A wonderful relaxing day
05.06.2017 - 05.06.2017 25 °C
Day 12, Monday June 5 2017
Safranbolu / 0 KM
- The Gulevi Guest House is blissfully peaceful. No traffic noise. We are woken not by birdsong, but by the howling of the Mullah. Just as dawn is breaking, which is probably about 4 a.m. There is no escape. And his wail, expressed in several consecutive stances, interrupted by short periods of golden silence, seems tortuously long. We wonder how many pious souls actually get up to pray so early in the day. The rhythm of life in this part of the Muslim world has changed, perhaps the Mullahs should too.
- We have a late start & leisurely breakfast - how rare. It is as delicious as we remember.
- There is minimal sightseeing on the agenda. Just a self guided walk around town to see how Safranbolu has developed since our last visit 3 years ago. It hasn't really. If anything there are now fewer tourists. No doubt some have been discouraged due to the recent flare ups in various parts of Turkey and the changing political climate under the rule of Erdogan. Hassan confirms that this is indeed the case.
- There are still many Ottoman style houses to be restored. It is work in progress.
- We meander around town. We visit the bread shop that was so busy last night providing the townsfolk with their Iftir Pide. This morning there is calm. We note the huge marble slab in the centre of the shop for bread making. The bakers are loading a huge furnace with logs ready for today's batch.
- We have a drink under the vine leaf pergola of a small restaurant / cafe that serves traditional Turkish coffee & mint tea. We went to the same cafe one evening last time and remember well hearing live music here. Apparently the local musicians play Thursday, Friday & Saturday.
- The grape vine is a multi purpose crop. It produces a wonderful fruit for eating or drinking, abundant shade from the hot summer sun and of course the leaves are also used in Turkish cooking to wrap meat & vegetable mixtures.
- Inside a jovial Turkish lady is busy making little pieces of stuffed pasta ( manta ) which she describes as Turkish ravioli. Her head scarf allows her to wedge her mobile against her ear to talk & work simultaneously.
- We pass through the small 'light industrial ' part of town where they still craft metal household objects & tools. AG intends to take the truck's axe for sharpening.
- We are by chance wearing a similar colour scheme today. We have a photo taken to commemorate. SG does some laundry. AG is desperate for clean clothes, SG not so. She admits that she has probably brought too many clothes on this trip, given that the climate is fairly consistent throughout. Perhaps an unwise confession to make.
- Safranbolu is named after the saffron crop for which it was famous when the town was an active trading post on the Silk Road between 13C & 19C . Even today the town and a nearby village called Davutbasi produce between 8-10 kg of the stuff per year. That doesn't sound a lot but saffron is sold in minuscule amounts. Planting time of the crocus bulb is between August & September with the flower harvest between October & November.
- Saffron is classified as a spice but it said to be worth its weight in gold due to its properties as a powerful pigment. It can dye liquid, skin, hair and fabric up to 150000 times its own weight. That's why recipes advise you to use sparingly!
- It is claimed that saffron has a multitude of different uses, the scope of which is,well, unbelievable: it renews cells, is a relaxant but also a stimulant, increases sexual power ( of course ) , calms nerves, improves intelligence, helps the heart, clears artery blockages, treats cancer, is used in cooking and in the manufacture of soaps, candles & Turkish Delight. Wow, no wonder it is so expensive.
- There is no mistaking the market that the good people of Safronbolu are now targeting. We see much signage translated into Chinese & Japanese. Our Asian friends seem to love shopping here and they are still great fans of the Selfie Stick. It has always struck SG as being terribly narcissistic to travel abroad taking selfies everywhere.
- After a simple light lunch at a restaurant that is open despite Ramadan, SG drags AG along for a Hamam experience in the old Cinci Hamam, built here in 17C.
- It is segregated of course, so AG has a man on man experience which worries him.
- SG remembers the Safranbolu Hamam as one of the cultural highlights of the London to Sydney trip in 2014. Today's experience is a good example why it is best never to return nor repeat. The hot marble slabs within the Hamam, which are a feature of Turkish bathing, are either deliberately not switched on or in disrepair. The sauna is luke warm. The exfoliation and soap massage are given on a bed of hard & cold marble. We emerge with cleaner skin that is several shades lighter
and a great deal softer but for SG it is a disappointment. AG is none the wiser since he was too ill last time around for a sweat & soap session at the local Hamam.
- We are no longer the only guests in this charming Ottoman pension - a group of 5 Canadiand have arrived and we are gate crashing the supper that is being cooked for them tonight. We hope they don't mind.