‘Amasra. Oh! you must see Amasra.’ ‘Amasra is beautiful!’ Amasra is this; Amasra is that! So, today we went to Amasra; it was a very interesting day out.
The drive over the mountains from Safranbolu is a real delight that should be sampled at a gentle pace, if for no other reason than much of the road has not been improved – yet! The scenery is so different from what we are used to in SW Turkey; here the woods are mostly mixed with coniferous and deciduous trees vying with each other for space and colour. There was one long section in particular that was just splendid with the road covered by a tunnel of cınar (Oriental Plane), dappled by the greens and yellows and browns of Autumn. Sugar loaf hay ricks were scattered all over the place and ‘Heidi’ houses clung to the steep hillsides.
The drop down to Amasra gives great views but few safe places to stop and admire them as you ride the switchback into town. With its two harbours either side of a narrow peninsular and a narrow bridge to an island that is home to more of the town as well as the castle, the setting is beautiful as well as unique. We were there late in the season so there were few tourists about and although the town gives the impression of making few concessions to tourism the shaded pedestrian area near the centre gives the lie to that with the streets lined with small shops all selling the same ghastly tat from China.
Lunch was a delight taken at a small harbourside restaurant. Coming from Muğla we struggle to find fresh hamsi (sardines) so that was our choice and what arrived at table was a great plateful together with a huge and imaginatively presented salad; all for just TL10 a head! Cheap at twice the price!
Later we wandered the island part of town and J managed to sneak in some ‘Brownie Points’ as we trekked to the lighthouse at the highest point – just like the castle at Afyon, it was worth the effort for the all-round view as well as our constitutions.
We drove home the long way round by heading West towards Zonguldak before turning South and up a long climb through a river valley that leads, literally, into the arse-end of Karabük. I’ll come to that in a minute, first I want to comment on the railway that climbs up the same valley – sometimes on the same side as the road, sometimes clinging to the vertical rock face the other side of the valley and sometimes disappearing for miles into tunnels before reappearing. What a feat of engineering, and what a sight it must have been when steam engines, often in fours, hauled the huge lines of coal-laden trucks up to the steel works at Karabük, 1300mts above sea level.
Anyway, back to Karabük and its arse-end. As we arrived at the edge of town the diversions began and then continued into the centre. Road works were everywhere and as is often the case the diversion signs soon disappeared, never to return. It was chaos – bedlam – road rage and stupidity all rolled into one great mess! We got drawn into the gyrations and once in could find no way out. Eventually J nobbled four Zabita guys to get help – go across here one said and around there – but that’s against the traffic flow in a single lane – no problem said he, no police – and he was right, it worked like a dream and after 45 minutes of frustration we were back on track in about 3 – ‘Burası Türkiye!’ ‘This is Turkey!’