Saturday, 19 April 2014

Trip to Mesopotamian Gaziantep, Urfa and environs.

This is a reprint of a Fodor's lounge thread which was tagged "Food and Wine" and was enjoyed and digested as the title would imply.

I have added some photographs and a piece I had written about Rum Kale elsewhere.

I will also post reviews of some of the restaurants and Zeugma mosaic museum with its photographs.

Ray P. is a very close friend of our beloved concert pianist cousin, Husnu Onaran, who passed away six months before this trip. We arranged for Ray to visit Turkey for the first time in his life because our cousin, domiciled in New York did not travel much except to give concerts and had always promised to bring Ray to istanbul.

 It was like a pilgrimage to Ray. We took him to the houses Husnu had lived as a kid and the schools he attended as well as his grave which we had managed with the help of our DD from Chicago who had arranged the transportation from the United states.

We know that Husnu believed he would not linger close to this world, hoping to have reached an elevated stage. But, just in case, someone tells him up there, i hope he will be pleased to know Ray visited not only his old haunts but also one of the World's oldest structures, temple, observation post or whatever.

I, Eser, the trusted wife armed with her red Pentax DSLR and its fearsome lenses, and Ray P, the smiling and deeply caring concert pianist from Connecticut will take off from Taksim, istanbul tomorrow Friday, March 16, 2012 through snow flurries towards flight TK2222 to Gaziantep of almost biblical fame, fraught with the danger of being close to the Syrian border in addition to the high carb, high sugar content food which cannot be denied.

We are in the process of preparing our minds mentally and our digestive organs physically by talking of things and things and eating highly greasy, highly carby, highly tasty food cooked at home with a Moldavian touch based on adulterated Ottoman turkish recipes.
My envy is indescribable. Be awed and have a wonderful experience.
Thank you Sylvia3.

We shall see the Zeugma mosaics in Gaziantep, the two castles, and the ruins of the 1,700BC Hittite city Kargamish of the Epic of Gilgamesh fame.

Saturday or Sunday we shall be in Sanliurfa and surrounding area, visiting the cave of Abraham, the mausoleums of Job and Joshua, the ruins at Harran and of'course, Gobeklitepe.

before i get back to the literary narrative, here are some more useful facts:

Flights by THY cost only about $350 for all three, return, including soft drinks, sandwiches and cake which are free.

The new Hotel Ibis was only about $30/room with A Club card.
A new Mercedes C180 automatic was $100/day unlimited mileage with a THY discount.

we plan to have "Beyran" soup (takes 10 hours to prepare) for breakfast and "katmer" (fried pastry) at different locations. Kebap at Imam Cagdas, Cavusoglu, Ashina, Shirvan.

Will have transfer by Back Up to IST tomorrow morning with cost included in annual membership fees. Only carry-ons.

I will post the factual info on the Turkey forums also and answer standard questions there. The lounge thread will be for the esoteric and the exotic.
You have the red Pentax! Awesome! (Pentax K-5 shooter, here). But seriously, I'm drooling at your photo opportunities. Have a fabulous time.
well, I have no idea what all those things taste like, OC, but I am certainly looking forward to finding out. 

happy travels!
You know, any other time I'd be hung up on the camera... but wow, the trip. 

I've been reading now for some time about Gobekli Tepe after a Nat'l Geographic article and it just captured my imagination. 

I can only imagine seeing the discovery that flipped anthropological wisdom on it's head. Worship and large scale construction may have not been driven by man's movement towards civilization and settlement, but the other way around. Nomads inexplicably called to accomplish something that could only be done collectively, but without the without the previously thought necessary social structure to foment it. 

Anyway.. very exciting. I am so very envious! But do be careful please.
Thanks annhig and clifton.
Woke up 6AM with the realization that I had not checked us in on-line, something I usually blame others for forgetting. Had to turn on the fickle member of the Toshiba clan which I had prepared for the visit to its almost pre-historic ancestors because Ray is trying to work through his jet lag in our PC abode.

