From Dinar Bell’s travels in 1907 took her east through the lake district around Burdur and Isparta. This was the point at which she had to abandon the rail network completely and head on by horse and/or carriage. It was also the point at which she more or less had to give up any hope of staying in hotels or hans and settle into a new routine of regular camping.
For modern travellers the only part of the Lake District that really merits much attention is Eğirdir where a small town with a Selçuk core sits right on the water’s edge. On the quiet though Burdur turns out to well worth a visit not least because its fine museum houses the finds not just from the magnificent archaeological site at Sagalassos but also from the much less well known sites of Kremna and Kibyra. Several Ottoman houses have also been restored in recent years and offer a glimpse of the considerable style and comfort in which weealthy Burdurlus of the late 19th century lived.
But of course in Gertrude’s day there was no museum and the houses were still private residences to which she had no access. Instead she reported the presence of several large churches and I was soon rushing around the back streets in search of them. It can’t be said that I was very successful. The only church I could find stood at the heart of the Kavaklı neighbourhood and turned out to be a 19th-century model cut from the same template as the more recent churches of Cappadocia. Surprisingly it was in mid transition to becoming a natural history museum.
Unsure what to do next I ambled into the museum and fell into conversation with İsmail and Mehmet. Luckily for me there was no pressing museum business to be transacted on that particular day and soon the three of us were whipping back round the back streets, this time not just in the comfort of a car but also with the ex city mayor’s directions ringing in our ears.
According to the mayor there had once been four churches here although he confirmed that only the KavaklI was still standing. But once history-loving İsmail and Mehmet had got the bit between their teeth nothing would do but that we track down the locations of those that had been lost. That proved quite easy to do. What was much harder was to identify the location of a spring seen by Bell at the foot of a flight of steps. Not that it mattered much since the search for it took us inside several more of the old Ottoman houses for which restoration day was yet to come. One was completely derelict but made my heart ache with yearning to start work on a rescue plan . Another was occupied by a family whose idea of interior decoration involved stuffing their home so full of belongings that it resembled a second-hand furniture emporium.
Back at the museum Mehmet whipped out a sipsi, a neat little reed instrument, with which he briefly serenaded me . As I headed back to the bus station flag-draped youths were gathering for a visit by the MHP leader, Devlet Bahçeli. Gertrude wrote that she pitched camp between the town and its immense cemeteries. Try as I might though I could find no trace of the Ottoman gravestones that might have confirmed where exactly she had laid her head.