We are here in Safranbolu – an incredibly old Ottoman village, nestled in the valley, toward the Black Sea in Turkey.
It is raining and we only have one full day and two nights here.
But we want to go out and see this amazing place.
So our hotel organizes a golf cart tour.
This is perfect. It might be wet outside, but it is dry inside. It has zipper sides to keep the bad weather and owind out too.
As we are visiting the Ottoman town of Safranbolu Turkey the driver is also a guide.
He takes us along the rough stone streets. And some are really chunky stone – note to self – next time make sure you go to the bathroom before the golf cart tour! Also, bring warm clothes – we accidentally left Explorason’s warm top and he only had a thin layer under it. We did, however, remember water!
Some streets and laneways are quite steep – up or down, and at times I almost felt like I was on a fair ride like a roller-coaster.
He takes us up to where the palace used to be, and there is now a museum and clock tower in the historic building. Rich folk lived in this town in yesteryear.
The view over Safranbolu is great at several places we stop too.
As we go through the narrow streets we learn about how the corners of the buildings are a cut-off shape, to allow the narrow lanes to accommodate the horses and carts.
Rich men had water in their homes, and from the goodness of their heart, they would share it with pipes and a trough inside, and the same outside. The public could use the troughs free of charge. For themselves, the animals, and in this case extra faucets for the fire-fighters. Remember, these are wooden houses, so they would burn easily.
This area was once a river. When the volcanoes and earthquakes occurred, the land that held the Black Sea in (it was once a lake) fell away, and this caused the water to drain – and evolve into a chasm.
Now a tiny river flows, but the canyon is deep, and houses are built in what was once a river bed.
We even drove along one part where it was a wave rock – kicking myself for no photo of that!
The rock was completely over our heads, just like a giant wave.
Here you can see houses perched on the sides of hills.
Well, into the trip my very full bladder was calling for a bathroom.
We went down the steepest hill ever that he would only attempt with ‘two lightweights in the cart’ we are told, and we get to a working water-driven flour mill, and a restaurant.
And a bathroom !!!! I’ve never run so fast. The sound of the rushing river water drew me into that cubicle faster than ever.
After this, we were able to see where they grind the flour and the corn.
I completely lost my sense of direction. There are two rivers, and four or five mosques, including an 800-year-old one.
We then drove up and down some more laneways. It really did feel like a slow ride to me.
We had passed the old Tannery. We learn they used to have their own mosque.
Firstly it saved time for the employer if they did not have to leave work to pray. But also tannery work is stinky work. No-one wanted the employees at the other mosques, because basically – they stunk!
So they had their own mosque.
At the end of the day, they would visit the Hamam (Turkish Bath) and clean up.
Then they could go to the regular mosque for evening prayer.
Later that day we tried to go to the central Hamam, but it is women one side, and men the other, and Explorason was not going in there alone to the male side with naked men.
We end up in the area where the Metalsmith’s all have their workshops.
This is the Locksmith.
He hand makes all the door decoration and locks. Next thing, this cat walked over all the nails!
Explorason wasn’t feeling so good, so he stayed in the cart with the driver nearby. Probably a good thing or I would have bought a metal lamp. I had to be quick, and our budget needs some help right now, so we are trying to cut back on what we don’t need.
It was a really cool place to visit.
We were driven back to town, and then we walked back to the Caravanserais – a place where the Camel Caravans rested overnight.
This was the main trade route from the Black Sea.
Here we learn that each driver had his own room and there was a hole in the floor where he placed his gold and treasure. The mattress was rolled over the top. The rooms had bars on the windows and the doors had heavy locks. There was a fireplace.
At night the huge gates were locked at a set time. Once all in they were not allowed out until all were assembled in the morning.
They would get each camel train to check all their goods and valuables were present. Only when no theft was found, where the gates open.
There is a small gate within the large gate.
Legend has it that this is called “the eye of the needle”.
A camel driver who was late would have to unpack his camel and try to get his camel to fit through this. Some doors/gates /eyes were flat on the floor I believe.
So in the Bible, it talks in Mark 10:25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Some say it is this sized gate.
Once our tour is over we did some shopping in the Woodworking area.
We bought a lamp in the shape of an Ottoman house and it is 12 inches or 30 cm across and high and the back is flat. It is now packed away but it will make a great Christmas light. And it was 10 TL or $5 AU. Bargain! Explorason loved this shop and the prices were the cheapest we found in all of Turkey. He picked the lamp.
Next – it is time to get warm and to eat.
We have been recommended to try Eyvan Yore Mutfagi.
Tucked away off the main street and up some stone stairs on a corner, is a traditional Turkish Restaurant. Plants, pots, and memorabilia are everywhere.
We meet the owner and his mother. His wife has written receipt books, and all the food is home-made. It is like walking into their home.
The wood fire is lovely and warm and perfect to make us feel relaxed.
This is great and although it is a no-frills place, and has a limited menu, what they do have is fabulous, and I believe the place gets packed in tourist season.
The menu has pictures, so not a worry if you can’t speak Turkish too.
The kitchen is open, and right behind us with a myriad of big pots and pans.
He sets to work to prepare each dish for us. Explorason had the tiny Kofter which were cooked right there for him and were the cutest things ever.
Traditional Turkish food is amazing.
The stuffed vine leaves or Zeytinyagh Yaprak Sarma are long and thin and are made with olive oil.
I also have a fried and layered water patty. It is layers of handmade sheets of pasta that is boiled with cheese between, that is then fried.
We leave with full bellies to head back to our hotel – Gulevi Safranbolu Mansions – I’ll blog on this divine property separately so have a read of that blog too, and I definitely recommend staying there.
We loved Safranbolu, and if you come to Turkey, please do try to get here.
To book a Golf Cart tour around Safranbolu
go to www.batuta.com.tr
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 0 370 725 45 33
Address: Cesme Mh. Hukumet Sk. Kazdagh Camil Alti Safranbolu
To book a meal at Eyvan Yore Mutfagi Restaurant
email: email@example.com or tel 0370 712 87 52 or 0546 86 49
Address: Cavus Mah Altug Sok, No. 1 Safranbolu
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