Two isle and one window seat reserved near the back hoping it's not a full flight and that they do not put anyone in the middle seats.

Fear of forgetting to pack items of clothing is senseless. I am sure they use underwear in Southeastern Turkey and will let me have access to shops that sell them, in case, even though a TV channel asked Moss Productions to find a new actor to replace me in my TV sitcom debut last month after watching the pilot, telling the production company that I did not look Turkish. 

I hope that the The logical relationships in above sentences are as apparent to the gentle reader as to the writer.

Soon i shall shout, "Hi, Ho...." and off we shall go. ( about three hours or so)
even though a TV channel asked Moss Productions to find a new actor to replace me in my TV sitcom debut last month after watching the pilot, telling the production company that I did not look Turkish. >>

lol - what do you look like then??? how is this real turkish person supposed to look?

Hi, ho indeed.
It is evening, late evening, almost 8PM, in the small Ibis Hotel room which was $50 not $30 per night. Still a bargain when Eser remembered a room we were squeezed in some decades ago at the Berkeshire on Oxford Street, London, where one could not walk around the bed. But then, we had enjoyed the very good quality bed spread and curtains. 

It is incredibly cold outside. i am glad we did not listen to the advice of the concierge and the bell hop and the receptionist, all of whom wished us to walk to Gaziantep castle. We drove and parked, and then walked. And then walked some more. Ray had a woolen hat. Eser had a pashmina. i had nothing. Could not find a single store selling woolens or leather gloves or what not. There was food, hot red peppers, pistacchios, other nuts, more nuts and more pistacchios and silver and copper, lots more copper, some prayer beads, one small shop of textiles.

My mistake was taking refuge from the cold in the textile shop at the entrance to the old bazaar. There were handwoveb silk and cotton things, pieces of cloth with Ikat designs and Hasanbeyli type and Lahouri type and Kutnu type designs and weaves. Beautiful colours at one third the price you could find them in one or two shops at the Grand bazaar or the Spice Bazaar in istanbul. so said the shopkeeper and Eser approved and immediately called Ceylan in Chicago who ordered enough to cover seven tables and many necks and legs above the knees.

My eagle eyes had spotted the famous Imam Cagdas Restaurant on the way to the textile shop and after a futile attempt to find some place to buy a duffel to carry all the spoils of the excursion outside the castle wars (as Eser romanticised about the meaningless charity re the weavers of Gaziantep.)

It was nice and warm inside. The food was nice and warm. The waiter welcomed us warmly and served us in a very warm way. Even the glorious baklava with pistacchios which were the greenest of greens was nicely warm.

The Lahmacun was not the best we had. the special bread with sesame seeds was excellent. The gavurdag salad was good, the spicy hot tomatoe mash was excellent. Among the kebaps we had, Ali Nazik took first place followed by the simit kebap and the vegetable kebap. the kiyma was OK and the shish kebap was not tender enough. but the baklava, Oh!!!!! the baklava .....
Thanks for the report, otherchelebi. It's a fascinating discovery, and I look forward to reading your impressions of it.

For annhig: if you click on otherchelebi's screen name, you will see a photograph. I hope I'm not being presumptuous in guessing that he's the gentleman on the left.
thanks, jahoulih; OC - I couldn't presume to say whether you look like a typical turkish gent or not!! 

whatever the case, the one they pick will not write so entertainingly - I can almost taste that baklava now. 

if you didn't find a duffel bag to carry all that booty, how DID you carry it?
thanks again. We were given jumbo size garbage bags to carry the valuables. interestingly the waiters at Imam cagdas did not bat an eyelash. the duffel or whatever still has not fallen into our grasp at 11:30PM Saturday. Am i hoping for a prehistoric one i can find at this Mesopotamian land?

