Trip to Bolu

Iyi Haftalar (Good week to you!)

Well guys, we are beginning to wind down our project here. Next week I will be presenting my last blog to you. For this occassion, I will be interviewing a middle school student here in Turkey, to get an idea about some of the similarities and differences that might exist between your lives and the live of a turkish teenager. Hopefully you will enjoy this!

I was impressed with your responses to last week’s blog. Also some of the words that you came up with!

This past weekend I took a little tour outside of Istanbul to a city called Bolu with some friends. Bolu is located halfway between Istanbul and the capital city Ankara in the mountains. Most of the interior of the country is sits on a high plateau with mountains criss-crossing everywhere. And while Turkey is a fairly large country, because of it’s terrain, this makes traveling quite long! Even though it is only about 150 miles from Istanbul, it took us about 5 hours to get there by bus!


The first thing I noticed in this area was that it was strikingly similar to the Pacific Northwest. There were many little villages in valleys, green forested mountains everywhere, and of course, rain and fog over everything! We spent our first day wandering around the city center, visiting the main mosque (cami – pronounced jaa-mi), small shops and vendors. Because of the terrain and climate, mushrooms and hazelnuts grow here in abundance. I learned that it is quite a local industry that people go off into the forest to harvest mushrooms, using dogs to sniff them out sometimes.

City center from mosque
Center Square of Bolu

We also were able to find an old hamam that had been converted into a cute cafe.

Mushroom vendor in Bolu
Mushroom vendor in Bolu

A hamam is a typical turkish bath, sort of like a spa where a person can go to use a steam room, sauna, and get a massage also. In many larger towns and cities, it is common to find these. Especially in winter, it was a normal tradition to visit one for good health and to help with circulation issues, but anytime you go, it’s a relaxing experience.

A typical turkish hamam
A typical turkish hamam

After our trip to Bolu, we went further up into mountains to the village of Mudurnu, a spa town. Life seemed to move a lot slower in this village. During the day, people would sit in cafes on the one main road, but as it got closer to evening and got colder, everyone went into the pubs and resteraunts to chat and watch football matches. It was very common to see horses being ridden alongside SUV’s through the town.


Early morning Mudurnu
Early morning Mudurnu

Lake Abant

After a day here we continued to a Nature Reserve higher yet in the mountains called Abant. There is a large lake here that is the result of melting snow over the ages. Like in the other places, there are spas and natural springs here and is a popular resort, even in the winter. We made a small trek around the lake, took a carriage ride back (quite freezing by this point!), and enjoyed a piping hot cup of Salep when we returned. Salep is a traditional winter drink in Turkey, and it is made from creamed cauliflower, sweetened with sugar and various spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. (Kinda sounds gross, but actually its really delicious, kinda like a spicy eggnog!)


Well that’s going to be all for now. I hope you all enjoyed the week’s post and look forward to bringing you our final post next week. Just one question for you guys this week: Winter activity, what do you enjoy doing? Is there anywhere that you go away to, or just a fun tradition?

I didn’t have any cats unfortunately to leave you guys with this week, so please accept this humble stuffed falcon as a replacement 😉



34 thoughts on “Trip to Bolu”

  1. I love ski even though I have only gone once!!!!!!! And I love to go up to Timberline Lodge and drink a giant cup of hot chocolate with toffee bits. It is so dilicious

  2. When it snows I love to get together with my friends and go sledding but normally during the winter I just love to hang out with my friends.

  3. This goes for all days, but winter’s too cold for me. So I’ll just stay inside with a cup of chai and my anime. That’s also generally the time we leave to go on our vacations. To warm places.

  4. Winter activity, what do you enjoy doing? Is there anywhere that you go away to, or just a fun tradition?

    Well, it never really snows in Portland, but when it does, I do like to go outside with my friends, build snowmen, sled down the hill, and whatnot. I actually enjoy cold weather more than hot weather, so I like to play in the snow. Afterwards, we’d drink hot chocolate and roast mini marshmallows over a candle.
    Our family doesn’t really do a “Winter Break tradition.” 🙂

  5. I like to ski because you go really fast down a hill. Last year, when Portland finally got reasonable snow, My friends and I went to the local park and slid down a ton of hills on our sleds. My favorite part of winter are the chocolate advent calendars that I receive on the first day of December!

  6. Last year, I took photographs at various places. I even went to Cannon Beach. I went with my aunt, who clearly enjoyed the trip. I went on December 24th, so I was looking forward to Christmas. I also remember spending at least 10 minutes in the cold looking for our car.

  7. My family doesn’t really have any winter traditions. If it snows, I might get together with my friends to go sledding. Sometimes I go skiing or snowboarding up in the mountains, and other times we go on vacation to warmer places.
    I really love the snow, though!!!

  8. If it snows i go sledding, and i celebrate Christmas- and always open one present on Christmas eve. We also go to a German Christmas festival each year.

  9. If it does snow during the winter, then my family usually stays in Portland. My friend sometimes walks up to my house and we sled down our street. We have really large snowball fights and drink hot chocolate. 😀

  10. We aren’t really a winter family, we aren’t very prepared for snow. We don’t have a sled but I hang out with friends and use their sled. I like resting by the fire when it is just to cold or the power goes out. Also I like the tradition of eating hot chocolate. I normally don’t go anywhere but our cousins from San Francisco come and we have lots of family. Sometimes we go to New York for Hanukkah and that is a fun time with my 11 cousins and 5 uncles and aunts.

