Go East! 2011 - motorcycle tour to the East
A New Article about Travel on Motorcycle in Turkey by Detlev & Rendel Simon
Even thumbing through pages of some random travel guide, anyone meeting Turkey (as a touristic country) can easily get the impression that this country would be bringing about extraordinary things with her unique landscape, her rich culture adorned with a historical heritage and her warmhearted people, setting tongues wagging with their ultimate hospitality, which is an undeniably famous fact. Thanks to these facts, you almost don’t need to ask yourself “Where to spend my holiday this year?”
For 20 years, we have visited Turkey individually and just limited down to the region extending from İzmir to Anamur by plane in a “habitual” manner. Upon my wife Rendel’s decision to get a license for motorcycle with the aim of travelling around Turkey more effectively, our “area of activity” has enlarged unexpectedly. The travel we are about to tell you here is the fifth visit we paid to Turkey in a row (between 2007-2011; we also visited Syria briefly in 2009).
Not Only Meant for Motorbikers
Those who think we would be talking just about “gasoline” here are mistaken, I’m afraid. It’s an incredible delight to travel on motorcycle in Turkey. It wouldn’t be that easy to reach some parts of the country by other means of transport. It’s an ultimate pleasure to gain impressions so closely and directly yet a motorcycle is a vehicle at the very end. Therefore, our travel reports, where we share all our experiences throughout our trip, are readable and embraceable by everyone (even by those who wouldn’t ever understand why we embarked on such a demanding activity as setting on a journey on motorcycle…).
Travel Period: 15.5.2011 - 16.6.2011
Motorcycles: Two HONDA Africa Twin (year of manufacture: 1996 or 1994)
Route: about 7.000 kilometers
Exact Period of Travel: about 100 hours
In the past, unexplored regions that were totally unknown were called Terra incognita. Frankly speaking, this concept could have meant some other meaning for Marco Polo or Alexander vom Humboldt. Yet whenever I stood before the map of Turkey in our office, that “white region” located in the Northeast would catch my eye. It caught my attention that we had persistently skipped this region as the routes we had covered in the past years marked with felt-pens began to resemble the intercity road network of a passenger transportation company step by step. Indeed, I realized I had an indistinct, groundless apathy for this part of Turkey. Perhaps the belief that I would encounter smoke clouds rising up as violent whirlpools, soaking downpours and landscapes of barren coasts had kept me indifferent to this region. On the other hand, photos of landscapes wrapped up in all shades of green reaching out to eternity, which reveals the elegant beauty of the region, stood just before me. Eventually, upon watching the movie “Bal”, I decided to give up resisting.
Our idea of travelling towards the Caucasus and visiting Georgia and Armenia, re-enforced our decision to visit the region, which we had left untouched on the map. It’s another story that we couldn’t get the opportunity to transit to Georgia and Armenia in the end…
A biting start – yet nothing to bite
Hard to believe but the day of setting out for our journey came round at last. We preferred to rent a car this time since the plane to Thessalonica would be departing at 10:00. Arriving at Köln/Bonn right on time, or rather way too early, we land in Thessalonica toward noon after a peaceful flight. We preferred the Hotel Tanja again; despite being located a little bit far away from our destination, it’s only two kilometers away from the transportation company.
As I’m trying out the bed in the hotel room, Rendel leaves to explore the environment in order to find a tavern (the hotel doesn’t offer many choices in the preseason). After half an hour, while I am expecting that my wife will return with some news that she has already set her eyes on a nice restaurant, I am finding out that she has been bitten by a dog, instead! Upon spotting the three punctures appearing to have been done by a stapler on her pants, that naughty smile on my face is fading right away. Through a short examination, we realize that she has escaped with slight injuries and a few bites are present (in a couple of days my wife’s calf would entirely be covered in bruises). This reminds me of a similar incident we experienced by the Toros Mountains a couple of years ago. I had to get rabies vaccine because of that bite. We are calling Rendel’s brother Heiner, who is a physician. Hearing the incident and how she got injured in depth, he advises her not to get vaccine shot as a measure. Despite being relieved then, not that I can feel at ease in the upcoming days.