Going back to Friday morning, I was lost in a day dream involving the famous kurdish singer Aynur and other kurdish women i have met. They all had large smiling eyes which lookeed sadly at one in large bony faces. Eyes and faces, carrying paradoxes as all women's should, thought i at the airport lounge and while walking to the gate.
This is very different from the young girls of the regional basketball team from the Black Sea region which were on the tarmac bus taking all to the 737-400, and some of whom started to chat with us after I made some wise cracks.

They had not heard of Gobeklitepe or Beyran soup which I recommended to them to use to psyche their opponents out because of its garlic content, forgetting that they were playing a local team which would probably pepped up by the aroma.
We had a good turkey and cheese sandich also containing tomato and cucumber slices and lettuce, grilled aubergine salad and a successful banana chocolate mousse given with unlimited soft drinks and tea/coffee on the 100 minute flight.

we met a stoic sitting at the first row of economy who received Eser's help to squeeze with great difficulty his carry-on into the overhead bin. I commented, after watching the painstaking effort with interest, that the plane would probably be already on its return flight to istanbul by the time the owner managed to get his case out of the overhead bin. He just spread his hands and said, "It would not kill me."

Our Avis rental was quick and drove well. The directions the people at the counter gave were not as good and the map they managed to find for us from another rental car agency had been marked with strange symbols and undecipherable routes and comments.

Driving into a largish totally unplanned city from which direction you do not know, where you cannot see any street names or signs can lead to frayed nerves. Losing your belief in the general visibility of structures like antique city fortresses on hills and football stadiums may easily lead you to lose any confidence you may have had in yourself and in your abilities of observation.

Stadiums should look like stadiums, and there should be policemen and just regular pedestrians stationed at critical points on city routes to respond to questions of travelers driving towards the unknown. Gaziantep had too few of those, and for the initial 45 minutes of our advancingly more hopeless search the few potential direction givers whom we spotted quickly slid back into the shadows before we could accost them. Finally we caught one, and then two more and soon we were at our hotel with enough time to go up to the castle and my former post.

This leaves me with the task of narrating the details of the unnecessary tours we took in and outside the city, the marvelous places we saw, the toothless and thumbless boatman who was on facebook and other characters one must always meet on memorable travels who and which we were fated to experience on Saturday, March 17th, 2012.
I will not beleive you left the apartment until I see pictures. And I expect you to stand in the water like the namesake Ibis hotel, it with its long thin legs and bow shaped beak, which charged you an additional $20 when they saw your face.

And I hope Eser and Ray have a fabulous time. You too.

It all sounds wonderful. Hope everyone is well as your reports indicate.
Adu, they actually give a discount to ibis look alikes. unfortunately non of us qualified.
Will send you a photo taken near Abraham's lake at Urfa wearing a Southeastern headdress called poshou, to prove the sink holes I have reached.

Saturday's cold misery and today's fall into harsh reality in the desert-like landscape and then the mysries compounded while observing milling humanity need to be narrated later when the muse(s) decide to treat me better and when the upper thighs can work harder to support the wobbly torso.

Suffice to say that there was an absence of historic or pre-historic gods at Gobeklitepe. However, there was one wise man, father of eight who advised Eser and a second one, myself, who advised the oldest son of the sage of Gobeklitepe.

The sage talked about his wife, not with love and pride, but in a very matter of fact tone, just telling it as it is and as it should be. He said she woke up at 5AM, cleaned and brushed the three cows, prepared breakfast for all, sent the little ones to school, milked the cows, cleaned the stable and stored the dung for fertilizer and/or fuel, prepared lunch, fed the little ones, took her husband's lunch to Gobeklitepe site where he guides and sells books and a few trinkets, did some laundry some days, cleaned house others and once a week baked enough bread for the whole week, then dinner and.he did not mention of other duties but the eight children must be enough testimony.

How much Eser learned from this sincere tale, I could not tell. She did not argue and she did not sneer at me when i continued to nod my head in awe and admiration at such strength of character and stamina in a woman.

