In Alanya, Turkey, on the Mediterranean Sea, a castle rises atop cliffs as the sun shines through feathery clouds. In the distance, the Turkish coastline curves westward toward Antalya, the ancient port where the Apostle Paul once journeyed with a message of Christ’s love. Enjoy this Mediterranean moment with me, as a southern wind blows away your cares in the fairy-tale land of Turkey.
It seems I’m always on the road, in some exotic country across the oceans. I’ve traveled to many continents and cities, but I love to just take walks. I’ve walked with my children, so much enjoying their wide, surprised eyes and their small hands in mine as we bent to touch a dandelion or stretched up toward the moon. I walked with my husband and sometimes friends. I often walk alone, so often not by choice. Yet, I was not all alone. Christ walked with me, and though I should follow his footsteps more often, He doesn’t abandon me.
Writing begins in the mind, and when I’m walking, I let my body and mind relax. Words come to me, and I can outline a novel in one afternoon. A character, a setting, a desire, an object like an old camera held up to a seeing eye–images drift into my imagination as one foot naturally steps in front of another like the rhythm of poetry or my favorite music. My eyes drink in all that surrounds me. Wind washes my face like water, and salt from the sea fills my lungs. I feel light as sunlight, as air, as a bird’s wing.
In Turkey, I have walked by some of the most beautiful places in the world. Alanya, Turkey is one of them. It is a place you should discover outside, not in a car or a building. I took a path that started on the beach and led to the boat harbor, Red Tower, and the castle walls that line a swimming cove on the calm Mediterranean. Shady olive groves, stone walls white in the sunlight, the depth of clear blue . . . these marked my way in Alanya.
Come, walk with me on this road atop the walls of a castle by the sea. Come, explore the vast beauty of Turkey. Maybe you, too, will write a story about it.
For those of you who liked my Chanakkale, Turkey post, here is the video that goes with it. Enjoy photos of the castle by the sea, the museum, and the memorial. I teach English in Turkey and discovered Chanakkale with one of my students. You can read more about my travel adventures in my new book, “Fire and Ice.”
I discovered historic Çanakkale with my student Selen. We rode the bus all night, sighing and telling stories of how we feel cursed against finding love. We arrived there in the morning. After breakfast at a seaside café, we took the ferry across the Marmara Sea to the site of the old fort and castle. Davut (my Turkish soldier friend) had told me the story of the War of Perseverance and Technology, of how the Turks held off the British fleet at the narrow point of Çanakkale during World War I, thus changing the course of modern history. The mighty British wanted to go through Turkish seaways to the Black Sea and Russia, but they were stopped by the stubborn, low-tech Turks. Many soldiers on both sides died, many ships were sunk by mines and canons, but the medieval castle built long ago by a great sultan held its place on the Marmara shores.
I have always loved the old stone walls of castles. I explored them in England, Scotland, and Ireland. I paid to tour some in the Highlands, others were abandoned and free to explore in Irish fields, and one lay ruined by the sea. History caught in stone can draw me, and there’s nothing like climbing tall stone steps to the top of a turret wall and tower. Selen and I climbed all those steps through the castle at Çanakkale, and I took photos of each angle. A breathless height with view of distant water, an arch, an empty window, a cave-like room, a courtyard garden—all these filled our eyes beneath the hot Aegean sun, beside the wildflowers, painted wooden boats, and sea—where colors glowed against the shadow.
I bought brass bullets of remembrance, sat on the castle steps, and unscrewed their tops. I filled them with a little sand I gathered from the stone beneath my feet. A part of history, a part of lives lost here, of blood soaked to the ground, of souls. The museum curator had shown us a box of freshly discovered human skulls—some Turk, some English. Were these fallen soldiers my ancestors? Were they caught within this sand I hold in my small hand? How are we humans all connected?
They say the Turkish soldiers’ blood ran so thick at Çanakkale that observers saw the crescent moon and one bright star reflected in it, and that’s how the Turkish flag was born.
From my book “Fire and Ice.” Find it as a paperback or Kindle eBook: