After the wetness in Ankara, we were looking for respite and found no comfort in weather reports for all of Turkey through Sunday. Our next logical destination was Cappadocia in the center of Turkey, but it looked like the sun won't be out there till next Monday and we did not want to be looking at fairy chimneys in the rain. So, should we head there anyway and just wait out the weather? Or go elsewhere?
After much wavering we chose Elsewhere and it turned out to be Safranbolu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, some 240 km north of Ankara. This brought us back to the Black Sea region and in the opposite direction of where we wanted to be (Central Turkey). The weather forecast for Safranbolu was equally bad but we decided to take our chances.
Safranbolu's Old Town preserves many historical buildings from the Ottoman era and walking through its narrow winding hilly streets is a magical experience. You are transported to another century in the dark and mysterious Orient. The main Çarsi(market) area is situated at the meeting point of three valleys. Panoramic views of the town can be had from either side with the City Museum and Clock Tower on one side and Hildirik Hill on the other. We did not get any sunshine during our 2 day stay there but we were spared the rain during our walks. In the center of the market area is a historic Turkish Hamam (Cinci Hamam) dating back to the 17th century. We indulged ourselves in the luxury of being thoroughly washed, scrubbed and beaten up (er, massaged) in the Turkish manner.
We knew what Safranbolu had to offer and got it in good measure, but we were not quite prepared for the stunning display of the history of computer technology (watch video) from the 1940s to 2012 in the City Museum on the top of the hill. Not even Silicon Valley has a collection of this calibre with all manner of computer hardware from the past few decades neatly catalogued and organized. How it fit into the City Museum in Safranbolu was not clear to us. But we were happy to visit it. The remainder of the musuem featured interesting displays on Safranbolu's history. V found it hard to move away from the confectionary store display. Another room featured a recreation of a saffron (from which the town's name is derived) store. Outside the museum is a great display of replica mini clock towers modeled on their real counterparts from various Turkish cities. Even nicer is the old gentleman on top of the clock tower who maintains it. He spoke no English but gave us a demo of his trade and even beat the bell for our benefit even though it was ten minutes past the hour. His child-like enthusiasm for his repetitive job of keeping the wheels of time going on in this corner of Turkey was infectious.
We had some repeat encounters with others who we'd met earlier in Trabzon. This has been a recurring occurrence throughout this trip and will probably continue. It is low tourist season in Turkey and there are very few tourists doing the rounds of the various sites.
Safranbolu (can you believe that name?) may have involved a detour away from our intended path but it did provide an alternative experience. The sort where you let the magic of an entire town get to you through meandering walks.
Google Maps Link
Detours from the planned route often offer unexpected rewards and you seem to have got it in good measure. The best narrative on the history of computer technology in the middle of Turkey - wow ! The place seems so very nice that had you known about it as well, before, it might have featured in your itinerary anyway.
And look at the added bonus - you are now scrubbed clean and smelling like roses :) From , on Nov 20, 2012 at 08:36AM