Turkey Day 3 & 4

We have decide to go on to Edirne for a few days: tram to metro to bus. The 3 hour bus trip was very comfortable. The population growth of Istanbul was evident as we bussed through the outer suburbs with row upon row of pristine apartment blocks. Out of the city the fields were fallow for winter but prepared for a quick planting after the thaw. Why was there just one electricity generating windmill and one lonesome nuclear power plant?

We were excited to see the lines of snow on the fencelines as the bus climbed towards Edirne. The city of Edirne has a prominent university. The outer suburbs didn’t show signs of snow but the old centre of the city had rooftops and hedges covered. Perhaps the outer ‘burbs had just cleaned up or created more local heat.

Following the directions we had to one of the houses Baha’u’llah lived in between 1863 and 1868. Edirne was known as Adrianople, then. The caretakers welcomed us with a well-appreciated cup of tea. Then they took us to the Holy place where we said prayers and wondered about the stories of the exile. The house was unheated and was certainly very cold. Must have taken a bit of firewood to heat. Certainly plumes of smoke issued from the houses of the surrounding neighbourhood.

We strolled from that house by the Mosque with its covered bazaar, and found a kebab restuarant for late lunch. The hot bread came to the table like a puffer fish (see flickr ‘bread’). Our waiter was the son of the owner and studying mathematics at University.

After lunch, we found another covered bazaar in the CBD, and then got lost walking streets that angled off at any direction, while trying to find our hotel. As the darkness drew (only 5pm) we got to our hotel. Eventually the family decided not to brave the cold that night and settled in early with snacks in front of Turkish TV, and my wife and lads actually fell asleep. Strangely I felt a bit energetic and around 8pm decided to go out and find coffee. Shortly I saw an open upstairs cafe in a shopping centre. I was surprised to find that this was a large cafe filled to capacity with groups of people playing games – backgammon, cards, and a game like scrabble except with card faces on the tiles. There were only two of us (I noticed another middle aged man across the melee) having coffee alone).  The room was thick with cigarette smoke. (Now I am back in Australia I read that Turkey is soon to impose non-smoking laws on restuarants.)

The next day we rose and had a hearty breakfast on the hotel roof restaurant (warmly enclose in glass). We then took a tour of the local mosque and area, finding a cafe offering Turkish coffee. Mostly cafes advertised ‘Nescafe’. I had to try a real Turkish coffee and I must say I found it a welcome experience which might say more about the amount of caffeine I am used too than the flavour of the coffee.

Then the bus trip back to Istanbul. As we got back through the network of bus to metro to tram, I noticed that the bench seat on the metro platform was designed as an open book. Somehow this as much as the bustling crowds and industry and office blocks, struck the chord that this is a city on the move, that can afford such design details.

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