Shan Oriental Restaurant – Las Chafiras, Tenerife

I don´t normally go in for reblogging.  That may sound strange as I reblog everyday on Queenie’s Daily Snippets but that is a very different animal to the Red Queen.  From Queenie’s inception, it was always going to be passing on articles belonging to others that I found interesting whereas Red Queen Musings is original content.  Today however I am going to break that rule.  The article I did have for today has been rescheduled and I am returning to Shan.

I have been to the restaurant several times since I wrote the following last May and the food is always consistently good, everyone we go with loves it and last night was no exception.

As regulars know, we have a quiz team and should we win we pool the winnings and when there is enough in the pot use it for a meal. Last night we were a group of nine people and because five of us had already eaten at Shan we decided a return visit was called for.  As it was a Monday we assumed it would be quiet, but our group was joined by a table of eight and several tables of twos and fours that came and went throughout our visit. I think that alone is a reflection of how good this place is.

Our kitty stood at €213 our meal consisted of 3 Peking Duck, 4 Special Rice and then each individual ordered something different, which we all shared.  These dishes ranged from Volcano Ribs, through to Green Thai Curry with Ginger Beef, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Almond Chicken and four more which I can’t remember, thrown in.  We also had 3 bottles of red wine, several spirits and lots of soft drinks and water.  Every morsel of food was delicious, the company was superb and all the words below still stand which is why I decided just to reblog.   Our bill came to exactly €213.09 (honestly you would think someone had looked into my purse but they hadn´t) so all the evening cost was a tip from each of us.

Now it is roll on Thursday night and with luck we may start filling that ‘pot’ again.

The Original review ………. The first time I visited Shan Oriental (I will refer to it as ‘Oriental’ because it isn´t just Chinese, Japanese or Thai but a mixture of all of these.) I didn´t take my camera believing it would be like dozens of Chinese eateries that are OK but nothing out of the ordinary. Also given its location, Las Chafiras, I assumed this was ‘The Final Frontier’ well, perhaps not quite, but I did feel as though we were boldly going where few have been before when looking for food that was a bit special. Needless to say, I was wrong and was more than happy to return so that I could give you an idea of what to expect.

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Firstly, the location is surprisingly attractive given that it is dominated by a busy road and supermarket on one side and the motorway and car park on the opposite side. This area has attracted several nice looking restaurants including a Pizza place, McDonalds, and Arepas, all no doubt attracted by lavish incentives from landlords.

Like the Pizza place next door, there is a covered outside area for those who want to eat whilst watching TV but on each occasion we have visited we have eaten inside the main restaurant. The owners have gone for a sort of opium-den chic with black, red and white décor and purple lights, yet the overall effect is comfortable.

04-DSC03940It is spotlessly clean and the kitchens although they have a glass partition can be seen clearly from all parts of the restaurant.

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We found the food to be exceptionally good and fresh.  Sushi is a speciality and up to the same standards as the best I’ve tasted in London’s Chinatown.

02-DSC03938Highlights include larger dishes, such as the excellent Peking duck and steamed sea bass. These were to a superior standard and at under €14 extremely cheap when you consider the portion was more than enough for three people.

17-DSC03954On our first visit, we chose mainly Thai food including noodles, curries and the ‘special’ (can’t remember what that was other than something surprisingly good). Our last visit we opted for Chinese.  Sweet and sour chicken, sizzling beef with ginger, chicken satay, pork (I think sweet and sour but it could have been chilli) rice and seaweed.  We enjoyed trying to identify some of the more unusual seasonings including cinnamon and sesame which made an often common recipe taste special.

On our second visit, we bypassed the puddings, they sounded unusual but we had previously found the hot ice cream and the fritters not quite up to par with the main dishes.

The staff are ultra-charming and service is slick. The refined, fresh and delicate cuisine, which includes some fabulously, sophisticated and authentic dishes, is making quite a name for this place and on both of our visits, the food has been delicious and not as expensive as it looks. Under €80 on our second visit (5 people) and €120 on our previous visit (6 people) including drinks and on this occasion puddings.

