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Published: April 18th 2008
So thaaaaaaaaaat's what all the hype is about. Just 3 hours north of Ankara is the lovely town of Safranbolu, filled with cobblestone alleyways, well-preserved Ottoman-era houses, and more charm than, well, than you could ever find in Ankara.
Jen came in from İstanbul, showing up late in the afternoon Friday to check out the town before my arrival later that evening. After I showed up and dropped of my bags, it was time for a walk. I asked her if she would know how to get us back in the dark and she said "you pretty much just keep walking around and eventually you end up back here." It didn't take long for me to feel completely disoriented in the town's chaotic, curvy, windy alleys, but it turned out that she was right, and somehow we ended up effortlessly wandering back to the hotel.
We stayed at the Bastoncu Pansiyon, which is run by a very kind, welcoming family. Mr. Ahmet is, in fact, a retired bastoncu ("maker of walking sticks") and we saw his work displayed around the common rooms and in the patio area.
The next morning, after a breakfast of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese,
jam, bread, hard-boiled eggs, and (of course) tea, we ventured off on a good hike. It's the type of place where one can walk off in any direction and not be dissappointed. Our cameras were puppy noses -- the town, a dense forest of fire hydrants.
Efe, the 12-month-old at the Bastoncu was often the center of attention there. As I usually do when I come accross a new Turkish name, I looked up his in my dictionary. The translation I found was "swashbuckling village dandy" - hahahahahahahahahahahaha! He nearly swashed the buckle right off the computer mouse while his mother dipped into the kitchen for a moment. Unable to liberate it from his determined grip, I went into the kitchen and exclaimed in Turkish "Efe is very brave!" as no other words useful for the moment came to mind. The situation was far less serious than my worried expression must've indicated and there was some laughter, both about my lack of Turkish skills and my lack of baby skills.
The weekend was filled with fantastic people: travelers from places like Canada and Korea and Papua New Guinea, and about the warmest, most hospitable local population that you
could hope to find anywhere. There were lots of long conversations, impromtu language classes, and a tea or three in the meantime. Blogging more about those experiences would not do them justice -- you had to have been there. So, you'll have to just settle for some pictures...
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