Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010 - No comments

Road Trip Chronicles #6: Amasra

Seeing as I am taking off for a new adventure in the morning, I figure it is high time I finish documenting the last one - especially since we've been back from the Road Trip for almost two months now! That's the trouble with this country - there are just too many things to see!

So....Amasra. Lonely Planet told us it would be "the prettiest little town on the Black Sea Coast," and while I haven't explored enough to check their facts, I think it definitely deserves that honour. We took a little day trip up from Safranbolu, following winding mountain roads through lush, rain-soaked mountains and past goats and hay bales and fruit stands out to the seaside gem of Amasra. If I were to choose a spot for a vacation house in a cooler spot in the summer, this would be a prime candidate. The town itself is a peninsula with a seagull-speckled rocky cove on one side, sandy beaches on the other, and a walled-fortress-turned-neighbourhood with the most incredible view of the sea. And there were plenty of ice cream stands - a requirement for survival.

We started with a stroll down the promenade, which was lined with little old teyzes (aunties) hawking everything from fresh fruit to handmade olive oil soap to Coke bottles full of pickled peppers. I have this horrible habit of being a "Teyze Defrauder" - stopping to chat and take pictures of their crinkled faces and colourful offerings without ever really intending to buy anything. Sometimes my compassionate (guilty?) side gets the better of me and we end up with a car-full of dried apples and pumpkin seeds, due to my inability to break the heart of anyone wearing village pants and a headscarf. Then comes the head-shaking from my cupboard-purging roommate who doesn't appreciate my need for eighteen different kinds of snacks..... :)

Following a trek through the gates of the Byzantine fortress walls and up to the peninsula's best vantage point, we headed down to a little restaurant for the only appropriate meal in a town like Amasra - grilled fish. The salad that preceded it was one of the best culinary works of art I'd seen in a long time....

As we were getting ready to head back to Safranbolu, I was feeling the intense need for something to cure me of my afternoon dragginess, and as if by magic, a coffee shop appeared! (I have a special sort of radar for these things.) He made the caramel sauce look so pretty on top, I couldn't sip it until it had been appropriately commemorated. :)

Thus concludes the Black Sea portion of our Road Trip. On to Konya!

Sunday, July 11, 2010 - No comments

Road Trip Chronicles #7: Konya

"Gel, gel, ne olursan ol, yine gel." (Come, come - be whatever you are, just come.")

- Hz. Mevlana

Partly out of necessity, partly out of curiosity, we heeded Mevlana's call and spent the night in Konya. Home of the mystical poet Persian Mevlana (aka Rumi), the whirling dervishes, and my personal favourite, Konya Sekeri (a confectionary treat), Konya is a city in a category all its own. Konyans pride themselves on their city being a shining example of Islam, and the general attitude is that all of Turkey should be like Konya. As a result, the spiritual atmosphere is one of extreme conservatism and piety. Religious pilgrims come from far and wide to see the tomb of Mevlana, giving it an air of something akin to Mecca, complete with all the "religious souvenirs" you could possibly want. Check out these prayer beads - each one is the size of my fist!

We donned our headscarves, checked out the sites, snapped some photos, and decided we more more than ready to get outta Dodge. Being in a city that had that stifling sense of darkness over it made us even more excited to cross the mountains and come down towards the sea and the sunny sight of HOME!