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