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    • Day46

      Halfeti: Boat Tour on the Euphrates

      October 20, 2021 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 77 °F

      Leaving the bald ibis behind, we resumed our itinerary with a visit to Halfeti, where we did a boat tour on the reservoir lake created when the Euphrates was dammed during the construction of the dams that are part of GAP … Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi … which translates as the Southeastern Anatolia Project.

      As part of this multi-billion dollar project, a number of dams and power plants were built on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. One of those dams — Birecik — formed the reservoir lake that flooded many villages. Halfeti, one such village, was partially submerged, with the population being moved to a new location. Halfeti thus became a tourist attraction … a popular spot from which boat trips take visitors to sights of interest.

      Mui and I had done this boat tour in 2019. At the time, we did our cruise on a public boat. This time we had an entire boat to ourselves. Overkill, considering the size of the boat, but it was nice to be able to wander freely and not have to maneuver around others to take photos. As hot as the day had grown, we appreciated the breeze generated by the boat when it was in motion.

      Though our boat trip was private, it followed the standard 1-hour route due to our time limitations. Ali added his commentary to the canned description of the places we were able to see from the boat, including the King’s Daughter’s Cave … high up on a cliff. At one time, the cave was part of an underground city.

      Rumkale, which sits high atop cliffs on a peninsula was another site of interest. Dating back to the Late Roman Period and the Middles Ages, the walls of the castle are visible from the water. The interior has ruins of many buildings, including a church and monastery. Tradition has it that St John lived here, preaching the gospel in his efforts to convert people to Christianity.

      My favorite part of the trip was, once again, the approach to Savaşan, one of the partially submerged villages. Here, the stone houses that sat high on the cliffs survived the flooding and make for an interesting sight. But what adds to the interest is the submerged mosque with only the minaret standing above water … very photogenic. Knowing what to expect this time, I managed to get better photos and we even managed a selfie or two.

      Lunch was to have been in Birecik, but since we added the bald ibis center to our itinerary, we decided to save time and have lunch in Halfeti instead. As it was, the clock showed nearly 3:00p when we arrived at the place where Ali had made reservations.

      The boat took us right up to the Fırat Yüzer Restoran, one of several floating restaurants along the lake’s edge. The menu was set, and included a small portion of dry cacık (a thick yogurt and cucumber dip), a spicy pepper spread, a bulgur dish — all of these to share — plus eggplant kebab, a regional specialty, for each of us. The latter consisted of large pieces of grilled eggplant, alternating with köfte (meat patties) … a large enough portion that left us all stuffed with no room for dessert.
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