Green Mosque & Tomb, Bursa and Turkish Towels

Trip Start Oct 25, 2007
Trip End Nov 06, 2007

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Sunday, October 28, 2007

We've gotta get out of town quickly. The marathon is starting in a half hour, so it's a quick scramble to the bus after breakfast.

Istanbul's architecture continues to pleasantly surprise me as we head towards the Bosphorus Bridge. Measuring in at 3524 feet, it's one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. It connects Ortoköy and Beylerbeyi.

The drive to Bursa is four hours using the car and ferry route. I love ferries and small boats, so this is going to be a good day for me.

Turkey is divided by the "Asia side" and the "Europe side." 97% of Turkey is on the Asia side. 3% is European. The Asia side was called Asia Minor for years, but is now know just as Asia. Istanbul is in Europe.

It confused me at first, but I think I now understand. Turkey is Asian and European. However, trying to find a huge population of Asian looking Turkish just doesn't happen.

The property values and cost of living is much lower on the Asian side of Istanbul.

The once open fields are now crowded with high rise commercial buildings and multi family apartments. Very modern architecture The only problem with living on the Asian side and working in Istanbul is the transportation system.

It runs at a snail's pace. And if the winds are high and the weather uncooperative, it's impossible to get to work. Also with the high price of gas, this isn't a cheap commute.

Being retired in this area does have its advantages with the lower housing costs and new shopping and medical facilities.

We're headed down the highway to Pendik to catch our car ferry to Yalova. A ferry is pulling out as we get there, but ours is waiting for us. Elena & Michele are off the bus in search of coffee. Julie and I are heading over to the waterfront. Life is just so good. We're signaled to board. Not that I can be pushy at times, but I'm telling Julie "lets go!" We're scampering up to the top. I love being in the pilothouse, so maybe we can talk our way in.      
Yep it's a breeze. One of the mates tells me in broken English. Our home is your home. He motions around the pilot house. I smile and say "I love my new home." 
Only forty minutes on the water, and we're back in the bus headed to Bursa. Major textile factories. The famous Bursa Turkish Towels are produced here. Julie and I are "shopping" for those.

Mufasta tells us that Bursa has undergone two name changes. Prusa was the original name, then Brusa, now Bursa. Which ever name you pick, this city was the first Capital of the Ottoman Empire.

The city is known as "Green Bursa" due to its gardens and parks. Bursa is also a large agricultural region for fruit production.

We keep hearing about the Kestane Sekeri,  candied chestnuts, and as a certified chestnut lover, that's on the top of my shopping list.

Our first stop is lunch. The ski area is far above us. A cluster of restaurants sits high on a hillside. The ski area is far above us. We're pointed in the direction of the Yuice Hunkar restaurant. The views from the window are gorgeous. Elena says we could be in Italy or France.

We're all agreeing that we need at least two to three nights in this town also.  We don't get a choice for lunch, cause we're getting the local specialty. Bursa Doner Kebap.

Not a meat person, but I'm not passing up local dish. It's got some meat and veggies in a tomato sauce and a sour cream. There isn't anything left on my plate, and I actually got some extra from Michele.

Later we find out the meat was lamb. It was really good!!

When we were leaving, Julie and I stopped by the kitchen area and asked if we could get photos of us carving the meat. We're happy! The owner says yes!! BUT Mustafa is coming up behind us.

It's time to tour the Green Mosque. He won't let us bargain for 2 more minutes for a photograph. DARN!

The Green Mosque (Yesil Camii) is only three minutes down the sidewalk and stairs. Sitting on the hillside above Bursa, this mosque was built between 1419 and 1424. The mosque is know for it's marble stone and plaster work, and the polychrome glazed tiles. The Green Mosque's perfection in tile work was the first in the Ottoman period of art. 

This is a small mosque. Unlike the others we have toured, there is a feeling of intimacy here.

Down the steps and we are at THE SILK BAZAAR! I planned on buying one scarf. Then Julie "noticed" that there was a sale basket. 50% off. No bargaining here, but with 50% off, the prices were too hard to pass up. And the sales people take your items to the desk, so you don't have to carry them around.