So, when you’re next passing give the place a try, it is probably the best oriental all-rounder in town, or, if you’re a real fan of oriental cooking, you might even find it positively worth seeking out.

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets

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Things to do in Tenerife in March 2015

What to Expect

After the horrible weather we had at the beginning of February it seems that Spring is finally around the corner and March is slowly returning to normal as the weather continues to improve. At this time of year the average temperature is 21°C, with highs of 23°C here on the southern coast, whilst in the north average daily temperatures are around 15°C with highs of 18°C.

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March Highlights

Los Cristianos Carnival, one of the warmest we celebrate in Tenerife. A very popular event with all the flavour, rhythm and colour of the best carnival. Do not miss the Gala of the Election of the Queen, the numerous parades and street parties joined by residents and tourists alike.  There will be events taking place each day from 6th to 16th March.

Other Events in March

Aida Verdi’s dramatic opera tells the love story of the Ethiopian slave Aida and the Egyptian warrior Radames (Auditorio de Tenerife 3rd – 7th March)

Best transformistas de Canarias Following the success of last year, Santa Cruz welcome the best impersonators in the Canarias. A show where participants will compete in tough battles to demonstrate their artistic talent. (5th March, IPPC César Manrique Santa Cruz, Free admission)

Elvis Greg Miller who some consider the best Elvis impersonator ever visits Tenerife with the Jailhouse Band. This promises to be a treat (8th March Auditorio Infanta Leonor in Los Cristianos.)

Tenerife Walking Festival 2015 – hikers from all over Europe will come to the island to explore the unique volcanic landscape and the coasts of Tenerife (March 10th and 14th in Puerto de la Cruz) More info from Website

Guided tours which commemorates the 164 year history of the theatre, (The Guimerá Theater March 6, April 7 and May 7 Tickets €3 from ticket office Tuesday to Friday from 11:00 to 13:00 and 18:00 to 20:00).

V Festival of Tibetan Culture dedicated to the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch) and in which various free activities like dances, games, food are available.  For Programme go to Website : http://www.culturatibetanatenerife.es/ (13-15th The Museum of Nature and Man )

Fourth Mountain Race Guía de Isora – exciting sporting event that will feature two rounds of 13 or 30 kilometers (15th March Guia de Isora)

Joe Rowntree, Kevin Dewsbury, Matt Richardson and Ryan McDonnell (21st March Tenerife Comedy Club tickets from Website)

LES LUTHIERS The famous Argentine group returns with a show full of humour March 25, April 11  and 12,  Auditorio de Tenerife Santa Cruz)

Arona Folkfest - Traditional Canarian music, dance and Canarian Food (to 27th March 2015 – Every Thursday at the Harbour, Los Cristianos – 8.30pm, Every Friday at CC City Centre, Las Americas – 8.30pm and 2nd Saturday of each month Las Galletas – 11.00am)

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Quantum Ensemble – A modern way of interpreting classical music, more flexible and directed to a wider audience. Concerts take place in a friendly atmosphere in which a direct dialogue with the public is set to place the works in context through the experiences of musicians. (March 19, April 30, and May 28,  Auditorio de Tenerife Santa Cruz)

Visit the Dorada Brewery The local brewing company opens its doors to unveil the manufacturing process of Dorada beer, from the collection of raw materials to bottling, at the end of the visit you will be invited to a Dorada in the Tasting Room. (Booking is necessary.  http://doradatour.es/ Every Tuesday and Wednesdays Avda. de Ángel Romero Santa Cruz to 31/12/2015)

Degusta.Me (Try Me) (Second Saturday each month Plaza España Adeje – from 6.00pm) There will also be an excellent selection of food and wines on offer accompanied by live music.

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2015

Photo by Justin Ng

Sit in a moon shadow with an otherwise open view of the predawn sky, and if you’re really lucky, you might see as many as 40 meteors in one hour. Good luck!

