Amasra: Last Road Trip with the FamFam

Before the wedding, when my parents were in Turkey we took the opportunity to see as many parts of Turkey as possible.  We went to Cappadocia and saw the fairy chimneys.  Then we started on our Black Sea tour.  The first stop was Safranbolu, and the next was Amasra.

Amasra is a small town on the Black Sea,.  The industry is primarily fishing and tourism.  The trip there is pretty amazing.  You have to drive through the mountains, there are one lane bridges and high passes through the mountains when the road ends six inches from a hundred foot sheet drop with no guardrail.  While the driver has to have their eyes glued to the road the passengers can enjoy the troop.  The drive is incredibly scenic.  From the last mountain you drive up and over there is an amazing view of the town of Amasra.  AmasraIt is on a protected cove with two small peninsulas shielding it from the main sea.  Amasra is best known for its delicious fish and the “Amasra Salad”

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A mix of lettuce, arugula, green onions, green garlic shoots, dill, radishes, parsley, pickled beets, carrots and some other delicious and spicy additions.

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We were there in the off season so it was nice and quiet.  We were just there to enjoy the sights and the fish.  What was interesting was that people were trying to pick us up.  There were some older women waiting on the streets, and when we parked the car they raced up to us, competing over offering us rooms at their pensions or homes.

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We ended up staying in a hotel right on the water.  The pensions offered by the women who were cruising us were well priced and safe, but not on the water.  We were only there for one night and so we wanted to be able to appreciate the sea.

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We had a fantastic time and it was a lovely trip with my parents.  We headed back to Ankara the next day to see some of the local sites and get ready for the Turkish wedding.

Safranbolu

While my parents were here they wanted to head up north as well.  My mom did not want to make plans or reservations, just to play the adventure by ear.  So one day we hopped in the car and drove north towards the Black Sea.  We stopped in Safranbolu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its well preserved Ottoman-era houses and architecture.

TR Adventures and Wedding 009 We had a lovely time.  We stopped and had a bite to eat at small cafe and then explored town. Yes, in this photo I am on the phone.  I had checked for local hotels and was calling to see if there was room for the night.

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And there was!  We stayed at Mehves Hanim Konagi, it was a lovely old Ottoman Style house, wonderfully refurbished. The proprietor was great.  Since it was just my parents and me we thought we could share a large room.  However, since there was no room with 3 beds (only cots for children) she gave us two rooms for the price of one.  IMG_0471

Later we hiked all around town.  There is a large covered pazar which sells all kinds of goods.  Above the city on a hill there is a small park.  For a lira admission you can go in and see a panoramic view of the whole town.  Up on the far side you may be able to see a large yellow building.  That is a restored Ottoman mansion, which is now a museum.TR Adventures and Wedding 013

The museum hosts photos and examples of Safranbolu’s history and culture, though all the explanations are in Turkish.  It also has a gallery of local women’s art work.

After exploring Safranbolu a little morn the next morning we headed off in the morning to the next town on our list.  While it was not too far on the map, it took us longer to reach Amasra than we had thought.  Between the construction, the one-lane bridges and the mountain passes without guardrails it was an exciting drive.   More on that later.

Tales from Amasra No:3

The Final Installment: Gorgeous!
Amasra was just really amazing. It was this tiny town nestled between the Black Sea ans the hills. Our hotel was on the crest of the closest hill and almost had a panoramic view of the sea. Not only was there natural beauty, but the town itself was adorable and quaint. It is a working fishing village.
Much of it built around and within the remnants of Mehmet the Conqueror’s castle.

The view from one side of the hotel.

The view from the other. This is also the view from the dining room of the hotel.

This was taken off the balcony of the hotel room, I was out there to avoid the Turkish bunnies!

Tales from Amasra No:2

The Food

Amasra is a small village on the edge of the Black Sea, and to get there you must drive up the mountains, and once you reach the crest you can see the Black Sea below you and the town of Amasra nestled at the base of the mountains. The story is that when Fatih Sultan Mehmet (Mehmet the Conqueror) conquered Amasra, when he arrived on the top of that hill he asked his second in command“Lala, could this be the Çeşm-i Cihan (eye of the world)?”

And that is where the first meal was, a a restaurant called Çeşm-i Cihan. In Amasra it is redundant to call a restaurant a “Fish Restaurant.” Because that is what they served. Seafood, and drinks. No menus. You are given a choice between two different fish as a entree. Salad comes with the meal. What I love about Turkish salads is that they often come with herbs in them, which make they a little zingy. This salad was particularly good and included, pickled beets, green onions, green garlic, lettuce, carrots, radishes, onions (soaked to get the bite out) dill, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbage.

An appetizer, shrimp casserole. Super delicious, word to the wise, if you mispronounce shrimp in Turkish it easily sounds like drunk. Just an FYI, not that I did that repeatedly.

This was our fish, very tasty, though I forget the name of it, so I have posted it in its natural state below.

After we went to a Farmers Market (Pazar) where the locals were selling all sorts of great stuff. I carry a small Turkish/English dictionary with me which clears up all sorts of things. Like why the blackberry jam tastes like plums (Mulberries) or Why that cheese is decidedly tangy (water buffalo). And let me tell you, these women work hard.

Tons of different types of preserves from jams to different types of pickles, dried fruit, fruit leather, home made cheese and fresh vegetables. One look at their hands took all the fun out of haggling. They were clearly hard working hands.

The Second Day
Tasty Salad

Whiting

Red Mullet: Super Delicate. While you are able to eat the WHOLE thing I just could not bring myself to eat the heads(still had eyes) or the tails.

Dessert was particularly tasty. We did not have sesame halva, but yogurt with honey. Specifically water buffalo yogurt, which is so rich and creamy it is cut into squares to be served, and the honey on top was local, with a very pungent flavor. Well suited to the creamy yogurt, normally it has crushed walnuts on top, but due to my allergy we asked them to hold the nuts. Just in case you think I am a complete and total pig, all these meals were served family style, so orders were shared among several people.