Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

Turkey II Part 3 - Bursa

   Okay now that its three months later I really need to finish travelogging my June/July visit to Turkey ... because I'd really like to write about my August visit to Turkey but OCD compels me to update in order!

A quaint street in Bursa

Thursday, June 27th
   As you surely don't remember, where I left off, the Asli and I had just gotten on a bus in the morning to depart Istanbul for Bursa, where her mother lives. The bus route only takes a a few hours, and doesn't go around the gulf of Izmit you see in that linked map but takes a ferry over it.

   Buses in Turkey are amazingly convenient. There are a number of different bus companies operating either nationally or regionally in Turkey, and you can find their little offices all over almost any town it seems. In any office you can buy a ticket to neighboring towns or big cities half the country away. It seems like at any given time you will be informed that in about five minutes a little bus will be around to take you to the city's main autogar (bus stop), which is on the outskirts of town (every town, it seems), and is where all the intercity busses stop. There, for say the $40 you paid, a bus will shortly be by to whisk you to the other end of the country.
   I found this mode of travel totally allowed me to get practically anywhere in the country in August when I went wandering the countryside on my own.
   The buses are usually thoroughly modern charter style busses and they even nearly always have an attendant who pushes a cart down the aisle every so often offering complimentary snacks and drinks ... you know, like airlines in the states don't even do any more! What a country!

   Presently, we were in downtown Bursa! Bursa is a large town / small city with a long history. It was the capitol of the Ottoman Empire prior to the capture of Constantinople, so there are many historic mosques and tombs of sultans and other important historical sites. The ancient city walls are still largely intact and the enclosed area still contains narrow medieval streets, and old residential houses. On our arrival Asli and I ended up wandering though this area looking at the historic sights on the way, and eventually found a park on the far side with a magnificent view of the expanse of the city across the valley floor (the old walled town had of course been built on a hill). The picture at the top of this page is from near there.

   Asli and I sat at a bench at this lovely park waiting for her mom to meet up with us, as she'd been at work earlier (she's a teacher). Once she caught up with us we proceeded back to the "front" side of the old walled town -- the side we'd been on had a steep dropoff, hence the view, while the other side has more medieval style streets and mosques and markets, because that's where there had been more ancient city.

   We sat at a nice sun dappled cafe by the old markets and had Turkish coffee. I really like turkish coffee but it had just been too hot to have much this whole trip. As you can see we also had berry cheesecake. I was also informed of the interesting fact that they always serve water with turkish coffee (as I'd noticed), so you can cleanse your palate before enjoying the coffee, but it's also considered rude to drink any of the water AFTER the coffee, as it implies you thought it was gross. Turkish coffee is serious business!!
   And then Asli's mom showed me how to read fortunes from the leftover grounds in a cup of Turkish coffee.. apparently I think there was a lot of traveling in my future?

   If I recall correctly this is the "Bursa kebab?" a specialty of Bursa. There was also a restaurant we ate at later that didn't even have a menu because they specialized in this and only this (or was that something else Asli? -- it was only one thing anyway).

   In the evening we all retired to Asli's mom's place -- which was in a suburb about an hour out of town by city bus. This locality was characterized by small cracked apartment buildings with some picturesque vines climbing up them, and fields of open space between them. Just across from the bus stop was a "man cave" as Asli called it, where local men congregated in evenings to drink tea and/or beer.
   Asli's mom's place was a quick walk from the bus stop, past the large and new looking mosque, and just a little down a street. Her habitation was a nice cozy little place with fields on three sides (not extending to rolling countryside though, the sparse apartment buildings continued beyond the fields), which gave a nice breeze through the windows ... though being essentially behind the mosque, on more than one night we were privy to the cracking of firecrackers celebrating weddings on into the night.
   Asli informed me that wearing white socks makes me look like an uncultured villager who "belongs in the man cave." I'm still not sure if this is a more universal thing and I've just unknowingly been a boor all my life (I had only brought white socks with me to Turkey, the horror!) or just a Turkish thing. My (evil) older brother and my grandfather, both engineering types, both affirmed this is a longstanding engineer-type thing when I mentioned it on facebook.

   The next day Asli and I headed back into the city for more sight-seeing. There are certainly ample things to see in Bursa. Pictured below, a typical scene in the old market area of town.