My advice to his son who was guiding us at the site and turning a blind eye when we picked up a few small pieces of flint which may have been used to polish or carve 12 thousand years ago, paled in comparison to the years of wisdom his father imparted. I talked of love and marriage and how he should do his best to avoid an arranged marriage to a cousin as they seem to have done in their village for as far back as they can remember. Then we met two of his younger brothers
, 8 and 10 I guess, and we discussed aggression and how it can backfire and an unfair teacher will somehow end up being punished by himself if not by someone else. Asked if the teacher had warts or bunions, and when he said he did not know, I said, "bet he has them, even if they are not in the open, because of all the nastiness, because warts and sometimes things like corns of the feet or bunions could be self inflicted when the person stupidly wear an uncomfortable shoe or does not wash properly."

have you thought of writing a book, OC?
With the human interest out of the way to a certain extent, i shall get down to a description of the site and the mysteries i was successful in solving, mysteries which have alluded the misguided archeologists for so many years. I climbed the mound and recieved the word and will soon start spreading it here.

However, there seem to be many who are afraid to show up on this thread and to receive this wisdom. And i say unto them, "Flock here my brethren so that I may impart these mysteries to those of you who will understand them."

Before all that, I must also mention Belkis, the mother of five who also grows and sells black rose plants at half-sunken Halfeti and has a miraculus touch only if her husband would allow it.

Then there is the story of the 52 middle aged women who continuously eat sunflower seeds on the lawns near Abraham's chamber and lake in the belief that they will regain their virginity if they keep this up until the ground around them is covered in seven piles of skins, 7 inches high. We saw them and witnessed one of them almost burrying one of her children under a pile of sunflower seed skins.

These were the novice sunflower seed eaters at lower elevations of Abraham's Park. 

OC has written a book, but only with his permission, will I reveal its name, since I am not sure he wants his real name known.
thanks Adu.

Annhig, I am preparing a travel book but do not know how I can have it published in the united states or United Kingdom. 

If anyone has any suggestions, I will be eternally (possibly until the book is published) thankful.

here's the link to the book :

here's the link to my Amazon Reviews :

I guess i will leave the mysteries out of the narrative and just give the bare minimum facts, in view of the tremendous interest.

On Saturday, we visited Duluk/Doliche. Unfortunately the temple was in darkness due to a power cut 

There are no signs for Duluk anywhere and very few people know about it. We spent a whole hour looking for it. There is some info on the ruins on the web.

 Later we drove to Halfeti and took a boat up the Birecik Dam lake and the Euphrates River:

 finding directions to Halfeti through Birecik town
Birecik Castle is somewhere up there! But what about that doorway?

Driving Down to old Halfeti

Tourist boats still enjoying Winter hibernation

This was the route towards Zeugma and the dam, we guessed.

A misplaced photo of Old Halfeti, partially submerged

Here's the story of the trip :
Look, if you are there on a cold Spring or Autumn day, do not listen to your partner and go all the way to Birecik and then ask, "How do we get to Rumkale?" Have faith in your memory and your previous reading of the map before you started driving from Gaziantep towards Urfa and take the Nizip exit, or maybe even better, drive directly towards adiyaman and then check the map again.

There was a 30 miles/hr wind. It was 35F and close to 0 C but sunny, we were comfortable and warm in the Merceded C with leather seats Avis had bestowed upon us at a reasonable price. Everything looked good because we had just eaten katmer at Orkide pastry shop for breakfast and Ray had a doggy bag of it also. So we drove to Birecik, through the city, photographed the castle from a distance, enjoyed a short chat with the locals and then moved towards the town of Halfeti which should have taken us close to Rum Fortress, possibly via a bridge on the Euphrates River.

To cut the verbosity short :
-the route to Halfeti was long
-half of old halfeti was under the dam waters
-new halfeti is one of the ugliest habitations we had the misfortune to see.

 to Rum Kalesi. A long trip but worth it.

