Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bursa, Turkiye

Tue, 28/1/14, Bursa

Journey today:
Bursa - Akhisar: 250 km (2 hrs 45 mins)
Akhisar - Pamukkale: 201 km (3 hrs)
Total journey: 450km (5 hrs 50 mins)

Bursa - Akhisar - Pamukkale

Waking up early at 5.30am, we got ready for breakfast of salad, cheese and bread at 7am and prepared to check out by 8.15am Again I was quite impressed by the breakfast dish – especially the variety of cheese. 

Being in Bursa in a short while transported us back to the golden era of the Ottoman empire when it was the former capital of the Ottoman Turks before they captured Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453. I especially admired the intricate mosaic tiles, calligraphy and interior decoration of the mosques of Bursa. According to Burak, Bursa is now famous for textile and chesnut candy.

It was cold and drizzling that morning. Our first destination was the Ulu Camii or Bursa Grand mosque. From wikipedia: Built in the Seljuk style, it was ordered by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I and built between 1396 and 1399. There are 192 monumental wall inscriptions written by the famous Ottoman calligraphers of that period. There is also a fountain (şadırvan) inside the mosque where worshipers can perform ritual ablutions before prayer. 

Ulu Camii

sardivan for ablution

chandeliers of Ulu Camii

Calligraphy art in Ulu Camii

We then proceeded to the Yesil Camii or Green Mosque . From wikipedia: Also known as Mosque of Mehmed I, is a part of the larger complex (a külliye) located on the east side of. It was designed by the architect, Hacı Ivaz Pasha who also designed the Green Mausoleum. The complex consists of a mosque, türbe, madrasah, kitchen and bath. The interior of the mosque is decorated with a mosaic of blue-green tiles on the walls and ceiling of the eyvans, from which it gets its name. The exteriors with its domes, now clad with lead, were once also adorned with blue-green tiles in cuerda seca style. There are also traces of gold embedded in the deep blue hexagonal wainscot tiles

Yesil Camii mimbar

Mosaic tiles of Yesil Camii

Mosaic tiles

Opposite to the Green Mosque was the Yesil Turbe or Green Mausoleum. From wikipedia: It is a mausoleum of the fifth Ottoman Sultan, Mehmed I, It is built on a hexagonal plan and crowned with a hemi-spherical dome. 

Yesil Turbe tomb
Before bidding farewell to Bursa, we stopped by at the Silk Bazaar or Yesil Carsi (it wasn't really a market, but a souvenir shop targetting for unsuspecting tourists). For cheaper souvenirs, it was better to buy from the shops nearby. You will see the shopkeepers calling out for you trying to sell their kilims and fridge magnets. It was too late for me, I had already bought a fridge magnet from the bazaar.

interior of Yesil Carsi
We would be having Ramiz meatball lunch on the way to Pamukkale, at city called Akhisar. From wikipedia: Akhisar was mentioned in the bible and hosted one of the Seven Churches of Revelation (Thyateira, Thyatira). It was a busy trade center due to its strategic location at the intersection of important roads during ancient, medieval and the Ottoman empire reign. It is now famous for its locally produced olive oil. Saffron and grape are also planted here. Some info on the biblical Akhisar can be found here

olive trees along the way

scenic view

sheep farm

As for the special Ramiz meatball, it was founded by the orphaned Kofteci Ramiz, who was originally from Macedonia. According to its website, the meatball was made out of pure calf meat, only with salt and onions. The eater tasted only meat on a type of wholemeal pitta roasted in butter then cut. They created an unforgettable taste when served along with grilled pepperoni and in-butter heated tomatoes. To read more, go here

I could attest to the meatball only made of meat – no internal organs, bones or fat. It tasted really juicy. Although it is called as a meatball, the shape is not of a ball, but rather, a flat piece of meat mix. I had a grouse though – I felt it was too salty for me. 

salad with olive oil dressing, really healthy!

yummy butter rice

Ramiz flat meatball

Ramiz restaurant

We stopped for our solat at the Hilal Camii at Akhisar, not far from Ramiz Park. Ah, I must mention that mosques in Turkiye have a separate section for ablution from the prayer hall, where you have to wear your shoes to the ablution place, then wear back your shoes to go the prayer hall. Compared to mosques in Malaysia, you only leave your shoes at one point before entering the mosque i.e. you don't have to wear it back from the ablution place to the prayer hall. Anyway, I am not complaining as the mosques of Turkiye are simply beautiful, especially the chandeliers. Plus, I came equipped with my trusty selipar Jepun. One thing I hope is that Turkey mosques could supply hot water for ablution. Since it's winter now, it was freezing cold!

Hilal Camii. Ablution place is via the right entrance, prayer hall on the left.
Hilal Camii ablution place

Prayer hall
We continued our journey to Pammukkale for another 3.5 hours to arrive at 6pm, not before stopping by at Varol textile factory, famous for cotton products- towels that could last til 10 years – according to Burak. Total journey from Bursa was 8 hours. It was already dark when we arrived at the 5 star Lycus River hotel. Dinner was served buffet style, we had to queue with hoardes of tourists from possibly Singapore (oriental look) and Westerners (probably German from the accent).

The hotel was beautiful with a chic fireplace and a huge swimming pool (luckily it was winter as I didn't bring my swimsuit – next time I must bring it wherever I go). But it also had a thermal pool- so I wasn't able to enjoy this. The hotel did have complimentary face mask (nothing to shout about – just a face scrub being applied and left on for for about 20 mins, and that was it). We did enquire about the Turkish bath complimentary entrance as advertised by our travel agent – Poto travel – but it wasn't free actually. Turkish bath with scrub and massage costs USD50 for 30 minutes. We declined and just went for bed therapy instead. 

Lycus River hotel

chic fireplace

Lycus room

Indoor thermal pool

Outdoor pool

Dinner buffet style. This is fish with cous cous and meatball



Post a Comment

<< Home