Turkey Travel Diary: Saffron and Ottoman Life

The last place in Turkey we got to visit were Safranbolu: a gorgeously restored Ottoman village.


    Safranbolu is tiny, but totally adorable. We spent two days wandering across the bazaar, shopping (the prices are way cheaper than Istanbul), and trying out the local food. One sweet shop had a guy in a waist-frock with a tray of lokum standing outside, offering passers-by a taste. I found it funny that he offered me one every time I passed by --- which was many times a day. No idea whether he couldn't tell faces apart or he had an evil plan to get me addicted to lokum. A few days more and he would have succeeded.


   Our hostel was also a restored Ottoman home. I loved walking along the little streets with beautiful little shops selling wares that were a mix of local handicrafts and made-in-china. An apparently favourite product were wooden miniatures of the local houses -- used as boxes and sugar-bowls.

Safranbolu Bazaar

Safranbolu had a beautiful Hamam, and there were a couple of stores selling Hamam accessoires: like the traditional scrub mitts, towels and dressing robes. And soap. Lots of soap!

Hamam in Safranbolu
Hamam roof with glass "bulbs"
   Safranbolu is famous for saffron: the little stores sell saffron, saffron bulbs, saffron sweets, saffron perfume, and of course saffron soap. And saffron tea, which is really nice to drink in the evening.


    After having visited each store thrice and having drank too many Sahleps, we decided to spend a day in Yörük, a village of ex-nomads.


    As we got to our guest house, we found the door open but nobody inside, which mystified up a bit. We didn't know that the local custom is that when a door has the rope hanging from a ring folded up, it meant that the owner was at home, when it hung down the owner was out:


    The village was really green and pretty, and our guest-house was gorgeous, with its trailing creepers, terassed garden, cuddly cat and original Ottoman interior:


      It struck me that women were outside, working, chatting and selling stuff; while the men were nowhere to be seen. Also, the entire village seemed to have only one thing on the menu: Gözleme. Luckily we all liked it so we had it in a teeny restaurant, where a robust lady roasted them in a huge fireplace and expressed her concern that we would freeze because we really wanted to eat outside on these adorable little chairs:

Note the Ottoman-house-shaped sugar dish

      This was almost the last day of the trip, so I soaked in as much Turkish atmosphere as I could. I would miss the cay in tulip-shaped glasses, the Gözlemes, the warm friendliness of the people, and the cats.

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