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A taste of Turkey

Kars Travel Blog

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The Church of Apostles, with Kars Castle in the background

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.

Attractive Mosque in Kars
The only downside was that i was on the fourth floor, which meant i had to climb countless stairs to get up to my room, but at least i got a nice view of the castle!

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.
The Church of Apostles
By the time i reached the base of the castle the sun had essentially vanished for the day, so i opted to leave the castle for the following morning.

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.
Kars Castle
I was happy to hear Julia had sorted her papers out to leave Armenia, but disappointed that most couchsurfers had rejected my requests to stay, due to a religious holiday that is upcoming. I spent hours updating my blog as it only cost 1YTL ($0.65) an hour and the connection was superb. Leaving the cafe at 21.00 i got a real shock, as it was not just cold, but bloody freezing! My nose went numb, my face bright red and i did my best to hurry back to the hotel. I couldn't believe it had gone from +15 in the day to -10 at night, i really had to think about buying some warm clothes!

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.
Attractive Mosque framed in an arch
A castle had been situated there since 1153, but Tamerlane had torn that down in 1386. What was it with Tamerlane, he obliterated everything in his way, what a git! It was then rebuilt by the Ottomans in 1579 and in 1855 it had further work done on it. What you see today I'm sure must have had further restoration works, as it looked in pretty good shape.

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.
Old bridge, with a War Memorial in the background
40) for the short trip, claiming it normally cost 15YTL ($9.60), but either way i wasn't paying that much. I bought a ticket all the way to Igdir for 15YTL and went to use the net for an hour to pass the time.

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!

Deats says:
Haha, he would fit into the American army pretty well :D
Posted on: Sep 03, 2009
almond72 says:
Tamerlane probably had the precursors of Haliburton working with him then. Nothing quite like rebuilding works after blowing up a place. :D
Posted on: Sep 02, 2009
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The Church of Apostles, with Kars …
The Church of Apostles, with Kars…
Attractive Mosque in Kars
Attractive Mosque in Kars
The Church of Apostles
The Church of Apostles
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Attractive Mosque framed in an arch
Attractive Mosque framed in an arch
Old bridge, with a War Memorial in…
Old bridge, with a War Memorial i…
Minaret dominates a street in Kars
Minaret dominates a street in Kars
Mosque
Mosque
Mosque
Mosque
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
The Church of Apostles
The Church of Apostles
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
The Church of Apostles
The Church of Apostles
Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace
Beylerbeyi Palace
Mosque
Mosque
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
The Church of Apostles
The Church of Apostles
Old bridge spanning the river
Old bridge spanning the river
War Memorial
War Memorial
Mosque
Mosque
Streets lit up with lighting
Streets lit up with lighting
looks a bit too much like arse lic…
looks a bit too much like arse li…
Mosque
Mosque
War Memorial framed in an arch
War Memorial framed in an arch
Bridge spanning the river
Bridge spanning the river
War Memorial
War Memorial
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Hammam and War Memorial
Hammam and War Memorial
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Bridge and Kars Castle
Bridge and Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
View from Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Kars Castle
Lahmacun - Turkish Pizza
Lahmacun - Turkish Pizza
Cobbled street in the centre
Cobbled street in the centre
Central Kars
Central Kars
Kars
photo by: Stevie_Wes