Gaziantep - Baklava capital of the world

Trip Start Jun 15, 2009
Trip End Sep 09, 2009

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Where I stayed
Nil Hotel

Flag of Turkey  , Gaziantep,
Wednesday, July 1, 2009


We took a service taxi from Aleppo to Gaziantep for a bargain $12 and had the car to ourselves. The trip took about 3 hours including the border crossing, which thanks to our very sweet driver was very straightforward. The guy from customs checked our bags but was really only interested in James' book By Any Means , by Charlie Boorman. The book included details of a trip through Turkey and had a photo of the town the customs guy grew up in. He was so excited he was showing the book to all the immigration guys and was grinning from eat to ear – I wasn't sure we were going to get it back.

Gaziantep felt like a very modern city after Syria. This was made immediately apparent by the more relaxed dress (although still quite Muslim) and also the interaction between men and women (i.e. they were actually interacting). Although Gaziantep wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing town (a lot of large concrete apartments and boxy buildings), it did have an enormous green park, which many in the city gravitated to. Once we'd dumped our bags at our hotel we went for a lovely late afternoon walk in the park, it was so nice to be on grass again, I had missed it!

Strangely we ended up in huge, very modern shopping mall, we couldn't have felt more like we'd returned to civilization and it couldn't have been more of a contrast  to the souqs in Syria. I found some more jandals, which made the visit very worthwhile.

Gaziantep is famed for having the best baklava in Turkey (and probably the world). The main street has a string of sweet shops that hang together like beads on a necklace. We indulged in local specialty, which was the pistachio baklava: layers of filo pastry filled with pistachio and drenched in honey, so delicious and eye-wateringly sweet!

That evening we ate a very popular kebab restaurant filled with locals (don't think they got a lot of tourists in these parts). James had the full meat Kebab, which if a meat eater, looked pretty good I had a mixture of sides and a lot of bread!), vegetarian didn't feature too much on the menu. Food moved to quickly in this place and people were falling over us to ensure we had what we want.

All in all I would say there is nothing that would draw you to Gaziantep apart from being a transit city (and having wonderful Baklava!), however it did have a number of charms that made it pleasant stop off point for us.
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