Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Castles in the Sand

As a child I loved building sandcastles on the beach. I remember making massive fortresses with moats and towers and finding seaweed or crab legs, brightly coloured shells and stones and various flotsams to decorate my creations. When my children were young we had opportunities to build these wonderful and imaginative creations and I really enjoyed the chance to help inspire them in this wonderful amusement, although sometimes I think they preferred to bury dad in the sand. I think it’s a tradition all over the world to build these fun and inspired structures and even as adults we never lose our sense of playfulness when we spend time on the beach, especially with kids.
Oh, but where does the time go? It flies, so they say, when you’re having fun, and drags like shuffling feet when things are bad. We never have enough time to do the things we want to do, and yet we often squander time and later wish we’d done something more useful. Every minute I didn’t spend with my kids as they were growing up is time I regret, and every moment I was with them is a treasured memory I am thankful to have. So many times I have wondered why I wasted a split second of my life, and so often I have given thanks for all the wonderful experiences I have had, and then I try to remember that a full life has ups and downs and the bad times also make us better if we learn from the lessons time continues to teach.

I’ve been far too busy lately to post anything here, and for that I offer my humblest apologies, because I do like to update this Blog and provide a few interesting photos for those who drop by – still about a hundred visitors a week, and so I thank you for your patience. However, between a demanding work schedule, friends who always, seem to have something going on that I “just can’t miss” and my own travels to see interesting sights, I never seem to have the free time to write these little essays anymore.

So, having a break between classes today I decided to write this, and say sorry for any glaring errors. I have marked out a couple mornings over the next few weeks to write about some interesting things I’ve been part of recently, therefore I promise to get a couple more posts on here before the Christmas season wraps me up in a multitude of activities.

However, I did make a special effort to get along to visit the Antalya Sand Sculpture fair down at the end of Lara beach, past all the open air discos and family barbecue and picnic sites, where the beach just rolls on around toward Alanya on the other side of this massive and magnificent bay. The theme for this year was “Hollywood movies” and many of the sand carvings really brought the characters from these top box-office spectaculars to life. Some of the creations were simply amazing, showing genuine talent and ability and of course, begged the question, are they art?
I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘art’, but many of the works certainly necessitated craftsmanship of a superior level, and some showed great creative inspiration and interpretation, while others simply captured a scene from a particular film. All the ‘artists’ were invited practitioners, and there were sculptors from America, Great Britain, Spain and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Australia, Mexico and Brazil to name a few places listed as homelands for this troupe of creative individuals who travel the world exhibiting their skill and finesse on the finest beaches and large indoor arenas.

When I lived in Mallorca I became friendly with a Spanish guy who was squatting in a villa on the beach who was a fabulous sculptor of sand images.

I often stopped to chat with him (his English being as poor as my Spanish we generally ended up just sharing a smoke and a coffee while admiring the view) to discuss his technique for creating the beautiful artwork and talent he demonstrated for coins people would toss in his hat as they strolled along the promenade. He certainly could have taken part in these types of competitive events.

 Although I only made it for the final day of this international event, having pencilled it in as a “must visit” happening several months earlier, I still felt well rewarded for the effort. Many of the creatives who design and produce these monolithic sculptures deserve wider recognition, and their extraordinary skills are certainly worthy of finer appreciation.

Also, during October I visited the 49th annual Antalya Portakal (orange) International Film Festival and enjoyed the highlights of the annual event as an interested spectator peering into the cultural life of this fascinating Mediterranean city. There were many Turkish television and movie stars in attendance, and a few actors and directors made themselves available for lectures, workshops and interviews, which made the whole event rather educational as well as entertaining.
It hasn’t yet reached the status of Cannes or the Sundance festival, but it was a unique experience for me to be surrounded by all these Turkish celebrities, many of whom I'll admit I didn’t even know. Although, I was thrilled that Özgü Namal attended, as I really enjoyed her performance in the beautiful and emotionally moving film Mutluluk (mutlu means happy, mutluluk means happiness or, more specifically: bliss), which was recommended to me by a friend, and previously won the award for best film at the festival. I’m still learning to recognise various Turkish personalities, and to be honest I doubt I’ll ever grasp the entire realm of major and minor cultural figures, but I do know a few that have already become part of my personal attempt at a directory of “celebrities regularly recognised”.