Could not tell if the green lawn on left was natural or landscaping.
It was too hard and too cold to climb

Are those recent buildings used by Euphrates Pirates?

This seemed to be some sort of entrance to the mysteries that our boatman steered away

-what remains of old Halfeti was nice but very cold.and had a few starving (so we thought) boatmen with only a jacket to wear.
-The first boatmen to reach us told us that his boat was fast and the trip to Rum and back would take less than an hour.
- You see, there were not even any roads from Halfeti further North, let alone a bridge across.
- My wife is a Cancerian and loves the water.
I am stupidly in love with my wife even after 34 years of marriage.
-Ray is a gentlement or is afraid to comment.
- So we froze for 90 minutes, half against the wind on an almost all open motorboat.
-When we thought that something sweet will help us to recover our strength, we found out that Ray had actually demolished the remains of the Katmer when he was sheltering on the side of the boatman.
- We did not have the strength and the ability to move frozen muscles to get off the boat and climb up to Rum Fortress, So No touching at all, you see.

- What was worse, just one hundres meters away from Rum was a boat landing with at least eight or ten similar boats with similarly starving boatmen waiting for other scantily clad freezing tourists, who could have reached them much easier and been able to see the same sight with only a 20 minute boat ride and for much less and possibly even climbed up to the fortress.

On Sunday we visited the Zeugma mosaic museum, a requirement for all visitors and then drove to Urfa where we visited Gobeklitepe and then Abraham's lake.

(The photographs and information will be on another post.)

Gobeklitepe had other mysteries than were told at the better known youtube presentations like how come only a smallish section of the land was not covered with a thick layer of volcanic or lava rock so that the ancients could build their temples there and then cover them and if the lava came after the temples were built how come it did not cover the area of the temples?
There so much of Turkey we have not seen and what we did see was spectacular (excpet for sitting across the table from Other.)

Thanks for telling us about a part of the world, few Americans and others have seen.

"He said she woke up at 5AM, cleaned and brushed the three cows, prepared breakfast for all, sent the little ones to school, milked the cows, cleaned the stable and stored the dung for fertilizer and/or fuel, prepared lunch, fed the little ones, took her husband's lunch to Gobeklitepe site where he guides and sells books and a few trinkets, did some laundry some days, cleaned house others and once a week baked enough bread for the whole week, then dinner and .....he did not mention of other duties but the eight children must be enough testimony."
----------------------I was amazed....and appalled. 

How interesting and amazing you are, otherc! And now I start googling the places and the foods. Beginning with Gaziantep which Wiki describes it as the oldest city in the world. Incredible trip!

Here are the photos of interesting and amazing OC and Ray in Kurdish headwear :

And the blind fish of Abraham were our witnesses of having visited Urfa :

Friday, 21 May 2010

more on preparations.

Still not there

I knew it. Murphy was and is and will be right.
I should never yawn and stretch the morning before or on the day of the trip. The tendons on the calf bunch up in the shape and hardness of a rock with excruciating pain. You yell for your wife to pull your toe. She pulls the wrong toe where you have a slightly ingrown toenail which is supposed to wait for your return. So now you have two problems on the same leg, with the ingrown toenail penetrating deeper.

You compound your mistake for going for a Thai massage at your wife's gym. The masseuse does not speak english or Turkish. Your Thai is non-existent. the calf and the toe now seem to be irreparably damaged.

The question is, "Do i forget about the train tickets and we take the 'about 99 Pound' cab, bringing the cost to 247 Pounds? Or somehow manage to climb a coach and possibly halve the cost, but still needing a short transfer from Victoria?

Leave it all to fate or to the toe fairy. Finish your luggage, unnecessarily pack a blazer and tie for the theatre so that you can suffocate in the tiny space which threatens to swallow you whole and break your joints at the same time, while you have the additional lump of your badly folded jacket on your lap.

