Saturday, September 22, 2012

Black Sea - I Love Thee

The weather in Istanbul has been a bit unpredictable lately, as weather is, everywhere this time of autumnal shift in the northern hemisphere.  Last week saw a bit of rain and chill.  I wondered if it would stay.  Talked with a friend about weekend plans... and decided that sun would lead us to the Black Sea, and rain would take us to Dolmabahce Palace. 

I love sleeping in on Saturdays.  I always have.  I think Saturday is my favorite day of the week.  Friday is over, and Monday is still a day away.  Saturday is just for doing whatever comes to mind.  It doesn't have to busy and I can take as long as I want to leave the house. 

I had just gotten up and made my coffee when I got a call...."What are we doing?"  I hadn't yet been outside, but I could see sunshine on the buildings.... The sea it would be.  It took a while to depart.  I sipped coffee, ate my toast, read my devotionals, checked Facebook.  Lazy daze. 

                                            This beast greeted us upon leaving the apartments.

I think the cat had the same idea... take your time, enjoy the sun, and don't move through the day too quickly
We sauntered slowly down the hill, stopping to add credit to our bus passes and to pick up a little eggplant meze from the neighborhood deli.  We dodged traffic poorly, but managed to stay alive and hopped on a bus heading to Sariyer for a transfer to the Black Sea.  The bus was not too crowded and we were able to sit watching the crowds fall away.  The little coastal areas surprised me as we made our way up the Bosphorous.  Another friend had given us instructions as to how to get to the beach.  We needed to hop off in Sariyer and transfer to a dolmus.  For me that word has always been associated with the little finger appetizers I am so fond of... grape leaves stuffed with rice and lamb.  Well, in the transportation world, there is a similarity,  in that the meaning of the word does indeed come from the root meaning "stuffed".  And we were.  A dolmus is a short bus or a large taxi depending on where you are.  We found one quickly, mainly because there was a funny man standing on the street calling out to all of us... something incomprehensible to me, but clearly he meant... CHEAP RIDE ON A SHORT BUS GET ON NOW FOR BLACK SEA.

We did and we were indeed stuffed.  I wish I could tilt this picture just so you could see my vantage point  In actuality, perhaps the perspective is perfect.  This was before several others joined us.  The ride careens around corners, up hills, through narrow passageways at breakneck speed.  Who needs amusement parks?  I stood the entire time because I wanted to see the passing scenery... What magnificent country.  Shrubs and low cedar filled the hills.  At one point there were two cows munching happily on a hillside.  All along the ride, people got on, and people got off, handing their lira up to the driver via passing the coins through the crowd.
I've lived near enough beach towns to know when we had reached our destination.  Seaside is the same almost everywhere.  We got off our dolmus and suddenly were taken aback by the magnificent colors of the sea stretching out before us.  A clear demarcation, (natural) between deep waters and the shallower but dangerous water near the shore was nevertheless, stunning in color.  I have been told that almost in a day, the sea does indeed change to a blackish color.  For now, this day between summer and fall... the water remained azure and inviting.

  I hadn't eaten since breakfast and had agreed to buy lunch.  We headed toward the water hoping for a restaurant that overlooked the sea.  We made a choice, (though later on wished we had kept going as there was a closer spot).  The staff were very happy to have us.  Summer was departing quickly and I suspect income is difficult to come by in this small resort town in the off months.  Our waiter, whom I think was perhaps also the owner, insisted I come inside to see the fresh fish laid out for display.  He kept saying over and over in English.... "Fish very good!".  We made our choices, and enjoyed a leisurely lunch of bread, meze, salad, sea bass, shrimp casserole and a crisp bottle of not so bad white while overlooking the Black Sea.  I feel so unbelievably grateful and sometimes.... often.... have to remember this is not  a dream.  I am here.  These experiences are part of my life. 

As I said, our waiter was very attentive.  There was a woman lurking about throughout our dining experience.  I suspect she was his wife, as she once gave me the evil eye, and had some words with him.  Really, I had no intention of running off with him.

 Ali, our waiter who allowed me to take a photo of him.  Perhaps this was why his wife was upset?

After lunch, we took a walk down to the quay to watch the men cleaning and storing their fishing nets.  I didn't manage to get the shot I wanted of them... but you can see that fishing is an industry in this small village, and that they manage to stay quite busy.  I love the Turkish flag flying over them as they go about their work.
 You can see the demarcation of water color in this photo.  There is evidently an extremely dangerous undertow at this beach and people are cautioned not to venture out too far.  In spite of this knowledge, there are numerous cabanas and entertainment areas all along the beachfront.  I imagine it is quite crowded during the hot days of summer when people can flock to cooler spots.  I found a bottle of perfume on the beach with two small barnacles still attached.  I thought it was a good statement about the temporary nature of "things" and "stuff".  I also was wooed by a horseman who desperately wanted me to pay for a short ride on his horse.  I declined but snapped his photo.  Isabel, my granddaughter would have LOVED the beautiful horse blanket he had under the saddle.  We watched a group of women jumping joyously in the surf, and I picked up shells while my friend snapped a picture of me to prove I walked the shores of this sea.

The day was shifting.  I needed some tea after the split of wine, and in spite of my words about stuff and things... I was on the hunt for a particular pair of shoes.  We had spotted a few shoe stores back in Sariyrer, and if we were going to make it home before dark, it was time to leave the seashore. 

It's very late (or early depending on your perspective) as I write this entry.  Tomorrow is Sunday and I will tell about the trip back to Ortakoy.  What a lovely and grand day.

 May all of your weekends be as glorious.

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