NOTE: Additions to the text in red were added during the report compilation, for the website.
NOTE: Sharon's comments will be in {curly brackets}.

Saturday, November 22, 2008. Day Trip to Iznik. Ceramic Tile Art Center. Day 6 of 21.

We get up in a leisurely fashion this partly cloudy morning. Today we plan to do a day trip to Iznik, where we will eat in a favorite restaurant of Cihan's, and visit Tara's friend and artist Fatma who makes tiles and ceramics as they have been doing for hundreds of years in Iznik.

Last night while coming home, my seat belt came detached from the floor in the front passenger seat. It was the weirdest feeling to have the shoulder harness/lap belt attached at the door, but flopping loose where it was supposed to be fastened to the floor.

Cihan repairs the attachment this morning and we head out. I buy a tank of gas, 102 Turkish Lira at 2.91 lira/liter. This is 9.27 gallons, which works out to $6.63 dollars per gallon (at exchange rate of 1.66. If exchange rate is 1.58, then this is $6.96 per gallon)

We head westward along the south edge of the local branch of the Marmar Sea. Cihan says there are two ways to get to Iznik. One way is the scenic route, over the mountain, straight south. The other way is high speed freeway all the way, is longer, but is shorter in time. Our plan is to do the scenic route over, and fast route back.

As we start winding upward, we begin to see homes and apartments nestled in the valleys.

Scene seen as we travel over the mountain toward Iznik.

We continue on, and come to a herd of goats seemingly being cared for by a couple of dogs, one of which is a Kangal. Everybody knows about this breed of dog but me.

A Kangal Dog, the National Dog of Turkey

It is difficult to see, but there is a spiked metal collar around the dog's neck. This is to prevent wolves, bears and other big animals from being able to bite it in the back of its neck.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say:

The breed is often referred to as a sheep dog, but it does not herd its charges. Instead, it is developed to live with the flock and act as a livestock guardian dog, fending off wolves, bears and jackals. The Kangal Dog's protectiveness and gentleness with small children and animals has led to its growing popularity as a guardian for families as well, as it watches members of its flock with extreme devotion.

We continue on, driving along the shores of Lake Iznik for a bit, arriving at Iznik, driving straight to the revered Kofte restaurant, pictured below. {On the way we see many people harvesting olives in the orchards around Iznik. It looks like they place tarps or cloths under the trees and the olives fall onto the tarps. I don't see them shake the trees, but I am reminded of Uncle Calvin's plum trees and how they had a big "shaker" machine that would shake the plums off the trees and catch them in a big umbrella-like structure.} That's Cihan on the far left, by the car. When Cihan talks with relatives, he says, "We've come over to Iznik, to eat Kofte." Well, we've come over to look at the tiles and visit the museum, but all Cihan's relatives love this restaurant too, and he wants to needle them just a little. What a kidder. {And you should have seen the parking job Cihan did here! At first he was just going to kind-of double park the car beside a small space but then a young man told him "you can make it" so we all got out of the car and he squeezed into the smallest spot you have ever seen, never bumping either car. Way to go, Cihan!}

Cihan's Favorite Kofte Restaurant, in Iznik

Kofte, Kebabs, Steaks are ready to be cooked

At 3 pm, we're finally finished with lunch, in which I had an absolutely delicious chicken-ke-bob, along with sliced tomatoes and french fried potatoes. {I had lamb kebab (wonderful as usual) and Tara and Cihan had the kofte that this place is famous for. After dinner, they served us tea, of course with our dessert and I admired the little saucer under the tea glass that had the logo of the restaurant. I asked if I could have one as a souvenir (after thinking of just slipping one in my purse. SHARON!) so, of course, they gave me four to take home. Those Turks! Such great people! I am reading a book, kind of a travel book about Turkey and the author talks about the generosity of the Turkish people as coming from their nomadic roots. Then any person who would be travelling would be welcomed, fed and sheltered as you would never know when you might need the same assistance if YOU were travelling alone. We experienced the same kind of friendliness and help from the people in Northern Canada and Alaska where people help each other in the "we all need to work together to survive" attitude.}

We load up in the car, and head over towards the museum. Infrequently, we encounter a tractor and wagon rig, being used as transportation. A man drives the tractor and the women ride in the trailer. I don't see no stinking seat belts.

