Down by the river
Amasya Travel Blog› entry 485 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Ibrahim, Yusuf, Sami, Ertugrul, Ahmet (Turkey)
The sleeper bus from Gaziantep dropped me off in the town of Merzifon at 07.00, where i had a chilly wait until the 07.40 dolmush left for Amasya. The surrounding hills were covered in frost and a light dusting of snow, i could tell i had come a long way from Gaziantep. Stepping from the van in Amasya, i was immediately taken aback by the Ottoman architecture and striking setting, with towering mountains on either side of the Yesilirmak River, which bisected the town.
I had arranged to meet couchsurfer Ibrahim at 11.00, so this left me with time to quickly check my emails and find a hotel. In the internet cafe i somehow got speaking in Russian to a Turkish guy who worked in Kazakhstan, it was rewarding to realise that my recent interest in learning a new language was paying dividends, even if it was only making small talk with a stranger.
The first hotel i visited claimed to be full, although Ibrahim later told me that the receptionist didn't like foreigners, so had probably lied to me. I wasn't too concerned though, as just up the street was Konfor Palas Hotel, which had rooms for 25YTL, although this didn't include breakfast. I checked in and took a luke warm shower and then struggled to get the wireless connection working. In all honesty it was probably the worst value place that i had stayed in, but it was still the cheapest in town.
Ibrahim came to pick me up from my hotel reception as had been planned and we got acquainted whilst going for a walk along the river. There were plenty of impressive houses and mosques to look at, and after crossing a bridge we went to see Buyuk Aga Medresesi. Lousy Planet said this was closed to visitors, but they certainly didn't mind us looking around, especially as Ibrahim knew someone who worked there. The building was steeped in History and youngsters had been studying the Qu'ran there since 1488. After one year of memorising the holy book, the graduates become known as 'Hafiz'.
I had met many Muslims in Turkey - in fact just about every one of them had said they were Muslim, at least from my recollection - but few of them seemed to take their religion seriously. Its like me saying i am a Protestant, but i don't go to Church or follow any of the Christian teachings, so realistically i would classify myself as agnostic, if anything.
So whilst Ibrahim went to a local Mosque for midday prayer, i climbed up a mountain to take a closer look at the 4thCentury BC Pontic Tombs. Not much is left of them today, although it is still possible to admire the craftsmanship that must have gone into chiseling them from the rock face. Sadly some idiots had seen fit to graffiti on them and also you could no longer walk around them, as young couples had used the secluded dark areas as a place to make out. It didn't take too long to look around, and if it weren't for the magnificent views, i would probably say it wasn't worth the admission fee.
In England it is often commonplace to visit your friends house with a few beers, but in Turkey the favoured drink is always tea. Islam obviously has a large part to play in this, although Turkish tea is a bloody good drink in its own right. The Turks serve their tea in small glasses and without milk, but normally with at least two cubes of sugar. It is always piping hot and is certainly stronger than English tea, which seems to make me need the toilet constantly.
Heading back to Ibrahim's house, we stopped off along the way to meet and greet several of his friends, all of whom took a keen interest in me. I lost count of the cups of tea after half a dozen glasses, and we were also given a free lunch in one office, which was very kind. Eventually we went back to another guys house to talk and share opinions and i got to watch Ibrahim and his two friends praying.
In the evening Ibrahim introduced me to a friend of his called Yusuf , who we met at the beautiful Sultan Beyazit II Camii, which was built in 1486. The three of us went to talk and drink tea in a traditional little tea house, which was really nice. From here we went to Bimarhane Medresesi, which used to be a lunatic asylum, but has been converted into a restaurant and music hall.
On Saturday i got up at 09.30 and decided to take a walk along the river, with the ultimate goal of visiting some old tombs, located on the outskirts of the City. When i reached a fork in the river, i stopped to ask an old man for directions, and he seemed quite concerned about where i was going. He made gestures which could only be interpreted as someone robbing me and then signaled that if i wanted to go up, then i really had to be with one other person. I had heard that it was quite dodgy to go up to the castle alone and by all accounts, it was the same here.
I spent the remainder of the day soaking up the atmosphere of the town and climbing up a small embankment to get some nice views over Amasya, and the Buyuk Aga Medresesi in particular. In the evening i met up with Ibrahim again and he introduced me to some more of his friends; Sami, Ertugrul and Ahmet. Sami drove us up to Seyir Cafe, which had incredible views over Amasya, now beautifully illuminated at night. Sitting and drinking tea and coffee, we spent a few hours chatting, then Sami drove us around town a bit, before calling it a night.
On Sunday i had contemplated trying to hitch hike to Yenice, but when the alarm went off i was enjoying my sleep too much to leave the comfort of my bed.
The bus journey was a total pain in the arse as the company had oversold the seats and i was thus moved from one place to another for the first two hours of the journey. A Turkish guy who spoke a little German and English began talking to me at one point, i think he felt sorry for me having to move all the time and after he spoke to the attendant, i got to keep the same seat for the remainder of the trip.
It had started to rain just before i got off the bus and i was starting to get a bit worried by the prospect of been stood on the hard shoulder of the motorway for too long. As luck would have it a car stopped to pick me up before the bus had even set off again and took me about 20kms in the direction i was heading. After a 20 minute wait another car gave me a lift as far as the town of Karabuk and from here i was able to take the 17.00 bus on to Yenice.
I would just like to make a quick note here to thank Ibrahim not only for his company in Amasya, but also for his help in assisting me to compile this blog. He was a wealth of knowledge both during and after my visit, so thank you very much!