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Trip Report Western Black Sea Region of Turkey

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The following is a sample of our trips in and out of Turkey.
This one took place mid April, 2009.
It continued to Ulus, Pinarbasi, Azdavay, Agli, Kure, Inebolu, Boyabat, Tosya, Ilgaz and back to Istanbul. All together five overnights.

-This is the first part of that trip:

Mengen, Devrek, Bartin, Amasra, Inkum

Another impromptu trip took us to Mengen for some unfortunately mediocre food, to Devrek, for beautiful canes made of cherry wood, to Bartin of wooden houses haunted by the dead and/or the living.

On this rainy, cool mid-April day we cotinued to drive down to Amasra to get a better feel of the cold rain and the pnemoniac wind, some interesting views from a vantage point and more from a less advantageous perspective, drove back up and down again to Inkum for our motel.

There was a nice sunset, a peaceful walk on the empty promenade and, this time, a less than mediocre set meal, with a bottle of wine which may have been uncorked at the end of the previous tourist season.

There were some couples in the motel and one very large family trying to fit into one or two rooms, definitely with great difficulty, in view of what we surmised to be cries of anguish. The couples were very secretive, so I cannot write anything about them, except that they never smiled and were deeply involved in the seriousness of whatever they thought they were doing.

The next day, unbright but less wet, we went up to Bartin to remedy Eser's forgetfulness (all her cosmetics and of'course, her vanity in the same case). The all new travelers' collection of her cosmetics, skin care, hair brushes, nail blushes, cotton, and of course the case to carry it all, made a well stocked shop of these items delirious with joy. The only thing that she did which almost erased the stupid stuporous smile on my face was the fact that she sneered at many of the "not such a good quality" items, which she bought with great gusto and abandon. I figured that she was preparing her answer to me for when I see her giving away the whole batch upon her return to Istanbul.

After driving 15-20 k towards Ulus, I remembered that we should have filled up at a Shell station which had a vehicle recognition system, and we may not find another one on the country roads. So we drove back into the city, searching for the petrol station which had managed to move during the last half hour.

This was all to the good, because, it gave us a chance to stop across the street from a wedding store and take photographs to send to our daughter in Chicago, as part of our recommended portfolio, in order to drive her crazy before her marriage so that her husband will not be disappointed with what happens after the marriage.

By the time we left Bartin it was noon according to that garbage can God saw fit to place in the middle of my abdomen. I think that the name of the restaurant was "Sakli Bahce". The cuisine was Southeastern and possibly the Western Black Sea version of this cuisine is better than at most restaurants in Gaziantep or Urfa. The pistacchio kebap on a bed of diced onions and tomatoes instead of pita bread was the best we had ever tasted.

The waiter was good and friendly, but the curious feline visitor was not. She did not accept our offer of cat food from the large bag of such that we carry in our car wherever we go. Heartbroken and disoriented, we left the area in search of other cats.

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Hope you enjoy this type of narrative
I will appreciate your comments.

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    otherchelebi,

    You write with such humor; I enjoyed your report. Now I need to look at a map to orient myself as to which part of the country your travels took you to.

    It's not even time for breakfast here yet,but that pistachio kebap is making me hungry!:) I look forward to reading more from our resident Turkey expert!

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    Western black Sea Part II Pinarbasi

    A full stomach and the use of the facilities after a few compulsory/complementary cups of tea, prepared us for the short drive towards Pinarbasi, where we had reserved by phone, after discovering a quaint village mansion on the net for 30TL each B&B.

    Ulus small town was a nice surprise. I guess all the places we visit are nice surprises, but this time we hit the market day. We took photos of women walking one way with empty bags, but forgot to photograph others coming back with full ones. Trying to park the car, we discovered a very nice modern building and found out that it was the public library. Went in, introduced ourselves to the director and his wife, both with degrees in librarianship, chatted for half hour or so, met the kindergarten and elementary school kids using the reading rooms, and were disappointed that there were no youth or adults.

    The roads so far and from Ulus to Pinarbasi were fine. Eser’s carpal tunnel and tennis elbow which she has nurtured since we started driving in the countryside from clutching the armrests and door handles of the car with fear did not get a boost. Neither was she given a chance to fall asleep because of the curves.