I’ve also been working on some new poems in anticipation of a regular open mic night a friend and I are starting at a popular venue in the city centre for people who want to perform their own songs, do stand-up comedy or recite poetry, as well as providing a platform and forum for literary discussion and base for offering poetry workshops. So, I will post a couple new pieces on my other Blog when I get some extra free time. I’ll have to practice before performing again as it's been a while. For though the memories of special nights still remain, nothing replaces the activity of actually doing as opposed to thinking.
As castles in the sand are eventually washed away by the surging tide, time also slowly erodes the clarity of memories, leaving only traces of the foundation of reasons and the result of so many actions. As a great healer, time softens the hard edges of hurt and disappointment so the fruitive activity born of hope can grow once more. Live long enough, they say, and you will surely experience the intimacy and purity of real love and the inevitable pain of heartbreak and regret.

However, life can be like those temporary sand sculptures; we build dreams again and again to inspire others to find optimism in everyday occupation and to create something that lasts for the next generation to discover with youthful eyes and strong hearts. In this way love gains power, and with determination and integrity, and a mind open to trust and acceptance, we can look to the future with starry eyes in certain knowledge of the ultimate ‘mutluluk’.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Magical Mushroom Land
What a long, strange trip it's been ..

Over the hills and far away, down through the rabbit hole of imaginings I encountered a supernatural kingdom where dreams and nightmares come to life in a fantasy landscape that towers and looms above as so many enchanted mushrooms grown out of proportion to reality. These massive monoliths with their slightly vulgar yet majestic appearance stand proudly in the dry and sun baked garden of delights that is buried deep in the heart of the nation, the inner world where few dare to travel, a land called Cappadocia.

After traversing the high Taurus Mountains and crossing the 200 kilometre expanse of flatland that separates one realm of nature from the other, these giant cave dwellings rise from the floor of a hidden valley like so many fairytale chimneys.
 Stacked and layered across the vast gorges and canyons of this obscure territory these strangely shaped rock formations with their pointed heads and long stems or squat bulbous domes on thick shafts of softer stone were created by seismic and volcanic activity combined with the erosion of the wind over millions of years of geologic history.

From Konya to Nevşehir, or new city, I drove along the ancient Silk Road used for centuries by the caravans that traded between the Far East and Europe.

In 1271 Marco Polo used this safe and relatively quick road to travel from Venice to Mongolia and China. Making the trip several times he accompanied traders on the route and stayed at some of the marvellous caravanserai during the long journey, traversing an Asia at peace thanks to the unification of warring tribes by the Khan dynasty.

Legend has it that Alexander the Great first established this road network that cuts through mountains and across the flat land of inner Anatolia, and as trade follows conquest the merchants soon followed his lead. The Romans, Byzantines and Seljuks all used this road, making improvements, building the inns, or caravanserai, that eventually developed into small towns to cater for travellers carrying valuable commodities such as luxurious silks from China, spices and nuts from India, and inventions that soon changed the world; along with an exchange of information and culture.

First settled in the Roman era, the town of Göreme, situated in the valley and partially carved from the rock into cave homes, has around 2,500 permanent inhabitants. It was a favourite place for ascetics during the Byzantine period when monasticism balanced the authority of the church with hermetic principles based on mystic austerity.

Though there are remains of traditional dwellings dating back to the fourth century, troglodyte villages and underground towns are more prevalent due to the ease of carving through the stone rather than shaping it for block structures. The Hittites established nearby ‘cities’ 3 millennia ago, however there is archaeological evidence of settlements in the area going back an incredible 7500 years.
Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea (Kayseri) from 370 to 379 CE, instructed anchorite communities to inhabit these ‘cells’ dug into the rock formations. Groups of hermits excavated a network of caves to serve as storage, refuges, residences, and even churches.

It was Basil who instituted reforms in the monastic life of those who had fled from society after the Romans absorbed Christianity and assimilated the clergy into the accepted fold of spiritual communities, making it a state sponsored religion.

Basil created a special class of monk; effectively under the control of the Church they guided the principles of the community of believers through abstinence and charitable works. The great cathedral in central Moscow is named after him, and looking at thess particular rock formation in the Göreme Valley of Cappadocia it is easy to see where the architects derived their inspiration for those colourful ‘onion-domes' and other subsequent basilicas.

