Travel along with Josh Friedman across Turkey east to west. As noted in the first video, a constitutional referendum is taking place on April 16, and thus there is a lot of activity in the country at the moment.
April 13: The trip begins up in the mountains near the Iranian and Armenian borders where a secluded Ottoman-era palace still stands:
After visiting the Ishak Pasha Palace, a dirt bike ride led to the discovery of the “remains” of Noah’s Ark. Does the rock formation resemble an ark?
April 14: The next stop is a pristine island within the confines of Turkey’s largest lake. A 10th century church that survived a 20th century genocide – at least by many accounts – still stands atop the island.
Atop Akdamar Island, a Turkish flag can be seen flying beside the Armenian cathedral. A rainbow also happens to be in the air. Happy days ahead?
While Eastern Turkey is not exactly (President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan territory, “Evet” vans can be heard loud and clear playing the call to vote. If Turkey votes evet, or yes, on Sunday, the country’s system of governance will transform from a parliamentary system to a presidential one.
April 15: Next stop? The ancient walled city of Diyarbakir:
Locals use Diyarbakir’s ancient walls as a gathering point, as well as place to pose. While they traverse the tops of the walls with ease, they will warn you to exercise caution, otherwise you may fall.
Grazing season in the center of Diyarbakir.
The surprising Diyarbakir wine scene features a mix of Assyrian and Armenian influence and grapes grown in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. A glass of local wine can be enjoyed inside the walls of a former Ottoman palace said to be hundreds of years if not a millennium old.
April 16: Onward to Ankara on referendum day.
As Erdogan’s security details prepared for victory celebrations hours before the conclusion of a highly contested referendum, it made for an unexpected prime time to visit the presidential palace. The color scheme is bland, but the views and the green backdrop are beautiful. Likewise, the large mosque is impressive — more so on the inside than the outside, though photos might suggest otherwise.
Reporting from outside the palace complex on referendum day:
The CHP-led “Hayir” or “No” campaign claimed conservative-leaning Ankara in the referendum, but that was not enough to stop Erdogan’s “Evet” from prevailing.
Ataturk was getting no love in Central Ankara on referendum night. The silence surrounding his image was a little foreboding, if not deafening.
Referendum recap from early next morning (April 17):
On a slight tangent, the refugee crisis is far from over in Turkey. Migrants, often from Afghanistan, passed out in bus stations is a common site in various locations across the country.
April 19: We make the jump to the Aegean Coast and land in an ancient Greek city turned modern Turkey’s third city.
Greek influence is very noticeable in Izmir.
But in modern times, people flock to the Ottoman bazaar, not the Greek agora.
Seaside strolls and street bands are the norm in Turkey’s “relaxed” city.
A little background from a previous trip on the scenery in the area:
And now the sun sets on the trip across Turkey. Gule Gule.