14 September; Had to wake early to catch bus at 9 am. Arrived in Bogazkale (pop 1,350) at 1:30 pm, near site of Hattasus, capital of Hittite Empire. I left my phone charger in Amasya, future posts may be infrequent. Coach journey fairly straightforward. I had arranged with Cengiz, manager of hotel to be met by taxi at Sungurlu Otogar, or that’s what I thought. As we approach town coach stops and attendant gets out to speak to a taxi driver. He then comes and tells us it’s our taxi. So telephone conversation wasn’t quite so successful.
One thing that I’m curious about is women wearing the veil. In Istanbul I assumed they were visitors from Arab country, but yesterday I overheard one woman speak to her husband in Turkish. If Ataturk abolished the veil in 1920s what’s going on? I would appreciate an explanation. Was the law changed or do the police just not enforce it?
Yesterday we visit old site of hospital, they practice music therapy on patients with mental health issues in 1800s so quite advanced for the time.
15 September; Day visiting Hittite site of Hattusa, Yazilikaya and Alacahoyuk. With our own personal tour guide Tarkan the taxi driver. Far too hot and long distance to attempt on our own. Which is what we did until Tarkan came along. Tarkan has lived in Germany, has two women in his life (one in Germany), isn’t a fan of ruling party and said he was a socialist before putting his finger to his mouth.
As well as all this personal info he knew about history of local area because he has worked on digs himself when he was younger. He also took us off road so we could get views of countryside. Some of his driving could be better, like driving on the right rather than using both lanes, and I would have been more comfortable if there were seat belts in the back.
Tarkan explained that Bogazkale used to have a population of 5,000 but it’s dropped to 1,000 as there is no work and all the young people go to Ankara or Istanbul where work is more plentiful but where rent for accommodation is more expensive. Sounds familiar?
Tarkan also took us to his house where 7 female relatives were working on an industrial scale to make bread, with each having their own role in the process. It was being cooked in a clay pit heated by straw. They make enough to ensure that they don’t have to repeat this process too frequently.
On one road we had to slow due to a herd of cows ahead.
The general lament was the lack of tourists, blamed on the civil war in Syria scaring people off. We spend one more night here before travelling to Safranbolu tomorrow. It is a small village with few facilities for visitors. Most people visiting are day trippers and all hotels provide restaurant facilities.
When visiting ruins of Hattusas I talked in English to a girl of Turkish origin living in Germany who explained that they were all archaeology students from different university’s working together. I looked at some of what they’d dug up but wasn’t allowed to take pictures.
16 September; Last night we ate at hotel, also there were a dozen Germans who were sleeping in vehicle in picture, looks like a fire engine from a distance.
There was a persistent stone mason selling bits and pieces from a stall at hotel. Penny Yusuf explained that over £30 is expensive even in England for a tea towel but not sure if he got the message although he reduced price to £10, we brought something else instead.
This morning we go to meet taxi driver who take us to Sungurlu and who should it be but Tarkan. He make no sign of recognizing us despite earning £60 being our personal tour guide. I also kept up pretence of him being a stranger whilst he chatted to hotel owner and Penny convinced stone mason that she really didn’t want a tea towel.
After we pulled away from hotel I said ‘gene gorusuruz’ (we meet again). He reached into glove box and give us pear and plums from his garden, he gave us apples yesterday. Then the sales talk, I didn’t want any books, ornaments, and no I did not want him to drive me three hours to Ankara for just petrol money. His charm was beginning to fade after spending all day yesterday with him. I think he got the message because we started small talk. No I wasn’t going to return with my dad, I barely see him as it is. Nor my mother, who’s health would be tested by the journey. ‘Bring your children’. Silence.
But then he told me his wife was a fascist and I start to warm to him again. He clarified for Penny’s benefit that he was referring to his Turkish one. His German wife (also Turkish) was ‘modern’.
I kept a close eye on street signs as I wondered if he would hijack us, drive to Ankara and demand a huge sum for his services. But Tarkan came good, drive to Otogar and packed us on coach to Ankara. Good bye to Tarkan.
Tarkan put seat belt on when he spied traffic cops. My habit of instinctively putting one on marks me out as a foreigner.
Hotel in Bogazkale had shower in a bath. More unusually they also had a plug. I enjoy opportunity to have a bath whilst there. They also had a phone charger I could use but sadly would not sell it to me so again unsure when next post will be. Safranbolu has population of 42,000 so hopefully also some electrical shops.
I have blisters on my feet and I still ache a bit from all the walking yesterday.
Tarkan pointed out village populated by Tatars, refugees from Ottoman -Russian conflicts 150 years ago. So you see, we have not made much progress in the world since.
Things I reccomend, remembering all items when packing.
Music, whatever your state of health.
Local knowledge, brings a greater awareness of culture.
Not accepting invitation to have a beer with tour guides while they are trying to earn money. I don’t blame him for doing it, I probably would in his position too.
Things I don’t reccomend, too little sleep
Seeing site of Hattusa on foot, unless you are fit and weather is 20° or less.
Staying in small places where tourists are scarce where once they were plenty.