Diabetic, hypertension, cholesterole, mood medicine for six days just in case, five pairs underwear and socks, also just in case, three (two unnecessary) dress shirts, no sneakers (you do not want them in London) Off to sleep with nightmares of everything you probably forgot to pack.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Short London Visit

Flight tickets ready, hotel reservation complete, suitcases being aired for take off on wednesday 14th. Already got tickets for the 39 Steps and Dreamboats and Petticoats. Camden town, Brighton and the bookstores and the Chinese, italian and Indian restaurants are waiting for us to cheer them up. A quick dash in and dash out in less than four days.

Trouble started today. But no matter. Everyone makes mistakes, even the great otherchelebi. Checked the e-ticket and realized that i had bought the cheaper tickets from Sabiha Gokcen to Stansted. Well, no big deal. Sabiha Gokcen probably has cheaper long term parking, and it should be half price with my Prive card from Garanti Bank. And, isn't Stansted the same thing as "City Airport?"

No it isn't. You check for transportation from Stanstead and discover that a taxi will cost "about 99 Pounds" . Why not about 100 Pounds? you wonder before the figure hits you. OK, so you reduce the garments and the size of the suitcases and check for the train. 18 Pounds each to Liverpool Street madhouse station. More research tells you that you can actually get off earlier, pay less for the train and pick the Victoria Line immediately and hopefully at an easier transfer point with suitcases, which will deposit you within 100 meters of your hotel. Return tickets for two 49 Pounds plus underground. and it is still not rush hour. and there should be time to rest before we tackle the 39 steps. That is unless the ticket machine at Stansted does not eat up my credit card.

Unfortunately, the late Peter Ustinov wrote his "Book of Worries" before i could write mine. Wish he had consulted me, i would have been able to put the fear of so many other things in his mind, and in technicolour also.

I remember a hotel behind Selfridges 15-20 years ago, where the window was slat-paned and unclosable even in winter and i almost froze, the same as when i was invited to stay at the house of David L. colleague and friend, even longer ago than that.

Now that i mention him, i remember, driving to Cappadocia with him to attend a reception of a now defunct insurance company. To this date i have not been able to puzzle out the traffic sign you see frequently on sloping Turkish highways which has the smaller picture of an umbrella and a larger one of a skidding car. With the skidding car picturer on top!! Does it mean, as David L. said, "When you slide, use an umbrella?"

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Western Black sea Part IV To Sinop and Back

Western Black Sea Part IV Agli, Kure, Inebolu, Sinop, Boyabat, Tosya, Ilgaz.

Agli's mysterious sign only looked like a castle. The villagers directed us to what they called 'the castle' also. What we found was a rather high, large mesa with lots of animal holes and a picnic area where we could actually drive around on the rocks and the grass. Two hours of hidden castle and another wedding gown shop, we were on our way to pick a highschool student hitchhiker from his village on the way near the copper mines of Kure, down to his school in Inebolu.I do not remember what we had eaten in Kure, but we were not hungry enough to spend time searching for the historic Inebolu Doner restaurant, so we pushed off to Sinop. Our hotel was towards the end of the peninsula, past the city of Sinop. it was a nice area and very quiet. The older British couple we saw in the restaurant were not interested in striking a conversation, Eser could not have cared less because she was already three quarters asleep. However, I forced her to drive back to the city with me to taste the famous Sinop Manti at "Teyzenin Yeri", where we made the mistake of ordering ten kilos of the stuff uncooked to be picked in the morning, although they did say they could not prepare it until 11AM, the next morning.We spent the morning taking photographs around the city including a couple where we were warned not to by a military guard. Picked the manti finally finished at 11:15, drove to an old structure to have a look at the handicrafts center, spent too long there, ate their version of manti, bought totally unnecessary handicrafts just because we had the space in the car, drove off only to discover, after an hour, that Eser had left her handbag at the regional handicraft place. Called, found no one to answer the phone, drove back discussing how far the new owners of the handbag could go on whatever cash and credit card use they could make. So, after a total of two hours extra but very scenic drive, we got back to the shop, to find the handbag where Eser had left it partially covered by the one table cloth left in the shop that she decided we and our daughters and her friends and our families and her trainer did not need.Drove up to Boyabat, past some very poor villages where we gave away whatever we could to the kid on the street who immediately started fighting over the spoils, then to Tosya where we had to buy some of the famous rice, and dry beans, and tarhana soup mix. There were no decent hotels, it was getting late, and time for a surprise and a reward to Eser for being so understanding of my mistakes and forgetfulness on the entire trip. Well actually, it was the lady attendant at the roadside stall, who said to me, "Why don't you treat her to a luxurious night at the Mountain Resort?" when I asked her about lodging in the area. She was a tough single mother and more aware of her rights than most women you meet in cosmopolitan Istanbul, and was working to send her daughter to university.Anyway, the trip through Ilgaz town up the Ilgaz mountain took another hour or so, and suddenly we were in freezing weather and established in a one bedroom apartment for the night at the Mountain Resort, where, if we wished we could even have had a fireplace going. There was three inches of snow on the ground and the car the next morning. We loved it, but took off for the road back to Istanbul, after we made sure that we did not leave anything in our hotel room.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Western Black Sea Part III Pinarbasi to Agli

