterey Park has recently published his 4th book: Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Inglewood, California in the l930’s. This was a time during the depression when unemployment was affecting many and the banks were closed, while the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. But he was lucky enough to be raised in a loving family, the power of that love reflected throughout his stories.

Stevens is the author of three previous books about his experiences during WWII:

An Innocent at Polebrook: A Memoir of an 8th Air Force Bombardier (Story of his 34 bombing missions from his base at Polebrook, England over Germany and France)

The Innocent Cadet: Becoming A World War II Bombardier (A prequel to the first, telling of his training in the U.S. before going overseas into combat.)

Back from Combat: A WWII Bombardier Faces His Military Future from Combat: (This book details the time from when he returned from combat in England until the end of the war.)

He is known to the readers of The Citizen’s Voice as the author of Travel Log Articles including “Cruising the Rhine and Mosel”,” Best of the West”, “In Search of Snow” ,  “From Paris to Normandy on the Seine”, and “Exploring New York”.  He is retired, having taught for 32 years, primarily in the Montebello Unified School District.

Those interested in purchasing an autographed copy of any of his books, may contact the author at 323-721-8230 or  Normstevens24@gmail.com.

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