During the iconoclast period (725-842) the decoration of these sanctuaries was held to the strict minimum of symbols, but after 842 until the end of the 12th to beginning of the 13th centuries many rupestral churches were created in these bizarre hoodoos, evidence of which can still be seen inside several of the large caves – though photographs of the paintings are not permitted.
A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock protruding from the bottom of a barren drainage basin or region of badlands. The hoodoos consist of relatively soft rock capped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from nature’s forces. They typically form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations. Nearby Erciyas volcano, a prominent and distinctly isolated peak that dominates the horizon at 3,916 metres (12,848 ft), is still active with occasional minor eruptions, and contributed to the gradual formation of this fantastic moonscape.

When hard rock, such as limestone or basalt covers a softer rock like sandstone or tuff (volcanic ash) and then becomes exposed to an erosive power, water or wind, cracks in the resistant rock allow shaping of the softer stone underneath and with small chunks of the protective layer left hoodoos can begin to form.

One can see a similar type of hoodoo in ‘the Badlands’ of South Dakota, as well as the related formations of ‘buttes’, which can also be seen in nearby Utah and Wyoming.

When erosion wears away the softer rock the stratified layers become visible, and one can see stripes of colour as the different minerals are exposed to the elements to create vibrant colourfully banded mountains, just like those in the ‘Painted Desert’ of New Mexico near the Petrified Forest and not far from that other great gorge, the Grand Canyon. In the Southwestern states, the Anaasází, or ancient Pueblo Indians, created cliff houses cut into the rock and used ladders to gain entry to provide safety from enemies.

Naturally, these similarly fashioned regions throughout the world contain geological histories that have unlocked many ancient mysteries, including providing fossil clues to the composition of the earth and the lives of dinosaurs as well as ancient communities of monks and nomadic humans; as both the American west and Cappodocia were frequented by volcanic eruptions and trapped many remains of these prehistoric creatures in the sedimentary rock.

As the effects of erosion from wind and occasional hard rain expose the alternating layers of hard and soft stone beneath the cap unusual shapes and patterns develop that are further affected by attrition, thus forming these spires and pillars, the various magical mushroom shapes and bulbous onion domes, the columns and obelisks, the thick, squat pyramids and incredible corrugated towers that reach heights of forty metres.

Nowadays, the town of Göreme is frequented by busloads of Chinese tourists (those that can get time off from their busy work schedules according to several I met over the few days I was there) and American backpacker types looking to follow the hippy trail across Europe and Asia.

While the Chinese sit comfortably on their tour buses and photograph the sights, the Americans congregate around the souvenir stands and lounge on beanbags and cushioned sofas drinking beer and discussing the merits of various places they’ve visited, eschewing the convenience of the modern for the rougher, less accessible locations as though parleying for status.

Dressed in shorts and t-shirts with slogans designed to express their uniqueness or in absurdly tie-dyed ‘hippy’ clothes that are really designer imitations of the standard wear for many of the traditional women who come to the markets from poorer towns in the mountains, staring with large sad eyes at these wealthy foreigners who seem to mock their poverty with those wooden beaded necklaces and ready cash pulled from colourfully fringed handbags.

These poeticly romantic but often overzealous travellers proclaim in their loud twanging accents over bean burgers and margaritas the wonderful harmony of their eco-friendly lifestyle and desire to commune with nature and the local customs (though the nachos at Fat Boys were a welcome treat, and the Australian owner was a genuinely nice guy).

I too have to answer for my touristic ventures and am ready to acknowledge that this global industry tears away at the fabric of these natural wonders. However, many of the people in the area have profited greatly from the influx of annual visitors to these parts, opening their traditional cave homes to tourists seeking an authentic experience, and many restaurants and shops that service the needs of the holiday-makers have done quite well from the continued trade.

Sure, the industry is overcrowded with gap-year students who think they know better than others how to participate in environmental tourism, and dominated by companies that provide packaged holidays for those too afraid to meet others unlike themselves, but overall the desire to see these marvellous sights is understandable, and with correct management everyone can benefit from measured acculturation and shared wealth of knowledge as well as assets.

