We've cut our afternoon at work a little short and we're taking yet another trip to Kahramanmaras. We've decided to book a hotel room and stay the night. Our dear friend Kenan has phoned in a reservation for us at the Buyuk Maras Otel and we're very pleased to have such a friend for help. We found this place our last visit and thought should we return for an over night. The biggest plus for this Otel is location; it's very close to the covered bazaar.
We leave Adana at 3:15 and arrive in the city at 5:15. We know where the otel is we simply need to get to it; the streets are one-way mostly and we miss our turn-off and have to make a large circle to return. We all throw suggestions at Jim as to which place (this intersection or that street) to turn and what direction to go in and finally we make the front of the otel. I go in to check our reservations and learn the parking place for the van. All is good; rooms are ready and parking is immediately in front of the otel once we get an otel employee to move his truck.
The street in front of the otel is one-way and it's up a pretty good grade. This whole city in this area is situated on a hillside at the foot of a fairly significant mountain. The main streets appear to run horizontally across the hillside while the side streets lie vertically on the hillside. Parking as always is erratic and most haphazard. Vehicles are parking perpendicular to the buildings and without fail others are parked behind them making exit for the first-parked impossible. The street is fairly active too, which makes backing out of a slot even more of a challenge.
The otel employee moves his truck and Jim angles the van to replace it. Once the van is secured in a slot we remove our over night bags and check into the otel. There is very attractive young lady at the desk and she takes our papers and copies what she needs and we're in. The desk clerk calls a young man to help us both get our bags to the elevator. The elevator is quite small (a little larger than a phone booth) and only one couple can ascend at a time with the young man and the bags.
I remember back so many years ago on our first trip to Turkey, our otel had a similar elevator and the bag boy let us go up alone; he held the bags and stayed behind because it would not take him, the bags and us. I'm no longer amazed by anything along those lines; I simply do as directed and all has worked very.
Once we arrive at the sixth floor and open the elevator door it's pitch black, not a light, not a hint of anything. Immediately as I step out of the elevator a motion sensor illuminates the corridor. Our room is not five paces away and once the door is open the sun floods the hallway. We discover we've been assigned a suite; we have a large bathroom, a large bedroom and a smaller bedroom. There's a closet wardrobe, a desk and chair, a vanity with stool, a side chair with ottoman and yes, a bed (queen size I judge). Oh yea, there's the TV with satellite reception as well.
I give the young man a little something for his help and he hands me the key and departs. I go to the window and check our view; just outside to the right is a very tall building covered in bright yellow, purple and orange sheeting. The rest of the view is building after building as far as one can see, which isn't far with the haze (pollution) in the air. Seems odd too because there is a fairly strong wind outside.
When we left Jim and Chelly we suggested we'd meet back in the lobby in fifteen minutes; we make our rest stop and get back down stairs. We must step into the hall before we get light but it's enough to get us to the elevator and we descend.
Once together we leave the otel to retrace some footsteps and discover some new ones. We begin outside by ascending the hill to the street above; this street is on a horizontal plain and nearly flat. Almost immediately we're stopped by a very modern looking storefront and it appears to be primarily housewares. Several things look enticing so we much go in. I find it amazing as I pickup one thing after another, most of this merchandise is, 'made-in-China'! I swear the Chinese are taking over the world and I haven't heard a shot fired!
After a few minutes, the gentleman who appears to be in charge motions us to the stairs. Jim and Carol go up to investigate but Chelly and I opt to stay down. Well that lasts for only another few minutes because Jim brings some things down for Chelly to see. After Jim's second or third time down the stairs Chelly and I decide to ascend for a look. Carol has found some beautiful hand-crafted furniture scarves with incredible bead work and embroidery and clutch-style evening purses. Chelly looks at a number of the purses and succumbs to temptation; Carol buys one as well. They both opted to leave the scarves.
There's a very beautiful dinnerware set of stoneware soup bowls in a metal wire rack, they meld from a gray-white to a mauve-lavender that I find very pleasing to the eye; I didn't buy them however.
We leave the 'modern' shop behind and make our way down the street toward the covered bazaar. We stop and move into and out of a number of other shops before we get to the bazaar. Not far into the bazaar entry Carol and Chelly are attracted to a display of old sewing machines. These are treadle machines and again the large majority of them display a prominent 'made-in-China' marking. One in the back though is a 'Singer', what appears to be a refurbished model of the genuine article. The man says that machine is $100; if only we knew the history of it and IF it were old or built to look old. The merchant tells us the Singer is made in Adana; we find that quite interesting.
