Pistachio Land.

Gaziantep Travel Blog

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Steve's hieroglyphic handwriting.
We drove from Urfa to Gaziantep in good time -- no one else was using the brand new super-duper mega tollway, so we had it almost all to ourselves. Zoom zoom!

Gaziantep’s major crop was apparent in the rolling hills surrounding the city … pistachio trees as far as the eye can see. Oh, I love pistachios. Gaziantep also grows bulgur wheat and is home is industrial production of textiles and car parts. It is a bustling, busy city. With lots of impatient traffic, and special driving rules unknown to foreign drivers, I might add.

We had some difficulty finding the hotel, which was tucked away on a tiny narrow street in the old town. We drove all around trying to find a clue, but finally gave up and called for help. Steve received a series of complex instructions (none involving street names…”turn right at the statue, left at the mosque,” etc).
Our wee room.
  He wrote it all down in a sort of special hieroglyphic marking that is his handwriting. We somehow managed to get to a restaurant near the hotel, Imam Cagdas, as instructed, and then someone from the hotel met us and drove the rest of the way down crazy narrow alleys, and through a secret door -- the parking area. Whew.

Our hotel, Andolu Evleri, is a renovated historic stone house. The rooms are accessed from the quaint courtyard via stone stairways with beautiful old wrought iron handrails. Our room is cute, but there isn’t one right angle in the place, and it is the size of a large closet. The floor creaks -- loudly -- and we hope no one is below us.

After getting settled as best we could, we went off to explore the town on foot (there will be no more driving until we go to the airport).
They have every kind of nut you want, as long as you want pistachios.
The hotel is in a great location in the old town, surrounded by the bazaar and lots of shopping. It felt very Middle Eastern. Unfortunately we were late and they were all closing for the day. We did manage to score some pistachios for a late “lunch.” Pistachios and spices can be purchased anywhere and anytime in Gaziantep. Just one of many reasons to like this place. We parked ourselves on a bench and ate until our thumbs couldn’t take any more shelling. Delicious!

We walked by the hilltop Citadel (also closed) and much work was going on there…perhaps a renovation. It was built by the Romans, and then later fortified by the Byzantines and Selcuks. There were coppersmiths and other metal workers set up in the area and it was all quaint and picturesque.
The citadel.
One man was selling coal and looked as if he had just mined it himself!! OH, I wanted a picture of him but hate sticking a camera in people’s faces, so I walked on by. We also saw a cute restaurant and some other hotels in historic stone houses. This is a really nice city.  Not many tourists here, but there should be.

Next we happened upon an open-air pedestrian mall, lined with shops and jam-packed with shoppers and walkers. Every third person was eating delicious-looking ice cream, which really distracted me. Other than the nuts, we had skipped lunch and my stomach was growling! The stores were selling gaudy, hideous clothing, but other than that this area felt very European to me. The city has a split personality -- Middle East on one side, Europe on the other.
The bumble bee look is hot in Gaziantep this season.
   

My feet hurt and we were hungry, but it was really too early for dinner. So back to the hotel for some rest and showers, then we finally went to the nearby Imam Cagdas for dinner. This place is extremely popular -- people were lined up at the counter for their famous baklava (this area is said to have the best baklava in the world). The dining area was very large and we had no trouble finding a seat since we were so early.

When I first looked at the menu, I thought there would be nothing for me (all meat dishes), but the waiter said that their signature dish, ali nazik, could be prepared vegetarian style. So Steve and I split a salad and waited impatiently for our ali nazik.
Pistachio-laced baklava at Imam Cagdas.
I was surprised when it came. It looked like a bowl of yogurt topped with oil -- ew! Steve’s was the same, but with two fat frankfurter-sized pieces of meat in it. We tentatively dug in and…wow! It was so delicious! The bottom layer was pureed eggplant, which was covered by a layer of garlicy yogurt, with clarified butter drizzled on top. This sounds just awful, I admit, but it was really, really fantastic. By far the best Turkish food we have had so far. We gobbled it down with the puffy bread they were serving and ended up eating WAY TOO MUCH. That didn’t stop us from eating dessert, too, of course. Our helpful waiter set us up with a baklava sampler. Now I generally don’t like baklava -- too sweet, too syrupy -- but this pistachio-spiked stuff was in an entirely different category, and we finished it all. Oph.

We waddled home, feeling some regret by the size of our meal… but already counting the hours until we could eat at Imam Cadgas again.   

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Steves hieroglyphic handwriting.
Steve's hieroglyphic handwriting.
Our wee room.
Our wee room.
They have every kind of nut you wa…
They have every kind of nut you w…
The citadel.
The citadel.
The bumble bee look is hot in Gazi…
The bumble bee look is hot in Gaz…
Pistachio-laced baklava at Imam Ca…
Pistachio-laced baklava at Imam C…
The stairway to our room at Andolu…
The stairway to our room at Andol…
A moat or archeology dig around th…
A moat or archeology dig around t…
Citadel ruins.
Citadel ruins.
Drinking tea, of course.
Drinking tea, of course.
Hammering out a copper pot.
Hammering out a copper pot.
One of many metal goods shop.
One of many metal goods shop.
Coppermiths, caught me taking a ph…
Coppermiths, caught me taking a p…
Scenic Gaziantep.
Scenic Gaziantep.
Apples for sale.
Apples for sale.
Heavily used in Gaziantep dishes.
Heavily used in Gaziantep dishes.
Busy Gaziantep.
Busy Gaziantep.
Pedestrian mall.
Pedestrian mall.
Patriot Gaziantep.
Patriot Gaziantep.
Pedestrian Mall.
Pedestrian Mall.
More pistachios for sale.
More pistachios for sale.
Ali Nazik. Looks bad, tastes good!
Ali Nazik. Looks bad, tastes good!
Our room. If I eat too much baklav…
Our room. If I eat too much bakla…
Gaziantep
photo by: Memo