I love visiting new places and seeing these unique wonders of the world, and personally waited over twenty years to visit this spectacular volcanic basin, ever since I first learned of the Christian communities that sprung up in these caves during the early monastic period. It was a trip well worth the wait, and everyone should have the opportunity to visit natural marvels such as these fairy mountains in Cappadocia to see the power of nature and the work of hands inspired by the enduring creative and resourceful human spirit.
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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Whirling Words of Wisdom

“When we are dead, do not turn your eyes to the ground seeking my grave! My grave will be in the hearts of the wise” ~ Mevlana Jelaladdin Rumi

Poet, mystic, dancer, humanist, scholar, seeker; Rumi was all of these, and to his followers he embodied the light of divine love on earth. His life was entirely devoted to the search for union with the one God and believed the only real path for man was to discover knowledge of self. Rather than philosophy and its method of reason, which introduces doubt through the rhetoric of disputation, Rumi considered the way to understand love of God and others was through the experience of love itself. In other words, faith needs faith.

Mevlana Rumi was born about 1207 in Balkh, on the Iranian border with Turkistan, where Zoroaster was from; a city of many faiths reputedly founded by the Magi.
His family fled a few years later to escape the Mongol invaders, and after wandering through Persia, visiting Mecca for the Hajj and staying a while in Damascus, they eventually moved to the capital city of Seljuk territory, Konya, where his father was renowned as a teacher.
Living in the medrese, or theological school, Mevlana grew up learning scripture from the most esteemed tutors of his day. After succeeding his father as professor Mevlana went on to establish the Mevlavi Sufi order of mystical Islam.
“Come, come who or whatever you are. Should you be an unbeliever or a heretic, still, come. Our lodge is not a lodge of despair. With a hundred repentances unheeded you may be, still, come.”~ Mevlana Rumi

Mevlana Rumi is the inspiration behind and first to introduce into formalised religion the phenomenon of the trance dance “Sema”, commonly known to the world by the name of its devotees the Whirling Dervishes. Although also performed for tourists who arrive daily in the city of Konya to visit Rumi’s final earthly resting place, its practitioners take the dance with its accompaniment by drum and flute, seriously. Divided into seven sections, the dance represents the movement of the universe and the passage of a spiritual seeker through the stages of his or her quest to unite with God. The ‘turning’ of the Dervish dance symbolizes the fundamental condition of existence; everything turns in harmony with all other things.

The planet turns, the galaxy spins, protons and electrons within the atoms that make up the human body all spin and turn in a magnificent pattern, and so do the dancers. The rotation of the dancers mirrors the eternal balance of the forces of nature in the material universe, whilst the ‘turning’ from outward things to inward thoughts emulates the elevation of the mind to love and service of mankind; from the turn to truth and abandonment of ego to union with God and a re-turn to the earth in death before becoming a mature spirit.

I was raw, then I was cooked, now I have been burnt.”~ Mevlana Rumi

When I was a child I loved to twirl in circles, to become dizzy with delight as the blood would spin quickly through my brain leaving me feeling light as a feather. So, I do understand this sensation of pleasure that can come from the Dervish dance and from the exhilaration of light-headedness. Many cultures use music and dance as a means of achieving the impression of divine connection, and there is a great history of poetic and rhythmical attempts to express this sensation of bodily transcendence. However, simple physical exertion to escape corporeal entrapment of the soul doesn’t encapsulate the totality of understanding this method of attaining bliss. True ecstatic union is achievable only through fruitful activity.

Archaeologists, historians and all manner of academics seek tangible proof of their theories; if it isn’t material culture it is disregarded as unverifiable. To dig something substantial from the ground is remarkable, to use linguistics to unlock written codes is clever exegesis, but to discover that connection through experience is revelation. As an anthropologist I trust in participant-observation; that is, to enter within and yet stand outside, to analyse from knowledge.

