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Turkey with Kids: Bursa – silk and peaches.

Our second day in Bursa was wonderful.

Bursa fruit market

Bursa fruit market

It started with breakfast – our hotel laid on a good spread of cheese, salami, olives, various breads – very Mediterranean and very good.

We love to visit the markets in every country we go to (and the supermarkets too!). We headed out of the hotel and very soon we were slap bang in the middle of one of the best fresh produce markets we’ve ever seen. Bursa is a big fruit growing region – famous for its peaches – and we were amazed by the variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts, you name it – on sale. But more than that – it was all spotless, and every stall was set up perfectly – it must be a painstakingly slow job for each stallholder every morning. The stallholders were all super friendly and happy for us to try anything we liked.

Afterwards, we ventured into the covered market which was packed with shoppers – granted it was school holidays and coming up to Ramazan, but we were still amazed by the number of people. Also evident were the number if visitors from other parts of the Middle East – apparently Bursa is very popular with tourists from the Gulf states and the various categories of Islamic dress oon show were very interesting – from women with no special dress at all, to women covered head to toe. Turkey really is a mix of the secular and the religious.

Bursa is also famous as a center of the silk trade, and we went to the famous Koza Han – a section of the  market dedicated to silk. It wasn’t silk growing season, so all we could do was shop (silk ties for $10-$15) and relax in the tea garden in the center if the Han. Bursa silk is excellent and prices ranged from very reasonable to very high depending on the store and the article. The scarves looked like they could all be Hermes scarves.

We always find that markets  are great fun for the kids, and we spent the whole morning wandering – we could have seen more “sights” but the markets were so colorful, vibrant, friendly and exotic that they seemed like the best sight of all.

For lunch, we looked for a restaurant selling ready-made food – these are common all through Turkey and all work the same way – from 10-15 dishes are prepared very day and laid out as you walk in. You choose what you want before you sit down, choose a tables, and the server brings you your chosen food piled high with many small dishes so everyone can share. In addition, you get a huge basket of bread at your table. We had a great selection, including salad, soup, various meat and vegetable dishes. More freshly made food than it is possible to eat. We ate at many such places in Turkey – these meals typically cost us around $35-$40 including drinks and while nowhere near as cheap as it had once been in Turkey, still pretty good for a family of five.

We then explored an area behind our hotel that we had happened on to by chance – we were right in the middle of downtown, but just one block behind us were a few streets that still looked as though they must have a hundred years ago – small, crooked, with bakeries, fruit and veg stores, a Turkish bathhouse, some very small hotels – men sitting in a tea house playing cards – typical small town Turkey – right in the middle of the city!

We didn’t have much time left in Bursa. I love to travel spontaneously – but with three kids, it seemed like it would be too risky just to turn up anywhere at any time of day and hope to find accommodation – in high season, boiling hot weather and with our packs on our backs. So we had pre booked accommodation, and we had to get back to Istanbul.

Silks in Bursa

Silks in Bursa

There was no way we would be going back by bus – following very specific directions, we took the Metro and then a bus to the ferry terminal, where we caught a huge state-of-the-art ferry across the Sea of Marmara – the ferry was so modern it could easily have been one of BC Ferries (British Columbia) new boats acquired specially in time for the Olympics in Vancouver. The boat was filled with what appeared to be Turkish vacationers – the kids played with other kids they met on board, and within two hours we were docking in Istanbul!

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