I decide to walk up to the transportation company and check which way to take early in the morning the next day before dinner. I encounter quite an unpleasant environment. Why on earth would they open up a touristic hotel here? Just ruined buildings scattered over a dull area… As I am walking deeply regretful about having gone out under the burning mid-afternoon sun, I notice a dog tailing after me! I am trying to build a “friendship” with him to prevent a sudden attack. Finally losing his interest in me, he walks away.
Needless to say that the transportation company is closed; today is Sunday anyways. However, I feel as if there is some liveliness inside. The automatic door opens and a car drives out. I am trying to ask the driver about the fate of our motorcycles but he can’t speak any language other than Greek, obviously. Anyways, he is not an employee of the transportation company but most probably employed by another company situated in the same building, apparently. At least, I am managing to convince him to save me from the wrath of dogs and drive me to the hotel by evoking his compassion.
For all this, we are calling a cab to go to Oreokastro with an intent to finalize the day peacefully (and with a full stomach). This rural-style tavern, where we have gorged ourselves with food several times, is not open yet. Perhaps it’s because we have made the scene at an early hour for southern countries. I am beginning to look into a notice hung up on the door while waiting for some liveliness to occur. I am managing to figure out the word Κυριάκή, “Sunday” owing to my tiny knowledge of Ancient Greek. So they are closed on Sundays. Anyways, another place nearby also pleases the eye. While looking for an available table, a waitress comes to our rescue. “Sorry but we are closed on Sundays!” -Everything goes wrong today. As we are trying to eat our fill at some sort of pizza restaurant, the owner explains that most places have not been working on Sundays for a long while. Anyways, arrival days are always a little “screwed” but the actual holiday is just beginning!
Please visit Photo Gallery for more photos from Rendel and Detlev Simon.
Incidents follow one another, shocks follow one another
We start the day at full speed with the excitement of setting off. Calling the transportation company, I find out that the motorcycles have not arrived yet. Plus the driver has switched off his cell phone. Awesome! Actually everything has turned out all right formally so far. Because we had set the day of delivery to be Monday-without stating any specific time. However, motorcycles have always arrived a couple of days earlier than the arranged date. In addition, it’s annoying that motorcycles were dispatched from Wuppertal only on Friday, meaning just four days ago, even though we made the order ten days ago. When I call Wuppertal, I can’t contact anyone due to the time difference. As I am spitting tacks thinking that another day would be wasted in this stupid hotel room and our time planning would be ruined, finally we receive that call, which we have been waiting on a knife-edge at quarter to ten! We are informed that the truck carrying the motorcycles have arrived at the yard and we can go pick the motorcycles up in half an hour. We take a cab right away since it’s fairly boiling outside. Thanks to kind employees of the transportation company, who are acquainted with us more or less, we complete the formalities quickly and load our stuff up to the motorcycles. And finally, on 16 May 2011, at 10:30 by the Eastern European summer time: “Ladies and gentlemen, now it’s time to power your motorcycles up!”
Rain, continuing until two days ago, has almost yielded to a deep blue sky. We cover a distance of almost 300 kilometers up to the border quickly and fuel up with gasoline, which is not much cheap anymore, for one last time in Greece. We are managing to speak a few Turkish words with a chubby, ponderous filling station attendant, which makes him look more congenial to some extent at once. As is evident from minarets rising up in this part of the Greek Western Thrace, a large number of Turks still live here. Since we are used to the formalities imposed at the stops, we complete the process of crossing the border in fifteen minutes. “The feeling that we have arrived home now” is arousing within our souls. So indeed, we feel as if we are at our home in Turkey more than we do in some Central European countries.
