Here in Talas, surrounded by newly built high-rises, we could be anywhere in the world (except for the a-la Turka toilet which basically is squat potty and which we keep locked at all times and use our regular bathroom). So when we stepped into the city centre with its spice shops and indoor bazaars and old buildings, it was as if we travelled to another city altogether. Especially when we saw this traditional carpet weaver in the cultural centre (although the spirit of tradition and time was somewhat dampened by a mobile phone in her hand. It did look like a very old Nokia, so I guess it might be considered an antique in its own right.)
The cultural centre itself is located on the territory of an old complex with a mosque, a tomb (spelled as ‘temb’ on the English language information sign), a cafe and numerous little rooms where one could have a seat on traditional divans or watch craftsmen work
Speaking of specialties: one thing you can`t escape (and nor would you want to) in Kayseri is pastirma – spicy cured beef, and sucuk – spicy garlicky sausage.
I`ve been spotted! Or they might have been looking because we were speaking English. Nothing whips people’s head around faster than us speaking English or Russian. The other day I answered my phone in English on a bus and the whole bus turned around and looked at me.
This is a charming old area fool of little shops with unhurried shop keepers. We wanted to buy a doormat (which incidentally cost 2 lira, or 1$) but couldn`t find a shop keeper. From everything we read, we expected carpet sellers to jump out from every corner and drag is into their shops, but nobody as much as suggested we by a handkerchief. All we got were mildly curious looks seeing as how we looked touristy and I continually snapped photos with my mobile phone (our camera did not survive the trip so all the photos are made with a mobile phone. Which is still unregistered and not working).
Here is another specialty. There are several fish shops on one of the main roads in the centre (we usually take it on our way from the bus stop in the centre to one of the large shopping centres called Kayseri Forum). Not only can you buy fresh fish, you can also eat a fish sandwich with freshly fried fish.
When our friends arrived, we went to a terrace restaurant called Lider. It was really full (well, it WAS Saturday night), so it took almost 30 minutes for our order to be taken, and we didn`t get traditional appetizers (a tomato dip and a green salad) which are usually on the house even in the smallest of cafes and part of our order got forgotten (Mike wanted some olives and cheese) but the food was outstanding. A mixed grill of lamb, lamb cutlets, lamb kofte (sort of like meatball except it’s shaped like a braid), chicken, chicken wings and a tiny beef burger, accompanied with grilled veggies, lettuce, onions and of course fresh bread.
We finished our meal off with glasses of traditional Turkish tea, although I wouldn`t have minded a glass of red wine to accompany the meat and warm me up. Instead I had to do with a blanket and we really enjoyed our meal and the company.