The “real” Turkey

Our search for “real” Turkey has reached it’s terminus.  We are in Kastamonu, a beautiful city in the heart of the country, not a tourist in sight.  And it’s got a great pulse too.  The city has about 60,000 people and they are all out on the streets carrying on with their day to day business.  The vendors are cater to locals, so gone are the endless stands of junk.  Instead there are practical stores selling tvs, washing machines, and groceries.  But with a little searching one can also find beautiful scarves, cloths, and rugs. We even saw some craftsmen at work. Actually working that is; not toiling for the tourist’s entertainment. 

We have past plenty of nontouristy “real” turkish towns on our bus rides, but from the bus window they’ve all looked pretty unappealing–very poor, rundown, industrial.  Kastamonu, on the other hand, is charming and lovely with plazas, beautiful mosques, and the best pastries yet.  Furthermore, we took a cab a few km out of town to one of the finest surviving wooden mosques in Turkey, dating to 1366.  It was sitting quietly in the middle of nowhere surrounded by fields and a little neighborhood of rundown houses.  The imam was working in the mosque’s garden when we arrived and he unlocked the door for us.  Inside was exquisite.

I met a really nice girl on the bus ride to Kastamonu who didn’t speak as highly of the city.  She is living here for a year because her dad’s work (something to do with Islam she said) required them to move.  She usually lives near İstanbul.  Of course no highschooler likes to relocate, no matter how pleasant the new town.  She was a very sweet girl. It took her a while to work up the courage to talk to me I think.  Steve said he could overhear her and her friend practicing their English.  Finally she leaned over and said “Hello, where are you from?  Welcome to Turkey”.  In perfect English. She really made my day.  It is often hard to know how we are being received.

Comments are closed.

Log in