It’s not that we have great expectations from the very first day because we want to be “really” in Turkey, which is in the Asia. We are landing on our feet in catching a steamboat which is already taking off. No way! Police checking, right now and right here? Luckily the police officer is motioning with his hand to allow everybody to pass. Or?? Throwing a glance at the mirror, I figure out that I have misinterpreted his gesture, which means that we are supposed to go back. And everyone else can move on, but us?! We are supposed to present our documents. A conference on the radio, a glance at our license plates, a radio conference once again… I can only discern the word “problem” from what is all being talked. Finally returning our documents to us, the officer explains that a problem occurred during the registration of our license plates containing the letters of “X” and “Q” as entrance processes are being completed. An obstacle imposed on us because of two letters that are not contained in the Turkish Alphabet? - Whatever, no need for too much pride! Seeing us off, the police officer is trying to tell us by pointing at his watch that we can still catch the steamboat if we hurry. So let’s step on the gas, yet it’s not much possible in Gallipoli, which is quite lively at this time of the day. Getting our tickets quickly, we are jumping on the steamboat with our flags flitting. We have succeeded.
The sea travel just taking about 20 minutes through the Dardanelles Strait, known as the Hellespont in ancient time, is a great opportunity to sip our very first çay (tea), (which will wrap my teeth up in a delicate shade of brown in the forthcoming weeks). As soon as the launching platform of the steamboat slopes down, I am riding away and waiting for Rendel. She doesn’t show up. Some cars standing behind us are driving away by me. Finally Rendel looms on the horizon too. While starting the motorcycle on the deck, she fell down slipping over a big rope that escaped her notice and her motorcycle was knocked down. Fortunately gracious people around helped her lift the motorcycle back, which means nothing to worry about yet Rendel appears to have lost her motivation a little bit.
Even if we can’t quickly find the Hotel MRG in Biga, which has become our traditional first stop while heading towards this direction, we feel that we are quite close. We will need to turn around for one last time but I’m positive that even Rendel will manage it easily at such a large and idle road junction. With a bang, an abrupt sound of crash rises on the radio. I’d put forth every effort trying to explain how the incident occurred but they’d all fail anyways. For some reason, Rendel felt like stepping on the gas once more as she was turning around and she managed to knock down the iron column of a small bus stop, which was just standing by itself.
In such cases, it’s quite relieving to know that ‘only material damage’ has occurred and financial damage is not of much significance any more. Yet it is most upsetting to see Rendel has lost her confidence and she’s just sitting there, exhausted and wretched. Getting mad and yelling, on the other hand, would be the last thing to do in such a situation.
Backing on the right front side of the motorcycle is so pressed due to the crash that I need the help of two people passing by. Even if some part of the motorcycle is dragging on the road, it can still be ridden in traffic. After Rendel gets her strength back, we arrive in the hotel within two minutes. Having checked in the hotel, I am telling Rendel to take a shower and relax, as I am dealing with the motorcycle in order to evaluate the cost of damage and hopefully fix it. The bumper is totally crooked, which is its function anyways, but it pushes the side case so hard that it hampers steering. Since the bumper can’t be adjusted, I am cutting the case properly with a side cutter. Thus crooked bumper gets a little looser and releases the steer. We are still lucky: Even though the screw located in the grip of connector case has been shaved flatly, there is neither a camber nor any damage in the brake pulley. Although my reparation has not yielded a great product, it is still good enough to keep us travelling.
Well, how is my unfortunate wife? Two successive mishaps in two hours… It’s quite normal that she’s lost her confidence in such a case… As my wife cries sobbingly, I am taking her in my arms – not for consolation only – and telling her that these should always be taken into account during this sort of a travel. Having herself pulled together, Rendel says that I’m a hero because I have repaired her motorcycle so well that it can be ridden again! And we are ending the day at courtyard of a hotel – accompanied by a delicious salad – just like the way we have been imagining (almost) for weeks!
Unfortunately, Rendel couldn’t get off the accident without any injury; she injured her left wrist and her arm was bruised. Thank God these mild injuries can’t keep her from going the full distance in what she has set her mind on.
