Sometimes, a place hits you at just the right speed for just the right point of a trip.
Safranbolu is small. Quiet. Pretty. Calm. After a long, hot day in Bergama and a sixteen hour night-to-noon bus trip, it’s also exactly what I need.
Now, the place isn’t boring, per se. There’s enough to see and do and, if you wanted, you could use it as a base to explore some of the surrounding countryside, which features a canyon with a glass walkway, a nice looking aqueduct, a cave, and another historical village nearby. I chose to do none of that.
Instead, I decided to just enjoy the town, see the nice little houses, stroll around slowly, and make frequent stops back at the pension for a lie down.
Not a nap, mind you. The pension is owned by a younger guy who speaks English (who I haven’t met, except over the phone), but seems to be run by his parents. His mom may be the yelliest woman in all of Turkey, while his dad may be the most yelled at man in all of Turkey.
So not much peace and quiet during the day. Still, big open window, cool breeze, room to myself, no complaints.
After establishing that I was staying a second night (because running a pension in Turkey means you don’t have to check email), I started my day with a wander. I made it to a nicely hidden tourist office, got a good map of the place and wandered up to the city museum, which was next to the old clock tower and prison, which is now serving as a restaurant. They actually had a section of the museum devoted to 80s computers (strange), and the rest was old coins, photos, artefacts including an actual jar of tears (which you cried into at funerals) and MANNEQUINS!!!
Now, cheesy mannequins are sure to invoke the “Casa Bonita” rule, but I’ll give the ones in the museum credit – they weren’t half bad.
They went downhill as the day went along, but we’ll get there.
After climbing the clocktower to get a window’s worth of a panorama, I made my way back into the centre, grabbed some lunch (not too thrilled with the food in Safranbolu so far), and headed back for a lie down.
After escaping the heat, back up, this time to check out the Cini Han, the town’s old kervansaray, from when Safranbolu was an important stop on the silk road. Similar to the morning, a stop inside showed some small displays, a panorama of the town and MANNEQUINS!!!
THESE ones started to get a bit cheesy, including one guy who seemed to get the short end of the stick with the Texas handlebar moustache, and a child who was, inexplicably, herding about twenty or so toy goats inside. Some of the goats had fallen over on their side, so obviously the upkeep of the mannequin display is of the utmost importance.
A stroll through and around the old bazaar led me to the Kaymakamlar old house, one of the larger old houses which has been turned into a museum, which of course means MANNEQUINS!!!
Now, these ones were BAD. Between the woman mannequin in the kitchen who was missing fingers (good for her to work through that), another one who was watching a baby who may or may not have been a cabbage patch doll, and a harem scene where everybody looked just a little haggard, the mannequins here were pretty bad. My favourite may have been a guy leaning against a wall, staring into space for no reason. We took a selfie together. Good times.
So now, I’m back here relaxing, planning the rest of the day. It’s about 4pm local time, so I think the order of the afternoon is find an internet café with Skype (the mic on this computer is down), go to the hammam, which is supposed to be one of the best in Turkey, and see if I can go 1 for 3 on decent meals while I’m here.
That’s the big, unambitious plan. Considering the remaining eleven days feature a twelve hour bus ride, a night bus, a flight back to Istanbul to the airport in the middle of nowhere, a flight to Rome, three Italian train rides….
I’m just going to stop there and savour the fact that Safranbolu kind of forces you to relax. Wonderful!