Sunday, August 26, 2007

Black Sea R&R

I’m a simple man. I don’t need much in life to make me happy. Give me a little pansiyon overlooking the sea in a small coastal town and I’m happy. After all the trials, tribulations and hard work at Kashka Suu, I deserved a few days to unwind at the sea.
Amasra is one of those tiny seaside towns that quadruples in size in the summer and goes dead in the winter. These kind of towns dot coastlines all over the world. This one in particular is heavy on the Turkish vacationers and light on the foreigners so I and the handful of Europeans here did turn heads about town. Amasra has a mixed up history being a Roman port, then Byzantine, then Ottoman and now modern Turkish. Remnants of former conquerors are everywhere from the ancient castle walls to the looming silhouette of Attaturk looking down from on high. But no one cares about those political things now, they come here to take the sun and swim in the inviting waters of the Black Sea.
The town is quaint and small enough that after one day of walking around, you start to see the same people over and over again. It’s one of the charms of a summer town. There was the girl on her bike who rode out to feed old bread to the birds at the end of the pier, an old man who took his morning swim by the ancient lighthouse tower, the young couple seen in the cafĂ© overlooking the bay every afternoon. For awhile I felt I was reliving “Lady With A Lapdog” (Chekhov darlings!) that short story that I was tortured with way back in Russian literature class in college. It felt very much like an old world beach resort.
Drinking tea, eating figs, having a swim those were the high demands on my list since last Thursday. Life is great when you get off your merry-go-round for a few days isn’t it? Rick drove up from Ankara on Friday night for the weekend to continue our visit. Drinking Raki, eating fresh fish, driving down the coast to the beach at Chakriz, laying about under umbrellas until sunset—utter bliss. After three days of R&R, it was time to drive back to Ankara to catch my flight back to the US. Couldn’t leave Turkey without a steam and a scrub in the hamam. Had a glorious massage and scrub down this evening so I’m getting on my flight to Istanbul all squeaky clean and post-hamam glow. May this clean feeling last until I hit JFK who knows how many hours later. Late night flight to Istanbul, waiting 6 hrs in the airport, then on to Frankfurt and further on to JFK. Where has the summer gone? Have I been gone only 2 months? Seems like an eternity. Oh what awaits me at home? Bills, work search, household worries and so on. But there are good things too; my cats, the garden, the neighbors, friends, etc. It’s only a few days I’ll be there before I fly off again to Nevada for Burning Man. The adventures just never end do they?
PS: Anyone looking for a dynamic, self-starting, well organized person for some part time work? I’ll be looking for some kind of part-time work or consultancy gigs when I get back, starting in end Sept. Let me know dolls.

The Safranbolu news

Cockle-doddle-doo! Coming to you live from Safranbolu (home of saffron producing in Turkey). The rooster has been crowing in the barn outside my window for the last hour and at first it was quaint but now it’s a little annoying I must say. The clock tower is just ringing 8 am here in this idyllic, UNESCO-approved hamlet of well preserved Ottoman era houses. For those of you familiar with Rothenburg o.d. T, it’s the Turkish version. You can look it up on a map if you’d like. I’ll give you a hint, it’s near the capital of Turkey.
Anyway, this was my halfway stop point yesterday as I make my way up to the Black Sea coast. One of those “must see” places according to my friend Rick and a chance to stay in a fancy old Ottoman house with all the antique trappings of old world charm. Notice the way they splay the bath towels on the bed in a giant bow. Spent the afternoon walking around the narrow, curvy streets, having lunch at the old caravansary, photographing windows and doors (my hobby), and going from one hilltop to the other for views of Safranbolu. I’m happy to report that I didn’t buy let alone stop to gaze at any souvenir shops or purchase any Turkish delight. It all looked like junk made in China, not stuff made locally (well except for the towels and tablecloths). So liberating to just walk by all the tchotchkes and not feel compelled to buy (and I’m sure folks back home are breathing a sigh of relief). After an afternoon of checking out the town and soaking up the flavor, I headed back to the Selvili Koshk hotel for a rest before dinner. I was thinking of having a steam and a scrub in the old hamam and then a light dinner but before you know it I was passed out, dead to the world. As much as I tried to get up, I just couldn’t and slumbered away in my soft bed in my Ottoman room until that rooster woke me from my sleep. Now it’s time to head over to the new town and catch a bus to Amasra on the Black Sea coast.