A taste of Turkey
Kars Travel Blog› entry 469 of 658 › view all entries
People I met here who contributed to, and improved my trip:
Whilst Zekir my taxi driver had been pleasant enough, it was clear that he was looking to make some commission from putting me into a Hotel of his choice, so i stood firm and asked to be dropped at Kent Otel, which was the cheapest option in the LP. Now i don't often give much credit to the book, but for Kars they were actually spot on in all their recommendations for a hotel, food and even internet, now there IS a first!
Kent Otel was great value for money at only 14 YTL ($9), as it came with central heating, a TV and a table and the shared bathrooms were spotless and with piping hot water. To add to this the staff were incredibly friendly, always happy to greet me, help me find my way around and they even let me use their phone once.
Turkey has a ludicrous time zone system, where the whole country runs on Istanbul time, even though the state covers enough terrain to warrant probably two zones, if not three. As a result the sun disappears onto the horizon at 15.00, which really cuts down what you are able to do, or see in one day. It was 14.30 by the time i left the Hotel, so i decided to try and get to Kars Castle before nightfall. Whilst the town didn't have any other particular star attractions, i did find myself held up in the streets admiring an array of Mosques and the pretty Church of the Apostles (932-937). There was also the ruins of Ulu Cami and Beylerbeyi Sarayi (Beylerbeyi Palace), along with a nice 15thCentury Bridge and a Soviet looking War Memorial perched on a hill.
Feeling peckish, i walked along the cobbled streets that were lined with trees and colourful buildings, in search of some food. Whilst some of the edifices were looking a bit tatty, i thought the scene had character in abundance and soon i reached a nice little eatery called Antep Lahmacun Salonu. I took the chance to order my first 'Turkish Pizza' and whilst it was nothing like a real pizza, it was good enough and a real bargain at just 1.5YTL ($0.95), so much so that i got two!
It was only 16.00 but already it was dark outside, so i went to an internet cafe to catch up on events from the last few days.
On Thursday i woke up at 09.00 and went for a walk through the town and to see Kars Castle up close. It was a pleasant surprise to find that there was no admission fee and i enjoyed walking around for half an hour.
Time was ticking by, so i went for an early lunch in Antep Lahmacun Salonu and then collected my bags from the Hotel. I wasn't too sure what time buses left for Igdir, so i just turned up at 11.10 and frustratingly found out that one had left at 11.00 and the next one wasn't due until 12.30. Zekir was lurking around and told me i could catch up with the bus at the main terminal on the outskirts of town, but he wanted 10YTL ($6.
On board the bus i met an Azeri guy from Naxcivan called Azim, and once again i surprised myself at how much Russian i knew. We managed to make small talk for some time about where we were going, where we had been, the weather, Azerbaijan etc etc. Its not much, but its a start and it gives me more motivation to keep using my 'Learn Russian' book, which i have been engulfed in for the last few days. I will learn a second language!