A Relaxed Way to Travel

We continue over to the museum. On the way, we pass by this gate in the old wall that protected the city.

Old Wall Gate

If you look carefully in the photo below, you'll see at two or three toy pistols that seem to be exact replicas of real ones. Cihan says it's very common, and most of the boys play army with them.

I played with realistic toy guns when I was their age too, but events in the US have made these dangerous things to have because of the implication of what they might be, to the police.

We continue on to the museum to see what's to be seen. There is a small charge to enter. The museum seems to be pretty basic and bare to me, but it's a small city (22,000 population) and I was not expecting much. {We have our usual museum experience where I read every card in the exhibit cases and Bob (and Cihan too it turns out) just scans the objects and is ready to leave. There is a class of students about 12 years old who are there from their small village with their English teacher who comes to their village only twice a month to teach them English. They are both eager and hesitant to speak English with us (much as I feel speaking Turkish) but they are sweet and fun to talk with. We see many cool things in the museum from Roman times to Seljuk and Ottoman periods, examples of tiles and ceramic work. Also we see huge amphora that were used as burial urns, one with a skeleton still inside.}

A burial coffin.

The day is cool and breezy, with clear sky above, but clouds are building in the distance.

High contrast between the museum/mosque and the sky.

Cihan says there is a photographic digital technique called HDR, wherein the photographer brackets the normal exposure setting with two higher and two lower exposure photos. Computer software then blends them using the "good" exposure pieces from the five photographs, creating a resulting photograph almost all of which is in good exposure. We tried it with five exposures, including the one above, of the museum/sky high contrast lighting situation, but Cihan apparently didn't have the proper software to handle the way we shot the scenes. I shot them hand-holding the camera, and it might have worked if we had used a tripod.

Looking on the internet, I see that the version of Photoshop AFTER the one I'm using has software that does this.

We check out the museum, where we meet up with a group of students and their teacher, from a small village outside the town. She says she brings them here every once in a while, and some speak English with Sharon and Tara.

Some of the students we met in the museum.

Cihan and I walk around the exterior grounds while the women check out the last room inside. The way Cihan and I visit museums is similar to the way Chevy Chase checked out the Grand Canyon in the movie "Vacation." The family gets out of the car and the wife and kids are ooing and ahing. Chevy dips his knees a couple of times and says, "OK, let's go."

I had fun lining up this stone with a rose behind it.

I love the huge amphora jars that are scattered around one quarter of the property.

Great Place for Hide-and-Seek, called Hide-and-Go-Seek in Missouri in the fifties.

As we head over to check out the Green Mosque, a super friendly kitten declares his admiration for Tara by climbing up her leg, then her coat.


Here kedi, kedi

The Green Mosque is a famous attraction in Iznik, and it's quite beautiful, in the ancient Turkish tradition.

The Green Mosque


Cihan and I go in to the entrance area, take off our shoes, then enter the mosque proper, where we admire the architecture and look at the features of the construction. Several men come in to pray while we're in there.

We make it back to the car without the cute kitten {Dang}, and drive over to Fatma's studio, Tara's artist friend. She has a wood fire going in a stove and it is chilly enough that it feels good. Sharon and I check out the pieces she has done. We admire some turquoise quail chicks, a pair of tiles, a pair of turquoise earrings and a couple of other things. We forget that in Turkey when you admire something in someone's home and complement them on it, by custom they give it to you.

So Fatma gives us all this stuff. We want to pay for it, but she won't let us. We love Fatma. She shows us her work space in the back, and some things she is about to fire in one of her two kilns. We finally say goodbye and drive back to Golcuk the highway way, but Cihan stops off at the Kofte restaurant first and picks up a lot of their meat products to take home first. {Then we went to an old medrese (a school near a mosque where students would study the Koran. Called madrase in English) that has been turned into setting for shops selling tiles and Fatma has her shop here. We go into many of the shops and they open shops that have already been closed for us. We see many things we want and like and, of course, buy things here. (at least here, we can buy some of Fatma's works) So we go home very happy. The medrese is built in a traditional form with an open courtyard surrounded by classrooms that in this one have been converted into shops, about 10 by10 in size.}

I doze, then wake up and we're home. Ah, I will sleep well tonight. See you manyana.

Birds: No birding today.


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