Usually, people associate Turkey with minarets, the Silk Road, and other “exotic” visual images. However, take a hiking trip to the state of Manisa, and you’ll soon feel like you’re in the hills of Colorado. It never ceases to amaze me of all the beautiful and wondrous landscapes it has to offer.
Historically the home of several Greek gods and Ottoman sultans, Manisa’s largest contribution to the world is in its name, which comes from the Greek word Magnesia, inspiring words such as magnet, magnetic, and most importantly the name Magneto from X-Men!
Setting off into the depths of Manisa, the environment is truly Aegean. Green luscious flatlands used for farming are capped off in the horizon with expansive hills and mountains. The heavy scent of soil and crops stings your nose, and the heat from the glowing yellow sun hits you like a tsunami wave, giving you the refreshing boost one needs after sitting in front of a computer for their 9-5.
Arriving on a hilltop amidst a random farm, I, along with a group of experienced mountain hikers straight out of a LL Bean ad, set out on a trail through the green pastures. Walking along animal families of geese, sheep, and cows, we made our way down a rugged path, stopping at the first fountain (çesme) on the trail. Prepping ourselves for a long day, we sat and ate by the fountain having the traditional Turkish breakfast (cheese, bread, honey, olives, tea). We are in Turkey of course, so we must make sure we’ve eaten enough!
We soon gathered our belongings and headed into the forest. Walking up and down dirt trails, over gargantuan boulders and stones, we held onto tree branches as we tried not to slide down mountainous cliffs. Stopping periodically to catch our breath, we all took in the view of vast green valleys with vibrant blue rivers sitting spot in the middle. As a cooped up former corporate slave for 5 years, I was joyous in seeing this with my own eyes, rather than on my computer screensaver.
A few hours into the trek, the sounds of rustling waters hit my ears. “It must be a river” I thought. Lo and behold, it was more than that. It was a 100-foot waterfall from across our way. We quickly made our journey down the hill into the valley, bringing us to the bottom of the waterfall. With a cool breeze from the crashing waters hitting our faces, it was an incredible refreshing sensation. Having gained our strength, we made our way up to the drop-off point. However, this was to be the adventure of the day. Several determined and experienced trekkers agreed to rock climb DOWN the waterfall from atop the cliff. The few brave souls, including my fiancé, made their way down the slippery edge alongside the powerful cascade.
The remnants of the group, aka wimps, hurried back down the hill to shout expressions of joy and support. I, of course, was included. Thankfully, everyone made their descent almost effortlessly, except for one of the climbers, who made a 12-foot fall into the water. He fortunately rose above the water unscathed.
Our trip ended with a relaxed break overlooking the hilltops of Manisa. Surprisingly, we were soon joined by a family of cows, the mom and dad with 5 of their calves. As I look ahead to the future, I hope to return to Manisa and explore more its wondrous mountains and forests. In Manisa, you couldn’t be any closer to nature, and further away from a screensaver.