Today the travelling starts - a 6 hour bus ride to Konya. We left our hotel in Antalya at 9:30 - a decidedly leisurely start. We had opted to take the free service bus to the bus station rather than a taxi - a big mistake as it took forever. The bus itself was very modern with personal TV, headphones and double Easyjet's legroom! The route took us along the coast (past high rise development on beaches) then into the mountains. Konya is at an elevation of about 1000metres. We arrived early, hopped in a taxi to our hotel and settled in. The hotel recommended a restaurant owned by a famous cookery writer - the food was very good at half the price on the coast - things are looking up!
Konya is the home of Rumi (aka Mevlana) - a 13th century Muslim poet and mystic who founded the lodges of the Whirling Dervishes. We started by seeing the Mevlana museum - really a shrine that is popular with all of Turkey. The highlight of the museum was Mevlana's tomb (certainly for all the Turks). The museum was interesting if only for the reverence showed by all the locals to tomb.
After this we needed to get some medicine for Ken's stomach - quite easy to do and we were even offered a package deal with some Viagra. It was then onto the other Konya highlight - the Saladin's mosque on a hill. It was quite old and decrepit - the inside looked good from afar but when you get up close, it was a bit tacky.
We decided we had had enough of mosques for the day and headed out for a small village outside of Konya called Sille. It had been a Greek settlement as there were Orthodox churches and cave dwellings there. Unfortunately, the churches were being restored and the caves had been vandalised. However, we did find an excellent place for a late lunch though so all was not lost.
In the evening we went to a performance of the Whirling dervishes. This is famous as the dervishes whirl round continuously in order to obtain union with God. We were very lucky as the performances are infrequent and this was the last one in Konya for the year as it becomes too cold. Even better, when we arrived we had 4 seats at the front (the performance was free). The whole thing was very atmospheric - especially with the Mevlana museum lit up in the background. The dervishes, dressed in white flowing robes, whirled round to music performed by a traditional orchestra and were supervised by the master of the lodge. How they did it, we could not work out - we were giddy just looking at it. It was certainly an amazing spectacle.