Safranbolu

 17 September;

Leisurely morning in Safranbolu,

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asleep till 9:30, breakfast in town centre for an hour or so and then a short shopping trip to modern or ‘Upper’ Safranbolu. Why are we here? This was a forgotten town whose past importance in the trade of saffron had diminished. People realised that there was nothing built since at least the 1800s and it started attracting visitors because of its Ottoman architecture and street patterns.

 

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There are few pavements and the roads are made up of cobblestones, not a place to wear heels, my flip flops doing me proud. There are coach parties from as far as China wandering around taking pictures. It reminds me of Rye, near where I live. Quite hilly.

Both restaurants we have used have only had women workers, and our pansiyon owner is nowhere to be seen, but his wife is in charge. Thus has not been our usual experience in Turkey and I like to see this side of the country.

After breakfast a taxi ride to new city centre and helpfully dropped off where I can purchase a new phone charger, more browsing and Penny Yusuf visits a hairdressers staffed by men, again unusual from my limited observation.

Taxi back to pansiyon and I left my 3 bottles of raki on, annoyed with myself. But taxi driver returns when he noticed, I tip him for his honesty, but this is common characteristic in this society. I’m not saying there are no thieves but you certainly can feel you can trust more readily than in UK.

Penny yesterday observed a woman passenger on our bus into town get off ahead of us, gesture for taxi driver to come to coach and then point at her luggage as it was being unloaded. Princesses in headscarf replicating Ottoman habit.

Weather this morning was overcast and pleasantly cool but sunshine and heat have returned.

Things I reccomend, having a lie in now and again.

Things I don’t reccomend, heels in Safranbolu.

18 September;

We left Safranbolu in a taxi, a local came with us part of the way, the driver was doing a favour to our pansiyon host.

Day spent travelling to Istanbul, crossed the Mehmet the Conqueror Bridge back into Europe. My namesake was the Sultan who ended the Byzantine Empire. Eventually arrived in spacious room, a lovely sight after long journey and limited space in last place. Made error of hopping into taxi with no metre with driver with only general knowledge of Istanbul. He dropped us on main road, I’d agreed price with him already {just under £20.). Had to get another taxi who kindly stopped and asked several people and got us here. A good experience after a not so good. I presume there isn’t an Istanbul version of London’s ‘knowledge’ my mate Andreas spent three years running round in a moped learning.

This morning we got up too early for breakfast, or so it seemed. It was 9 am, we did find somewhere eventually and the local cats were very happy with the sliced meat and cheese we gave them.

Yesterday we went uphill by taxi to a Musuem and walked downhill back. Looking for somewhere to have a drink and rest I spotted a menu for cafe but only alcoholic drinks available. Made mental note to return after dinner. We had lovely meal in restaurant specialising in Ev (house) food, I.e. the meals people enjoy in their homes. I had some fried chicken, Penny had gozleme (like a savoury pancake) and we shared stuffed vine leaves and salad with 2 bottles of water. Cost, £8 for two of us.

Also there were five teenagers drinking endless cups of tea, three girls and two boys, one of the girls was the daughter of the owner. It was lovely observing them enjoying each other’s company. Soon those two boys will be soldiers, I wish them well and hope their gentleness remains intact.

We went back to cafe for drink, opened door, pushed aside two curtains and were greeted by older man. ‘Is this the cafe?’ I asked. ‘It’s a hotel come on in’. He led us to garden, took our order and we sat and had a quiet couple of drinks whilst owner saw Fenerbache lose indoors. The owner and his wife are architects who have wasted no expense renovating three old buildings to create a lovely hotel. If the inside is as good as the garden

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I will stretch to spending a night there in future.

In last place we were opposite a mosque, a nice wake up call at 4:15 am first morning but slept through it today.

When visiting ruins of Hattusas the other day 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.

Things I reccomend, 3 week vacations

Things I don’t reccomend, rushing into first taxi when you’re tired

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