Travel Journal

Bursa

(Sunday 12 December 2010) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 116-117 -- 11/28-29/10 Bursa
We arrived at the bus station after getting a few hours of sleep and took a bus to the center arriving around 6AM. We didn’t book a room as the websites we usually use only had more expensive hotels listed for the city. Hotel Gunes was recommended as the most economical choice in our guidebook as well as most often suggested hotel on message boards so we headed for it hoping to find a good deal on arrival. We rousted quite a few innkeepers to check on rooms but our choices were rather grim for our budget and the best choice was actually Hotel Gunes with a shared bathroom. The owner was really nice and let us check in at 8AM and we crashed hard for a couple of hours. We had eaten breakfast, a hearty soup at a very popular spot nearby so we took a walk at a nearby park. We had also learned from a traveler on our trip to Selcuk that there was free daily performance by the whirling Dervishes. We saw a note from a guest which said he had gone to the show so we were excited that it still was happening.
We met “the professor” who was actually a school teacher that frequented the hotel and enjoyed talking to the guests and showing them around town. He promised to take us to see local musicians and show us how to get to the cultural center to see the whirling Dervishes. We got some lunch and rested up until the evening performances.
The Professor met us at six and took us to a nearby tea house
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which he frequents and we sat down to some tea and listened to local musicians play. It’s a very relaxed place where musicians come and play for awhile and leave and are replaced by newcomers. They mainly play folk music and it was nice to see younger musicians there learning and carrying on the tradition music. Afterwards, the Professor drew us a map to the Culture Center and we got there shortly before the religious ceremony began.
The lodge had bought an old building in disrepair and had fixed it up rather nicely. There was a balcony at one side of the building where the women sat while the men sat on the opposite end on the ground floor.
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This was the full religious service not just the dancing. There were four musicians and several priests along with the three members who did the dancing. The entire ceremony was naturally in Arabic so I didn’t know what exactly was going on but there were prayer evoked and blessings given to the dancers and then they began. Julie perhaps had the better viewing spot and watched as they whirled sending their skirts unfolding outward like a flower while I knelt down was mesmerized by their footwork. While it appears graceful, there is a deliberate repetitive motion which I’m sure is necessary for them to enter a trance when dancing. One hand is cupped upwards to receive the grace of God while the other hand points downward to pass this grace on to Earth and the people there. When the dance is complete, the priests then began an Islamic prayer which the Muslims in the audience responded much as Christians would say Amen in their services. A very interesting experience and one I would recommend to those wishing to see rather than the more commercial performances offered in other places.
The next morning we walked to Yesil Camii and Yesil Turbe (Green Mosque and Green Tomb) which are actually blue.
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They were part of a large complex of religious and government buildings of which these two remain. The tiles are amazing in the tomb and the mosque was undergoing renovation. We ran into a friend of the Professor call Unice who showed us around the temple and the work he was doing to fix the carpets in the building. Afterwards he took us to his shop to point out some items and tried to get us to buy a carpet but it was a soft sell and we had no problems saying no.
A stone’s throw from the hotel is Ulu Camii a very large mosque we went into.
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It’s very large but we only had a few minutes because the call to prayer was about to be sounded and non-Muslims were asked to leave during service. We did some more walking to a nearby park which had an interesting clock tower and the tombs of Sultan Osman and Orman which were both closed but we did access the information kiosk which gave us some history of the sultans. Bursa is also known for shadow puppetry and we debated going to a museum to check out the displays but it was a fair distance from the hotel so we called it a day and went back to the hotel.
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During the evening the power went out in the hotel and not in nearby buildings. Candles were placed at strategic places and no explanation was given for the outage and since we were already in bed no questions were asked. The power came back some time during the night and the next day we checked out, left our backpacks, and caught a bus to Cumalikizik which is a preserved Ottoman Village from I believe the 1800s. We mistakenly got on bus 22E which the driver nodded when asked if it went to Ottoman Village rather than bus 22 which does directly there. The end result was we were dropped off a few kilometers away and had to walk there. The village is picturesque in parts while other sections are in need of repairs. I would say it’s not really worth the effort to get here unless you’re really interested in the architecture as there is nothing else in the town.
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We retrieved our bags back at the hotel and went directly to the bus station to find buses to Istanbul. Since Istanbul is nearby, there are frequent buses and a lot of choices there but we opted for a major line since they had free shuttle services from the otogar at Istanbul which I’ve been told is a mad house so we were shortly on a bus bound for Istanbul.

 


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