07.06.2017 - 07.06.2017 25 °C
Day 14 Wednesday June 7 2017
Sinop to Amasya / 255 km
- What a difference a day makes - weather, scenery & of course humour. Last night, once our neighbours turned off their TV, we enjoyed peace, quiet & the sea. Not a Mullah was heard.
- Breakfast is grim according to AG but really it is just a classic Turkish spread that is offered: dried fruit, a selection of cheeses & meats, olives & pickled vegetables. We each have a couple of hard boiled eggs with pitta bread. Eggs are a great default breakfast for travellers. Nutritious, filling & safe.
- Turkish coffee is too strong for our Costa palates. For the first time we brew up our own in the truck using supplies brought from England.
- We take a quick look at old Sinop. In antiquity it was the leading trading port on the Black Sea coast because of its strategic northerly position. It has long since lost this status. Samsun is now Turkey's largest port on this coastline. Sinop also used to be famed for ship building. Down by the water there is still boat activity going on but it is repair & restoration rather than construction.
- There has been a castle in Sinop for a long time - since 2000BC it is claimed. It will be best seen from a boat. Subsequent civilisations that have inhabited the area have restored & enlarged the fortress: the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans . According to historians, the castle once measured 800 m x 500 m with walls as high as 30-40 m and 3 meters thick.
- However if you are interested in a castle visit, Boyabat might be a better choice. It lies on our route to Amasya some 60 km from Sinop. The Boyabat castle built high up on a craggy rock face is visible for miles around and looks far more complete than its Sinop counterpart.
- Another tourist attraction is Sinop prison. For a hefty 10£ ticket you can visit the disused buildings and imagine what it was like to be an inmate there. Sinop has had a prison for centuries. The first version was constructed in 1215. The one you can tour around today was built in 1887 within the inner walls of the old fortress. Double security. It was closed in 1997 and inmates moved to a modern establishment nearby. Famous names, known only to Turks, are included on the long list of previous inmates. Political prisoners maybe?
- Our route takes us through undulating wooded countryside. Altitude varies considerably up to 1200 m and down again. The inland roads are far superior to the coastal route we took yesterday. Thank goodness.
- Lots of supervised roadside grazing goes on in Turkey. Maybe because the land belongs to no one farmer in particular and the grass is free? It makes for potentially dangerous situations as AG knows only too well ( dead sheep in Turkey episode 2010 )
- As we continue from Boyabat to Duragen, we note changing agricultural use of the land. In the valley below it looks remarkably like rice paddy fields. Or perhaps some other grain that is grown with similar technique.
- The majority of women are now wearing long dark overcoats and headscarves.
- We select a quiet road off the main highway to pull in and have an early lunch. Or rather second breakfast. Yogurt, honey, dried fruit, hazelnuts and a sprinkling of Jamie Olivers amazing granola dust. It does the trick. We don't wish to arrive in Amasya hungry.
- Even here, in the middle of rural Turkey, the Mullah's lunchtime call to prayer is audible. There is no escape. Mosques are everywhere. The little side road suddenly becomes busy with cars & trucks full of men heading uphill somewhere. Despite the fact we are eating in public, they all wave & grin. We follow them up to a little farming village where there is a large mosque. That is why the little side road had suddenly become so hectic.
- We arrive in Amasya in good time to do some sightseeing / exercise. Our hotel, the Uluhan is tucked away in the old part of town on the North side of the River Yesilirmak.
- We visit the Amasya Museum where there is a large well labelled ( in English ) archeology section. It helps to put into historic perspective the various civilisations that have ruled over Turkey down the ages. There have been many comings & goings.
- We walk through the old town- nice as it is, it highlights how truly wonderful Safranbolu is for its large compact collection of Ottoman houses.
- High above, on the rock summit is Amasya Castle. Midway up and accessed by flights of steps are the Pontic Tombs which date between 330 & 26 BC. We climb up to the cafe adjacent to the tombs for a relaxing sundowner - zero coke and soda water, with a great view of the town below.
- The Guide books claim that the tombs will be illuminated at night and are much better viewed from afar than within.
- This evening we are subjected ourselves to the Ramadan ritual. Our hotel recommends & books a table at a nearby restaurant. We request a table at 7.30 p.m.We arrive punctually, are welcomed by staff, shown to our table. Then we sit and wait. As you do. But it soon becomes evident that there is no service. Yet.
- We ask the question we should have already asked. Can we eat at 7.30? No, we must also await the Mullah's wail. Of course we understand. One positive is that as we travel eastwards, sunset is getting earlier and so therefore is Iftar.
- But what with early morning calls to prayer & late dining, we are relieved to be leaving the Ramadan zone in 3 days time.
- After our Iftar supper we cross the river to the South side to view the floodlit tombs, Sadly there are no illuminations switched on and there is nothing to be admired.