Gepubliceerd op 31 mei 2024 om 12:07


a vibrant city on the border of Europe and Asia

about the same size and population as the Netherlands

a city walk along the highlights

we take a look inside the Grand Mosque

visit the Topkapi Palace, the former residence of the Ottoman sultans

and the Basilica Cisterne;

Istanbul had no natural springs, water was brought from the mountains by aqueducts and stored in underground reservoirs, we think this is a beauty

we cycle through the inlands of Turkey

from Istanbul via Cappadocia to Sivas

often on the four-lane highway, the only road, the least exciting but also the least strenuous

we camp in the wild

where owls keep us awake

in the authentic villages along the small mountain roads

people are incredibly hospitable

and above all very interested

we are invited to çai everywhere

and have to eat with them and stay overnight

stay a week

we communicate with Google translate
Jo's phone is with the hosts
Wen's phone is between us

we occasionally take our rest in a B&B

and get pampered in a hammam

we take the night bus from Sivas to Trabzon

where we have a house on the black sea for a fortnight


eroded lava rock in which people carved dwellings 3,000 years ago

beautiful walks through red, rose and love valley

there are tours in Landrovers, oldsmobile convertibles, with horses and on quads

due to moderate weather, we did not see any hot air balloons

living conditions

all men smoke, a lot

outside, in the car, in the house and while eating

they find life tough

the pension is not sufficient

you have to work until you die

six to seven days and 80 hours a week

all buildings are crumbling

old leaking plumbing and keeled window frames

rugs over the worn-out sofa

the cars are kept running

food often consists of cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, jam and honey with fresh bread, delicious bread

most from the garden or homemade

sour unripe apricots are picked from the tree and eaten with some salt

menemen, a breakfast of peppers, tomatoes and eggs that you dip your bread in

A sample of one of the many encounters


We have cycled a kilometre and a half and are standing at a crossroads near the mosque at 9.30 in the morning, a black sky, we're watching the weather. From a small bike shop, two men come to take a look at our bikes. We are invited to çai. The bikes can stay under the shelter. One of the men, a pump attendant, asks and chats a lot with Google until he gets on his moped to go to work. Ali, the other man and owner of the bike shop tells us that he has had cyclists in his house. He also invites us to stay at his place. We indicate that we want to continue after the rain. It starts raining hard and the sky remains dark. Wen would like to accept his offer after all. When we tell him, Ali jumps up and laughs broadly with his entire face. He calls his wife and the thumb goes up. Several men visit his shop, often just drinking çai. The front room is the workshop and the ceiling is full of tyres and wheels of children's bikes. Outside are 15 children's bikes with flat tyres and rusty chains, some without handlebars or saddles. Behind the workshop is a room with stock. 'Come,' Ali gestures to me, behind the warehouse is another room with a kitchen and a table with chairs and all kinds of machinery. 'This is where we work in winter when there is snow outside'. He makes cages, storks out of wood, tables and chairs. Proudly he shows them off. Back in the shop, I have to sit on his chair behind the desk. I feel a pleasant warmth at my legs. There is a small electric stove blowing warm air. While we sit and drink çai, a tyre on a children's bicycle needs to be patched and a few more bikes pass by that need some tinkering. But Ali also lends a impact drill and cars with minor defects pass by. His youngest son, 22 and one leg longer than the other, also works in the shop. The bumper of a car is fixed back in place with metal plates. Ali sends his son off with some money. The son returns with a bag of groceries. 'Do you like spicy?’, Ali asks and makes some kind of stuffed hot chicken soup in his kitchenette. I make the tuna salad we prepared this morning. The son is sent out again with money and returns with bread. The four of us, Ali, his son and we eat in the back room at the table. From the fridge come pickled vegetables; we eat deliciously. It is an amusement to see what goes on in the shop one day. At about four o'clock, Ali says 'I have an hour of work, you should stay here'. And at five o'clock he arrives in his old blue Renault. His wife also gets out, a friendly little broad-built woman with two more teeth in her mouth at the top left. We have to cycle behind them to their flat, 'near here, cross the bridge and then turn right'. They have a spacious flat, fortunately on the first floor. We leave the bikes in the open vestibule of the entrance, take the necessary bags and sit on the sofa with Ali and his wife. We can keep it talking with Google and a nature program on TV in the background. When the call to prayer sounds, the TV sound is switched off. Ali goes to wash off his 'sins' and prays in his bedroom. Every day Ali visits the mosque at 5am in the morning before he is going to work, until 5pm. He doesn’t have holidays, 'I've never been to Istanbul. You can't live on your pension so you have to keep working. We are going to grow vegetables behind our flat on the municipality's land. They won't say anything about that anyway'. Ali has two other sons, aged 28 and 30, they live in Kayseri. We get to speak to both sons via whatsapp. The sons do not have a wife, which is a bit of a problem; according to Islam, parents remain responsible for their unmarried sons. Mother goes to Kayseri once a week to keep an eye on things and to clean. The eldest son worked in the warehouse of a pharmaceutical company. To earn more money, he accepted a new job in a textile shop. Six days a week, an 80-hour contract. He would like to go to Germany or the Netherlands, but it is hugely difficult and expensive to get a passport and visa. Mother, who was busy in the kitchen all the time, says dinner is ready. Meatballs in broth, very tasty courgette, manti, Turkish ravioli with yoghurt and chilli sauce, a green salad and, of course, bread. Ali finishes it in no time. We are completely satisfied after the three dishes. Ali points to his belly 'this is what we call the Turkish muscle. What you do, cycling, I couldn't do, I would fall over from fatigue and my heart would stop' he says and lights another cigarette. A pot-bellied neighbour comes over with her shy twin daughters to see who is next door. She was busy with milk downstairs. When she has left, she has her daughters bring fresh milk that Ali's wife cooks. We drink another glass of hot milk and by nine we go to sleep.

Reactie plaatsen


Er zijn geen reacties geplaatst.