Click the links below to learn more about meteor showers in 2015.
April 21-22, 2015 Lyrids
May 5-6, 2015 Eta Aquarids
July 27-28, 2015 Delta Aquarids
August 11-12, 2015 Perseids
October 8, 2015 Draconids    October 21-22, 2015 Orionids
November 4-5, 2015 South Taurids November 12-13, 2015 North Taurids November 17-18, 2015 Leonids
December 13-14, 2015 Geminids

Tenerife – Attractions

Tenerife offers a wealth of attractions follow the LINK to get just a few ideas.

Tenerife – Tours

Guided tours both free and private as well as numerous excursions are available throughout the year.  For a few ideas follow the link to Tenerife Tours and Days Out

Tenerife – Sporting Activities

Year round temperatures averaging 22 degrees combined with a low level of rainfall provide an ideal climate for outdoor ventures. Whether on land, at sea or in the skies, Tenerife provides outdoor adventure for all types of travellers. Check them out HERE

Tenerife – Markets

Everyone loves a market and the island is home to a wealth of covered, outdoor and street markets. Many specialise in a particular type of goods while others selling the same product move from site to site. Most open early in the morning and close early afternoon. Follow this link for a list of Tenerife Markets

Tenerife – Museums

The museums of Tenerife are accessible to all sections of the community regardless of limited mobility or communication. Follow the link to find a comprehensive list of Tenerife – Museums

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets
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K9 February Newsletter

It has been busy at K9 Animal Sanctuary this month – there are rarely any empty kennels and when there are these fill quickly with the cast offs of human society. In their eyes, you see love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. Like Bailey, a sweet natured and gentle dog that arrived at K9 heavily pregnant then gave birth to her pups the same day. As decent human beings, it is our responsibility to make a difference to those that cannot speak or defend themselves.

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So how can you make that difference?

If you are looking for a dog or cat to join your family, K9 is an ever-changing world, with young and old, tall and small all looking for their second chance at finding a happy life.  In December, Savanna found her new home; see how well she is doing.

Update on Savana

Now the milder weather is here, if you plan to get out and about, show us that your boots are made for walking and help the rescue dogs by exercising them outside the kennels. They love to get even a short break from their cages. If you would like visit or have the time to walk a dog, the kennels are open EVERY day from 11am until 2pm.

You can also help the rescue by supporting our shop in Alcala Plaza. It is open each day except Sunday from 10am until 2pm and they urgently need more stock so if you have anything to donate can you please take it along, or if it needs to be collected ring 646561035 or 61135288. All money raised goes towards the care of the animals at the K9, as does the money from the clothes stall on Alcala market each Monday and the bookstall at Fanabe Market on Thursdays.

You can also support K9 and improve your language skills.  Boris and Friends is the tale of an adventurous podenco who lives in Tenerife. It is written in English, Spanish and German and ideal for youngsters as they can enjoy colouring whilst reading and learning. The author Sue Dehmel has been involved with K9 since its formation 22 years ago and all proceeds from the book go to help care for the cats and dogs. There are now 16 outlets between Los Gigantes and Las Chafiras, primarily in the good bookshops as well as pet shops and vet practices. There are also copies in the K9 shop, where Sue helps on a Thursday and she will be pleased to sign a copy.

Should you ever need to check to see if your lost dog has been found or whether they have the ideal new member for your family the number to call is 667638468.

Finally, to our loyal supporters, thank you for everything you do to make our shelter a safe haven for all our four legged friends, without your help, K9 Animal Refuge would not be possible.

 

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Experiencing a Turkish Hamam in Bursa

A Hamam also known as a Turkish bath comes in two forms. The first offered by many hotels is geared towards tourists, at tourist prices and men and women are all together.  

The second is cheap and authentic and separates men and women into different rooms. The idea of a big hairy Turkish man rubbing down females is totally unacceptable and women will be scrubbed by a female albeit a big hairy one!

No holiday in Turkey is complete without experiencing a haman so we again went on our tour guides advice and opted for a fully-fledged and socially accepted establishment, which is used by the locals in the town of Bursa. It was exactly as I had imagined an ancient bathhouse to be, old photos on the walls and display cabinets filled with old Turkish bath utensils.

