Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A morning in Kars….

On Tuesday morning, Michael was picked up by one of the students and driven to the University to teach his course.  I grabbed my stuff and headed out to explore the city of Kars.

I didn’t have a map of the city and was worried about getting completely lost, so I got onto Google maps and drew out  a map for myself, showing the main streets and also wrote down the name and address of the hotel just in case I had to catch a taxi back home.

My first destination was the Kars Citadel that is located on the edge of town but only a few blocks from our hotel.    It was built in 1153AD and substantially repaired in 1579….just a few years ago.

As you can see, it is almost straight up hill!!!_6056112

I shared the path with this older gentleman and his two cows who would stop to graze the grassy areas.  I love his umbrella……_6056126 

I have noticed that when I am sightseeing by myself, I look at things in a  different way and notice things that appeal to the quilter in me.  Consequently, one of the first photos that I took was of this wonderful door…..I can definitely see a quilt in that design…._6056134 I am also enamored with windows and doorways…..

_6056152 I also could see making a quilt with some of the windows, with these flower seed pods quilted on them…..

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I slowly climbed this set of 37 STEEP stairs to reach to top most level….

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As I climbed up and especially down these steps, I thought of my friend Lyn who is currently hiking the Appalachian trail.  If my thighs are this sore after 37 steps, I cant imagine what she is going thru!!!!

This is the view of the city of Kars from the top of the Citadel….._6056163

Unlike in the US, there are NO railings or safety guards on the property so I had to be VERY careful while taking photos.

I love the bright splash of color that comes with the Turkish flag…..    _6056183

….and especially when viewed thru a window….._6056194 I also found the old rusted door hinges to  be interesting…..

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Here are a few more windows/doorways that I found interesting…_6056206 _6056212

This is the view to the back of the Citadel….._6056220 As I walked down off of the upper levels, I visited the snack bar and found this wonderful device sitting on a table.  There is a wood fire in the bottom chamber, water in the large urn and tea in the little pot on the right.  Copious amounts of smoke were pouring out of the upper pipe……

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As I watched, the proprietor picked up this contraption by the wooden handles and carried it over to a group of men sitting under an umbrella.  He originally sat it down under the umbrella, but the area filled with smoke and all of the inhabitants started coughing.   He quickly moved it  onto a table not under the umbrella……._6056233 

What happens is that the steam from the urn filters into the two appendages and that keeps the tea pot warm.  Muhammet said that this system gives the water a slightly smoky flavor that is very nice….._6056237

You also need to know that the Turkish tea  is brewed to be VERY strong and most people add a bit of water to the mixture.  Thus the need for the water and spigot.

As I was exiting the castle, I stopped to look at the tomb of  Jalal Baba.  There was an older man there who was in charge of the tomb who shook my hand and said “Englais?”.  I said yes and then looked into the tomb.  When I came out again he pointed to the name “Jala Baba” and  he took his hand and slashed it across his neck to indicate that Jalal had been decapitated…..an effective way getting his point across…..

I had passed three young girls (maybe 14 years old) dressed in school uniforms.  The first time that I saw them I said hello and they tittered after we had passed.  A few minutes later I saw them coming toward me again and I heard them practicing  English phrases before they got to me.   We had a short but very sweet conversation where one of them told me “Welcome to Turkey”!!

In the same vein, as I was walking thru one of the Mosque areas, a young boy and his Dad were sitting and waiting for the Prayer time to begin.  The father asked if I spoke English and then motioned for his son to speak to me.  The boy shyly said “hello”.   I asked him if he spoke English and he moved his hands to say “so-so”.   I then asked him his name.  He told me (Muhammet something) and I told him mine.  Then, almost simultaneously, we both said “It is nice to meet you”.  Both the boy and his father beamed with excitement that he had known what to say. 

I then walked further down the hill to the “Church of the Apostles” which I talked about in a previous post, but was able to get a better photo of it….

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A bit further down the hill took me to the Grand Mosque which is the largest Ottoman-era mosque in the city and was built in the 17 century.  It was severely damaged in the 1870’s but was restored and reopened in 2009………_6056252 

I couldn’t enter the building,  but did surreptitiously take a photo looking inside one of the doors…… _6056254  

I like this photo that shows the two older gentlemen praying before they enter one of the side doors….._6056269 _6056273

As the time neared for the mid-day prayers, I found a place to sit on some steps and just observe the comings and goings. ….._6056276

I saw that the women entered using the small door  on the right side….they are not allowed to pray with the men and must be kept separate.

The men  would go under the porch entrance, take off their shoes, and place them on shelves located against the wall.

As time drew near, more and more men entered the courtyard and began filtering into the Mosque.    There were mostly men, but they were all ages.  Many of the older men wore suits while some of the younger ones were more casually dressed.  Some wore hats of various types including a “skull cap” and almost all carried a set of prayer beads in their hands.  Many would greet their friends with a 3-cheek kiss or would place their hands on their hearts.  Most would raise their hands in a supplication pose before they entered the Mosque.  I had planned to wait until the Call to Prayer began, but Michael called and said that they were on their way to the hotel to pick me up so I hurried back to meet them.

Muhammet, Hulya, Michael and I went to yet another restaurant (Ani Ocakbasi) and tried a different style of Turkish cooking.

As usual, it began with a wonderful bread….. DSC03100

….followed by the usual series of appetizers.  Today we had spicy Bulghar, red pepper puree, spiced yoghurt and tomato and cucumber salad……DSC03102 On difference this time was that the waiter brought olive oil and Pomegranate Molasses to pour over the tomato salad.

I dont remember the name of my dish but it was basically a kebab made from beef and lamb.  This had been rolled in a thin bread and then sliced into bite-size pieces.  It was wonderful with the yoghurt and bulghar.DSC03103

Michael had the kebab meatballs that were very similar to our first meal in Istanbul…..

DSC03104 And just when we thought we had enough food, the waiter brought out this huge, air-filled  bread loaf…..

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We waddled our way back to the hotel!!!!!

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