05 October 2010

Mudbrick, Safranbolu, and The Sickness

I have been negligent in my blogging. Sorry. I blame it on my being sick, although that's a bit of a lame excuse because it's just a cold and it's not like its keeping me from doing much. That, and today is the worst day, and here I am, blogging.

I love Sudafed. I think it's one of the best things that I've brought with me on this trip. Thank god I remembered to bring it, since I'm not really sure if they have Sudafed here, and even if they did I would probably have to be prescribed it since you have to have cough drops prescribed to you by a doctor. Lame. And the doctor would probably want to load me up with antibiotics. Also lame. So for the past couple of days I've been surviving off of Sudafed and my miracle sickness juice which consists of hot water, one lemon, and a couple spoonfuls of honey. No jokes, my miracle sickness juice heals, and it's super tasty.

So update from the past week and a little bit. On Wednesday we went on a mudbrick fieldtrip, the first of many fieldtrips for my vernacular architecture class. We went to this little town called Beyetepe Köy which is a tiny village that's right behind the university. It had a whole bunch of dilapidated mudbrick houses that were just falling apart on the side of the road, having been abandoned probably about 20 or so years ago. Apparently one section was a part of an old Armenian village 60 or 70 years ago. It was beautiful outside, having just recently rained, so all of the houses were kind of damp looking and there was that lovely just rained smell and the light was that perfect amount where it makes colors appear really vibrant. Here's an example of one such mudbrick moment:

Look at that beautiful mudbrick! It looks like it's just melting in the rain because, well, it is. Not only do you get a good idea of just how decrepit these houses were (this being one of the more complete ones of the group) but you can also see the mud plaster facing on one side (the front) and then the exposed mudbrick on the side. Look, you can even see the wood beams on the side of the house were they support the window and door frames! Isn't mudbrick exciting! People actually lived here! I am a huge nerd!

Towards the end of the fieldtrip we found an old man to explain to us about the mudbrick village, although his explanation was entirely in Turkish so I really have no clue what the hell he said except for what little translation was provided to me. Midway through his conversation he just busted out some apples and pears that he'd been keeping in his coat and gave them to us as snacks. Then, when we were walking away he came up to me and started jabbering on to me in Turkish, after which I responded with "Uh, çok biraz Türkçe biliyorum" which means "I know very little Turkish" to which he replied with more Turkish punctuated by poking me in the shoulder. I was later told that he was telling me that I needed to learn more Turkish. Thank you old mudbrick man for telling me something that I already know!

Over the weekend I did some more travelling with the usual travelling group, minus Valentina. We decided to go north and spend some time in Safranbolu, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Amasra which is on the Black Sea coast. Little did we know that not only was it going to be freezing cold while we were there, but it was also going to POUR on Sunday. No problem though, because we still had a good time.

So the down-low on Safranbolu. It's an almost perfectly preserved Ottoman village, well, the old part of the city is, which is slightly down a hill from the new city of Safranbolu. The city specializes in things with saffron in it (hence Safranbolu) including saffron tea, saffron turkish delights, weirdo saffron rice jello stuff (gross), and art with saffron flowers in it. The city itself was stunning, with winding streets with the most treacherous cobble stones that I have ever seen, beautiful houses, a Saturday street market, and a helpful policeman who spoke English. Our hostel was spectacular, and only 20TL a night ($15) for a dorm room, which was a dorm room in so much that it was 6 beds crammed into one room, but none of them were bunks, they were super comfy, and we had antique Ottoman rugs and wall hangings and our own bathroom inside the room. Outside, a traditional Turkish soup that is sold as a grainy powder was drying on benches in the hallway

That's the soup, and Sarah's face with the soup. We even had to take our shoes off before we went upstairs to our rooms to keep us from destroying the carpets. And breakfast was free! And the hostel lady was really nice, and when we expressed interest in her homemade soup stuff she had to take us outside to show us the soup making process and tell us about how she uses homemade yogurt and homegrown veggies and the like.

The market place and houses.

Me! And more houses from above!

Inside a bazaar marketplace in town.

We wandered around town for a while, found a really tasty restaurant where I ate Turkish raviolis with a tomato/pepper sauce and yogurt, and then decided to go to a hamam since we were a little bored and were really cold. It ended up being not only cheaper but also better than the one that I went to in Bursa. For 30TL we got a massage, the weirdo scrub thing where they scrape off like 3 layers of skin, AND they shampooed our hair and it was much longer than the one that I got in Bursa. It was one of those super ultra bonding moments since it was like "oh yes, here is the inside of the hamam. Now get naked!"

The next day we went to Amasra on the Black Sea. I didn't realize how long it was going to take to get there until we were on a bus for 2.5 hours. It was, however, one of the most beautiful drives that I've ever taken as we went through pine and deciduous forests along mountains and sort of in the rain. Sometimes there were those really cool looking low-hanging clouds that made it look all mysterious. The one bad part was that I had to pee really bad towards the end, so once we got to a transfer point I ran across the street and had to ask an old man where a bathroom was. He then proceeded in leading me into a man cave cafe so that I could use the hole in the floor toilet in the back. It was a little bit awkward.

Amasra was beautiful but rainy and we were only able to spend about 3.5 hours there before we had to take the 6 hour drive home. Upon getting off the bus we got poured on, and had to take refuge in a fish restaurant who had seriously limited their menu after the tourist season so we could only get chicken, salad, and calamari. The food was really good though in addition to being cheap (if you can't tell, I love cheap things). Afterwards we just sorta wandered around town, taking pictures and attempting to stay dry.

Me and the Black Sea are buds.

Walking through a colorful little bazaar of fruits and pickled things.

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