Western Black Sea Part III Pinarbasi to Agli

The two nights at Pasa Konagi belonged to another time and age. But time travel is like that. You cannot stay too long in a specific past. Come to think of it, I do know some people like that, who spend almost all their days in bits and pieces of their past. Nothing exotic or historic; just standard past of almost faceless people and colourless stage settings, full of regrets and only the occasional rainbow.

The second day was very full, with canyons, waterfalls, and discussions of local politics with a honey producer where we parked our car (and paid a fee to the autistic youth who gave us directions as good as the mayor’s cousin.) The honey man had disappeared from his house on our walk back from Valla Canyon. Back in town, that Sunday, we managed to find the cousin, who took us to his uncle, the mayor, who sent someone to call the headmaster of the large Pinarbasi Highschool. The headmaster, a dour and sour man, who could not show any appreciation, accepted our gifts of two dozen or more jeans, anoraks, tea shirts, underwear and sweaters, as well as about fifty children’s books, and had them carried by a more cheerful crew of school employees, whose eyes sparkled (could it be because of the low protein diet their meager salaries allowed them.

These highschools at central small towns or large villages usually have children bussed anywhere from three to twenty or so smaller villages which have primary schools where kids are bused from even smaller villages. Pinarbasi Highschool also had a large student body of poor boarding students from the area and was a good place to leave our gifts, although we came to an even poorer area later, near Boyabat on our way, where we had only a few small things left to give away.

Early the next morning, possibly about nine thirty, we fed the three dogs, the four
puppies and the three cats, before we left.

I liked the sound of the name “Azdavay” and decided that we would go there and then toss a coin to see whether we should continue to Kastamonu or to Inebolu.

Azdavay had nothing going for it, but our “Koy Koy Turkiye” atlas showed something, a mysterious sign as usual, at Agli, and we decided to continue to Agli, Kure and Inebolu without falling into the trap of Luke Reinheart (The Dice Man), or Tom Stoppard. (Guildernstern and Rosencrantz)

Valla canyon from scenic outlook, Ilica waterfalls with lichen covered trees and the wild animals of Kure Mountains National park, including a newcomer to the area.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

More photos from Western Black Sea Part II

Western Black sea Part II Ulus, Pinarbasi

Western black Sea Part II Pinarbasi

A full stomach and the use of the facilities after a few compulsory/complementary cups of tea, prepared us for the short drive towards Pinarbasi, where we had reserved by phone, after discovering a quaint village mansion on the net for 30TL each B&B.