The shop is on two levels and has little rooms that if you blink you may miss. So six shawls later, I'm standing at the counter with my candied chestnuts and waiting while they bag my shawls. Back outside on the patio, we notice there is a candy store a few shops down. Julie and I are saying "snacks for the bus?" 
She found the large box of chocolate covered candied chestnuts. And is trying to bargain with the owner. He's saying no bargain. Pay price. Julie does. 

I grab some chocolate bars and cookies, then head back to the Silk Bazaar's patio. Hmm. I know I should have got a box of those chocolate covered chestnuts. Back I go. I tell the owner I want the smaller box of chocolate covered chestnuts.  He speaks limited English, but I can say he is saying no. I'm wondering why he won't sell them to me. He points at the larger box. I'd really like the smaller one, since I'm buying more than I thought I would, and there isn't much room left in my carryon.

Mustafa comes looking for me.  I ask him why I can't get the smaller box of candy. Quick discussion between the two guys. Mustafa says that is his last one. I tell him I'll take it. Mustafa says the owner won't sell it because it has been open, and the quality will not be good. However, he will make me a "deal" and sell me the larger box at a lower cost. Ok, I'm walking out with the larger box.

Back on the bus and over to the tomb of  Osman Gazi, (1257-1326) the founder of the Ottoman dynasty and his son Orhan Gazi,(1326-1360) the conqueror of Bursa. These unusual "tombs" are located in the ornate  building.

From here, we walked over to the clock tower, and really should have been concentrating on what Mufasta was saying, but in the distance we keep hearing a chant. I'm not one to stand around when there is something happening that just might be a little more interesting, so I headed over to the railing on the hillside.

Yep. A little more interesting. The overhead highway was filled with people and those red signs again. Another protest? "No," this nice young man tells me. "It's the day before Turkish Independence Day."

Gosh, the Turks celebrate two days in a row. They must be like the citizens of  New Orleans - they love their parades.

By now, the rest of our group is hanging out on the hillside watching the parade. 

Mufasta is moving us out of the area towards the bus. Darn. On the way out I found this directional sign. Seems like every country has one or two. Couldn't find Pittsburgh listed on it though. 

We're walking down to where our bus in now parked. It's at another impromptu attraction. One of Bursa's old city walls. Some areas of the walls are rebuilt. And in other sections, stones which have been identified as belonging to that area of the wall are marked.

We've been granted some free time, which makes us feel like kids that just skipped out of school. Elena, Julie, Michele run across the street to see what adventure we can discover.

First there is the dancing waters fountain, which deserves a few looks. Elena, being from New York City, probably isn't as impressed as I am, but she is being patient with me.

Then we head down the stairs and find a few little stores. And the silk center where I could have a lot of fun. Julie is considering a few purchases. Michele is saying "how about a cold one." Somehow, Michele won this round.

So up the stairs and to this nice little outside bar, where we somehow caused the most confusion the bar has seen in weeks. The idea was to get a photo of the four of us. We sat at the edge of the patio near the fountain, and ordered drinks. Good photo opportunity -BUT- Michele wanted the Coke umbrellas in the photo.

So we moved up a few rows and under the umbrellas. We each got up to take a photo of the other three. Then Elena asked a nice man from the other table to take our photo. He quickly agreed. Of course, tall blond American asking a Turkish man to do something simple. Yep, he was smitten. Now all the patrons of the bar are looking at us like we are celebrities or something.

I'm thinking that they think the three dark heads here are the blond movie stars entourage. In the process of taking the photo, the waiter comes out and is confused since we moved tables, and now another man is with us.

Three drinks are finally delivered. Our pictures are taken.  I'm still Lite Coke-less. Elena tracks down the waiter, and I've finally got my Coke, but not much time to drink it.

We leave, with a lot of fanfare. Taking photos of the "guys" table, waiving to the other patrons and the waiter. "Cheers, everyone" and we're back on the bus and headed to our hotel.

Forgetting that we somehow forgot to buy those darn famous Bursa Towels. 

The Almira hotel is one I would stay in again, and for MULTIPLE nights, as there is so much to do here, and we didn't get a chance to go to the hot springs areas, or hiking, or up to the ski area, or the other historical attractions.  Dinner here was delightful also. And an early night, since it is an early morning tomorrow.     
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