Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular
column about her recommendations for a good read and life as
she sees it ...
It's all cooling down and heating up in Turkey.
I needed a sweater for the first time as I ate a farewell
breakfast of yoghurt with pomegranates, walnuts and honey and
worried about how Turkey will fare with the Syrian crisis
spilling across its border.
It's the same distance as Queenstown to Dunedin from where we
are and everyone is anxious.
Our skipper is 27 with a 4-year-old son and a baby due in two
months, so he dreads a call-up if a peaceful solution can't
I've just read Louis de Berniere's Birds Without
Wings, which is all about the wars various countries
chose to have with Turkey in the early 1900s.
It's never been a good idea, as the Turks are very quick and
strong when it comes to defending their patch.
It's a fantastic book, which weaves the stories of a number
of different characters, including Ataturk, into a very
satisfyingly whole, although many of the stories, especially
the one about the beautiful girl whose parents wouldn't let
her marry her sweetheart, are tragic.
Like his best-known book, Captain Corelli's Mandolin,
it's a bit tricky to start with but, once you're in, you're
In our last few days, I tried to tick off lots of things I'd
never done here before.
First was a lovely bike ride to get my cycle bottom ready for
when I get home and attack our brilliant new cycle trails.
We asked the bike hire people to show us how to get to Perge,
an ancient city whose recently unearthed treasures we'd been
admiring at the Antalya Museum (not admiring the museum,
which had the least informative information I've ever seen).
We said we wanted quiet roads and as much shade as possible.
Mmmm ... even though there were horses and carts, tractors
and trailers hauling freshly picked cotton and wonky old men
on wonky old bikes on the road with us, it was still a
three-lane highway, with huge trucks and buses hurtling past.
It was hideous.
And boiling hot.
The bike hire people got the message about my displeasure
when I brought the bike back from Perge in a taxi - no way I
could do that again.
And I'd never driven here before either, so we rented a car
in the old city just as rush hour and dusk set in.
The GPS threw a wobbly and as Turkish drivers use their horns
way more than their indicators to communicate with other
drivers, we got a lot of loud and cross messages.
I'm having another first today at the airport surrounded by
mostly elderly chaps wearing just two unhemmed sheets held up
with only a belt and not all looking as if the belt is doing
a very good job.
They're all off to do the hajj, which every devout Muslim
must do once in their lives.
They go on a pilgrimage to Mecca, where they have to perform
various rites, including throwing stones at the devil.
Millions of Muslims do it each year and they look so happy.
It's not at all luxurious - everyone, whether prince or
pauper, wears and eats the same, and there are loads of rules
such as no sex or shaving, swearing or fighting, and I nearly
pointed the last one out to a husband and wife who were not
whispering sweet nothings to one another.
Queenstown Airport is going to be so comfortingly familiar. I
am getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it.