    We knew we were either in or skirting the Kure National Park. She wanted to take some side roads towards a few hills which I refused to call mountains. I argued that the hills were too insignificant to belong in a Nature Park. And, I was the driver at the time.

    Came to Pinarbasi, another nice small town, parked in the town square to find a spare charger for my mobile phone which Eser had forgotten to pack . And we met the Mayor’s cousin who sort of half ran, half rolled towards us, asking if he could help and telling us that he had a barbers shop if we needed a hair cut. He took us to a shop which he said would have the charger for sure. Fortunately the shopkeeper could give us directions for the only other shop of the type at the other end of the square.

    However, the mayor’s cousin was good for a topic of conversation on later days, when we wanted to get away from stronger feelings between husband and wife. He also gave us the correct directions to Pasa Konagi, our B&B, “Straight down that road for 300 meters).


    This is where I paste my Pasa Konagi Review, which I had actually posted on another thread :

    Pasa Konagi is a quaint 100-200 year old wooden village mansion renovated to operate as an eight room hotel, in the small town of Pinarbasi, in Kastamonu province. The rooms are upstairs, around a large central space which can be used for meetings. Downstairs, there is again a large central room and also large kitchen and dining room. As in traditional Anatolian homes, you have to remove your shoes before you can go up to the second floor. (And as in traditional Anatolian living, we left our shoes there and always found them as they were, in the morning, possibly because ours were the worst looking ones.)

    There is a nice garden on the back with a small waterfall on its borders, and picnic seating and children’s playground.. I believe that they serve the breakfast outside when weather permits. When we were there in April, we had to keep the wood-burning stove going in our bedroom all night long. It was fun in a way, but either because of inexperience, or because it’s the way of these stoves, every time I added logs, it would get very hot, I would take most of my clothes off, my wife would look at me suspiciously, and after an hour, I would wake up feeling cold and put some clothes on. At that stage, my wife would also wake up, look at me in a different way and curl up under double blankets, with another sigh. A further hour down, the freeze would start setting, and I would have to get up to rekindle the stove and put more logs in, and my wife would wake up again and seeing me with the logs, start eyeing the door. (She never told me what went on in her mind that night. I think we will go back again just so that I can find out.)

    The price was 30TL per person including a sumptuous breakfast. Ahmet Bey, the manager, was also the cook, and would give us dinner alternatives and prepare what was requested.
    The salad, the rice, and the Turkish pot dishes would be in bowls and pots and you would go and get as much as you liked, and he would toast bread and barbecue sucuk (Turkish pepperoni like spicy sausages), etc.

    The major sights of Ilica waterfalls/Horla Canyon, the Valla Canyon and the three caves are not very close. So it is possible that he would prepare a picnic lunch for those who requested it.

    Another quaint feature of the rooms is that the bathroom and tiny showers are in closets. (Maybe that is why the acronym WC was coined.). As if that was not enough, in some of the rooms, the only way you can access the facilities is by climbing a divan and stepping down again after opening the small door. Unfortunately the shower has no curtain and is in a tight space together with the toilet or the sink.

    In spite of the stove and the bathroom facilities we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. We made friends with the large extended family (who almost thought that this was the family long house) and a young couple.
    . The young husband was a psychiatrist and tried to prescribe certain medicines to me and to my wife, after I mistakenly mentioned the troubled sleep of the previous night.

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    Western Black Sea Part III Pinarbasi to Agli

    The two nights at Pasa Konagi belonged to another time and age. But time travel is like that. You cannot stay too long in a specific past. Come to think of it, I do know some people like that, who spend almost all their days in bits and pieces of their past. Nothing exotic or historic; just standard past of almost faceless people and colourless stage settings, full of regrets and only the occasional rainbow.

    The second day was very full with canyons, waterfalls, discussions of local politics with a honey producer where we parked our car (and paid a fee to the autistic youth who gave us directions, as good as the mayor’s cousin.) The honey man had disappeared from his house on our walk back from Valla Canyon. Back in town, tha Sunday, we managed to find the cousin, who took us to his uncle, the mayor, who sent someone to call the headmaster of the large Pinarbasi Highschool. The headmaster, a dour and sour man, who could not show any appreciation, accepted our gifts of two dozen or more jeans, anoraks, tea shirts, underwear and sweaters, as well as about fifty children’s books, and had them carried by a more cheerful crew of school employees, whose eyes sparkled (could it be because of the low protein diet their meager salaries allowed them.

