It was time for our road trip to Bursa and Sudat our taxi driver from the day before would be taking care of us. We were all ready to get out of the city and visit the country side.
Sadat was in rough shape and we learned that he had been going through a series of rabies shots. He had saved a small kitten that had severe problems. He took the cat to a veterinarian and while Sadat was holding the cat it decided to bite. Sadat chose to have a series of rabies shots instead of having the cat destroyed for the rabies test. After his third rabies shot and numerous days of misery he questioned the wisdom of this decision. This attitude toward other living creatures is very common in the Islamic religion. He still had a smile but he apologized for not having the strength to shave that morning.
The road out of Istanbul was on a modern highway and the suburban sprawl and factories continued for an hour of driving. Our destination was a small town called Iznik for lunch and a quick stop of the local museum. We crossed the Marmara Sea aboard the local ferry system and continued south through fertile farm land. Every type of crop could be seen in the fields, olive trees, tomatoes, watermelons, peppers, cucumbers and grapes. It is a hot day and of course the taxi does not have air-conditioning and it is a little crowded with the five of us in the car. The stop in Iznik was not very impressive and the museum was even less impressive. Iznik does have a place in the history of the New Testament. It was supposedly one of the locations were the church leaders convened to determine the books that would go into the New Testament.
After lunch we continued our drive to Bursa or rather the Uludag National Park and ski resort. We hoped to do some hiking around the National Park but apparently this is not a popular Turkish pastime because Sadat had no idea what we were talking about.
The normal route to the top of the mountain is a cable car but it was closed for repairs. We asked Sadat to drive us to the top of the mountain via the local access roads. Once we arrived at the top we informed him that we wanted to go to the hiking trails and we would be gone a couple of hours. Sadat took us to the road side canteen and pointed to the road for walking. He didn’t quite get it but I think he was suffering from his rabies shot and was more interested in a nap. We boldly set off for the woods and found some unused trails and lots of trash. The hiking turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. We found Sadat asleep under a tree and we watched tourists playing volleyball. They were having a good time and Sadat informed us in a careful voice that they are Saudi. They were all driving oversized Suburbans and this was a favorite vacation destination. Saudi Arabia does not have a lot of green space. We had talked to some fellow travelers who informed us that the eastern side Turkey has great trekking.
We charged down the mountain in search of a hotel room and a thermal bath. The town of Bursa is considered to be one the most Westernized cities in Turkey and has quite a bit of wealth. The town is also known for its thermal bath hotels and we were all looking forward to it. The guidebook was not a lot of help and we spent an hour looking for a nice place to stay. After walking around inspecting hotels we did not find anything that excited us. Karen stumbled across the Huzer Termal Otel (They don’t use “H” in Turkey) and it is by far the nicest hotel in the area at a very reasonable price. They even make the thermal bath easy because each room has an extra faucet at the tub from the thermal springs. We all soaked before dinner in the Otel Garden.
The next morning feeling refreshed we headed down for another Turkish breakfast. The breakfast is always the same and is quite healthy. The menu consists of peeled tomatoes, cucumber, white cheese, yogurt, honey, jam, bread, olives and hard boiled egg.
Sadat is right on schedule at 9:00 AM and we are going to do a brief city tour of Bursa. Yesil Cami is another Mosque which is supposed to be green but it is actually blue. The Mosque is supposed to be one of the finest in Turkey and the inside is covered with Green Iznik tiles from 1421. Next to the Yesil Cami is the Yesil Turbe which is as you probably guessed is a tomb. The green tomb is also covered in blue tiles and is occupied by Mehmet I Celebi and his children. We of course have to visit the Covered Bazaar and look for shoes. I have run out of deodorant and I spent the morning walking around looking more the only deodorant that works for me, Speed Stick by Mennen. I could not find my brand and worked up quite a sweat in the process.
At this point we have seen enough Mosques and it is time to head back to Istanbul. We would recommend skipping Bursa it did not have a lot to offer. Once we were back in Istanbul we checked into the Hotel Sunlife. We followed our guidebook for a dinner recommendation and walked down to the Borsa Lokantasi which according to the book is an unpretentious spot that serves some of the best food in the city. Bursa Lokantasi was a the equivalent of a fast food chain and the food was not very good. This was actually the first bad meal we had in Turkey.