Thursday, 31 March 2011

Swimming in Turkey July - August 1989

Unlike Byron, I have never swum the Hellespont (and am not likely to!) - nor for that matter from the Lido in Venice and all the way up the Grand Canal.  The Hellespont is the narrow channel known now as the Dardanelles, the narrow channel connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara.

On swimming the Hellespont, on May 3, 1810, Byron wrote:

                                           'I plume myself on this achievement more than I could possibly do any kind of glory, political, poetical or rhetorical.'

I have however, swum in a number of places in Turkey, and here they are.

20 July 1989

Looks a bit dull, but the water was fantastic and we enjoyed the swim. Really nice body surfing waves.


28 July 1989

"The origin and meaning of the island's name is unknown, but is often attributed to an old Armenian legend. According to the tale, an Armenian princess named Tamar lived on the island and was in love with a commoner. This boy would swim from the mainland to the island each night, guided by a light she lit for him. Her father learned of the boy's visits. One night, as she waited for her lover to arrive, he smashed her light, leaving the boy in the middle of the lake without a guide to indicate which direction to swim. They say his dying cries of "Akh, Tamar" (Oh, Tamar) can be heard to this day at night." (Wikipedia)

So the origin of its name may lie in swimming.

On the road from KÂHTA to MT NEMRUT
30 July 1989

A very welcome stop at a restaurant  / camping site on a  long and dusty trip to Mount Nemrut. Not sure of its name but it could be Damlacık


2 August 1989

A lazy day, poolside. Aaaaaaaaaaaah.

4 August 1989

After weeks inland, our first sight of the Mediterranean was at Side, where we rushed into the beautiful water and enjoyed a swim in the sea.


BELDIBI  on the MEDITERRANEAN with the TAURUS MOUNTAINS in the background.
4 August 1989

A pebbly shore, backed by sand, right at our campsite. Beautiful swimming in calm, crystal clear, warm Mediterranean waters.

Beach between Beldibi and Demre (Myra)
5 August 1989

I don't know the name of this beach, but it was beautiful.  Entrance was 500 Turkish Lire, but that bought a deck chair. That gorgeous, crystal clear water again.

KAPUTAŞ between Kaş and Kalkan - BLUE COVE
6 August 1989

The most exquisite beach. The road crosses a mountain gorge. Below the bridge is this beautiful cove, reached by stairs from the road.

PAMUKKALE ('Cotton Castle')
7 August 1989

Not really swimming, though people used to.  Due to drought, there was not much water in this area of hot springs and travertine terraces. The ancient city of Hierapolis was founded in the 2nd century BC as a thermal spa. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Area, and you can no longer walk over it any more like we did, nor immerse yourself in the waters.

I am glad; when we visited, they were a very big disappointment - littered with cigarette butts and a grey, dirty site. Now, apparently , they have returned to their pristine, gleaming white natural state. The terraces are formed from calcium bicarbonate carried in the spring water.

PAMUKKALE - Swimming in the ancient SACRED POOL
7 August 1989

In the grounds of what was the Pamukkale Motel (now a thermal centre) is the ancient Sacred Pool, warmed by hot springs and littered with underwater fragments of ancient marble columns. It is possibly associated with the Temple of Apollo. It was amazing swimmign around over anceinet ruins! During the Roman period, columned porticoes surrounded the pool; earthquakes toppled them into the water where they now lie.

This is where the spring that feeds the mineral pools of Pamukkale originates.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Swimming - Paul Valéry

"To plunge into water, to move one's whole body in its wild and graceful beauty, to twist about in its pure depths, this is for me a delight only comparable to love." - Paul Valéry

Valéry (30 October 1871 – 20 July 1945) was a French poetessayist, and philosopher.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Swimming from Ancient Rome to Christianity

Sculpture of a mermaid found at a Roman fort near Fors Abbey at Bainbridge in Yorkshire, England.

One of my favourite books about swimming is Haunts of the Black Masseur : the Swimmer as Hero, by Charles Sprawson. I love his chapter on 'Classical Waters' (in Ancient Greece and Rome).

Sprawson tells us that in ancient Rome swimming was associated with sensuality and, eventually, as Emperors built ever more luxurious pools and baths, decadence. The Christian church filled the sea with imaginary monsters.

For Pliny the mermaid was a exciting proof of nature's diversity, her song an irresistible celestial harmony.

For the medieval church her siren song became the lure of fleshly pleasures to be feared and avoided by the godly. Swimming, like sexual pleasure, came to be associated with the devil and was almost suppressed during the domination of Europe by Christianity. Not until the beginning of the 19th century was its popularity revived.