Although icons, relics, places of pilgrimage and holy books, or the enactment of rituals give time and substance to help connect with belief in a concrete way, true faith is neither dependent on nor validated by material objects or hallowed ground; it is more about awareness, a consciousness of spirit within the atoms that create what we call real.
When knowledge acquired by mystical experience strikes the heart it becomes a helper. When knowledge acquired through the body strikes the senses it becomes a burden. ~ Mevlana Jelaladdin Rumi

Mevlana commented at various times on all topics, including the realm of science, for which he offered additional words of wisdom that stand as admonition to much of the work being done today:
“the wise men of our time split a hair into forty parts and are well versed in things which are no concern of theirs. In fact, what is of real importance is that which is closest to them. In other words, they are ignorant of themselves.” ~ Mevlana Jelaladdin Rumi
To Rumi, the goal of the mystic is to attain truth through self-knowledge that is revealed by love, only through love can love be understood, and the process of reason is inherently incapable of explaining love. Love, he said, leads to service; a compassion for helping others in this life, and the final section of the dance is the expression of servitude.

Though he was married twice and had many children, his greatest love other than for God, was for his friend and advisor Shemseddin of Tabriz who was likely killed by jealous rivals for the position at the right hand of the mystic Mevlana. Prior to his final disappearance, probably drowned in a well in the city, Shems had fled from Konya after news that some of Mevlana’s disciples were plotting his murder. During this absence, Rumi shut himself off from his followers. Attempting to convey his overwhelming despair he wrote poetry to and about his friend and advisor. His sorrow, it is said, was like a river flowing or volcano erupting (something they know about in this area), and in time brought him to the perfection of love.

I reflected the images of your face like a mirror...
I want nothing but his perfection, nothing but his face…
Where are your precious words now?
Where is that mind that solves mysteries?
Where is that foot walking in the rose garden,
 That hand that held mine? ~ Mevlana Rumi

Famous for the Persian rubai, Rumi generally wrote his poems in the Mesnavi (Masnawi) style, which is characterised by verses in couplets that have the same measure and rhyme with each other. He wrote thousands of couplets, 25,618 on display at the Mevlana Museum alongside his marble sarcophagus, which was donated by Suleyman the Magnificent in 1565. His tomb is sheltered under the distinguished green cone-shaped roof of the mausoleum. Additionally, his vast collection of lectures and letters that touch on the themes of politics, love, religion, servitude and Sema have been preserved for presentation to the thousands of pilgrims who visit annually.

With the Muslim prohibition on graven images (not usually adhered to today) came the incredible calligraphy that adorns so many fabulous buildings in this region, and the Mevlana museum is exceptional in its use of this approach to decoration. Colourful and ornamental passages from the Koran and the poetry of Rumi adorn the walls and ceiling of this impressive building. The entire city is a living museum to the history of the Sufi way and the Mevlavi culture, and even its modern structures retain the character of these ancient architectural techniques.
Konya is a beautiful city of fountains and flowers, an oasis in the midst of the desert region where Anatolia meets Cappadocia, an extensive flat plain surrounded by massive distant mountains. It has the feel of a settled and calm retreat set amongst the hustle and bustle of contemporary business activities. While trams flash past and cars spin around busy traffic islands like metal dervishes, teagardens invite the passer-by to relax and enjoy the surroundings of ancient monuments and the permanence of a tranquil way.

I sat under date trees on a small rise beside the 800-year-old Ala'addin Mosque, drinking fresh orange juice. Looking out across the Seljuk Palace and beyond to the green dome, I breathed in the perfumed air of jasmine and honeysuckle, happy in the knowledge that I had witnessed this sanctuary for the enlightened. It is a place I will hopefully return to, to seek further knowledge and understanding of this discipline of the Sufi, and explore the valuable insights of the mystic mind of Mevlana Rumi.

“Either seem as you are, or be as you seem.”
~ Mevlana Jelaladdin Rumi


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Monday, September 17, 2012

Cleopatra's Bath
Out here in the middle of nowhere, beyond the edge of the map, is a place so strikingly majestic, so naturally endowed with healing properties, that Cleopatra would travel from Egypt to bathe in the thermal springs and relax in the restorative mineral waters that cascade down the sides of this mountain paradise. With her retinue in tow she would set up camp at the source of the natural spring, above the cliffs in the Roman city of Hierapolis, and be treated to a beauty regime even the wealthy of today would envy.
Pamukkale, as this region near the city of Denizli is called, is an attraction that draws visitors from all over the world. I first bathed in these travertine pools 20 years ago when on a drive back from Istanbul to our coastal holiday resort, my friends and I decided to detour over a hundred kilometres from the main road to see this spectacular landscape.