Once upstairs it is ridiculously hot, you are given a cubicle so you can change, fortunately you can wear a swimming costume otherwise I would have been out of my comfort zone. Then grabbing my towel and a set of clogs to prevent slipping on the wet floor, I braved it into the main room that was full of half-naked women all gossiping under the star-shaped roof.  Around the sides the steam rooms, which were very small. Next to these are sinks and taps and when it becomes too hot, you douse yourself with cold water.

After 30 minutes, the masseur (tellak) walks in and motions you to lie on the slab in the centre of the room. I don’t know if the male tellak is like an Adonis but the women are hairy, overweight and old enough to be your grandmother. She lifts your arm and begins to scrub with a rough glove. She covers every inch of your body and the dead skin starts to peel off, only the deepest nooks and crannies remain untouched. Then the loofah comes out. The masseur soaps you from head to foot with something that resembles a pillowcase that produces an unbelievable mountain of bubbles. The whole procedure takes place in silence and when eventually finished, I don’t think I’ve ever been cleaner.

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I was wrapped in a towel and then led into the lounge area to relax with cup of apple tea before my massage. For 30 minutes my whole body was worked by strong, professional hands.  The massage was a mix of vicious and lovely.  There were bits of brutality that I perversely enjoyed and others I didn’t.

By the end of the session after being cleaned, rubbed, scrubbed and massaged, I felt I was floating on air. It’s a great experience; very relaxing and so cheap that everyone should try it at least once.

Because of where we were I didn´t take a camera so the picture is courtesy of Google.

 

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Cool Dudes Drink Craft Beer in Los Cristianos

Wandering through Los Cristianos, I noticed a new shop.  Well it is new to me but then I have been known to wander around with my eyes shut or probably so busy chatting that I totally miss what is to hand.

So to get back to the shop, ordinarily I would not be the least bit interested except the exterior looked appealing and invited you to walk in and nose around the shelves. These shelves were backed by warm wood, hinted at natural produce and you could tell just by looking that they were set out to attract customers with a more discerning palate and interested in trying new flavours rather than a product that is aggressively pitched.

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Beer Shooter is a specialist beer emporium offering 250 craft beers from around the world including Belgium, Germany, America, Switzerland and England.

Needless to say I had no idea what a craft beer was but learnt it comes from small factories or micro-breweries that pay the utmost attention to the detail of brewing which ensures the highest quality and because the quantities are quite small, much of the process is done by hand so producing a quality beer. The beers have no preservatives or antioxidants added (whatever they may be).

As I said I don´t drink but I did like the bottles and some of the names were very tempting such as double malt, black chocolate and Pêche Mel Bush, sounds like a pudding in a bottle!  I like the idea that and craft beer drinkers differentiate themselves from traditional beer drinkers on the basis of taste and flavour and I could almost be tempted to give a few a try.

I hope the novel enterprise grabs the attention of both tourists and locals as it is nothing like the beer shelves in the supermarkets that put quantity over quality and this new venture is taking a totally different approach by offering the consumer a decent quality beer at a very reasonable price.

Step Through the Looking Glass and read the  Red Queen Musings

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Happy Chinese New Year

I have just heard from my Chinese friend Connie, who I originally met in 2012 when she was our guide for our visit to China .  She was writing to wish us Happy Chinese New Year as this year it falls between 19 and 22 February.  The date varies each year and is dependent on the Chinese calendar.  This is the oldest calendar recorded and operates according to a complicated system of lunar cycles, astronomy and astrology.  2015 is the year of the sheep although some say goat as it looks more like a goat than a sheep.  Whatever it is, it is one of the Chinese favourite animals because it is gentle, mild-mannered, shy, amicable, and brimming with a strong sense of kind-heartedness and justice.

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It is a long time since we celebrated Chinese New Year anywhere. I think the last time was in London’s Chinatown when there were huge celebrations.  In those days we didn´t carry around a camera so the picture below is from the internet.  I still though remember the magical atmosphere of seeing the Lion Dance despite being pushed and shoved by the crowds.  The smell of Asian cooking filling the air and the thousands of red lanterns swaying in the breeze.

