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


This is the 14th in a series of articles about a trip to the interesting country of Turkey


By Charles N. Stevens

We move on to Aspendos, the snowy Taurus Mountains gleaming brightly far to the north. The

theater at Aspendos, the best of its type that has survived the classical world, amazes us with its well-preserved seats, walls and columns. It is nearly intact, the way it was two thousand years ago. It was built by the architect Zenon during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. I step up the ancient aisles to the highest seats, close to the columns built all the way around the top. On the earthen stage below, Dolores speaks in a normal voice. Her words are carried up to me as if I were standing near her, a tribute to the acoustics of the theater. Even the dressing rooms still exist. The theater is in such pristine condition that modern productions are often held here, even rock concerts. The rest of Aspendos, surprisingly, lies mainly in ruins.

Only a mile from the theater we stop at a small, many-windowed restaurant called the Agora. They serve us plates of bread then a series of appetizers—a spicy eggplant patty, a crunchy fried cheese roll and cold green beans and potatoes in a tomato sauce. A colorful salad of purple cabbage, shredded carrots and tomatoes comes next. For the main course I have barbequed trout which had been brought in a few minutes earlier, thrashing in a net. Dolores tries shish kebab, and we both work on little piles of French fries. Dessert is an orange and an apple each.

Well satisfied and restored by the meal, we move on down the coast to the ruins of yet another ancient city, Side, pronounced Sid-Eh. On the approaches to the city we drive through gaps in the massive but deteriorating Hellenistic walls of the city built in the second century B.C. Near the wall we enter through an arch largely held up by modern wooden scaffolding into the old theater. We walk around on the curving seats, again admiring the theater’s good state of preservation. From the seats we can look out over the Roman baths and the scattered stones of what were once a library and a temple. The second century Roman design is distorted here and there from several major earthquakes down through the years. A temple cat and a temple dog, both claiming the theater as their territory, spar with each other, the dog barking furiously and the cat, with his back raised and his ears laid back, spitting, and hissing. We talk to a portly man from Germany who asks us why we come to a cold place like Turkey when we could be at home in warm California. We tell him there are no Roman temples there.

After viewing the theater, we walk on our own through the seaside village of Side, braving the hawkers who approach from all sides with broad smiles and clever sales pitches. For the most part they shout at us in German, thinking we are German tourists. At the end of the street, we veer to the left past outside restaurant tables with white table clothes and beckoning, gesturing waiters to the Temple of Apollo. We gasp inwardly at the whiteness and delicacy of its Corinthian columns against the intense blue of the sky. Other marble chunks of columns and capitals still litter the ground around it. As we marvel at the columns still holding up a portion of the architrave and cornice, the eerie sound of Moslem prayers from the town’s mosques weaves itself among the stones dedicated to another earlier god. After the prayers we are left with silence and the soft sound of the waves on the beach. A gentle, cool wind ruffles my hair.

Back at our hotel in Antalya, Dolores decides to find a store where she can purchase drinking water. She wants to be alone out among the “real” people. A sign in our lobby warns about bringing in any food or drink from the outside, so she must take a small bag to put the bottle of water in. They sell it at the hotel for twice the price for which we can buy it in the local stores.

Later Dolores and I take an elevator up to the very top of the hotel where an open area and bar affords a spectacular view of the city. The city spreads out below us, extending as far as we can see in most directions. In one quadrant lies the blue vastness of the Mediterranean and to the north the white peaks of the Taurus Mountains. Everywhere the sharp minarets of mosques rise among the city buildings. As we look, prayers begin to flow from the loudspeakers affixed to the minarets, first the strange notes from one, then another, blending in a wild, reverberating dissonance of sound.

At dinner we have a nice chicken soup and what seems to be the traditional Turkish salad, red cabbage, carrots and greens in three colorful bands. Our main dish is a blend of meat, eggplant and rice in a very tasty broth. For dessert we spoon a delicious rice pudding out of little crocks.

Back in our room we pack our things for the three-day trip to Cappadocia, leaving a good part of what we own in the room as the room will be ours even when we are away.

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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