Safranbolu was our first stop after Istanbul. Getting out of Istanbul was a breeze compared to arriving. The highway soon ended and we meandered through the countryside on roads that at times suddenly demanded our full attention. Later in our trip we encountered much more of this, but the unexpected patches of gravel on an otherwise nicely tarred road certainly added flavor to the ride.
As we left the Karadeniz Bogazi (Bosporous straight) and the Marmara Denizi (Sea of Marmara), the temperature was turned up, literally. At times I looked down to see if my boots were on fire and frequently we stood on our foot pegs at full speed to let our vented mesh gear do its job. Arriving in Safranbolu, we were disappointed. The city looked very ordinary and nothing like the descriptions we read. However, a few twists and turns later, we descended into a small valley and arrived in the old part of the city. Unlike Istanbul, the old part is located quite far away from the newer part of town. Being lower and with no breeze, it was even hotter here. We rode to the center of town and randomly picked a place to eat. It turned out this place was also a hotel and as such we decided to stay the night there.
The picture below was shot from the hotel we were in. Within earshot of our hotel window, we knew the loudspeakers on the minaret would not be our friends at 4:30 in the morning, as one of the 5 daily calls to prayer falls around that time.
A stroll through the city, late in the afternoon, resulted in a few pictures.
The Ottoman-style houses are what Safranbolu is known for. It's a UN Heritage site and slowly it seems houses are being reconstructed.
As we found out by experience, once you leave Istanbul and the Mediterranean coast, tourism is focused exclusively on Turkish people. Menus are strictly in Turkish and no one speaks English, French or German, or any other foreign language. A few words here and there do the trick, together with lots of pointing at other dishes and randomly selecting items from the menu and hoping for the best. We found hotels and food to cost about 40% of what we paid in Istanbul. Fuel is very expensive everywhere at about 1.5 Euros per liter.
A common sight in Turkey are places to wash yourself. Not head to toe, mind you, but frequently men and women soak their head under the public taps and rinse their feet before going into a mosque. Traditional Turkish baths are tucked away in small corners of the cities and presumably accessible to tourists, although we have not tried one.
Mosques are everywhere of course. Surprisingly, there was a church tower in Safranbolu, with church bells defying the Great One every hour.
We did very little in Safranbolu except sit around and cope with the heat. In the evenings the temperature dropped quickly, requiring long pants and a fleece. After a day of rest, we packed early and got moving before it was too hot.