    These highschools at central small towns or large villages usually have children bussed anywhere from three to twenty or so smaller villages which have primary schools where kids are bused to from even smaller villages. Pinarbasi Highschool also had a large student body of poor boarding students from the area and was a good place to leave our gifts, although we came to an even poorer area near Boyabat on our way, where we had only a few small things left to give away.

    Early the next morning, possibly about nine thirty, we fed the three dogs, the four
    puppies and the three cats, before we left.

    I liked the sound of the name “Azdavay” and decided that we would go there and then toss a coin to see whether we should continue to Kastamonu or to Inebolu.

    Azdavay had nothing going for it, but our “Koy Koy Turkiye” atlas showed something, a mysterious sign as usual, at Agli, and we decided to continue to Agli, Kure and inebolu without falling into the trap of Luke Reinheart, or Tom Stoppard.

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    Western Black Sea Part IV Agli, Kure, Inebolu, Sinop, Boyabat, Tosya, Ilgaz.

    Having been told by some forumists that i carry on too much, i will cut this part short here. If people are interested, they can read the detailed stuff on my blog, and possibly in my book, one day.

    Agli's mysterious sign only looked like a castle. The villagers directed us to what they called 'the castle' also.
    What we found was a reasonably high large mesa with lots of animal holes and a picnic area where we could actually drive around on the rocks and the grass. Two hours of hidden castle and another wedding gown shop, we were on our way to pick a highschool student hitchhiker from his village on the way near the copper mines of Kure, down to his school in Inebolu.
    I do not remember what we had eaten in Kure, but we were not hungry enough to spend time searching for the historic Inebolu Doned restaurant, so we pushed off to Sinop.

    Our hotel was towards the end of the peninsula, past the city of Sinop. it was a nice area and very quiet. The older British couple in the restaurant were not interested in striking a conversation, Eser could not have cared less because she was already three quarters asleep. however, i forced her to drive back to the city with me to taste the famous Sinop Manti at "Teyzenin Yeri", where we made the mistake of ordering ten kilos of the stuff uncooked to be picked in the morning, although they did say they could not prepare it until 11AM, the next morning.

    We spent the morning taking photographs around the city including a couple where we were warned not to by a military guard. Picked the manti finally finished at 11:15, drove to an old structure to have a look at the handicrafts center, spent too long there, ate their version of manti, bought totally unnecessary handicrafts just because we had the space in the car, dove off only to discover, after an hour, that Eser had left her handbag at the regional handicraft place. Called, found no one to answer the phone, drove back discussing how far the new owners of the handbag could go on whatever cash and credit card use they could make. So a total of two hours extra but very scenic drive, we got back to the shop, to find the handbag where Eser had left it partially covered by the one table cloth left in the shop that she decided we and our daughters and her friends and our families and her trainer did not need.

    Drove up to Boyabat, past some very poor villages where we gave away whatever we could to the kid on the street who immediately started fighting over the spoils, then to Tosya where we had to buy some of the famous rice, and dry beans, and tarhana soup mix. there were no decent hotels, it was getting late, and time for a surprise and a reward to Eser for being so understanding of my mistakes and forgetfulness on this trip. Well actually, it was the lady attendant at the roadside stall, who said to me, "Why don't you treat her to a luxurious night at the Mountain Resort?" when i asked her about lodging in the area. She was a tough single mother and more aware of her rights than most women you meet in cosmopolitan Istanbul, and was working to send her daughter to university.

    Anyway, the trip through Ilgaz town up the Ilgaz mountain took another hour or so, and suddenly we were in freezing weather and established in a one bedroom apartment for the night at the Mountain Resort, where, if we wished we could even have had a fireplace going. There was three inches of snow on the ground and the car the next morning. We loved it, but took off for the road back to Istanbul.

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    I forgot to say that some of the photos of this trip are on my blog of the same trip:

    www.otherchelebistravels.blogspot.com

    also if you missed it, i have a similar trip report on assos on the Fodor's Longe Forums, with a link to the photos on webshots.

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