Jim and I decide to wander down the way some as the ladies pursue whatever fascination they have with these machines. We pass a number of shops and settle in front of a silver shop as we wait on the ladies. After a few minutes we begin to retrace our steps to see what else might be holding up our dear wives; seems they've gotten immersed in other wares of the shop with the sewing machines. They're looking at literature and convection ovens, for whatever reason we don't know. We somehow drag them away and we move further into the bazaar.
It's late now and many of the shops are closed or are closing. We do find a copper shop with some business going on and Jim spies a small copper pitcher he thinks should go well in his collection; the price is right and he has it packed. Across the walkway Chelly finds some traditional dowel rolling pins and buy four for her quilt hanging. They actually are for rolling out dough to make manti, tiny pillows of Turkish ravioli-like pasta.
Our time has more than melted away now and we simply leave the bazaar and walk the couple blocks back toward our otel. We've planned a stop at the Yenisehir Lokantasi where we will enjoy a great dinner. I say that because we know this restaurant from our visit before. We're received with due haste by the waiter at the door and several others. They want to take us to a table; we insist on a visit to the kitchen counter first. We check the soup, then investigate the salads and finally look at the meat offerings. Once satisfied visually, we are directed to a table and we order. We're not at all disappointed and eat far too much.
We leave the restaurant to many handshakes and words of encouragement to return. We reciprocate the thanks offered and go out into the evening air. It's all up hill from here; we're about a block from the otel but sidewalk is a gradual incline of hundreds of steps. Once we cross the street just above the restaurant we opt to walk in the street behind the parked cars as most Turks do because the street is much easier climb than all the steps. There's a very serious wind and it makes for a cooler walk than what it would be without it but it still does NOT blow the HEAT out of the air, even at this time of night. One would think up here it would be cooler than Adana but I don't believe that to be the case; we're all very soggy through and through.
It's 5:10 and our room is flooded with sunlight. I've decided to take some time and reflect on our visit thus far; we came to get away from the heat and have not succeeded. We came to further investigate the covered bazaar and will continue that pursuit today.
Our a/c unit has been very faithful all night and it's situated so it blows right over the bed. I was very comfortable, although at one point I got up to turn it down a couple degrees. A sheet covers our mattress and we have a light knit blanket that barely covers the top of the mattress, it does not drape over the sides at all. Carol goes into the smaller room and gets the same bed cover from there; with it we both have our own cover and do fairly well all night.
I turn to look out the window, as I sit here at the desk and judge I'm looking south based on the position of the sun. I'm looking across a cityscape of buildings broken only occasionally by a green space of trees. These buildings are primarily apartment flats six and eight stories high, very uniform in design and appearance. The air quality again today is not good; I can see little beyond what I could see yesterday afternoon when we arrived. I'm still amazed that that's the case because of all that wind yesterday.
From all the trees I can see out this window we're not going to be blown around much this morning, the trees simply are not swaying any at all. I open our window and then close it right back; the smell is smoky and the air has a metallic taste. Pollution has 'unfortunately' not been conquered here yet, as is the case in many larger cities across the globe.
Collectively we begin our day at breakfast, which is included with the room cost. We enjoy the standard Turkish fare, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, cheese, olives, bread and tea or coffee. There is some attempt made to air condition the dinning area but it isn't real effective, I'm already getting too warm. We enjoy a leisurely meal and talk about yesterday and what we may discover today as we venture out. After we finish breakfast we once again go to our rooms and retrieve our bags; we check out of the otel and put our bags in the van. We decide to leave the van parked where it is and we go in search of new places to see and things to buy, as if either of us needs more stuff!
Our first delay in getting to the bazaar happens as the ladies stop in a yarn shop. Now, I have no real objection to this but find it interesting that so common a commodity as yarn has to be purchased on a trip away from Adana. I must however acquiesce to the ladies desires to find just that right skein of yarn for whatever project they may envision in the future. Carol has purchased a number of different colors she will be sending to my mother, so she isn't buying for her future use. Chelly buys for herself.
Now back on the walk we get straight on to the bazaar, we come out into the alleyway where Jim bought his copper pitcher last evening. There's a carpet alcove just down the way and we head there to see IF anything new has come since our last visit in February. The shop owner removes a number of carpet grain sacks from his shelves and Jim sees a few of interest but we buy nothing at this point. We decide the day is new and we will be back by this route on our way back to the van.
