I hit the big pedestrian promenade last PM ?n Kutahya (here’s the big public fountin in the town center) and then the park, hoping for lots more families and such, so I could shoot the kids and then maybe the grandparents, but it was mostly younger people cruising on foot, and not very visually interesting.

So I was out and around Kuthaya this AM, hitting the big mosque and Archaeology Museum,

There’s an old fountain building right next to the old mosque (you have to wash your hands, face, and feet before entering [and usually upon exiting] the mosque— I have seen men stop work in a shop to put down their rug and pray rather than going to a mosque (that’s just fine—you are expected, though, to actually show up on Friday about 1:00 PM) and they go through the washing motions) and lots of old guys hang out there through the day.

They also hang out in and just outside of the card and backgammon parlors—unless this is an informal meeting of the Kutahya Rotary Club. Also in my wanderings, I found (got lost and blundered into, if you need the whole truth) the shoe-repair souk, and I realized what an advantage it is to have souks. If all the shoe-repair places are on one street, it’s pretty easy to find them, plus the competition should pretty much keep prices low.

This guy (one of about 15 on one side of the street in one block—and no other shops of any kind in the block on their side of the street) charged me about 3 Lira ($1.80) to re-sew about 4 inches of the stitching of both shoes.

I figured out that I wore these shoes last year on the b?g trip with Susan, and this year, and at home in the meantime, so they’ve been in 16 countries so far, and that’s more than most people get to, so I wanted to take care of them.

Another Rug-Mob?le?

And speaking of Susan, she’s apparently put some kind of female spell on me, unbeknownst to me, last year in the Balkans.

All the presents I fetched home last year except, I think, for a couple of pillow cases for Teryl, who prints the pictures I sell, were pretty cool stuff—often pretty manly stuff— not the wussy cloth-based loot Susan kept acquiring.

In fact I referred to the VW Golf as the Rug-mobile, as the back seat was piled to the bottom of the rear windows, and then higher than that, mostly with (really girly) fabric and folk outfits.

Well, I may have to turn in my Real Man ID card, as I have a gym bag full of loot I got this year, and (hold on or sit down) it’s almost all full of fabric stuff. Some little pieces of quilt cotton, purses as gifts, place mats as gifts, and the big carpet-square-based donkey saddlebags. Of course, the fabric is helping to protect some of the little stuff I’ve wrapped in the center, but there’s a lot of fabric-based gifts I’m schlepping along in the car.

You’d think Susan was traveling with me again, except if she was, or if anyone was, I wouldn’t have wasted most of an hour getting oriented around Bursa this afternoon.

Other Souks

But here are a couple of shots from the kids’ toys souk and the fabric souk. (Sorry about the reflection.) This is the aft half of a sheep (or goat) hanging in a butcher shop, and there’s a cloth rose pinned to its back and another one, we’ll just say) under its tail. . . . .

I saw more than one of these in more than one shop, so it’s not just one butcher’s bizarre fantasies being displayed here.

The Long, Hot Summer(´s Day Dr?v?ng)

Lots of upper-body-workout mountain miles today, and although I came close to a snipe hunt (there was a hot snipe area marked on the map, and I stopped in the town to ask about the ruins, and he just pointed up the road), there was no brown ancient site sign to follow, so I just kept heading toward Bursa.

But I got a little sniped here in Bursa— I followed the ?hehir Markesi (city center) signs all along the highway into town, which were paired with a brown sign that said Big Hill (Buyuk Dag) and then the sign only said Buyuk Dag so I kept going, and then couldn’t get turned around for about 6 Km (divided highway with a tram in the center) and then I got back to the center and apparently just missed the parade as there were cars and people everywhere.

I wasn’t doing all that well, and then realized I’d not had my normal 3:00 lunch, so tried to work my way out of the old center (through a huge funeral with guys all-but fighting to carry the green (Muslim colors) flag-draped coffin through the streets to the cemetery. There must have several hundred men following the coffin, and a clutch of younger, more active men pretty irregularly taking turns to carry it along.

So I got out of there, stopped and ate, started feeling better, and headed back into the maelstrom of the old city.

I got really close, then stopped and asked a cabbie to lead me there, which he did.

I’d looked at a couple of places earlier, but even though they were listed in Lonely Planet (at the top of their listings, where the cheapest places normally are) they’d been recently upgraded and remodeled, so they were about twice as much as I’m used to paying, plus it was another 20 Lira or so to park. Per day.

So where I am now, about 300 yards from those places, and right on the edge of really old silk markets, spice markets, really old mosques and the like, is only 40 Lira ($25) bargained down from 55, plus they threw in breakfast and I’m parked for free right in front of the place.

Bursa was (literally) the end of the old Silk Road that led all the way to China, until some fiend smuggled out some silk worms (a capital offense in ancient China, of course) and started a huge silk industry here in Bursa.

If those silk caravan guys got as lost as I did on the way into town after walking here from China, the history of the world might have been different.

It got up to 31 today (I have only three cross-points for Fahrenheit to Centigrade: 10 is 50, 15 is 60, and 28 is 82), so it was a little warm, plus it’s a little muggy, to boot.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey

posts by Robert