Turkey: Adana & Tarsus

Sabanci Merkez Mosque in Adana
I have been advised that there is nothing to see in Adana. I confess, the only reason I plan to stop by Adana is to catch a flight back to Istanbul, and to try out Adana Kebab at the source. Other cities may make the meanest Adana kebab, but I want to have it in Adana to strike another item off my to-do list. Adana also happens to have one of the most regular flights to Istanbul from this region. Being quite close to Antakya, I should be able to travel here and have enough of the day left to move around.

10 September 2009:
Spending most of this morning napping in the two and half hour bus from Antakya. It could have been faster if not for the bus stopping at every otogar along the way.

On the bus to Adana, with my small pack containing the usual accessories: GPS, audio recorder, blackberry, phone, etc

1338hrs: Been a long travelling day. Made the questionable decision to leave the otogar at Adana, go downtown and look for the hotel to drop my bag first before heading out for a day trip to nearby Tarsus.

Why Tarsus? Adana is a big city, in fact one of the biggest in this region. I don’t know if there’s a big attraction in Adana other than the big American air base at Incirlik. Tarsus is a historic town, at least historic enough for me to have heard of it, and sure as hell beats wandering around a city with more than a million inhabitants like Adana on a hot summer afternoon. The way from the Adana otogar to the city center is not too convenient. There is no free shuttle bus from my bus company, so I took a public transport instead, bus 117, and they happened to start a kilometer away from the place I wanted to stay. The noon sun was no making things too comfortable.

In Turkey, a statue of Ataturk seems to symbolize the center of the city and this is also where I found a small boutique hotel to drop my stuff. After a little asking around in simple english, catching bus 140 to the otogar, hoping to catch the Tarsus bus at the right time. While travelling, I try not to remain too idle waiting hours for a bus. However, taking a bus here is not that easy. The names on the front windscreen of the buses here are quite confusing. There seem to be just a couple of final destinations, from the looks of it. A surefire way to catch the right bus to the Otogar from the Centrum of Adana seems to be either bus 120 or 140. Strangely, public buses to the otogar seems to be always driven by women. The driver on the bus I took has heavy make-up and is quite presentable. Passengers are all staring at her when they get on the bus, so that means that this is an exception!

1409hrs: And we’re off in a minibus at the otogar bound for Tarsus. Strangely the driver’s attendant asked us to leave the van and walk 100m outside the otogar before we were supposed to leave and join the minibus outside. (ed: I would find out why later, I think they are trying to keep as much of the ticket fare for themselves!) And this guy drives faaast. 3.5TL for the fare. Bus is not full, myself, a lady and her daughter, and a mufti. And two backup drivers. This place is strange!

Downtown Tarsus

1454hrs: Drop off point in Tarsus is right next to Cleopatra’s gate. Confirmed by my GPS. This minibus goes all the way to Mersin if I got the message right. The return path is on the otherside of the Cleopatra’s gate, I presume as the bus returns from Mersin. Nothing cleopatra-y about this gate, just one of the gates forming the old city wall of Tarsus. The assumption is that since it is one of the major gates of old Tarsus, since Cleopatra came here (where she met Anthony), she must have passed through it. Part of it looks renovated but there is a little bit sticking out that still has some carving left. I’d say less than 10%.

Tarsus' Cleopatra Gate

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