A Wonderful Bayram (Feast)

On Tuesday the 25th Bengali and Celine, two French friends, drove to Mersin from Aleppo for the end of Ramazan holiday. They left yesterday morning. Bengali and Celine are to blame for both a fantastic time and a lack of blog posts!

The View of Mersin

On Wednesday morning we ate a great Turkish breakfast. In the afternoon, with AIESEC friend Ozge, the 4 of us in B+C’s Taurus drove up a road to the mountains northwest of Mersin. We saw a ridge suggesting of a great view of Mersin. Bengali parked the car near a small cemetery and we walked up a road towards the ridge. The road led past vineyards to an unfinished concrete building with a barking dog. My 3 companions were afraid of the dog and the vote stood at 3-1 in favour of abandoning the walk. I was having none of this and continued onwards. Once it was obvious that the dog was chained, Bengali, Celine and Ozge followed tentatively.

We reached a hillside decorated with trees and moderately dense scrub. I was to scout up the hill to see the view and if the view was worth it, my friends would follow. Half of Mersin, including the Taxim International skyscraper (link) was postcard material but the rest was blocked by the hill continuation.

I scrambled up through the scrub, past the pine trees near the top to an opening. This time the whole of Mersin was an absolute picture in the soft light of the receding afternoon sun. I took several photos.

Bengali, Celine and Ozge had not followed and were unsure where I was. I hope the future gift of ‘the view’ photos will lead to their forgiveness.

Afterwoods, at the invitation of Ozge, we visited her Grandmother’s house for Turkish coffee and Kadayif Dolmasi (recipe in English). Kadayif Dolmasi is the specialty sweet of Erzurum where Ozge’s Grandmother comes from. As usual during Bayram, several other friends and relatives of Ozge’s family came whilst we were there to chat and pay their respects to her Grandmother.

Cappadocia

On Thursday morning Bengali, Celine and I woke up at 5 am to drive to Cappadocia, 250 km to the north for the day. Cappadocia in a day is a major assignment and we were exhausted by the time we arrived back to Mersin at 8:30 pm.

Weather-wise, like Wednesday, it was perfect day. Cappadocia is much colder than Mersin and on the way there there was snow covering the top of many mountains. When we were near Nigde, we even saw snow on the side of the road! The proper winter hasn’t actually started yet.

The places in this amazing region we visited included Derinkuyu’s underground city (10,000,000 TL entry), the castle at Uchisar (2,000,000 entry), Goreme and the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys. This was my third visit to Cappadocia but my first by private vehicle. The flexibility of having one’s own transport greatly opened up the region.

The Neighbours

Twice, B, C and I visited my wonderful neighbours Hanifi, Medine, Handan and Taner (back from studying in Adapazari for Bayram). Both times we played Okey. Okey (pronounced ‘Okay’) is a tile-based rummy game and, from observation, is the second most popular game after Tavla (Backgammon) in Turkey. I am really beginning to like this Okey.

Food

Fitting the French stereotype of good food, Celine is a brilliant cook. The baby snapper and other fish she cooked were exceptional. Bengali’s lamb on the first night was awesome, too. My culinary role largely consisted of buying the supplies beforehand.