We walk up one alley and then the next, passing alcove after alcove filled with kitchen supplies, shoes, hats, donkey saddle makers, drum makers, coppersmiths, tinsmiths, drape & fabric shops one after another, the bazaar just goes on and on. Our leisurely walk through the alcoves takes first one turn then another, as we have no particular destination in mind. The crowds are not overwhelming; the tea boy brushes by us occasionally, as he rushes to his next delivery with his piping hot beverages on a tray. We stop here and there but continue to look for that special something. The cacophony in this semi-enclosed bazaar is great; we get the sound of copper being molded by the hammer, the clatter of metal as things are throw about in one shop or another, we hear the constant chatter of voices both male and female. The banter of the merchants hawking their wares is rhythmic and adds to the enchantment of the experience. The smells too add a level of exotic flare to the pursuit of our pleasures; there are tinsmiths coating the interior of large copper pots, a very pungent metallic smell; these guys do this all day but we hesitate to stand and smell it for too long. We too smell all the spices in their open containers as we walk, we have to stop and take a deep breath; the smells of cinnamon, coffee, tea, pepper and so many others are not to be missed. All of our senses are activated in this environment, one becomes a part of it and longs to linger; this is the heart of yesterday in this part of the world.
After another hour we happen on another carpet grain sack alcove where we've purchased bags before; I'm not sure the man remembers us but no matter, he's eager to show us what there is and we look at all he has. Jim has put aside six or eight pieces and I've pulled a small carpet from the stacks. We both take our selections to the other side of the alleyway to get some direct sun on them. This area has a break in the roof covering and the sun shines in. One should NEVER buy a carpet piece without benefit of the sun; colors are so much richer in the sun. A carpet should also be viewed from both sides, looking from one end and then the other. In some carpet pieces the color change from one end to the other makes it appear you are buying two different carpets. Jim and Chelly decide on four pieces of the six they chose from the stacks initially and we negotiate a price for them as a whole; I've already secured my carpet and now Jim and Chelly have theirs. We've made some very fine purchases today and should be very pleased for a long time to come.
We've also made one merchant this morning very happy, he has dusted his shelves and made a few dollars in the process. Once he has packed our pieces, Jim and I take them and head for the van; the ladies will stay and see what else they can get into, HaHaHa. We're only a few blocks from the van and get there and back in just a few minutes. We find the ladies in a gold shop just beyond where we got our carpet pieces so they didn't get far; Carol has found some very lovely gold and pearl earrings she feels she needs.
On our departure from the gold shop we walk through more and more of bazaar area. Carol and Chelly are both attracted by the fabric alcoves, we stop at one and then another for the next 50 yards. Jim and I divert our attention to other things and lose the ladies for a few minutes. We're not separated long and when we meet again the ladies have both succumbed to those few yards of fabric they need for their next project. Chelly has gotten some very lovely plaid for some shirts; Carol has found some very tiny print material for more quilting. Again, Jim and I can only wonder why Adana does not have this type of thing, HaHaHa.
We're near an entry now and decide it's time to go to another bazaar across the street to see what may be there. Once across the street there's a restaurant on the corner and we decide we need to sit and relax for a few minutes. As we get comfortable, we decide lunch is a good idea and we order four plates of their chicken doner (this is a shredded chicken). We're not disappointed we did; the food is great and we get both our relaxation and a wonderful lunch in the bargain.
After lunch we walk down the street to the entrance to the bazaar we were headed for before lunch. This one is a wide alley covered completely with shops on both sides primarily filled with clothes. Like radar though there's one shop on the corner filled with sewing notions and the ladies go right in. Chelly comes away with the banding she needs for drapes and we move along. Carol is accosted by a group of small children and talks to them as we walk the length of the market place.
Out on the street again, we turn the corner and head back in the direction of the otel and our van. We don't get far before we must stop at a shop adorned with dried peppers, okra and eggplant. There are massive hangings all along the eaves of these dried vegetables. We step into the shop and the aroma of spices inundate us, we linger and consume the smells.
Back on our way now, we get a little future down the walk and Jim has spied some ties he thinks are nice. He wanders into the shop and finds two hangers filled with them; they're eager to please and show him several. They're all silk ties and Jim settles on three and I even think about a few but don't buy any. Before we get out of the shop the guy at the counter has begun showing Carol and Chelly silk scarves; they're beautiful and the ladies both settle on one a piece.
Once back on the street we've decided the HEAT is getting much too serious
and we opt to cut our day short and save all future discovery for another time.
We have one more 'must' stop and go directly there, the ice cream shop. We've
promised our Turkish friends some ice cream from the famous Kahramanmaras vats.
We go inside and sit to have our own ice cream before we leave the city. After
we're through we get a kilo of ice cream to go; it takes ten or fifteen minutes
for them to cut it and package it in dry ice for our trip home, but this ice
cream is well worth our wait.