   The next day, Saturday, June 29th, Asli, her mom, and I, rode the city bus to the town that is the nearest point to Bursa on the coast of the Sea of Marmara. It was a cute little seaside town, and we strolled up and down the seaside. There were more quaint old residential buildings here, but I think I was having serious trouble getting the exposure levels on my DSLR to behave. Ate a tasty dinner of "Turkish ravioli" (basically ravioli in yogurt), and what appears to be puff-pastries with chicken in them? The puff pastries were actually what Asli and her mom ordered but somehow I inherited at least half of each of their dishes as well as my own!
   By then it was dark but the seaside was still teeming. We had coffee and dessert in a delightful second floor cafe with the warm summer breeze wafting across the balconies and open windows and a view of the festive atmosphere on the seaside below, where many people seemed to be launching those things that are essentially a candle in a paper bag and it flies.

And then Asli's mom took this picture of her.

   After a few more days of enjoying the area of Bursa in a rather leisurely manner, one day I happened to mention "oh I'd like to visit the site of Troy some time."
   "It is very near here! Why didn't you mention so sooner, we could have spent some time there!!" exclaimed the Asli. As it is, we only had a day or two left. We decided to make a day trip of it, even if it was something like a five hour bus journey.
   So the next day, Wednesday, July 3rd (if time stamps on pictures are a guide!), we got up early and took a five hour bus to Çanakkale

   Arriving in Çanakkale, we wandered around and eventually sat down to have lunch at a nice little cafe by the sea side. Unbeknownst to us, a little less than two months later we would meet again at this cafe, this time after traveling through the night from opposite directions, but I digress.
   The cafe looked out across the Dardanelles strait, and looking up I happened to see a large four masted barque passing through! I just about leapt from my chair to get a picture before it passed from view (as it was cruising at a fairly good pace). Fortunately I got it, just as it passed one of the monuments on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the far side:

   Close scrutinization of the photo later enabled me to read the name as the Sea Cloud, which wikipedia informs me is presently a cruise liner, but she has an interesting history. Formerly a US Coast Guard and then US Navy ship, she was apparently the first racially integrated warship in the US armed forces post civil war.

   After lunch Asli and I took a little bus to the site of Troy, which is about 20 kilometers outside Çanakkale. Apparently Asli used to live right next to it when she was a wee lass. She's a genuine Trojan!
   Now, I've heard others --who perhaps aren't as enthusiastic about history as me-- pooh pooh Troy, but I thought it was pretty cool. Other bronze age ruins I've visited are usually just vague ruffles in the ground, but they've unearthed an extensive amount of walls and building foundations at Troy. And Troy being the very paragon of a place of legend, I was just amazed to realize I was staring at the very real and literal Walls of Troy. THE walls of THE Troy.

I really can't emphasize enough how literally these walls are legendary. I was perhaps a bit star struck. (:

   It so happens that for some reason the only bus departing near the closing time of the Troy site comes by about an hour after it closes, so, along with about half a dozen other backpackers, we were left loitering about for an hour waiting for the bus. That was a bit irksome. Finally it came, we returned to Çanakkale, bought a bus ticket to Bursa... finally arrived back at her mom's plce around 2am I believe, after a long day with a lot of bus-riding... but I GOT TO SEE TROY :D :D :D

Thursday, July 4th
   The next day we visited one more tomb site that Asli really wanted to visit, that of the particularly holy man Uftade Hazretleri. Now it should be noted the graves of particularly prominent figures such as this and the many sultans in town aren't merely stones in the garden getting rained upon. The sarcophagi are kept in beautiful well maintained buildings that are typically circular and dome-ceilinged. They're carpeted and the sarcophagi look good as new, draped with green cloths and/or Ottoman flags, if my memory serves me. One takes one's shoes off as one enters, as one does for a mosque, and there are often people there praying, especially to a holy man like Uftade Hazretleri. It is a bit amazing to think that such a well maintained and attended site belongs to someone who may have died over 600 years ago. These men are anything but forgotten!

   Pictured above are some of the graves just outside the tomb of Uftade Hazretleri. As you can see, they often have a depiction of the hat the deceased wore on top of the stone, which was indicative of their position.

   After this last little pilgrimage, we caught a bus back to Istanbul, and the next morning I flew back to the states. The End. ...until I returned in a month, updates on which should soon follow (:

A quaint Turkish village seen from the bus on the return to Istanbul.

( All 99 pictures from this trip )

Tags: asli, travel, travelogue, travelogues, turkey, turkey ii

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