Canakkale is bustling, even in the off season. I would actually hate to see it during the peak tourist times, although most backpackers would probably enjoy it.
My introduction to this was at http://www.vagobond.com/canakkale-turkey-gateway-gallipolli-ancient-troy/ – Just in case you missed it.
I tend to shy away from tourist places in the high season because I don’t like crowds, I like the locals, and I tend to think that tourist towns are like magnets for all the worst types of people this ugly world produces from drug addicts to terrorists to plain old assholes. But during the off season, I do like to see the pretty places- and most touristy spots are pretty. Canakkale is no exception.
We found a great little place to get fresh fish grilled and delicious in the back streets. I don’t suppose I’ll be going back anytime soon so I’ll share the secret with you. On the road between the dolmus station and the ferry road, there is a tiny little place run by a very nice family. Clean, fresh, and delicious. It’s called Okyanus Balick Calick. Normally, I don’t eat anywhere with anus in the name, but in this case, it was delicious.
There are a number of little monuments in the town. Some old cannons from the Dardanelles battles and a strange ceramic something that is just sort of strange. Of course, as everywhere in Turkey there are no shortage of monuments to Attaturk and the heroes of the Turkish Republic. An Ottoman clock tower somehow seems out of place.
In stark contrast to Manisa, there are a lot of places to quaff a beer in Canakkale. Lucky for me there are plenty of places for shopping too, so I was able to sit in a small cafe/bar for an afternoon listening to jazz and having adult beverages while Hanane shopped. Bliss. I’m very much a Turkish sort of Muslim, my wife on the other hand, well, she doesn’t approve. The difference between Moroccan and Turkish again.
Another difference is the Hammam. After nearly four months here, I finally made a trip to Turkish Hammam while in Canakkale. I went for the full massage at Yali Hammam. As compared with the Hammam in Morocco ( see this post: http://www.vagobond.com/the-hamaam-morocco/ ) I was surprised to find that it was….empty.
The advent of modern bathrooms and hot water in nearly every house has made Hammam a thing of the past in Turkey whereas in Morocco it is still a necessity. I miss going to the Hammam in the Casbah of Sefrou, the social nature of seeing the same guys in the morning, then seeing them through the day. It was nice.
Don’t get me wrong, the Turkish Hammam was fancy with marble basins and a heated center platform for massage plus a closed sauna room inside the main hammam. There were private locker rooms to leave your things in and you could lock the rooms. The massage was good, done by a big serious bald fat man.
The expense, well 35 lira in total (just 10 lira for the hammam alone). Pretty cheap when you consider a full bath, massage, and steam room for 17.5 Euros but when you compare it with 3.5 Euros (35 MAD but just 10 dirhams for the hammam alone) in the casbah, well, it starts to seem expensive. In fact though, both are a bargain. If I were to choose though, I preferred the one in the casbah.
Of course there is plenty more to see and do in Canakkale. A military museum, a castle, fishermen, the strange pyramid, the Nusrat Minelayer, the Korfmann Library and more, but I’ll leave those treasures for you to discover.
Oh, one last suggestion though…make sure to try the peynir helvas. It’s sweet, baked, and delicious with strong tea or Turkish coffee.
Coming soon: Gokceada Island: The Organic Turkish Island
Troy: City of Legends
Gallipolli and the Gellibollu Peninsula
and much more…