Forest Goblin Likes Jazz – Mudurnu
Excited and a little nervous after what all happened the previous day, we are setting off. It will take some time for Rendel to regain her confidence. Moreover, we will have to check the condition of the motorcycle by riding for a couple of kilometers before starting to ride at high speeds safely. Fortunately both of them “gain power” well in the end. After a short while, Uludağ, the local mountain of Bursa city, is rising up on the right-hand-side. I hope that Değirmenyeri Dağ Evleri (Chalets) in Mudurnu, which I chose for accommodation at the end of this lap, intended only for connection, will take our enthusiasm to top. Even though the price information in Küçük Oteller Kitabı is marked with “$$$$$”, meaning that it’s assessed as “expensive”, some other accommodation choices are also available here. Yet the description saying “Hidden inside a desolate mountain folding close to Mudurnu” is very tempting. I loaded the place’s coordinates up to the navigation in advance in order to prevent some possible mishaps. Although only one kilometer is left to our destination according to the navigation, we can’t come by anyone who has ever heard of Değirmenyeri Dağ Evleri at a village on our way. Can this hard-to-access, steep path located in the direction which a toothless, elderly man, who we had difficulty in understanding, showed us really be the way to our hotel?! Still we decide to climb up – and I find myself on the top of a deep cliff. At the end of ten kilometers we’ve passed by asking the directions to many people, we are standing before a couple of lovely chalets. If we find out that they have no vacancies now, it will not be good at all! Fortunately we are the only guests apart from a family from İstanbul.
I really don’t know anywhere else which can compete with this place in terms of desolateness. I am watching the mill turning in this pure wooded place, where sound of water rises from everywhere. Chalets are well-furnished in a rural-style, lacking nothing. Taking our routine, we put our motorcycles away, take a shower, change our clothes and then meet the other guests. The owner of a construction company that we’ve met is married to a doctor and their daughters are celebrating their tenth birthday today, which is a nice opportunity to have dinner and make celebration altogether.
But I’m going out to explore the surroundings before that. I realize the navigation didn’t misguide me that much. I was actually standing at the other side of the path a short while ago. I encounter a man cutting firewood, who looks like a real forest goblin. But later on, the forest goblin introduces himself as the owner of the Değirmenyeri Dağ Evleri, which he runs together with his wife. Underneath his sluggish appearance, which I was mistaken by, actually lies a host who is very kind, gracious and dedicated to environmental protection. Furthermore, he owns a large collection of jazz CDs.
A table set under the pergola in the garden, the mobility in the kitchen, and the grill being heated in the mean time herald nice things. Indeed, such big portions are put on the table and dished throughout the dinner that my belt pinches my belly even today as I remember it. We heard that the people from İstanbul whom we met spend their weekends here whenever they find the chance– in such quiet places we frequently encounter people escaping from metropolitans. Both the mother and the daughter have good command of German. The daughter can even chat with us on advanced level. The care taken by the elderly to comfort us and their efforts not to leave our plates empty do not escape our notice.
In fact, we feel tired because of the journey and we need to go to bed soon but a birthday without a cake cannot be considered a real celebration, can it? The lights in the main building to where we are invited are turned off and a huge birthday cake ornamented with candles is brought inside from the half-opened kitchen door. The birthday child distributes the cake slices to the guests with eyes full of joy. Goodbye my abdominal muscles!
Hamse Hamsi (anchovy)? – Amasra
If there is anyone who complains about not being able to sleep well in company of cricket and water sounds as well the bird sounds arising in the morning, that person should definitely seek the problem in him/herself. Following a rich breakfast, all the conditions we will need throughout the day are deemed to be met. We have not made our payment yet. The bill we paid out with 150 Euros for one night cannot be considered reasonable... We say goodbye by using our motorcycles as an excuse– I turn on my onboard-camera which I hope will help me catch authentic views for the first time. A few cows that we encounter on the village road immediately start to act like figure artists.
