The life of a solo traveler can be great, but I have to admit I’m very happy that my wife has arrived. Suddenly this house doesn’t feel empty and today, Sunday, we set out for a nice walk through our new hometown of Manisa, Turkey.
After a late morning and some pancakes for breakfast, we set out walking just to see a little bit of Manisa together. Of course, I’ve already had plenty of long walks in Manisa, so I took us in the general direction of some things I wanted her to see and to see for myself.
We strolled through Fatih park, past the statue of Tarzan of Manisa (still with a broken arm) and then up past the mosques where I told her about Mesir, the spicy candy for which Manisa is quite famous.
The museum of Manisa is still closed for renovations, so we couldn’t go in, but we did get a peek in the courtyard and saw quite an astounding number of Roman, Greek, and Lydian sculptures.
From there we strolled towards the signs that point the direction to Sypil Mountain Park and Niobe (which I will talk about tomorrow for Manisa Monday). Manisa is really an amazing place. It has one of the only protected forest parks in all of Turkey, there are hot springs in the mountains, it has a huge number of historical buildings, ruins, and structures, and it is clean, beautiful, and safe. On top of that it has a thriving Industrial Free Trade Zone, plenty of agriculture, and friendly warm people. So, with all of that, why isn’t Manisa a tourist draw?
Simple. Manisa sits surrounded by the cities of the Aegean Coast, the ruins of Sardis and Ephesus are close enough to draw historical tourists, and the city of Izmir is a metropolis seaside playground. If Manisa were not surrounded by so much, it would be one of the top places in Turkey.
Of course, the way things stand, I like this kind of city. It’s why I prefer Bellingham to Seattle, Kailua to Honolulu, and Sefrou to Fes. Everything you could want and the shitty tourists get drawn into the surrounding vortex zones.
Anyway, we took a small hike up into the mountains and were astounded by the quick change in environment from urban to wilderness. A herd of goats sat on a steep mountainside, they were too far away to tell if they were wild or domestic.
From the mountain we strolled along the high road taking in the view and seeing the more traditional way of life when one gets outside of the city center. Sadly, what you would expect was true, the poorer areas had more garbage which probably translates to less government services like garbage pick up. Still, people looked generally happy and healthy.
We saw three little guys riding a tiny tricycle down a steep hill and about twenty older guys taking turns riding a mule two at a time. We found a couple of cafes which offered stunning views of the city and then hiked back down through the city center to my favorite restaurant (so far) Konya Mutfagi. I had the pide (Turkish pizza) and Hanane had the chicken wings. Lucky for me, she liked the food too, so we can keep eating there. For both of us the total was 20 lira which included pide, salad, chicken wings, two sodas, two waters, and tea. That translates to about $13 which is a pretty great price for such a delicious meal.
From there, it was time to go home. The house, as I said before, actually feels like a home now that Hanane is here and despite the fact that I thought it was pretty clean, she insisted on cleaning it again and I can see the difference easily.
Yeah, it’s nice to have her here. To hear the television, to have the Arabic conversations with her family going on in the living room (via Skype) and to be able to play and explore together.
Tomorrow, I will tell about Manisa’s patron saint of remorse. Niobe.