Bursa and Uludağ

Older brother Graham came to visit me. He’s been wandering around for around 3 months, and his last month will be with me in Istanbul. I had last week off of classes so we departed Istanbul and headed to Bursa for the weekend. This is the first holiday I’ve had since starting work here, so it’s pretty wild to have an entire week off. It’s been enough time to thoroughly dread having to go back to teaching full time again, and enough time for me to realize that I like traveling to new cities, exploring and having adventures, much better than teaching and being really busy all week.

Bursa’s an interesting place. It’s Turkey’s fourth biggest city, so it’s very busy and hectic. It was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, so there are many old mosques everywhere and many sultans are buried here. The Ottoman architecture is very old, with some mosques dating from the 14th century.

Bursa sits at the bottom of Mount Uludağ, or Mount Olympus. We decided that we’d take a break from seeing old camis and go to the top of the mountain. We walked to the cable car area and were sad to realize that the line for the cable car was huge. It took us probably two hours of waiting in line and riding the cable car before we managed to make it to the top. Everyone was out for the holiday, going to the top of Uludağ for a nice picnic and take photos in the crisp, clean air.

The cable car goes up to about 1600m, and the top of Uludağ is around 2400m, so you have to hike once you get to the top. There are a number of different options for hiking. We weren’t really sure which option to take. There was one hike we could do that was around 20km, but we figured we’d have a hard time coming back before the sun set on us. We couldn’t see any hiking paths either, just a bunch of picnic tables, a few cafes, and a bunch of trinket stands.

We picked a general direction and started walking. We found a path and kept going, through fields, trees and streams. But the path eventually ended, and we realized we weren’t going to be able to make it to the top of the mountain, which we could see in the distance. We saw the hotel and resort area off to one side, and there was a path along the power lines in that direction. After a long day of waiting in lines and walking along mountain paths, we figured we should find some sustenance. The resort area was bound to have something. So we walked the power line path towards the hotels. Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t a very clear path. We had to cross some streams and do some bushwhacking through downed trees. I found a scarf along the way, and picked it up. Everyone needs to have an Uludag scarf.

We eventually found our way up to the hotels, and searched out a cheap eatery. They were all really expensive, though, so we found a shack where the old man running it tried to get us to order the 25 lira fixed menu. We settled on soup and bread.

We wandered back down the road, and found another path that went back to the cable car area. We hoped that the lines wouldn’t be as bad as they were on the way up. We were very disappointed though, they were still pretty bad. It was at least another hour on the way down. We’d only been up at the top for about four hours, and we probably had more than three hours of waiting in lines and transport. This wasn’t an experience we wished to repeat anytime soon.

It was a nice view, but I was equally intrigued by the sea of people with their cameras out.

Graham had his little ipod with him, on which he is reading Anna Karenina, so he could do something with his time. I, unfortunately, did not have reading material, so I just perused the alleys of my brain and stewed. I came to the decision that after the misery of waiting in lines for a few hours, we would definitely be going to the pub that night and have a tower of beer or two to unwind and reward ourselves for hike.