Monday, 12 October 2009

Doğubayazıt and Mt Ararat

Tuesday 13 October: From the overnight bus around Lake Van I eventually arrived tired and hungry at Hotel Tehran in Doğubayazit just in time for breakfast. Greeted by hazy views of the snow-covered twin-peaks of Mt Ararat from the rooftop breakfast bar. Turkey's highest mountain, you need a permit to climb it - 45 days notice required (next time). Later that day, visited Ishak Pasa Palace perched on a small plateau above the town with tree of life symbology and columed harem. Ate a meal at Yoresel Yemek Evi run by Kurdish wives whose husbands are in prison, drank my last bottle of red wine (for quite a while) and dreamt of Persia . . .
Photos of Mt Ararat and Ishak Pasa Palace.
Turkey summary:
Water: Bottled mineral water, particularly in 5 litre tubs, cheap and readily available.

Drinks: Wine - especially good reds from Pammukale and Cappadocia regions. Beer - Efes brew a good dark beer (6.5%), double roasted malt with a hint of carmel, as well as a 'normal' blonde pilsner (5.0%), a very strong extra (7.5%) and, Gusta, a tastless dark wheat beer (5.0%). Tea - available everywhere, milk less so. Coffee - both Turkish (with grounds) and Nescafe with creamer.
Toilets: Mostly upright in hotels but mostly squat style in places to visit, cafes and trains (Bay=Male, Bayan=female, some also have a graphic) a small fee (about 50TL) is payable.
Turkish Lira (currently £1 = 2.4TL).
Language: Merhaba is hi/hello/good day but Salam Alakum also works well for foreigners who can't speak Turkish, lüften is please, teşekkür ederim is thanks, evat is yes and hayır is no.
TICs: Helpful with free local town maps and guides.
Accommodation: B&B is the norm
Food: Kebaps and salad are kings but also pide (Turkish pizza) especially the thin lahamachan pide and soups (Çorba) are a treat. Breakfasts are, more often than not, a hearty spread of boiled egg, white and yellow cheese, butter, jam and honey with as much fresh bread and tea (Çay) as you can swallow.
Supermarkets: Small and medium sized local stores are easy to find in town centres with larger stores, often the French Carrefour chain, on the outskirts.
Transport: Trains are more comfortable and less than half the price of buses. Rail return tickets are 20% less than the single fare and 1st class couchette sleepers with breakfast car are great.

Medical: Health Centres or private doctors, in most towns, will treat visitors for a fee.

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