Image from London taxi tours

The only other Chinatown outside of China that I have visited was in San Francisco, the largest Chinatown outside of Asia.  This was also many years ago, but Jim and I are looking forward to going back later this year.  We will be going with Kate our daughter and like the previous time we don´t have a planned route. We just expect to be stunned by the sights and stuffed with great food as we duck from one street to another.

From memory, San Francisco has two Chinatowns, not just one. There is the one that the tourists visit and the one where Jim and I got lost.  We arrived there by wandering past all the cheap and kitsch souvenirs and found ourselves amongst the locals doing their shopping. That was in the days when they sold live turtles and frogs (don´t think that is allowed anymore) and to our Western eyes the sight of these along with chickens and other animals was awful but undoubtedly interesting.   The noise was ear splitting as the high-pitched voices advertised their wares but even though it felt very alien it also felt safe.

Who would think that you would feel totally safe in an area that started as a poverty-stricken ghetto populated by immigrants or sailors who visited the brothels and opium dens that were run by the Chinese Tongs. Nowadays it is a fun area and I am making a note to leave space in the luggage for some special exotic ingredients that I can´t find at home.

So I will end with Zhu nín xí yǎng yǎng which is the message I received from Connie …. I wish you Happiness.

For daily weather updates in South Tenerife check out Queenie’s blog

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Bursa – too short a stay

Bursa once the capital of the Ottoman Empire even before Constantinople was conquered is today Turkey’s fourth largest city.  We had been hearing about how lovely it was from day one, as it was the hometown of our tour director Aykut. He said because we were the best group he had ever worked with he had paid the thousands of extra Turkish lira so we could stay in the superb Almira Hotel.  Joking aside it was a beautiful hotel and as a group of three, we were given a suite, a lovely double room with an adjoining single room, all very posh.

We immediately noticed how different Bursa was from Ankara and Istanbul. It was quiet there were no tour buses or crowds and virtually no English was spoken by the shop owners. In hindsight the markets were also cheaper than those we would visit in Istanbul, although it is all relative because they too were very cheap when compared to western prices.

Gazi Park is the heart of Bursa and was where we began our exploration.

On one side is the Ulu Camii built in 1399 by Bayezid I, who’s nickname was “Thunderbolt” he earned this from one of his Ottoman victories. The interior of the mosque was striking and I enjoyed looking around for half an hour before wandering through to the nearby bazaar.  Lots of people were inside praying, but the place is so large that we didn’t feel we were intruding. There are some beautiful calligraphy panels and it was very bright and airy, in fact the mosque felt quite modern.

Just outside the mosque is the entrance to the Koza Han. Bursa was once a stop on the Silk Road from China and even today this market is filled with shops selling various silk products, mostly scarves, at very reasonable prices.

The Koza Han connects to Bursa’s covered bazaar, which gave us a feel of what was to come in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.  It extends in all directions, along tiny passages, and overlooks a courtyard and tea garden. Things are much cheaper here than in Istanbul and after haggling I picked up a leather bag for €25. In retrospect, we should have done all of our shopping in Bursa.

 

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A Pleasant Way To Spend an Afternoon – Cafe 5

Winter has arrived on the island and while the sun may still be shining and holidaymakers wandering around in shorts and strappy tops, to long-time residents it still feels cool.  It is therefore nice to know places where you can sit outside, enjoy reading a book and still feel cosy because there is a throw to drape around your shoulders.

Cafe 5 is just such a place.  Whether you sit outside to people watch or inside with your book or lose yourself in one of the cafes selection of newspapers, there is always the temptation to stay a little longer and linger over a delicious cake and coffee.

As a rule, I go on about liking authentic Canarian cafes and restaurants.  There is of course always the exception to every rule and Cafe 5 is it. A Hungarian man, his girlfriend and their dog own it. Yes, it helps having a dog as he gets on well with our two girls when we stop for a break.

Whilst Hungarians have a great reputation for their goulash, they aren’t only masters of savoury food; they know a thing or two when it comes to dessert! For us, a coffee stop at Cafe 5 usually ends up including cakes and pastries. If it is warm, the ice cream desserts are so bad you have to try a different one each time, well that’s my excuse and to date I have worked my way through the strawberry, the peach and the kiwi.  ‘Mr Predictable’ usually sticks with the apple cake (Almas Pite) but if he is feeling adventurous he may go for the almond torte.

