Bursa: Still Some "Travel" Experiences

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2009

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Flag of Turkey  , Bursa,
Monday, June 30, 2008

I think I wrote last that this would cease to be a "travel" blog as I settled into a "life in Bursa" routine. But, as this weekend proved, there are still Turkish travel blogable experiences to be had. Especially if one goes out exploring on weekends.

On Saturday, therefore, I sought to escape the heat and humidity of Bursa by going to the coast of the Sea of Marmara, at a nearby town of Mudanya. It worked. There the heat was less, and the breeze from the sea was as enlivening as Friday's heat in town was oppressive.

On the way to the metro for the first leg of the outward journey I passed an old woman and a very young child. Their contrast so impressed me that after walking on a bit I decided to go back and seek a photograph. The lady basically acquiesced to my seeking permission. When I showed her the picture in the camera screen she softly smiled and sweetly patted me on the arm.

One here takes a metro line to one end, then walks across the street to a mini-bus, or dolmus terminus and catches a ride to Mudanya, on the coast of the Sea of Marmara. The metro is 1.50 YTL, the dolmus 2 YTL, so from the city to the coast it's only about US$2.85 one way. Not a bad deal.

I stayed on the dolmus to see how far it would go, and it went all the way through the town of Mudanya, which was great since I really wanted to go on to another smaller place called Zeytinbagi (which I think basically translates to "olive grove"). Furthermore, it was on up above town, which put me out in a nice hilltop, cliffside breeze. The dolmus driver said a lager bus would take me on to Zeytinbaği. But I decided to hitchhike in the waiting.

I was starting to stick my thumb out. I say starting, since I can't remember that my arm was actually straightened as the first car pulled up in my face. It was a father and son, and they took me right to quayside Zeytinbaği.

Nothing extraordinary there. Well, I mean, it's a nice Ottoman era town, with friendly folk. I walked around, bought two large, baseball-sized juicy peaches, ate them in the shade. Went over to the seawall and soaked my bug-bitten feet in salt water for a spell. Bought 200gr of pistachios and walked up to a higher park and ate them in the view and breeze. A fellow joined me and just started to share in the nuts. Fine. I was amused at the company, even though our conversational limits were of the very narrowest. When the nuts were finished I invited him for tea. He accepted, making that the first time I could treat a Turk to something.

I wanted to go back toward Mudanya to another, smaller village I had seen, Kumyaka. Walking out to the edge of town the guy at the dolmus stand caught me, and the dolmus left in about 5 minutes.

In Kumyaka I walked around a bit, read a bit, then had a fish dinner beside the sea, in the breeze, as the sun descended.

Back on the highway at the dolmus stop I think I was in time for the last two dolmus of the evening. Nevertheless, I sought hitchhiking in the meanwhile. Often I am troubled by being stared at as I walk around, the unmistakable yabanci, foreigner. But also it works to my advantage, too. Hitchhiking proves pretty easy, as the Turks are a kind and friendly lot, and invariably curious about a foreigner, especially, perhaps, an old haci-looking guy like me. And so it was that about as soon as I stuck my thumb out a man and his wife pulled up. He ordered the wife into the back, me into the front seat, and he offered, as well, a ride to the two young ladies also at the dolmus stop.

He pulled up at the Mudanya dolmus terminal, and I ran to catch a Bursa-bound dolmus that was just exiting the yard. Those Turkish Travel Pixies, working on a Saturday evening!

Sunday I try to designate as a "hiking day." Bursa basically crowds the northern slope of Uludağ, a mountain with a skiing resort, it is so high. And the foothills to it are steep and high next to the city, and so provide a very quick access to steep forests. I had seen a road angling up across the face of the hillside on the east side of the city. Where it disappeared there was a deep gorge. And so I had to find out what was back in there.

I took a metro train to a station I guessed to be parallel with where the road seemed to emerge out of the urban housing, and from there I walked up the hot, San Francisco-steep streets in search of the road beginning--trying to keep in the shade of buildings.

Eventually I found the dirt road and set out upon it. It was steeper than I had thought. From the valley it looks to be about a15 percent grade. On it it seems more like a 30 to 35 percent grade. Fortunately, there was not too much traffic, and I had to eat a minimum of dust.

When I rounded the bend seen from way below, there was a little village there! I walked through the village, heading, as far as the road would go, deeper into the canyon. At one point I encountered three people, and as often happens people often suspect me of being German. And, in some instances, my very limited German language can cover ground  that my very limited Turkish cannot. The woman had worked in Germany, and so I could basically say that I was an American, had also lived a little in Germany, where, and that I was just "walking going."

And, I just kept walking along the crude road, seeing where it was to go. A couple of cars passed.

I had brought water enough, but in my usual carelessness, had not brought any food. And I was getting hungry, frankly.

I came to where the cars were parked, and heard voices. I came upon the people spanning the continuing trail, and was passing through them when "the questions" came. And, an invitation to stay and have some food.

A fine barbecue picnic was under preparation. Shortly, more people--family and friends--arrived. A son-in-law spoke English, having spent two years getting his Masters in mechanical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic University in Albany, New York. (Speaking of which--I can't help the diversion--I went to the university site to check on the spelling, [http://www.rpi.edu/] and found this lead article:

On the Boil: New Nano Technique Significantly Boosts Boiling Efficiency        

Whoever penned the old adage "a watched pot never boils" surely never tried to heat up water in a pot lined with copper nanorods. A new study from researchers at Rensselaer shows that by adding an invisible layer of the nanomaterials to the bottom of a metal vessel, an order of magnitude less energy is required to bring water to boil. This increase in efficiency could have a big impact on cooling computer chips, improving heat transfer systems, and reducing costs for industrial boiling applications.)

On the Boil: New Nano Technique Significantly Boosts Boiling EfficiencyOn the Boil: New Nano Technique Significantly Boosts Boiling Efficiency

This fellow, Erkan, and I could pretty freely talk, and he, of course, could pretty fully explain me to all the others. His father-in-law was born and raised in the village I had passed through, and was something of a mountain man. He had blue eyes, as did his lovely daughter, and his parents were from Salonika (Thessalonika, Greece). I noticed their blue eyes were as Kemal Ataturk's, who was also from Salonika, or Saloniki, as they say here.

The father was frying, on a flat slab rock, a couple of dark, gelatinous meat things. When fried to their specs he cut me a chunk. And thus I had my first taste of what I guess to be spleen! I don't know who's. It was a little like a dark red (for the blood) liver, though more fibrous. It was ok, but once is enough. Erkan told me that the European Union had an issue with spleen being considered a food product. And, folks, that's all I know.

Better was the fried fish, fried eggplant and pepper veggies, and meatballs.

After eating I joined the bunch of 20/30 somethings (though smokers) for yet a further climb into the steep canyon--of which, ". . . .there is no end." My legs were aching, but I kept up. I was a year older than the family patriarch.

While we were about to drive back down to Bursa (Erkan and his wife providing the lift back) another member of the hiking party handed me a hatirlamak, a "rememberance." It was a carabiner! Somewhere in the preceding 2 or 3 hours or so I had been thinking I wanted something just like that to attach my pocket knife cord to my belt so I wouldn't have to keep playing with my knots and loops. The carabiner was of a color matching my knife cord. I don't know if the Turkish Travel Pixies were in on this one or not.
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