Tuesday, May 18, 2010


On my way to Patara, I stopped in Demre. I remember it as a weird, dusty place with pıctures of Santa Claus everywhere. Why? Well, the original St. Nicholas was the bishop of Demre in the 4th century. Somehow the real St. Nicholas and that of Father Christmas were conflated sometime between the 4th century and now, and voila, we have the present-making/delivering machine that we all know and love. Incidentally, St. Nick was born in Patara, but they don't make a big deal about it. Anyhow, I got to the church, which is a nice little 1800 year-old ruin known to the locals as Noel Baba, but it was 10 lira to get in. That´s six bucks for this tiny chuch that was absolutely packed with Russians. I´ve already seen it, but there was a picture I needed to get. I´ll let the Blue Guide set me up:

The Church of St. Nıcholas is on the W side of Demre, about 150m from the main square. In a small garden to the left of the entrance, there is a rather ıncongruous statue of the saint in the persona of Santa Claus, complete with a sack of presents and a mob of children.

And here you go:

But the Blue Guide gives only half the story. There is another statue just a half block away. At first, I thought it was Atatürk, but no such luck. It´s Santa Claus. Observe:

Did I mention that Russians were everywhere? And Turks were there as well to sell them fantastically overpriced and shoddy icons. It was something to see. And speaking of those fine Turks, here´s what they built right next to St. Nıck´s church:

A fitting tribute.

From there, it was a rather long walk up the street to the ruins of Myra. These turned out to be rather disappointing. You can only see the theater and the so-called Sea Necropolis. There is a River Necropolis that contains this spectacular painted tomb (known as the Painted Tomb), but the path is blocked by stupid greenhouses. There's just no way to get there. In any case, here are some pictures of tombs and theater:

Once again, Russians as far as the eye could see. So many that they just assumed that everybody is Russian. The following exchange happened at the theater between me and a couple who wanted their picture taken. Here are the conversation's details in literal translation:

Russian: Man! Please to take photograph.
Me: Gıve camera.
Russian: Take!
Me: Stand.
Russian: We stand.
Me: No movement. Time, two, three.
Russian: Finish?
Me: Finish.
Russian: Give camera.
Me: Take!

And scene! Riveting stuff, no?

On the way back, I noticed nice flowers and took their picture:

And later that day, I made it to Patara and stayed a week, which happened to be last week. More on that soon.


Kevin said...

Russian: Give camera.
Me: Take!

I was laughing so hard about this!

Anonymous said...

Is there no number one in Russian?

Igor said...

There is a one; ıt's odin, but when you count, for some reason you use the word raz, which means 'time,' as in one time, two times, etc. So yes, they have a number, but they just don't use it counting off stuff.