  11. My family doesn’t have many winter traditions, we don’t take a vacation and I’ve only been skiing once, (although it was really fun and I hope to do it again) but I love the snow (when it actually sticks). When it does snow my little brother and I go sledding down this wicked hill in a park by our house. I also love the chocolate and peppermint flavors that come with winter.

  12. My family doesnt really have any traditions but my brother and i go to the mountain for snow mobiling and snowboarding.

  13. One tradition my family does is we go up into the Mt Hood forests and we sled, ski, and hunt for a good christmas tree. On the way back, we stop by a place called Calamity Janes, a burger/salad place. It is unhealthy, but we haven’t eaten all day, and we were running around. So we could use a couple extra calories. 😉

  14. We usually gather into a group of family friends a throw a huge party. The BEST PART EVER if getting the gifts, of course. And the more people at the party, the more gifts you get. Simple. So basically I spend a couple days before the Winter Party trying to figure out how to invite more families. We don’t really have any other traditions. But I also like playing in the snow and building all sorts of things like snowmen, and little creatures.

  15. We don’t really have many traditions as a family, although we always celebrate Christmas but that is basically it. Unfortunately it never snows here in Portland even though it always says it has a big chance of it. I don’t really have a tradition with my family when it snows, but whenever it does my friends and I always make a ramp out of snow and cardboard on a really steep hill and borrow a good sled and go down it until it gets old. Anyway, that’s all I do around winter, a pretty typical winter season. Do they do anything special in Turkey?
    Alex A-

  16. I love ice-skating. Once winter when I was little, I went ice-skating on my grandfather’s pond,and then we had a bonfire, so that leaves me with good memories. Also, we go sledding up on Mt. Tabor. One time I fell of, flew 5 feet, and landed in a pile of snow.

  17. My favorite winter activity is skiing. My family usually gets season passes and we go skiing on Mount Hood lots of times over the winter break and on any weekend days where I don’t have a soccer game.

  18. A thing I really like to do in the winter is go up to Mt.Hood and go sledding. I’m not much of a skiing or snowboarding person (mainly because I’ve never done either of them) but I love going sledding with my friends. I also live on a hill so that can get pretty snowed up and make it great for that. Loved the falcon, you are forgiven for no cat picture.

  19. My favorite winter activity is… SNOWBALL FIGHTS!! Unfortunately, we do not get much snow in Portland, so the activity that I love the most is skiing on the mountains where they have a lot of snow year round, and sometimes my family goes to Sun River for winter break.

  20. I love the snow especially in Mt.Hood. My family and I go to Mt.Hood with some friends with in the late winter before the spring when its still all snowy but not too cold. Madurnu looks eerie in the morning fog but really beautiful during the day. Last winter when it snowed really hard there were people skiing in our neighborhood and it looked like so much fun I have never been skiing but i want to try it someday.

  21. i like to go sledding. there is this huge hill near our house, so that’s pretty awesome.
    my family also often goes to a Spanish-speaking country. last year it was Nicaragua and we took a bunch of Spanish lessons. this year we will go to mexico for surfing and more Spanish lessons.

  22. I thought that the hamams sound very relaxing and I’m sure very comfortable. When you were talking about Mudurnu and how the people there had very calm and simple lives sitting at cafes in the streets and pubs to watch football games (I assume it is soccer football). In the winter I love playing basketball, indoors and then walking outside to be super cold. And of course like all kids, being in snow if there is any.

  23. Hi again!
    My favorite two winter activities (because I couldn’t pick one) are snowboarding, because I love the feeling of gravity pulling me down a cool, white slope on a single plank of plastic and metal with only my own balance keeping me up, and my second, favorite winter activity is sleding down the steep hill near my house on a day off from school, because I love being free to do whatever I want on a supprise snowed out thursday, when I should be in school, but instead I’m speeding down a hill and flying off (maybe not-so-safe) homemade snow-jumps.
    During the winter, my family doesn’t have many traditions, but we used to go to to sunriver and ski/snowboard on Mt. Bachlor near Bend, Oregon.
    I can’t wait for your next and final post.

  24. During winter, when it does snow, I usually like to go outside along with my sister, who brings her friends and goes to somewhere around our neighborhood or along Miller Street. There aren’t many traditions we celebrate except randomly planning some vacation or staying at home.

  25. I love to ski, even though I rarely do. A favorite hobby of mine is to lay in front of the fireplace with my cat, or go in our hot tub. i’m a sucker for heat. In the summertime i like to just lay in the grass and enjoy the sun. Maybe that’s why I live cats so much. I can i identify with them! And i love birds so the falcons worked.

  26. Well, it rarely snows in Portland, but when it does, I will run around in it outside, and play with all the snow that sticks. Once I get too cold, I will go inside, and snuggle up with a blanket and a book. My favorite winter thing is probably the feeling of being all warm, safe and cozy when I have I’m wrapped up in a blanket, and being able to forget this world for a while in a book. I also like ordering my sisters to get me stuff because I don’t want to get up.

  27. Did you get a massage? I wish I could have gotten one, that sounds really cool. Are the spas there different than how they are here?

  28. It doesn’t usually snow in Portland, but when it does, my favorite part is having a couple snowball fights with my friends and warming up afterward.

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