Great time in central Turkey

by Paul Clites - 2 years ago

This was my third time to visit Turkey. I always find Turkey to be a delightful place to visit, by interacting with local people, having local food, getting out of the big cities, and ESPECIALLY by having lots of Turkish coffee and baklava.  I hope this will not be my last visit to Turkey.

I flew into Ankara (capital city) and used a local tour guide to take me to highlights and local experiences in three regions:1) Turkey - Central and West Anatolia (Ankara)2) Turkey - Marmara (Gerede)3) Turkey - Black Sea West (Safranbolu)

I enjoyed a great hotel, a great meal and some sightseeing in Ankara. But while it is a nice city that looks very livable, it was just another large city to me. I was eager for my guide to drive me out, with the first destination being Gerede. 

Gerede is a typical smaller Turkish town. A particular highlight for me was having çay (Turkish tea) in a small old çay house. Local men were passing time and playing backgammon. The owner, upon asking where the obviously non-Turkish person was from, was delighted to hear that an American was visiting. He would not under any circumstance let me pay for the çay, insisting it was his gift, and insisted I have another serving in the traditional tulip shaped çay glass. This was my first experience having çay made the traditional Turkish way in a double pot (see more below). I then walked some of the town and was invited impromptu in to see an abandoned caravanserai (place where Silk Road merchants stopped for lodging and food, and to buy/sell things). This caravanserai, like most, was rectangular with an inner courtyard. And like most it was two story, with the lower level intended for animals, and the upper level for rooms to rent. While it was in pretty poor shape, it is still on occasion used as a party setting or restaurant overflow. I also viewed the town clocktower and a rather nice mosque for a town of its size.

We then moved on to Safranbolu, the Old Town of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Considerable effort has been put into restoring buildings and attracting tourists. Boutique hotels and guest houses abound. I visited a local heritage museum and mosque, and had a nice local meal, as well as just wandering around Old Town to see the restored (and non-restored) buildings. 

On the way back to Ankara we stopped at a roadside çay house. They made their çay the old fashioned way - a tea pot brewed the tea by sitting on top of a combination charcoal burner and water heater. The tea from the top pot is intentionally made way too strong to drink straight, so it is cut with some of the hot water, and served in the usual tulip shaped glass. Using charcoal as the heat source gives the çay a little bit of pleasant smoky flavor. Add a drop of lemon juice and ummm.

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