Amasya with the cats and the giants of history

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11 September; Arrived in Amasya, population of 98,000 and set between mountains with a river running through it. The pansiyon is a rustic old Ottoman building with high ceilings, old furniture and lots of cats and kittens, which I hope to take some pictures of soon.

Journey here was eventful, taxi from hotel to Otogar, arrive shortly after 9. No seats on coaches tilll 2 pm so got on bus to Samsun and got dropped off in Merzifon, 41 km away five hours later. At the Otogar, not the roadside as I feared. Coach attendant was very bossy and camp, a cross between Basil Fawlty and Julian Cleary, pulling phone chargers out and chastising passenger for putting too large luggage overhead instead of luggage area underneath seating accessed from outside coach.

Arrived in Merzifon to find no seats on coaches to Amasya. We followed tall older man to where dolmus’s depart. Dolmus is becoming hero of the holiday. Literal meaning is  ‘stuffed’ which is what they try and do to their vehicles. They did, and suitcases occupying standing area so no space for any extra passengers along the way.

Shortly after journey start headscarfed older woman in seats in front of me throw her rubbish out of side window. Badly. A carton of blackcurrant juice fly back and lands on my neck.

I keep hearing squeaky noises, I thought it might be brakes in need of attention. I was wrong, passenger behind me was travelling with an excited budgie. So I wasn’t going mad after all.

We have been zig zagging across country but after today we travel westwards back towards Europe. We did think about arriving in Amasya by train. But there is a single track and a single train which leaves Ankara in the morning and returns at night. I didn’t fancy a 7 am start.

You have to be relaxed about timescales in this country, things happen when they need to. If you live by the clock I reccomend Switzerland.

I am pleased to report that the mosquitoes are leaving me alone, or I am leaving their bites alone.

Apartment living is very common in suburbs, mile after mile of them after leaving centre of Istanbul and Ankara.

Now my face is tanned and I look more like a Turk I am speaking no English, Penny’s Turkish is also improving.

My only sadness today is that I am not able to listen to new Libertines LP which is released today.

12 September; Morning spent in Amasya visiting the Tombs of the Pontic Kings and Hazerenlar Konagi, the former involving a punishing walk up steps to the caves. Weather is hot, some rain would be welcome. You name it, they’ve all been here, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, you are in a city that has been lived in for 7,500 years. Try getting your head round that.

Last night had a meal on the riverside, we ordered a selection of meze’s (starters) and were hungry due to not having eaten since breakfast. No fish dishes available, it was explained they are only available in wintertime. Red mullet is evading me, it looked so appetising on the menu as well. One week left to track it down, it was available in Istanbul but I shrinked from the price, at £20 for a single dish.

Facilities for disabled are improved in Turkey, good to see, not just toilets but some thought given to make facilities accessible.

In this region of Turkey are some people with light skin, fair hair and green eyes. These were originally Muslim refugees from Caucasus region who arrived after wars between Ottoman and Russian empires.

You can see from photos there are cats and dogs where we are staying. The other day we saw a Turkey at a service station. Except they are not called that here, they are American Birds. I remember my adopted nephew Luke Mann reacting with laughter when he was told where we’d been on holiday. ‘Turkey’s not a country its a bird’ he told me. The existence of countries called Hungry, Chilly and Iceland also were quite funny to him.

I have been made to feel very welcome in this area and have been told many Turks emigrated to Cyprus from nearby Tokat.

There is a micro climate here due to the shelter the mountains here give the valley, it escapes the harsh winter and is good for fruit growing, apples are the main product here.

I have now booked accommodation for Bogazkale where we are travelling on Monday. Telephone conversations can be a challenge for me but between Turkish and English we got there.

There is a lack of knowledge of geography generally in this country. I end up directing taxi drivers and if I ask for a street location, even if it is just around the corner, there is usually a puzzled look. Google maps can be handy. Today a first, a car stopped and driver signalled for me to walk across.

Today Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of Labour Party. I have lived and worked in his constituency in north London and have served as a shop steward and have worked as a party member to get him elected. I have met him a few times and I would trust him completely to stand up for working class and everyone who is disadvantaged. I wish him well and hope he is strong enough to withstand the shit the Tories and their friends in the media will try and throw at him.

13 September; I am conscious that this time next week I’ll be home in time to see Palace stuff Spurs…

Yesterday we held out against Man City until injury time, a point would have been a good result as City were the better team. You can see that although in Asia, between the hours of 5-7 pm on a Saturday my mind is on the boys in red and blue. With smartphone I am able to stay abreast of important events with some useful updates provided by Kenan Yusuf, who is watching match in UK and able to describe match details. 25 years ago I would have had to wait till following day and brought a Turkish sports paper and look for results. I can live without Eastenders, Strictly and Bake Off but not football.

Smartphones mean I don’t have to seek out internet cafes but there are still plenty of them around.

Today we visit the Amasya Musuem. Last nights thunder, lightning and rain has provided humidity to air but sun is now shining again and temperature is rising. The heat can be exhausting and afternoon siestas can make sleep at night disrupted. Whilst out many shops closed and it appears people travel to this city for a day out.

Last night we again found a restaurant with half the items on menu unavailable. You will see from picture I had a glass of raki, an alcoholic spirit with the flavour of licorice allsorts. You have to show respect to this drink as it can make a fool of you.

I have now seen red mullet, in a fishmonger’s, they are tiny, the size of sardines. I hope to find some fully grown ones on a plate, I still have 7 nights left.

I have purchased flip flops, the plimsolls I had been wearing were starting to make my feet stink.

On our last night in Amasya we ate nice meal along riverside, took a walk and took some pictures. Best meal in Amasya was also cheapest, you don’t always get what you pay for.

Things I reccomend, anti histamines for a scratch free holiday. Mine also help me sleep.

Dolmus, all aspects of culture are visible.

Misty in Roots LP, Live at the Euro Counter Vision. Track one, Introduction, ‘ you have to be conscious of your history. Without knowledge of history you cannot determine your destiny. And the present. Without knowledge of the present you’re like a cabbage in this society’. This opening track contains the philosophy I have tried to live my life by.

Rain, from time to time when it is hot otherwise.

Good personal hygiene.

Things I don’t reccomend, Ribena. Ok to drink but not flying towards you at 10 mph.

Littering the countryside.

Ignorance of geography, you should know where you are and what’s around you.

Showing disrespect to raki.

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