Today is the day: We want to go to the Black Sea Coast of which we have only reached within 50 kilometers to date. The temperature has reached 22-28°C up to now, which is ideal for the driver. We will see how it will be when we get close to the sea. Naturally, as we climb up the feet of Kaçkar Mountains, the thermometer gauge drops continuously. On top of it, a constantly-intensifying fog descends on us. After passing Bartın, we leave behind the signpost of Amasra, which is said to be the most beautiful coastal city of the region. However, there is no sign of the things told for the time being as the fog, which prevents us from seeing ahead of us, lies on the gulf.
We plan our tours only roughly by taking the route guide and timing into consideration. As a motorbiker, it would be a risky game to plan everything down to the last detail since weather and road conditions can already shatter all the plans. Waking up early is of greatest importance to us– in terms of interest and riding pleasure etc. When we find a place of our liking, we prefer to stay there longer or keep the period shorter or arrange it again if necessary instead of sticking rigidly with the plan made previously. However, even if we change the route drawn during the journey, I try not to neglect my preparation for worth-seeing sites. For this reason, we choose our accommodation previously all the time in order not to have to look for a convenient place for a long time following a tiring journey.
For Amasra, I opted for a simple pension where we can stay in the old quarter of the city. However, as it is a bit challenging to find your way in the side streets, we first head for the port and Rendel asks the way. We set off again with the drawing of the way described–and finally we start to find Kuşna Pension– it is a place with a sea view (that unfortunately never shows itself to us) and a simple but very nice location which is almost embedded in the walls.
Render takes the role of a scout again while I am having a rest as most of the time. We start exploring the location a little bit before the meal. Each time, we try to understand the part of the city which we are in because the coastal part is divided into sections: two bays, two harbors and an island that is connected to the land through a bridge remaining from Roman Age. The city has a unique atmosphere that certainly becomes clearer with the rising sun.
Although it is a bit rude, people of Black Sea are half-jokingly called “anchovy gourmands” in Turkey. Anchovy, which is a sardine species, is a fish that is caught here at large amounts and is such an indispensable food of the tables in this region that even ham(si)burgers (anchovy burgers) are made. Naturally, we encounter many people cleaning anchovies and other fish species dexterously with their hands on side streets and at the seasides. In other words, this is exactly the right place to eat fish. We go to Canlı Balık Mustafa Amca'nın Yeri restaurant which is renowned for being the best and oldest restaurant of Amasra and for which Rendel made reservation beforehand. They allocate us a table placed on the water (I still do not want to believe that this water is actually the sea).
As usual, we cannot understand anything from Turkish names of the fish. A small portion of fried fish is serviced to me upon the order I have given by pointing at the plate on the table next to us. This fish, which is a little bigger than anchovy, is prepared by being dipped in corn flour and fried and is serviced in such a way that I can put it in my mouth as a whole. Rendel has to do with only one fish. Fortunately this fish is so big that it extends over the edge of the plate. Öküzgözü wine, the value of which I began to understand better, completes the taste of both menus which enchants us. The price of this delicious diner gives the impression that Amasra has not been opened to tourism and discovered by vacationers yet.
The walk we took following dinner helps us identify the directions a little better as well as digesting the meal. We also seize the opportunity to take a few night photos on the bridge on our way that remained from Roman Age.
While walking on the Roofs of Amasya
We wonder if we will manage to see the sea this time! We climb the coastal road by leaving the Amasra walls, which have beautiful views. We aim that today’s lap will take us to Sinop, which is located at the furthest end of South coast. Unfortunately, the fog still insists on hiding the sea from us by narrowing our visibility range. There is nothing to complain about the riding pleasure thanks to the facility provided by the road– but do we really want to bear this all day long especially when sun is shining in the south, one step further from us? This problem is virtually solved by itself in Cide. The coast road has been closed to traffic and “we have been transferred to another road”. After proceeding on the road we were transferred to for a while, we turn our route in the Southeastern direction and decide to head for Amasya through Kastamonu. We have visited here once more but I guess passing through a place deemed to be the most beautiful city of Central Anatolia twice can be excused.
