Today we were heading to Sanliurfa, I was sort of looking forward to it but on the other hand I wasnâ€™t as I heard the men in Urfa are touchy and we would be stared at more.I guess we will plunge into the unknown and find out for ourselves.Gaziantep had been a refreshing break from touristy Cappadocia, the people here are very welcoming, the attractions well worth a visit and the city had a lovely vibe to it, we really enjoyed our stay here.Our hotel Yesemeq was also great and a bargain at Zehraâ€™s negotiated price of 80 Liraâ€™s a night.
We caught the Dolmus to the Otogar, our bus Tatlises to Urfa was at 10am and a cheap 10 Liraâ€™s.The bus was the best yet, very comfy seats and Internet on board!I couldnâ€™t believe it when I got my netbook out to catch up on my blogs and the attendant said there was Internet on board!! So not only did I catch up on my blog I could surf as well! Turkey has these services and Australia canâ€™t even provide proper mobile coverage!! Say no more.The bus ride was 3 hours through mainly farmland and Pistachio plantations, if I had a car I could have stopped and picked my own nuts!! As we neared Urfa and its concrete blocks the sky started to blacken, I hope we could get to our hotel before the heavens opened up. On our Dolmus ride to our hotel the most unfortunate episode happened to Zehra.I was sitting on the backseats with my backpack still on and Zehra sat a couple of rows in front with her bag on the floor, behind her sat a woman with a kid on her lap, the kid threw up all over Zehraâ€™s bag! Zehra was not impressed, we got off the bus and our priority was to clean the pukey mess off before heading to the hotel. We had stopped at a park so we ask the park attendants if they had any water, they filled up some jugs of water and we managed to get Zehraâ€™s bag clean!
We had just got to hotel in time before the thunderstorm started and it was there to stay for the rest of the afternoon.
An old mansion being converted to a restaurant
We ducked to a cafe on the corner about 10 meters from the hotel for some lunch. The food is spicier here, we both had a kebab wrap and they had some kick! The chillie content was high and the food was a cheap 3 Liraâ€™s.We headed back to the hotel as it was raining too hard to go out and explore. The rain cleared about 4ish so we decided to go out, the city centre was an easy half hour walk. We stopped at Gulhan restaurant on the way which was recommended by the Lonely Planet so that was dinner tonight.We found ourselves in the old part of the city with its old mansions from the Ottoman times.We peeked into one place as the doors were open and we were immediately invited in.It was currently being converted into a restaurant, the guy that invited us in showed us the rooms and explained that they were once bedrooms for large familyâ€™s now these rooms had floor cushions set up and low tables for private dining.The mansion was lovely and it would be nice to see it when the fit outs were complete. We thanked them for showing us around and we continued on our way, we stopped at another restaurant and had a look around this too; this restaurant was open for business.As we walked out the old area we found ourselves in the Bazaar district and close to the Mosque and the fish lake. I observed the people around me and noticed they were a mixture of Turks, Syrian and Kurds. A lot of men wore the baggy Arabic pants that I called Aladdin pants! The Bazaar looked like it sold the same copper wares as Gaziantep so we werenâ€™t interested in shopping.
Close to the Bazaar we could see the Ottoman style mosque so we walked towards it. In the courtyard of the mosque is a water feature containing carp, the pool links up with the Golbasi lake which we will go to next.From the courtyard there was entry to Abrahamâ€™s birth cave, there was no fee but you could offer a donation.Women entered one side and men the other, we took off our shoes, covered our heads and ventured in. The cave was nothing like I expected, it looked fake and stank of foot odour. Women were praying towards a glass window which on closer inspection looked out on to some water which I imagine had fish in it.A large noisy air conditioner pumped air into the room; we didnâ€™t stay in here long.We then strolled to the Golbasi which is a lovely lake containing a large number of carp. The story here it that Abraham was in old Urfa destroying Pagan gods when Nimrod the local Assyrian King took offence and had Abraham immolated on a funeral pyre, God changed the fire into water and burning coals into fish.
An old mansion being converted to a restaurant
Legend has it that anyone trying to catch the carp would go blind! Cafeâ€™s surrounded the lake as well as trees and gardens it was a very peaceful setting. A chap was selling Syrian scarfs next to the lake so we bought a couple.The citadel sat on top of the hill so we headed up there, it was a steep climb up to the top of the hill and a 3 Lira entry only after we had bought the ticket did they tell us we had 15 minutes before closing, that piece of information would of been useful prior to buying the tickets!Anyway we decided to continue, it looked more impressive from below than it did at the top, all you could do was walk along the walls there was no entrances inside anything except the tunnel down.There were a few other people up here so we had time to look around. We walked along the walls which had great views of the city, we excited via the tunnel which was awesome, best set of stairs I had ever walked! The stone stairs that wound its way down through the carved our stone tunnel went on for ages.Once we reached the bottom we strolled over to the arcade wall which is flanked by a long pool containing more carp. Here you can buy food and feed the fish, if anyone did catch a fish they would certainly have fattened dinner on their plate as well as go blind!We walked to the end where they had prayer rooms and a couple of shops. As we walked back along the pool a group of men and women all dressed in black stood in a row for a photo, the way they were dressed we guessed they were from one of the surrounding Arabic countries.Zehra asked a family walking close to us; they said the group were Iranian that explains the black clothing.We continued to walk with the family along the pool and Zehra was chatting away to them she later told me that the lady was 42; married with six children and never went to school so couldnâ€™t read or write. After hearing that I definitely prefer my life!!It was getting late so we walked back via a Kilim shop, we stayed about 20 minutes looking at his carpets but none grabbed us.We went to the restaurant that we had seen earlier and had a nice meal in the family section, downstairs was men only!Now I really felt I was in a different part of Turkey!Despite the bad weather we were impressed we fitted so much in within a short few hours of daylight we had left and all the time we walked around through Urfa we never felt stares or notice any sleaziness about the men it was just as refreshing as Gaziantep.
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