Ulus small town was a nice surprise. I guess all the places we visit are nice surprises, but this time we hit the market day. We took photos of women walking one way with empty bags, but forgot to photograph others coming back with full ones. Trying to park the car, we discovered a very nice modern building and found out that it was the public library. Went in, introduced ourselves to the director and his wife, both with degrees in librarianship, chatted for half hour or so, met the kindergarten and elementary school kids using the reading rooms, and were disappointed that there were no youth or adults.

The roads so far and from Ulus to Pinarbasi were fine. Eser’s carpal tunnel and tennis elbow which she has nurtured since we started driving in the countryside from clutching the armrests and door handles of the car with fear did not get a boost. Neither was she given a chance to fall asleep because of the curves.

We knew we were either in or skirting the Kure National Park. She wanted to take some side roads towards a few hills which I refused to call mountains. I argued that the hills were too insignificant to belong in a Nature Park. And, I was the driver at the time.

Came to Pinarbasi, another nice small town, parked in the town square to find a spare charger for my mobile phone which Eser had forgotten to pack J. And we met the Mayor’s cousin who sort of half ran, half rolled towards us, asking if he could help and telling us that he had a barbers shop if we needed a hair cut. He took us to a shop which he said would have the charger for sure. Fortunately the shopkeeper could give us directions for the only other shop of the type at the other end of the square.

However, the mayor’s cousin was good for a topic of conversation on later days, when we wanted to get away from stronger feelings between husband and wife. He also gave us the correct directions to Pasa Konagi, our B&B, “Straight down that road for 300 meters).

This is where I paste my Pasa Konagi Review:

Pasa Konagi is a quaint 100-200 year old wooden village mansion renovated to operate as an eight room hotel, in the small town of Pinarbasi, in Kastamonu province. The rooms are upstairs, around a large central space which can be used for meetings. Downstairs, there is again a large central room and also large kitchen and dining room. As in traditional Anatolian homes, you have to remove your shoes before you can go up to the second floor. (And as in traditional Anatolian living, we left our shoes there and always found them as they were, in the morning, possibly because ours were the worst looking ones.)

There is a nice garden on the back with a small waterfall on its borders, and picnic seating and children’s playground.. I believe that they serve the breakfast outside when weather permits. When we were there in April, we had to keep the wood-burning stove going in our bedroom all night long. It was fun in a way, but either because of inexperience, or because it’s the way of these stoves, every time I added logs, it would get very hot, I would take most of my clothes off, my wife would look at me suspiciously, and after an hour, I would wake up feeling cold and put some clothes on. At that stage, my wife would also wake up, look at me in a different way and curl up under double blankets, with another sigh. A further hour down, the freeze would start setting, and I would have to get up to rekindle the stove and put more logs in, and my wife would wake up again and seeing me with the logs, start eyeing the door. (She never told me what went on in her mind that night. I think we will go back again just so that I can find out.)

The price was 30TL per person including a sumptuous breakfast. Ahmet Bey, the manager, was also the cook, and would give us dinner alternatives and prepare what was requested.
The salad, the rice, and the Turkish pot dishes would be in bowls and pots and you would go and get as much as you liked, and he would toast bread and barbecue sucuk (Turkish pepperoni like spicy sausages), etc.

The major sights of Ilica waterfalls/Horla Canyon, the Valla Canyon and the three caves are not very close. So it is possible that he would prepare a picnic lunch for those who requested it.

Another quaint feature of the rooms is that the bathroom and tiny showers are in closets. (Maybe that is why the acronym WC was coined.). As if that was not enough, in some of the rooms, the only way you can access the facilities is by climbing a divan and stepping down again after opening the small door. Unfortunately the shower has no curtain and is in a tight space together with the toilet or the sink.

In spite of the stove and the bathroom facilities we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We made friends with the large extended family (who almost thought that this was the family long house) and a young couple.
. The young husband was a psychiatrist and tried to prescribe certain medicines to me and to my wife, after I mistakenly mentioned the troubled sleep of the previous night.