Cake and coffee are around €3, ice cream desserts average €5 and one of the best barraquito in town is €2.50.

 

 

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The Thrill of Carnival in Tenerife

As one of Spain’s biggest fiestas, the Carnival in Santa Cruz has a character all its own. During the fiesta, the city is literally taken over by the people, as thousands hit the streets to party. It earning a Guinness World Record in 1987 as having the largest crowd of people 250,000, dancing to the same song in the open air.

Marching bands and dance groups rehearse all year as once the celebrations start, the music never stops. The music of Latin America dominates the scene and you feel you could almost be in Rio as you Samba or Bossa Nova the night away

Photo: Jesús De Sousa / Organismo Autónomo de Fiestas del Ayuntamiento de Santa Cruz

Yesterday saw the election and crowning of the Carnival Queen, Adtemexi Cruz, wearing a creation called Aurea.  Costumes take months to design and make once the theme has been decided upon. She was accompanied by her attendants in equally fantastic outfits and now that that formality is over it is time for the first parade.

Photo diario de Avisos

Tomorrow Friday 13th sees the Opening Parade.  For some, this is the best part of Carnival as the parade snakes through the town and the newly elected Queen waves to the crowds from her giant float. Probably because once the clock strikes midnight it is the time that carnival officially begins. From now on the party and fun will not stop until the fat lady finally sings sometime next week!

Over the weekend there are street parties in all areas, fairground attractions, street vendors and stages erected so that bands can entertain visitors who mingle with the locals, who have Carnival in their blood.

For me the most spectacular culmination of Carnival is the “Gran Coso Apoteosis” the closing parade. It starts mid afternoon and lasts for hours as magnificent floats bearing the queens are joined by all groups. It ends with a massive fireworks display in the Plaza de la Candelaria  and it can only be described as an explosion of music, fiesta, joy and above all fun!

The traditional “Burial of the Sardine” ends the Carnival on the first day of Lent. It consists of carrying a giant sardine through the city’s streets on its way to be cremated. Thousands of widows dressed in black, priests, nuns and even “popes” all in floods of mock tears bid farewell to Carnival for another year.

I can only suggest if you want to experience Carnival to the full, Santa Cruz is the place to be.

 

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Tomb Raider Rodney Young and King Midas – Turkey

I find it amazing to stand on the sites of stories you read as a child never realising you would one day visit those faraway lands or even know that in reality they existed.

On our way to Bursa we stopped at a small village called Yassihuyuk that is in the middle of nowhere and was only discovered because of the large artificial hills (Tumuli) that dot the landscape.  From the air the mounds look out of place and these were the first clue that people had lived in this area originally called Gordion in the Bronze Age. In 1950 American archaeologists started to uncovered these and found several tombs, the largest of which is purported to be the quasi-legendary King Midas’ burial chamber, although there is no proof that he was actually buried there.

The only story I knew was the one about King Midas and the Golden Touch, this is probably the best known. But there is another story that Midas was asked to judge a musical contest between Apollo and Marsyas. Midas decided in favour of Marsyas and in revenge, Apollo cursed him with donkey’s ears. The king tried to hide these under his turban but couldn’t hide them from his barber.  The barber was desperate to tell someone the secret, so he whispered into the reeds, “Midas has ass’s ears.” And so it was that the reeds passed the message to the river and when the river flooded everyone in the kingdom knew what had happened.

Another tale is that a poor farmer would ride into Gordion and one day rule the kingdom. As the king had no sons, he named the farmer his successor and his cart was placed in the temple where it would stand for many years. Local prophecy decreed that whoever untie the complicated Gordian Knot was destined to become ruler of Asia. This turned out to be Alexander the Great, who became ruler but he died young and superstition is that his early death was a result of severing the knot.

Leaving the myths aside the actual tomb is accessed down a long corridor where old wooden logs have been preserved since 725 BC. Whether any of this is true or not a visit to the museum is worthwhile. There is a plethora of pottery from the Bronze Age onwards and the world’s oldest mosaic pavement.

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