As soon as we leave the cape behind, the thermometer gauge rises to reasonable values again and a bright sky welcomes us. We are heading towards Amasya in company of views that appear magnificent in the eyes of a motorbiker throughout Ilgaz National Park. Yeşilırmak, the foundation of which was laid in Hittites age and which bears a population of approximately 100.000 today, separates the old quarter wrapped up in Ottoman atmosphere and a more modern city image from each other. As we stayed in the oriel houses by the river during our first visit, this time we can look for another hotel for ourselves.
As our tour coincides with the election period this year, feverish election campaigns are held everywhere and the Election Day coincides with our date of departure. The election campaigns here remind me of the election campaigns of 1960/70s. The promotions made for the candidate by election vehicles with loudspeakers that move on the streets in company of musical election slogans are particularly at the forefront. We have to follow this propaganda disco, which proceeded in front of us until turning to Melis Hotel.
The owner of Melis Hotel, Levent Aslan, who speaks perfect German, would like to share useful information with us during check-in. However, we prefer to settle in our cute and cosy room in the first place. Although the windows overlook the main street, the room is very quiet (unless another election vehicle passed by us). After settling, we curiously go to learn what Mr. Levent could recommend to us. He first thrusts an album that introduces Borabay Lake into our hands. I have never heard it but it looks nice and it is nearly located on the route we have planned for tomorrow.
When we first came here in 2007, we set our eyes on a restaurant situated on a high rock. While we are thinking of calling a cab, Mr. Levent picks up the phone immediately– and the minibus is ready in front of the door within ten minutes– a unique service rendered by Ali Kaya restaurant. The tables with the most beautiful views are unfortunately full but Mr. Levent has not only enabled us to go to the restaurant but also booked us a place in a popular lodge. Thanks to this, following an only two-minute wait, we enjoy a perfect and magnificent view against the valley, city and the castle where the rock tombs and shelters right across us are seen. While we are carried away by the excellence of the meal, the evening, which creates a totally different atmosphere, starts to descend gradually. We wonder if the waiter can allocate us ….?– “Of course. Whenever you like!” And we find ourselves at the hotel within ten minutes. The bill we paid for the meal is so reasonable that I tip the driver gladly.
Mr. Levent checks the minibar and apologizes to us for only offering canned beer– he tells us that he had to take this precaution as guests empty the bottles, fill them with water and recap them again all the time. The loss incurred because of this is not worth mentioning but the view encountered by the following guests can be disturbing.... – How interesting the world is!
We make some arrangements in order to add Borabay Lake to tomorrow’s plan.
Instead of Bora Bora: Borabay – Niksar
We enjoy the Amasya view in serenity of morning hours during our breakfast on the hotel terrace even if we are at a lower height compared to the previous evening. Before setting off, I turn off my video camera and record the surroundings of the hotel. I especially photograph the beautiful mausoleum of Torumtay, who was the governor of sultan in 13th century. In case any misfortune occurs, this time I take the motorbikes on the road and after a short while we ride towards Taşova on D100. It is said to remain 40 kilometers till Borabay but we should have passed the lake a long time ago according to my map. However, we realized that first we need to pass it in order to reach the lake. Afterwards, after making a little way on D300 in northwestern direction, we leave behind the last few kilometers of the road by climbing up the mountain on the earth road.
The lake, which has a length of 500 meters and width of 40-110 meters cannot be said to be big but it has a magnificent position. This place, which is surrounded by trees extending to the water, is a total paradise– at least when there is no one around except for the single student group having a picnic. The two signposts near the lake give information about the animal and plant diversity available at this beautiful point.
There are some log cabins rentable by the lake. For one moment, we think of stopping and having a rest here but we put this idea aside immediately as there is a long way ahead of us. We move on.
