Gaziantep Travel Blog› entry 483 of 658 › view all entries
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Wednesday morning was a familiar feeling, i woke up at 09.40, cursing myself that i had slept in - again! The truth be told, i am covering so much ground that i think i am wearing myself out and I'm really looking forward to reaching Istanbul for Christmas, so i can have a few days rest. Having eaten some breakfast and taken a shower, i walked down to the bus terminal and caught the 11.00 bus to Gaziantep, the largest City in the South East of Turkey, home to just over a million inhabitants.
I departed the dolmush in the outskirts of the City, but the friendly locals soon bundled me onto a bus that was heading into the centre. The bus driver had his young son working with him to collect the money from passengers, and the kid made it his mission to make sure i was ok! He took my map, showed it to his Dad, spoke to another couple of passengers about the whereabouts of Hotel Yunus and guarded my bag from falling over.
Now whilst i was impressed with Hotel Bakay in Sanliurfa, Hotel Yunus managed to trump it in all aspects. Whilst the room rates were advertised at 40YTL ($26), i bargained it down to 25YTL ($16) and this got me a medium sized room with double bed, sparkling en-suite bathroom, a/c, free wi-fi, a tv with foreign channels including BBC and CNN and a free breakfast buffet. Its incredible that you can pick up such deals, as normally people pay the best part of $50 for rooms like this.
Gaziantep used to be called Antep, but Gazi was added later and this means 'War hero', which is a referral to the resistance that the Cities citizens put up against French attempts to force occupation upon them, after the First World War. It wasn't the first time that the City had suffered from such attacks, as the Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Seljuk Turks had also wreaked havoc upon the people in times gone by. Nowadays the City proudly flies several Turkish flags at points across the metropolis.
It was almost 14.00 by the time i had checked in, there was no time for dawdling, so i gathered my essentials and went out sightseeing. I was impressed with the centre, which i found charming with its mixture of modern shopping streets and older districts of narrow lanes, filled with workshops.
There were several impressive works of architecture dotted throughout the streets, but a few things that particularly caught my eye were The Alauddevle Camii, Tahtani Camii, Sirvani Camii and the Kale (Citadel), which was sadly closed for restoration. Having taken a brief look around these places, i followed some steep twisting streets that led up to a Mosque on top of a hill, where a Turkish flag billowed in the wind. From up here i got some excellent views over the City to the North and East.
After getting back down to ground level i decided that it was time for a late lunch and went to buy a freshly made lahmacun (Turkish Pizza).
My last stop for the day was to be Gaziantep Museum, which houses some jaw dropping mosaics from the nearby Roman site of Belkis-Zeugma, which has scandalously been flooded by the new dam in the region. Thankfully archaeologists managed to salvage some of the mosaics and it is thought that the Museum houses the most impressive collection in the World, and i think you would be hard pressed to disagree with this. I guess there must have been about 20 mosaics in all, with “Gypsy Girl” and “Achilles been sent to the Trojan War” been two of the most famous.
From the Museum i walked up to the train station, but the ticket office was already closed, even though it was only 16.45. I decided that to get to Amasya, i would need to take a bus as i couldn't find any useful information on trains, or indeed even if there were any! I walked back to the Hotel to update my blog and watch BBC, and later on went out for an incredibly good kebab, which set me back 1.5YTL ($1), great value!
On Thursday i awoke at 08.40 and after having breakfast went and paid for another night, as i still hadn't managed to book a bus ticket.
My plan for the day was to take a day trip to Kilis and on the way to the dolmush stop i managed to incorporate a visit to the War Memorial, Kendirli Kilisesi and Kurtulus Camii. The latter was a striking Mosque with black and white tiling, which really was quite a sight. I got to the terminal at 10.35 and luckily enough there was a dolmush that left within 5 minutes, making it the perfect start to the day!