We spent most of our time in Şanlıurfa hanging around Gölbaşı Park. Squabbling between ourselves and time wasting appointments led us away before we were done with the place so we returned several times.
Urfa itself is a city well worth visiting. The commercial buzz of the city is focused along the straight modern main road yet duck down a side street and relative peace can be found a block away within older lanes and alleyways.
For many visitors Urfa is where Turkey starts to take on the feel of the east but heading in the opposite direction we knew we were soon to plunge into Turkey’s tourism heartland with visits still to come to Mt Nemrut, Cappadocia and the coast.
Urfa was the last place on this trip where we were guilelessly invited into a shop for a glass of tea or cup of coffee. Our host this time was the manager of a TTNET branch where we had dropped in to make an early inquiry about getting our internet connection put back on.
Once we left this city we would complete the transition we had seen since Iraq from Arab to Kurdish to Turkish and would soon step over the invisible line where Turkey starts to look away from its eastern neighbours and towards the European Union.
The throng of people in Gölbaşı Park told us that tourism is an important contributor to Urfa’s economy but here the tourists were families of pilgrims indulging fat sacred carp swimming within a lake.
The fish and the water were changed from firewood and flames by God to save Abraham, the father of monotheistic religion. Emerging from his cave hiding place to challenge Nimrod’s (Nemrut) idolatry, Abraham’s fall from a citadel wall was broken by the divine intervention.
Other sources suggest Abraham landed in a bed of roses near the lake. Either way the fish reap the rewards daily.