Exhausted from the excitement of the big city, as we lounged in the soothing thermal waters under the burning sun, churning the fossilised rock of thousands of years into jelly, even then we recognised the peril of unabated tourism to these magnificent natural creations.

For several thousand years these bright white cliffs and pools, called travertine, have been a health resort for those seeking effective management of a variety of medical conditions.
The spa water is apparently an effective remedy on everything from rheumatism to kidney and urinary tract infection, from eye disease to ailments of the respiratory and circulatory systems. With a temperature of 36c degrees the water is comfortably warm, and with a Ph value of 5.8 and radon value of 1480 picocuries per litre it provides a much sought after invigorating infusion.

The spring water, high in calcium carbonate, flows down the cliffs at 260 litres per second to form the travertine pools and slopes that have a texture and structure similar to a coral reef.
In the past the water flowed at 390 litres per second and the travertine were much more numerous. In much the same way that coral reefs are being destroyed by over fishing and tourism, the Pamukkale travertine are disintegrating due to exposure to foot traffic and endless coach loads of curious visitors.
Although steps have now been taken to reduce the traffic over the travertine, allowing visitors access to a small but still significant portion of the mountain, there has clearly already been a damaging impact on the fragile calcium constructions.
As an ancient natural formation it is of course right that all people should be allowed to view and benefit from this area, however adequate measures must be in place to ensure its continued growth and lasting beauty.
Three-quarters of the world's coral reefs are at risk due to over-fishing, pollution, climate change and other factors.
The organisation Reefs at Risk Revisited collates the work of hundreds of scientists from around the world and spent three years compiling documentation on the health of coral reefs that was publicly released last year. The main reason for that change, the report claims, has been a massive increase in damage from exploitative fishing, particularly in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The damage ranges from simply catching more fish than nature can replace to the use of extreme fishing methods such as dynamiting fish to stun or kill them, which also blasts the coral formations to dust. Other major threats are pollution carried in rivers, coastal development, and global climate change.
Coral polyps are tiny creatures that live in partnership with algae to provide nutrition to build the reefs and give corals their array of pastel and vivid colours. When the water gets too hot the algae are expelled and the coral turns white, a process called bleaching. If climate projections become reality, then by 2030 roughly half of the world's reefs will experience bleaching in most years, peaking to 95% by about 2050.
Having evaluated more than 2,500 protected areas of reef, the report compiled by a group of more than 20 research and conservation organisations, led by the World Resources Institute in Washington DC, concluded that even though over a quarter of the world's coral is nominally protected only one-sixth of the areas offer sufficient safeguards.

In Pamukkale, a UNESCO World Heritage site, matters have improved over the past twenty years as the management organisation has tried to balance the demands of tourism with the protection of this unique and delicate environment.

When I first visited people swarmed over the cliffs in flip-flops, swimming in the pools and jumping from level to level without regard for the chunks of calcium and carbonate stone that chipped off under their feet. Thankfully, evident disregard for the monumental precipices no longer happens.
There are still thousands of tourists arriving every summer, but access has been limited to certain areas that are frequently monitored for harmful effects. Also, the day-trippers (yes, I recognise my place in the hordes of sightseers) are now asked to remove all footwear and can only view most of the site through cameras and strategically positioned binoculars.
The normal condition of the travertine is a dry, solid state, so some of the natural spring water is artificially directed over parts of the travertine to create the stunning and visually dazzling vista most people associate with the site. Many people still bathe in the accessible thermal ponds, and rub the soft mineral-rich mud all over their bodies in hopes of a curative for ailments or skin beautifying enhancement.

Therefore the pools are regularly emptied and dried to prevent the build up of moss and dirt that can discolour or erode the rock face, and to preserve the beauty of this exceptional location for future generations.

I’m glad to see progress in the conservation work happening at this amazing place, and hope my contribution to a healthy and beautiful world has an influence, regardless how small, on maintaining the sanctuary of this site for others.
I enjoyed the experience of the therapeutic effects and delighted once again in the visual splendour of this outstanding wonder of the world. I wish you too could experience this magical radiant region, climb the strangely grainy cliffs to bathe in the thermal mineral water where Cleopatra came to rejuvenate surrounded by the scenic beauty of this natural environment, and participate in the conservation of these spectacular travertine pools.
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