Pigeon Island

It was a windy afternoon as I strolled on the sea face next to the Ataturk Bulvari in Kusadasi. When The Family proposed visiting Pigeon Island, my inclination was to go back to the hotel and have a long hot coffee instead. So this story of Pigeon Island comes from her. The Island contains a sea fort which dates from the 16th century CE, when the Ottoman empire was vying with other European powers for control of the Mediterranean. The walls around it were built in the 19th century. A causeway joins the island to the shore, and it is studded with piers.

This is part of the port of Kusadasi, which, after the decline in commerce in the 19th and 20th centuries, has regained some importance as a port of call for tourist ferries plying the Greek islands. We’d seen these immense ferries come and go. At the time that The Family visited the island, none of these giants were moored there. That made it easier to take photos of the small two-masted sail boats moored at the piers on the causeway. In our search for things to do around Kusadasi, we didn’t come across the possibility of hiring sailboats.

Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha, whose statue can be seen in the fortress, was the Ottoman admiral whose victories gave the Ottoman empire its dominance in the Mediterranean during most of the 16th century CE. He was also instrumental in forging an alliance with France. even in a history filled with great navigators and admirals, his success is quite outstanding. His statue is appropriate here because he was responsible for putting a sea-fort on this island.

The fort itself is a little museum to Ottoman sea power in the Mediterranean. There are rusting cannons on the battlements, and a small tour through the fort which left little impression on The Family. What she came back with was an impressive photo of the skeleton of a whale which had been washed ashore. Once you see the skeletal remains of the pentadactyl flippers, you cannot mistake a whale for a fish. I hadn’t thought of the Mediterranean as a sea where cetaceans could be found, but after seeing this photo I recalled stories of ancient Greek sailors being helped by dolphins. On checking up, I found that there are eight cetacean species in the Mediterranen Sea. Maybe on another trip we will try to spot some of them.

Between Continents

I spent the Saturday crossing from one continent to another, probably overflying a third. I cannot tell because the flight data display was disconnected. Seldom does the tedium of flying for a day in an aluminium cylinder get broken by something happening outside the window. Break in tedium on a long flight But this time one had good reason to sit up straight in the chair. Another jet went screaming past us. I had just enough time to register the fact that it was trailing black smoke. I have no idea what happened, Whatever it was, it didn’t happen again for the next four hours of my flight from Delhi to Madrid.

Eventually, after a very long time, we passed over a harbour.
Clearly our long journey over the Mediterranean sea was to come to an end. Due to ongoing wars in parts of west Asia, flights from India to Europe now go west for a long time before turning north. So I came to the conclusion that we had seen the other jet somewhere over north Africa. Where was it? Why was it trailing black smoke? Was it a civilian or military aircraft? I think the only answers are guesses based on the fact that no passenger liner was reported to be in trouble during this time.

Spain is a deserted country. There are only 50 million people living in the half a million square kilometers which lie in the country. As a result it is mostly deserted. I saw this as we descended from the coast to the airport in Madrid. The first thing we saw this was in the emptiness of the land over which we had just flown. The photo above shows part of a river valley. In the photo above, you can clearly see a fan of tributaries merging into a single stream. The strange banding of colours you can see in the bottom half of the photo is due to polarizing glasses mounted on each window in a Dreamliner.

After about half an hour of flying over this kind of country, we seemed to pass over a cliff. On the nearer side of this huge cliff were forests and fields, and also an occasional lake. This was in total contrast to the barren land between the coastline and the divide. Now we began to slow and descend, and suddenly we were over summer’s bare fields and landing in Madrid.

New adventures begin now.

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