The home of my favourite nut!
Gaziantep Travel Blog› entry 21 of 29 › view all entries
Had a good nightâ€™s sleep I even slept through the call for prayer from the Mosque that is right outside our window! Breakfast was buffet and they had the Tulum cheese which I saw in Istanbul so here was my chance to try it, it was awful, sour and tasted like it just came out the goat!
We were meeting our student guide Umut just after 10am and also Christine and Ryan. Everyone turned up just after 10am. Umut doesnâ€™t speak English so Zehra translated. We set off and our first stop was the Bayazhan Museum. Umut pointed out a few interesting sites along the way, one was an old Christian church which is no longer used as a church but converted into a function room. The interesting thing about it was the bullet holes in the outer stone work as a result of the French occupation during the early 20th century. The Bayazhan museum has excellent displays of culture, craftsmanship a well as information on tourist spots to see in Gaziantep. The museum is free and we were given an English audio guide which gave us good knowledge in each section we visited. There were several small rooms each showing a piece of Gaziantep life for example there was the weaving room, shoe making room, a room that showed you how the mother of pearl is inlaid into the woodwork which is commonly seen in shops and markets. A room with the life and times of the pistachio nut! And my favourite display of all which showed you how Baklava is made, I was surprised to learn that it takes 15 years of training to become a Baklava expert. Baklava making is an art form here in Gaziantep not just a food. The museum is excellent and well worth a visit. Next Umut showed us the Bey Neighbourhood which is a cluster of old Ottoman style homes, most of which have been turned into coffee shops with the most gorgeous courtyards. We wondered the narrow streets. We were approached by a guy from the hotel nearby and asked if we would like to see inside a very old Armenian home so we took up his offer and toured the now lovely hotel.
We next made our way to the castle, we took our time getting their because of all the interesting food shops we kept passing, Umut and Zehra were able to interpret some of the delicious morsels on offer. One shop we passed had some green looking small nuts, these were the male version of the Pistachio which they make coffee from! Near the castle was some coppersmiths and their shops and we watched in fascination as they chipped away at the copper pots creating intricate designs. There were also a couple of craftsman making the wooden boxes with the inlaid mother of pearl. The castle wasnâ€™t open for another 15 minutes so we had time to observe these craftsman and browse their shops. The copper was cheap to buy so I would be making a purchase before I left Gaziantep!
Only part of the castle was open the rest was under restoration. The part that was open was the defence museum that dedicated its entire display to the war of Independence. During the late 1800â€™s and up to the early 1920â€™s French and Armenian occupied the Gaziantep area. The museum told the story through information boards, pictures and statues of the struggle for Independence. By the time we exited the castle we were all hungry so Umut took us to a Lahmachun cafe. Lahmachun is essentially a type of Pizza. The dough is really thin and has mince meat, peppers, onions, tomatoes and parsley finely chopped and pressed onto the dough. The waiters bring you a plate of fresh parsley, lemon slices and green chillie peppers. The way to eat this pizza is to put the parsley, squeeze of lemon and the optional chilli pepper or even sprinkle some chilli flakes onto it and roll it up like a wrap. It was very tasty and extremely cheap at only 3 Lira including a can of coke. The Lahmachun are continuously being made so they are always fresh and hot, the moment you sit down one is slapped on your plate within seconds. That was lunch taken care of now for desert! Umut recommended another place which had reasonable prices baklava. This time I tried one which had cream in it as well as pistachios and I had my pistachio green roll favourite. Zehra tried the coiled angel hair baklava and the green roll like what I had.
Our next stop was the city museum only to find it closed as it was Monday so Umut thought the glass museum might be open so we went there, sure enough it was. This museum was small and was housed in an old mansion, pots, glassware and other trinkets from Roman and Hittite times were on display. One object on display made us laugh it was a dildo from the roman times and was made of glass; it wouldnâ€™t be pleasant if it shattered!! The museum also had a pretty courtyard and sold the Pistachio coffee. We wanted to try the coffee so we shared two cups between the four of us, I took one sip and that was enough it tasted like muddy water it was foul.
We still had some daylight so we strolled to the bazaar; most of what was sold here was copper goods and the wooden articles with the mother of pearl. A few shops had spices and nuts and one shop caught my attention which sold what look like white marshmallows in large bags. These white marshmallows were actually cheese, the cheese man sliced off some for us all to try, it squeaked in my mouth as I chewed it, I actually thought it tasted terrible! We ambled through the Bazaar and stopped at another shop that had different sweet stuff. The owner of this stall cut off some bohza which is a fruit paste with pistachio filling, it looked like a strip of transparent leather! Out the other end of the Bazaar you went through to the coppersmithâ€™s bazaar. Coppersmiths were chipping away at the copper pots and there was plenty of copper for sale, I bought myself a dish which would be good for serving up rice, Zehra bought some spoons.
We called it a day after this; we gave Umut 10 Lira each as a tip which made him very happy! We headed back to our respective hotels, Zehra and I were too full from all the food we ate so we stayed in and I caught up on my diary.