Written by Turqouise on 06 May, 2002
October is cold and drizzly in Turkey but there is just nothing like the intensely blue Mediterranean sky and the charm of a young Turkish tour guide to warm you up. Turks are generally pleasant and incredibly goodlooking people. Our guide, Sela, for example. Kevin…Read More
October is cold and drizzly in Turkey but there is just nothing like the intensely blue Mediterranean sky and the charm of a young Turkish tour guide to warm you up. Turks are generally pleasant and incredibly goodlooking people. Our guide, Sela, for example. Kevin Costner's bone structure, Van Damme's eyes though gentler, Mel Gibson's smile and was that Bruce Willis in the slight swagger? He spoke English quite well when he cared but more often lapsed into quaintness ("The Seljuk Empire, it is coming to an end.") He was a real pro who when the touring season was at a low, would pore over history, science, economics books to keep in mental shape. And I think his efforts paid off; he regaled us with intelligent historical accounts from the first century BC to modern-day Turkeology. This might have been tedious but for the thoughtful effort to spice up the endless miles of travel to Bursa (as well throughout Turkey)with humor, folk music, anecdotes about his long-dead ancestors, flirtation.
Bursa was not really in the itinerary but Yalova was out of the question;the ferry ride had to be aborted for the Marmara Straits that day was restive. So it was off to Bursa, the silk capital to visit Mount Olympus where legend has it, Zeus and his groupies once held court. Along the long, long way, our bus eased its way through little hamlets of narrow winding roads. I could see Turkish domestic life a meter or two away. Middle-aged and really old men drinking apple-tea under old trees; schoolchildren hurrying up and down alley stairways; bandanna-bearing Turkish housewives rushing home with market stuff for the evening meal. I must have counted a dozen bakeshops each with a window display of freshly-baked bread as huge as platters and buns as small as fists. It was late afternoon then and despite the glassed-in, air-conditioned bus we were in, I could catch a whiff of bread.
Finally, just as the sun was about to set, we arrived in Bursa. The mosque is one of Turkey's oldest and most earthquake-proof and was worth a visit before examining the silk stores next door. Like all the other mosques we were to see, Izmit tiles and carpets were the norm. Noone goes in with shoes nor bare heads. Bless the guide who nodded that my windbreaker hood would do. But shoes were a major problem: next time, wear slip-ons, I told myself.
Having apid our respects to Allah, off we hied to the silk shops. Scarves, ties. Bandannas, blouses, ssshirts,vests. Prices ranged from US $5 to US $100. It was only day two - I was not in the mood for shopping as yet. Instead, I just sat and enjoyed the ubiquitous apple-tea and marveled at how different this world was from mine!