Before arriving at the coast again, we would at least like to spend the night in one of the original lodgings listed in The Booklet of Small Hotels. This booklet introduces a wide range of unique hotels in Turkey- from single-room hotels to spectacular mansions and mountain houses. We decided on Ardıçlı Dağ Evi'(Juniper Mountain House) to spend the night. Rendel makes a phone call to learn about the vacancy status as a precaution and yes, they have vacancy. However, it seems that we will arrive there a little bit later than the hour we stated because a dark storm cloud started to emerge ahead of us.
We had to break our oath not to set off in rainy weather in Turkey already by taking a Black Sea tour. Otherwise we could almost not have been able to move at all. Rendel has also managed to overcome his fear but roads in Turkey always require the maximum riding attention. Especially some roads within the city are almost so much like polished mirror that I have to get strong support from the ground with my feet while waiting at red lights even when the roads are dry.
Although the problem of not taking the road in rainy weather has been eliminated, I have huge respect for storms as a motorbiker. We make use of a deserted greengrocer counter on the road side as a shelter. The storm subsides after the break we have taken reluctantly and obligatorily for an hour but the rain continues. In this way, we also find the opportunity to start our rain combi boilers for the first time. It is as if the navigation and map speak different languages in Niksar. At the end of the road I have followed by counting on my instincts after looking around for a while, the house owner’s daughter Selda meets us. The house, which is in an isolated location, is situated on top of a hill. We are at such height that we can at least not see the valley below covered by fog.
While Selda is showing us the house, we understand that the situation is not so different from the many other places– here we will stay with the family almost like sardines again. The room is plain, practical and provides the sufficient comfort. Selda introduces us to the house owner, who is a retired doctor, and his wife. We learn later that the house owner, whom we thought to have health problems, has caught Parkinson.
The house owner tells us about a German friend of his who married a retired doctor. The tea time we spend with Gudrun, who entered the room immediately following this chat, passes quite enjoyably.
The dialogues we have with the workers reveal clearly what kind of a mood these houses have. The servant, who is one of the plain girls of this region, is a very lucky person. Everybody treats each other with courtesy and respect in this place, where laughter is never missing.
These kind of small, unique locations are special in themselves but they also appeal to a very special group of people. The living room gradually starts to be filled with other guests later on: three couples and a family with a small daughter. The big, round dining table points to the fact that the dinner will be eaten all together again. The house owner, who sends her servant away, does not avoid managing the kitchen despite her health condition. We are very lucky in this regard as she bears the title of a perfect cook with pride. It really seems as if the table is going to collapse eventually under the delicious feasts.
It is obvious that the other people, who are all Turkish, are regular guests and that they feel like real members of this family. By means of this, we have the opportunity to witness how such a “family” lives closely. It is evident that this community is different from the ordinary ones; academicians and businessmen sit around the table all together. For example, a couple at the age of 40s working as glass plate wholesalers in İstanbul sits next to us or 60-year-old Mr. Ömer who has just had a daughter with his charming and smart (second) wife. Their daughter is now eight years old and quite sociable– and speaks German at a good level. She even starts to sing German songs after warming to us. Mr. Ömer, who has profound knowledge about wine, is happy to see that we are like-minded. He is the representative of a big German biotechnology company in Turkey. We learn important information from him and the house owner which can hardly be found in books or internet.
A memory he told has remained in my mind: A few years ago, Mr. Ömer went to Niksar, which is close to here, with a German colleague of his. In a cloudless summer evening, they climbed up the mountain so that he could show his friend the sky bedecked with beautiful stars. According to what we heard, there was even more stars than those that can be seen in deserts. Especially the sky full of stars extending to the horizon like an umbrella was quite impressive. His German friend returned to Germany after spending the whole night out and he came back here one weekend with his wife in order to share this beautiful scenery with her.
I should actually have gone to bed a long time ago. I try to slink off by using the opportunity that has arisen when Mr. Ömer went to the bathroom but I find myself directly in his arms and upon this, Mr. Ömer buys me one more bottle of wine...
Part I Ends...